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Adderall is prescribed to treat Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, a neurobehavioral condition marked by inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity that has been increasingly diagnosed over recent decades. In the 1990s, an estimated 3 to 5 percent of school-age American children were believed to have ADHD, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; by 2013, that figure was 11 percent, and it continues to rise today. Journalist Casey Schwartz joins us at Town Hall with a forthright and personal story that details the decade she spent taking prescription pills to help her pay attention (or so she thought), and moves outward to consider the wider landscape of attention, past and present.
With accounts from her book Attention: A Love Story that expands on her popular New York Times Magazine article, “Generation Adderall,” Schwartz confronts our craving for distraction to our desire for a cure. In conversation with New York Times writer Jessica Bennett, Schwartz examines our nation’s relationship with attention, from Silicon Valley culture to psychedelics to the works and lives of writers like David Foster Wallace, Aldous Huxley, William James, and Simone Weil. Blending memoir, biography, and original reporting, Schwartz recalls her attempts to preserve her authentic life and see what’s most important in it. Schwartz acts as a sympathetic and qualified guide for those who want to determine their own minds and grapple with attention’s role in defining our lives.
Casey Schwartz is the author of In the Mind Fields. She contributes regularly to The New York Times, the New York Times Magazine, Newsweek, Departures, and New York, among other publications. Her essay for the New York Times Magazine, Generation Adderall, tackles the question of attention in an age of technological onslaught.
Jessica Bennett was appointed The New York Times’ first gender editor in 2017. she contributed to the coverage of #MeToo, oversaw the launch of the Overlooked obituaries project, and was the editor of This Is 18, an immersive look at the lives of 18-year-old girls around the world.
Presented by Town Hall Seattle.