“Conditions for creativity are to be puzzled; to concentrate; to accept conflict and tension; to be born everyday; to feel a sense of self.” Erich Fromm
I have been thinking a lot about the overlapping of learning disabilities and creativity. There are a lot of behavioral and cognitive parallels between artists and people with Attention Deficit Disorder. Apparently the national guidelines for the diagnosis of this mental impairment have been amended to allow for treatment of children as young as four years old. Now, I am not a medical expert, nor am I dismissive of the existence of certain mental variations that cause trouble for individuals seeking to live a "normal" life. It does bother me though, that there are waves of potentially artistic little people being diagnosed and often medicated for "disabilities" just because their model for understanding the world is not the same linear model that our society has standardized.
I'm going to get personal here. As an older child I was diagnosed with A.D.D. by way of two measly testimonials (one from me, one from my mom). I was a straight-A student with a load of friends and the ability to concentrate for hours on end. Still, it took me so much time to complete tasks, and I often had trouble deciphering what homework and test questions were trying to ask. In light of my "diagnosis" I started a medication routine to alleviate the "problems." I continued to bring home perfect test scores, and I only had to study half the time to reach those goals! Fantastic, right?!
But here's what else happened. I COULD NOT THINK ABSTRACTLY. Like at all. The girl who at one point couldn't have enough paints and clay in her world, literally had zero desire to create anything. Thinking deep philosophical questions about life seemed like a waste of time. I did not care about the connections between things or the patterns they created. All that interested me were facts, data point, and timelines. I suppose that shouldn't have bothered me. After all, my lateral thinking was at an all time high, and it only cost my soul! Thankfully though, a small voice in the back of my head prevailed, and that medicated period was a brief one.
I was old enough to take account of my strengths, weaknesses and what kind of person the medication was making me. The trouble is that a seventeen year old who has been medicated since he was four is not going to remember that he was an artist once, and a nation that encourages the extinction of its creative citizens has no future.