Thursday, November 13, 2003

My current reading is covering Asperger's Syndrome. Julie (who is a trained social worker and counselor) brought the subject up, when she pointed out how many of the characteristics I have.

It's initially difficult because if I read 'health' books of any kind I always think I have most of the symptoms. Still, I agree that a lot of the description fits. Bear in mind this is a new diagnosis (within the last 20 years) so nobody would have spotted it at school and sent me for tests, or simply re-arranged my education to something more suitable, the way we nowadays do for (say) dyslexics (and why IS that such a hard word to spell?)

I started with "Loving Mr Spock" - a rather empathetic description by a woman who had a turbulent rrelationship with someone she later decided had Asperger's Syndrome (AS). This had a lot of the research. I sampled "Aspergers in love" and a couple of others, and they all kept pointing to Simon Baron-Cohen's work. He is the brave guy who describes AS as the extreme form of the 'male brain'. We are talking hard-wired differences here - not an illness. Autism and AS are far more common among men and boys.

It is a political minefield to suggest men and women are 'essentially' different, of course, as people fear the social darwinism/sociobiology arguments that things are they way they have to be - whereas feminists, and left-wingers have tried to say everything is nurture, and so changes in society could eliminate these differences. Ever since I heard that position I sneered because it seems evidently untrue - wishful thinking. Equally, of course, the idea that we are doomed by our genetic inheritance and cannot 'adjust' anything at all is equally ludicrous.

It's that old Aristotelian logic thing again. Either/Or.

And nobody is talking about ALL MEN or ALL women.

So I accept most of it, even though in many ways I am NOT a typical bloke. I don't like cars, I have always been rather passive and non-competitive, etc. But then again, our models are muddled. In one sense gay guys are the most extreme form of male brain, they are only 'effeminate' in certain senses. Actually to go to a club and have sex with half a dozen strangers without emotional complications is one of those full hetero male fantasies - the harem. Few of us hetero men get to live it out (at least without paying for it).

We settle for pussy-whipped domesticity/monogamy for the most part.

Anyway - I now have Simon Baron-Cohen's book "the Essential Diference", so I am off to lunch to consume it (perhaps I should remember to eat food, too).

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