The history of ADHD is long and storied, which refutes the commonly held
notion that Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder is a "new" or a condition that is a side effect of the modern world.
Back in 1798, Sir Alexander Crichton described a condition called "mental restlessness" in his book titled "An Inquiry Into the Nature and Origin of Mental Derangement."
Flash forward to the 20th century, and the 1968 version of the Diagnostic And Statistical Manual Of Mental Health Disorders, used by mental health professionals to diagnose mental health disorders, referred to the condition as the "Hyperkinetic Reaction of Childhood."
The term "Attention Deficit Disorder" was not coined until the next version of the DSM was released.
Since then, the official medical and professional terminology for the condition has officially been Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), with or without hyperactivity (ADD).
Today, many of the world's most famous and successful people, including Bill Gates, Michael Jordan, Robin Williams, and Jim Carey suffer from the condition. (See list of famous people with ADHD).
But do we know if any famous folks throughout history have suffered from Attention Deficit Disorder. Yes, many of the most prominent figures in Western history are suspected of having the condition.
For example, people such as Leonardo Da Vinci, Ben Franklin, and Thomas Edison are suspected of having ADHD due to their prolific and varied achievements in a wide range of subjects, the tireless way the are noted to have pursued them.
While they existed prior to today's accurate diagnostic testing, their profiles, recorded statements, and known recorded behaviors according to historic records certainly suggest symptoms of ADHD and that ADHD may have been a contributing factor to their success.
Some prominent ADHD authors, such as psychotherapist Thom Hartmann, believe that what we currently call ADHD may be an evolutional strength that helped to guarantee survival during the age of hunters and gatherers. In his example, he argues that hyperactivity and inattention ie. moving quickly onto to a new stimuli would help hunter and gatherers quickly select and take down prey (dinner) and therefore help aid their survival
In examining the history of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, we have evolved from referring to ADHD as "mental derangement" and looking at the history of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder it is clear that the condition has long been with us and may or may not be a side effect of the modern age.
More importantly, recognizing the historical importance of the contributions that many ADHD sufferers have given the world provides an opportunity to reduce the stigma and prejudice associated with the condition.