Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Another possibly autistic Prime Minister to be added to my MASSIVE list

In early August I wrote about the former UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown in relation to the autistic spectrum. I received a comment on the piece from Socrates (who has a blog The New Republic), drawing my attention to another former PM of the UK, Sir Edward Heath. I was aware that there has been a bit of comment on the net about Heath's possible place on the spectrum, but I could only find one published document discussing this, and it was only a letter to the editor of a UK newspaper, with another letter in reply arguing against it. I didn't think this was quite enough documentary evidence to justify adding Heath to my gigantic list of famous autists.

The next day I dropped by my favourite charity secondhand goods shop, an outlet of Save The Children, for a rummage around. There on the shelf was an ancient book about British Prime Ministers, which I would otherwise not have given a second glance. It included a brief chapter about Heath. As I scanned through it, lots of well-known words jumped out at me, as if daubed with a pink highlighter pen "cool", "withdrawn”, “a loner”, “stiff", "awkward", "outspoken", "efficient and unpopular”, “bloody bad-tempered", and “extraordinarily self-sufficient”. I later read more about Heath and discovered that he never married but was most likely not gay, had a very sharp mind and he was also very good at nursing a grudge. I believe that Sir Edward Heath belongs on my list, and as soon as I get a chance I will be updating it, bringing the total of famous names on it to 174.

So kiddies, just because you are a bit of an odd one, a natural loner, or maybe even have an autism/Asperger syndrome diagnosis, that doesn't necessarily mean you could never be a Prime Minister. Many grown-ups don't like to admit it, but your innate level of intelligence is of huge importance in attaining your ambitions. Brains (or lack of brains) really do matter. Autists appear to be over-represented among the intellectual elite. Why this is so we do not know, and autism researchers do not appear to be the least bit interested in finding the answer to this question. Other factors that are very important in realizing career goals are your level of personal motivation and how much support others, including parents, teachers, professional mentors, friends, spouses and family are willing or able to give. Being a bit autistic is not necessarily the brick wall that so many people make it out to be, in fact, it could even be to your advantage.

A referenced list of 173 famous or important people diagnosed with an autism spectrum condition or subject of published speculation about whether they are or were on the autistic spectrum


Socrates said...

Three tidbits about Ted Heath:

A woman once told of his apparent utter rudeness at a dinner-party where he spoke not a single word to neither her, nor the person on his other side... (he was probably just lost for words)

And more unpleasantly, during WWII he was at one point put in charge of a firing squad.

It was his job, after his men had done theirs, to shoot the unfortunate in the head, to ensure he was a gonna.

It is difficult to image the effect of this on someone who was clearly a very sensitive man.

Lastly, Police once found his Yacht 'Morning Cloud' stuffed to the gills with Cannabis.

Lili Marlene said...

I've read that first anecdote somewhere else.

According to the Wikipedia Heath was in charge of a firing squad to despatch a Polish soldier convicted or rape and murder. Maybe not so hard a job, if you were sure the bloke was guilty. I don't know if this was the only execution Heath was involved with.

The last anecdote I cannot verify. I did read somewhere that his yacht sank and some people drowned, which is pretty terrible.

Socrates said...

A reference for the last point will need to be dragged out of the archives somewhere - 'suppose the Times would be a good start.

I recall that the boat was in port on the South Coast (of England) - and one of his deck-hands was responsible - although I'm dragging-up 35 year old memories...

Lili Marlene said...

You are excused for less than perfect recall. How's things going?

I guessed that Heath wouldn't have been the one with the stash - doesn't seem the type to me.

Do you remember much about Heath's facial expressions? I've seen some photos of Heath with this look of cool calm which I think is a nice look that autists are particularly good at. In Australia from 1975 we had a PM who's facial expression has been described as like an Easter Island statue. My theory is that perhaps in the socially turbulent and crayzee 1970s people liked to elect PMs who looked calm and stable. Things are very different these days. Does my theory sound in any way plausible?

Socrates said...

Ted Heath is a bit of an enigma to me. He was the first Prime Minister I remember from childhood.

I do remember him as being quite austere but kindly - a headmaster type figure.

I think after the hangover from the sixties and Vietnam, almost inevitably you will get a swing to a more conservative political and social agenda... And he superficially fitted the bill - he was however, socially progressive to an astonishing degree. At the time the Trades Unions were very much a extra-parliamentary (and fairly extreme left-wing) political force and they were an integral part of the Labour Party as well...

I'm rambling slightly...

Lili Marlene said...

Just picked up a copy of Heath's doorstopper autobiography for 4 bucks secondhand.

Not sure if I'll find the time to read the whole book. A busy day tomorrow helping out with the election and all.