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Wednesday, December 28, 2016

The worst insult an Aspie can hurl

My post describing Al Gore's Aspergerian personality from January 2012 has gotten a fair number of negative comments, mostly from people with Aspergers. I got the latest one today:

If you look up a list of people known or suspected to have Aspergers you'll find the bulk of humanity's progress in various fields. Sure, there's insufferable Aspies who contribute jack shit beyond unwarranted narcissism (e.g. the writer of this blog), but it's a small price to pay to no longer be primates.

The writer is referring to some of the lists of famous people with Aspergers which circulate on the internet. This list is typical: it claims Isaac Asimov, Abraham Lincoln, Mark Twain, Howard Hughes, Bobby Fischer, H.P. Lovecraft, and Charles Chaplin. I've seen other lists which include Isaac Newton, Charles Darwin, Thomas Jefferson, etc. 

Many of these lists seem to be compiled by Aspergers support groups, and seem motivated by a desire to show that people with Aspergers are indeed special, and not just handicapped. I'm sure that some of the people on these lists probably did have Aspergers; but the evidence in many cases is quite thin, and I'm also quite sure that the lists overreached. 

But the commenter quoted above has obviously swallowed the propaganda, and wants to claim all of humanity's greatest scientists and inventors for his club. 

But what really gave away his Aspergers Syndrome was the way he lashed out at me for having described Aspergers Syndrome in the Al Gore post (and elsewhere) as they are: socially awkward and lame. Most Aspies simply can't take criticism calmly.

And what was the worst insult he could come up with? He accused me of having Aspergers Syndrome myself (as well as having "unwarranted narcissism").

This is a pattern I keep seeing repeat itself. When people really want to insult you, they'll usually accuse you of being like them. 


Anonymous said...

I just read the Al Gore post and it seems pretty mild. Perhaps if he was diagnosed early and worked on his social skills he would have been able to win the presidency >_< Just needed a few hundred more votes in FL ?!?

I think the support groups whitewash and fetishize Aspieness and by totally emphasizing the good trait: strong focus, which then provide less incentives to improve the bad trait: poor social skills. You often see many Aspies shunnin' social skills and despisin' the *normies*. The truth is it is a syndrome after all and should be something to be worked on, not proud of. I think many Aspies often fail to realize that improving social skills isn't only for the functioning of the Aspie, but for their families and society at large. Aspies should be proud of improving their social skills, sensitivity and fittin' in, not bein' Aspies. I don't think I've ever been proud of bein' short-sighted nor havin' a shellfish allergy.

Hope you had a nice Christmas.

John Craig said...

Jean-Luc --
Good point, if Gore hadn't come across so wooden, he might have won.

You've nailed it with the Aspie support groups: they're essentially trying to make what is a disadvantage sound like an advantage. It's true, focus can result in great things. I think a few of the people they claim as their own actually were (Nikola Tesla, for instance, who was tremendously OCD, which is comorbid with Aspergers). But they basically claim every great man who was eccentric in any way. I highly doubt Thomas Jefferson was, he was too much of a polymath. And Abraham Lincoln? He is widely thought to have suffered from depression, not Aspergers. And Bobby Fischer was pretty obviously schizophrenic; just because he was so highly focused on chess doesn't mean he had Aspergers. He used chess to escape an otherwise unhappy life. And so on.

The only surprise is that the support groups haven't claimed Jesus Christ as an Aspie.

Thank you, yes, nice Christmas, hope you had the same.

Anonymous said...

Is the reason for why Aspies can't take criticism known? It can't be because they're being criticised often - many social groups are. For example, I'm acquainted with a few effeminate gay men who are forever mocked but they just shrug it off. I wonder what the explanation is.

- Gethin

John Craig said...

Gethin --
That's a good question; I don't know the answer. My experience has been they explode when criticized, can never admit they're wrong, and never say "I'm sorry." I don't know why they are that way on any of those counts; but it seems to be a fairly widespread phenomenon.

Anonymous said...

A few years ago I read a book ('A Slap in the Face' by William Irvine) that discussed how people react to insults. People with low self-esteem generally sulk, those with high self-esteem and a solid sense of self shrug insults off, and people with high self-esteem and a fragile sense of self (that is, narcissists) lash out. Narcissists need others to constantly reinforce their senses of self with compliments and similar supply, otherwise they get angry. This is why they are so unforgiving following criticism. Do you reckon narcissism explains why (some) Aspies take criticism poorly? I find that "unwarranted narcissism" remark particularly telling: we see things not as they are, but as we are.

- Gethin

John Craig said...

Gethin --
Sorry, but I can't figure that one out either. Aspies have the narcissistic thing going of lashing out in response to insults, but they don't really give off the air that narcissists do of being pleased with themselves all the time. I associate the brittleness of their egos with the rigidity of their belief systems, but I can't explain either.

I agree, the Aspie who made the comment above is projecting.

Fled The Undertow said...

Borderline personality disorder people do this, too. They call it, "Tag, you're it!" It's easier than having to admit anything may be wrong with them.

There's a lot of overlap between BPD and Narcissism. In fact, if you made a Venn diagram of three slightly-overlapping circles, and name the circles Narcissistic, Paranoid, and Antisocial personality disorders, respectively, the little area in the center where all three circles overlap could be accurately labeled BORDERLINES.

I know. My mother is one.

John Craig said...

Fled --
Ugh. My sympathies. I've known two of them, that I know of, and both were/are nightmares to deal with. They're not quite as bad as sociopaths (antisocial personalities), who are the embodiment of evil. But they have, as you've pointed out, a lot of the bad stuff in common.