I have been diagnosed with adult ADD for several years now. My wife often calls me out for staring at other women, which she finds offensive and hurtful. In many cases, I am completely and totally unaware that I have been staring. I frequently accused her of making it up, which engendered even more hurt feelings and inevitably an argument. I now accept that it does happen, and she has noticed that I also occasionally stare at men, children, animals, or inanimate objects. This has given some credence to my claim that I am unaware that I am staring, but she still finds it difficult to believe that I am truly unaware or that it is not volitional. She has pointed out occasions where I stared at someone and my head actually moved to follow them--again, I am oblivious to doing this or having done it. At work, a colleague has mentioned that others have commented that I occasionally stare at them and they are unnerved by it--and I have no idea I am doing it. A new employee recently told the boss that I was an "a-hole" because I stood in the doorway to the staff kitchen and stared at her and ignored her when she said "hello." As God as my witness, I had no recollection whatsoever of this happening. (My boss knows about this issue and simply assured the new employee that I really hadn't been staring at her, that her greeting did not register, and that my head was somewhere else at the time--not sure she believes this, but we get along ok now). My psychiatrist has not been able to offer me any insight into this, nor has he heard of it in others. I am wondering if I am alone in this experience, or if others have experienced the phenomenon of what I have come to think of as subconcious staring--obviously, based on the feedback from others, I AM staring, and my head movements indicate I am staring at someone or something in particular rather than a vacant stare at an unmoving point in space. But I dont' know when I am doing it, don't remember what I saw when it is called to my attention, and can't seem to control it (my wife has trouble believing that I can't control it around her. She says I know that it hurts her when she sees me staring at other women, and so if I continue to do it knowing that it hurts her, she feels that it is even worse--and from my perspective, I would rather pluck out my eyes than hurt her, so when she calls it to my attention, I can only lamely try to assure her that I didn't know I was staring. BTW, it happens most when I am particularly stressed, fatigued, or preoccupied.
Anyone else have anything similar? Any suggestions on combating it?