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Can ADHD Be A Good Thing?



Should ADHD Be Seen As A ‘Medical Disease’?

I have already explained in other articles that ADHD is a controversial diagnosis (for example, see my previously published articles: Reasons Why ADHD Might Be Being Overdiagnosed or Childhood Trauma And ADHD: Is PTSD Being Misdiagnosed As ADHD?

Indeed, some do not regard ADHD as a medical disease at all but, instead, as a product of a dysfunctional society.

Others regard ADHD as having biological causes but, within this camp, attitudes towards ADHD can vary dramatically. In fact, views about ADHD and the behaviours that accompany it are sometimes diametrically opposed. A main area of contention is whether to view ADHD:

  • as being a medical disease (e.g. Barkley, 2000) that leads to unwanted behaviours that need to be corrected and treated in line with these negative assumptions


  • as a biological difference (as opposed to a medical illness) that leads the person who has it to develop many behaviours and qualities that are, far from being negative, actually advantageous and beneficial in many contexts.

Why Might The Negative Side Of ADHD Be Over-Focused On? Is The Research Biased?

Those who do not wish to describe ADHD as a medical disease point out that ADHD has received such bad press is that the majority of the research that has been conducted on those who have been diagnosed with ADHD focuses on investigating areas in which those with ADHD don’t perform as well, on average, than those who have not been diagnosed with the condition.

Despite the propensity of researchers to focus on the negative side of ADHD, increasingly research is being conducted on the positive side. For example, research conducted by

A study conducted by Sedgwick and Merwood (2019) found that those diagnosed with ADHD compared to those without ADHD were more likely to flourish in terms of:

  • cognitive dynamism
  • divergent thinking
  • nonconformity (useful, for example, when out of the box’ thinking is required)
  • adventurousness
  • self-acceptance
  • sublimation

Furthermore, Hartmann (2008) is of the view that ADHD should NOT be viewed as a medical disease (though he does accept it is primarily rooted in biological processes) and that greter focus needs to be placed upon the benefits and advantages it may bestow upon the individual who has been diagnosed with the condition.

Such strengths (and the above lists are not, of course, by any means exhaustive) allow many of those diagnosed with ADHD to function very highly and flourish.



Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) in the Workplace. How to Optimize the Performance of Employees with Adult ADHD. Graziadio Business Review. Volume 12, Issue 2.

Sedgwick, J.A., Merwood, A. & Asherson, P. The positive aspects of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: a qualitative investigation of successful adults with ADHD. ADHD Atten Def Hyp Disord 11, 241–253 (2019).


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