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    Asperger Depressing Double Edged Sword
    By Sascha Vongehr | July 7th 2014 06:24 AM | 3 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About Sascha

    Dr. Sascha Vongehr [风洒沙] studied phil/math/chem/phys in Germany, obtained a BSc in theoretical physics (electro-mag) & MSc (stringtheory)...

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        Many high IQ Asperger sufferers think that their rationality is ultimately superior. Their moralizing provides judgments; their “honesty” blurts them out. Such behavior is usually felt to be inappropriate. Rationalizing such as a somehow more upstanding, righteous way is in many cases quite silly especially from a rational perspective. Their often narrowly focused moralizing does precisely not submit tacitly held values to rational analysis.

     

        Relating Asperger’s and rationality is not equivalent to the claim that Asperger’s is all good. Asperger’s can render people more honest and sincere, but Aspies are insincere, too. There can be less self-censorship, less falling for deception by social norms. This ‘antisocial’ aspect of Asperger’s syndrome helps rationality, but is nevertheless asocial. Many a campus shooter is afflicted to some extend. Narrowly focused morality can be part of this. Naively, it may sound like a throughout positive aspect if one claims that Asperger sufferers have “Internal motivation – as opposed to being motivated by praise, money, bills or acceptance. This ensures a job done with conscience, with personal pride.” However, what kind of asocial guidelines lurk beneath that “conscience” and “personal pride”? “Praise” and “acceptance” tell us much about the socially endorsed ones, and in a sense, there are fundamentally no others.

     

        Humans are just not that clever; often especially the relatively clever ones are not as clever as they think themselves to be. Intelligence as measured by IQ is not the only issue here. Rationality fails fundamentally anyway because there is no fundamental aim and the socially prescribed aims are inconsistent. Moreover, even relative to clearly defined intermediate aims, humans usually fail to get good results through the application of rationality, because we use rationality usually in order to rationalize, to excuse an already committed act, explaining and justifying our behavior to others and to our own conscience. This is how rational argumentation evolved and it is still its main function!

     

       Rationality fails 1) fundamentally, 2) embarrassingly often practically even for people with high IQ; see “Asperger Love” for example; and moreover 3) rationality of course fails usually with those who are not clever to begin with! Presented with many possible responses that could be delivered, the evolved gut feeling of a socially well functioning person will be better than the rational analysis of an uneducated dimwit. Problems mostly arise from what you do not know, not from the failed juggling of known facts.

     

        Manifestos of the Ted Kaczynski’s and loner-type rampage killers show impressive intelligence but are also intellectual failure. Their inconsistency reveals a character flaw and intellectual failure simultaneously. If they were as honest and rational as they like to believe, they would attack their own inconsistencies. More important than rationality is what you rationalize with it. Simply grabbing a socially endorsed norm and functioning may seem bad, but without, how far can I analyze before I run out of patience with having no face left in the mirror? To go through until the self is deconstructed is extremely difficult, getting stuck somewhere in a dark alley is dangerous for the person itself (suicide) and those around.

     

    Why are many Asperger’s minds depressed?

        Asperger’s minds often question. The more questions, the more decisions. The more choices you make, the more alternatives you reject. Every one of those choices can be expressed as a failure in the eyes of other perspectives. If there was no perspective in which the alternative would have been the correct choice, there would not have been a question about it, no decision would have been necessary. In complex political discourse for example, there is always another perspective; every tiny act is a decision; there is always somebody who could be conceivably negatively affected. In this example, it is not just misguided interpretation about other humans. Other humans do indeed identify in complex ways, each aiming to mark him or herself as a unique individual by identifying with a whole assortment of perspectives, including political ways of perceiving issues.

     

        The typical Asperger’s rationality is tuned into the avoidance of potentially hurtful choices. Perspectivism, the conceiving to walk in someone’s shoes, allows such negatively focused analysis to easily construct a timeline of 100% negative choices to be sorry for: In somebody’s eyes, all I do is wrong, and she may turn out correct in the end.

     

       Aspergers’ depression also correlates with persistent, early onset existential stress starting with school ground mobbing and going over into lifelong misinterpretation and discrimination that especially those on the highfunctioning autism spectrum often quietly suffer. And there are other hypotheses. It would be wrong to stress perspectivism in cases of campus shooters like Elliot Rodger, who failed to take the perspective of those who avoided him. The Asperger’s moralizing and clinging to the fair-world illusion relate to depression, too.

     

       Nevertheless, rationalism alone can be argued to naturally tend to the opposite of “ignorance is bliss”. The opposite of bliss is depression. Or as Andrew Solomon in Depression, the Secret we share states, the opposite of depression is vitality. Vitality, the ‘life force’, the will to act, to decide – the opposite of life is death.

     

        Awareness of death and a partial dying before death are necessary for enlightenment; all the wiser teachings have this in common, from A as in Ascetic self-mortification of Indian holy men going through their death initiation ritual, over B as in Buddha, all the way to Z for Zen. Plato held all philosophy to be preparation for death. Castaneda introduced death as your best personal friend. To which I add: You do not need to run after death; death does not run away; he waits for you so you can take life slowly. Death is always there for you; even in your darkest hour you can summon him to your side and he will be there for you.

     

        Death and suicide is more easily on the Asperger’s mind, because we are able to look at taboo issues less impeded by social norms. This can make her or mostly him indeed dangerous to others. People who want to end their lives are immune to the force of deterrence, of punishment by the consequences of their acts. Loose cannons!

     

    Postmodern Paralysis, Taoist Wu Wei (without action)

        All of this can be said to be malfunctions, deficiencies, and illness to be medicated away! All of this can be said to be wonderfully cool and creative instead, especially in a coffee house TED talk atmosphere: “Pamper me”, I scream in fear of the mob, “let me survive as a potentially adaptive aberration in the reservoir of variability that any evolved system keeps in order to participate in the accelerating Red Queen races.” Perhaps Aspies are your last weapon against the robopocalypse. The truth is not somewhere in between. There is no truth here but what you happen to believe in or fight for.

     

        The ancient philosophers tried to find the truth and the good. Modern philosophers do not claim to be able to say what is good; they claim to merely say what is, not how it should be. Postmodern philosophers understand that if you “merely say what is”, you prescribe a perspective, a way in which “what is” should be seen! Therefore, the postmodern thinker (not merely) questions perspectives rather than “saying what is”. This is in a way just another level of “saying what is”, because it describes options, the options of “what can be seen as existent”, or worse: “what does my questioning construct by steering your attention that way”. Postmodern philosophers question while being aware of the power of questioning over the discourse. The next step over (not “after”) this is silence.

    Comments

    Nasty article. What is 'depressing' is the linking of Asperger's with campus shootings - it is inaccurate, dangerous and unhelpful.

    I understand you think this comes off as nasty and unhelpful. I did too at first. but I decided to read more into this guys' articles, he's done a couple others on the subject, and it isn't really his standpoint as it seems in this article, that's why it was titled "a depressing double-edged sword". It's really not about equating aspergers with acts of mass violence, though there are some, and not the other, and vice versa when it comes to the mental states of violent mass-murderers.

    It's true with high-functioning autism and often an accompanying high IQ that some aspies fall victim to their own biases and emotions and reactions to society and rationalize some horrible things, while many of us simply continue to live on despite, and in spite of the gross injustices or perceived unfairness in the world which is why he mentioned Rodgers. Rodgers wanted to believe that simpy because he was incapable of achieving any sexual relations, that they were somehow bad, that everyone who was more successful in such an arena while he continuously seemed to fail (((((even though I feel he didn't really try, and I can understand to an extent how he felt, as I've felt similarly i.e. "i'm awesome and intelligent, why don't women like me?" though I've understood for some time that the problem is I just don't try hard enough/don't have the personality to have as many sexual relations as I've wanted in the past. I've since lost interest in sex almost altogether, though Elliot was downright OBSESSED, and allowed it to pervade his every thought and just destroy his life. just as some unrealistic entitled expectation born of his own intellectual narcissism without putting forth the necessary effort)))), weren't deserving and in his mind, deserved death instead. So he acted on that in his own matrix of dubious and unsound, unfounded, or maybe just insane rationalizations. Seriously, if you read his 'manifesto', the kid comes off as more of an entitled crybaby idiot than anything.

    I would suggest reading his other articles on aspergers that should be easily found on links in/around this article, if you have the time, there's more to the perspective than what I'm sure you perceived as a demonization of aspies, which it really isn't, at least I don't think. Lest it need be disavowed, I am in no way affiliated with this site or this author, and have nothing to gain from suggesting you this; I'm simply someone who decided against my initial emotional reaction to take a second, deeper look at what this site is saying about people like me.

    A lovely, thoughtful response Mr A :) But sadly, many people aren't thoughtful, & it really worries me that articles like this will be read by people who want simple answers to why bad things happen. I think, from what you said about Elliot, we'd agree that on the rare occasions an aspie commits a crime, there is almost always a host of other reasons why - yet the media pounces on the label, & though the article above doesn't demonise aspies, the popular press sure as hell does on these occasions. Yet we both know that statistically, aspies are far more likely to be the victim of crime than the perpetrator, & tend as a rule to be more law abiding than the general population. It's the bias encouraged by articles like this that worries me.

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