Do you have High-Functioning Asperger's Syndrome?

by Roko2 min read10th May 2010341 comments

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EDIT: To combat nonresponse bias, I'd appreciate it if anyone who looked at this post before and decided not to fill in the poll would go and do so now, but that people who haven't already considered and decided against filling in the poll refrain from doing so. We might get some idea of which way the bias points by looking at the difference in results.

 

This is your opportunity to help your community's social epistemology!



 

There is some evidence that consequentialist/utilitarian thinking is more common in people with Asperger's syndrome, so I thought it would be interesting to follow that correlation the other way around: what fraction of people who are attracted to rational/consequentialist thinking have what one might call "High-functioning Asperger's Syndrome"? From wisegeek:

Impaired social reactions are a key component of Asperger's syndrome. People who suffer from this condition find it difficult to develop meaningful relationships with their peers. They struggle to understand the subtleties of communicating through eye contact, body language, or facial expressions and seldom show affection towards others. They are often accused of being disrespectful and rude, since they find they can’t comprehend expectations of appropriate social behavior and are often unable to determine the feelings of those around them. People suffering from Asperger's syndrome can be said to lack both social and emotional reciprocity.

Although Asperger's syndrome is related to autism, people who suffer from this condition do not have other developmental delays. They have normal to above average intelligence and fail to meet the diagnostic criteria for any other pervasive developmental disorder. In fact, people with Asperger's syndrome often show intense focus, highly logical thinking, and exceptional abilities in math or science.

This book makes the following point about "High-functioning adults":

"Individuals at the most able end of the autistic spectrum have the most hidden form of this disorder, and as a result, these individuals and their family are often the most disadvantaged in terms of getting a diagnosis. Because they have higher IQs, high-functioning adults are able to work out ways to compensate for their difficulties in communication or in social functioning that are based on logical reasoning."

So if you are a very smart AS person, it might not be obvious that you have it, especially because if you have difficulty reading social situations you might not realize that you are having difficulty reading social situations, rather you'll just experience other people being mean and think that the world is just full of mean people. But there are some clues you can follow. For example this website talks about what AS in kids tends to be like:

One of the most disturbing aspects of Higher Functioning children with Aspergers (HFA) is their clumsy, nerdish social skills. Though they want to be accepted by their peers, they tend to be very hurt and frustrated by their lack of social success. Their ability to respond is confounded by the negative feedback that these children get from their painful social interactions. This greatly magnifies their social problems. Like any of us, when we get negative feedback, we become unhappy. This further inhibits their social skills, and a vicious circle develops.

If your childhood involved extreme trouble with other kids, getting bullied, picked last for sports team, etc, but not for an obvious reason such as being very fat or of a racial minority, then add some evidence-points to the "AS" hypothesis.

High-functioning AS gives a person a combination of strengths and weaknesses. If you know about the weaknesses, you can probably better compensate for them. For reference, the following are the Gillberg diagnostic criteria for Asperger Syndrome:

1.Severe impairment in reciprocal social interaction (at least two of the following)
(a) inability to interact with peers, (b) lack of desire to interact with peers, (c) lack of appreciation of social cues, (d) socially and emotionally inappropriate behavior

2.All-absorbing narrow interest (at least one of the following)
(a) exclusion of other activities, (b) repetitive adherence, (c) more rote than meaning

3.Imposition of routines and interests (at least one of the following)
(a) on self, in aspects of life (b) on others

4.Speech and language problems (at least three of the following)
(a) delayed development, (b) superficially perfect expressive language, (c) formal, pedantic language, (d) odd prosody, peculiar voice characteristics, (e) impairment of comprehension including misinterpretations of literal/implied meanings

5.Non-verbal communication problems (at least one of the following)
(a) limited use of gestures, (b) clumsy/gauche body language, (c) limited facial expression, (d) inappropriate expression, (e) peculiar, stiff gaze

6.Motor clumsiness

If people want to, they can respond to a poll I created, recording their self-assessment of whether or not they fit these criteria. My own take is similar to that of Simon Baron-Cohen: that there isn't a natural dividing line between AS and neurotypical, rather that there is a spectrum of empathizing vs. systematizing brain-types. For those who want to, you can take Baron-Cohen's "Autism quotient" test on wired magazine, and you can record your score on my poll.

 

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I come in at 22 on the Wired test.

I have a weird story about me and living with people-- I've never heard of anything else like it, but this crowd is as likely a place as any to see if someone else has experienced or heard of something similar.

Up into adulthood, I was moderately bad at social interaction, and also not interested in "that boring people stuff". When Asperger's came on the public radar, I wondered if I had it (I'm 57-- if I'd been born later, there might have been an effort at diagnosis and treatment, but as it was, I was simply the sort of person who deserved to be bullied), but the emotional tone for people with Asperger's seemed to be that they tried to be social, couldn't make it work, and were sad about it. I was angry, and I hadn't tried especially hard, either. I was inclined to think I had a combination of being naturally somewhat socially inept and having grown up in an emotionally abusive family.

Anyway, sometime in my 30s (I don't have the autistic thing about dates), I was at an Alexander Technique workshop led by Tommy Thompson who has a background in meditation, and he had the class pair off and pay attention to each other for what was probably ... (read more)

I can actually enjoy (reasonably intelligent) mundane conversation for an hour or two at a time, though I do start to get lack-of-abstraction claustrophobia after a while. I'm going to see if there's some way to get people out of the highly concrete chitchat vortex.

I love the terms "lack-of-abstraction claustrophobia" and "highly concrete chitchat vortex." You have a way with words.

In my experience conversations may start with mundane subject matter, but with interesting and intelligent people, they dive off into abstraction and more interesting topics. For instance, what people do usually comes up early on, like with the pacifist lawyer, and that gives you a chance to talk about more interesting things. I tend to like asking probing questions early on, or casually throwing out some of my interests, and seeing what comes up.

0[anonymous]11yIt's possible that the problem was a bunch of people who'd known each other for a long time-- I was there with a friend.
4Mass_Driver11yThanks for the story! I share your relative disinterest in extended small talk, and also your skepticism for high-functioning AS as a scalar diagnosis of permanent personality type, rather than as a current description of a vector of modifiable skill levels. I came in at a 23 on the Wired poll, and I think I would have come in about 6 points higher if I'd taken the quiz when I was, say, 12 years old. I have often had trouble interacting with and bonding with peers for some of the reasons listed in the article, but my experience of overcoming the difficulties has not been one of finding logical workarounds, but of practicing social skills and getting constructive feedback on them until they came to feel more natural. Likewise, someone who is generally intelligent but "bad at math" might not be significantly different in their capacity to learn math from a "math prodigy;" they might just be stuck in a negative feedback loop.
4NancyLebovitz11yI don't have a general skepticism about AS as describing permanent traits-- my story seems to be very unusual, and it's quite possible that most people who are diagnosed (or even self-diagnosed) with AS may really have a distinctive brain structure and set of talents and deficiencies.

Good post. I'm not sure how much advantage one would get out of identifying one's autism, but it's probably good to know either way.

I think the most glaring atypical-for-people-with-Asperger's trait among the Less Wrong and especially SIAI community is the lack of an "all-absorbing narrow interest"; I and many others had such traits as children, but these days a lot of what I see among SIAI Visiting Fellows and my vague impression of folks here on Less Wrong are academic generalists, or even true renaissance man generalists.

I'm not sure if it's atypical that I built up my generalist nature via obsessively practicing skills for 6 months to 2 years at a time and then moving on. I spent a year constantly playing basketball, then 2 solid years on guitar and music theory, then 6 months learning social skills, then 2-month spurts of studying chess, then 6 months devouring the Sequences and cognitive psychology studies, et cetera, until it came to be that I have a solid base for doing whatever it is I may want to do. (Of course, I dropped out of high school in the process, but I feel it was probably worth it.) Do others have similar experiences?

8HughRistik11yYes. I built up my generalist arsenal one obsession at at time.
0Hul-Gil9yThis is a great way to put it.
6wedrifid11yI read a pertinent comment on that criteria, probably by Attwood. He noted that sometimes the 'all absorbing narrow interest' can be 'the universe' or 'life'. For the purposes of identifying the type of personality in question the absolute scope is not the deciding factor. It is whether the interests happen to be approximately optimising social status in the local environment, being fully engaged in the social reality. Practically speaking 'knowing everything' is a narrow interest.
6Roko11yI think many people would see our "obsession" with the Singularity as such. Remember, if you have AS, but don't have much experience with NT people, your "all-absorbing narrow interest" will just seem like an "ordinary academic interest". But most NT people typically don't have academic interests... they think about something for five seconds, make a cached response, and then get on with watching the football/soap opera.

Wait, all of academia is a 'narrow interest' in the eyes of your average person? Does the average person chunk people into two groups, 'those who seem like they read Wikipedia for fun' and 'normal folk'? That's a scary thought. It'd be really cool if someone ahem Michael Vassar ahem wrote a 'The World is Mad' post and followed it up with an analysis of why the world is mad: what you would expect of a world predominately run by IQ 120 people with an average age of 55 or so, elected by a populace who largely categorize the things they see in the world as either good or evil.

5Roko11yDude, most Americans don't know what the word "Academia" means. That is not a joke. As for the UK, have you ever "read" The Sun newspaper?
2Will_Newsome11yNo, but I will look into it as a case study. I believe you! It's just... O_o
2Roko11yStart with Mystic Meg's page [http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/mystic_meg/daily_stars/article1369426.ece] on The Sun. Any rationalist will look at this and scream...
2mattnewport11yTo be fair, that's true of pretty much any paper's horoscope page - The Sun is hardly unique in that regard.
4LucasSloan11ySeconded.
5RobinZ11yCitation needed.
8Roko11yPersonal experience; academic interests are very rare. Go meet some ordinary people.

Roko, sometime we need to take LWers out on a field trip to talk to normal people in clubs and bars. I think many people here might be surprised at what they find out there in da jungle, baby.

...like people who believe in astrology, people with -1 second long attention spans, constant one-upmanship and power jockeying, people who slap you on the back and call you "bro," obsessions with alcohol and sometimes drugs, fixation on team sports and celebrities, complete moral relativism, talking extremely loudly, and other travesties too horrible to name.

At the same time, I wonder if there are citations available on this subject. If it takes, say, 115+ IQ to have academic interests, then most people are indeed below that threshold.

Your usual club/bar crowd in a major city is probably above average still. You can still have interesting conversations there: probably not AI, physics, serious philosophy or population genetics but pop-psychology, gender, sex, music and film, sure as long as you don't over do it and get too serious.

In comparison, my girlfriend's mother (they are from the rural midwest) thought "Al Qaeda" was the name of the man we had put in charge in Iraq (Al as in Albert or Allen).

Edit: I remember there was an AMA on reddit which was just with some guy who had a lower than average IQ and everyone acted like they were meeting an alien.

In comparison, my girlfriend's mother (they are from the rural midwest) thought "Al Qaeda" was the name of the man we had put in charge in Iraq (Al as in Albert or Allen).

That's just a trivia question. It doesn't say much about her intelligence without additional information like the amount of news she has watched, etc.

I tried for a bit to think of something that would irrevocably demonstrate someone as stupid, but I couldn't think of anything. I think when it comes down to it, the kind of stupidity that matters is the kind that makes you slow at learning new things. So to figure out that someone was irrevocably stupid you'd have to see them work on learning something simple for a while without getting much of anywhere.

There is another important ability associated with intelligence: being able to apply existing knowledge creatively. This is easier to test--if someone "knows" how to program but can't write fizzbuzz, they fail. Or maybe if someone "knows" basic arithmetic but can't explain its misapplication in this story. But I think this creativity ability only arises in people who can learn things fast.

3Jack11yI think there is probably a high, multi-vector correlation between knowledge and intelligence such that it is evidence in favor of lower IQ. But yeah, I wasn't attempting to give comprehensive reasons. Theres also the 'not recognizing the best solutions" thing.
0John_Maxwell11yWhere can I learn more about what "multi-vector correlation" means in this context? I tend to think of that as a lack of rationality. (I assume we're talking about someone who, say, simply refuses to change their standard response to a situation once they've made a semi-public announcement of it. This could also be explained by saying they're rational, but with a complex utility function.)
4Jack11yEr, sorry. I'm sure I've mangled whatever legitimate mathematical jargon that resembles. What I mean is that intelligent people tend to have more knowledge and knowledgeable people tend to be more intelligent. By "multi-vector" I just mean that this co-variability isn't due to one simple factor or explanation but that lots of factors are responsible for the correlation. Intelligent people learn more, those raised in environments with lots of knowledge to pick up are more likely to have had intelligent parents, etc. What I mean is: say there is some task that needs to be completed an intelligent will immediately see one of the better ways of completing the task and will routinely improve on the methods of the less intelligent. The less intelligent won't even always recognize what makes the new solution better.
8Vladimir_M11yTaking the IQ score for a characteristic that says something precise about an individual, like height or weight, is a fallacy. The real utility of IQ is statistical. It correlates highly with a number of relevant measures of ability and success in life, but the connection is ultimately probabilistic. Someone who scored 85 on an IQ test is highly likely to perform worse on pretty much any intellectual task than someone who scored, say, 115. However, in a large population, there will be a significant number of exceptions -- both above-average IQ types who are otherwise dumb as a box of rocks and useless for any productive work, and below-average folks who come off as clever and competent. This is by no means to say that IQ is irrelevant. In a population large enough for the law of large numbers to kick in, the relevant measures of intellectual success and competence will correlate with the IQ distributions with merciless regularity. But whatever it is exactly that IQ tests measure, it contains enough randomness and irrelevant components to make the correlations imperfect and allow for lots of individual exceptions.
5Alicorn11yI want to read this. Can you dig up the link?
4Kevin11yhttp://reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/aj9xf/by_request_i_have_an_iq_of_85_amaa/ [http://reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/aj9xf/by_request_i_have_an_iq_of_85_amaa/]

IMHO the guy is super articulate and rational for someone who's got an IQ of 85. See his user page for everything he writes:

http://www.reddit.com/user/Quickening

I think that health care is a great thing, but not a right. I see rights as something other people can't take away from you. You have a right to live, but another person has a right to not be forced to help you to live or ask to make money off of it. If most people want it a certain way, I don't have a problem with them changing it.

...

I prefer to deal with interesting people. I meet a lot of people who think they are interesting because they are smart but they don't really have much to offer to a conversation. I'd prefer a less smart person that has driven a motorcycle across the country than a smart person ho makes all A's and reads all the time.

...

I've thought about how big the universe is, but I can't really grasp it. Most people have problems with sizes they don't have to deal with. It's hard for me to really grasp the size of Jupiter. I know I can say it's X many Earths in size, but I still can't really picture it.

3[anonymous]8yFrom the passage you quoted... He does use much shorter, simpler sentences than most things I read (besides instant messaging), but his spelling, punctuation and capitalization are correct, which is not something you'd usually see in (say) YouTube comments. Maybe he has a copy-editor or something?
0RichardKennaway8yMaybe he learned to read and write. Of course, on the Internet, nobody knows you're a dog, or a smart person pretending to be dim, but I don't find this level of articulacy inconsistent with him being exactly what he says. I haven't read much of that thread yet, but I'm now curious to know his life history.
2[anonymous]8yI think these things might depend on what side of the Atlantic you're on: ISTR that Feynman was surprised when some European physicist asked him what he was working on while they were drinking in a bar, because Americans don't usually do that. (I've never been to America, so for all I know things may have changed since then.)
9John_D8y"upmanship and power jockeying, people who slap you on the back and call you "bro," obsessions with alcohol and sometimes drugs, fixation on team sports and celebrities" These seem like common narrow-interests within the general population. I find fixations with a handful of interests common with many people, it just seems that those with ASD or ASD-like personalities have interests beyond the mainstream. I am a little bothered with the pathologizing of academic interests, particularly in STEM fields, as "narrow" and "all-absorbing". Americans obsession with football and celebrity culture is fine, but if someone has an obsession with biology or physics it suddenly becomes "narrow".
0[anonymous]8yOTOH, see the comment thread to this post [http://www.overcomingbias.com/2010/08/who-should-get-a-life.html].
0Roko11yhehe... it would be good entertainment value... Yeah, this one is quite shocking to see, actually. Especially the celebs thing. People gossiping about the antics of someone THEY HAVE NEVER MET. Chick crack.
1NancyLebovitz11yMen don't do that? I don't spend enough time with people who focus on celebrities to have an opinion, so I'm trying to update.
5whpearson11yMen tend to talk about the teams more than the individuals. If they talk about the people it is often in terms of their skill (Did you see X's brilliant Goal) rather than their character/actions. Nerds also have their teams, see the cult of the Apple or open source software fanboys.
3CronoDAS11yI get curious when I look at the covers of the supermarket tabloids, and once in a while I look at the insides when I'm bored waiting in line. But it's not something that I "should" care about - and it's not like the tabloids are known for their accuracy anyway - so I don't think about them when I'm not looking at them. And just seeing the covers has already made me sick of the Brad Pitt / Angelina Jolie / Jennifer Aniston love triangle.
0[anonymous]11yOn average women do it more. In the same way that men talk about team sports more.
6NancyLebovitz11yDo men gossip about the lives of famous team sports players, or is that also mostly women? A more general point: I have an untested belief that everyone has something they're rational, or at least logical about. They might not be able to focus on math. They might not understand that plumbing pipes have limited capacity. But they will by God track it down until they've established whether someone is a second cousin once removed or not. They'll fit actors' careers neatly into timelines.Maybe it's gardening or a model train set-up where they have something to defend, and update effortlessly even if they're clueless in other parts of their lives. Am I over-optimistic to think that people generally have something like that?
1Jack11ySorry, I deleted my comment after I saw Roko say the same thing. My experience is that the personal lives of athletes only get discussed when they commit a crime which might lead to a them missing games and thus affecting the sport. And so it is mostly men.
0Roko11y(NT, normal) Women are notorious for an excessive interest in celebrity gossip. (NT, normal) Men, not so much. Typical interests for them would be: cars, football, and page 3 girls (though of course that's a massive overgeneralization, but a good zero'th order approximation. Jeez LW, you have to start somewhere!).
9[anonymous]11ybut "nonacademic" doesn't equal "NT."
4RobinZ11yTell me, where do I meet "ordinary" people? I am only being partially sarcastic - I'm a college student studying mechanical engineering professionally and a massive geek recreationally, and I already know those people have academic interests.
6SilasBarta11yAn easy way is to join a popular chur...ver mind.
0RobinZ11yI was in a choir for a bit - I don't believe I got to know the people in the way Roko might suggest, but they were interesting.
0SilasBarta11yYou need to go to an "organization" that breaks into groups that have meetings, which gives you time to socialize in general (both before and after, and probably during). Preferably groups that plan group activities on top of that.
1RobinZ11y...Boy Scouts of America?
0SilasBarta11yNo, I mean an "organization" of the type that starts with "chur" but leads me to pause in the middle and try to act as if I were saying "never mind" when I mistakenly suggest it here.

Ah yes - churrigueresque architecture groups.

1[anonymous]11yThere's always the Unitarian Universalist [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unitarian_Universalism] church: 18% atheist and 33% agnostic, according to Wikipedia.
0RobinZ11yYes, of course, but it appears that the Boy Scouts of America may also fit the relevant parts of your description (meetings, groups, planned activities), and I was involved with a Scout troop for years. It's certainly not a group of ordinary people, but it is also not selected for academics in the way that the populations of tabletop gaming geeks, Internet nerds, college students, and college instructors are.
3CronoDAS11yThe official policy of the Boy Scouts of America is to deny membership to atheists and to homosexuals.
2RobinZ11yThe national organization is dominated by shitheads, agreed. That does make it difficult for me or anyone else who believes that "good citizen" does not logically imply "reverent theist" (edit: sorry, "non-LGBT reverent theist") to work for the organization in any formal capacity. It does not, however, affect the experience I have gained from my acquaintance with this group of people.
2SilasBarta11yOkay, but I figured you'd want a group of young adults (which the subgroup covers) and a more general age/sex diverse group (main congregation). Anyway, did you want an actual answer for how to meet ordinary people, or did you just want to split hairs about the terms I use when I try to give an answer? :-[
1RobinZ11yTo be completely honest, I wanted to express my disapproval for Roko's sneering at the mundanes [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mundane]. I appreciate the info, though, and I apologize for not explicitly saying so earlier.
3Douglas_Knight11yI suspect that most people would read as sneering at nerds.
4RobinZ11yLess "nerds" than "us", I suspect, but okay.
1komponisto11yIf I may ask, why do you disapprove? (Especially given that you don't seem to spend very much time among such people.)
2RobinZ11yThe most parsimonious explanation is "because I was raised that way", but I believe that it can be shown that such sneering doesn't win. I haven't had a reason to articulate my thoughts on the subject, however - if you'd like me to make an attempt, let me know and I'll see what I can come up with. Being as I'm on a bus at the moment, it would be difficult to organize and post anything substantive just now.
0komponisto11yI'm curious to hear your argument.

I apologize for making this a rant, but:

Instinctively, when in far mode, I would be inclined to judge feelings by their costs and their benefits. I can see very little benefit to contempt (the emotion I see behind the sneer) - so far as I can determine all it gives you is a filter on the people you spend your time with and energy on. On the cost side, however, contempt impairs your ability to become acquainted, and this will cost you because:

  • Mundanes are a varied, populous, and influential demographic, many of whom will inevitably fail to conform to the stereotype. (I am a bit trigger-happy with stereotype-bad! arguments, possibly because I'm "half"-black. Moving on.)
  • Many mundanes are great potential friends.
  • Many mundanes know things you don't know in precisely the same way that many geeks know things you don't know - thanks to their different lives and life experiences. Even more importantly, they might well know things your geek friends don't know that you don't know.

I think this last point is the strongest - by cutting yourself off from a class of experiences, you cut yourself off from a field of knowledge. Even anthropological curiosity ought to impel you to giv... (read more)

4Jack11yThis is all very true and really important for people to remember. At the same time sneering at outsiders is a great community building exercise. Just don't take the performance literally.

I'm not really comfortable with that. I have too often seen similar views seriously proposed.

4Roko11yAlso, sneering at outsiders is something that normal people do... Anyway, I don't think that I was trying to sneer - just present other 99.9% of the world as they really are. They are not "bad people". They, like us, are just different.
0gwern11yI can second that description of the scouts - although my own troop was peculiarly into Magic and Warhammer for reasons I never figured out (I certainly wasn't), and almost by definition scouts can't be college students or college instructors, since they would have aged out.
6Airedale11yI have found that playing sports in some sort of team framework has introduced me to at least a somewhat different group of people than I would more typically meet through school or work.
2juliawise9yI hear things that are totally outside my life experience from hearing strangers' cell phone conversations on public transportation. It's certainly not a random sample (selects for urbanness, not having a car, and the part of town you're in) but it's broader than my friends, classmates, or coworkers. Example: yesterday heard a totally fascinating discussion between two teenaged boys about girl problems.
1Roko11yYou could work a bar/store job in a less affluent area of town in your vacation.
0RobinZ11yI suppose working in a bar might work, but I don't think you can really get to know someone from their weekly shopping trips. Even I rarely break out the philosophical discussions in line at the CVS. I don't know if your experience is different.
3Roko11yYou'll more get to know co-workers.
2RobinZ11yPoint!
0arundelo11yI scored 22 or 23 on the Baron-Cohen/Wired test (I took it a few days ago and can't remember which of these two scores I got). This fits my pre-test judgment of myself: I don't think I am AS but think I am noticeably more in that direction than the average person. I would have answered "people often tell me that I keep going on and on about the same thing" differently (and gotten a one-point-higher score) ten years ago. When I filled out your poll (Roko) I didn't check any of the "Gillberg" boxes, but it could be that someone closer to the hump in the neurotypicality bell curve would say I should have checked this one. (I also have "impairment in reciprocal social interaction", but not severe, and very mild "imposition of routines" [untwisting twisted phone cords and such].)
0RobinZ11yQuick heads-up: I've been elaborating on my response in a few comments [http://lesswrong.com/lw/28l/do_you_have_highfunctioning_aspergers_syndrome/1ztn] downthread [http://lesswrong.com/lw/28l/do_you_have_highfunctioning_aspergers_syndrome/1zv7] .
0[anonymous]11yWait, all of academia is a 'narrow interest' in the eyes of your average person? Does the average person chunk people into two groups, 'those who seem like they read Wikipedia for fun' and 'normal folk'? That's a scary thought. It'd be really cool if someone ahemMichael Vassarahem wrote a 'The World is Mad' post and followed it up with an analysis of why the world is mad: what you would expect of a world predominately run by IQ 120 people with an average age of 55 or so, elected by a populace who largely categorize the things they see in the world as either good or evil.
4JamesPfeiffer11yI wasn't good at social skills until something like age 17, though they still go bad because of winter depression. Kids have different brains too; I would tell adolescents wondering to wait a few years. For me it was like a light came on and I could understand strangers.
[-][anonymous]11y 10

I was a very bizarre child up to age 10 or so. Wouldn't look people in the eye, walked into walls, talked to myself, didn't make friends, etc. Now essentially none of that shows. I may have "had something" but it's moot at this point.

The only bizarre thing that remains is my near-pathological lack of spatial skills. I can't aim, throw, dance, or drive with anywhere near the ease of a normal person. (I wonder if it's improvable at all?)

4mattnewport11yI taught myself to juggle at around 14 or 15 and felt it improved my coordination in rugby and basketball which I played at the time. I attribute some improvement in my reaction times and spatial awareness to extensive Quake deathmatch sessions as well. It's hard to say whether those effects were genuine however since I had no real way of performing a controlled study. There may be a cutoff age at which significant improvement is possible (as appears to be the case with language acquisition) but this [http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/4685909/] study found that surgeons who played video games improved their hand eye coordination for laparoscopic surgery which suggests video games may be useful for adults.
1[anonymous]11yI've heard this about video games. (I never played any, myself.) Now I really want to try and see.
2mattnewport11ySo-called 'twitch' [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Twitch_gameplay] video games are best for improving hand eye co-ordination. First person shooters [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/First_person_shooter] are probably best for improving spatial awareness [http://www.gamepolitics.com/2007/10/03/action-games-improve-womens-spatial-abilities-says-new-study] and also generally focus on twitch gameplay. A realistic driving game may help improve driving skills specifically. There are a number of attempts to use driving simulators to improve awareness in new drivers but I'm not sure what research exists to support their effectiveness.
6John_Maxwell11yFor a different perspective, Psychonauts [http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/2-Psychonauts], Cave Story [http://www.miraigamer.net/cavestory/], and Portal [http://store.steampowered.com/freeportal/] are all absolutely charming twitchy games I'd recommend to anyone. Portal in particular will improve spatial awareness even in ways that aren't actually useful.
5mattnewport11yPortal is indeed a great game and since it features a rather unfriendly (or at least homicidally eccentric) AI is quite appropriate for Less Wrong readers. It's probably a little less stressful for a novice FPS player than your typical modern FPS as well while still being a spatial and coordination challenge.
3pjeby11yApart from the unrealistic passive-aggressive personality, GlaDOS seems like sort of a reasonable example of the problem of giving an AI overly-narrow goals like "conduct research". ;-)

I don't know about unrealistic but I found GLaDOS a bizarrely sympathetic character considering she has no qualms about killing you. And she does offer cake.

Wolpaw further describes the idea of using cake as the reward came about as "at the beginning of the Portal development process, we sat down as a group to decide what philosopher or school of philosophy our game would be based on. That was followed by about 15 minutes of silence and then someone mentioned that a lot of people like cake."

ETA: For the non spoiler-averse the song from the end credits of Portal gives a pretty good insight into GLaDOS' personality.

2komponisto11yHow do you feel about your "spatial reasoning" abilities? I'm curious, since I know you work in mathematics, a field in which high aptitude in this domain is apparently common.
5[anonymous]11yUsed to be bad, improved with practice. Oddly enough, the year I learned topology I became much better at driving and also at geometrical puzzles.
0[anonymous]11yMathematicians are known for being skilled athletes and talented dancers?
2Jonii11yI have this too. It's fun to get into something, but then at some point it stops being rewarding, and fades away. Thus far go has been the only thing that I have kept doing for more than 2 years just because it's fun.
1[anonymous]11ySame: my university career swiftly progressed from English/French lit to Geography post-grad to Philosophy post-grad. I now teach Maths. I tend to practise things until they are almost there and then, satisfied, I give up on them completely. For instance, I spent two years learning the dictionary inside out for Scrabble, beat the then World no.1 in my first tournament and haven't played since. Similarly, I genned up on music production and got to within a hair's breadth of getting a record deal...and then jacked it all in. The only progress I've managed to make in combating this mindset is to half-convince myself that giving things up only because I think that more likely than not I will be able to do them is a cop-out, rather than a time-saver. It (with 'it' probably being ADHD rather than Asperger's) is a path to utter unemployability if nothing else.
0Blueberry11yAre you afraid of success? What do you think would happen if you succeeded?
0[anonymous]11yAh yes, that could be a factor. Perhaps it's self-imposed Sisypheanism to ward off feelings of guilt. One thing that does nag at me generally is the mutual exclusivity of life paths and the fear of options never having been explored or closed off for ever. But, then again, I don't reach the end of any of these paths, so I'm not so much living an enthralling variety as enacting an Eternal Return. How depressing!
1Jack11yI get my generalism by going back and forth between 3-4 things and every 6 months or so dropping one and picking up a new one.
0[anonymous]11ySerial obsession likely satisfies the criteria.

I came to the conclusion that I have autistic tendencies a long time ago - lack of understanding of social cues, constant pattern recognition, stuttering, habitual actions... Given the high autism rates in Silicon Valley, it seems likely to me that there is indeed a genetic component, and "high-functioning" autistics have a heterozygous genotype. (Although I don't think it's yet ruled out that it could be caused by some type of improper socialization.)

However, I seem to have an uncommon level of ability to self-modify (from my discussions with other people, including rationalists), and since discovering rationality I've been attempting to ruthlessly optimize various aspects of myself. For my most recent example, because I didn't understand social cues I took a PUA seminar and within days I could successfully approach and charm people in bars and clubs, a world that I always thought would be inaccessible to me. It turns out I was just unconsciously sending low-status signals, because I never paid any attention to what myself or others were doing.

This also helps me deal with the symptoms as well. I have habitual actions, but I don't allow myself to be disturbed if they... (read more)

9NancyLebovitz11yCan you describe the procedure you use when you self-modify?
6Cosmos11yYou're not the first person to ask me this, but there are obvious difficulties in conveying exactly what is going on when I do this. The first step is becoming consciously aware of the phenomenon. Once this occurs, I begin to recognize it immediately when I do it. I then think to myself how I should have responded instead. Over multiple iterations of the above, I begin to internalize this conscious correction as a new habit. I first used this technique when I took a course on cognition in college and learned about cognitive biases. The availability heuristic was the first to go - I knew when I didn't have actual data on a phenomenon, making it ridiculously easy to spot.
2NancyLebovitz11yTentatively-- once you decide what you want to change, you put your focus on the change, and check for the outcome after you've taken action. I begin to suspect that one of my problems is assuming I know how a change will feel, and giving up on a change if I don't get the feeling.
5Roko11yThis was also my experience; taking a seminar/reading websites on explicit theories of social interaction does make a very large difference. I think it is because once the AS person has a model to work within, they can bring in their strong systematizing ability, and even outperform the innate social instincts of NT people.

I did not find reading websites particularly helpful in this regard. I have always been very "book smart" and I love to theorize about things, but I am coming to realize that implicit experiential knowledge is key for success in this world. It's easy to know what high/low status signals are, but it's much harder to become aware of them and know what to do to correct them. Yet it only took a couple hours of in-person training at the seminar to fix the majority of the bad signals.

Despite that nitpick I definitely agree with your point. I needed to construct a mental model of social interaction, and now I can ruthlessly optimize over that as well. I am greatly looking forward to it.

3SilasBarta11yWhat seminar? I had gone to a few of one particular PUA in person, and, though he was clearly very good, he was completely unable to articulate what it is he does, especially to autistic spectrum people. (Fortunately, he was understanding, and refunded everything.)
2Cosmos11yPickup 101 Edit: they offer more than one, I took Art of Attraction.
1SilasBarta11yYour'e saying that one talks about it specifically in terms of the impact of social cues on status signals, and how to classify various cues as revealing high or low status?
5Cosmos11yNo, they tell you to do this, and to stop doing that. You don't need the theory, you need instruction, and then you'll internalize high-status behaviors. (Although we did talk very briefly about theory - tribal mentality, alpha males, status.) It is explicit about status being a variable, though, if that's what you're asking. For example, one of the exercises was role-play: we got assigned high- or low-status and had to act out a scene.
1[anonymous]11y---edit---
[-][anonymous]11y 13

I've read quite a bit of (non-technical) writing about autism -- partly because I thought I fit some of the superficial criteria. But I came to the conclusion that the popular narrative is a bit silly.

Autism is a sensory processing thing. I've never heard of an autistic person without some non-standard sensory stuff. A lot of us may be better at logical thinking than socializing, for various reasons (including habit and preference!) but we mostly deal with sensory stimuli in a perfectly conventional way. I don't get overwhelmed by the sights and sounds of a supermarket. I don't have a visual imagination. I don't find particular textures/tastes/sounds intolerable. I don't get any special zing from stimulation (pen clicking, reflective objects, etc.) These are pretty typical self-described traits of actual autistics, from what I've read from blogs and memoirs. And I don't have a single one of them. Sure, I'm a (mild) introvert, and I'm interested in academic and technical subjects, but I suspect that has absolutely nothing to do with autism.

The empathizing/systematizing brain-types stuff is really odd to me. Empathy and social skills are on one side; detail-oriented thinki... (read more)

1Roko11yYou may wish to think of the strongest arguments in favor of Baron-Cohen's idea. Have you tried answering your own criticisms (What about gregarious tech wizards?) the way you would predict that someone who supported the empathizing/systematizing hypothesis would? Try to predict how Baron-Cohen would answer that one. What makes Baron-Cohen's ideas about AS and gender shaky, other than the fact that they're about gender? If you are using lack-of-political-correctness as a form of evidence against the idea, you should probably make that argument explicitly, so that it can be critiqued or supported openly, rather than relying on an implied-but-not-explicit implication that speculations about gender weaken the argument.
8[anonymous]11yOkay, let me backtrack. When I wrote that, I'd read popularizations not research papers. I knew there was something wrong with the popularizations. Now, looking over the research, I still think there's something missing. Best case scenario for Baron-Cohen: he's found correlations between all the relevant traits on his "autism spectrum" as well as autistic traits that I haven't seen mentioned in his work. And there are no major traits common to diagnosed autistics that don't fall onto this spectrum for the general population. About gender: I wasn't thinking about PC, I was really thinking about it not making sense. What I know: there are more male than female diagnosed autistics. Men perform consistently better than women on spatial reasoning tests. Men are, of course, more common than women in technical professions. What's in question is the additional claim that these phenomena are all part of the same thing, a spectrum from empathizing to systematizing types of brains. That's an additional claim, and a bold one. Keep in mind that it's not enough to claim that autistics tend to be more systematizing and non-autistics tend to be less systematizing. (He does have evidence to show this.) To make the kinds of claims he does in the media, he'd have to show that this is the main difference, that the systematizing/empathizing axis explains most of the variation between autistics and non-autistics. Now I have looked at his website and papers and the papers and summaries I glanced at don't seem to indicate that he's done the work of correlating and comparing the different traits labeled as "empathizing" and "systematizing" to see if his scale is a valid concept. His main justification for using it is that the "systematizing" cluster is a list of traits found to be more common in males than females. But he doesn't cite high correlations between the systematizing or the empathizing traits. And, while systematizing and empathizing are inversely correlated, the correlation
0Roko11ySorry, I can't find "0.16" on the page you link, and it isn't obvious which paper that piece of data is in?
5[anonymous]11yThe second one: 207 S. Baron-Cohen, J. Richler, D. Bisarya, N. Gurunathan and S. Wheelwright, (2003) The Systemising Quotient (SQ): An investigation of adults with Asperger Syndrome or High Functioning Autism and normal sex differences Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society, Series B, Special issue on "Autism: Mind and Brain" 358:361-374
0Roko11yOh yes, I just found it. The data from the table are interesting: Males with AS :: SQ = 36 +- 15 :: EQ = 19 +- 10 Controls :: SQ = 30 +- 10 :: EQ = 42 +- 14 So yes, there's definitely something there. I must admit, I am surprised that the correlation is as small in magnitude as 0.16.
1[anonymous]11yAlso, I'm a 22 on the scale. I'm not a utilitarian or a strict deontologist.

A relevant comment from a few years ago (on _Lonely Dissent_):

What takes real courage is braving the outright incomprehension of the people around you,

I suspect that autistics are far more willing than neurotypicals to be true iconoclast because many neurotypicals find autistics incomprehensible regardless of what the autistics believe. So the price of being an intellectual iconoclast is lower for autistics than for most other people.

Sounds plausible on the surface, but if the reasoning is "An autistic person will suffer about the same social cost whether or not they are perceived as an intellectual iconoclast, so if they are inclined to be an intellectual iconoclast, they will realize that they may as well allow themselves to do so", then there might be a problem: the real reason might just be that they don't process social costs as well (if at all) in the first place. But then this hypothesis might work if we adjust it to account for that: "An autistic person will be less likely to realize or care about the potential social cost of being perceived as an intellectual iconoclast, so if they are inclined to be an intellectual iconoclast, they will see little reason not to allow themselves to do so". Any thoughts on this?

2AspiringKnitter9yCould be both, e.g., it starts as the latter and the person becomes more aware and it becomes the former.

If your childhood involved... getting... picked last for sports team

I got picked last for sports teams because the other kids were better at sports than me.

Your poll doesn't let responders get out of answering the second question if they haven't been diagnosed. Anyway, I scored a 27 but I'm pretty sure the fact that I have ADHD and some anxiety issues distorts my score.

(Edit: Apparently the DSM prohibits co-diagnosis of an ASD and ADHD which is really interesting. More and more I think a lot of psychological disorders are just random clusters of atypical neurological traits and not organized in any scientifically justifiable way)

Oh, and my approach to normative ethics is basically the opposite of the systematized, axiom-based approach of traditional normative ethics as exemplified by utilitarianism and strong deontology.

1Vladimir_M11yWell, that's hardly surprising when you take into account how little is still known about the actual brain structure and functionality that determines the relevant behaviors. It's even less surprising considering the amount of charlatanism and pseudoscience with which psychiatry has been plagued historically (think Freud or Rorschach -- who are in fact still taken seriously by some in the field, though such flagrant superstitions, as far as I know, don't make it into the DSMs and similarly prominent documents these days). Not to mention that many issues that psychiatry deals with have a pronounced ideological dimension, making the situation even more hopeless. (How can the question of what behaviors get to be branded as pathological ever be approached in an ideologically neutral way?)
0Roko11yThe poll [http://rmijic.questionform.com/public/Aspbergers-Syndrome] is fixed, by the way. Thanks for pointing this out.

I've not been diagnosed but I suspect that I fall in some where under the umbrella spectrum. Our oldest son has infantile Autism, there's something "odd" about our middle son and he's definitely nerdy but he's in a regular class in a regular school, our youngest son has ADHD. All of them score very high on some areas of IQ tests designed for their age group and have a high average score on these tests. The oldest and the youngest had their tests adjusted for their suspected disabilities (weren't diagnosed at time of testing).

My husband and I a... (read more)

My own take is similar to that of Simon Baron-Cohen: that ....

I got really really confused for a moment. But no, totally different person:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacha_Baron_Cohen

9mattnewport11yThey are cousins [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sacha_Baron_Cohen#Family] however.

A few comments that might not be too popular.

  1. It occurs to me that people with an impaired social awareness and capabilities are less likely to be aware of their impairment, much like the Anosognosic’s Dilemma. As the Wired survey is a self-diagnosis, I would not place too much confidence in its scores, at least as conventionally interpreted. High scores might suggest a high degree of self-awareness that there is a problem (which is good!)

  2. I also wonder if 'AS' is some innate and unchangeable characteristic of a person, beyond his ability to control, or

... (read more)

I also wonder if 'AS' is some innate and unchangeable characteristic of a person, beyond his ability to control, or if it is more like a learned behavior shaped by experience. This whole 'diagnosis' mentality suggests AS is a medical condition, but if it is not, then we are not helping those who might be able to change, and instead encouraging them to see it as a natural and permanent characteristic of themselves.

AS is innate but very little in the human brain is unchangeable. If you spend enough time playing the the violin you can reliably and permanently alter the amount of the brain that is dedicated to fine motor control of the fingertips. The same applies to social processing. Paraphrasing Tony Attwood here, and emphasizing that this doesn't apply to everyone, many intelligent people with Aspergers' find that they can develop all the 'normal' social behaviors over time. He estimates that in a typical such case the development is just pushed back to 10 years behind what it would be for a neurotypical individual of the same intelligence. Note that the 10 year figure is the same figure given by experts on expertise. You can become an expert in anything with 10 years of practi... (read more)

6WrongBot11yMy experience agrees with your 10-year figure for "acting normal." I probably became aware of my own social incompetence when I was ~6 years old, and I didn't acquire consistent social competence until I was ~16. I'm 22 now and seem to be entirely caught up on social functioning, but it was not an easy process. I likewise agree that the AS label is very useful for finding existing solutions to the problems associated with the condition; I wasn't diagnosed until I was 13 and I suspect parts of my life would have been much easier if I'd had access to books about social interaction aimed specifically at Aspies when I was very young.
4wedrifid11yI tend to hover on the fringe of accepting the AS label myself, the only reason I don't is that one there is some doubt as to which precise way I am not NT. (One AS diagnosis but other experts suggested different descriptions). I can say that I envy you in getting a diagnosis as young as 13. Having access to those books even in your early teens must have been a huge boon.

Miscommunication on my part -- at no point have I had access to books of that sort, nor am I sure that they even exist (and there's little use in looking now). I just meant to say that they would have been really useful.

Really the thing that ended up helping me most was having regular sessions with a shrink who could answer my bizarre questions about social activity with answers that didn't rely on common assumptions. That basically allowed me to form and test theories about how NT people worked without suffering negative consequences for being wrong.

2wedrifid11yAhh, I see. The time with the shrink sounds useful. That sort of personal engagement with a (good) shrink is helpful for everyone and so much more so for those for whom the advice of well meaning associates give is usually completely incomprehensible! What is this 'appropriate' term? What do people mean when they say 'respect'? It's sure as heck not what 'respect' resolves as to me with my neurological wiring! 'Self esteem'? 'Needy?' "What do you mean tit-for-tat is not the right strategy for social games? That's crazy!"
2Blueberry11yAre you thinking you should defect first? Or that you should punish defectors more than tit-for-tat would? Social games aren't as clearly defined as the prisoner's dilemma, but tit-for-tat seems to be what people usually do (starting off on good terms, but getting back at someone when they've been wronged).

Young Aspies are often dumbfounded when they reciprocate aggression in kind and get punished for it while the instigator does not. They need to arrive at a more mature understanding of the Machiavellian nature of social games so that they can more realistically understand what is going on. This is the sort of thing a shrink can explain but many peers will not.

0NancyLebovitz11yDo you know of any people on the AS spectrum who can interact with NTs without it being tiring?

I generally find interacting with people (NT or otherwise) to be approximately as tiring as programming a computer; it's fun for short periods of time and a serious effort for long periods of time, though still often rewarding in the latter case. I almost answered this question by saying that social interaction wasn't tiring, but reevaluated after realizing that I've just grown used to it; other people's behavior is impossible to explain unless they find social interaction significantly less tiring than I do.

I'm not a complete introvert, but I do lean in that general direction.

4AdeleneDawner11yFor me, it depends on the individual's communication style and how well I know them. If I have to put a lot of effort into deciphering what they're saying or phrasing my words carefully so that they understand me, I'll tire quickly, whether they're NT or not. (It's more common for auties to have communication styles that I find easy to parse, though.) Interacting with most NTs is draining but not badly so, but I also know one or two NTs where interacting with them is actually energizing for me. I haven't made any special effort at being normal, though. I've focused on finding the best ways to use my strengths, rather than trying to find ways to mitigate my weaknesses.
0NancyLebovitz11yCould you expand on that?
4AdeleneDawner11yMy natural tendency in social situations is to process things rather thoroughly, which is more work but tends to lead to a better understanding of what's going on (modulo the fact that some kinds of interactions don't make sense to me and thus are nearly impossible to integrate into my model). I could, in theory, rearrange my habits so that I was able to interact for longer stretches without getting tired, but at the cost of some of my perceptiveness, and I'm not interested in doing that.
2Desrtopa10yAs a matter of fact, I have a friend with ASD, to a significant enough degree that it's barely possible to talk to him for a couple of minutes without realizing he has some sort of social disorder, who somehow has managed to become the most successful and prolific social networker I know. It may have helped that one of his primary obsessive focuses was an interest that many other people share (he practically ran the music scene on college campus,) but the degree of social success he's achieved in spite of his disadvantages is completely beyond my ability to explain. He'd make an interesting psychological case study.
1wedrifid11yNo, I expect such cases are fairly rare. At least for all situations which are with multiple NTs. There are some NTs that can act like 'real people' if you catch them by themselves! ;)
1Alicorn11yI can interact with NTs (one at a time), as long as they are nice people, and not get tired, but I'm a rare breed (autistic extrovert).
8wedrifid11yTrue enough. But on the flip side it's pretty damn hard to not notice that you a completely different from most people around you after 20 or so years of experience. People with Aspergers' also have an impairment in the critical social skills of self deception, compartmentalization and creating and embracing a self image constructed for the purpose of public relations.

From the popular literature on the subject, in terms of autism, I'd classify myself as "very slightly autistic, but still basically neurotypical." I don't have great social skills, but they're usually good enough. To the extent that my brain is atypical, it's mostly in other ways; I was diagnosed with both ADD and Tourette's syndrome as a young child. I can't stand not having something to do. I carry a book or portable game system with me everywhere so I have something to direct my mental focus on, and my final line of defense is simply to put my head down and take a nap. If I can't even do that, then I start freaking out. I'm also on antidepressants.

0CronoDAS11yI just took the test, and I scored 22. I don't think this score means that much, though, because I was on the fence between "slightly agree" and "slightly disagree" for a lot of the questions.

I just took the wired test, and scored a 31. I'm not sure what to make of this. For years now I've wondered whether I have asperger's symptoms, and gone back and forth on it, but never been able to make up my mind - seeking a formal diagnosis seems like waste of time, since there isn't any real treatment. But I AM curious about it.

My opinion seems to go back and forth depending on whose description of the symptoms I'm reading - sometimes I'll read something on asperger's and think "Yes, that's totally me", and other times I'll read something and... (read more)

4[anonymous]11yI also am socially competent when I choose to be and feel neurotypical, but scored a 30 the first time, 27 when I took it the next day (the first time was the day after I had last socialized, the second was the second day after I had last socialized). I scored really high, and I imagine that this is because I am highly focused and dedicated to my subject area, like studying more than (most) people, and hate having my routine disrupted. But if you put me in a party, I'll hold my own. I'll either find the other person at the party who will take the bait and talk Bayesian, or I'll find some cognition altering substance to make it the time feel worthwhile. We do strangely agree about the understanding of social cues, but not so much the producing of the appropriate cues. Maybe that's just coincidental though.
1[anonymous]9yOr both. That's when things get most awesome!
4Risto_Saarelma11yThis sounds like schizoid personality disorder [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Schizoid_personality_disorder].
5gwern9yI have to admit, as wary as I am of self-diagnosing (and annoyed as I am with people telling me I must have Asperger's), schizoid disorder sounds more like me too.
2Risto_Saarelma9yI wonder why self-diagnosed Asperger's has been A Thing for years, and yet nobody seems to ever talk about SPD. Is there an actual smaller fraction of people who read the symptoms going "me too", or is it just because Asperger's has gone into popular culture and become a much more available hypothesis than miscellaneous stuff you can find by DSM-IV-diving?
7Nornagest9yThis probably isn't the most charitable explanation, but it might well be that folks are less prone to self-diagnose SPD simply because it's a scarier-sounding disorder. Asperger's scans to me as connotationally neutral aside from those connotations it's picked up from popular culture; SPD definitely doesn't. Obscurity may also have something to do with it, but if I'm remembering right Asperger's was comparably obscure until at least the late Nineties.
6AspiringKnitter9yActually, what's now called Asperger's was initially part of what Kanner called autistic psychopathy. However, some people with severe problems and/or mental retardation also had the same symptoms, so the diagnosis was expanded to cover them. Then it narrowed to include entirely those with very severe disabilities, such that autistics/Aspies with the ability to "pass" (act normal or act like something other than disabled) to any degree were overlooked despite needing recognition, information and assistance. So a researcher decided to introduce a new diagnosis, Asperger's Syndrome, to cover spiffy-shiny-cool autistics, as opposed to need-lots-of-help autistics, because the spiffy-shiny-cool kind still needed assistance and often had serious problems as a result of the mismatch between their abilities and other people's expectations. Asperger's entered the DSM-IV in the early/mid nineties.
1gwern9ySo the timing coincided with the explosion of Silicon Valley; combine with their genuine presence there to some degree, and hey presto... I'd also suggest that Asperger's is inherently flattering to some degree: it inherently implies you're smart, and capable in some field. ('Yes, I can't understand people but that's not my fault, I have Asperger's, which also means I'm smarter than you.') Schizoid on the other hand, besides sounding like 'schizophrenia' (zero positive connotations), looks bad even when you read the entire Wikipedia entry: almost like a synonym for sociopath/psychopath. (Funny thing, BBC's new Sherlock series has Sherlock as a diagnosed sociopath, so even that diagnosis may yet be redeemed.) It's not clear why anyone would want to claim a self-diagnosis of that, since little about it is 'egosyntonic', as the psychiatrists say.
6Desrtopa9yI've had more than a few people with Asperger's tell me that it's correlated with higher intelligence in a manner implying that it's something for them personally to be proud of, and I've always found it extremely frustrating. If in order to convince people you're smart you find yourself needing to tell people "I'm in X demographic associated with smartness," you're not that smart.
3duckduckMOO9yBasically, I think schizoidism is pretty cool. Schizoid is nothing like a synonym for psychopath/sociopath. Being asocial is not the same as being antisocial, indifference is not malevelonce. Coldness just pattern matches to malevolence (and in some very poorly calibrated people so does indifference) and the pattern breaks down with schizoids in the first case and is non existant anyway in the second. I just spent 5 minutes on the first google hit for schizoid forum and found this quote: "Emotions and expressing them, as well as manipulating and even intimidating other people seem to be awfully important to the majority of people. In my opinion most of them are a little savage" -under ice. That's exactly how I used to see things. The difference now is a lot closer to giving in than growing up. At best it's a compromise. Behind, or at least related to your comparison to psycopathy and sociopathy might be the feeling people often have that wierdness is hostility, lack of friendliness is hostility etc which is practically an unspoken meme. If anything the wikipedia page puts Schizoids at risk of coming accross as pathetic rather than dangerous but there's got to be a massive selection effect for pathological schizoids among those who see a psychiatrist. If you go on the schizoid forums you'll find plenty of self diagnosed schizoids who are indifferent or happy with their alleged disorder. And the specific type of pathetic that comes accross in the wikipedia article seems to be a product of integrity. Maybe it's a little sad that someone aloof and cold under the surface wants to be loved (and with the amount this meme is bombarded at people I pretty much interpret this as schizoid people being infected by memes definetely not optimised for them. Maybe the ones going to psychologists are just the ones who internalised the meme? Anyway, at least they're not editing themselves. Failure before self modifying in a way judged to be bad. Schizoidism seems so clearly super
4Randaly9yDoesn't sociopathy merely imply a lack of caring, not an active malevolence? Because Sherlock does repeatedly demonstrate an extreme lack of caring- the accused murderer at the start of 'The Great Game' who he refused to help while mocking his poor grammar; his (inaccurate) revelation that Molly's 'boyfriend' 'Jim' was gay; his entire relationship with Molly; the way he left Adler at the end of 'A Scandal in Belgravia'; his poisoning and terrifying Watson in 'The Hounds of Baskerville'; the way he keeps disrupting Watson's attempts to live his life; etc.
1wedrifid9yYes, and it is specific to emotional feelings, not what all things considered you end up deciding to do.
0gwern9yWell, that's what the series said in the first episode, and maybe the second too. I think he does come off as a little sociopathic, minus all the malevolent parts - schizoid doesn't seem to imply the manipulation or game-playing which all good Sherlocks engage in (whether they're named 'Sherlock' or 'House').
0wedrifid9yThe Mentalist is unofficially diagnosed as a sociopath as well.
1juliawise9yAnd it probably won't be in the next DSM [http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=123527833].
1Will_Newsome9yThe lady from the study on schizophrenia I participated in said I could probably get an Asperger's diagnosis. This even though I scored perfect or near-perfect on a facial expression recognition quiz. I've also read that schizotypal children often get diagnosed with Asperger's.
0Apprentice9yI have three close relatives with a diagnosis - one has classic autism, one has Asperger's and one has schizophrenia. I can never decide how to classify my own shadow traits.
2whpearson11yI'm also like this, somewhat. I only scored a 13, but I am in no way neuro typical. Although someone who worked closely with Asperger's people said I had some of the properties of Asberger's. I do more closely relate to the schizoid personality disorder that Risto posted. Although that linked it to autistic thinking as well. I suspect that it is a mix of the two options, some people/society in general are lumping every introverted neuro untypical into asperger's/autism however there are two groups in that larger group.
3kodos9611yYeah... I read Risto's link (I think I'd read it before), and I do see some similarities there, but neither lines up with me 100%... the more I read about these things, the more it seems to me like the whole idea of classifying psychiatric 'disorders' is just bunk - a widely diverse range of personality characteristics are just being artificially crammed onto a one dimensional scale, and then clusters are labeled as 'disorders' despite not really having a common cause.
1whpearson11yI'd agree. I suspect that there might be some real clusters with common causes, but then there are probably lots of other people that appear in or near that cluster that don't have that cause. Here is an interesting experiment [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rosenhan_experiment] that critiques the psychiatric profession I came across while trying to find about the scientific basis of the DSM classifications (little).
2[anonymous]11yHello me.
1[anonymous]9yNo offence meant, but that sounds like sour grapes to me. (Surely e.g. having irregular verbs might be seen as silly, too, but you still say “took” rather than “taked” etc., because those are norms of the medium of communication. Politeness and social appropriateness are norms of media of communication all the same.)

Is there a way to quantify these Gillberg diagnostic criteria ? For example, what does "motor clumsiness" mean ? Presumably, there are various degrees of clumsiness, from "assembles micro-miniature sculptures in his spare time, while balancing on one foot on a highwire", to "can't pick up a coffee cup without breaking it". Similarly, "impositions of routines and interests" can vary from "enjoys fantasy novels" to "talks about elves all the time", to "has a shrine to Tolkien in his room, carries a sword, stabs people with said sword because he thinks they're orcs". There's quite a gamut there.

5Nornagest9yI can't speak to Gillberg per se, but my understanding is that diagnostic criteria in psychology tend to be left vague in order to handle less typical presentations of a disorder; doctors are expected to be interpolating not just from the diagnostic criteria but also from the case studies they've read and their previous clinical experience. There's a lot of "I know it when I see it" involved -- which is one of the things contributing to the notorious inaccuracy of self-diagnosis. I think I'd expect long-form tests like the Wired page linked in the OP to be more accurate than looking at the Gillberg criteria alone, but still flawed; it's pretty easy to let your suspicions or state of mind influence your answers, especially if you have a rough idea of what the symptoms entail.

I scored 17 - almost exactly normal. My brother was, I am sure, an medium functioning Aspergers and an uncle was a highly functioning one. On the other hand, I do not feel like a 'normal'. But that feeling is on a different spectrum. On the autism to schizophrenic spectrum, I am normal and feel it.

0[anonymous]11yWhat does it feel like to be less normal on the schizophrenic spectrum, in one or two ways? (Also, did you word the last sentence as you intended? If not, you can edit your message directly and I'll just take out this question.)
[-][anonymous]11y 6

'Yes, sometimes.'

I am able to develop temporary 'Aspergers' symptoms in myself through particular kinds of mental activity and suspect that activity might determine personality as much as the other way round.

If I indulge myself doing c.15 minutes of anagramming or similarly highly focused, repetitive thinking, I find myself socially inhibited for the next two hours or so and feel as if I am controlling myself at one remove, my own puppeteer.

Perhaps this is a result of assuming a particular set of mind ('pattern recognition' mode/laser-like focus or somes... (read more)

If I indulge myself doing c.15 minutes of anagramming or similarly highly focused, repetitive thinking, I find myself socially inhibited for the next two hours or so and feel as if I am controlling myself at one remove, my own puppeteer.

I am like this and my husband is like this. We're both academics. I call it 'work mode' and try to make sure one of us is always not in work mode when we're watching the kids.

My best friend in graduate school was a pure mathematician and this was very pronounced for her. She would study for 4-5 hours and then discover she couldn't talk, her voice just didn't work. I noticed her voice was about an octave lower. I think her vocal cords relaxed and she wasn't very good at moving her puppet.

I know exactly what you mean about controlling yourself at one remove. I think I have extreme cases of this, related to intense mental work but usually occurring not while working but during a sleep cycle that night. I wake up to discover reality has entirely unraveled for me, and I need to to do some work to 'jump back in the puppet'. In graduate school, a combination of working intensely and not socializing for bouts of time (I love socializing, but I was busy s... (read more)

3knb11yWow, multiple personality? Your psychologist was clueless. I mean, taking base rates into consideration, that diagnosis is bordering on absurd. It sounds like you are having dissociative episodes; it could be depersonalization disorder, but it doesn't seem to be causing "significant distress or difficulties", which is one of the DSM IV criteria. DSM-IV-TR criteria 1. Longstanding or recurring feelings of being detached from one's mental processes or body, as if one is observing them from the outside or in a dream. 1. Reality testing is unimpaired during depersonalization 2. Depersonalization causes significant difficulties or distress at work, or social and other important areas of life functioning. 3. Depersonalization does not only occur while the individual is experiencing another mental disorder, and is not associated with substance use or a medical illness. The DSM-IV-TR specifically recognizes three possible additional features of depersonalization disorder: 1. Derealization, experiencing the external world as strange or unreal. 2. Macropsia or micropsia, an alteration in the perception of object size or shape. 3. A sense that other people seem unfamiliar or mechanical. [edit] Etiology
1byrnema11yOf the criteria and features you listed, only this one seems apt: Since you apparently know something about this, what do you think of the hypothesis that dissociative episodes are the result of transiently handing the reins to the revolutionary [http://lesswrong.com/lw/20/the_apologist_and_the_revolutionary/]? I make this connection because it always seem to happen when I'm seeking a paradigm shift in the way I'm thinking about something. (And yeah, it seemed my psychologist was a nutcase himself. My impression was that he was new and was looking for something really exciting to find and write about.)
1knb11yYou know, that's really interesting. The "revolutionary" mental model would offer a way of explaining all sorts of dissociative phenomena, like dissociative fugue [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fugue_state], and dissociative identity. Basically, the brain would be triggering the "revolutionary" to escape from a traumatic reality, not to escape from a false belief. In the case of dissociative fugue, it seems the revolutionary removes your old memory and identity and lets the "apologist" defend your new identity. It would be interesting to know if dissociative anesthetics can trigger the same kind mind changes as the revolutionary. From what I can tell, it sounds like they can.
1aleksiL11y(Note: This post is speculation based on memory and introspection and possibly completely mistaken. Any help in clarifying my thinking and gathering evidence on this would be greatly appreciated.) I suspect that I'm also affected by this and just haven't conciously noticed. Feels like I'm a lot more comfortable with analytical modes than more intuitive/social ones and probably spending more time inducing them than I should. I'd like to be more aware of my mental modes and find more effective ways of influencing them. Any suggestions? ETA: Now that I think about it I get a weird feeling. Certain types of concentration seem to act a lot like emotions. The duration seems right, there seems to be a certain mutual exclusivity: strong emotions make it harder to concentrate and intense concentration makes it harder to feel those emotions. Are mental modes emotions?
2NancyLebovitz11yYou might want to take a look at Open Focus [http://openfocus.com]-- the premise as I understand it is that if you cultivate the ability to have slow synchronized brain waves, you spontaneously get better at having the appropriate sort of mental focus for what you're doing. I've worked with it a little, and gotten better body awareness, and probably some psychological gains. It's hard to judge exactly what of the assorted things I'm doing have particular good effects, but Open Focus is scientifically based and working with their attention exercises has some short term good effects for me.
2CronoDAS11yI don't like body awareness. Whenever I start having body awareness, I usually end up noticing various tiny aches and pains that I'd rather not be aware of. (For example, my glasses often cause me pain behind my ears - and getting them adjusted doesn't really help that much.) In fact, trying to pay attention to my body often seems to trigger such pains...
0NancyLebovitz11yWhereas I've been fascinated for years by improving my body awareness, so take this as possibly risky, but Open Focus talks about making pain less salient (and sometimes go away) by increasing awareness-- partly because pain is increased by trying to fight it so that accepting it helps, and partly by putting it into a larger context of non-painful sensations. I've tried this (on minor pains) and it works some of the time.
1Blueberry11yThis is incredibly interesting to me. Have you found anything else that uses intuition like that? How about music, or physical activities? Does anagramming, etc. help your concentration? I have to confess I'm not clear why anagramming is any less intuitive and dual n-back more intuitive. When I anagram it feels like letter sequences pop into my head by intuition, while I've only used conscious rehearsal strategies for dual n-backing.
0[anonymous]11yI think it's to do with the intensity and direction of concentrated thinking as much as the retrieval of information. It's true that intuition comes into play when I anagram but my focus is always consciously fixed on the task at hand. When I play dnb intuitively, I purposefully weaken conscious awareness in order to strengthen the 'intuitive signal.' But, to clarify, although dnb minus conscious focus humanises me, dnb + focus does not turn me into a robot, whereas anagramming does - possibly because the former involves memory operations only, with no attendant analysis. Similarly, intensive vocabulary memorisation is fine. Perhaps this suggests a fundamental difference in social interaction styles: between actively searching for meaning in the social space (through analysis) and waiting for meaning to make itself known (which requires trusting that it inevitably will). Oh yes, another anecdote regarding the activity/personality interaction: whilst studying English, people, when prompted, would correctly divine that that is what I did. Now, they assume that I am science-oriented. I suppose I must just give off a different kind of 'whiff.'

I scored 27. My brother has aspergers (diagnosted at 38 years old) and I am pretty sure both my parents have it, although they won't get tested. I am not sure I have it, although I have many of the characteristics - IQ 132, fast processor, overachiever, say weird things inappropriately, small talk makes me uncomfortable, etc. Compared to my parents and brother, however, I always seemed like the odd one out in our little family. I am super friendly, make friends easily but have the narrow focused, intellectual pursuit thing for sure. I have been seeing a... (read more)

26 on the wired test. I am 53. I noticed on many of the questions that i would have answered differently when I was younger, but that I had it seemed rationally figured things out or learned them in therapy.

I have for years wondered if a lot of what goes into scientists is sub-clinical autism/aspbergers. I listen to some of the concerns of parents about their aspberger kids and think "that's like me, it is part of how I got a PhD in Physics."

Anyone here have non-psychotic auditory hallucinations? Apparently they're surprisingly common.

8SilasBarta11yI don't, but Julian Jaynes makes this same point in The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind, and even says that he himself had one that came as an insight. (He says while working on some academic problem alone in his apartment, he suddenly heard, "Replace the knower with the known!" or something like that, and genuinely believed it was from someone else to the point of searching his place, but found no one.) Jaynes claims this phenomenon is evidence for his thesis that humans 3000+ years ago were like modern schizophrenics in that they heard voices that guided them with insights and that they identified as gods, but which we today identify as part of our own internal narrative.
0Jack11yHeh. Yeah, Morendil introduced me to the theory a couple months ago and I haven't stopped thinking about it.

Hmm. This could finally explain a mystery for me regarding my mother. I think she believes that her ancestors talk to her, and I could never reconcile this with the fact that in all other ways, she's a very rational, non-superstitious and pragmatic person.

When I was about 4 -- barely talking because my family was bilingual and I'm less adept at language anyway -- I told my mother I saw 'people' on my eyes. I meant that scratches in my eyes looked like people. To my astonishment, she seemed very happy and started including me in conversations with invisible people. My dad found out and put a stop to it, but I've always wondered about it.

Six years ago at my wedding, I overheard my mother talking about the ancestors with her sister. I decided it was some kind of family delusion. Maybe it's a genetic trait I didn't inherit.

2SilasBarta11yInteresting. But note: Jaynes sayes that it's mainly enculturation that determines whether the tendency to hear voices is suppressed or not, so there are both genetic and cultural influences. ETA: He says that it's a latent tendency in everyone, thus genetic, but is revealed or not depending on upbringing.
-2MugaSofer8yHuh. If this is a thing, it could explain some stories of the "second sight" being passed down through families. Or maybe ghosts are just real. That also explains the facts.
0SilasBarta11yI started reading it a while ago. It's split up into three parts: 1) Explanation of the theory 2) Evidence from historical records 3) Vestiges of the bicameral mind in the modern world I skipped part 2 and read most of 1 and 3. I don't know whether to recommend for or against it at this point. He definitely brings up some interesting evidence I hadn't known about involving schizophrenics, hypnotism, religious rituals (incl. Greek philosophers' experience with "gods"), and the development of modern science, and D. Dennett recommends him (in a bit of a back-handed way), but at the same time I get the sense of confirmation bias permeating the book. It's a big question mark at this point, and I've since focused efforts on more reliably insightful works.
9Vladimir_M11yThe prominent linguist and writing systems scholar Peter T. Daniels once made the following comment [http://groups.google.com/group/sci.lang/msg/218e73a70eaa084c?hl=en] about Jaynes's book: I've read Jaynes's book, and my impressions confirm this view. Jaynes is certainly an excellent writer. The book is well worth reading even if just for entertainment value, and there is certainly much worthwhile about its creative and interesting theoretical speculations, as well as many gems of erudition that are strewn throughout it. However, I don't think Jaynes's arguments ultimately hold water. The evidence he presents is sparse and far-fetched, and overwhelmingly limited to the ancient Mediterranean and Near East civilizations. He says very little to nothing about other human societies. There is no clear and unambiguous historical account of encountering a bicameral-minded society, even among peoples who were below the development level of the old civilizations discussed by Jaynes when first contacted by Westerners and other literate civilizations who have left extensive and clear histories. This seems to require a lot of special pleading to explain away, so I'd say it's a decisive argument against his theories. Also, I remember several claims made by Jaynes that, to my knowledge, contradict well established findings in various fields. However, I would have to re-read the book to write down a precise critique; my memory of it isn't reliable enough to talk about the specifics right now.
0Blueberry11yDennett has written that he sees Jaynes's theory as a modular theory, and that the historical hallucinations part is one part that he would like to discard, but that his ideas about consciousness coming from "talking to yourself" are spot on. In any case, Jaynes is careful to say that he doesn't take any of it too literally and his thoughts are only suggestions and musings on how consciousness might have originated. Some of his critics seem to miss the larger picture and get caught up on factual details. Jaynes's book is really about large philosophical ideas, not historical facts.
-2MugaSofer8yAt last, an explanation for The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind: Jaynes was crazy. Sorry, sorry.
2arundelo11yVery rarely (maybe once a year or less) and only when I'm falling asleep or am extremely sleepy. (I'm only counting things that I think are real; I routinely have vivid audiations that are not confusable with reality.)
1Blueberry11yI have also noticed hearing things when I am very sleepy: usually music or words that I can't quite hear clearly. I'm very confused by this sentence! You know the auditory hallucinations aren't real, right? And what are these vivid audiations you speak of?
5byrnema11yThere's a distinct difference between hearing something vividly in your head, which is more like imagining a sound, and having an actual auditory hallucination. I read last night: schizophrenics may know that their auditory hallucinations aren't real, but they also can't distinguish them from real sounds. Whenever I have had an auditory hallucination (also, very rarely), it has been of my name being called as well!
2KrisC11yI often (~monthly) believe that my name is being called when further investigation suggests otherwise. I believe it is a result of a similar sibilant sound and my upbringing. My stepfather insisted that if he shouted my name I had to come running, even if I was out of earshot blocks away. Thus I was "nurtured" towards false positives. This audio hallucination always fools me, but visual hallucinations never do. At approximately the same rate (monthly), I imagine I see a cloaked figure. This is more an optical illusion in my peripheral vision, which I quickly recognize. Occasional Melatonin or Vitamin D greatly reduce the occurrence of this optical misidentification.
4Nisan11yI also have a story about conditioned susceptibility to hallucinations: At one point I was in a long-distance relationship and I started hallucinating Google chat's New Instant Message notification sound. This happened several times a day, and if I happened to be in proximity to a computer I would have to check to see if it was real.
2[anonymous]10y.
2arundelo11yI'll take your questions in reverse order. (Note: Wikipedia givesaudiation [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Audiation]a purely musical meaning, but I'm using it here to include hearing speaking voices and other nonmusical things in one's head.) I have what I think is above-average skill at visualization and audiation. (For musical things, my skill is definitely above average even among the musicians I know.) During the day, these are both under my conscious control -- I decide to see or hear something in my head, and I do. When I'm falling asleep, though, my visualizations and audiations become * much more vivid, and * spontaneous, in the sense that even though I still have some control over them, if I'm not exerting control at the moment, they keep going (like I have a TV station in my head that broadcasts nonsense). Despite the vividness and spontaneity, though, I never think any of this is real. It has a clear quality of coming from inside my head rather than the external world. In the very rare occurrences of actual hallucinations, which are always voices and usually saying my name, they seem real. The only way I know they're not real is context -- I live alone so I figure it's more likely that I'm hallucinating than that someone has entered my house late at night and is talking to me. (Back when I lived with someone I would holler back if it sounded like someone was calling me from another room.)

I've been suspected of being autism spectrum, and I scored 31.

Mentioned this on another thread - I don't know if you are all already familiar with this, but this is probably a good place to point out that there's now pretty good evidence that autism has an "opposite" in schizophrenia; neurotypicality is then in the middle of the resulting spectrum.

(Clarification: This isn't something I actually have much knowledge about at all; this is just something I saw some time ago and the CNV evidence seems pretty compelling.)

I get the idea we should probably be trying to account for this somehow? I'll admit it seems ... (read more)

Another neuroatypicality that I find interesting to compare with autism is Williams syndrome. The behavioural symptoms (unlike autism, there are also a lot of physical ones) are a sort of opposite of autism/Asperger's. People with Williams syndrome talk readily -- too readily, in children -- to strangers, and appear usually adept at social conversation. On first meeting unawares someone with the syndrome, one may see nothing amiss. If it is a child, one may be impressed by their apparently mature behaviour beyond their years, but eventually, one realises that there's nothing behind it. They have a facility with the forms but not the function, a "party" personality that can do nothing else.

Williams syndrome isn't an all or nothing condition, there are degrees. A colleague of mine told me of meeting the headmaster of his daughter's school, and when he met the headmaster's wife, he immediately recognised the characteristic physiognomy of Williams syndrome. Sure enough, when he spoke with her, she was unusually affable and charming, but he could see that there was actually a real person there, a competent, intelligent woman.

Since discovering Williams syndrome, whenever I meet someone with a "party personality" my immediate thought is, "can they do anything else"?

For what it's worth, DSM-V eliminated the distinction between Asperger's Syndrome and autism.

I scored 13 on the test. My most autistic trait is that I am not great at conversational eye contact, which the test didn't ask about. I also generally consider myself to be bad at phone conversations.

I'm actually on the ADHD spectrum -- I could make a post of the same format as this one for ADHD, which is probably just as prevalent here as among other forums heavy with programmer-type-people. For some reason I expect that ADHD thread would be controversial, but I guess that really depends on how I framed the questions.

1Jack11yCan you name this reason?
0mattnewport11yPerhaps some of these [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adhd#Controversies] reasons, ranging from the basic controversy of whether it exists at all through a variety of controversies over treatment and diagnosis. Growing up in the UK I guess I'm influenced by the British opinion described there: Although the article goes on to say that more recently they appear to have accepted that it may be a real condition.
3Kevin11yThat's the reason. It's more debatable if ADHD even exists, and especially controversial given the high rate of medicating children diagnosed with ADHD.
-3fraa11yADHD is controversial only among anti-rationalists, and this is a place for rationalists to gather so... I'm not sure why you said that.
6AspiringRationalist9yDoes the belief that ADHD does or does not exist pay rent [http://lesswrong.com/lw/53b/making_beliefs_pay_rent_in_anticipated]? Psychiatric diagnoses are the map; patterns of thought are territory. Society has certain rules that can make it expedient or inexpedient to call a particular similarity cluster [http://lesswrong.com/lw/nj/similarity_clusters] a "disease" or "medical condition", but what really matters is whether a given intervention (medication, psychotherapy, etc.) is or isn't beneficial.
0wedrifid9yA little bit, in as much people who say "ADHD does not exist" are reliably more ignorant on the subject than people who say "ADHD does exist". It's far from the ideal way to carve reality [http://lesswrong.com/lw/o0/where_to_draw_the_boundary] but it isn't completely useless.
0RichardKennaway11yHe said why: the reasons that mattnewport linked to. But you have given no reason for your opposite view. (Calling people "anti-rationalists" is not an argument.)
-2fraa11yWhat on Earth made you think this is some argument? I was making an observation, that I don't see why he is fearful of quacks/homeopaths/nutritionists here, this seems like the last place you could find them. People who assume everything on the Internet is an argument, well it says a lot about them.
2RichardKennaway11yI suspect we may attach different meanings to the word "argument". I meant only "a contribution to a useful discussion". mattnewport linked to a section of a Wikipedia article discussing controversies about ADHD, which itself links to a longer Wikipedia article [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Attention-deficit_hyperactivity_disorder_controversies] devoted to those controversies. The references there (some hundreds) make it clear that there are in fact controversies about ADHD, even among professionals within the field of psychiatry. Your response is merely to claim that: I can't even tell from that whether you think there is such a condition or there isn't.
0fraa11yIf after my reply you still can't tell, then I'd better not post here. It's better for both me and this community.
7RichardKennaway11ySomeone other than me should say this, but: please don't let one person drive you away. It's just that the comments you've made so far on LW are all at least a step removed from actually telling what you think and why.
9fraa11yYes, I'm sorry, I had a mini-panic episode. It's absurd for me to react in these ways, all my posting so far was automatic talk which I didn't actually think. I'm still recovering from years of untreated anxiety and ADHD. I will post something coherent when I'm better.
2Blueberry11yI upvoted all your comments, and I understand completely: you're saying that ADHD is an accepted clinical diagnosis and that you don't think people here would agree with the bizarre, lunatic-fringe conspiracy theory that it's just a way of drugging kids who misbehave. Unfortunately, there are even people here who believe in 9/11 conspiracies, so don't get your hopes too high.
3JoshuaZ11yUnfortunately, it is both. There are people who have a real clinical disorder who need drugs. But there are also people who are getting diagnosed with ADD or ADHD with minimal justification.
0Blueberry11yAt a greater rate than for other disorders? Any diagnosis will have a possibility of error, but that's different than calling into question the entire disorder, which is what the conspiracy theories try to do.
0JoshuaZ11yRight. I'm not calling the disorder's existence in question (people who do so are being stupid), but the extreme difference in European and American diagnosis rates suggests that the US has a very high overdiagnosis rate. I don't think it is useful to compare it to diagnosis rates in other disorders since many other disorders have much more clear cut standards for diagnosis. I don't know if ADHD has a higher level of incorrect diagnosis compared to other mental health disorders.
3Blueberry11yWhy wouldn't it suggest that Europe has a very high underdiagnosis rate? Good point; mental disorders are much more blurry. I'm curious, for instance, if there is an ADHD spectrum, like the autism spectrum, and if it blends into normality, or if there is a sharp divide between NTs and people with some degree of ADHD.
1wedrifid11yExactly what I thought when I read the argument in question. If the studies referenced in the back of Hallowell [http://www.amazon.com/Delivered-Distraction-Getting-Attention-Disorder/dp/034544230X] are to be believed the prevalence of ADHD has been found to between 5% and 8% across 5 continents. To paraphrase a FAQ in the same source: Is ADHD over-diagnosed or under-diagnosed? Unfortunately, both. In some regions it is over-diagnosed and over-medicated but in others it is underdiagnosed because people (teachers, parents or doctors) "don't believe in ADHD". Very much a spectrum, in a similar way to an autism spectrum. In fact, a majority of people who qualify for an autism diagnosis would qualify for an ADHD diagnosis too if they didn't have the autism label already. There is no sharp divide. There are also many people who have ADHD traits in the extreme who would not be said to have ADHD because their personality (and brain functioning in general) is not interfering with their life. So roughly speaking ADHD means having a certain cluster of traits to a significant degree greater than average or in a way that obviously interferes with your life.
0JoshuaZ11yMy conclusion in that regard is based to some extent on anecdotal evidence in that I've seen in the US people diagnosed where it seemed clear that they didn't. I'm aware of multiple cases where a diagnosis was essentially an excuse to get Ritalin as a study aid.
7wedrifid11yI wholeheartedly advocate the gaming of the medical system to get what you need or want out of them. Both because i disrespect the competence of that system in giving people what they need and because the institutions and lobby groups in question have no intrinsic right to control access to treatments or collect rent in the process. My advice to all moderately intelligent patients is to have one (or multiple) doctors that you use for their expertise and another doctor that you go to to get then to scribble on those ridiculous pieces of paper. The latter you lie to as necessary if it helps you jump through the hoops more efficiently.
0JoshuaZ11yLying to doctors is in general a very bad idea. Lying to them about what drugs you are taking is dangerous. Part of their job is so know what drugs will interact with what other drugs or diseases. Lying to doctors makes them much less likely to be able to do that well.
8Larks11yAccurate Assessment is what the first few doctors are for; the doctor you lie to is explicitly only there for the sake of getting drugs.
7Mass_Driver11yYou could always just tell the truth to your pharmacist. Short of concerns about abortion or birth control, they're much less likely to impose their moral judgments on you, and collect next to nothing in the way of economic rents.
5Blueberry11yYou don't have to outright lie, just emphasize different symptoms. For instance, on a diagnostic questionnaire for ADHD, depression, or autism, I could score very high or very low and remain completely honest, just by interpreting the questions in slightly different ways.
3wedrifid11yAgree, and I expect many people do this unconsciously, primed by whatever their own thoughts are on the subject or what condition they have been primed to consider. Another way I have 'not lied' to doctors is to go to a new doctor and say that I had run out of my existing supply and needed a new prescription. This is true, in as much as I originally got my drugs online, outside of the control of the establishment, passing through customs courtesy of lead lined envelopes. Having confirmed the usefulness of the substance it was then worth jumping through hoops to get a cheaper and hassle free source.
2Blueberry11yI would imagine many doctors are on to this, though, especially for drugs like Adderall that people frequently sell on the black market. Does this often work?
3wedrifid11yIt hasn't failed me yet. But this relies on a specialized kind of social influence that I somehow seem to be very good at. In any case getting what you want out of a doctor doesn't seem to all that difficult (and, barring actual safety risks, nor should it!) The main reason I use an "I need a repeat" approach is that doctors tend to have their own 'default' preference they like out of the various options and they sometimes get all insecure and consider it a social challenge if you want a different drug. Say, vyvanse rather than Ritalin or escitalopram rather than fluoxetine (or, god forbid, venlafaxine!). It is just so much easier to frame the request as 'resupply' rather than 'diagnosis'. Especially when the doctor clearly does not understand what the difference is between the drugs or what the modern research suggests. You need a way to get the right outcome without stepping on the poor old guy's toes. Another useful and harmless lie is "My sister has been using Tianeptine [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tianeptine] and it really worked for her. She's the one who convinced me that I should consider treatement, etc" Throw in the body language of someone who is wary of the whole process and hesitant to concede that they need treatment. For some reason this works better than "Don't give me SSRIs. SSRIs suck balls for depression with anxiety. Except stuff like venlafaxine that seriously mess you up with 'discontinuation syndrome' when you try to come off them. Tianeptine is way better, especially for the anxiety side of things and not only that, it has a much better side effect profile."
0[anonymous]11yIt hasn't failed me yet. But this relies on a specialized kind of social influence that I somehow seem to be very good at. In any case getting what you want out of a doctor doesn't seem to all that difficult (and, barring actual safety risks, nor should it!) The main reason I use an "I need a repeat" approach is that doctors tend to have their own 'default' preference they like out of the various options and they sometimes get all insecure and consider it a social challenge if you want a different drug. Say, vyvanse rather than Ritalin or escitalopram rather than fluoxetine (or, god forbid, venlafaxine!). It is just so much easier to frame the request as 'resupply' rather than 'diagnosis'. Especially when the doctor clearly does not understand what the difference is or what the modern research suggests and you need a way to get the right outcome without stepping on the poor old guy's toes. Another useful and harmless lie is "My sister has been using Tianeptine [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tianeptine] and it really worked for her. She's the one who convinced me that I should consider treatement, etc" Throw in the body language of someone who is wary of the whole process and hesitant to concede that they need treatment. For some reason this works better than "Don't give me SSRIs. SSRIs suck balls for depression with anxiety. Except stuff like venlafaxine that seriously mess you up with 'discontinuation syndrome' when you try to come off them. Tianeptine is way better, especially for the anxiety side of things and not only that has a much better side effect profile."
4wedrifid11yI have made it clear that I do not share your faith in the medical priesthood. Adding to what Mass Driver has already said I will suggest that pharmacists are also a whole lot better (on average) than doctors at avoiding potentially dangerous drug combinations. I make that conclusion partly based on what I discovered while working [http://www.allori.edu.au/] in medical education. You know, trying to teach evidence based practices to a bunch of middle aged men (for example) who happened to have done a medical degree 25 years ago and since then have been too busy to significantly educate themselves beyond what they read in the edu-tisements from the pharmaceuticals. But if you prefer anecdotal evidence I have personally had to tell a doctor "No, you can't give me that, I will get Seratonin Syndrome and I will die.) My pharmacology professor also deal with a doctor who was trying to medicate his daughter with a drug that was known to interfere with his daughter's medical condition. He had to warn the doctor "No. No, it's NOT safe. If you do not change this prescription I will sue you. By the way, I have a PhD in Pharmacology." Doctors are just people. If you want to ensure your optimal health, and your safety you need to take personal responsibility for your own medical treatments. As I originally suggested this will involve finding competent experts you can trust (and even doctors go to other doctors). But it doesn't mean you are best off submitting to whatever treatment has managed to make (or buy) its way into being the default mainstream practice. Seeing doctors is primarily about a ritual affiliation with high status people, not about optimal health. When it comes to everyday things like treating infections and identifying common maladies I will take a doctor at his or her word. It is something they deal with every day and deal with well. But when it comes to any psychological condition or any condition that is uncommon you need to both shop around and to do yo
2[anonymous]11yThe anecdotes with finding situations where doctors make serious errors could be well counter-balanced with the cases where a misguided patient's research effort turned up a solution that has an equally bad effect. It's not at all clear that on the net, serious personal research into a case by a non-doctor is better than a decision of an average doctor. Especially considering that in the more important cases (assuming you recognize the importance), you can ask several doctors independently.
0JoshuaZ11yYou seem to be assuming a degree of knowledge about medicine that most humans do not have the time, ability or resources to obtain. You also seem to be attacking a strawman argument. I haven't argued that "you are best off submitting to whatever treatment has managed to make (or buy) its way into being the default mainstream practice" but rather that actively lying to doctors is a bad idea. And I'd extend that to any other common profession that involves expertise. Lying to your lawyer? Bad idea? Lying to your car mechanic? Bad idea. This isn't an argument related to the apparently high status of doctors. But simply put, most of us do not have the resources to investigate every single detail (just as we can't all be competent lawyers or car mechanics or plumbers), and actively lying to those people will frequently create problems.
2wedrifid11yPlease refer the correct interpretation, as made by Larks [http://lesswrong.com/lw/28l/do_you_have_highfunctioning_aspergers_syndrome/25vs] earlier. I suggest, instead that I my response was sufficiently wide ranging as to ensure that some parts of it were simply not a direct reply to you. Please refer the correct interpretation of my claim , as made by Larks [http://lesswrong.com/lw/28l/do_you_have_highfunctioning_aspergers_syndrome/25vs] earlier.
0[anonymous]11yPlease refer the correct interpretation, as made by Larks [http://lesswrong.com/lw/28l/do_you_have_highfunctioning_aspergers_syndrome/25vs] earlier. I suggest, instead that I my response was sufficiently wide ranging as to ensure that some parts of it were simply not a direct reply to you. Please refer the correct interpretation of my claim , as made by Larks [http://lesswrong.com/lw/28l/do_you_have_highfunctioning_aspergers_syndrome/25vs] earlier.
2Blueberry11yIf someone would benefit from Ritalin as a study aid, doesn't that mean that they have difficulty focusing and studying as much as they would like? Isn't that essentially what ADHD is?
0JoshuaZ11yThat's not the definition of ADHD as it is normally defined. Indeed, many (if not most) humans would be more focused if they took Ritalin. But using it so that one can for example waste a few months and then spend 72 hours cramming for a test definitely doesn't count as ADHD by most reasonable definitions.
0wedrifid11yIn fact, that is something that comes naturally to many people ADHD. "Attention Deficit" would often be better described as "attention variability". Many of us with ADHD also benefit from overfocus. This can mean extended periods (particularly when under pressure) of enhanced attention that can mean performance well beyond that of a 'normal' person with similar IQ. Ironically, where a neurotypical person may use amphetamines to pump themselves up or so they can waste a few months then cram for 72 hours an ADHD individual would use amphetamines to calm themselves down and so they don't spend a few months wasting time and then have to cram for 72 hours. ETA: I agree that the vast majority of people will benefit from Ritalin or Adderall when studying, at least for things that require rote learning or rigid thinking (ie. most exams). Which reminds me - if you want to identify ways to enhance brain function in healthy people a good place to start looking for leads is by browsing the treatments for Alzheimer's.
0Blueberry11yThis sounds pretty binary to me. I've heard things like this before, that ADHD medications have opposite effects on people without ADHD. How, then, does the ADHD spectrum work? Are we talking about two different types of brains, or is there a whole spectrum, and how do the medications work on people in the middle of the spectrum?
2wedrifid11yPerhaps, but it could just be an observation selected for irony and salience and presented in a context where writing an essay on all the complex nuances underlying the situation would not be appropriate. There are some who make such claims and I would suggest they do not have a naive understanding. As you put it, binary thinking, oversimplified and the sort of thing people present as an opinion and can even operate with effectively despite the fundamental confusion. You will note that in my claim I was careful to include a few intrusive yet important differences so as to satisfy my preference for technical accuracy without getting bogged down in caveats. Allow me to address a few issues relevant to the examples in question: What is in a Symptom? Let's face it. Most ADHD diagnoses are essentially for "Can't Sit Still and Will Not Do What He Is Told Disorder". (Unfortunately this means that those people with ADHD who manage to not be a pain in the ass of a suitable authority are often neglected by the system.) * Now, what causes kids to not be able to sit still or adequately seek the approval of authority? Well, one thing is an under-functioning frontal lobe that can not adequately control inhibitions and maintain focus without sufficient stimulus. Ritalin helps boost frontal lobe function; (the teacher's) problem solved. * What behavior do I expect from people who are abusing methamphetamine for recreational purposes? Well, among other things, excessive energy and aggression. ie. Sitting still and being compliant isn't a likely outcome but for entirely different reasons than the aforementioned ADHD kid. How it is used matters. How does an ADHD kid use Ritalin to help him study ahead of time so he doesn't rely on 72 hours of cramming? He takes small doses regularly over time too boost motivation and attention control when he wants to study. How does someone use Ritalin to cram for 72 hours once they have wasted time for months? They take
4NancyLebovitz11yA rant about the effects of serious untreated ADHD [http://kaigou.dreamwidth.org/366919.html]
0wedrifid11yThanks Nancy, I've made a note of that just so I can reference the diagrams. ETA: And taking a glance at the article he references I now share his outrage. She lists many of the benefits of treatment, the consequences of not having treatment and then goes and explains that she denies access to treatment for her children. Letting that woman reproduce was a crime against humanity. There are very few things I call unmitigated evil but for some reason this is one of them.
0NancyLebovitz11yI suspect you're ranting, but I'll bring up some practical issues. I doubt it's possible (except, perhaps in some extreme cases) to tell years in advance what people's child-raising policies will be. I'd be extremely cautious about giving an authority permission to say who will reproduce and who won't. And I'm tempted to reread her earlier hovels (as Megan Lindholm) to see whether there was a weird authoritarianism (she's also come out strongly against most fanfiction [http://web.archive.org/web/20050630015105/http://www.robinhobb.com/rant.html] in them. It would be more reasonable to read (or reread) her more recent work, except that I got bored by it after the first trilogy, while I liked the earlier stuff.
0[anonymous]11yI'm wouldn't call it 'ranting' but I certainly don't expect "should not be allowed to reproduce" to be taken literally, nor do I often (ever?) observe cases where people mean such claims as anything other than "I disapprove of that behavior and the type of genetic or cultural heritage that produces it". But following up on on the topic of eugenics. Any authority who considered they had the right to say who will reproduce and who will not is unlikely to pass my 'kill test'. That is to say I would (if convenient) kill them. And kill anyone who tried to stop me from killing them if necessary. The means by which they gained the power in question would not necessarily matter (ie. it would not pass the kill test just because people voted on it). Mind you, there are situations in which I would approve of eugenics. Most of them do not involve 'authority' in any conventional human sense. For example... bizarre situations in which: * FAI is not possible (or available in time) * I personally have access to advanced nanotechnology (eg. I have an Asgard core [http://stargate.wikia.com/wiki/Asgard_computer_core] * There is something which provokes the need for me to take overwhelming unilateral action. * If reproduction is not limited it will contribute to existential threat. Perhaps: * * Unconstrained breeding will produce people who are likely to create a uFAI before an FAI is possible. * * We are progressing along the inevitable competitive equilibrium of a hardscrabble frontier. * * Unconstrained breeding will result in humans devolving and losing that which is valuable about our species (with current selection pressure it probably would, not that it matters.) * * Without breeding constraints (either number or in quality) humanity will not even survive to reach for the stars or use the universe in some sort of eudemonic manner. Basically I consider the ability to dictate reproduction
0wedrifid11yI'm wouldn't call it 'ranting' but I certainly don't expect "should not be allowed to reproduce" to be taken literally, nor do I often (ever?) observe cases where people mean such claims as anything other than "I disapprove of that behavior and the type of genetic or cultural heritage that produces it". But following up on on the topic of eugenics. Any authority who considered they had the right to say who will reproduce and who will not is unlikely to pass my 'kill test'. That is to say I would (if convenient) kill them. And kill anyone who tried to stop me from killing them if necessary. The means by which they gained the power in question would not necessarily matter (ie. it would not pass the kill test just because people voted on it). Mind you, there are situations in which I would approve of eugenics. Most of them do not involve 'authority' in any conventional human sense. For example... bizarre situations in which: 1. FAI is not possible (or available in time) 2. I personally have access to advanced nanotechnology (eg. I have an Asgard core [http://stargate.wikia.com/wiki/Asgard_computer_core] 3. There is something which provokes the need for me to take overwhelming unilateral action. 4. If reproduction is not limited it will contribute to existential threat. Perhaps one of: * Unconstrained breeding will produce people who are likely to create a uFAI before an FAI is possible. * We are progressing along the inevitable competitive equilibrium of a hardscrabble frontier. * Unconstrained breeding will result in humans devolving and losing that which is valuable about our species (with current selection pressure it probably would, not that it matters.) * Without breeding constraints (either number or in quality) humanity will not even survive to reach for the stars or use the universe in some sort of eudemonic manner. Basically I consider the ability to dictate reproduction ove
0[anonymous]11yThanks Nancy, I've made a note of that just so I can reference the diagrams.
1Blueberry11yThanks for going into so much detail about this. Good point about the stimulants relieving anxiety. So according to this explanation, it's not that people with ADHD have a different brain chemistry that makes stimulants affect them differently, it's that the focus from stimulants relieves more anxiety than the stimulants create. I'm not sure that terms like "waste time" and "abuse" are fair in that situation. Someone who has problems focusing, who may have mild ADHD, may have had trouble studying for months, and then take the Ritalin to try to study. This may not be as effective as taking the medication every day, but it's an attempt to self-medicate and deal with the problem. Is this related to the two types of ADHD (inattentive and hyperactive)? Would a central nervous system depressant then actually be effective for the "overfocused" group?

I scored 20 on Baron-Cohen's AQ test which appears to put me slightly above average but quite a bit below the threshold. Incidentally, Simon Baron-Cohen was my abnormal psychology lecturer at university but I don't really remember much from his autism lectures. I am always quite amused by the fact that he is Borat's cousin. I don't consider myself a utilitarian or a strict consequentialist.

I got a 22 on that test. I am fairly convinced I do not have Aspergers Syndrome, not only because I've not been diagnosed and that's lower than the cutoff point given, but the experiences described for those who have it seem quite different from mine in several respects. I am convinced that I am intensely introverted, however. It's not that I don't like other people, but that I have a lot more energy and enthusiasm when I have plenty of time to myself.

I have not yet been tested for or diagnosed with AS but believe that I may be high-functioning and have learned to cope with or overcome certain aspects of it over time. I scored a 33 on the AQ test and I have a 146 IQ. As a child I was very very quiet with very few friends my own age. I have had two extreme periods of anxiety for otherwise common social situations with no clear reason.

For two years, while in Elementary school, I was so scared to go into class that my father would drive me to school every day (around the corner) and talk to me in the ... (read more)

I got 40 on the test, and 5 of Gillberg's 6 criteria for Asperger's apply to me moderately well (all but motor clumsiness). I've never seriously considered the possibility that I could have Asperger's though, so I don't quite know what to make of this.

I'm undecided about consequentialism. In practice, I lean towards rule consequentialism, but I've been withholding committing until I could huddle down in a cave for six months and exhaustively study moral philosophy with no distractions (ha, no desire for systematization there!).

1Roko11yYou should probably consider getting the book [http://www.amazon.com/Solutions-Adults-Aspergers-Syndrome-Maximizing/dp/1592331645] I mentioned, as it contains a whole list of real, detailed stories about what people with strong AS tend to do that is particularly distinctive. I found these stories helpful, in that they outlined very specific behaviors that distinguished strong AS from mild nerdiness. I found that I could relate to a significant number of these examples, but not all of them, and most of them were more extreme than what I had personally done, making me think that I am exactly on the boundary.
1anonym11yThanks for the suggestion. I read all the pages available through Amazon's "look inside" feature, and also read Wikipedia on Asperger's and Autism, as well as browsed around on a couple of Aspie support sites. I'm even less convinced now that I might actually have Asperger's or Autism -- for example, I have no trouble with metaphor or figurative language, I am very good at reading other people and subtle social cues (just can't do them myself), I've never had an obsession like collecting stamps or date calculating, I wasn't bullied ever and didn't have trouble understanding other children, etc. -- but I'm still puzzled by my high score. I think that perhaps extreme shyness and some anxiety issues, combined with having an intellectual bent in a world of mostly non-intellectuals, probably account for a good part of it.

My score on the test was 35, which I found surprising. I felt my answers were fairly mixed between autistic-sounding and not, and was expecting to be closer to average.

I don't think I have anything that could be called autism; for one thing, I am often preoccupied with what other people think to the point of near-madness.

3Kevin11yYou don't have to have autism, but you can still have personality and brain traits that are more characteristic of people that are diagnosed as autistic. The question shouldn't be "Do you have autism?" but "How autistic are you?". The DSM-V's elimination of Asperger's Syndrome as something seperate from autism makes it clearer than ever that autism is a continuous spectrum. It is also obvious to me that ADHD is a spectrum, though the DSM doesn't quite agree with me on that point.

ADHD and Autism share early social difficulties and is nonspecific. One thing that differentiates the two is different profiles of impairment in executive function.

Autism has deficits in verbal working memory, while ADHD has deficits in motor inhibition.

The base rates of ADHD are also much higher than that of autism, so factor that into your calculations.

1Jack11yHeh. Motor inhibition is the one ADHD symptom I've never had any issues with. I do have working memory issues but my understanding was that that was part of ADHD as well. ADHD meds didn't do much for me, though. I use caffeine. The main thing that makes me think Aspergers or Autism don't fit is that while I often get anxious before entering a social situation (such that I don't do so as much as I should) once I'm there I generally enjoy myself and have plenty of social success (meeting people, holding court, getting people to laugh etc.) assuming the crowd is intelligent enough that I have something to talk about. The obsession with a single subject thing definitely doesn't fit me but that seems to be common here anyway. I also don't have any trouble being overly literal or getting jokes late. The weirdest question on the test for me was whether I would rather go to a museum or a theatre, both sound great to me! Maybe it is just because I don't fit well but to me these diagnoses really don't resemble natural kinds.
2Kevin11yMy diagnosis is ADHD-PI, I would guess you are similar. I just have really bad akrasia -- people seem to assume that it is not nearly as bad as it actually is because I give off the impression that I get things done because it seems like I have accomplished things, but public school taught me how to master the art of getting things done while putting forth no effort whatsoever. To me ADHD is just this convenient label that allows me to be prescribed rather serious medication, if I want it. It would be more meaningful to talk about how my akrasia is worse than the median person's akrasia than to say that I have ADHD and the median person doesn't. Do you think there is fundamentally something different between what Less Wrong calls ADHD and akrasia? I wonder if I could defend the hypothesis that ADHD=akrasia in post form.
2Jack11yWell here is the DSM-IV's criteria: Do these all fit under akrasia? I have pretty much all of these problems to various degrees.

Those criteria sound like not being compliant to the desires of people in authority.

5Alicorn11yThe criteria are mostly there to let you diagnose the condition in children, and one thing that children in general are consistently expected to do is attend and perform tasks for school. However, characteristics like forgetfulness, short attention span, losing objects easily, or inability to follow long trains of thought as in a conversation can certainly exist in adults and cause various general-purpose functionality weaknesses.

In a hurry right now, but suffice to say for statistical purposes (regarding Less Wrong) that I've been diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome- however at least on a sentimental level I have very little appreciation for consequentialism/utilitarianism if slightly more for it's preference utilitarian form.

I forgot to add that I'm very good at putting things in to order, structuring, organizing but I can't maintain it. On 6 out of 7 days it looks like my whole life is one big mess and spinning out of control. For about 1 hour, 1 day a week, I look like I've got my stuff together.

Full disclosure: I have been diagnosed with Asperger's (and prior to that, PDD-NOS and ADHD). I am also female and 31 years old at the time of this writing.

All that said, one thing I persistently have trouble with is thinking in terms of "isms" in the first place (well, with the exception of "autism", though that is a neurological configuration rather than an ideology). Hence I have no idea, really, whether my default mode(s) of thought fall into the "utilitarian/consequentialist" schools, and I have a very difficult time fol... (read more)

0Douglas_Knight11ySince you were (at times) diagnosed both ways, could you respond to Peter McCluskey's comments [http://www.bayesianinvestor.com/blog/index.php/2010/04/02/adhd-and-autism/] about the compatibility of AS and ADHD?
7AnneC11yWell in my case the thing that stands out is that the ADHD diagnosis was given after a very quick/superficial evaluation, whereas the AS diagnosis came after many months of testing, evaluation, and thorough analysis of my developmental history. I cannot exactly speak to whether the two configurations can or cannot coexist in the same person without further study, but my suspicion is that AS and ADHD can appear superficially similar to adults who are observing children and teenagers, merely because of the fact that the child/teenager does not appear to be attending to what the adult wishes they were.
0MugaSofer8yUpvoted just for this.

I got 11 (there's nowhere to report this on the poll; I selected '10 or less', as that seemed like where the missing 11 should go based on how the numbers are grouped).

I'm a utilitarian. Before taking the test, I figured I'd get something in the 16-20 range.

I got a 30. It's possible that I could have mild aspergers, but as far as I can tell, I don't match any common psychological pigeonhole.

Also, I skimmed the article and didn't see the request for people who have not yet seen the article not to take the poll until I responded to the poll.

I used to think that I had Autism/Aspbergers. I used to think that the same could be said about virtually everyone on this site. Now I know better. Roko, there is a world of difference between someone like you or I, who, if our parents cared about that sort of thing, could have easily found a psychologist willing to diagnose us with Autism/Aspbergers and someone like Tom McCabe or Alicorn. Perhaps it is not obvious in our interactions with them (as we are, in fact, fairly similar in many ways), and it may not be entirely obvious to others, as most people lack the skill to identify the various shades of non-social, but I think the both of us know that that difference is real.

2Roko11yI'll certainly agree that there is a spectrum here. I haven't met Alicorn in person, but Tom is definitely higher on the AS spectrum than you are, not to mean that as an insult to him as he's a great guy.
1Alicorn11yI can't tell: are you saying that I do have Asperger's or that I don't?
2LucasSloan11yThe intent was to say that you and Tom do.
0Blueberry11yCould you please elaborate on this? This is something I've wondered about for a while. I've also wondered if I was autistic and noticed a difference when talking to some people, but then again, they might just have a more extreme version of autism, or a different neurotype. What is the difference you're talking about?
9LucasSloan11yIf I could use an analogy, I would use one of cars. Imagine, if you would, there was a type of car called a Ferrari. These "Ferraris" are notable for being very fast and having little passenger room. Because of this, would could define a characteristic, which I'll call Ferrariness, which depends on how fast and how many passengers a car can carry. Now, we can easily sort cars by their Ferrariness, mini-vans being not very Ferrari, sedans being about average for Ferrariness, and sports cars having very strong Ferrariness. Now, it seems to me like Roko notices that he and many of his friends are mustangs, and don't carry very many passengers and are very fast and says he's very high on the "Ferrariness" spectrum. But while he, you and I might score very high in speed and low in passenger capacity and thus do happen to lie on the extreme high end of the "Ferrariness" spectrum, there is still a qualitative difference between us and true Ferraris, namely being produced by the eponymous company. Similarly, there are some people who have this thing called Asperger's syndrome, which is characterized by high IQ and low social skills. Roko notices he's smarter and less socially aware than the average person and is thus "fairly far right on the Autism spectrum", while Tom McCabe or Alicorn are slightly more to the right. But there really is a qualitative difference between a really smart nerd and someone who really has Asperger's. I'm not quite able to articulate what that quality is, but Tom and Alicorn have it, and Roko and I don't. I agree with his observations about the characteristics he associates with Asperger's but I think he's missing something.
8ata11yImpossible!
6Alicorn11yI've met you only very briefly, and not in a context where we got to directly interact a lot, so I am really curious what puts this impression across. (I do not consider it any sort of insult to say that I'm autistic/Asperger's or seem so, for reference, so there's no call for tiptoeing if it's tempting. Neurodiversity ftw.)
5LucasSloan11yIt was just immediately obvious. The closest thing I can come to explaining it is that the way you introduced yourself was... childish? That's not really the right word, but I really can't come up with a better one. Maybe I mean something like overly eager? It was just immediately obvious you are different. Your mannerisms, facial expression, tone, I don't know, were off. I can't really explain it, but since it is usually accurate, I trust my intuition.

Took the poll. Got a 34 on the Wired thingy. I did notice that a lot of the questions ('enjoy meeting new people') would have been answered more in the AS direction when I was, say, 20 years old.

I got a 28 on the AQ test.

[-][anonymous]11y 2

I'm a 13 on the AQ scale. In high-school I used to wonder if I was on the Autism spectrum, because I tended to prefer to be alone. I later realized I just had serious social anxiety (I was always a very shy child). My sisters were also shy, and one of them suffered from selective mutism until she was 10.

The good thing about Social Anxiety compared to Asperger's is that exposure therapy can really help break the pattern. Asperger's is really an aspect of the personality, it doesn't change.

Here is another indication of Aspergers that I ran across here and thought that others might like to look at it in connection with their scores on the Aspergers test Roko supplied. Interestingly I was normal on the previous test but have a lot of these features.

The most common structural (morphological) features found in the ASD children included:

Sandal gap toes (59%) Facial asymmetry (46%) Abnormal non-frontal hair whorl (39%) High narrow palate (37%) Attached ear lobes (35%) Hypermobile joints (33%)

Some morphological features were found in the ASD that w... (read more)

5cupholder11yFor anyone curious about the original source for this: it's 'Morphological Features in Children with Autism Spectrum Disorders: A Matched Case–Control Study [http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10803-010-1018-7]' in the Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. (It looks like it's just an electronic preprint that's online - I don't see volume and issue numbers.)
2JanetK11yThank you cupholder for adding the source link.

I'm several days late answering, but FWIW, I scored a 30 but only checked off one of the five diagnostic questions. I've never had my IQ tested as an adult.

I do obsessively pursue my chosen interests but given that one of those is language, I don't have the social / verbal awkwardness. I don't -like- social situations but I can function just fine in them.

33. I was a little surprised, and give more credence to the occasional accusations/suggestions that I could be diagnosed with Asperger's.

2ata11yYou shall need to change that to "33\." (backslash-escape the period); otherwise the silly formatting thinks you're trying to start a numbered list.
0gwern11yFixed, thanks.
[-][anonymous]11y 1

I am

1.Here on lesswrong 2.my intelligence is most strongly suited for analytical/mathematical thinking

  1. I understand social situations not so much out of natural intuition, but out of a "learned" intuition. Like, reading game/roissy has made me MUCH better with women, more than my non-mathematical inclined friends.

But, most importantly, i actually was diagnosed with a "maybe aspergers" at a young age. Another doctor overruled it, and said I was severe ADD. But, im on the autism spectrum nonetheless.

Its a good place to be right now. Us science guys own the world.

[This comment is no longer endorsed by its author]Reply

Are there known genetic correlates of Asperger's or autism?

I believe Asperger's and autism are being combined in the DSM V.

1gwern9yLooking briefly through Pubmed and Google Scholar, there's no solid results besides the general belief that there must be genetic correlates due to the familial trends. (I also see mention of arguments for combining and an fMRI meta-analysis that apparently concluded they were the same.)

I got an averagish 17, which is well down from my score a couple of years ago. At the same time, however, my thinking has become more utilitarian rather than less.

Call it the difference between desire to socialize and desire to eliminate social influence.

I suspect my boss has high functioning AS. I Googled her personality traits, and a page full of info came up on AS. I am in shock, but now it makes more sense. She does not recognize social cues, lacks empathy (for others), imposes whatever her current interest or issue is, with extreme tenacity, upon others, is extremely indecisive in some areas (not all), and has a nervous 'bark' or clearing of throat. She does not get along with others. However, she is the head anesthesiologist at the local hospital. She is not clumsy, but does have one eye that i... (read more)

Lack of empathy is not an autistic trait. Unconventional (possibly unreliable) channels for the apprehension of others' feelings, and unconventional channels for expressing empathy, are, which is often confused for outright lack. I'm also not sure why the position of her eyes is supposed to be relevant to any of this.

Lack of empathy is not an autistic trait.

You beat me to it. I'll add that there is a difference between "reading social cues and inferring probable mental states of others in real time and responding appropriately" and "caring about the situation of others", even though the word empathy is used for both concepts. (Many people are essentially unable to distinguish the two concepts, so closely do they associate them.)

5Barry_Cotter10yIn my own case, suggesting ways to solve problems that are causing emotional distress. Some people find this very annoying. Asking questions to figure out what the problem is at base should in almost all cases follow, not precede expressions of sympathy and reassurance. How advice is presented is also very important; giving advice is an implicit claim that you know more than the other person, i.e. that you're of higher status. Many people are extremely bad at distinguishing critique and criticism, and one way of disarming their defensive reactions is framing advice as "Well, I'm sure you've heard all this before/thought of this already but..." This will of course just piss off some other people who'll see it as talking down to them, I've used "permission to speak frankly" at few times in the past weeks dealing with a friend who I think has AS as well. Any other unconventional channels or expressions of same you can think of?
1AdeleneDawner10yOne that I'm prone to is backing off and leaving people alone when they're emotionally upset, based on my own preference to be left alone in such situations. That one actually doesn't go too badly so long as I remember to say something along the lines of "if you want to talk about it, let me know" first, but I'm pretty sure some people find it off-putting.
2wilkox10yMaybe something to do with the facial asymmetry JanetK mentions here [http://lesswrong.com/lw/28l/do_you_have_highfunctioning_aspergers_syndrome/21fv] ?

Even if she is autistic: So what?

5Vladimir_M10yMany people are in the position where they have to spend a very considerable part, sometimes the majority, of their waking hours in the company of their coworkers. If the coworkers fail to maintain a pleasant enough disposition and are difficult to deal with, for whatever reason, this can make one's life very miserable. The problem is of course even more severe if the coworker in question is a superior.

That strikes me as very tangential. Neurotypical coworkers can still be quite unpleasant to deal with, and are not necessarily more amenable to changing their relevant behavior.

3wedrifid10yProbably AS. But as Adelene already responded: So what? There are advantages and disadvantages to having an AS boss. There are quirks to deal with, probably some tunnel vision and you are not likely to be understood as well (except, sometimes, if you think similarly or the AS person in question has expended effort learning psychology.) But on the other hand they are not going to get insecure and socially punish you if you go around with high status posture looking happy and confident - at least not if they aren't able to notice body language at all. The only question that matters to you practically speaking is how the situation is to work in. If it sucks leave. If it doesn't suck stay.

I normally get 31 when I take that test. But have been relatively asocial for a few days, and am on lesswrong atm, and I got 38.

Interesting.

I scored 36 on the test, which was way higher than I was expecting. I think I can do a pretty decent impression of a normally social person. Perhaps my responses are skewed by my having programmed for the last 7 hours. Maybe I should take the test again after spending a couple of hours interacting with my wife and kids.

Didn't see the poll until now so not filling it in as per your request, but for the record I got 15.

My all-absorbing narrow interest is optimization.

I scored 17 but was a little worried that my responses were biased by a desire to believe I am socially proficient. I guess I have no reason to believe I suffer from this bias more than the average person.

0Blueberry11yI'm glad you mentioned that. These types of self-diagnostic tools have always seemed of limited use to me because of that kind of bias as well as the Dunning-Kruger effect. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dunning%E2%80%93Kruger_effect] I don't trust my own responses at all, and I would guess I'm strongly biased by a desire to believe I'm socially proficient. I'd imagine people's responses are heavily biased by their mood, as well: when I'm in a good mood I think better of my own abilities about almost everything, so I would guess my score would tend to fluctuate with my mood.
[-][anonymous]11y 0

Does this qualify?

Say, I understand what people will feel when I say something, and I am adept at social situations and humor. However, i dont feel this is "natural" I feel that this process is learned, like an intuition developed for thinking about evolutionary psychology.

I feel i know "what goes on" through an entirelly different way then the people next to me.

5RichardKennaway11yI'm sceptical about the natural/learned distinction. My observation is that any very socially adept adult has spent a great deal of time and effort learning these things, thinking about them, and deliberately applying their knowledge, however easily it may have come to them in childhood. In fact, the most pressing task of adulthood is to relearn properly all the stuff you learned in childhood and didn't realise you were learning. Here's an analogy: making music. Some people take to it easily, but if they don't practice and study and practice and study for years, they'll never be anything special.

I scored 24, responded to the poll. Non-AS that I know of, I do fit "all-absorbing interests" to some extent.

[-][anonymous]11y 0

Got 28 on the test, which a bit surprised me as my answers were all over the presumed AS scale. I've been always a mix of AS traits and very non AS traits; for example I have a strong visual imagination that was almost compulsive when I was a kid (e.g. after I saw a movie or a video game certain events and visual styles were frequently and automatically mashed into my view field). I'm also somewhat prone to obsessive attention to an area, interested in gathering various data and trivia, I'm pretty anxious and uncomfortable around new or too much people, ha... (read more)

I got 17 on that test (average is 16.4), and 0 on Gillberg diagnostic criteria, and I found plenty of questions highly wtf-ish. This leads me to believe that Aspergers might be a genuine thing - people who consistently reply so far unlike me to those wtf-ish questions must be seriously weird, not just differ in minor quantitative ways.

I'm not sure if I'm really utilitarian, but I certainly find all deontologies used as more than quick heuristics facepalmingly stupid.

1anonym11yWhat are some examples of highly WTF questions, in your opinion?
8taw11yThe most wtf cluster of questions is: * 6 I usually notice car number plates or similar strings of information. * 9 I am fascinated by dates. * 19 I am fascinated by numbers. * 29 I am not very good at remembering phone numbers. [reverse] * 41 I like to collect information about categories of things (e.g., types of cars, birds, trains, plants). * 49 I am not very good at remembering people's date of birth. [reverse] Another weird cluster is one about daily routine, which I feel strongly about but it doesn't feel that alien. The cluster about social awkwardness / not liking interaction with people seems to me like a self-reinforcing personal preference, and it doesn't seem at all that there would be two different kinds of people based on it. I'm not sure where questions about pretending and stories fall here - how is Asperger's/autism related to such geek activities as fiction, role playing games and such?
8PhilGoetz11yMemorizing phone numbers easily, doing arithmetic quickly, being fascinated by numbers, and being able to detect patterns in pictures rapidly, are traits that most people associate with high IQ, but that are highly associated with autism. And, if you take an IQ test, you'll find it's full of questions testing how quickly you can memorize numbers, do arithmetic, and recognize patterns in pictures! I think the idea that autism is correlated with intelligence is not the result of autism correlating with intelligence. It's the result of a cultural bias that doesn't understand what intelligence is, equates it with impressive "brute-force" autistic cognitive performance, and embeds that bias in our IQ tests. So if you test someone with autism spectrum, they score high, because the "IQ test" is partly an autism test!
0byrnema11yI think this is obvious. IQ tests for one dimension of what I would mean by "intelligence".
0PhilGoetz11yBut, maybe these tests have been refined by removing questions that don't correlate well with some independent measure of intelligence? What would be an independent measure of intelligence?
5LucasSloan11yThis question really threw me. Is it asking me if I like having romantic dinners or if temporal co-ordinates are interesting?
5thomblake11yI hadn't considered they might be talking about 'romantic dinners'.
3SilasBarta11yYeah, I first thought it meant romantic dinners, then realized that, since temporal coordinates have numerical content that autistics might be obsessed with, they probably meant the latter. (Also, they would have phrased a question about the former a bit differently.)
0taw11yThank you - that was my first thought too, and it really made no sense in the context, only after brief cognitive dissonance (or in Internet parlance, "a brief wtf") I realized what they were really asking about.
5Airedale11yAs others have mentioned, the test is teasing out certain behaviors correlated with the autism spectrum, rather than actually attempting to diagnose autism. I believe these questions are directed towards empathy-type issues that often show up alongside an autism spectrum diagnosis. Per this [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empathy#Autism_spectrum_disorders], the "interaction between empathy and autism spectrum disorders is a complex and ongoing field of research.” Some reports suggest that alexithymia [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alexithymia], an inability to feel and/or express emotions, often co-occurs with autism spectrum disorders. Alexithymia results in “few dreams or fantasies due to restricted imagination.” I haven’t looked at the original research/reports, but even if the co-occurrence of ASD and alexithymia is quite pronounced, at least some ASD individuals would not have alexithymia; and these individuals might enjoy fiction, role-playing, etc. But even among some ASD individuals who have alexithymia, I would guess that they might still like idea/science-based science fiction or enjoy role playing games for the world-building type aspect.
3anonym11yI guess I don't understand what you mean by 'wtf' then, because to my mind, 'highly-wtf' indicates a profound surprise at something that is outside the normal range of experience, but we all know that some people are good at remembering phone numbers, and some aren't, while some are good at remembering birth dates and others aren't. That is normal human variation. I don't see at all how "people who consistently reply so far unlike me to those wtf-ish questions must be seriously weird, not just differ in minor quantitative ways". Why would somebody be seriously weird because they do or don't have a good memory for phone numbers and birthdates?
2Blueberry11ySeconded. Why is that 'wtf'? Seems normal to me.
0taw11yNo, this is far outside what I consider human normality to easily remember birth dates and numbers. This is not "good memory", this is memory which works completely differently from how mine works.
8RichardKennaway11yYou seem to be equating "human normality" with "how mine works".
0taw11yYes, this is exactly what I'm doing, and I don't see this as a bad thing at all.
9RichardKennaway11yThe obvious reason that it is a bad thing is that a single example [http://lesswrong.com/lw/dr/generalizing_from_one_example/] contains no information about the range of variation in the population it is drawn from. You will know more if you look around you, and observe the actual range. But this is elementary stuff. Frankly, I am at a loss to find any interpretation of "I don't see this as a bad thing at all" that is compatible with being here in the first place. Tell us more.
5thomblake11yGeneralizing from one example [http://lesswrong.com/lw/dr/generalizing_from_one_example/]

My oldest kid was diagnosed with PDD; he's gotten quite a bit more functional since, but he has all of the above. I'll ask him to take the test when he grows up ;)

I've been told that I might be autism-spectrum by non-experts, but the counselors I've talked to suggest I have attention-deficit disorder. I got 20 on the test.

4AspiringRationalist9yPsychiatric diagnoses are the map, not the territory [http://wiki.lesswrong.com/wiki/The_map_is_not_the_territory]. Many have overlapping symptoms, likely because the mechanisms are not all that well-understood. I would not go so far as to say that the statement "$person has ADHD" is semantically null, but it conveys far less useful information than "$person is likely to benefit from Ritalin".
0RobinZ11yAddendum: My instincts point towards rule consequentialism - as a finite limited-information machine, optimizing my adaptations seems to me like generally a good way to win the better outcomes.
0ata11ySame here. I've been diagnosed (by multiple therapists/neuropsychologists/etc.) with ADD, while on multiple occasions, non-experts have thought I had (or might have had) Asperger's syndrome. Meanwhile, a few people with AS said that I seem fairly neurotypical to them. And I've been evaluated for it but not diagnosed. So I'm probably somewhere on the border (if there is a border). I agree with Will Newsome on the significant deviation of LW/SIAI aspie-types from the "one/a few obsessive interests" criterion. Until I was 13 or so, I did have a fairly single-minded focus on computers (programming and such), but my range of interests exploded around that time. And thanks to my ADD, I don't tend to stay interested in any one thing long enough to get much done on anything...

Your poll forces the respondent to pick at least one check-box in question two.

0Roko11yThanks, fixed.
0Jack11yWhy not include a question about people's views on morality?
0Roko11yBecause the poll only allows 5 questions in the free version, and I've had to use them all.
0Kaj_Sotala11yUse Mr. Poll [http://www.misterpoll.com/] instead? EDIT: Although I'm not sure if that one allows you to get the relationship between individual responders' questions, so might not be useful.
0Roko11yA built in LW poll/survey would be helpful, I believe that tricycle have that in the pipeline?
[-][anonymous]11y 0

Be careful when doing self-diagnose over the internet. And Asperger's may be going away, to be replaced by high-functioning autism, just another part of the spectrum.

If your childhood involved extreme trouble with other kids, getting bullied, picked last for sports team, etc, but not for an obvious reason such as being very fat or of a racial minority, then add some evidence-points to the "AS" hypothesis.

If someone was not bullied etc despite such "obvious" reasons, that would count against the AS hypothesis, correct?

So, in fact, any bullying is evidence for AS?

[-][anonymous]5y -2

don't trust the diagnoses to tell you everything about yourself