Is ADHD an Evolutionary Gift in a Rapidly Changing World?
In his controversial book The Singularity is Near, Ray Kurzweil speaks of a time in the very near future when human intelligence will be amplified by thousands of times current abilities with artificial implants. Although these super humans will far outpace those without implants, Kurzweil admits that average humans will exponentially evolve their cognitive ability naturally in an attempt to keep pace. We may be seeing signs of this evolution now, where increasing numbers of children are being labeled with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
What if this “disorder” was actually an adaptive measure to the “information age” to help children organize and process large sums of information quickly without obsessing on meaningless details? A new research study seems to suggest that this may be the case. The study concluded that children who have wandering minds may indeed have sharper problem solving abilities and better multi-tasking skills.
From the Telegraph:
Daniel Levinson, a psychologist at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in the United States, said that those with higher working memory capacity reported ‘more mind wandering during these simple tasks’, but their performance did not suffer.
The results, published online in the journal Psychological Science, appear to confirm previous research that found working memory allows humans to juggle multiple thoughts simultaneously.
Dr Jonathan Smallwood, of the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Science in Leipzig, Germany, said: ‘What this study seems to suggest is that, when circumstances for the task aren’t very difficult, people who have additional working memory resources deploy them to think about things other than what they’re doing.’
Though the study wasn’t specifically designed for people diagnosed with ADHD, its primary symptom of “wandering minds” and inability to concentrate for long periods of time was the focus of the study.
In our increasingly outdated society that appears to value monotonous focus on narrow tasks, ADHD is viewed and treated as a disorder. In fact, some public school officials have attempted to force students diagnosed with ADHD to submit to being medicated so that they can sit through eight hours of excruciatingly boring memorization of meaningless details.
There are many recognized benefits to those labeled with ADHD. Here are just some of those beneficial characteristics:
- Ability to find alternate paths to overcome obstacles
- Able to take on large situations
- Adventurous, courageous, lives outside of boundaries
- Always finding alternate routes to any given location.
- Always willing to help others
- Ambitious – you want to be everything when “you grow up”
- Attractive personality – magnetic due to high energy
- Being able to see the big picture
- Being able to see the patterns in the chaos
- Being intuitive towards others’ difficulties
- Broad focus – can see more, notice things more
- Can create order from chaos
- Can do many projects at once
- Can make people feel they are heard
- Can see the big picture
- Can talk about several things at one time
- Can think on my feet
- Career variety
- Center of attention
- Comfortable talking in front of groups
- Comfortable with change and chaos
- Compassion for others and for themselves
- Conceptualizes well
- Constantly evolving
- Creates connections easily
- Creative writing
- Creative – musical, artistic, “dramatic”
- Good in a crisis
- Good at customer relations
- Determined to gain more control
- Eager to make friends
- Eager to try new things
- Empathetic, sensitive
- Excellent organizers using journals and reminders (notes etc.)
- Flexible – changes as the situation requires
- Fun guy to be around
- Good at conceptualizing
- Good at motivating self and others
- Good at multitasking
- Good at problem solving
- Good at public speaking (See the full list HERE)
Notably, each of these characteristics is an expression of independence and counter to being controlled. Is it any wonder why “officials” seek to treat children with these abilities with mind-numbing drugs? You can’t have a generation of free-thinking, problem-solving, independent humans running around if your goal is to have full-spectrum control over society, now can you?
It seems that a more responsible society should recognize special abilities and learn to harness and direct them to reach their full potential instead of suppressing them with drugs. Regardless, adaptation to our environment is natural and cannot be contained.
As our information environment becomes saturated to the point where minor details are irrelevant to the big picture, those with ADHD seem to possess the modern-day “opposable thumb” that allows them to progress while left-brained, detail-obsessed, pseudo robots may appear stuck scratching symbols on caves all day.