The light bulb is a nearly universal symbol for power, energy and thought and there is no better image to represent ADD (or ADHD) than its glowing, semi-rounded shape. Up until today, ADD has been represented by those three (or four) letters and images of hyperactive little boys. Recent excuses for “news” articles in the New York Times have further blurred the picture about what ADD is and how it should (or rather shouldn’t) be treated. Well, I’m here to shed some light on the subject… pun FULLY intended. I’m calling on the ADD community to adopt a new symbol by which to define ADD/ADHD: the light bulb.
I’m sure there have been other “conditions” with worse misnomers than Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, but I can’t think of any at the moment. For starters, it was originally named “Minimal Brain Disorder” as if it were some form of brain damage. Secondly, there is often no “deficit” of attention for many people with ADHD, who struggle instead with hyper-focus: the inability to STOP paying attention to something, even when you want to. Adding further confusion to the issue is the fact that it’s possible to have Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and not actually be hyperactive. I believe they refer to it as “-H” or “inattentive.” How can a medical diagnosis be simultaneously contradictory and redundant? Serious. Epic. Fail.
Often ignored are the myriad of gifts and advantages that are markedly clustered in individuals who are diagnosed with this condition which, incidentally, is classified as a mental illness. What other psychological malady comes with a list of “gifts?” I haven’t seen many books or blogs touting the “strengths” of schizophrenia or the “advantage” of having anti-social personality disorder. Just saying. The bottom line is this: our brains work differently from the main stream population. In many, if not most cases, they work better than the average brain. The list of brilliant people with “attention deficit” is long and prestigious: Albert Einstein, Amelia Earhart, Abraham Lincoln, Walt Disney, Robin Williams, Eleanor Roosevelt, Leonardo da Vinci, John Lennon, Michael Jordan, Emily Dickinson and, most notably, Thomas Alva Edison.
Thomas Edison has been called the “poster child for ADD” so let’s make it official. Except, his face isn’t nearly as well-known as his invention. In fact, his invention is the SYMBOL for invention. It is also the symbol for genius, thought, ideas, creativity, inspiration, light, energy, originality, power, curiosity, intelligence, truth, brilliance, innovation etc. Literally every single one of the positive attributes which are inherent to the woefully ill-named “attention-deficit-except-when-I-hyperfocus-and-sometimes-hyperactive-but-not-always” disorder. I vote we re-name it the “Edison Complex” and that we adopt the light bulb as our symbol. All in favor? The aye’s have it!
Now when a parent walks into a classroom and tells the teacher her son was diagnosed with “Edison Complex,” that teacher will see a child with unlimited potential, not just a squirrely kid with “behavioral problems.” When the next doctor tells a parent his daughter has all the symptoms of “EC,” he will thank his lucky stars. Instead of viewing medication as a “substitute” for good parenting or as a last resort to help a “problem” child focus on boring busy-work at school, it will be seen for what it really is: a substance that allows someone with a brain that travels at the speed of light to slow it down long enough have a “Matrix Moment.” You know… that moment in the movie “Matrix” when Keanu Reeves is able to slow down bullets and exert complete control over his surroundings? Except instead of a “moment” the right medication at the right dose can help little Edison dodge bullets all day.
I have a new logo in production. I have re-named my ADD Coaching business. I have re-designed my website. All of these changes are centered around one concept and a singular symbol: the light bulb. From now on, there will be an image of a light bulb in every article I ever post for as long as I have access to cyber-space. I am dedicating this blog (and my life) to reaching out to others with “Edison Complex” and to showing them how to turn on that switch inside of them and let their light shine on the world.
Welcome to ADHD Power™.