The Null Device
Posts matching tags 'asperger's syndrome'
A professor of psychiatry in Dublin suggests that Reaganite/Thatcherite "economic rationalist" ideology may have originated in Asperger's Syndrome, a mild form of autism. The claim is based on a diagnosis of Sir Keith Joseph, a pioneer of the radical free-market ideology that strongly influenced Margaret Thatcher:
"His ideas have influenced politics for 20 years. Monetarism has some of the characteristics of Asperger's in its insensitivity and its harshness - that is my point, the man and what he does in life are one. It is important to know this because these people control the destiny of the nation," Professor Fitzgerald said.
People with Asperger's are mostly of normal intelligence but have narrow, intense or obsessive interests. They suffer social impairment and have difficulty making friends and forming and keeping relationships. They lack the ability to understand the subtext of social situations, and make remarks that cause offence or behave in ways that breach the rules of acceptability. They have to learn social skills intellectually rather than intuitively.That doesn't sound too far away from "there is no such thing as society".
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)
Silicon Valley, an area with a high concentration of engineers, hackers and technical specialists, is seeing a dramatic increase in diagnoses of autism and Asperger's Syndrome. This suggests that the colloquial links between the conditions and technical pursuits may in fact be provable; and that in sufficient concentrations, those who may otherwise have been prevented from breeding by not getting mainstream society will find similar mates -- and their children may be more severely affected.
Says Bryna Siegel, author of The World of the Autistic Child and director of the PDD clinic at UCSF, "In another historical time, these men would have become monks, developing new ink for early printing presses. Suddenly they're making $150,000 a year with stock options. They're reproducing at a much higher rate."
"Autism gets to fundamental issues of how we view talents and disabilities," he says. "The flip side of dyslexia is enhanced abilities in math and architecture. There may be an aspect of this going on with autism and assortative mating in places like Silicon Valley. In the parents, who carry a few of the genes, they're a good thing. In the kids, who carry too many, it's very bad."
For all we know, the first tools on earth might have been developed by a loner sitting at the back of the cave, chipping at thousands of rocks to find the one that made the sharpest spear, while the neurotypicals chattered away in the firelight. Perhaps certain arcane systems of logic, mathematics, music, and stories - particularly remote and fantastic ones - have been passed down from phenotype to phenotype, in parallel with the DNA that helped shape minds which would know exactly what to do with these strange and elegant creations.