Creative Overachievers Could Owe Success to ADHD

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 John Smith, therapist in Bellingham, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

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  • Olivia


    March 17th, 2011 at 1:13 PM

    If this is true then why is ADHD somehting that we are always trying so hard to suppress? Aren’t teachers open minded enough to recognize this creative vein in their classroom kids too?

  • jason samuels

    jason samuels

    March 17th, 2011 at 7:28 PM

    I’ve always had trouble concentrating and it was passed off as a every-child-does-that kind of a thing. I believed the same when I grew up but this habit has travelled with me through the years and now even when I’m in college. I’m doing a professional course but I cannot keep my mind on the same thing for too long. This is affecting my grades.

    I’m good at quizzes and various other extra-circulars. Maybe a professional course is not my thing. I don’t know what to do. How do I know if I have ADHD or any other disorder? Please help.

  • RopeTrick111


    March 18th, 2011 at 7:55 AM

    So a wandering mind is actually an asset?! I have trouble accepting this because no body,not even a genius,has been able to make or do something great without concentration and without paying close attention to the task on hand,and this new theory goes against it!

  • Chel


    July 26th, 2012 at 1:59 PM

    This theory is something I have understood personally nearly my entire life…I have ADHD combined…Hyperactivity and inability to focus s and concentrate…During my teens I was in nearly every sport and every artistic extra curricular activity…At 25 I owned a performing arts company, I have a degree in Social Behavioral Science and was an honor student although I had reading, math, and science issues because of these issues and my nature to compete I compensated with rerouting cognitive skills and using intuition, creativity and effort as these came easy to me. I am glad teachers did not sugar coat my learning disabilities, had they done so, I would never have been forced to achieve outside the box. Rope…Google…some of the greatest minds of all time had ADHD among other things…I attribute an enormous amount of my creativity, perfectionism, and success because my mind wanders and I am motivated to physically follow my DREAMS!

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