Sunday, November 13, 2011

Psychosis is this season's Autism

There's a lot of great stuff written on autism, but it can be tricky to tip-toe past the loopy (but hugely entertaining) books with shouty titles like "I Kicked Autism's Arse And I'm Not At All In Denial" or "My Child Caught Autism From A Toilet Seat".

An excellent trick to save time is to avoid autism books with animals on the cover.
Also, if the title includes the words "cure", "vaccines" or "alien abduction" they're generally only good for use as a door-stopper (if they're thick enough).

Simon Baron-Cohen was one of my favourite writers on the subject of autism.
I could always rely on him as a voice of reason in the crazy swirl of autism literature.
But now he's gone as mad as the rest of them.

He recently wrote a book called the "Science of Evil" in which he explains that committing evil acts arises from a lack of empathy (can ya see where this is going?) and that human cruelty has a scientific basis.
He compares autism to psychosis.
I can't claim to have read the book, because he lost me when he tries to redeem autistic people by applying some strange positive/negative empathy scale to their acts of cruelty...including an example where an autistic person punches a baby to stop him crying.  But that's alright because he had positive zero empathy.  Or something.
Try telling that to the baby's mother.

But the bottom line is that most people will read the blurb at the back of the book and conclude that people with autism are psychopaths.
If anyone other than Baron-Cohen had written it, I'd have a good laugh about it.

But I'll be too busy buying some fava beans and a nice chianti with my little psycho to worry about it.
Have the lambs stopped screaming yet???


  1. I couldn't finish 'We need to talk about Kevin' for similar reasons :(

  2. I have never read his books so probably shouldn't comment, but from whatever quotations I've seen the man has become (whisper) a pop-psychiatrist.

  3. I have a Dexter ....particularly if you step on a bug...

    Love your blog Jean.


  4. loving your blog xx

  5. I have thought this for a while also - That there is some link between psychosis and autism.

    Simon B.C. is a very intelligent and educated man, I would read what he has to say without 'reading into' what he writes if I were you.

    There are so many obvious differences between autism and psychosis, hence why they are two distinctly different labels.
    But this does not mean that there isn't also some 'link'.

    And remember, a 'link' does not indicate anything other than that - a link.

    If people read this book and deduce that autism and psychosis are one in the same, then well they are just idiots really, so I wouldn't let it bother me.

  6. Oh Lord. I've not read the book or the little back cover thing but I don't like any "links" without proof. To imply otherwise is wrong. Sigh.

  7. I am not liking the sound of this, at all at all. I too considered Simon BC a respected and knowledgeable writer.... his were the first Autism books I read. I can't really comment as I haven't read it. Not sure that I want to. Watch out for some interesting/dnagerous Autism plots in popular TV shows like Criminal Minds et al...

    xx Jazzy

  8. Actually just read a comment someone posted on the "Autism and empathy" blog. Basically, it said that psychopats fairly well understand how other people feel (and so they can manipulate them), but they don't care. It is the other way around for people with ASD - they feel compassion, just ofter can't "read" other people

  9. yeah...I looked at that book..just looked...didn't pick it up or anything..Frankly, sometimes I wonder about my mothering skills-as I have maybe only read one or two books on the topic...and that was because I was forced to. I believe that his intentions are good..I mean there is actually an autism book called "I wish my kids had cancer" there is far worse...