Soul in a Hyperactive World: ADHD as a Myth of Our Times



We are very happy to bring this special seminar to you from the folks at the Chicago Jung Institute.  Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is a DSM psychiatric diagnosis, but it is also an image, a “shadow” figure projected by a contemporary culture that over-values rationality, organization, and control of the world onto those who cannot—or won’t—live up to its demands. Like other shadow figures, the image of “ADHD” is simultaneously devalued and idealized. Leaping freely from one idea to another—and hyper-focusing on what is compelling at the moment—the carrier of “ADHD” is conventionally thought to lack “executive function,” and to be in need of medication.  And yet, like Steve Jobs, the “ADHD” personality often shows superior creativity, intuition, and an ability to deal with novel situations. In these scenarios, its virtues are recognized, and even envied.  We suggest that “ADHD” be re-imagined, not just as an image of inability or failure to adapt to our culture’s cognitive demands, but as a symbol of the creative imagination needed to balance them. This change also requires rethinking the central role that medication has played in responding to ADHD.


Al Collins, Ph.D. is a Licensed Clinical Psychologist with additional background in cultural psychology (Ph.D in Indian languages). He has credentials in quantitative EEG and brain mapping, and in neurofeedback (EEG biofeedback).

Elaine Molchanov, MSW, IAAP, is a board certified Clinical Social Worker and Jungian Analyst with extensive experience working with patients who present with ADHD.

Learning Objectives:

  1. Recognize the symptoms of ADHD (clinical diagnosis) and how they relate to “ADHD” (cultural image).
  2. Apply the myth of “ADHD” as a corrective to the dominant cultural values of the present day.
  3. Utilize the related mythemes of the puer eternus and “ADHD” to navigate the overt and “shadow” sides of popular culture.
  4. Recognize how the confusion of “ADHD” with ADHD may cause misdiagnosis and improper treatment.


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