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