POLL: Do you believe that Alan Turing was autistic?

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POLL: Do you believe that Alan Turing was autistic?
Yes 29%  29%  [ 10 ]
Likely 32%  32%  [ 11 ]
Maybe 24%  24%  [ 8 ]
Not Likely 9%  9%  [ 3 ]
No 6%  6%  [ 2 ]
Total votes : 34

redrobin62
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25 Jun 2016, 5:51 pm

Do you mean something like this arranged in book form?

http://www.autism.org.uk/about/adult-life/stories.aspx



AspieUtah
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25 Jun 2016, 5:54 pm

redrobin62 wrote:
Do you mean something like this arranged in book form?

http://www.autism.org.uk/about/adult-life/stories.aspx

Exactly! I would much rather read that kind of book to show me the face(s) of autism than yet another story about a celebrity actor. It isn't that I don't like honest stories about celebrity autists, just that there is something added to the stories of autists who didn't have doors opened for them.


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kraftiekortie
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25 Jun 2016, 8:05 pm

Consider yourself inducted, Red Robin.



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25 Jun 2016, 8:39 pm

It's possible, but we'll likely never know for sure. The same can be applied to many historical figures who died before adult autism diagnoses were a thing.


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AspieUtah
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26 Jun 2016, 9:21 am

mr_bigmouth_502 wrote:
It's possible, but we'll likely never know for sure. The same can be applied to many historical figures who died before adult autism diagnoses were a thing.

What I find odd about doubting retrospective diagnoses isn't that others disagree with the idea (that is a fair alternative), but, that such doubts appear to exist disproportionately in the diagnoses of autism. Whereas, in the case of Vincent van Gogh, according to Wikipedia.org, "[t]here has been much debate as to the nature of [his] illness and its effect on his work. Over 150 psychiatrists have attempted to label its root, with 30 different diagnoses. These have included schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, syphilis, poisoning from swallowed paints, temporal lobe epilepsy, and acute intermittent porphyria. Any of these could have been the culprit, and could have been aggravated by malnutrition, overwork, insomnia and alcohol, especially absinthe." And, yet, there is no apparent outcry from doubters of such retrospective diagnoses of Van Gogh.


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26 Jun 2016, 12:43 pm

AspieUtah wrote:
mr_bigmouth_502 wrote:
It's possible, but we'll likely never know for sure. The same can be applied to many historical figures who died before adult autism diagnoses were a thing.

What I find odd about doubting retrospective diagnoses isn't that others disagree with the idea (that is a fair alternative), but, that such doubts appear to exist disproportionately in the diagnoses of autism. Whereas, in the case of Vincent van Gogh, according to Wikipedia.org, "[t]here has been much debate as to the nature of [his] illness and its effect on his work. Over 150 psychiatrists have attempted to label its root, with 30 different diagnoses. These have included schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, syphilis, poisoning from swallowed paints, temporal lobe epilepsy, and acute intermittent porphyria. Any of these could have been the culprit, and could have been aggravated by malnutrition, overwork, insomnia and alcohol, especially absinthe." And, yet, there is no apparent outcry from doubters of such retrospective diagnoses of Van Gogh.


Thats interesting. Its my theory that high functioning autism is a concept that is actually very uncomfortable for a lot of NTs, which is why there is a lot of scepticism about diagnosis of historical geniuses. I think there is a lot of envy towards people who are on the outside of society, who have bigger things to pay attention to than how they dress or following social rules, who are able to bury themselves in very intense interests and so achieve amazing things. I think its very common for people to wish they were more like that, and so they dismiss a diagnosis of autism in the high functioning, because they don't want to admit that there is some neurological difference that causes those things.

In other words, everyone wants to be special and often NTs don't want to admit a case of high functioning autism is real because that may take away their own chance to be special. High functioning autism is very romanticised by the media, and people don't realise the difficulties and loneliness associated with it.

I think Alan Turing had Aspergers, but I think he would have difficulties being diagnosed even today, because of these reasons



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26 Jun 2016, 2:52 pm

foxfield wrote:
Thats interesting. Its my theory that high functioning autism is a concept that is actually very uncomfortable for a lot of NTs, which is why there is a lot of scepticism about diagnosis of historical geniuses. I think there is a lot of envy towards people who are on the outside of society, who have bigger things to pay attention to than how they dress or following social rules, who are able to bury themselves in very intense interests and so achieve amazing things. I think its very common for people to wish they were more like that, and so they dismiss a diagnosis of autism in the high functioning, because they don't want to admit that there is some neurological difference that causes those things.

In other words, everyone wants to be special and often NTs don't want to admit a case of high functioning autism is real because that may take away their own chance to be special. High functioning autism is very romanticised by the media, and people don't realise the difficulties and loneliness associated with it.

I think Alan Turing had Aspergers, but I think he would have difficulties being diagnosed even today, because of these reasons

Hmm. That is a very interesting idea. So, to restate it in my usual blunt ways, the general population is envious of the pioneer, the genius and the zealot? That is certainly true about how most people see celebrity athletes, politicians and actors. In their own personal attempt at being special, most people are overshadowed by those for whom being exceptional comes naturally.
In Turing's own life, that was certainly true. Thanks for your description!


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26 Jun 2016, 3:03 pm

AspieUtah wrote:
mr_bigmouth_502 wrote:
It's possible, but we'll likely never know for sure. The same can be applied to many historical figures who died before adult autism diagnoses were a thing.

What I find odd about doubting retrospective diagnoses isn't that others disagree with the idea (that is a fair alternative), but, that such doubts appear to exist disproportionately in the diagnoses of autism. Whereas, in the case of Vincent van Gogh, according to Wikipedia.org, "[t]here has been much debate as to the nature of [his] illness and its effect on his work. Over 150 psychiatrists have attempted to label its root, with 30 different diagnoses. These have included schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, syphilis, poisoning from swallowed paints, temporal lobe epilepsy, and acute intermittent porphyria. Any of these could have been the culprit, and could have been aggravated by malnutrition, overwork, insomnia and alcohol, especially absinthe." And, yet, there is no apparent outcry from doubters of such retrospective diagnoses of Van Gogh.


Thank you very much AspieUtah for that observation. The phenomenon of discounting and resentment is a real one - AS perceptions are trivialised, discounted, invalidated, silenced by ridicule and hostility. Particularly in the context you cite. It may be tied in some way to the general, cultural, social and political disempowerment of AS people and the imposed dominant narrative that our perceptions are invalid because AS people are invalid, from the dominant narrative perspective. That is quite awful, though it demonstrates what we are up against and how far we have to yet to go in self-advocacy and challenging the dominant narrative of dehumanisation and belittlement. I would be interested in Steve Silberman's view on this (if he is reading).



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26 Jun 2016, 3:16 pm

B19 wrote:
Thank you very much AspieUtah for that observation. The phenomenon of discounting and resentment is a real one - AS perceptions are trivialised, discounted, invalidated, silenced by ridicule and hostility. Particularly in the context you cite. It may be tied in some way to the general, cultural, social and political disempowerment of AS people and the imposed dominant narrative that our perceptions are invalid because AS people are invalid, from the dominant narrative perspective. That is quite awful, though it demonstrates what we are up against and how far we have to yet to go in self-advocacy and challenging the dominant narrative of dehumanisation and belittlement. I would be interested in Steve Silberman's view on this (if he is reading).

Ah, this perspective could easily be silenced if autists would only "come out" at a higher rate than they are already doing so. Sure, we have several high-profile autists worldwide ... and that is about it. The world's LGBT community was hesitant about disclosing in the 1960 and 1970s, too. But, by the 1990s, the phenomenon of not disclosing had overtaken disclosing as the social "oddity."


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26 Jun 2016, 3:29 pm

I plead guilty. During my academic years, I would never have come out of the AS closet (if I had known then, which I didn't), because of the politics of the place, the internecine jealousies, undermining and back stabbing that goes on in academic life, where any perceived Chinese in your armour can be seized if your ability is perceived as a threat to another's promotion, power or control, or academic ambitions.

Things may be more civilised now than in my time. Somehow, though, I am not very persuaded of that. It may even be more cutthroat now than it was then. There is a nasty underbelly to academic life that few people outside it are aware of. It is not total across all faculties it seems though it is very pervasive.



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26 Jun 2016, 3:50 pm

B19 wrote:
...During my academic years, I would never have come out of the AS closet (if I had known then, which I didn't), because of the politics of the place, the internecine jealousies, undermining and back stabbing that goes on in academic life, where any perceived Chinese in your armour can be seized if your ability is perceived as a threat to another's promotion, power or control, or academic ambitions.

Things may be more civilised now than in my time. Somehow, though, I am not very persuaded of that. It may even be more cutthroat now than it was then. There is a nasty underbelly to academic life that few people outside it are aware of. It is not total across all faculties it seems though it is very pervasive.

I accept that some people believe that they cannot disclose. But, if we are one-to-two percent of any population, where are our elders who can now speak out without fear of professional retribution? Where are the activist autists like Temple Grandin? Where are the families of autists who have died? Where are the allies like Steve Silberman who have little to risk? There are many ways to disclose for the best effect while still maintaining one's privacy.

I don't mean to criticize any autist's choice to disclose or not. The right to privacy means a lot to me. I want only to nudge ourselves a bit more.


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26 Jun 2016, 4:16 pm

The fear of being pigeonholed, by retrospective discreditation applied in unfairways unfortunately extends beyond the years of active academic life for many, I think. The prospect of reputational damage is a powerfully inhibiting factor. Possibly this is the core reason that academic AS people are not "out there advocates" because of the wider contextualisation and stigma. It all comes back to dehumanisation, dehumanising attitudes, beliefs, the othering of AS people as a minority group. Silverman, notably, is not from that quarter (his contribution is remarkable and would be exceptionalist coming from any quarter).

I am not disagreeing with you. Your lament is entirely valid. The voices of protest are being heard on blogs, in books, authored by AS people, though they are mainly reaching (and are written for) an AS audience. In the NT world there are a few outliers (like Attwood).

The way forward will perhaps lie in developing a truly deep and focused working partnership between the NT allies and the AS advocates - a true partnership, dedicated to the same objectives. At present they are both working to the same goal in isolation from each other. Silberman, Attwood, AS advocates. Merely holding conferences where such voices can come together to present papers and be heard is not enough, it won't bring about political and cultural change. That will require a very different approach, with clear political goals to enfranchise the disenfranchised humanity of AS people.

Once that vision is firmly established and actualised in practical ways, then the closeted voices may well emerge as an idea and a force that has found its time.

Power, disempowerment, empowerment is at the very heart of this: you can't effect change in power structures in the absence of an understanding of how these structures function, and many of the advocate voices seem to bypass that step, unknowingly perhaps:

http://www.powercube.net/wp-content/upl ... apter3.pdf



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26 Jun 2016, 5:43 pm

AspieUtah wrote:
The film’s makers, including its lead actors Benedict Cumberbatch and Kiera Knightly as well as its writer Graham Moore and director Morten Tyldum, seemed to me, however, to have eschewed the idea of Alan being autistic (as if that, while he could and should be portrayed as a gay man, he couldn’t and shouldn’t be portrayed as autistic, too). Moore even suggested that the portrayal of Alan (whatever else it was) wasn’t autistic because “...certainly, that was a word that didn’t exist during his lifetime...” (a claim which was as inaccurate as it would have been unlikely to negate the very existence of autism during and after the war), and that the numerous hints of autistic behaviors within the film were merely because Alan was “...the outsider’s outsider...” in a world where secrecy meant safety.[1] If so, are spies known to exhibit such behaviors to a degree where it is difficult to distinguish them from autistic people? I doubt it.

In my opinion, some of the film’s cast and crew were unprepared or unwilling to discuss Alan’s behaviors factually. Cumberbatch’s resentment of the idea that Alan’s behaviors might have been because of his likely autism was described in 2014 within the Metro news report “TIFF: Benedict Cumberbatch is sick of people calling his characters autistic” wherein he stated that “I don’t think he was on the spectrum. I think a lot of people are very lazy with that.” He added that “I think it's a really dangerous thing to toy with that[.]”[2]


Wow, GREAT writeup, AspieUtah. I saw The Imitation Game too and have been working my way through Enigma (with some stumbles over the math). Before I saw the movie, I had heard that some people that that Alan Turing had Asperger's, and was very eager to see it (plus, Benedict Cumberbatch, yay!). I loved the movie. I had only recently read about Asperger's syndrome and was suspecting that I had it. The movie was what really clinched it for me, because I not only saw a lot of my own traits in the movie's Alan, but a lot of my Dad's. I started reading Enigma and saw even more of Dad and me--brainy loners, weird speech patterns (stammering high voice for me, booming volume issues for Dad), being bullied, social deficits, giving baffled smiles when our friends made jokes, misunderstanding people's meanings, struggles to succeed in our careers because of social deficits, pedantic lectures, and extremely focused interests. Dad even had coffee cup paranoia. His mug security system was to never wash the cup until it became really grotty, instead of chaining it down. It was the movie that convinced me to pursue a formal diagnosis. I can honestly say that this movie changed my life.

After I got the formal diagnosis, I reached out to other members of my Dad's family. Dad was a pretty ornery guy, and had become estranged from his family, mostly his choice. I discovered that they all thought that Dad was on the Spectrum, as well as my Dad's father. My Dad's brother has one daughter and one grandson diagnosed with ASD, and Dad' sister has a grandson diagnosed with ASD.

I was initially really angry about Graham Moore's and Benedict Cumberbatch's dismissive comments about a diagnosis of Turing and other celebrities as a "way to dismiss them." Cumberbatch had also made irritated comments about people calling his other brilliant character, Sherlock Holmes autistic, because autistic people are "so challenged," as though one cannot be challenged or disabled and smart at the same time. Now that I've had a year to cool down, I realize that what they meant was, people often slap the Asperger's label on public people (e.g., Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates) to dismiss them as nerdy antisocial types that everyone can laugh at so they don't have to feel intimidated by their brilliance. I honestly think GM and BC meant well, and only spoke out of ignorance of what is actually possible within the Spectrum, and that brilliance and struggle are not mutually exclusive.

My Dad was a really smart guy, maybe even brilliant. He was also a profoundly dysfunctional person whose lousy social skills probably prevented him from getting the PhD he desperately wanted, and thus prevented him from becoming a professor at a bigger university instead of the little college he taught at. He was terrible with money, offended everyone, terrorized his kids and wife, and probably intentionally neglected his health as a kind of passive suicide. I wish my Dad had lived long enough to see the movie--I think it would have meant a lot to him.


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26 Jun 2016, 5:50 pm

AspieUtah wrote:
B19 wrote:
Thank you very much AspieUtah for that observation. The phenomenon of discounting and resentment is a real one - AS perceptions are trivialised, discounted, invalidated, silenced by ridicule and hostility. Particularly in the context you cite. It may be tied in some way to the general, cultural, social and political disempowerment of AS people and the imposed dominant narrative that our perceptions are invalid because AS people are invalid, from the dominant narrative perspective. That is quite awful, though it demonstrates what we are up against and how far we have to yet to go in self-advocacy and challenging the dominant narrative of dehumanisation and belittlement. I would be interested in Steve Silberman's view on this (if he is reading).

Ah, this perspective could easily be silenced if autists would only "come out" at a higher rate than they are already doing so. Sure, we have several high-profile autists worldwide ... and that is about it. The world's LGBT community was hesitant about disclosing in the 1960 and 1970s, too. But, by the 1990s, the phenomenon of not disclosing had overtaken disclosing as the social "oddity."


I came out as a gay woman in the 1990s, and I did find it very empowering. By that time, there was a lot less risk, as you said, and I was fortunate to work at a company that supported equal opportunity for LGBT. Letting go of a secret was an enormous relief. I really don't like secrets or having to hide who I am. I think that ordinary LGBT's coming out and showing that we are, well, ordinary, has helped a lot of straights be more accepting.

I've been thinking about coming out as autistic as well. I've already disclosed to my boss and a few friends and had a very positive experience. I've thought that people will never understand what autistic people are like unless they know more of them personally.


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26 Jun 2016, 6:20 pm

That made me reflect on the processes that opened the door to gay liberation. There were always a few brave individuals who chose to come out (when gays were routinely oppressed, dehumanised, punished, ridiculed, intimidated, discounted, labelled as mentally ill). More came out on an individual basis each decade went by, though I don't think this in itself led to political change (in terms of the link I posted earlier on power structures and how they work). People like Harvey Milk not only came out, but also had an instinctive feel (at first) and developed a more sophisticated understanding (as time and experience accumulated) for understanding the underlying power dynamics used to suppress minority dissent, and a flair for uniting the personal with the political. He was murdered for doing so, the ultimate way of silencing a dissenter from a ruling paradigm, though his influence by that stage could not be extinguished, he has provided a vision of leadership for others who followed up.



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26 Jun 2016, 6:25 pm

GodzillaWoman wrote:
...The movie was what really clinched it for me, because I not only saw a lot of my own traits in the movie's Alan, but a lot of my Dad's. I started reading Enigma and saw even more of Dad and me--brainy loners, weird speech patterns (stammering high voice for me, booming volume issues for Dad), being bullied, social deficits, giving baffled smiles when our friends made jokes, misunderstanding people's meanings, struggles to succeed in our careers because of social deficits, pedantic lectures, and extremely focused interests. Dad even had coffee cup paranoia. His mug security system was to never wash the cup until it became really grotty, instead of chaining it down. It was the movie that convinced me to pursue a formal diagnosis. I can honestly say that this movie changed my life....

The film did a remarkable job of portraying autism, even if that wasn't intended by its makers. It succeeded.

GodzillaWoman wrote:
...I was initially really angry about Graham Moore's and Benedict Cumberbatch's dismissive comments about a diagnosis of Turing and other celebrities as a "way to dismiss them." Cumberbatch had also made irritated comments about people calling his other brilliant character, Sherlock Holmes autistic, because autistic people are "so challenged," as though one cannot be challenged or disabled and smart at the same time. Now that I've had a year to cool down, I realize that what they meant was, people often slap the Asperger's label on public people (e.g., Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates) to dismiss them as nerdy antisocial types that everyone can laugh at so they don't have to feel intimidated by their brilliance. I honestly think GM and BC meant well, and only spoke out of ignorance of what is actually possible within the Spectrum, and that brilliance and struggle are not mutually exclusive....

I wish that they did mean well, but Graham Moore was paid to write the film’s screenplay based on the very large biographical book by Andrew Hodges; admittedly a daunted task. As such, Moore was expected not only to translate the book to the screen, but to describe Turing’s background and character to the cast and crew in all the ways that were relevant to the film. If the film stands as Moore’s intended description, then, he did well because it does include fair inclusions of some autistic characteristics even while avoiding that relatively contemporary description explicitly. But, I am still bewildered by Moore’s statement that Turing couldn’t have been autistic because "...certainly, that was a word that didn’t exist during his lifetime...." As the film’s lead researcher about Turing, Moore should have known about the many personally observed descriptions about Turing coming from family members, family friends and coworkers as well as clinicians who now see Turing as autistic; not to introduce an explicit mention of his autism, but to inform the cast and crew, including himself, about this likely part of Turing's condition.


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Last edited by AspieUtah on 26 Jun 2016, 6:31 pm, edited 1 time in total.