New research suggests that ADHD, at one time thought to only hinder one’s successes in life, may be responsible for creative achievement in adults. “For the same reason that ADHD might create problems, like distraction, it can also allow an openness to new ideas,” said Dr. Holly White, assistant professor of cognitive psychology at Eckerd College in St. Petersburg, Florida and co-author of the recently released paper. “Not being completely focused on a task lets the mind make associations that might not have happened otherwise.”
ADHD is characterized by an inability to focus and stay on task. People who are challenged with ADHD often find themselves unable to control their impulsivity. Children with this issue have an especially hard time conforming to the often stringent parameters of a school environment. Even adults with ADHD often find it difficult to meet the expectations of employers and maintain balance in their lives. The symptoms of this issue can disrupt normal daily activities and until now, had been seen as a liability to live with rather than an asset to embrace.
ADHD can be effectively managed through psychotherapy, sometimes with the use of psychotropic medication. Giving children the tools they need to control, but not stifle, their creative characteristics is a valuable resource that will prevent them from living with years of frustration throughout their adulthood.
The study is a follow-up to one done in 2006, which focused on laboratory measures of creativity and found that ADHD individuals show better performance on tests of creative divergent thinking. “We didn’t know if that would translate into real-life achievement,” says Shah. “The current study suggests that it does.”
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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