The Creative Gifts of ADHD

 Duncan Hull (CC BY 2.0)

Duncan Hull (CC BY 2.0)

via Scientific American:

“Just because a diagnosis [of ADHD] can be made does not take away from the great traits we love about Calvin and his imaginary tiger friend, Hobbes. In fact, we actually love Calvin BECAUSE of his ADHD traits. Calvin’s imagination, creativity, energy, lack of attention, and view of the world are the gifts that Mr. Watterson gave to this character.” — The Dragonfly Forest

In his 2004 book “Creativity is Forever“, Gary Davis reviewed the creativity literature from 1961 to 2003 and identified 22 reoccurring personality traits of creative people. This included 16 “positive” traits (e.g., independent, risk-taking, high energy, curiosity, humor, artistic, emotional) and 6 “negative” traits (e.g., impulsive, hyperactive, argumentative). In her own review of the creativity literature, Bonnie Cramond found that many of these same traits overlap to a substantial degree with behavioral descriptions of Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD)– including higher levels of spontaneous idea generation, mind wandering, daydreaming, sensation seeking, energy, and impulsivity.

Research since then has supported the notion that people with ADHD characteristics are more likely to reach higher levels of creative thought and achievement than people without these characteristics (see here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here,here, and here). Recent research by Darya Zabelina and colleagues have found that real-life creative achievement is associated with the ability to broaden attention and have a “leaky” mental filter– something in which people with ADHD excel.

Recent work in cognitive neuroscience also suggests a connection between ADHD and creativity (see here and here). Both creative thinkers and people with ADHD show difficulty suppressing brain activity coming from the “Imagination Network“:

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1 Comment on "The Creative Gifts of ADHD"

  1. kowalityjesus | Nov 19, 2014 at 7:21 am |

    Humans are so spectacularly highly adapted, and spiritually saturnine. Here are MY possible explanations for “ADHD,” because I think the “brain-based chemical imbalance” claim is a poorly veiled attempt to sell drugs by dogmatic materialists:
    1) Archetypal behavior pattern based on a tribal necessity of proto-humans, which is not desirable in a contemporary setting
    2) Behavior problem resulting from diet, whether “you-are-what-you-eat” or epigenetically from diet decisions of forebears
    3) Spiritual ennui of a soul that is deprived of some form of basic nutrient, whether it be music, art, exercise, fraterinization, discipline, etc.
    4) Possession by some brand of interdimensional spiritual creature which changes “normal” behavior volition for the purposes of feeding itself e.g. Opti

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