There is a very popular myth, perpetuated by a plethora of ADHD sites, blogs and communities, a myth that states that people with ADHD are good at ‘hyperfocusing’. What is meant by the term hyperfocus is an intense form of mental concentration that focuses consciousness on a narrow subject.
Hyperfocus Does Not Exist
However, there are two major problems with this; first is the fact that there is no actual empirical data that supports hyperfocus as an aspect of ADHD. Secondly, when persons without ADHD exhibit this type of behavioural, it is not called hyperfocus, it is what is known as “flow”. As it turns out, what these ADHD sites and sources are actually referring to is a concept known as “perseveration” (which is difficulty in changing from one task to another) and is infact supported by empirical evidence, furthering the notion that ADHD is not a gift.
People with ADHD Exhibit Perseverance
In children who do suffer from ADHD the experience of hyperfocus (which is actually perseverance) is more likely to occur in the presence of events that are fast changing and engaging, such as action movies, sporting ecents, or computer games. Below is a small excerpt of Dr. Russell Barkley attempting to expose the truth behind the concept of hyperfocus:
Conclusions and further reading
Hopefully, this will help to clarify at least one of the many outstanding issues surrounding ADHD and inspire you to do a bit more research yourself. Check out some of the texts in the sources for a more in depth look at the topics covered here.
Barkley, R. A. (1997). Adhd and the nature of self-control. New York, NY: The Guilford Press.
Csíkszentmihályi, M. (1997). Creativity, flow and the psychology of discovery and invention. New York: Harper Perennial.
Hallowell, E. M., & Ratey, J. J. (1994). Driven to distraction, recognizing and coping with attention deficit disorder from childhood through adulthood. New York, NY: Touchstone.
Webb, J. T. (2005). Misdiagnosis and dual diagnoses of gifted children and adults, adhd, bipolar, ocd, asperger’s, depression, and other disorders. Scottsdale, Az: Great Potential Press, Inc.