Escapist Expo: "The Geek Syndrome": Asperger's in the 21st Century

"The Geek Syndrome": Asperger's in the 21st Century

Sometimes referred to as the "geek syndrome", Asperger's Syndrome (AS) is a neurological condition classified on the Autism Spectrum. It is usually characterized by social difficulties, and sometimes some remarkable abilities, often in the technical realms. It has also recently been reclassified by the American Psychiatric Association, prompting questions regarding the future of those with symptoms of AS. Thus, in pursuit of truth and science, join psychologists Dr. Mark Kline and Dr. Kevin Metz, and real-life "Aspergian" Will Vinci, for an exploration - and indeed, celebration - of Asperger's Syndrome: what it is (and what it's not), its intersection with geek culture, and the unique perspective it brings to the world.

Participants:
Mark J Kline
Kevin Metz
Will Vinci

Watch Video

Thank you so much for hosting and uploading this panel at the Expo.

I see a lot of things that happened in my life recently in a different way now.
Will was right in the way, that I can mark off several bullet-points they spoke of with "yep, that's me too"

I recently had a mental breakdown while trying to work on my thesis for the university and got in contact with the psychological counsel to deal with that.
This video shines a new light on this issue and several others from my past.
I am very grateful.

I watched the video on a whim and was surprised by how much i an relate to some of the experiences that Will shared. It looks like I've got some reading to do on the subject. This was a great panel, I'm really glad that they did it and posted it.

>Asperger's
>Real
Yeah, nah. It's just an excuse to medicate kids.

ngl42398:
>Asperger's
>Real
Yeah, nah. It's just an excuse to medicate kids.

Actually a lot of people with Asperger's go through non medicative treatment along with their families receiving information on how to create a better environment for them.

But the major issue is attitudes like yours where a non physical condition is considered non existent because it is not something you can see. I for instance have an advanced form of ADHD, which the majority of the time leaves me unable to get anything done as I flutter about from task to task without actually accomplishing anything. When I started receiving treatment every aspect of my life has improved dramatically by being able to do things that most other people can do everyday without issue.

Please remember, you are seeing the issue from the perspective of someone without these issues. I think it is referred to as the "outsider's perspective." Imagine you are a foreman who inspects the products of two factories, one is producing only half the quota it should and often lower quality, sometimes high quality, the other is producing the quota and has standard quality. Your first reaction is that the first factory has lazy workers, but it turns out that half their machines were faulty and they have to make most of the product by hand. Would you still call them lazy or would you send someone in to fix the machines?

titankore:

ngl42398:
>Asperger's
>Real
Yeah, nah. It's just an excuse to medicate kids.

Actually a lot of people with Asperger's go through non medicative treatment along with their families receiving information on how to create a better environment for them.

But the major issue is attitudes like yours where a non physical condition is considered non existent because it is not something you can see. I for instance have an advanced form of ADHD, which the majority of the time leaves me unable to get anything done as I flutter about from task to task without actually accomplishing anything. When I started receiving treatment every aspect of my life has improved dramatically by being able to do things that most other people can do everyday without issue.

Please remember, you are seeing the issue from the perspective of someone without these issues. I think it is referred to as the "outsider's perspective." Imagine you are a foreman who inspects the products of two factories, one is producing only half the quota it should and often lower quality, sometimes high quality, the other is producing the quota and has standard quality. Your first reaction is that the first factory has lazy workers, but it turns out that half their machines were faulty and they have to make most of the product by hand. Would you still call them lazy or would you send someone in to fix the machines?

Actually, I have been diagnosed with Asperger's. I've gone through several psychiatrists and psychologists, and received diagnoses from Asperger's to Autism. I've been on dozens of prescribed medications. So, through years of experience, I have concluded it is, in the majority of cases, nothing more than an excuse to medicate kids to control their behavior.

What's usually not understood about autism is that's its a psychocultural phenomena, which is why it emerged in the 20th century, the same century that introduced immediate apocalyptic reality in the form of mass media domination, industrial war, [the possibility of] nuclear armageddon, multinational corporate and bank domination of individuals, a unipolar world dominated by the West and the US military, and imminent ecological apocalypse largely ignored by the powerful.

In other words, the world has a whole lot of massive problems that so-called healthy, social people aren't doing much of anything about. Therefore a lot of people decide at a very early age to opt out of the standard psychological human model and move to a socially hostile model which allows THEM to control their own development, as opposed to the standard social model where humans are shaped by society at large.

Asperger's is not a psychological disorder - it's a psychocultural order. It's an attempt to free the self from society's influence, which obviously will never entirely work for various reasons. It's a conscious attempt to place oneself in objection to the standard thoughts and beliefs of the dominant society.

Asperger's is fundamentally social - just not in the standard manner. People with Asperger's are not invisible - they often have a profound influence on "normal" people. They are happy to have this influence.

The Asperger's psychocultural order asks the question "Just how 'good' are "normal" people?"

briankoontz:
What's usually not understood about autism is that's its a psychocultural phenomena, which is why it emerged in the 20th century, the same century that introduced immediate apocalyptic reality in the form of mass media domination, industrial war, [the possibility of] nuclear armageddon, multinational corporate and bank domination of individuals, a unipolar world dominated by the West and the US military, and imminent ecological apocalypse largely ignored by the powerful.

In other words, the world has a whole lot of massive problems that so-called healthy, social people aren't doing much of anything about. Therefore a lot of people decide at a very early age to opt out of the standard psychological human model and move to a socially hostile model which allows THEM to control their own development, as opposed to the standard social model where humans are shaped by society at large.

Asperger's is not a psychological disorder - it's a psychocultural order. It's an attempt to free the self from society's influence, which obviously will never entirely work for various reasons. It's a conscious attempt to place oneself in objection to the standard thoughts and beliefs of the dominant society.

Asperger's is fundamentally social - just not in the standard manner. People with Asperger's are not invisible - they often have a profound influence on "normal" people. They are happy to have this influence.

The Asperger's psychocultural order asks the question "Just how 'good' are "normal" people?"

Or maybe it appeared in the 20th century because that's really the century that people took psychological disorders seriously and there was actual literature behind it and experiments done? Are you really going to say that Tay Sachs disorder only appeared in the 19th century because it took that long for it to be described by physicians? That would be crazy. Or that viruses only appeared in the 19th century because only then they were found?

Just ignore the trolls.
They leave when they do not get the attention they desire.

I'm really happy you made this video. As someone who has higher functioning aspergers it's a relief to finally find something on the subject which more or less covers most of the bases for it.

And I think it sounds pretty informative for an hour of talking for those who haven't been through the processes of diagnoses or have a relative(s) with it.

It's certainly a subject which has a lot of negative attention in "geek" culture, so it's just nice to see a positive discussion on it.

Thanks so much for doing this panel, I know it won't necessarily mean a lot to a lot of a people but it certainly does to some of us.

ngl42398:

titankore:

ngl42398:
>Asperger's
>Real
Yeah, nah. It's just an excuse to medicate kids.

Actually a lot of people with Asperger's go through non medicative treatment along with their families receiving information on how to create a better environment for them.

But the major issue is attitudes like yours where a non physical condition is considered non existent because it is not something you can see. I for instance have an advanced form of ADHD, which the majority of the time leaves me unable to get anything done as I flutter about from task to task without actually accomplishing anything. When I started receiving treatment every aspect of my life has improved dramatically by being able to do things that most other people can do everyday without issue.

Please remember, you are seeing the issue from the perspective of someone without these issues. I think it is referred to as the "outsider's perspective." Imagine you are a foreman who inspects the products of two factories, one is producing only half the quota it should and often lower quality, sometimes high quality, the other is producing the quota and has standard quality. Your first reaction is that the first factory has lazy workers, but it turns out that half their machines were faulty and they have to make most of the product by hand. Would you still call them lazy or would you send someone in to fix the machines?

Actually, I have been diagnosed with Asperger's. I've gone through several psychiatrists and psychologists, and received diagnoses from Asperger's to Autism. I've been on dozens of prescribed medications. So, through years of experience, I have concluded it is, in the majority of cases, nothing more than an excuse to medicate kids to control their behavior.

Please remember your experiences do not necessarily represent everyone's.

It's unfortunate you've gone through some experiences and I assume bad ones, which have made you think it's just an excuse to medicate children. I live in the UK and personally haven't seen many people with aspergers who are on medication without having some other mental disability or health problem linked to it, like severe anxiety.

Most of the people I've met, through a unit which specialises in supporting people with aspergers in my college have the social problems and a lot of learning difficulties. Some have...quirks which make it difficult for them to interact in a mainstream college environment and others are quite violent, which I've noticed is a pretty common trait for some people with aspergers to have some degree of anger or aggression control issues. (it's obviously not in everyone, but I've met far more people with it than not, which is around...20-30 people from all over Wales. More have had it than not to be honest.)

Some get better and can change their behaviours, some don't, or as is the case for a few people I know, regress. There are ways to cope with the different hypo/hyper sensitivities and problems which people with lower and higher functioning aspergers have without being drugged up. I don't know your circumstances, and I certainly won't presume to know or ask but at least where I live medication is not the method being used to support children, young adults and adults with it.

I hope if you do still have any underlying issues that disrupt your life that you can find an alternative method of coping with them than medications (unless it's again an interlinked thing like anxiety or similar things)since meds obviously can't fix everything but some people prescribe them like they can.

ngl42398:
Actually, I have been diagnosed with Asperger's. I've gone through several psychiatrists and psychologists, and received diagnoses from Asperger's to Autism. I've been on dozens of prescribed medications. So, through years of experience, I have concluded it is, in the majority of cases, nothing more than an excuse to medicate kids to control their behavior.

That's odd. Because all of the professionals I've talked have stated, in no uncertain terms, that there is no medication for autistic behavior. Sure, they gave me some pills, but that was for unconnected ADD, and eventually we stopped when I proved I could do schoolwork without it. Virtually every person I've talked to who deals with AS or has it themselves, myself included, has said that the only 'cure' (wrong term in an extreme way) is to try to learn how to deal with it, tactics for which vary from person to person.

I'm sorry you've had shitty experiences, but don't write off actual suffering and people who need help because you think your diagnosis is unwarranted.

maxben:

briankoontz:
What's usually not understood about autism is that's its a psychocultural phenomena, which is why it emerged in the 20th century, the same century that introduced immediate apocalyptic reality in the form of mass media domination, industrial war, [the possibility of] nuclear armageddon, multinational corporate and bank domination of individuals, a unipolar world dominated by the West and the US military, and imminent ecological apocalypse largely ignored by the powerful.

In other words, the world has a whole lot of massive problems that so-called healthy, social people aren't doing much of anything about. Therefore a lot of people decide at a very early age to opt out of the standard psychological human model and move to a socially hostile model which allows THEM to control their own development, as opposed to the standard social model where humans are shaped by society at large.

Asperger's is not a psychological disorder - it's a psychocultural order. It's an attempt to free the self from society's influence, which obviously will never entirely work for various reasons. It's a conscious attempt to place oneself in objection to the standard thoughts and beliefs of the dominant society.

Asperger's is fundamentally social - just not in the standard manner. People with Asperger's are not invisible - they often have a profound influence on "normal" people. They are happy to have this influence.

The Asperger's psychocultural order asks the question "Just how 'good' are "normal" people?"

Or maybe it appeared in the 20th century because that's really the century that people took psychological disorders seriously and there was actual literature behind it and experiments done? Are you really going to say that Tay Sachs disorder only appeared in the 19th century because it took that long for it to be described by physicians? That would be crazy. Or that viruses only appeared in the 19th century because only then they were found?

Stryker:
Just ignore the trolls.
They leave when they do not get the attention they desire.

This isn't a troll, Mr. 8 posts who is apparently such an expert on autism that no expanded views are allowed to be presented. If I leave, it will likely be because I've been unfairly demonized as a troll, which you will ignore in favor of the self-supporting theory that "they didn't get the attention they desired, so they left".

You're using a strawman argument, maxben - I'm not saying that ALL disorders or "disorders" have cultural components. I'm saying that autism does.

The question behind a person's choice of psychological conditions is often "What is best for the world?" In a happy world there is no autism - in native american culture for example (far happier than modern global capital culture) there is no autism. The common argument here is the same you already gave - Autism wasn't diagnosed precisely UNTIL the happy native american culture was exterminated, so ha ha you can't prove anything.

It's true - once a world enters a certain condition and then "discovers" "disorders" to explain it's own condition there can no longer be "proof" generated concerning the lack of the condition previously. One cannot prove a negative.

Research on autism is only ever done in developed countries - a way to prove my point is to study autism in cultures still apart from global capital - such as those deep in the Amazonian rainforest. This has not been done, and the problem exists that doctors themselves are a part of global capital, so the experiment would be to some extent self-corrupting of the results.

There also aren't serial killers in (pre-colonized) native american culture, for exactly the same reason that there aren't autists.

So what is best for OUR world? What is best for a dying world (per ever-more-certain ecological disaster) where humans are lost in despair and anxiety? More people are "opting out" in one way or another. One method of opting out is autism, which gives the person more self-control over his own condition, at the expense of social integration.

By having more self-control in a world gone mad, there is more hope, since the world itself impacts less on the individual. (This is what autists believe, not reflective of my own beliefs).

My argument against autism is that modern problems are largely structural in nature - what's preventing ecological improvement is domination by high capital, not by insufficiencies within individuals. Distancing oneself from society doesn't help anyone.

briankoontz:

maxben:

briankoontz:
What's usually not understood about autism is that's its a psychocultural phenomena, which is why it emerged in the 20th century, the same century that introduced immediate apocalyptic reality in the form of mass media domination, industrial war, [the possibility of] nuclear armageddon, multinational corporate and bank domination of individuals, a unipolar world dominated by the West and the US military, and imminent ecological apocalypse largely ignored by the powerful.

In other words, the world has a whole lot of massive problems that so-called healthy, social people aren't doing much of anything about. Therefore a lot of people decide at a very early age to opt out of the standard psychological human model and move to a socially hostile model which allows THEM to control their own development, as opposed to the standard social model where humans are shaped by society at large.

Asperger's is not a psychological disorder - it's a psychocultural order. It's an attempt to free the self from society's influence, which obviously will never entirely work for various reasons. It's a conscious attempt to place oneself in objection to the standard thoughts and beliefs of the dominant society.

Asperger's is fundamentally social - just not in the standard manner. People with Asperger's are not invisible - they often have a profound influence on "normal" people. They are happy to have this influence.

The Asperger's psychocultural order asks the question "Just how 'good' are "normal" people?"

Or maybe it appeared in the 20th century because that's really the century that people took psychological disorders seriously and there was actual literature behind it and experiments done? Are you really going to say that Tay Sachs disorder only appeared in the 19th century because it took that long for it to be described by physicians? That would be crazy. Or that viruses only appeared in the 19th century because only then they were found?

Stryker:
Just ignore the trolls.
They leave when they do not get the attention they desire.

This isn't a troll, Mr. 8 posts who is apparently such an expert on autism that no expanded views are allowed to be presented. If I leave, it will likely because I've been unfairly demonized as a troll, which you will ignore in favor of the self-supporting theory that "they didn't get the attention they desired, so they left".

You're using a strawman argument, maxben - I'm not saying that ALL disorders or "disorders" have cultural components. I'm saying that autism does.

The question behind a person's choice of psychological conditions is often "What is best for the world?" In a happy world there is no autism - in native american culture for example (far happier than modern global capital culture) there is no autism. The common argument here is the same you already gave - Autism wasn't diagnosed precisely UNTIL the happy native american culture was exterminated, so ha ha you can't prove anything.

It's true - once a world enters a certain condition and then "discovers" "disorders" to explain it's own condition there can no longer be "proof" generated concerning the lack of the condition previously. One cannot prove a negative.

Research on autism is only ever done in developed countries - a way to prove my point is to study autism in cultures still apart from global capital - such as those deep in the Amazonian rainforest. This has not been done, and the problem exists that doctors themselves are a part of global capital, so the experiment would be to some extent self-corrupting of the results.

There also aren't serial killers in (pre-colonized) native american culture, for exactly the same reason that there aren't autists.

So what is best for OUR world? What is best for a dying world (per ever-more-certain ecological disaster) where humans are lost in despair and anxiety? More people are "opting out" in one way or another. One method of opting out is autism, which gives the person more self-control over his own condition, at the expense of social integration.

By having more self-control in a world gone mad, there is more hope, since the world itself impacts less on the individual. (This is what autists believe, not reflective of my own beliefs).

My argument against autism is that modern problems are largely structural in nature - what's preventing ecological improvement is domination by high capital, not by insufficiencies within individuals. Distancing oneself from society doesn't help anyone.

You are way way way off. There are obviously serial killers in native societies. Have you never heard of a Wendigo? In native societies, populations are so low and socitel control so high that you can rarely get away with anything (every aspect of your life is controlled by customs, you have no personal choice), but they were great in turning their violent aggressive people on others (just look at the aztecs or the Blackfoot). Do you think that aztecs considered their human sacrifice mass murder? Do you consider it as such?

Second of all, it is NOT a strawman argument. A strawman is ignoring your argument and fighting an argument that you didn't create. Example: Women should work. Response: So you think children should be neglected? That's a strawman. I disagree with the basic validity of your argument. You said A therefore B, and I am trying to show that C therefore B, so what reason would you have to accept A over C? The reasons behind picking A just plain don't work, and then you argue that no evidence can be compiled. That is fine, but you can imagine why people are less likely to pick A over C right?

There are studies done on Autism outside of the developed world, not as many but they do exist and you can search them up. In general they show lower rates of autism, but I imagine that that is hardly a problem as the Western world is running to over diagnose. There is a reason why among the poor in Western countries there are less autistics per population than the rich, and since they both face the same "cultural pressures" it is obvious what is going on. Autism is also genetic, so if you live somewhere where life is harder and autistics are less likely to reproduce that will also have an effect. It would also go along way in explaining why certain groups are more likely to have it. After all, with a genetic disease such as Tay Sachs, you get high frequency in particular ethnicities (French Canadians, Cajuns, and Ashkenazi Jews).

By the way, you may be right at the end. I just think that the evidence is against your interpretation and that your argument is logically rather weak.

As for poor versus rich, poor people are more normal in general - zany people like entertainers or celebrities can afford to be strange, while poor people lead basic lives and don't (as often) consider it within their desire to have a non-standard psychology. Having a non-standard psychology costs a lot (socially), and poor people can't afford it.

Wendigos are mythological - they are a way for the Algonquians to make cannibalism a taboo. They aren't a subset of the population as you either believe or are trollingly applying. Native Americans have murdered members of their own tribe before, and in very rare cases have eaten them, but no serial killer native americans are documented prior to their colonization.

"Genetics" is a very convenient way to explain away social issues, since it assumes the reason is hardwired within the person and therefore nothing can be done socially - just give the set of genes (aka the human being) the proper drugs and problem solved. "Genetics" is an argument which appeals to people who support the status quo (and those who love the pharmaceutical industry) since absolutely no social changes need to be made.

I'm not on the opposite side - genetics clearly impacts human psychology. Furthermore, genetics is very poorly understood and I'm happy to support further research on the meaning of genes. But it's very clear to just about all people that human behavior has changed over the centuries and that these changes are obviously only barely genetic, since the genes haven't much changed. The changes in human behavior are largely cultural.

History provides great clarification on any number of things. The reason we believe that serial killing is not particularly genetic is that serial killing is mostly a modern phenomena. It's so very convenient that a new social science comes along (psychology) which claims that nothing about psychology can be disproved prior to the existence of psychology, because stuff "just wasn't able to be diagnosed". How very self-serving.

I could probably provide very good supporting arguments if I spent a lot of time researching and building a case. But in the absence of an effective Kickstarter campaign to fund that project, I find it difficult to justify that kind of effort, especially when the person I'm talking to is at least 25% trolling.

My apologies if my existing argument done on my own time is not up to your standards.

riflow:
I'm really happy you made this video. As someone who has higher functioning aspergers it's a relief to finally find something on the subject which more or less covers most of the bases for it.

And I think it sounds pretty informative for an hour of talking for those who haven't been through the processes of diagnoses or have a relative(s) with it.

It's certainly a subject which has a lot of negative attention in "geek" culture, so it's just nice to see a positive discussion on it.

Thanks so much for doing this panel, I know it won't necessarily mean a lot to a lot of a people but it certainly does to some of us.

Thanks for saying so. I'm glad you found it coherent and reasonably comprehensive. There was actually a lot more in my notes that we just didn't have time for, and I was concerned we couldn't do the subject justice in an hour.

Incidentally, though, I'm not really aware of Asperger's getting a lot of negative attention in geek culture - or a lot of ANY attention for that matter. Perhaps it's just the circles I run in, but I'd barely even heard of it before my diagnosis, and what I had heard was fairly neutral. Fortunately, my friends tend to be extremely welcoming people who boldly embrace weirdness in both others and themselves. In any case, I'm glad you found our discussion positive and informative; operating as intended.

I almost didn't pitch the panel in the first place. I wasn't sure there'd be enough interest to justify it, not to mention public speaking isn't exactly my favorite thing in the world to do. But I'm glad I did; the response from people like you has been wonderful, and I figure if I can help even one person's journey be a little shorter and less arduous, it will have been worth it.

 

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