The ADD Mythology (Part 2)

Notes to the Reader:

  1. This blog post was written by Betsy Davenport.
  2. Betsy detests the term “ADDer,” but she couldn’t come up with anything else. As Editor-in-Chief and blog owner, I’ve decided to use the term “ADDer.”

{{———- ////////// \\\\\\\\\\———-}}

Myth No. 2: ADDers are Smarter than Non-ADDers
Now down the pike comes another set of rumors, like an encyclopedia salesman who, during the Depression, was instructed to “Sell them a set if it’s their last nickel.” This set is just as inaccurate, more insidious because some people with ADD – who can least afford them — are lining up to buy them, themselves. Shockingly, people with AD/HD have even created some of these falsehoods.

“People with ADD are smarter.” “People with ADD are so much more gregarious and sociable than other people.” “People with ADD can multitask better.” “People with ADD are so much funnier and more creative.” “People with ADD have to take medications, just to get on in a world where the so-called ‘normal’ people have ridiculous hoops for us to jump through.” “People with ADD aren’t inappropriate; everyone else is uptight.” “People with ADD can think at the speed of light and no one can keep up.” “People with ADD can’t be bothered with the details because we are thinking about much more important things.”

First, I should tell you, I think myths are lovely. Myths are filled with hopes and yearnings and they reflect our faces back to us, more beautiful than we are really. Myths have been around since anyone can remember, and though we enjoy the notion of the Greek gods, and of Athena springing fully clothed from the head of Zeus, her father, we chortle disparagingly over the primitive belief that spawned that image.

Now, if it is a comfort to some to believe myths, and if they do no harm to anyone, I have no objections. But there is nothing amusing about standing in your kitchen, tears streaming down your face, having forgotten what you were about to do, and knowing time is elapsing at the usual rate – that is, too fast. It is not “multitasking” to start and leave off — without returning to finish or clean up – four or five different jobs in the same morning; it’s a mess. So far, though the request has gone out repeatedly, none of our respected researchers has asserted that people whose brains lack the usual chemistry and even structure are, by definition and as a group, more intelligent than the rest of the population. Smart people hang out with smart people; AD/HD can occlude high intelligence and high intelligence can mask AD/HD, as the intelligence compensates for a compromised cognitive system. People of average wattage make up the bulk of the population; they have less “extra” wattage with which to compensate, and may be simply considered below average, “behavior disordered,” relegated to the fringe; who is noticing – and seeing — them?

Print Friendly

Tags: ,

  • Anders Rønnau

    Thank you, Betsy, for a very interesting post!

    I coach clients with the ADHD diagnosis, and I often hear all these different myths about what they are – and so often the myths is generalized to everyone diagnosed with ADHD. It is not until I have the person say “I” that the experienced truth comes out.

    If you’ve met one person diagnosed with ADHD, you’ve met one person diagnosed with ADHD.

    You can cover up a lot with mythical generalizations, and you might end up cheating yourself…

    Thanks again!

    Best, Anders.

  • Jeff


    My major concern is, what happens if someone believes in the myth and NOTHING turns out the way the myth predicts? What if they are NOT a genius? What if they are NOT gregarious? Will the ADHD person blame herself for not being a genius? And will the ADHD person assume that, if I am not a genius then I do not have ADHD?


  • Anders Rønnau


    My experience is that each person will pick up that particular myth which seems to fit the best for that particular individual.

    You see yourself as creative, you’ll buy into the myth that it has anything to do with the diagnosis.


  • Jeff


    That would seem to apply to everything in life…no? We choose the myth that best describes us. Ask a successful businessman how he did it…he’ll say it was brains and hard work and the “magic” of the free market. He’ll completely ignore (or be ignorant of) the role of class structure and plain ‘ol luck.


  • Anders Rønnau



    We all identify ourselves with a group – in one case the other people with the diagnosis and in the other case the other people with a suit.

    Looking for signs of similarity is the most natural in humankind, because it makes us feel safe and in some way “normal” within that group. We belong.


  • Scott Hutson


    You have both shown a very interesting perception(which I agree with)about human nature,and what I have learned about myself,following ADD dial….before that>

    Thinking that I can fit in with any group,and solve any conflicts they have w/me, within that group, w/my way of thinking about things,that they are not realizing. Which has,always resulted in conflicts among themselves…That’s when I realize, I will not fit in,and go on to find a group I can fit into.Same results.

    After diag.,and reading about ADD(just the ones that tell me I am so “Gifted” and intelligent).It’s very easy to believe I am lucky to have ADD. That is the BIGGEST MYTH I fell for! Yes,there are positives,but the reality of having ADD is not a “Gift” or a “MYTH”…It’s way too real.


  • Scott Hutson

    Here’s proof of me not having a “Gift”,when it comes to putting thoughts/comments into words>When I read my comment above,I don’t want it sound like I am not happy to have been diagnosed ADD.

    I am happy to finally realize my feelings of being contrary to ordinary in my thoughts and actions,all my life, may be a result of ADD…So I will contradict the statement I made…:”The reality of having ADD is not a “GIFT”or a “MYTH.”It’s way to real.”…..By saying..”The realization of having ADD is a “GIFT” to me.” “The reality of ADD is not a “MYTH”.”..It is way too real.

    Thank You for Your comments,and I admire Your abbilty to word them in a respectable structure.


  • betsy davenport, phd

    It’s my experience that it is more than possible for a person with AD/HD to have an intact self concept, and to be intact it must by definition contain whatever AD/HD traits belong to that person.

    Whether or not a person feels a need to adopt a “special” trait has more to do with overall adjustment, just as it does with anyone. There is nothing wonderful about having AD/HD. Traits are both handy and inconvenient; all people (almost) have some of both. Science has made it clear none of them are specifically attributable to the condition we call AD/HD.

  • betsy davenport, phd

    People also choose myths because they prefer them over the reality. I prefer myths – maybe – but since I live in reality, those myths are of no particular use.

  • Scott Hutson

    I am very interested in this myth subject(obviously)…The moments of self worth I felt,before reality came,may have been some of the best moments in my life. I almost wish for these moments of serenity.

    That would “Useful” to me..if it was possible…se la vie…..Scott.

  • Pingback: ADHD on the Inter-Tubes | A Morsel of Genius

  • http://deleted indra

    dear Jeff,

    although i have given a long comment on crimsons article, and requested for her advice….i do have some very positive things to share which might help everyone here.

    1. Firstly, connecting with god, the creator, in a spiritual not religious manner, should bring great calm and awareness to ADD folk. Please dont think im being preachy or goody-goody.This connecting with our true divine source can be acheived through silence, sitting in lush gardens and admiring the beauty of trees and nature, by telling beads, by chanting buddhist chants such as nam yo ho renge kyo, by talking to god and the angels as an ever present loving compassionate family and surrendering the symptoms of ADD to them to take back to the Heaven as love and light.

    2. GET ATTUNED TO REIKI OR GET SOME HEALER TO DO REIKI DAILY FOR A MONTH AND SEE HOW YOU FEEL. to bring about the state of peace, harmony and focus, Reiki is of tremendous help, as reiki heals on mental, emotional, physical and spiritual levels, brings about a state of alpha calm mind, causes radical changes in awareness and compassion levels, soothes the brain and brings instant relief at hyper distressing times, cuts through illusions, and even better than receiving healing, GIVING healing is the best way of beginning to heal, and give service to other souls, and actually bring out the reality that our true identity is Soul. It also fills the heart with forgiveness, compassion understanding and unconditional love. It helps one to be care-taker to others and self. It can only help, never harm. Its like meditation on a daily basis. Most important it can truly heal the condition. I am personally a witness of impossible miracles with Reiki, where diseases disappear and conditions reverse totally. I myself am a miracle in the making with Reiki.

    3. We should daily request our creator to help us to act from our higher selves, listen to uplifting music every moment in car, at home, journal loving and honest daily communication with ourselves, and focus on beauty and make it create for us. Mainly, if we can radiate unconditional love, and stop focusing on the add things will be wonderful.

    4. Everything is thoughts. All negativity arises from focusing on negativity. If we start making deliberate attempts to shift our focus to peace, nature, god and those things which bring us joy, abundance will begin to manifest itself as the outside reflects the inside.

    Lastly, I wanted to share that “as we think, so it is”
    So those who are harshly critiscing those who are trying to look at the bright side of ADD, by calling it a gift, by saying add people are very talented, better than non-add people, should ask themselves why they are limiting their own potential. We should admire those folk who are looking at this condition with hope and trust, rather than calling it a curse. “two men looked out of the prison bars one saw mud and the other saw stars” As we see it so will it be. Reality is not absolute, all of you know the law of attraction. Be cautious, follow the remedies, but lets believe we can all be healed and in a perfect state of mental health as our god intended us to be.

    Warm regards and lots of love


    lets put aside the logical mind and begin to see ADD as a loveable, endearing term, practice the methods ADD experts are suggesting,do reiki for selves and ADD caretakers to do reiki as well, make efforts to bond and express emotions, to transcend duality which someone said is the “misery matrix” and radiate unconditional love, and strive to be happy. And soon there will be no ADD any more.

ADHD: Awesome and Deadly

An email from an ADHDer. Subject: Open this email I have ADD and I want to share! Message: Hi Jeff, [...]

What It Feels Like To Have ADHD

ADHD – A Love Story (Part 6)

The Trap is Set

The Wanderer

The Child Within The Man

ADHD – A Love Story (Part 5)

The System Is Blinking Red

ADHD – A Love Story (Part 4)

A Quick Bite

ADHD – A Love Story (Part 3)

Thick As A Brick

How Do You Know If You Have ADHD?

The Warning Signs of ADHD

ADHD – A Love Story (Part 2)

Warning Signs

ADHD – A Love Story (Part 1)

The Ground Shakes

A Cure for ADHD

Satisfaction Guaranteed Or Your Money Back!

The Perfect Month

What A Great Time Of Year

That’s What I Call ADHD-Friendly Software

A recent ADHD newsletter noted that The Brain — a mind mapping software — might be a useful tool for [...]

Life in the Modern Age

Sixteen months ago I moved from the world of entrepreneurship — a portmanteau comprised of the French word entrepreneur, which [...]

E-Card Fun

Some more e-card humor: Expressing Your ADHD Self…Digitally A Few Laughs, Giggles & Groans

While Rome Burns

I’ve started collecting screenshots of online advertising. I’m trying to understand the message. The ad below says that if I’m [...]

Kiss Your Distractions Goodbye

Do one thing at a time

ADHD Does Not Exist

I can’t tell what is more disturbing. A book titled “ADHD Does Not Exist: The Truth About Attention Deficit and [...]