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.