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Can People With ADHD Be More Creative?

A number of psychologists note that many personality traits connected with ADD and ADHD are also associated with highly creative people.

Lisa Ling - brain-graphicThis is a topic I have addressed in previous Creative Mind posts, but here are some new perspectives, inspired by a documentary by Lisa Ling who was diagnosed with ADD during the course of her research for the project.

She commented, “As a journalist, when I’m immersed in a story, then I feel like I can laser-focus. But if I’m not working, my mind goes in every direction but where it’s supposed to go. I’ve been like that since I was a kid.”

What is ADD / ADHD?

A page on the site of Daniel G. Amen, MD, a prominent speaker and author on the topic,  summarizes:

“Attention deficit disorder (ADD), often referred to as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), is the most common psychiatric disorder in children and adults, affecting between 5-10% of the population.

“It is characterized by:

Persistent short attention span
Forethought and judgment problems
Impulse control problems (in some, but not all)
Hyperactivity (in some, but not all)

From Amen Clinics page.

His book: “Healing ADD Revised Edition: The Breakthrough Program that Allows You to See and Heal the 7 Types of ADD” by Daniel G. Amen, MD.

More information is presented in an audio interview with the authors of the book:  “The ADHD Explosion: Myths, Medication, Money, and Today’s Push for Performance” by Stephen P. Hinshaw, Richard M. Scheffler.

The summary for the book asks:

“*Why are one in nine children and adolescents in the U.S. now diagnosed with ADHD, with projected rates still rising? *Why are nearly 70% of those diagnosed with ADHD prescribed medication? *What is causing the fast-rising diagnosis and medication of adults?”

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Creative Minds and Learning Differences

In his book Ungifted: Intelligence Redefined, psychologist Scott Barry Kaufman notes:

Scott Barry Kaufman“People with attention-deficit/ hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) also tend to show increased mind wandering and a lack of default network suppression with increasing task difficulty.

“At the same time, people with ADHD tend to score higher on tests of divergent thinking, creative style, and creative achievement. Bonnie Cramond has noted the incredible similarities between the behavioral manifestations of ADHD and creativity.”

[Photo of Kaufman also used in article: The Creativity Conference with David Burkus, which includes an audio clip of him talking about imagination and intelligence.]

Continued in longer article:
ADHD and the Creative Mind.

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Can People With ADHD Be More Creative?

Douglas Eby

Douglas EbyDouglas Eby, MA/Psychology, is a writer and researcher on psychology and personal development related to creativity; creator of the , and author of books including [link to book site with excerpts.]
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APA Reference
Eby, D. (2014). Can People With ADHD Be More Creative?. Psych Central. Retrieved on August 5, 2020, from


Last updated: 26 Jun 2014
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