April 1, 2013

Mercedes-Benz G-Class, Hyperfocus and ADHD

I was diagnosed with ADHD Inattentive Subtype (ADD) in Sept 2007 when I found myself struggling in the job profile of a project manager and was down with depression. After the diagnosis I took several steps in an attempt to be productive and happy. The most important of those steps was to get back to the work of 3D modeling which I always enjoyed. By God's grace, things improved so much for me since then.

In June 2012, after working for 19 months at Mercedes-Benz Consult Graz, I wanted to write to Deutsche Welle's 'In Good Shape' programme which was covering the topic of ADHD and was inviting questions from its viewers. I wanted to ask them the question -
"Can some of the symptoms of ADHD like Hyperfocus and Novelty Seeking become an advantage for a professional with ADHD ? If so, then who and what conditions make the difference between whether such symptoms become an asset or a liability ?"

Before I wrote to Deutsche Welle I wanted to take the permission of my manager Mr. Reinhard Amann and told him about my ADHD diagnosis. I told him ADHD is a condition that researchers like Dr.Russell Barkley say is a very serious disorder which "does not add anything positive to human life".

Mr. Amann was very understanding and heard about my experience with ADHD with a lot of interest. He said from his side it was alright for me to write to Deutsche Welle. So I wrote this mail to them. It turned out that their episode of 'In Good Shape' covering ADHD did not mention anything about how to bring out the positive side of this condition.

Coming back to the topic of "Hyperfocus", Dr. Barkley says that books saying adults with ADHD are good at hyperfocusing is "mythology".

Dr. Barkley might want to know that there is actually an example of hyperfocus in Hindu mythology -
The story of Arjun and the Bird's Eye !! Also, there are individuals like Ms. Taylor Smith who believe that hyperfocus is one of the strengths of people with ADHD. In the video below she says -
"When ADHD people find something they like, we can focus on it for hours. We can work at it for hours. This is where ADHD people excel in the workplace, when they're doing work that they really enjoy or really have an interest in, they can work at it almost tirelessly, and that can be a real strength in a personal life as well as a professional life, and while ADHD people have incredible problems with lack of focus, for some reason we also have this power to hyperfocus on things."

As for me, I love the work that I do at Mercedes-Benz and irrespective of what Dr. Barkley thinks about hyperfocus, I believe that is what makes me do my job in the manner that I do it.

After discussions between my managers it was decided that from 1st April 2013 I will join Mercedes-Benz Research and Development India and continue doing the work which I was have been doing in Graz. It was a dream come true for me as it gave me the opportunity to do the work which I liked, for the company that I admired while living in my homeland.

The Left Brain, Right Brain Ad of Mercedes-Benz says something about their philosophy and maybe explains why inspite of telling them about my diagnosis (A faulty wiring in the brain ?), they had faith in the utility of my work for the wiring of the G-Class...

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