Talk:Hyperfocus

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Treatment[edit]

There's a section titled 'Treatment' but it doesn't go on to actually mention anything about treatments at all.

80.126.65.34 22:59, 28 January 2007 (UTC)

Rename page?[edit]

Should this page be renamed "Special abilities in ADHD"?

Perhaps there should be a page on special abilities associated with psychiatric disorders, including Autistic savant, hyper-imagination (listed in Bipolar_disorder) -- see List of people believed to have been affected by bipolar disorder; the Perfectionism (psychology) of obsessive-compulsive disorder. A closely related topic is Evolutionary psychology but the two topics should be kept separate to avoid confusion and unnecessary controversy.

Evolution?[edit]

The author's statement that "it is difficult to see why evolution hasn't removed it unless it bestows some benefit" is without proper logic. Evolution does not simply keep beneficial traits and eliminate negative traits. If a trait does not interfere with an organism's ability to reproduce in its life, it will not be eliminated from the gene pool. Even though ADHD hasn't been removed does not mean in any way that it is positive, it only means that it may not be hindering the sexual activity of humans. Also, evolution can take obscene ammounts of time for an entire trait to be removed completely from the gene pool, so a relatively newly discovered (1902) disorder should not have already been removed from human genetics.

umm, it presumably has been around for a very long time, even if it was first clinically described in 1902. plus, there's more to passing on genes than sexual activity. for example, providing enough resources for one's offspring to survive springs to mind. hyperfocus seems likely to have a role there, though whether it's beneficial or harmful likely depends on the circumstances. Derex 05:39, 12 July 2005 (UTC)
I guess I need to read the rules, but the evolution statement in the article makes absolutly no sense, can it just be removed?
I think it makes sense. And its a good counterweight to make the article more NPOV after all statements of anti-ness in society against ADHD.
To me it doesn't make sense and should be removed. Evolution definately keeps negative traits around - e.g. susceptibility to diabetes, cancer. Cpc464 13:28, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
Diabetes and cancer had virtually nil effect on human reproduction before large populations of people had access to the nutrition, protection, and medical care for them to be common medical problems (young people still rarely get cancer, diabetes is often a result of overexposure to sugar). Plus many negative traits have a silver lining that allows them to survive the evolutionary axe. Sickle-cell anemia causes no deficit in carriers and confers resistance to malaria. Hypothetically an allele of a gene that increases the chance of homosexuality in men could survive on the X-chromosome, so long as it also conferred a benefit to woman. So if ADHD exists in around 5% of the population, and has some obvious disadvantages (most obviously lack of self-control or inattentiveness), it's not such a terrible question to ask what benefits it might confer as well.Sean Patrick Santos 05:53, 29 September 2006 (UTC)
If "hyperfocus" is the result of a relatively recent mutation, it's quite possible that evolution hasn't had a chance to remove it yet. 99.234.101.193 (talk) 07:24, 2 September 2008 (UTC)

I love it[edit]

Formal measures of creativity... ha. Nice to know that creativity is so well behaved that it easily allows itself to be measured by a formal procedure...

"According to the dictionary"[edit]

According to which dictionary? I'm reworking this

Revision to reflect subject matter[edit]

I've revised the article to focus on hyperfocus, not on ADHD. ADHD has its own article. oneismany 15:10, 17 November 2005 (UTC)

Questions[edit]

Who coined the term "hyperfocus?" When? Why the etymology (hyper [above] + focus)? Have any scientific studies been done on it, or just philosophical speculations?

I can't find 'hyperfocus' in Wictionary, or in the OED, but here are some notes about the prefix hyper- from the OED:
'repr. Gr. - ( prep. and adv., ‘over, beyond, over much, above measure’); in Gr. combined adverbially with verbs, in the local sense ‘over, above, beyond’ [...]
'Comparatively few of these have come down or been adopted in English, hyperbole, hyperborean, with their derivatives, being the chief; but from the 17th century hyper- has been extensively used, more or less on Greek analogies, in the formation of new compounds, and has even become a kind of living element, freely prefixed to adjectives and substantives, as in groups 1 and 4 below.
'I [...] 1. General formations: a. adjectives, as hyper-angelical, -archæological, -archiepiscopal, -barbarous, -constitutional, -creaturely, -diabolical, -equatorial, -magical, -magnetic, -miraculous, -pathetic, -prophetical, -stoic, see also hyperethical, hyperrational, etc., below. b. Rarely in substantives (except abstracts from the adjs.), and verbs; e.g. hyper-analysis, hypergoddess, hyperdeify: see below. [...]
'II [...] 4. General formations, comprising adjectives (with their adverbs), substantives, and (a few) verbs; often corresponding to one another in meaning. a. adjectives (with corresponding adverbs): as hyperaccurate, -acid, -active, -acute, -archaic, -brutal, -carnal, -civilized, -classical, -colloquial, -composite, -confident, -conscientious, -educated, -elegant, -excitable, -excursive, -fastidious, -grammatical, -hilarious, -idealistic, -latinistic, -logical, -lustrous, -metaphorical, -metaphysical, -modest, -moral, -mystical, -neurotic, -obtrusive, -orthodox, -pure, -ridiculous, -saintly, -sceptical, -sentimental, -speculative, -superlative, -torrid, -tragical, -transcendent, -tropical, -wrought, etc. b. substantives, as hyperacidity, -activity, -acuteness, -archaism, -characterization, -civilization, -climax, -conformist, -conscientiousness, -conservatism, -determination, -dialecticism, -dialectism, -division, -exaltation, -excitability, -federalist, -hypocrisy, -orthodoxy, -panegyric, -paroxysm, -pietist, -plagiarism, -ritualism, -scrupulosity, -sensibility, -subtlety, -vitalization, etc. c. verbs, as hypercharacterize, -emphasize, -realize, -vitalize. [...]
'1867 ANSTIE in Bienn. Retrosp. New Syd. Soc. 89 The..*hyperactive condition of the brain in acute mania. [...]
'IV. The more important words belonging to all these groups appear in their alphabetical order as main words; others of less importance or less frequent use, and mostly of recent introduction, follow here. (For many of these no statement of derivation is needed, as they are simply formed by prefixing hyper- to another word, the etymology of which will be found in its place: e.g. hyperacuity, f. hyper- + ACUITY, q.v. In the following words e often replaces æ, , esp. in U.S. usage; the alternative spelling is not given for each word individually.) [...]'
and from 'focus':
'b. fig. 1807 Uti Possidetis xxx, All the Talent of the Nation Focuss'd in Cab'net concentration. 1862 W. M. ROSSETTI in Fraser's Mag. Aug. 195 Focussing our observation to a single point. 1863 J. BROWN Horæ Subs. (ed. 3) 80 Inferior to my father..in power ofso to speakfocussing himself. 1888 BURGON Lives 12 Gd. Men I. iii. 331 He could..instantly focus his thoughts.'
oneismany 13:55, 18 November 2005 (UTC)


A quick search on Google of "hyperfocus adhd" yielded a few immediate results of examples of it being used as a common term to describe the action of this. A few interesting bits of information that I came across on the top ten of that search are as follows and the term hyperfocus is used:
  • Both research and clinical experience tells us that ADHD Children can exhibit a type of "hyperfocus" - intense concentration and single-minded focus when the activity is very interesting. This situation is most often found when ADHD Children play computer games. ADHD Children may have an amazing ability to hyperfocus on a computer game, one of the few things that moves fast enough to maintain their attention, unlike homework or routine chores. [1] Under the heading, "Hyperfocus and Outbursts". Seems an interesting read.
  • While this state of rapt attention may be the sign of a creative mind, it may also be "hyperfocus," which is a similar condition that individuals with ADHD frequently experience. You can't tell children with and without ADHD from how they engage in high-interest activities -- such as videos, computer games, or reading for pleasure. The key is effort. How your child performs during projects that require effort -- but aren't necessarily high-interest -- can mark the difference.[2] mid-way down the page.
  • 1. Selective attention. This means a child goes from one extreme to another, showing the ability to intensely concentrate, or "hyperfocus," on something he enjoys doing, something he is good at or feels is relevant or interesting, yet becomes inattentive and tunes out things he finds routine or boring. [3]
  • Remember that ADHD usually includes a tendency to overfocus or hyperfocus at times. This hyperfocusing can be used constructively or destructively. Be aware of its destructive use: a tendency to obsess or ruminate over some imagined problem without being able to let it go. [4] #43
Although this does not show the origin of the term. Yet a yield on one page, cited a particular book, "Answers To Distraction by Edward M. Hallowell, M.D. and John J. Ratey, M.D. ISBN 0-553-37821-X", when it used a quote and the term hyperfocus.[5]
Sir Milas Boozefox The Third 19:22, 8 March 2006 (UTC)

NPOV[edit]

I started this article, and would like to commment that recent changes have made it much better. IMHO, I feel it currently presents, on balance, a good NPOV about a mysterious subject. Vaoverland 09:40, 21 November 2005 (UTC)

Great, I'm glad you approve. I think this is just a start though. There must be more literature that can be brought to bear on the topic, and further important details that can be included. Also, "Psychiatric Views" could use a small cleanup (the prose leaves something to be desired in places); and the topic is open to similar "X Views." I would like to add that this is an approach I would like to see for other characteristics or abilities that are identified as 'symptoms' of ADHD. oneismany 11:20, 21 November 2005 (UTC)


Relevant to include?[edit]

(Interpretation as part of attention problems)

Hey, I am very, very new at this and I'm scared to edit the actual entry because I think I'll do something wrong, but I think it could be valuable to add another common way of looking at hyperfocus to the article: some resources on ADHD consider hyperfocus a natural expression of the ADHD brain's difficulty in *regulating* attention. In other words, the ADHD brain may not turn the attention on to the teacher, which is well documented and the basic inspiration for the ADD name, but the same regulatory problems could lead to difficulty turning attention *off* of something. I'm not saying it's scientific, but it is repeated in the literature and, well, makes some sense as another way to look at the (apparent) phenomenon of hyperfocus: as part of a suite of attention-regulation difficulties (paying attention, switching attention, not switching attention, etc.)

I'd like to provide the books where this kind of explanation is provided, but I don't have any of them with me at school--I think it can be found in "You Mean I'm Not Lazy, Stupid or Crazy?" but I'm not sure. I don't know if this will be any help at all, but hopefully someone will see it and can advise me as to whether it would be appropriate to add this content.

Also, I seem to have accidentally created a new page (User talk: Hyperfocus?) by clicking the "to leave a comment click here" link. This is because I suck, but while I've blanked out the content, I'm not sure how to make it go away. Again, I'm sorry for my incompetence and will be attempting to familiarize myself better with procedures so as to avoid this sort of thing, but in the meantime if someone sees this and can help me fix it, I'd appreciate it. Siwangmu 02:53, 29 November 2005 (UTC)

Hmmm ... "some psychiatric resources regard hyperfocus as attention-regulatory disorder"? oneismany 12:00, 29 November 2005 (UTC)
I am a WP administrator will take care of deleting the accidental page User talk: Hyperfocus?. We want to encourage contributions, so take a shot at editing the article and communicating here are you are comfortable. If you goof something up, you can be assured that someone will be watching changes, and will "fix" it. When we get into a battle over opinions or presentation of facts, there are occasionally "edit wars" on WP; it is better to discuss such matters on this page and reach for agreement amongst us. Out of curiosity, it sounds like you are away at school (prep or college?). Does hyperfocus as you experience it work as a help or hindrance for you? Can you manage it to end up with a net benefit? Mark in Historic Triangle of Virginia Vaoverland 23:41, 13 March 2006 (UTC)
I'll answering this for myself, if it's not too presumptuous (I am at college, Colorado School of Mines, and have ADHD as well). It definitely helps when I hyperfocus on the homework, etc. The problem is that I easily hyperfocus on whatever I happen to be doing, especially if it's very interesting, but it might not be productive or entertaining to others. It makes my life somewhat more unpredictable than it should be, and makes me kind of irritating to be around if I don't try to restrain my enthusiasm for what I rationally know is quite mundane. Also, losing track of time would be awful if I hadn't gotten into the habit of trying to check the time constantly (when without a watch, I still find myself unaware of what time it is, even to within a few hours). The other thing I can say is that I develop an emotional attachment to what I'm focusing on, so I get kind of moody when some project ends.
This question was not directed to me, but if it is something you are curious about, I would like to answer. I have ADHD/ADD, depending on what decade you're diagnosing in. I have definatley noticed the ability to hyperfocus--I hyperfocus all the time by accident. Art projects, particularly interesting books (not textbooks, unfortunatley, unless its something I really care about), something I'm writing (usually whatever I write for fun, hardly ever happens with essays)--all are game. It can be extremely useful, but like the earlier writer said, if I hyperfocus on something rather odd (like catching a gecko, or the doodle in my notebook) that isn't otherwise useful, it can be quite destructive. I also completely and utterly loose track of time, and my estimates will be up to 6 hours wrong (quite annoying, to look up from a painting, and find it's 2:00 AM). Since I love to read, and can hyperfocus on most fiction novels, this makes me an extremely fast reader, although I read fast even when I am not hyperfocused. This lets me excel where reading a passage rapidly is needed, like on some timed tests, if the passage is interesting enough. Vary rarely will I hyperfocus on my scantron, though it happens once in a blue moon if I liked the topic. I have been able to manage it more as I get older, but that's not saying much. I can only in the rarest of cases force myself to hyperfocus, and its generally only if I find something interesting about what I'm doing. (Wow! I think that character might be a foil! Is that a foreshadow? Is the author of my history textbook biased?! etc. Like I said, it's not common). Would I say I net benifit from it? Well, I think so, but I'm biased. I particularly enjoy it when I'm reading (I can almost achieve speed-reader speeds without the word skipping nonsense) or working on an art project (I'm so in the moment. It's a great feeling, lets me totally forget about all the stresses in my life). I tend to dismiss the more negetive consequences of my actions, because I don't think the homework I don't do is interesting anyway. It certianly makes me do things that I enjoy! Alex60466176 (talk) 21:36, 12 April 2009 (UTC)

I removed the reference to Osho's take on meditation because his views are one of many many views on meditation (some reference to "meditation is not concentration"). Some types of meditation are specifically intended to develop concentration. In any event, Osho's opinions are not particularly relevant to the over all subject of the article. lateshuvit Feb. 19, 2007.

Specify[edit]

Is this article asserting that hyperfocus occurs in all people who have ADD/ADHD, or are you simply stating that all people with hyperfocus have the disorder, but not necessarily the reverse?

Hyperfocus is a state of mind, or mental activity that might be considered an ability or a symptom of a disorder, depending on your point of view. oneismany 19:35, 16 December 2005 (UTC)
I started this article, and intended neither of the above statements. I think that some people who seem to meet the diagnostic criteria for ADHD have mental experiences which they find is well-defined by the label hyperfocus. I believe that whether manifestations are good or bad is a matter of circumstance and perspective, which is I guess what oneismany has said. Vaoverland 23:33, 13 March 2006 (UTC)

Hyperfocus and ADD[edit]

As someone who experiences hyperfocus on a regular basis, I'm puzzled by the posited connection to ADD. If anything, I would consider myself to have a psychological condition that is the polar opposite of ADD. I'd like the article to address this somehow; is anyone else aware of any research on the subject that finds hyperfocus to be a point on an individual's "attention spectrum" distant from ADD (or something along those lines)? — Korpios 15:19, 24 April 2007 (UTC)

Hi Korpios, I also have had regular hyperfocusing experiences. My opinion (based on personal experience and researching of what little info is available) is that AD/HD and hyperfocusing (AR/HO) are very similar, but can lead to "polarized" outcomes. My reasoning is that they only become "polar opposites" after the behaviour is observed as negative (AD/HD) or positive (hyperfocus). So Korpios I would say if yours (or anyones) attention produces positive actions it would therefore be distant from AD/HD and the article should reflect this so people who are using the term hyperfocus don't think they have a disorder.
The "attention spectrum" may look something like (with you at 2);
1) Attention Deficit/Hyper-Active Disorder (AD/HD) and
2)"Attention Resting/Hyper-Focus Order" (AR/HO or hyperfocus).
Attention Deficit = Producing low levels of activity/attention (eg. mind wondering from study to doodling, daydreaming, etc.)
Hyper-Active = Producing hyper levels of activity/attention (eg. mind jumping from study to chattering, sport etc.)
Attention Resting = Same as Attention-Deficit only managed better (eg. nature documentary, reading, walking in park, goal orientated doodling, goal orientated daydreaming etc.?)
Hyper-Focus = Same as Hyper-Active only managed better (eg. rss, wikipedia, mindmapping, etc?)
AR/HO is a term I made up. Mental Health Disclaimer regarding hyperfocusing: meditation helped me to find the balance between poles and steady/train the mind.
Danwalker 16:07, 6 October 2007 (UTC)
Well, I do have ADD/ADHD. Perhaps I can explain better than one who does not. I think ADHD is oddly named; we do not have a deficit of attention, we merely have trouble directing that attention. Something highly stimulating will capture our attention, and capture it so completely that we may loose track of the rest of the world. We cannot often do things (like give attention to subjects) in moderation, it is all or nothing. Thus, we, those who are known for our "inattentiveness" have the ability to hyperfocus. I know nothing about you, Korpios, but I do know that there are people who have more pronounced cases of ADHD than others. Perhaps you have a very mild case of it, or have learned to cope so well you don't notice the distracted downside. Perhaps not; maybe by some quirk of nature you can just naturally channel your attention as we do when something captures our elusive interest. I speculate that this maybe is not improbable; after all, hyperfocus has connections (at least on the surface) to learned states of mind like meditation, which our skills you are supposedly able to teach yourself or be taught.
I guess perhaps I fail to explain. My flighty, picky attention is hard to convey to someone who does not have such a fickle mind. Perhaps you could compare it to the difference between reading a dry, impossible chemistry textbook in a crowded lunch room and watching a engrossing action film in a theatre. For those with "worse" ADHD, we are often in that crowded lunch room, that dry tome sitting before us. But sometimes, we are in the theatre, and know nothing about what goes on outside of the darkened room. We are almost bipolar in this way---a rough, crude comparison is to that of one who is bipolar, so very happy and alive, and then so very depressed and detached. This is the contrast we, too live with, the contrast between interesting and not, attention capturing and boring...--Alex60466176 (talk) 03:14, 9 May 2009 (UTC)
I can agree to this. When I want to I can hyper focus and forget the world. Actually I think I always do this: everything or nothing. When someone tries to pull my attention I can choose to lose it, or not. But sometimes its the other way around. I'm reading a book, and suddenly I realized I was thinking about some topic and my eyes just kept on going for a page or so. It's as if I can't control my focus anymore. When I was a kid I had this with every sentence in a book, and these days I'd say a few sentences every 2nd page. Maybe you learn to deal with it? 92.78.255.103 (talk) 15:08, 6 August 2010 (UTC)
It seems Alex above said it best, but then got distracted?

" I think ADHD is oddly named; we do not have a deficit of attention, we merely have trouble directing that attention. Something highly stimulating will capture our attention, and capture it so completely that we may loose track of the rest of the world."

...and Alex suggests, the boring can destroy our lives. Regular people can seemingly choose to concentrate on the boring and unrewarding, (one type of) the ADD person can not. In part (according to Dr Russell Barkley's recent youtube lectures) because that type of ADHD person can not be directed by future consequence (such as rewards), and so —only does well in (say) jobs that provide immediate consequence (such as rewards,) such as actor, policeman, mechanic, etc, —but NOT repetitive factory, nor paperwork etc where the only visible consequence or achievement is a distant paycheck. Likewise, if one loves biology one can learn extremely complex stuff about living systems, but cannot learn (focus on) the required dry dead chemistry. In that case, the rewards are the learned germane facts. For adhd, "the future" is like "red" to the color blind, and likewise, unless it's pointed out, he never knows there is a deficit (except that performance is somehow mysteriously impaired..."perhaps I am stupid or lazy").
Dr. Barkley stresses that indeed, ADHD is a misnamed disorder on several fronts. One term he likes (tounge-in-cheek) is "intention disorder." Scans show ADHD is mostly in the frontal lobes, and involves impaired "executive functions." "The frontal lobe contains most of the dopamine-sensitive neurons in the cerebral cortex. The dopamine system is associated with reward, attention, short-term memory tasks, planning, and motivation. " ...typical adhd problem areas, and the two adhd drugs play with dopamine...(which I call the main reward/learning chemical). Here's Dr. Barkley in a 4-minute video.
There are at least two major classes of ADHD plus the two combined in one person. Some have well-argued that the two; are separate disorders.
--68.127.93.1 (talk) 19:15, 21 August 2013 (UTC) Doug Bashford

Is this page WP:SYN?[edit]

The article seems to combine various topics as if they were one. —Mattisse (Talk) 23:27, 6 January 2009 (UTC)


Para 1. "separate from objective reality and onto subjective mental"[edit]

I'm not finding authoritative references to mental focus/hyperfocus that include the objective/subjective elements and, unless such references can be found, I think that the objective/subjective dichotomy in the 1st paragraph either be removed or listed as a subset of hyperfocus.

Perhaps I'm not being "BOLD" enough but I plan to wait a while and see if there are any useful comments/replies here before I make this change.

Donarnold (talk) 19:56, 18 April 2010 (UTC)

Agree, it seems off-the-wall, almost whimsical. There are no comments/replies. So I'll reword it. The current first sentence is:

Hyperfocus ...focuses consciousness on a narrow subject, separate from objective reality and onto subjective mental planes, daydreams, concepts, fiction, the imagination, and other objects of the mind.[citation needed]

--68.127.93.1 (talk) 22:52, 21 August 2013 (UTC)Doug Bashford

Can someone delete this garbage?[edit]

One of you wiki-freaks who get off on this sort of thing, please put "Hyperfocus" out of its misery. The article's a mess, probably due in large part to its subject not existing or being documented anywhere.

it's telling that none of the people who claim "hyperfocus" exists could hyperfocus enough to create a cogent article about it. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 74.177.199.134 (talk) 05:45, 4 November 2010 (UTC)

Ad hominems aren't useful. There are legitimate critiques that can be made of the article without taking aim at its authors.
Summary of the article: It's a "Goldilocks problem". ADHD lies at one extreme (the person constantly switches tasks before they're complete), and hyperfocus/OCD lies at the other extreme (The person stays with one task too long. They won't switch tasks, even when a course correction is clearly needed to achieve their desired goal).
The person tries to internally compensate for their ADHD issue, and ends up overcompensating. Landing in the "just right" zone is hard. That's all it is.
The article's poor sources is a problem. Some brief searching suggests that there may already be studies done on the co-occurrence of ADHD and OCD. For instance, Chapter 10 of "ADHD comorbidities: handbook for ADHD complications in children and adults" is dedicated to this. --Hirsutism (talk) 16:18, 27 December 2010 (UTC)

I would agree that this article is a mess. I felt like I was reading a poor translation. 71.209.110.42 (talk) 00:35, 24 August 2013 (UTC)

ADHD and Autism Spectrum Disorder[edit]

This article claims that there is a "well-recognized comorbidity of ADHD with autism spectrum disorders." However, it is unclear as to whether these can be diagnosed together at all. According to the DSM-IV, "Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder is not diagnosed if the symptoms are better accounted for by another mental disorder... [or] if the symptoms of inattention and hyperactivity occur exclusively during the course of a Pervasive Developmental Disorder or a Psychotic Disorder." (Page 91).

The use of "well-recognized" here strikes me as a weasel word, especially in the absence of a credible citation or supporting evidence. In particular, the fact that significant questions exist as to whether these disorders should even be diagnosed together seems to militate against the idea of this being “well-recognized.”

The article claims that “From a medical viewpoint, hyperfocus is thought to result from abnormally low levels of dopamine, a neurotransmitter that is particularly active in the brain's frontal lobes.” However, this would strike me as odd, since this is also believed to be the cause of inattention in ADHD. Can someone validate the accuracy (or lack thereof) of this? —Preceding unsigned comment added by 67.175.153.195 (talk) 07:07, 24 January 2011 (UTC)