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Excerpted from Refuse to Choose by Barbara Sher. Copyright © 2006 by Barbara Sher. Excerpted by permission of Rodale, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright © by SpiritSite.com.
 

"Intense curiosity about numerous unrelated subjects is one of the most basic characteristics of a Scanner."

  Barbara Sher, Refuse to Choose, Part 3

And then we have ADD. Before knowing who they were, many Scanners assumed that their "problem" might be attention deficit disorder (ADD), simply because everyone assumed that being interested in lots of things was a form of distraction. In my experience, I've found that many Scanners actually do have ADD, but they are true Scanners all the same. I've also met people with diagnosed ADD who appear to be Scanners but are not. Once you understand that a bona fide Scanner has no problem with the normal ability to focus (as opposed to ADD-style hyper-focus), the confusion with ADD usually clears up.

I'm a Scanner and have been diagnosed with ADD. And I can tell you that nothing is clearer than the difference between feeling stuck because I'm having an ADD attack -- that is, my mind is in a fog and I have trouble remembering what I'm doing -- and being stuck for the typical Scanner reasons of being attracted to so many things that I can't figure out which project to reach for next.

Of course, there are many people who are quite content in their fields and have a few normal interests in addition, such as a lawyer who enjoys cooking and travel, or an advertising art director who collects antiques. But there's a noticeable difference between someone with a normal range of interests and a Scanner.

Who is a Scanner?

Intense curiosity about numerous unrelated subjects is one of the most basic characteristics of a Scanner. Scanners are endlessly inquisitive. In fact, Scanners often describe themselves as being hopelessly interested in everything (although, as you'll find out, this isn't so). A Scanner doesn't want to specialize in any of the things she loves, because that means giving up all the rest. Some even think that being an expert would be limiting and boring.

Our society frowns on this apparent self-indulgence. Of course, it's not self- indulgence at all; it's the way Scanners are designed, and there's nothing they can or should do about it. A Scanner is curious because he is genetically programmed to explore everything that interests him. If you're a Scanner, that's your nature. Ignore it and you'll always be fretful and dissatisfied.

It's a whole new way of thinking, I know. And much of the world doesn't see Scanners' behavior as admirable or even acceptable. But it wasn't always this way.

A recent change in fashion

Scanners are the victims of a fashion change in history, and a recent one at that. Until the technology race with the Soviet Union after World War II changed our views, the kind of people I now call Scanners were admired. But by the mid-1950s, a dramatic change had occurred.

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