Tuesday, April 26, 2011

One book that I can recommend .....

Delusions of Gender: The Real Science Behind Sex Differences by Dr Cordelia Fine. I've been told that she is very good as a public speaker, and I very much recommend this book, which is a much-needed expose of bad pop psychology books and bad science in the area of sex differences in brains and cognition and behaviour. The book is also frequently funny. In some important ways, Fine reminds me of the Canadian academic Michelle Dawson - both female, both academics, both expose bad science and deceptive practices, both appear to not think much of Prof. Simon Baron-Cohen's work, both could be seen as activists, both frequently funny. I hope to be able to find the time to finish reading this book and write more about it.


Justthisguy said...

Have you looked at the blog of Zoe (formerly Alan) Brain, a fellow Orstrilian? I believe it is at aebrain.blogspot.com.

Zoe is a weird gal (or guy). It seems she was born with a male body and a female brain.

The leftists don't like her very much because her politics have always been right conservative, regardless of the sex she claims.

Now that she looks like a woman, I wonder what it would be like to go out with her son and have him say to people, "That's not my Mom, that's my Dad!"

Lili Marlene said...

No, I haven't heard of Zoe, but she sounds interesting. In Cordelia Fine's book there are some very interesting and funny but worrying anecdotes about the way that some female-to-male trannies got treated post op. One workmate commenting that he was much more capable at his job than his sister.

Sarah Abraham-son said...

Hi Lili:
Just doing some more reading of your older posts. I loved this book, and recommended it to some of Tony Attwood's clinical team. Dr Fine is brilliant, a fantastic writer and only in her mid-30s, so who knows what else she might get to! Have you considered speaking at the Autism Victoria conference next year? You have such a range of views I think conference-goers/parents etc would love to hear.

Lili Marlene said...

Yes, I can't wait to see what Dr Fine comes up with next. If I had the time I'd be reading her previous psychology book, but I suspect that it might cover stuff that I've already read about. There are many good pop psychology books, as well as terrible ones.

You are very kind to suggest that I appear as a speaker, but Victoria is a long way from my home, and I don't think I'd be very much at home among the type of thinking that one would find at an autism conference. I've never been officially diagnosed as autistic, and have no intention of seeking such diagnosis, and as time goes on I think less and less of the validity of autism/AS as a diagnosis. I'd never appear at any do that has Dr Attwood as a speaker.

I see that John Elder Robison is coming to Australia. Not sure if you might like to see him speak.

Sarah Abraham-son said...

Hi Lili:
Fair enough re the conference. Re Tony Attwood: I've met him a couple of times, he came to two talks I did a conferences and was very interested, raised some good points. He's a committed public educator, but I know there is some controversy in that sometimes he can be a little too definite on some ideas which some with ASD don't agree with! I haven't read Cordelia Fines first book, I'll look at that. Just for interest, the people at autism conferences vary, some more professionals, this one is targeted to practical strategies for professionals and family members. Also some other interesting people: the last Autism Vic conference I was asked to work with a lady who turned up to talk who I think had self-diagnosed. I didn't agree she had ASD but thought instead she had PDs (histrionic and narcissistic, possibly borderline). I did'nt tell her this of course. She caused some havoc and managed to have at least $1000 in costs paid for her, as well as a speakers fee! That was an interesting experience! As for the validity of diagnosis and role of prefessionals, I think anyone writing a blog about ASD can diagnose themselves much better than a professional. I meet a lot of people who never reach that level of insight so need more of an outside view to diagnose. Where is John Elder Robison coming to? I'd go if it was local.

Lili Marlene said...

Re Mr Robison, watch this space:

"I didn't agree she had ASD but thought instead she had PDs (histrionic and narcissistic, possibly borderline)."

You don't think that many of those PDs were just invented in order to give some type of psych label to grown up and functional autistics? Many of them are going with the new DSM revision apparently. Not before time.

You don't think that lady could have just been a con artiste? I can't imagine a better scam than claiming to be autistic and gathering a cult following and making a career writing autobiographical misery-memoirs. I think this trick might have been done already, once or twice.

Can I ask you a serious question? In Australia, is screening for genetic syndromes by a medically qualified specialist in that area a part of the process of diagnosing kids and/or adults with autism? Can a person end up with a clinical autism spectrum diagnosis but still not be examined (and if indicated genetically screened) for genetic syndromes?

Sarah Abraham-son said...

Hi Lili:
Thanks for the link, I've booked to see him and Cordelia Fine talk at the Melbourne writer's festival. Re genetic screening: I don't work with kids, but from what I've seen this is only done when there are other indicators of possible syndromes, eg. ID and physical deficits, as most kids with ASDs just have nothing specific and it would be very low yield.
And yes, that lady did seem to be a conwoman, She also claimed to have lots of other diseases, and had deferred cancer treatment to come to the conference! I suspect she tried this with other conditions, and was aiming for a career in ASD talks, but was not very convincing so we managed to end that I hope. I don't know of anyone else trying this, it seems a bad way to make much money, but you never know. And I do also think most of the PDs do overlap with ASDs, but those that are definitely separate are her ones of narcissistic and histrionic, although there are of course narcisstic ASD people. I know a lot of people with OCPD and autism, which I think is really just a subtype of ASD. IF you'd prefer to email a reply I check this email address more often: sjabrahamson @yahoo.com.

Lili Marlene said...

"Thanks for the link, I've booked to see him and Cordelia Fine talk at the Melbourne writer's festival."

I am green with envy. It looks like Melbourne is the place to be.

Re genetic screeing, I doubt that they are taking the issue seriously. See this study of autistic kids in which those with an identifiable genetic syndrome or ID were excluded:
See this also:
and this if you are interested:

OCPD is for sure hugely overlapping or the same as autism in an adult.

You must let me know what you tink of the Melbourne Writers' Festival. Wish I could be there!

Lili Marlene said...

This is another interesting thing to read about genetics and the autistic spectrum: