Are people with ADD more creative and does medication treatment interfere with creativity?
There is a fine line between creativity and impulsivity and distractibility.
When it comes to having new and unique ideas, there is something to say for the ADD population.
The rub, however, is that the impulsivity and distractibility that work together to promote the free flow of ideas usually combine with poor focus, inefficient monitoring, and short attention span to prevent even the best ideas from going anywhere.
In my experience, successful treatment allows the creative ADD mind to be focused, reflective, purposeful and planful enough so that the ideas it generates have a chance to become something in the real world.
To illustrate the difference successful treatment can make in the life of someone with ADD, let us introduce you to one of our patients, who we will call “Kory.”
We first met Kory when he was 8 years old and in the second grade. At that time, he was making life miserable for his family, his teacher, and his peers. His parents described life with him as “bedlam.” Chaos and disruption seemed to happen whenever he was around. The same scenario seemed to play itself out at each and every social event Kory and his family attended. Without apparent reason, Kory started to “act-up.” His parents quietly scolded him. As Kory continued, his parents repeated their reprimand with hushed intensity. Kory explosively retaliated, physically and verbally. Startled, others stared in their direction. Angry and embarrassed, the family prematurely called it an evening. In response to this recurring scenario, family members began to walk on eggshells, hoping to avoid setting off Kory’s violent reactions.
Kory’s parents complained that getting him to assume any responsibility was nearly impossible. He required constant nagging to get anything done whether that was bringing his homework home, practicing his piano, or getting up in the morning. His parents resented Kory tremendously for the black cloud that seemed to be hanging over the family.
Kory’s teacher reported that he was not working to his potential. He was not following classroom rules, not listening to directions, and not being courteous to anyone. Reportedly, Kory attempted to take over all interactions with his peers. He was always punching, pinching, pushing, or tripping someone. Needless to say, Kory had no friends. His parents were worried about Kory’s future–they actually feared that he might end up in prison.
Kory is now in the sixth grade. For four years, Kory, his family, and his teachers have been involved in a comprehensive treatment program that we developed after a thorough evaluation. Life with Kory is no longer chaotic. His parents feel comfortable taking him nearly anywhere. Moreover, they are beginning to actually appreciate what Kory brings to the family. Generally, Kory is able to express his feelings appropriately now and is genuinely open to feedback concerning his behavior.
Kory, independently completes his homework and studies for upcoming tests on a daily basis. He is earning A’s and B’s in school. He has excelled in music and practices his piano and trumpet every morning without a hassle.
Kory is working hard to dispel his bad reputation with his peers. In fact, he has succeeded in establishing a few very nice friendships.
Kory continues to have his rough edges. However, for a 12 year old, he has a wisdom about him. He knows his strengths and weaknesses. He knows himself better than most of us do and because of this, when life’s challenges come his way, he will be able to creatively, responsibly, and wisely tackle them.