The Null Device

Geek syndrome

Q: What did Socrates, Charles Darwin, William Butler Yeats and Andy Warhol have in common? A: Asperger's Syndrome or other autism-related conditions, or so Professor Michael Fitzgerald of Dublin's Trinity College claims in a new book.
He said: "Asperger's syndrome provides a plus - it makes people more creative.
"This is typical of people with the condition. They don't fit in, are odd and eccentric and relate poorly with others. Most are bullied at school, as Yeats was." And yet, said the professor, Yeats went on to prove that he had a hugely vivid imagination while remaining socially aloof - both classic signs of Asperger's.
"It proves that we should accept eccentrics and be tolerant of them," he said. "The nation is pushed forward by engineers, mathematicians and scientists."

Several questions arise: (a) how much correlation there is between eccentricity, creativity and autism-related disorders, (b) if the majority of innovators have a certain condition, and do so across all human societies, is it still a "disorder" or "syndrome" or merely a different biological subtype (much like insect castes), perhaps even one that is evolutionarily programmed to appear in a certain proportion of the population (by the expedient that ancestral populations that had the genes for it being so were more successful than ones which didn't)? (via FmH)

There are 5 comments on "Geek syndrome":

Posted by: Sigmund Fraud http:// Sun Jan 11 22:58:15 2004

Live people are hard to diagnose. A diagnosis of a dead person is utter baloney, but it's an easy way to get yourself mentioned in the news.

Posted by: Graham Sun Jan 11 23:26:13 2004

You've got me thinking about Dick Van Dyke there. Bastard.

Posted by: acb Mon Jan 12 03:16:34 2004

Anyway, aren't there two definitions of Asperger's Syndrome: (a) the folk definition, which probably includes tendencies to wear size-XXL black T-shirts with airbrush art, read comic books and be good with computer stuff, and (b) the clinical definition, which is considerably more debilitating than merely being eccentric and socially withdrawn.

Posted by: Graham Mon Jan 12 11:23:44 2004

Asperger's to me is someone like Temple Grandin.

Posted by: Vicki http:// Wed Jan 14 09:21:31 2004

Variation from the norm is what makes this world interesting. Unfortunately people tend to attack what does not resemble them or their own beliefs. Is it not true that to come up with something creative and original you must first be one who is outside that norm? Otherwise your way of thinking would be usual.