Beth is my Sherlock, my Eleventh Doctor

Beth has undiagnosed ADHD. The character I created for my novel about suicide and depression – when I was facing those things myself, with my own ADHD yet to be diagnosed – has ADHD.

Of course she does!

I’m not sure why this has only just occurred to me. She is a recreation of me in another setting who goes through different events than the ones in my life, but copes (or doesn’t cope) in the ways I’d see myself behaving.

I stumbled upon an article in ADDitude magazine about fictional characters with ADHD (links to ADDitude website). I expected to find a list of purposefully-written characters, but instead it was an exploration of ADHD in well-known novels.

Characters like Arthur Conan Doyle’s fictional private detective Sherlock Holmes (links to Wikipedia).

In the most recent televised version (created by Steven Moffat and Mark Gatiss) the character Sherlock has been turned into a sociopath. But the original was far more likely to have had undiagnosed ADHD.

As ADDitude explains: “He has trouble remembering appointments, but solves perplexing crimes with a special brand of hyperfocus” and “he’s often sidetracked by the tiny details that neurotypical people skim over.”

The beauty of the Sherlock Holmes stories is that they are told from of the point of view of friend and companion Dr Watson. This allows us to witness all of Sherlock’s peculiarities for ourselves.

Through Watson, we learn Sherlock will bend the law and hide things from police; that he will go without food when focused on a problem; that he indulges in ‘shooting practice’ in his flat when bored.

As ADDitude points out, For Sherlock, “when life slows down, he becomes morose and depressed until the next fast-paced adventure emerges” – just like life for every person with ADHD. It’s this craving for adventure which has me investigating characters with ADHD in the first place!

Moffat created his sociopathic Sherlock in 2010 – the same year he gives us the eleventh Doctor Who, played by Matt Smith. And the Eleventh Doctor (links to Wikipedia) has ADHD.

Smith’s Doctor is thrill-seeking and energetic, he’s emotionally unsure of himself. He talks quickly in a stream of consciousness, only realising ideas as he vocalises them. And he’s great with tiny details but needs his companions to help him see the bigger picture.

So Moffat took away with one hand and gave with the other. I wonder if he did it on purpose…


Beth is the epitome of the dissociated voice

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