The earliest reference to ADHD in the medical literature? Melchior Adam Weikard's description in 1775 of "attention deficit" (Mangel der Aufmerksamkeit, Attentio Volubilis)

J Atten Disord. 2012 Nov;16(8):623-30. doi: 10.1177/1087054711432309. Epub 2012 Feb 8.


Objective: The present article reports on the discovery and translation of a chapter in a 1775 medical textbook by the German physician, Melchior Adam Weikard, which describes attention disorders. This article is believed to be the earliest reference to the syndrome that today is known as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, or ADHD.

Method: The authors briefly discuss previous efforts to identify the earliest description of ADHD thought to be the lectures of George Still in 1902 and subsequently, the medical textbook by the physician, Alexander Crichton, in 1798. Background is provided on Weikard followed by the English translation of his short chapter on attention deficits and the rationale for why it should be viewed as relevant to the history of ADHD.

Results and conclusions: The authors argue that Weikard's description in 1775 now deserves to be credited with providing the first description of attention disorders in the medical literature known to date.

Publication types

  • Biography
  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Attention
  • Attention Deficit Disorder with Hyperactivity / history*
  • Germany
  • History, 18th Century
  • Humans
  • Translations

Personal name as subject

  • Malchior Adam Weikard