Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

A Balanced Approach to ADHD and Personality Assessment: A Jungian Model

Academic journal article North American Journal of Psychology

A Balanced Approach to ADHD and Personality Assessment: A Jungian Model

Article excerpt

In this paper, we will attempt to demonstrate how a Jungian personality model may provide a more positive frame through which to view Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD). ADHD is described as a neurodevelopmental disorder characterized by persistent patterns of inattention, hyperactivity, and/or impulsivity that interfere with functioning or development in important life areas (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). The disorder is composed of two distinct subtypes and a third combined subtype. The "Predominantly Inattentive" type (ADHD-PI or ADD) is characterized by lapses in focus, forgetfulness, and distractibility. The "Predominantly Hyperactive-Impulsive" type (ADHD-PH) is characterized by physical excitability, difficulty with self-control, and talkativeness (American Psychiatric Association, 2013). The third "Combined Presentation" (ADHD-C) is characterized by a blending of ADHD-PI and ADHD-PH symptomologies. The three subtypes are often researched as a single diagnosis, however.

The majority of ADHD research has appropriately been concerned with the deficits and negative outcomes associated with the diagnosis. That research has consistently found that adults meeting the diagnostic criteria for ADHD are more likely to report higher rates of depression, substance abuse, interpersonal difficulties, and lower educational attainment than adults without significant ADHD symptomology (e.g. Abel, Johnston, Adler, & Swindle, 2007).

ADHD, Creativity, and Divergent Thinking

Fewer studies have been devoted to exploring what positive or neutral characteristics might be associated with ADHD. Those that have suggest that ADHD is associated with social and psychological benefits in addition to noted deficits, and imply that a more balanced accounting of the diagnosis may be needed. Indeed, this is in line with how some researchers and clinicians are currently conceptualizing ADHD. In a recent issue of the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, the journal's editor called on the journal's readers to broaden the scope of research and discussion on ADHD. He wrote:

The time is ripe to intensify discussion about how research on ADHD can be moved away from the deficit-focused view to a concept that is oriented towards resources a patient might be able to recruit, thus, from a psychopathological definition to [a definition that includes] the affected individual's potential to function at a high level despite impairment's in attention, motor control, cognition, and emotional regulation (Lesch, 2018, p. 191).

To date this call has been answered by a few notable studies. Sedgwick, Merwood, & Asherson (2018) found that adults diagnosed with ADHD consistently described several positive characteristics associated with their disorder. Qualitative analyses of interviews with adult males diagnosed with ADHD produced six positive themes (and nineteen sub-themes) associated with ADHD among their sample. The Themes (and sub-themes) included: (1) Cognitive Dynamism (divergent thinking, hyper-focus, creativity, and curiosity); (2) Courage (nonconformist, adventurousness, bravery, integrity, and persistence); (3) Energy (spirit, psychological, physical); (4) Humanity (social intelligence, humor, self-acceptance, and recognition of feelings); (5) Resilience (self-regulation and sublimation); and (6) Transcendence (appreciation of beauty and excellence). The authors submit that while some of these positive characteristics may be directly associated with ADHD, others may be ADHD coping strategies that were developed over time.

Creativity in particular has been a recurrent theme among researchers investigating positive characteristics of ADHD. Creativity may be defined as "the ability to produce original and valuable ideas or behaviors" (Shi, Cao, Chen, Zhuang, & Qui, 2017, p. 1). Abraham, Windmann, Siefen, Daum, and Gunturkun (2007) demonstrated that adolescents with ADHD exhibited distinct cognitive advantages (in addition to disadvantages) in creative performance tasks compared to non-ADHD controls. …

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