“In the midst of all the chaos in your mind, and all of the disorganization, and all the trouble getting started, and procrastination, your brain just thinks a little bit differently. And you can come up with things.”
That quote is by David Neeleman, former CEO of Jet Blue Airways. In 2000, he disclosed to CNN that he has Adult attention-deficit disorder [link to Wikipedia page.]
But that page also quotes Edward M. Hallowell [author of the book Driven To Distraction] on the downside of the “hyperactive” aspect:
“It’s like being super-charged all the time. You get one idea and you have to act on it, and then, what do you know, but you’ve got another idea before you’ve finished up with the first one, and so you go for that one, but of course a third idea intercepts the second, and you just have to follow that one, and pretty soon people are calling you disorganized and impulsive and all sorts of impolite words that miss the point completely.
“Because you’re trying really hard. It’s just that you have all these invisible vectors pulling you this way and that, which makes it really hard to stay on task.”
According to a number of sites, such as LifeTips, prominent successful people who show the trademark signs of ADHD include Ansel Adams, Anne Bancroft, Beethoven, Hans Christian Anderson, Lewis Carroll, Leonardo da Vinci, Walt Disney, Cher, Thomas Edison, John F. Kennedy, Robin Williams, Henry Winkler, Stevie Wonder, and many others.
Stephanie S. Tolan, who writes novels for children and young adults, and is co-author of the book “Guiding the Gifted Child,” comments in the article Are you ADD — or just gifted? that “The larger world does not connect ADD with giftedness at all. Occasionally they mention creativity. And ADD is now the current ‘in’ thing to be as an adult, as well. It was only little boys, then it got to be little girls, then grownups as well.
“Very many creative people go around now announcing they are ADD. I could announce that I am, too. But I happen to know that I’m not; I’m just highly creative, and it does have a nasty tendency to make the little details of ordinary life a little more difficult.”
For those who really have a learning disorder such as ADD, there may be an increased risk for drug abuse.
A report titled Substance Abuse and Learning Disabilities: Peas in a Pod or Apples and Oranges? [from the National Center for Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University (PDF file)] says there is an addiction or abuse risk: “ADHD affected individuals have a high incidence of substance abuse, and ADHD is further associated with an earlier onset of substance abuse and a greater difficulty shaking addiction. Studies show that as many as half of those suffering ADHD self-medicate with drugs and alcohol. An individual with ADHD is twice as likely as one without ADHD to abuse substances.”
In addition to strong medications to treat ADD/ADHD, there are alternatives such as herbal supplements that can help manage the disruptive aspects – see the articles ADHD Natural Remedies, and Diagnosing ADHD in Adults, for example.
The image, by the way, is from the book Adult AD/HD: A Reader-Friendly Guide to Identifying, Understanding, and Treating Adult Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder.