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Glenn
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26 Nov 2004, 6:30 pm

You can easily find (on the Internet and elsewhere) plenty of articles about AS that claim that many famous people, past and present, were Aspies.
Among the names suggested are : Isaac Newton, Mozart, Carl Jung, Nikola Tesla , Albert Einstein and Glenn Gould : and among celebrities who are still alive, Woody Allen, Bobby Fischer, Michael jackson, Bill Gates, and Michael Palin.
I guess many of you can suggest other names. But do you think that suggesting lists like this is actually helpful? Does the thought that people can experience all the problems that AS might cause. and yet still achieve wonderful success in their chosen fields, inspire and encourage other people diagnosed as having AS, whether they be youngsters or adult? Does it reassure their families and friends? Or does it instead suggest that even if some Aspies may be geniuses , they can also be eccentrics, loners, and emotionally suspect? It appears to me that these latter characteristics are often viewed with great suspicion by a NT culture. Some people seem amused or impressed by eccentrics, but don't really "want one next door" Loners are often suspect ... i have often read some newspaper account of a guy who is suspected or guilty of some appalling crime, and the ststement is made "Of course, he was always a loner" - as if this in itself guarantees criminality! This sort of thing might contribute to a negative view of what Asperger's really is.

My opinion tends towards thinking that the idea that there are high-achieving Aspies can be encouraging. However, such articles should always include a clear description of what Asperger's Syndrome actually is, to avoid stereotypes (Aspies are all different even if we share some similar traits) . It should also be pointed out that "diagnosing" historical celebrities(and modern ones!) is really only interesting speculation, and shouldnt be taken as absolute truth. This applies especially to men who lived long ago, such as Newton and Mozart. It is perhaps somewhat easier to judge people who lived closer to us in time; for example I am pretty sure that the pianist Glenn Gould (a particular icon/obsession/passion of mine !) had Aspergers. Despite this, and despite many writers commenting on his eccentricities and aloneness, he seems by accounts of people who knew him to have been a delightful, gentle, and extraordinary man. Unfortunately, some of the other 'modern' names mentioned abouve (to my mind at least) do not seem so delightful, even if they have achieved spectacular success in life.

An aside - where are the famous female Aspies? I havent found any mention of them!

So what do you think? Is discussion of celebrated Aspies pointless? (It's too late to help them, and we might be mistaken anyway) or is it encouraging and inspiring to others? Does it help us to understand these people? Or are such ideas merely intrusive and uninteresting?



Archmage
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26 Nov 2004, 6:58 pm

Quote:
Among the names suggested are : Isaac Newton, Mozart, Carl Jung, Nikola Tesla , Albert Einstein and Glenn Gould : and among celebrities who are still alive, Woody Allen, Bobby Fischer, Michael jackson, Bill Gates, and Michael Palin.


Nikola Tesla was an aspie?! Cool! I did a report on him once. He was the guy that invented the Tesla Coil. I heard that there were some uniqueness about him, but i never thought... I once saw a Tesla Coil too; the electrical engineering students at the U of M Engineering Open House
made one this year. i even got shocked by it too; although it wasn't high voltage like the Tesla Coils in Red Alert 2 that can fry a guy to cinders, it was enough to make my arm twitch a little bit. for more info about this event, see my post under School and College Life.

As for Michael Jackson, he's not an aspie. He's just psycho. You'd have to be to go through the plastic surgery he's gone through. he isn't even black like his family anymore.


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26 Nov 2004, 8:29 pm

Quote:
An aside - where are the famous female Aspies? I havent found any mention of them!


I've read that both Jane Austen and Emily Dickinson probably had AS.

Quote:
Unfortunately, some of the other 'modern' names mentioned abouve (to my mind at least) do not seem so delightful, even if they have achieved spectacular success in life.


Most of the people on the list had pretty depressing lives. Look at Mozart, while alive he was lonely and misunderstood. But he is now considered one of the greatest composers of all time. That is the perfect example of the bad side and the good side of AS.



NanoTy
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26 Nov 2004, 11:03 pm

One of the people that I know who has an official diagnosis of AS is Steven Spielberg. The number of historical figures with suspected AS is extensive. It is believed that Howard Hughes, whose life is chronicled in the upcoming movie The Aviator, had AS and most certainly had obsessive compulsive disorder. However, his behavior did not become noticably eccentric and reclusive until later in his life. Some speculate that this could have been because he had entered the third stage syphilis, which often times causes insanity. He was notorious as being a womanizer in his earlier years.
I think that these kinds of lists are important because they are are proof that it is possible to live a fulfilling life and have AS at the same time.



mysticaria
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26 Nov 2004, 11:56 pm

The vines lead singer has been in the news recently, because he was charged with assaulting a photographer, only to have the charge dropped when it was revealed that he has Asperger's Syndrome.

In my opinion, that is NOT an excuse for assaulting someone.
He should have been charged.
People with AS may have difficulty with handling reactions, but there is always a choice whether to take that out on other people or not.



mysticaria
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27 Nov 2004, 12:00 am

I have read about Emily Bronte, and I think she may have fit into the category of AS- she was obsessed with reading and writing, she did not like being away from home, and she had no close friends, and was seen as being very "odd" by her peers. She was a brilliant writer, and it was unfortunate that she died before she could witness how much Wuthering Heights has meant to the literary world.



JennieRichee
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27 Nov 2004, 3:31 am

I think it's a very positive thing for us that so many high achieving people fit the profile. Young aspies have a terrible time with depression and low self-esteem, and the psychology books don't say very much about us living successful lives as adults.
But "diagnosing" people whose lives we know very little about seems pretty pointless to me.
(Having said that, Marie Curie is a female name I've often heard added to "The List")



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27 Nov 2004, 4:08 am

mysticaria wrote:
I have read about Emily Bronte, and I think she may have fit into the category of AS- she was obsessed with reading and writing, she did not like being away from home, and she had no close friends, and was seen as being very "odd" by her peers. She was a brilliant writer, and it was unfortunate that she died before she could witness how much Wuthering Heights has meant to the literary world.


Quite possibly. Although living in Haworth can do that to you... :wink: (the moors of the South Pennines, by the way, are every bit as desolate and stark as the book evokes - but very beautiful, and romantic in a gothic way)

On a less literary note...
mysticaria wrote:
The vines lead singer has been in the news recently, because he was charged with assaulting a photographer, only to have the charge dropped when it was revealed that he has Asperger's Syndrome.

In my opinion, that is NOT an excuse for assaulting someone.
He should have been charged.
People with AS may have difficulty with handling reactions, but there is always a choice whether to take that out on other people or not.


Sorry but I have to disagree. I don't think hitting paparazzi should be an offence (an exception to the law, LOL). Stick an unsolicited camera/body/etc in MY personal space (escecially too close to my face) and I'll HAVE you, and bugger the consequences..... personally, being suddenly and intrusively hemmed in is overwhelming for me and produces an instant, almost autonomic 'Hulk' response with no conscious thought beyond 'argh!', so choice doesn't really become a factor.....

So I can sympathise with the guy 100% :evil:

Dunc


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JennieRichee
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27 Nov 2004, 4:58 am

Oh yeah, and Dorothy L. Sayers. (Detective author) :)



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27 Nov 2004, 6:10 am

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Despite this, and despite many writers commenting on his eccentricities and aloneness, he seems by accounts of people who knew him to have been a delightful, gentle, and extraordinary man. Unfortunately, some of the other 'modern' names mentioned abouve (to my mind at least) do not seem so delightful, even if they have achieved spectacular success in life


Exactly!

Also ~ I'm sure many of us are 'delightful, gentle and extraordinary' without being famously successful.



echospectra
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27 Nov 2004, 8:41 am

JennieRichee wrote:
Oh yeah, and Dorothy L. Sayers. (Detective author) :)


(And playwright. And christian apologist. And translator.) Why exactly? I totally love her, the eloquent zest with which she attacks bad English and bad thinking... But the fact I like her so much doesn't make me go, "Oh, she must have had Asperger's then, since she has all these traits I relate to."

My latest surprise in this area was reading someone who believes J. R. R. Tolkien had Asperger's, giving as an example of his "risk-seeking" behaviour his battle cry "Charge 'em and they scatter!" (on driving a car). This might just be me not seeing what's in front of my nose, but... Well, what about C. S. Lewis - his tutor said an academic job was the only thing he was good for, and he never learned to drive a car. And Charles Williams made one big ritual of his life. Sometimes I wonder, is the description ot the Inklings going to change from "an informal group of male academic christian writers" to "an informal group of male autistic christian writers"? I mean, I can see it coming, but it wouldn't change a thing for me. Perhaps this is what, say, Jefferson fans feel when you suggest he may have been autistic (though NT fans seem more often hostile than indifferent to the idea that their favourite icon was developmentally disabled).

I do not trust reports about Jane Austen and Emily Bronte. The accounts of their lives that we have were heavily idealized and romanticized by their families.

It's not that I think it's a totally useless activity, finding autistics in history - or in novels or films - but I feel people are being diagnosed a bit too quickly and thoughtlessly, and most of all, with too few arguments. I can be convinced by someone writing an article arguing that Wittgenstein, or Lewis Carroll, or whoever, would have met the criteria (including some unofficial ones, like sensory anomalies) - though even this sort of article is usually marred by too abundant use of words like evidently, obviously, undoubtedly, of course, etc.; the writers are pushing it.

Having "retrospectively diagnosed" someone based on reasonable evidence, learning about this person can indeed be very good for self-esteem and -recognition and a sense "cultural" heritage and identity, perhaps especially for children. The danger I see in it is that people are going to justify (their) autism or their existence with their talents or positive traits. This should not be felt to be necessary. People should be respected for who and what they are, not for their talents or other qualities.



Last edited by echospectra on 30 Nov 2004, 5:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

sparkplugloy
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27 Nov 2004, 10:55 am

[quote="NanoTy"]One of the people that I know who has an official diagnosis of AS is Steven Spielberg. [quote]

Where did you read that ?


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blondie
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27 Nov 2004, 3:37 pm

I Am Famous In San Antonio And Leon Valley Texas And Have A.S. When I Was Little I Was In A Stranger Danger Public Anousment And If Things Go Right I'll Be A Famous Inventier And Christian Praise And Worship Singer!! :D


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NanoTy
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27 Nov 2004, 5:58 pm

A number of biographies of Spielberg mention that he has AS, including Wikipedia and IMDB.

http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0000229/bio
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/People_with_autism



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27 Nov 2004, 7:17 pm

I think Howard Lederer has AS.


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27 Nov 2004, 9:41 pm

Jacko has AS?

woooow :roll: