Is there a link between creativity and ADHD? Some experts believe that ADHD is sometimes misdiagnosed; that some individuals that are highly creative may be labeled as ADHD instead. Other experts point to evidence that shows ADHD and creativity to be two separate diagnoses and that individuals with ADHD have a higher incident rate of creativity.
In a paper, “The Coincidence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity and Creativity” published in 1995 by Dr. Bonnie Cramond, profound creativity includes the following characteristics:
- Inability to complete projects
- Mood Swings
- Hypersensitivity to Stimulation
- Difficult Temperament
- Sensation Seeking
- Enthusiasm and Playfulness
- Deficient Social Skills
Some of these characteristics are listed as specific symptoms of ADHD, such as inattention, hyperactivity, and inability to complete projects. Others are what are considered to be common characteristics of ADHD. Dr. Cramond further explains that many of the creative geniuses in history have had problems in academics and school. Robert Frost was forced to leave school because of incessant daydreaming, Virginia Woolf was known for being extremely talkative and Frank Lloyd Wright daydreamed to the extent that people around him would need to shout at him to bring him out of a trancelike state. (for more examples see: Successful People with ADHD)
Highly creative and intellectually gifted students often do not fit into the mold our academic system has created, some experts believe. The educational system does not allow for such differences and does not know understand how to best educate an individual such as this. It is their creative traits that cause problems in school, not ADHD. These experts believe that some people diagnosed with ADHD are really very creative and gifted students.
Other experts believe that ADHD and creativity go hand in hand. Some studies have shown that brain patterns in individuals with ADHD are similar to that of highly creative individuals (Hynd, Hern, Voeller & Marchall, 1991; Hermann, 1981 and Torrance, 1984).
Yet another argument is that there are three distinct groups: individuals with ADHD, individuals that are highly creative and individuals that are both. This argument is backed by the fact that some individuals with ADHD are not highly creative while some highly creative people do not exhibit symptoms of ADHD. Yet, people with ADHD are known for being creative and “out of the box” thinkers, finding different and unique solutions to problems.
No matter what the argument, there seems that there is a high enough incident rate of creativity in individuals with ADHD that there is some type of link between the two.
Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.