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‘Wild child’ streak can be sign of a genius

Irish playwright Oscar Wilde, rock star Kurt Cobain, Lord Byron, Picasso and Sir Walter Raleigh all shared a developmental disorder which helped their talents to flourish, it was claimed today.

They are among notable achievers who displayed symptoms of attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Others include Jules Verne, Mark Twain, guerilla leader Che Guevara, and actors James Dean and Clark Gable.

Professor Michael Fitzgerald, from Trinity College, Dublin, believes they all owed their success to “risk-taking” genes that play a role in ADHD.

The disorder is one of the most common behavioural problems in children, causing them to be restless, impulsive, and inattentive. The symptoms can carry on into adolescence and adulthood.

But Prof Fitzgerald told a Royal College of Psychiatrists' meeting at Keele University today that there can be an “upside” to ADHD.

He said: “People with ADHD have symptoms of inattentiveness, but often have a capacity to hyper-focus on a narrow area that is of particular interest to them.”

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