Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Robert "Bobby" Fischer is of course one of the 119 people in my referenced list of famous or important people diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition or subject of published speculation about whether they are/were on the autistic spectrum
Another theory about Robert "Bobby" Fischer

I thought the recent article about Fischer from The Wall Street Journal gave a plausible explanation for Fischer's prickly, unsociable and untrusting personality. I've written recently that I think a lack of proper education was an important factor contributing to the way that Fischer was not integrated into society in general as much as be possibly should have been.

The Wall Street Journal's article points out that "Fischer's problem was that he had no peers, at least not in chess, so he had no one to check his worst tendencies." This theory certainly makes sense, in the light of the knowledge that Fischer, with his reputed IQ in the 180s, definitely belonged in an elite subcategory of the "intellectually gifted", and I and many other people believe he also had autism/Asperger syndrome. A major social/emotional problem that is commonly faced by people, including children, who are intellectually gifted is a lack of contact with other people like themselves who are also highly intelligent. There are too many teachers and people in general who believe that gifted kids should not be put into classes comprising only other gifted kids, because it is incorrectly thought that gifted kids will not grow up to be socially normal if they aren't forced to mix socially and educationally with ordinary kids who are the same age; "their age peers". In fact, this is bullshit. Normal kids of the same age group are not a geniune peer group for gifted kids. Gifted kids need to at least have some opportunity to meet and interact with and compete with other kids of the same or similar age who are of similar intellectual ability. I know this from personal experience. It makes sense that such interaction should take place in an educational situation. This doesn't mean that these smart kids will never want to mix socially with kids of normal intellect, but it does meet an important need to be among geniune peers. According to what I have read this need for genuine peers, which is often unmet, is a more acute problem the more gifted the individual is. Highly or profoundly gifted kids might only befriend adults or other rare members of the intellectual elite. Fischer certainly would have been in this category.

A lack of contact with genuine peers is also a common problem for people on the autistic spectrum. There seems to be little recognition among autism experts and professionals who deal with children or adults on the autistic spectrum that autistic people need the company of other people who are autistic. It's a fact that needs to be faced that there is not much that can be shared socially between people with Asperger syndrome and neurotypical (normal) people. Autists and NTs generally have different pleasures, different world views, different life experiences, different styles of socializing, different interests, different dislikes, different problems in life, different styles of communicating etc. There just isn't much to do or say when autists meet NTs; what sometimes happens is that the autists try to put on a half-passable job of pretending to be normal, while the NTs try to hide how bored or offended they feel.

The article gave a quote from Fischer which I found interesting, which could be interpreted in a number of different ways:

One of the assembled admirers offered him a standard compliment: "Great game, Bobby." Fischer snapped back, "How would you know?"

One could assume that the intention behind Fischer's retort was mean-spirited arrogance, or one could read his reply as being clumsily tactless but logically justified. One could also speculate that there may have been a measure of sadness and intellectual loneliness in Fischer's rude reply. Can you imagine how lonely life could be for a person who is gifted/cursed with extreme intellectual giftedness and Asperger syndrome? I doubt that you could.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

I was sad to hear that the chess genius Bobby Fischer has passed away, leaving behind his defacto wife Miyoko Watai. It's interesting to see how utterly polarized are the comments about Fischer on the internet from various people; he had many great fans and many great enemies.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Dr Hans Asperger: does it take one to know one?

Is it only coincidence that the two doctors who are thought to have been the first to write clinical descriptions of the autistic spectrum, Leo Kanner and Hans Asperger, have also both been identified separately by different authors as possibly having been somewhere on the autistic spectrum themselves? I don’t believe such similarities are merely coincidences. Is it possible that they were the first to identify and describe conditions within the autistic spectrum because other (non-autistic) practitioners failed to notice important differences between autists and schizophrenics? I’ll bet most medicos in the 1940s were happy to lump and dump patients of both types together into the all-encompassing category of schizophrenia and it’s sub-types. I’ve seen neurotypical people casually categorize autistic individuals as crazy. Normal people appear to have quite limited insight into the nature of minds that are different to their own type. With regard to autists; does it take one to identify one?

Some journal documents about Hans Asperger:

Lyons V, Fitzgerald M (2007). Did Hans Asperger (1906–1980) have Asperger Syndrome? (letter). Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. November 2007, volume 37, number 10, p. 2020-2021.

Gillberg, C. Gillberg, I. C. Rastam, M. Schaumann, M. Ehlers, S. (1990) [The man behind the syndrome. Hans Asperger and the unknown autism. The Asperger man--a reserved outsider exposed to enormous psychological strain] (in Swedish) Lakartidningen. 1990 Sep 19th, 87(38) p.2971-4.

Some quotes from Hans Asperger:

“The autistic personality is an extreme variant of male intelligence.”

from page 84 in Chapter 2 of Autism and Asperger syndrome editor Uta Frith

“We are convinced, then, that autistic people have their place in the organism of the social community. They fulfil their role well, perhaps better than anyone else could, and we are talking of people who as children had the greatest difficulties and caused untold worries to their care-givers.”

from Chapter 2 of Autism and Asperger syndrome editor Uta Frith

Hans Asperger’s important 1944 journal paper, translated from German into English:

Asperger, Hans ‘Autistic psychopathy’ in childhood. (translated and annotated by Uta Frith)
Chapter 2 in
Frith, Uta (ed) Autism and Asperger syndrome. Cambridge University Press, 1991.

Hans Asperger in the Wikipedia:

Wikipedia contributors. (accessed 2008) Hans Asperger. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc.

Saturday, January 05, 2008

I did some Google searches on the phrase "Did Lucia Joyce have Asperger syndrome?" and I also did searches on phrases with similar meanings and different spellings, but all came up with no hits. Is it possible that no one else has ever posed this question?

Does anyone really believe that "hebephrenia" ever was a valid psychiatric diagnostic category?

An interesting page of reviews of a biography of Lucia Joyce:

A typically scant and limited article on the Wikipedia about Lucia Joyce: