«Hyperactive and erratic, Leonardo Da Vinci suffered from ADHD»

A wandering-minded genius, prone to distraction and often inconclusive, used to use his left hand, and with possible language disorders indicative of a brain that is ‘wired’ in an unusual way: Leonardo da Vinci had all the characteristics of a patient with syndrome of attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). To suggest this diagnosis, on the basis of historical documents of the biographers and the contemporaries of the Renaissance artist, is Marco Catani, an Italian psychiatrist from London’s King’s College, who published his study in the journal Brain.

“Although it is impossible to make a post-mortem diagnosis on a person who lived 500 years ago,” says Catani – “I’m convinced that ADHD represents the more convincing and scientifically plausible hypothesis explaining the difficulty of Leonardo in completing his work. The historical documents indicate that he took too much time to plan his projects but he lacked perseverance. ADHD could explain various aspects of his temperament and of his genius, strangely fickle”.

Five centuries after his death, “I hope that the case of Leonardo shows that ADHD is not related to a low IQ or to lack of creativity,” – the neuropsychiatrist continues – “but rather to the difficulty in exploiting one’s own natural talent. I hope that the legacy of Leonardo help us change the stigma surrounding ADHD”.

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