Dr. Jim

James E. Robinson is a professional songwriter, musician, author, counselor, and speaker. His songs have been recorded by major artists in country, Christian, and rock music and he has recorded three CD's of his own. He and his wife are co-founders of ProdigalSong Ministries [www.ProdigalSong.com], combining music, speaking, and education workshop presentations, they travel and perform in churches, treatment centers, schools, and correctional facilities throughout the country.


Greetings, dear readers! We continue our series on the Six As of Addiction with a look at AADD, or “Adverse Algebraic Disconcertion Disorder.” This month’s letter comes from someone who, like many of us, loves to write but hates math. Thankfully, she decided to reach out . . . and learns now that she no longer need suffer alone.

Dear Dr. Jim,

I’ve known since I was just a little girl that I was born to write. From my earliest memories in grade school, I recall the sheer joy of reading . . . short stores, novels, nonfiction. You name it, I loved it.

This passion for the written word has remained strong in me to this day, but alongside this desired gifting, I’ve carried with me for years what has felt like a silent curse: math. I hated it as a child, and I hate it now. My teachers all said that knowledge of arithmetic was necessary; I always considered it an unnecessary evil. Where words thrilled me, numbers made me faint.

And if simple math wasn’t daunting enough, it was high school algebra that truly sent me into tortured mental spasms of fear and loathing. Numbers were cruel . . . but to mangle my precious letters among them was simply more than I could bear. Letters were meant for words, words for sentences, sentences for . . . well, for writing! But no. Heartless teachers tossed them in with numbers to create jumbled, meaningless monsters called algebraic formulas. Even now my skin crawls at the sound of it..

Although I managed to scrape my way through high school, barely passing all types of math with low Ds, and then—by taking as many philosophy classes as possible in college—acquiring a college degree, somewhere deep inside of me a scared little child has always remained. The truth is I’m still afraid of that mathematical monster of my youth. And now, when my children come home from middle school with homework, well, I can help them with grammar and structure, but they can see my face go pale when the math stuff comes out. Can you help me, Dr. Jim?

Right-Brain Only

Dear Right-Brain,

My fearful friend, you are not alone; it sounds to me as if you might be suffering from the little-known malady “Adverse Algebraic Disconcertion Disorder.” I, too, have struggled with this disorder all my life. Please forgive the pun, Right-Brain, but for folks like us, things mathematical just don’t AADD up!

I can tell you that recovery from this disorder is painfully slow, and most of us never attain even a second-grade mastery of numbers beyond the single-digit multiplication tables. But we must reach out! Our secrets keep us sick. And the truth is, though often they love us too much to let it show, our young children are well aware that, when it comes to numbers, they’ve been smarter than us since about the second grade. But with proper therapy (usually involving some sort of hypnosis or, in severe cases, hiring a full-time CPA), we can live happy, shame-free lives.

Hold your head up, friend! Essays and book reports lie just ahead! Think how the family will applaud once you’ve show them a thing or two on that word processor!

I’m Dr. Jim . . . and I’m listening!

When not writing this column, Jim can be found compulsively overworking at www.ProdigalSong.com and www.jameserobinson.com.

The Flower of Grass