Da Vinci almost never finished his work, he is the certainly the Greatest Procrastinator Ever, but read more about Leonardo da Vinci.
Behind intense procrastination, some researchers believe there could be a deeper problem: Attention Deficit Disorder.
Leonardo da Vinci painted one of the most typical works of history: the Mona Lisa.
Officially, the girl with the enigmatic smile and seductive look took 3 years to be painted – between 1503 and 1506 – but researchers believe that Leonardo finished the portrait until 1519, the year of his death.
According to biographers, the painting that today is the Louvre’s flagship is unfinished. And this is just one of the evidence that indicates that da Vinci was a notorious procrastinator.
Of course, he was a genius, and maybe he just had too many ideas for a single head. But half a millennium after his death, new research has identified a possible explanation behind the series of unfinished projects that the Renaissance artist has left throughout his career: Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, or ADHD.
Writing in the English journal Brain, researchers at King’s College London and the University of Pavia in Italy consulted historical evidence, including accounts of Leonardo’s contemporaries, and concluded that their problems with time management, concentration, and procrastination could be attributed to the deficit.
“Although it is impossible to make a postmortem diagnosis for someone who has lived for 500 years, I am confident that ADHD is the most convincing and scientifically plausible hypothesis to explain Leonardo’s difficulty in completing his works,” said Marco Catani, an of the study authors. “Historical records show that Leonardo spent a lot of time planning projects, but he had no consistency in persevering in them. ADHD could explain aspects of Leonardo’s temperament and his strange ‘moon’ genius. “
The researchers highlight Leonardo’s tendency to constantly change the design, as well as his habit of working continuously at night, rarely sleeping soundly – according to biographers, he alternated quick cycles of short naps throughout the night.
In the study, there are also other characteristics of the Renaissance that hit with the possible late diagnosis. Scientists say Leonardo was left-handed – and even survived a stroke in the left hemisphere at age 65.
But all his cognitive (and genius) functions were intact. Researchers believe the two could be related. Da Vinci may have “concentrated” many of his brain functions in a hemisphere of the brain, precisely the one that was not affected by stroke. It is a rare feature, present in less than 5% of the population.
Also, several types of research suggest that Da Vinci had dyslexia due to spelling errors and spelt writing in his notebooks.
This learning disability is often diagnosed alongside ADHD. “Atypical hemisphere dominance, left-handed and dyslexia are more prevalent in children with learning disorders, including ADHD,” the authors write.
Scientists still point out that Leonardo’s genius may have benefited from this condition. “In modern times, a diagnosis of ADHD lacks the level of intellectual ability and is increasingly recognized among college students and adults with successful careers.
Undoubtedly, if positively channelled, some features of ADHD may bring an advantage: the wandering mind can nurture creativity and originality; the restlessness can move to seek news and action for change. “, wrote the authors.
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