I just read an article about a Professor in Dublin who is claiming that many of the famous people that were considered genius' throughout history probably had ADHD and produced their work due to the ability to hyper-focus. "Clearly ADHD is not a guarantee of genius, but the focused work-rate that it produces may enable creative genius to flourish"
My first thought was 'wouldn't it be wonderful if we could turn it on and off like a light switch, wow'. Although, I have read that people with ADD – ADHD do train themselves to do just that. Hmm… I believe that there is an emotional component to hyperfocusing. When we like something, really enjoy doing it, then hypefocusing happens even when we do not want it to (that is when the egg timer becomes your best friend!). However, hyperfocus on demand for tasks that we 'have to' do, well, that is another story.
Take this blog entry for instance; I made a promise to Scott Lewis that I would write a blog entry this morning and have it posted by 12:30. I am trying really hard to hyperfocus on this but my stomach is rumbling, my foot without a sock on it is cold, the recyclables need to be taken out and the cat is pacing like a hungry lion. That is just a few of the thoughts that are distracting me at this very moment. Hmm, where is that light switch? How do I turn it on?
I can focus on what needs to be done at any given moment but hyperfocusing is a different story, a different skill dare I say. A skill is something that we develop and use on purpose when it is called for. So that brings me back to whether or not it IS something that can be developed, whether or not it IS a skill?
According to Wikipedia: "Hyperfocus is an intense form of mental concentration or visualization that focuses consciousness on a narrow subject, separate from objective reality and onto subjective mental planes, daydreams, concepts, fiction, the imagination, and other objects of the mind. It is the normal state that occurs during hypnosis, especially at theta levels".
In an article in ADDitude Magazine, Larry Silver M.D. says that College kids "go into a state of intense focus to get work done". Is that true hyperfocus? The author, Royce Flippin states: "…the tendency for children and adults with attention deficit disorder to
focus very intently on things that do interest them. At times, the
focus is so strong that they become oblivious to the world around them.
AHA! There it is, "oblivious to the world around them", that is the key, the difference between focusing and true hyperfocusing!
I am putting it out to you, my readers, to answer this question. Is hyperfocusing, true hyperfocusing, a skill and can it be used on demand?
and remember Mindfulness Matters.