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sarahsweets 05-25-19 06:17 AM

Da Vinci had adhd?

I never believe when people say deceased famous or renowned people had adhd.
I donít see how you can diagnose someone not knowing how their life and their history. Itís amusing really but I thought Iíd share this anyway because itís food for thought. In a way these types of theories can be harmful or at least misleading because it promotes the idea that adhd is actually a positive disorder and attributes qualities and behaviors to adhd that I think can downplay the struggles of having it. Let me know what you all think.

Greyhound1 05-25-19 11:00 AM

Re: Da Vinci had adhd?
Pure speculation and an extreme case which downplays or ignores all the negative effects of ADHD. Makes having ADHD sound like a desirable condition. As we know, itís far from that!

20thcenturyfox 05-28-19 05:03 PM

I Didn't Believe It, Either...But Catani Makes a Reasonable Case

Originally Posted by sarahsweets (Post 2018324)
...I never believe when people say deceased famous or renowned people had adhd.
I don’t see how you can diagnose someone not knowing how their life and their history....

I had exactly the same reaction as can you diagnose someone not knowing their life and their history? And in an era where works of art were not started and completed solely by the whim and dedication of the artist, but commissioned by sometimes fickle aristocrats and politicians, I hoped they were not just basing it on a bunch of uncompleted works.

Except that Leonardo's life and history were known to and commented on by dozens of contemporaries. And though his talent and artistry were recognized by everyone, his failure to deliver tangible works to his patrons was also legendary.

So I went looking for the original research behind the article Sarah cited, and it seems to contain a much more thorough and nuanced analysis of da Vinci's life and CV than I might have expected--including the direct observations of the antsy and distracted way he worked and the fact that the times when he was most productive were when he was assisted by or part of a larger group.

Of course you can't diagnose someone who died 425 years ago. But I wouldn't be surprised if he was, actually, one of us: Grey Matter Leonardo da Vinci: a genius driven to distraction:

Zoom Dude 05-30-19 06:23 PM

Re: Da Vinci had adhd?
First words from the first quote of the primary researcher:

"While impossible to make a post-mortem diagnosis for someone who lived 500 years ago, ..."

In other words, no one is claiming Da Vinci had ADHD, only that ADHD is a highly plausible explanation for his behavior:

"... I am confident that ADHD is the most convincing and scientifically plausible hypothesis to explain Leonardo's difficulty in finishing his works," Catani said in a statement. "Historical records show Leonardo spent excessive time planning projects but lacked perseverance. ADHD could explain aspects of Leonardo's temperament and his strange mercurial genius."

Read the words. Words matter.

This isn't the first such speculation either. In Driven to Distraction by Hallowell and Ratey, (both of whom are MDs and ADHDers themselves), they suggest that Einstein, Mozart, Churchill, Edison and Franklin all had ADHD. And they, of all people, would know that you can't diagnose someone who's dead. In all five of those examples, there was a lot of historical biographical evidence to support the suggestion of ADHD as a driving factor. There are plenty of other historical greats who might have had ADHD, but there wasn't as much evidence available, so no such claim was made. Those five, and now apparently Da Vinci too, are fairly compelling cases for ADHD.

I do agree that making such statements (which are completely true in that there is a strong likelihood of ADHD) can be very misleading if one does not also emphasize that ADHD is no picnic and will absolutely kick the butt of anyone who suffers from it. That caveat was completely absent from the Fox article. Hallowell and Ratey obviously get what a challenge ADHD is, and offer a wealth of understanding about ADHD and many ways of coping with it. But they explicitly also intended to show that there are ways to make lemonade out of lemons. It ain't easy, and those accomplished people sometimes couldn't see their successes through all the failures they endured on a daily basis, but they sure made some fantastic lemonade - each in their own way.

So the question is, why not acknowledge that ADHDers can sometimes do great things? Why is that bad? If it's PR we're worried about, then complain about not telling the whole story, about not mentioning the challenges along with the successes - but don't purposely suppress the potential for success, and the coping mechanism that can help lead to it. We ADHDers are people too, just different. We can do great things, but we (necessarily) do them differently. Doing things differently is frequently how society makes its biggest advances - and all six of the people discussed here are pretty good examples of that.

One common factor in each of these successful people was that they were able to work in their fields pretty much on their own terms. That is HUGE, and a condition that most everyday people (whether NT or ADHD) don't enjoy, having lives to lead and people who depend on us. This was vaguely alluded to in the Fox article, but for us ADHDers it should have been the headline. Yes, ADHD can bring characteristics that can be beneficial, but not to those who must conform to an NT world - THAT'S the disconnect in the message. Reducing this concept down to a level where non-geniuses can relate helps explain, for example, why ADHDers are so over-represented among entrepreneurs. If you're running your own company, you get to do it mostly on your own terms.

It also needs to be said that ADHD is an influence that greatly colors, shades and warps each of our lives differently, because we are all different individuals. Many of us simply can't relate to any of these famous people, which will influence how we feel about holding them up as examples. I certainly am not anything like Mozart, Franklin or Churchill. Not even like Edison, but I can relate (OK, rather remotely) to Da Vinci and Einstein. I can see how ADHD may have assisted their successes, IF (and only if) they were able to adjust their lives to fit how their heads worked.

And the ADHD would STILL have kicked their butts on a daily basis.

I think the value in pointing out that these highly successful and influential people probably (not certainly) had ADHD is in realizing what a profound benefit any of us can gain by adjusting our worlds, and how we deal with the NT world, to what suits us best.

We're not normal. We never will be. We need to be able to interact with NTs to a certain degree, but we will thrive to the degree that we can make our world work for US.

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