Consider the following excerpt from Hartmann's book, quoting from a letter written by the father of a young man who finally graduated (at the bottom of his class) from the one military academy out of half-dozen that did not not expel him.
There are two ways of winning in an examination, one credible, the other the reverse. You have unfortunately chosen the latter method and appear to be much pleased with your success. The first extremely discreditable feature of your performance was missing the infantry, for in that failure you demonstrated beyond refutation your slovenly happy-go-lucky harem-scarum style of work for which you have always been distinguished at your different schools.
I am certain that if you cannot prevent yourself from leading the idle, useless, unprofitable life you have had during your schooldays and later months, you will become a mere social wastrel, one of the hundreds of the public school failures, and you will degenerate into a shabby unhappy and futile existence. When that happens, you will have to bear all the blame for such misfortunes on yourself.
So wrote the parents of Winston Churchill.
Historically, the way we've looked at people with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is similiar to how Churchill's parents apparently saw their son: they're not motivated or trying hard enough, or they lack morality. There are, however, other ways to look at these people.
As someone who has spent the better part of my life riding on the knife's edge of cunning and charisma, it was immensely gratifying to realize that I am not alone. Hartmann's descriptions/profiles of ADHD high-achievers seem to be quite congruent with how I've conducted myself in a variety of arenas - be it secondary school, standardized tests, college or professionally. It's the most persistent pattern in everything I've done: if I could find an angle, a workaround, a loophole I could exploit, then by God - I'd take it, rules and conventions be damned.
Having a "hunter-wired" brain has been a mixed blessing: while it has offered me adventures and experiences my 10-year-old self could have never even imagined, it has also spawned its own set of weaknesses and problems ("Why can't I get my act together in [X] like everybody else has at my age?" "If I'm as smart as everybody says, how could I be so stupidly moronic at basic crap like [Z]?") that periodically drive me into moments of crippling self-doubt. My hunter-focused mentality has opened doors for me that many people spend their lifetimes trying to breach ... yet, frustratingly, it has also thwarted my ability to effectively manage some of life's most simple tasks.
Perhaps this is why reading Hartmann's book on ADHD is so gratifying - at its core, Hartmann's work is optimistic. The fundemental message is that there are constructive ways to harness the productive energy of a "hunter-wired" mind, and simultaneously manage its liabilities, provided we understand how ADHD affects cognition and our behavior patterns.
Work and holidays-related activities has kept me from devoting more time to my reading (I am currently halfway through the first book right now) but I am certainly going to write more on the topic in a future post when I have more material to consider.