Monday, October 12, 2015


Remember the good old days when "myths" were something that came from Ancient Greece or Scandanavia or nasty little folk tales about witches and wolves from the Brothers Grimm? Well nowadays the turn-around time between "established fact" which becomes "disproven myth" is less than the time between your grandfather's bathroom visits. Kids these days...grumble grumble grumble...

But I digress, so onwards. With every rash of gun massacres (welcome to America bitch!) comes a rash of articles about what to do about it (generally, nothing), whom to blame (the mentally ill who persist in such activities as opening firearm factories, manufacturing firearms, the sale and distribution of aforesaid firearms, buying off and/or intimidating congressmen in order to sell more firearms and generally flooding the nation with as many guns as possible because that's how we solve problems such as school massacres), and of course, defining mental illness.

Which in the case of autism, appears to be just about anything.
Such prejudice arises in part from confusion about autism, which manifests in a multiplicity of symptoms, making generalizations difficult. Some people with autism cannot easily guess what other people are thinking, and therefore act without socially appropriate nuance. This perplexity is often conflated, unfairly, with lack of emotional empathy or even unkindness. Autistic people run the same gamut as other people: Some are kinder than others. Some find social interaction extremely taxing; others evince joy in trusted friends and family. Whatever anyone’s particular constellation of symptoms may be, however, autism is not associated with brutality. Failing to intuit certain aspects of other people’s inner experience does not equate to disdain for human life (Myth of the Autistic Shooter,

As someone with a background in social science (which could mean just about anything from digging up bits of pot shards to a Jungian veteranian), I've found this to be rather disturbing. What is, exactly, "autism"? Or is it simply that, as Aldous Huxley is supposed to have said, medicine has its own fads? I have to go with Huxley: Human nature being what it is, we all want to be cool and hip and down with the latest fashion. None of this, of course, has anything to do with firearm regulation: Expecting any human to have a reason to be angry, or sad, or happy, or unhappy, makes as much sense as expecting someone to have a reason to breathe or sleep or reproduce or feed of his little E. coli pals living in his small intestine: At some point someone will do something for no apparent whatsoever. The brain is just too complex to have one simple answer.

 How did autism become the latest fad disorder? -

Autism advocates and parents of kids with honest-to-God cases of the disorder may say: OK, maybe ASDs have been overdiagnosed. So what? There’s strength in numbers, and the publicity has certainly raised autism awareness. The answer to that is: yes, but at the cost of obscuring the actual condition.
On the one hand you’ve got people thinking Asperger's syndrome is the mark of a future tech genius and thus nothing to worry about; on the other hand, if there actually were an environmental cause of autism, with so many false positives being reported we’d never know. The biggest favor activists could do for the objects of their benevolence is to make people understand: here are the signs you’ve got an autism spectrum disorder, and, equally important, here are the signs you don’t.

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