The DaVinci syndrome?: Did you know... - CHADD's Adult ADH...

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The DaVinci syndrome?


Did you know Leonardo Davinci was famous for not having finished his projects? Between being a perfectionist and what many think was attributed to ADHD, he got so hyperfocused on science that he was attacked by many of his peers (and even called a failure by young Michelangelo) for appearing as not having fully accomplished much of his commissioned painting work.

Interesting to hear that. I'm sure some of us can identify with that, right? People claiming we don't finish stuff so why bother, right? Eh- I say "what did you learn from it?" not "what did you accomplish?"

Don't ever think of yourself as a has-been... or a never was. Sometimes the goal is different, and for different reasoning than what others are capable of, or prefer to understand. The road less traveled is often the one that leads to most enjoyment in the end. Kind of like customizing a sandwich to your tastes. What if you don't like the default choices? You never ask yourself "what does everyone else like?" you just simply say "I want this..and that...."

16 Replies

I totally agree. However it is very frustrating when you can't complete something. Like now...I just sat down to take a break from being in my kitchen most of the day trying to clean off my counters and make it at least look a little organized. This is about the 5th attempt at it and I'm determined to finish this time. Even with all the mess, it should not take me 4 1/2 hrs (so far as I'm still not finished).

cjnolet in reply to Gabesmom594

Oh lol. Yeah I see your point. My reference to finishing things is more about hobby obsessions- like getting deep into a hobby for months st a time and then suddenly becoming bored with it when it no longer provides the necessary stimulation. I definitely see where you are coming from with short term things like doing chores too.

Hidden in reply to cjnolet

Hobby or not hobby, I seem to be perfectly able to walk away from anything like I’m on a remote autopilot. I may be cleaning the kitchen and all of a sudden I have walked into my living room and I’m just standing there and I have no idea why.

Ibshopin in reply to Gabesmom594

OMG, I thought I wrote that at first. Clean off my counters, heck I'm lucky if I can do one. I basically take ever thing off one sort it out and put it on another counter. I can relate to the time, it seems like it should be such an easy job, but it takes so long. And in the end I'm really not done because I sorted everything out but never gets to its location, like stuff for the bathroom or the garage.

Gabesmom594 in reply to Ibshopin

Exactly. My husband always complains about the mess but he doesn't understand that I hate it too. The comparison I'm about to make may be extreme but I use this to try to explain to him. It's like someone who is paralyzed and trying to walk again. You know what you need to do (put one foot in front of the other ect...). You can even see the finished project in your mind but no matter how hard you try, you just physically can't make it happen.

By all means, cherish the bits and pieces of projects not completed. I have an undeserved reputation for knowing a lot of stuff. I do know a lot of stuff, though most of it is random and unconnected, lying in wait for someone to ask a question or bring up a subject that causes something I learned in my disconnected and wandering activity to rise to the surface. BUT also, there has to be some times when such as we lock in and carry a project, if not to “conclusion” (a word I find somewhat repellant) then too fruition. Da Vinci left a lot unfinished. But he also finished a great deal. I find if I can at least pretend that I am obsessive/compulsive and refuse obstinately to be shaken from a project, I can bring it to fruition. It’s a matter of just plunging on the bright idea that really feels right and not being dissuaded from pursuing it.

cjnolet in reply to Pogo75

Maybe that's a minor detail that all of my obsessions are seemingly connected in some way? I got deep into composing, music, & sound and, though I've finished projects like film scores, and written a few tunes, I think my point is that I moved on when I got bored. I still revisit every couple of years it seems and pick up where I left off, but my point is that I'm not striving to be a big time producer or even start my own production company. My interest in the art of sound and music is strictly experimental and satisfying- I care more about the way it makes me feel and thus I don't need to make money doing it, or produce albums as most of my musician friends seem to think I should be.

Same goes for other hobbies. I dive into reading biographies and I'll get infatuated over some important figure for months and months and then just generally get bored and I'll barely mention the name again for years. Why did I get bored? Who cares... I learned a lot during that period but it was no longer stimulating so I moved on, all the while taking my experiences with me to the next obsession. See the pattern here? Leonardo Da Vinci was an obsession of mine 4 years ago, then Walt Disney, then Steve Jobs, the Ben Franklin, and now Einstein. See the pattern?

My point is that sometimes I start to lose sight of why I loved these things to begin with because I start to compare myself to others and justify my obsessions based on how others might think rather than reminding myself of why I truly began getting obsessed in the first place. I've been obsessed over artificial intelligence for a few years- enough to make it my full time job. Immediately, I started allowing others to project themselves onto me and started questioning why I care so much? Money? Acceptance? What is it that makes me obsess so much? Am I missing something from my life? I've got a beautiful wife and 2 children and yet I'd prefer to spend my free time stimulating myself with obsessions.

In the end, I think this post was my revelation that there doesn't need to be a meaning, or a rhyme or a reason other than that somehting interests me and I love learning about it, doing it, consuming myself with it. This brings forth my analogy to food- we don't think about this type of stuff when it comes to preparing our food, we think about what makes our mouth water. Why should I spend so much time questioning WHY I obsess over things for such a limited time? Or why something no longer interests me? It's a waste of time- the reality is, because I once loved X and now I love Y even more, so I'll go do Y for awhile. THat doesn't mean X was a waste of time by any stretch, in fact many times Y was conditionally dependent on X and I wouldn't have gotten to X without Y.

Great example- I had a short career last year as a club DJ. Within 6 months, I went from learning how to use digital DJ decks to holding 3 residencies at big clubs around Baltimore, MD. It was amazing when I started, watching people groove to my house tunes, getting people wound up and excited, putting my own spin on music by selecting the perfect tunes to make people's nights. Then I got bored.... I realized, FUCK MAN, this can be automated and my biological neural network has already learned the function that makes this stuff tick.... I can't keep wasting my time doin this, it's the same thing every time now.... so then I dreamed up an idea of an app that would allow the audience to collaborate with the DJ... that app turned into a group radio algorithm using machine learning models, bam... before you know it, I'm cancelling gigs and quitting my residencies because I'm wanting to get a startup off the ground, see the pattern here? It builds and builds and builds. The DJing was necessary to get to the next part. Now I'm doing research on automating DJ processes for my PhD program... it just kept building. This is where I say our minds are unique and capable of doing superhuman things. I may appear to others as having given up on DJing, then given up on a startup, but to me, it was all necessary to get to where I am now. The universe is taking me on a ride, I'm just tuning in and enjoying it. There doesn't need to be a rhyme or reason why.

Make sense?

Gabesmom594 in reply to cjnolet

It makes perfect sense. You remind me of my son. He is also interested in music and has started in a local band. He has been attending our community college for computer science. Now he has taken all the courses he can there and should be going to UCF now for his Bachelor but instead is taking the semester off to focus on his music and decide if computer science is really what he wants to peruse. He works as a waiter at a very nice restaurant and does well but just brought home a handbook from his manager to read so he can start to bartend.

Gabesmom594 in reply to Pogo75

Fruition is now how my kitchen is. LOL. I would really like for it to be perfect but I know it's not going to be - ever. My son's girlfriend is coming for a visit next week and I hate for her to see the results of this brain challenge I play everyday. My son is trying to help with things but he has the same issues as me. Thanks for your reply Pogo75.

Ibshopin in reply to Pogo75

That's me! I know a lot about nothing. I just come across like I know stuff, like plants, people call me the plant lady. I really don't know a lot of stuff about plants, but what I do I think I just come across very confident so I must know a lot. Even when I go shopping I get stopped by customers all the time, and I'm not exaggerating. They will apologize and I have been told that I just look *"Official". Official, yes, I know how to shop, never thought about but it must be that I am a confident shopper. And I'm talking about Goodwill, Costco, Walmart all the time. I was even shopping at Target wearing a purple Polo and someone stopped me, there was a Target employee, in a red shirt 15 feet away. Here is my ADD kicking in, I'm writing this long post and I forget already what started me out. 😐

Thank you for sharing this. I have been punished my whole life for my lack of "consistency" in my interests and work. I do finish things, I just jump to the next thing, which doesn't necessarily relate to the think I just completed. It drives my husband crazy because after 30 years, I am still a Jill of all trades and a goddess of none. I realize now that I do things in order to learn. Learning and challenging myself if my motivation. So when I read this quote from your post, "I think this post was my revelation that there doesn't need to be a meaning, or a rhyme or a reason other than that somehting interests me and I love learning about it, doing it, consuming myself with it." I thought, that's it exactly. That's the door out that I have been looking for. My superpower is is learning.

One other thought about this conversation. For several years I was a teacher in a school for highly gifted high school students. Some were, I am sure AD/HD. But many who exhibited similar behaviors were in fact way over on the Perception scale of the Myers-Briggs Inventory. They would move from deep interest to deep interest and, often, found it difficult to stop researching and thinking about the subject to get around to doing a writing assignment about it. Almost everyone (AD/HD or not) has had a good career since that school.

cjnolet in reply to Pogo75

This is interesting! According to Meyers-Briggs, I'm a "Visionary" personality. I guess I always thought my tireless want/need to pursue my interests was linked to the dopamine high of needing to pursue stimulation where others got it naturally.

I think you are right, there are probably many more dimensions to this than just being ADHD (as can be validated slightly from the responses on this board).

There are a lot of similarities between Perception types and AD/HD. We found ourselves in the first year of the school (a residential school, by the way—so no parental supervision) trying to understand why so many assignments were late and why so many of these youngsters kept calling themselves “slackers.” They were not slackers. But the business of deadlines had to be both enforced but also monitored I a very different way.


Yup, I just read his biography by Walter Isaacson. He starts the book with saying that Leonardo would probably be on ADHD medication if he was around today. But here is the thing, is there something really wrong with enjoying the process rather than the end results? Anyway It did really make me feel good about myself after reading that book. Being able to identify my thought process with Leonardo daVinci’s, did a great job of pepping up my self esteem. I highly recommend this book for my fellow ADHD-ers. It does explain Leonardo’s thought process pretty well and you will very likely identify with that process. Even Leonardo was not good at everything. He was not good at math. He did play an instrument but could not read music, which I suck at too. However he was great at improvising which is not hard for me to do.

You should add isaacsons Einstein and Steve jobs biographies to your reading list as well! Very good reads and 2 others believed to have adhd. See the pattern?

I’ve never felt shamed for the way I think. I feel more shamed for the way people treat me. But growing up, I could never focus on conversations long enough in crowds so I was always the guy with my guitar in hand or the dude who’s super focused on some hobby that I often didn’t give one shit what was going on around me.

Now I’m the guy at work that’s given problems nobody else can/will solve because my supervisors have seen what I’m capable of. There’s nothing to be ashamed of in the way we think.

I am not good at arithmetic either but similar to Leonardo I have a visual intuition for complex concepts in machine learning that often stuns the math phds I work with every day. I can’t always speak their language but I am practical in my ability to problem solve and if you look at history, those are the individuals who make things happen

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