DaVinci Method: ADD a medical disorder or a DaVinci genetic & personality trait?

Is your child …

  • a highly creative problem solver;
  • a thrillseeker, lover of excitement and risk;
  • impulsive in nature;
  • ambitious and industrious;
  • highly energetic for things he/she is interested in;
  • the hero in an emergency;
  • labeled with ADD/ADDHD traits

If so, you may have a Da Vinci personality on your hands!

ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder) / ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) is the most common reason for referral and diagnosis in children seen in psychological clinics. Some experts note that ADDers are highly creative children who engage in “disruptive, attention-seeking behavior” in the classroom (Wallach and Kogan (1965) p. 294-295) and other studies (Getzels and Jackson (1962))  show that ADDers are less valued by their teachers than the more conforming, less creative students. There is controversy whether more testing by schools, psychologists, or pediatricians is required to diagnose ADD in children given the disruptive effects to learning, and over what kinds of interventions are appropriate.

Until fairly recently, ADD/ADDHD had been mostly considered a medical disorder and ADD persons are considered by medical personnel to have a neurological defect(Frick & Lahey, 1991).  Recently studies suggest conditions traditionally regarded as disorders such as ADD, ASD and autism disorders are part of a wide spectrum of behaviors that occur more widely in humans than expected that they might not be disorders at all.

The DaVinci Method (created by Garrett LoPorto) offers alternative paradigm-shifting views on the ADD problem and offers a range of holistic therapy solutions that are different from traditional solutions offered by medical and psycho-therapy establishments.  

Firstly, the Da Vinci Method theory says ADD/ADHD is not a disorder at all but is simply a hereditary or genetic condition that is found in persons who bear a gene (possibly a number of genes) but in particular the gene DRD4 7R allele that is present in about 10% of the world’s population and up to 25% of Americans.  The gene has a high prevalence in successful entrepreneurs and creative or highly successful people who have a capability to ‘think outside the box’. Persons with this genetic and personality trait possess a different manner of brain operation. According to DaVinci personality trait theory, the ADD/ADHD gene affects the brain’s relationship with dopamine; this difference causes the ADDer to crave stimulation and to seek thrills, take risks, discover new ways to do things, be bolder, and have more charisma. It is this temperament accompanying this genetic difference that happens to be the same temperament that makes rock stars, inventors, artists and athletes, entrepreneurs, leaders and billionaires successful.

Why the DaVinci behind the DaVinci Method name?  

“Leonardo Da Vinci most certainly demonstrated many of the ADHD spectrum of behaviours, and it is from this most famous of individuals that this therapy approach takes its name. In 67 years, Da Vinci was only able to complete 17 of his paintings; he stated that this was because his interests were so varied and diverse. Einstein did not excel at school, and his achievements there were entirely unremarkable, and yet, both of these individuals became some of the greatest thinkers and achievers in the history of humanity.”

In one interview, LoPorto said,

“I based my theory of a Da Vinci Method on a German psychoanalyst named Otto Rank. He was a protégé of Sigmund Freud. Rank discovered that the best therapy for a creative was a brief encounter to force them into their own will and volition to do what they really wanted to do. Rank was an advocate for strength but as psychoanalysis got popular it became obvious that Rank’s approach only worked for the Da Vinci type. There are only 10 to 25 percent of these kinds of individuals in any given population.”

Da Vinci Method approach to education for ADDers is that parents and teachers channel children’s energies rather than normalise them

The Da Vinci method argues that rather than “normalise” the ADD child because of the burden it places on both parents and teachers in their efforts to make a child conform to the norms of society, their energies should instead be focused and channelled in accordance with the child’s DaVinci personality or nature to maximise that potential for brilliance. In particular, the method theorises that children with ADHD need a completely educational environment or teaching approach to ‘normal children. Children with ADHD/DaVinci personalities need a focus on experiential learning rather than using set text book methodologies to solve problems. ADHD children will then tap into their innate skills though often using unusual ways to solve problems, and reaching the ‘right’ answers.

In the book the Da Vinci Method, it offers a summary of a host of research and educational theories on holistic therapies that expert scientists, educators and psychologists have been proposing since the 1990’s. It suggests that these therapeutic approaches are worth investigating by parents of an ADHD child (and indeed by an adult ADHD sufferer). As such, it provides a wholly novel way of thinking about and coping with the problems of attention deficit disorder.

What is a DaVinci Type Personality?

LoPorto urges parents to see if they can identify the DaVinci personality in their child. At an interview, LoPorto said “A DaVinci type is a person with a great need for sensation, a heroic temperament, someone starved for sensation. What I mean by that is what most people would find exciting the Da Vinci type would get bored with it. They need a greater level of excitement to feel alive. …

The ADD/ADHD gene affects the brain’s relationship with dopamine. This difference causes one to crave stimulation just to feel alive. When you crave stimulation you are more likely to seek thrills, take risks, discover new ways to do things, be bolder, and have more charisma. The temperament that accompanies this genetic difference happens to be the same temperament that makes rock stars, inventors, artists and athletes, entrepreneurs, leaders and billionaires successful.”

At one interview, LoPorto advocated special schools and different educational environments for ADD/DaVinci type children to help them:

“Find the constructive outlet to get your fire going and come alive. Be self-directed but with boundaries. The more a Da Vinci child can choose their own direction and be master of their own fate the more you have an engaged child. The way one is taught has a huge impact. Science projects got me going. I pursued them relentlessly until an amazing creation happened. A lot of others would appreciate this way. Teachers are teaching to the test. School systems originated in Germany. So we have an educational institution designed to break the will by a military-industrial complex.”

That line will surely strike a consonant chord with homeschoolers.

 While LoPorto’s best-selling book “DaVinci Method” is however very “hot” with the ADD community and parents who feel his method is a lifeline thrown to them since the ADD children can have a disruptive effect on families, there are strangely no articles written by more weighty academic peers and experts reviewing the DaVinci method, whether for or against  on the same topic, … which may suggest that LoPorto as an author lacks scientific or academic credibility.

Unendorsed by scientists as the DaVinci Method may be, there are other writings that are not at odds with the method’s ideas about ADD and creativity. For example, in The Coincidence of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder and Creativity Dr. Bonnie Cramond noted that ADHDers had higher figural creativity and more use of imagery in problem solving than normal people and cited many similar findings about brain differences of ADDers vs. normal children have been reported by creativity researchers, including differences in the left vs. right hemisphere activity; that ADHD children “exhibited greater crossed eye-hand dominance and left laterality than a group of normal children matched by age, sex, and IQ. ADDers were found to have a greater number of spontaneous thoughts during problem solving exercises, tended to have more ideas and therefore be more creative. Like LoPorto, Dr Crammond advocated non-invasive steps be taken by parents of ADHD children:

  • Be open minded that difficult behavior may be indicative of special abilities.
  • Choose a psychologist who is knowledgeable about giftedness and creativity as well as ADD.
  • Be sure that a creativity test or checklist is completed in addition to the ADHD checklist.
  • Get a second opinion.
  • Be cautious about recommendations for medication.
  • Be cautious about recommendations for an unstimulating curriculum with lessons broken into small parts.
  • Provide opportunities both inside and outside of school to enhance creativity and build self-esteem.Nevertheless, the author is gaining ground as a popular inspirational self-help writer. 

His book and website are approachable and take on easy readable, layman tones, probably written with ADD readers in mind (although the website has been criticised by some as overly gimmicky and promotional adopting the look of online ads for self-published diet-fad books). At his website, his book is promoted in the following mass-appeal way:

“Break Out & Express Your Fire. Discover and master the fiery temperament shared by great leaders, entrepreneurs, artists and AD/HD-ers. Are you: – Impulsive? – Risk-taking? – Distractible? – Sensation-seeking? – Insightful or Intuitive? Do you: – Crave risk and excitement? – Have an addictive personality? – Rebel against authority? – Think differently? Then you are a DaVinci. Discover the secret genius that drives risk-takers, rebels, entrepreneurs, artists and AD/HD-ers to achieve greatness. Learn how to express this fire and harness it productively.”

“The Davinci Method is designed with you in mind. While other ADD/ADHD therapies try to make you more like “normal” people, this therapy recognizes the greatness of your ADD/ADHD temperament and helps you to harness it. Why struggle to be like a “normal” 9-to-5 office worker, when you are genetically designed to be an outrageously successful artist, entrepreneur, athlete, inventor, leader and pioneer?

The Davinci Method is over 200 pages of the most useful therapy ever designed for helping creative types like you be more productive. We don’t teach you to sit still and focus on details, we teach you how to embrace your ability to see the BIG PICTURE, set trends and lead the pack. You are gifted to have the ADD/ADHD gene.”

This promotional note on LoPorto’s website strikes some people as overly gimmicky and promotional. The proponent of the DaVinci method, Garret LoPorto is still more famous as a successful entrepreneur, CEO, presenter at MIT, U.S. & International patent-pending inventor who has been featured in The New York Times, Money Magazine, The Boston Globe and The London Financial Times, than psycho-therapy expert on ADD.

But gimmicky or not, perhaps part of the appeal of his theory and his book, is that he speaks with experience as an ADDer himself (it must help that he’s a highly successful entrepreneur and millionaire), and perhaps because he genuinely seems to care. LoPorto revealed his reasons during an interview for coming up with the DaVinci Method:

“When developing the concept I was looking for a new label. One that would hopefully begin to catch on in the school systems, where young children are developing their own self identities and concepts. We need a label that teachers, instructors, guardians, and parents could give to children to empower instead of disable them. The disorder label of ADHD is based on temperament and a self-identification process which one believes and then goes on to manifest symptoms based on those beliefs. Another way to look at it is to notice how before we got the label ADHD there was the term troubled child. Kids were burdened with this concept of being trouble. Look at Richard Branson. He typifies the Da Vinci type. They either end up billionaires or in prison. Thomas Edison was unteachable but look how brilliant he was. So the empowering label is Da Vinci. This describes high energy and very creative children who bounce around when inspired. If they find something that keeps their focus it can evoke them to be what they really can be. Da Vinci and Edison are great examples of that. Da Vinci was so archetypical in artistic and scientific endeavors.”

Another great attraction of the DaVinci Method is that it is less invasive than medical-psycho approaches to the ADD condition. The concept discounts ADD as a disorder, abhors drug prescriptions as a treatment and prescribes holistic therapeutic approaches instead.  Since it advocates that you work with the innate strengths of the ADD personality and give up trying to normalise the child, you obviate the need for invasive and expensive medical or on-the-couch treatments. Current medical-psychological establishments presently use interventions — that usually involve combinations of medication  and behavioral strategies and interventions, and often require parents to send their ADD kids to special schools that offer special school strategies or programs such as provide IEP (Individualized Education Programs), counseling/psychotherapy and other treatment approaches or programs involving sound / listening or music or movement (e.g. Move to Learn program) therapy.

Who can resist a writer who wants so badly to empower children? And LoPorto is very vocal about the need to help ADDers/children with DaVinci type personalities:

“If you won’t invest in The DaVinci Method for yourself, do it for your kids. Because ADD/ADHD is genetic, chances are your kids have the ADD/ADHD gene if you do. Most ADD/ADHD children learn to not trust themselves, feel inferior, frustrated and have low self-esteem all because they were raised by parents and teachers who didn’t understand them and never witnessed to their brilliance.”

And although self-billed as an expert on ADD (NOT autism though) at his promotional website, he issues an inspirational “call to be true to one’s own “ADD” nature“.  Whatever LoPorto’s concept lacks in credibility, it more than makes up for in accessibility and popularity. Many will probably heed his call. 




The Book DaVinci Method

The Garrett LoPorto interview PODCAST: www.loporto.com/

ADD and the Da Vinci Method

Shaw, G.A. (1992). Hyperactivity and creativity: The tacit dimension. Bulletin of the Psychonomic Society, 30, 152-160.

West, T.G. (1991). In the mind’s eye: Visual thinkers, gifted people with learning difficulties, computer images, and the ironies of creativity. Buffalo, NY: Prometheus Books.

Burcham, B., Carlson, L., & Milich, R. (1993). Promising school-based practices for students with attention deficit disorder. Exceptional Children, 60, 174-180.

Funk, J.B., Chessare, J.B., Weaver, M.T., & Exley, A.R. (1993). Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, creativity, and the effects of methylphenidate. Pediatrics, 91, 816-819.

Born to Explore(BTE) website  by Teresa Gallagher has an excellent page of references on ADD.

“Unwrapping the Gift of ADD: Untapped Brilliance” by Jacqueline Sinfield

“Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Excercise and The Brain” by Dr. John Ratey The author shares the most up-to-date research on how exercise improves ADD and ADHD

Related links:

Tracing the Origins of Autism: A New Spectrum of Studies

The Geek Syndrome by J. Madeleine Nash (Time Magazine) suggests that there may be something in the theory that smart but not particularly well-socialized men today are meeting and marrying women very like themselves, leading to an overload of genes that predispose their children to autism, Asperger’s and related disorders.

A New Approach to Correcting Autism

A Spectrum of Disorders by Ashley Pettus  Harvard Magazine

Educating Children with Autism

Note: Da Vinci method is not just for children –  the Da Vinci method applied to adults examines the working and living habits of successful individuals who exhibit ADHD traits; the principle of this approach is that people can learn strategies that will work for an ADHD sufferer but would not work for ‘normal’ people. The method also provides coping strategies to deal a range of common traits that are expressed in ADHD. Examples include the adult trait of ‘fear of success’, and the Da Vinci Method provides a framework by which adults can understand the unique ways in which their mind works. The Da Vinci method also examines why ADD sufferers may be subject to procrastination, and provides insights into how ADHD adults can harness an ability to gain great focus, termed ‘hyperfocus’ to complete a task in hand. Additionally, the method provides insights into why people with ADHD may be more prone to compulsive behaviours and addiction problems, and by doing so, helps sufferers regain control of their lives.

3 thoughts on “DaVinci Method: ADD a medical disorder or a DaVinci genetic & personality trait?”

  1. I don’t think Einstein had this “DaVinci” symptom. He had a very limited area of interest. Also please don’t confuse being conformant with being less creative. This sounds like a fluff/marketing piece for people with ADD.

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