Challenges of (some areas of) neurological diversity

A few days ago, I saw a neuroscientist whose name I won’t mention tweet about the “dark triad”, which is not an existing condition but an old-fashioned police term that works well in books and films.

He followed it up with a tweet on “snakes in suits”.

If he was someone’s abused husband, I would have understood, but coming from a scientist who is supposed to be working toward greater understanding and solutions, it was disappointing.

And I haven’t even mentioned yet that he was talking within the context of women and attraction, (not in a scientific way).

“Hollywood here I come” he may have been thinking?

Neurodiversity is a multidimensional space. It includes autism, dyslexia and synesthesia, but also whether you are good at languages or music or maths.

The videos below give you an idea of some of the more challenging aspects of neurodiversity.

There is a TED talk in which a neuroscientist mentions that psychopathy can result from being exposed to too much of certain chemicals (hormones) during pregnancy (in utero). (If someone can tell me which TED talk it is, I’d be grateful. I’ve been trying to find it again. I think it may have had a New Zealand connection or something like that. It was a talk by a man.)

There are also indications that psychopathy can result from severe child abuse.

Some people will read this as an “excuse” and will say that not everyone who has a horrific childhood will go on to do terrible things, which is true, of course.

Repetitive horrific abuse – cruelty – can affect a very young, developing brain. Does not have to.

It is also true that some psychopaths make up that they were abused, scientists who know about this stuff say.

The good news is that we used to think that neurons were not capable of healing or even forming after a certain age (young adulthood). That is not true.

The science and medical knowledge of the brain have lagged behind on the science and medicine of other organs, but are catching up.

That the brain has much greater plasticity than we were aware of may mean that one day we will be able to fix broken brains. Not by stuffing people with pills but by stimulating the brain to do things differently.

We are all our biology. I cannot even order my brain to become a speaker of fluent French or Spanish overnight or turn myself into a composer. I am fairly neurotypical (boring, yes) and I cannot order myself to wake up with a psychopathic brain. So why do we keep expecting the reverse?

There is, however, a lot of great stuff we will learn and be able to do with the brain in the future and that will be good news for all of us.

Warning: These videos contain triggers, notably the fourth one.

This last guy, he intuitively and instantly gives me the creeps. That is not the kind of guy I would ever want to encounter anywhere. That is the kind of condition we clearly urgently need to find solutions for.

Perhaps we will one day be able to diagnose those particular children at birth and coax their brains into forming the parts that contain compassion and “brakes” in neurotypicals.

If you wonder why I talk about this kind of stuff, well, I learned a few things the hard way after I came to the U.K. and I am still learning a lot the hard way, not necessarily always because I choose to but because I have to.

In addition, I’m often driven by scientific curiosity and I like learning more. The more you learn, the more questions you have.

I found that a lot of the problems with some forms of neurodiversity seem to be created by neurotypicals, just like society has created many hindrances for people who use wheelchairs and mobility scooters but also because we have bad mental health hygiene.

We brush our teeth obediently, but we don’t do much for our mental health. If people with narcissistic personality disorders (NPD, which is not the same as being called a narcissist) can knock us off our feet so easily, maybe we neurotypicals could look into how we could become a bit more stable.

People with NPD are always on an emotional seesaw, as far as I can tell. One little thing we say or do can cause them to start lashing out at us verbally because what we did or said undermines their sense of security.

We neurotypicals could learn how not to get flustered by someone else’s verbal torrents, perhaps. We could learn how to observe those verbal torrents as if it were the tide rolling in or out or the breeze making the leaves of a tree rustle.

Instead, we feed the torrent and sustain it and reinforce it.

(You can see this in “I, psychopath”.)

I know that these are very easy words to write but hard to put into practice for most people.

A second type of problem is also created by neurotypicals. If you watch “I, psychopath”, you will eventually get to a section in which Sam Vaknin explains what he did to the son of a holocaust survivor. A child. It was a form of what is known as sadistic stalking.

Even if you’re an adult victim, if you try to explain this kind of experience, you are the one who will be considered the problem. That way, society victimises the victims further and rewards and supports psychopathic behaviours.

Now you may need to watch this:

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