What if Sherlock Holmes has ADHD?

My darling husband and I just saw the new Sherlock Holmes movie with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law.

It was fabulous!

In one of the first scenes we see how Sherlock Holmes is able to look capture every nuance of a situation and immediately analyze it. He does it all in a split second, but through movie magic, the audience gets to see the entire analysis in slow motion.

So we get to see what makes him brilliant! When he’s on a case he’s unstoppable. His keen senses can pick up any clue, and his mind sorts through that data like a computer. He solves mysteries by piecing together the small pieces and seeing the bigger picture all at once, and all in the blink of an eye.

He’s also very physical, buzzing with energy. When danger comes he’s an unstoppable force, bringing his mind and athletic prowess together to defeat (or at least escape from) his foe.

But we also get to see that this ultra-sensitivity to his surroundings can make him a bit nuts.

When he’s not on a case, it seems like he doesn’t know what to do with himself. He almost feels assaulted by all of the sensory input. Maybe he’s actually using the drinking to dull his senses and his mind — self-medicating? And it seems like he’s searching for an outlet for his energy, which is where the fighting matches come into the picture.

So I was theorizing that this version of Sherlock Holmes would probably be labeled as having ADHD. Here are some adult ADHD symptoms that he displays:

  • Work space is cluttered and messy;
  • Trouble remembering appointments;
  • Zones out of conversations;
  • Problems with planning;
  • Several tasks are started at once;
  • Easily distracted;
  • Restless; and
  • Blurting out things he later regrets.

As a life coach, I noticed that his abilities are a gift when they have purpose … they make him the best detective around. But when they lack purpose, Holmes can’t handle them AND they are judged as being socially unacceptable.

I know that I’ve seen this type of thing in my own life. For instance, I love details, learning and personal growth. When it has a purpose, like life coaching, it’s celebrated. Yet in my personal life, I can come off as a know-it-all and have ever since my friend got in a fight with me and called my “Little Miss Professor” back in 6th grade.

And maybe I did behave like a know-it-all. I certainly have to be responsible for how I behave in relationships, learning to harness my gifts and talents without vomiting them all over someone else. But maybe — sometimes — it’s the other person’s hangup. Maybe they just haven’t learned how to deal with me.

Think about it: what parts of your personality have been criticized. Where have you been told that you’re being unacceptable? Could these same things be seen as a talent?

Have you made these personality traits your adversary? I know that I’ve kept quiet many times in my life, because I didn’t want to be seen as a pushy “Little Miss Professor.” Was it fair that I silenced myself? What did I miss out on?

Can these parts of your personality be harness and used with purpose? Maybe I could’ve given the information in a way that was “acceptable” and maybe I’d have actually have helped someone.

And when it comes to ADHD, maybe we just don’t know how to work with these gifts, yet? Maybe these are the brains of the next Albert Einstein, but society has made the condition into an adversary. Maybe learning to harness and use this mental energy for a purpose is actually the path to our future instead of a roadblock.

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