Fame inventor and artist Leonardo da Vinci produced some of the planet’s most recognized art. Yet, historians know he struggled with his work.
Today, more than 500 years after his death, Marco Catani, professor at King’s College London suggests that he may have had Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder also known by the acronym ADHD or ADD. It is the best explanation about why da Vinci had great trouble completing many of his projects.
Publishing in the periodical Brain, Catani lays out the evidence supporting his theory, drawing on known accounts of Da Vinci’s work practices and behavior. For example, he was known to suffer from chronic procrastination.
The researcher believes ADHD could also have been a factor in Da Vinci’s amazing creativity and myriad achievements across the arts and sciences he engaged in.
Catani, who is at the Institute of Psychiatry, Psychology & Neuroscience at King’s, said: ‘While impossible to make a post-mortem diagnosis for someone who lived 500 years ago, I am confident that ADHD is the most convincing and scientifically plausible hypothesis to explain Leonardo’s difficulty in finishing his works. Historical records show Leonardo spent excessive time planning projects but lacked perseverance. ADHD could explain aspects of Leonardo’s temperament and his strange mercurial genius.”
ADHD is a behavioral disorder characterized by continuous procrastination, the inability to complete tasks, mind-wandering and restlessness of the body and mind. While most commonly recognized in childhood, ADHD is increasingly being diagnosed among adults including university students and people with successful careers. Check out this ADHD online test.
Da Vinci’s difficulties with staying on task are known to be were pervasive from his childhood. Information from biographers and contemporaries have shown that he was constantly on the go, often hopping from task to task. He slept very little and toiled continuously night and day. He engaged in alternating short cycles of naps and waking interludes.
There is also indirect evidence to suggest that Leonardo’s brain was organized in a different way compared to the average person. He was also left-handed, so he was likely to be dyslexic and have dominance for language in his right brain. These attributes are obeservd among people with ADHD.
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