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:
I just read that top jazz saxophonist Soweto Kinch was stopped from taking his seat in first class on a train in spite of his ticket. He’s filed a formal complaint. He’s remarkably cool about it.
(He was talking about it on Twitter, I saw, but he’s off to Barbados now, to play. He’s British, by the way, so he does not have to worry about not being allowed back into the country like the rest of us so he has that going for him, thankfully.)
It hammered home a harsh truth for me.
I should have filed a formal complaint every time I ran into abusive shit in the UK, also when it was done anonymously. Thing is, initially, I was so utterly stunned, stood with my mouth wide open, jaw on my shoes every time because I had never ever experienced the kind of abuse I later got used to, in the UK.
And then I got used to it. I am migrant. I learned to expect it. It became normal.
I’d have been really busy writing letters, though, if I had filed a complaint every time. It is not always deliberate abuse. Sometimes, it is plain sloppiness. The result of people not giving a shit.
Still, looking back, I can’t believe that I learned to take so much shit.
This is such an abusive society. But I am not allowed to say it out loud, am I?
And only a few months ago, this happened to him. Watch the video. Turns out that another customer saw it and posted about it on TripAdvisor without having a clue even that it was Soweto Kinch. (One can ask why she didn’t speak up at the time.)
I’m genuinely at a loss to explain this one… just wanted to order a pizza 🤷🏾♂️
Waitress rudely ignores me.
Nobody offered to serve me.
— Soweto Kinch (@sowetokinch) August 16, 2019
Does Julia Roberts know that her face is being used to promote blatant racism?
“Dalian Atkinson: Police officer charged with murdering footballer. A police officer has been charged with the murder of retired footballer Dalian Atkinson who died after being Tasered.” https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-50333081
I mention him in Lecture 16 of my latest course.
The more I read about variations in neurological makeup, the more confusing it becomes at times. Turns out that I really had no idea what autism is.
(Until relatively recently, I’d vaguely thought that autistic people are shy and quiet, withdrawn.)
I’d never heard of PDA. I knew next to nothing about Asperger’s.
But reading up a bit on Asperger’s made me wonder what distinguishes it from borderline personality disorder (BPD). (I have some ideas about that but almost no experience. I’ll come back to that.)
Turns out I am not the only one!
Wow. If that is the case… That raises lots of questions. I’d already heard – and I understand why – that people with Asperger’s are sometimes mistaken for people with a narcissistic personality disorder (NPD) with or without psychopathy or sociopathy. Wow.
And I can imagine that any condition with a Jekyll & Hyde aspect – which apparently Asperger’s can have – can make people with such conditions wonder if they are bipolar. Bipolar disorder is probably not well understood either (certainly by people who don’t have it or don’t have anyone with it in their close surroundings?). Wow.
What I have picked up after admittedly only reading a little bit is that autistic people can display physical symptoms and they do not occur in the other conditions, to my knowledge. Things like clumsiness, “flapping of hands” and avoidance of eye contact. BPD does not have that. Neither does NPD. But I also get the impression that not all autistic people have these physical manifestations.
When you read a lot about these things, and this may particularly hold for the spouses of people with some of these conditions (or in general, people who’ve endured years of abuse/gaslighting and isolation), you can find yourself mentally checking if any of it might apply to yourself… That too can be confusing, I bet.
For a moment, it made me wonder what I thought I was doing when I wrote the book that I wrote some time ago. Luckily, I do have the answer to that question. (Phew.)
Here is some information about autism and Blue Badges, for those of you who have caught a bit of British news about that recently:
This is a complicated matter.
A few days ago, I received an e-mail about autistic people in the state of New York not wanting marks on driving licences of autistic people, out of fear of stigmatization as driving licences also serve as ID. In most circumstances, disclosing that you are autistic at the same time serves no purpose. It could be a bit like disclosing you have aids.
In the UK, the
“DVLA has … clarified that you do not have to disclose your autism diagnosis to the DVLA if it doesn’t affect your ability to drive safely, and their online advice to drivers and medical professionals has now been changed to reflect this.” (30 Aug 2019)
Yesterday, I received a petition in my in-box against adding an indication on someone’s driving licence – in the state of New York – that the person is autistic.
I am torn over that.
More confusingly, the e-mail asks me both to help support and oppose the bill and refers a letter in response – by autistic people, that is nowhere to be found (because the link to the document went .
When I searched for it, by clicking on links in the e-mail and clicking on other links, I did find it, here: https://hennykdotcom.files.wordpress.com/2019/10/assembly-bill-a08711-transportation-google-docs-1.pdf.
And upon reading that letter, and the entire e-mail, it becomes clear that the word “support” (the bill) in the e-mail should have been “oppose”. A typo.
I can see both sides and I don’t know what the golden compromise would be.
Discrimination is not a good thing.
But it’s happened – and not just once – that police officers unleashed a lot of violence at someone who was (or still is, if the person survived) autistic. Or simply deaf. Because police officers didn’t realise it.
Would an indication on someone’s driving licence help? On some occasions, yes, I am sure. In many other circumstances, not at all.
For autistic people, I can imagine it might help more if they simply call one of their friends or relatives whenever they encounter misunderstandings. Would that work in practice? I don’t know. Police officers often act first, ask questions later. Someone trying to take a phone out of his pocket, it could easily be misinterpreted as the person going for a gun, in some countries.
It wouldn’t work for deaf people as they might not even be aware that one or more police officers are calling out or yelling.
The main problem appears to be that driving licences are also used as ID in many situations in which disclosing that someone is autistic serves no good purpose, certainly in the States, where most people have no passport as Americans have a giant country at their disposal and rarely have a need to cross an international border.
Any good ideas? Is this a real problem or does this kind of stuff happen just as often to people who are not autistic?
Wearing dorky glasses or having become a bit shy because of some things that happened to you does not mean that you’re autistic. As far as I can tell, people who are autistic have brains that work differently and that makes them look at the world differently. Autistic people may lack abilities that other people have in varying degrees (social skills) but they also have abilities that others lack and they’re certainly far from “stupid” or “naive” or whatever else may be said about that. I too find autism very hard to understand, but I watched a video a few days ago that I first found very confusing, but when I thought about it some more, it became highly enlightening. Maybe it is not that dissimilar from, say, synesthesia (in which the senses overlap and words printed in black and white can have colors or pitch, for example).
I just received an e-mail from Henny Kupferstein that was an eye opener. I knew that she works with autistic children via music, often using services like Skype. I had no idea, however, that she too is autistic!
As far as I know, I’ve never met anyone who is autistic or at least interacted with the person extensively. So I’ve been wondering what it is like to be autistic and I’ve watched videos that weren’t very enlightening to me, other than to make me realize that autistic people deal with the world in a different way, and find ways to deal with the expectations of mainstream people.
I’d previously gotten the impression, from Temple Grandin’s TED Talk, that autistic people have different abilities, special abilities.
In this video, Henny explains in detail how the visual/mathematical world works for her and that it is a thing of great beauty.
Now I understand it a lot better!
Many people seem to think that the idea of euthanasia or suicide only plays in the minds of weak people with wonderful lives who experience a mere day of darkness or who run into some difficulty such as a bill they can’t pay or some other challenge that “strong” people would overcome.
“The government is to spend £10m on arming more officers with electric stun guns, despite police chiefs and human rights groups voicing strong concerns about the impact the weapons have on trust in the police.”
Who makes these crazy decisions?
“Orangutan with human rights to begin new life in Florida”
A reminder… The International Commission on the Clinical Use of Human Germline Genome Editing seeks information in response to its call for evidence.
See the link below.
Responses are due by 27 September. That’s three days from now.
Information submitted to the Commission will inform its deliberations as it develops a framework identifying scientific, medical, and ethical requirements to consider as part of a potential pathway from research to clinical use — if society concludes that heritable human genome editing applications are acceptable. The Commission’s report is expected to be released in 2020. Several question in the call invite broad input, while others are more technical in nature. You are encouraged to address those questions most relevant to your particular area(s) of expertise. When appropriate, providing citations and/or links to evidence in support of your responses is greatly appreciated.
The International Commission on the Clinical Use of Human Germline Genome Editing seeks information in response to its call for evidence.
See the link below.
Responses are due by 27 September. Information submitted to the Commission will inform its deliberations as it develops a framework identifying scientific, medical, and ethical requirements to consider as part of a potential pathway from research to clinical use — if society concludes that heritable human genome editing applications are acceptable. The Commission’s report is expected to be released in 2020. Several question in the call invite broad input, while others are more technical in nature. You are encouraged to address those questions most relevant to your particular area(s) of expertise. When appropriate, providing citations and/or links to evidence in support of your responses is greatly appreciated.
Saifullah turns 72 on 17th August 2019. Tomorrow. He could die in Guantánamo without ever being charged with a crime. He’s been there for 15 years! Help give hope by adding your message of support. https://t.co/mXhu2kuYaa
— Angelina Souren (@littlesandgrain) August 16, 2019
How rape has become ‘decriminalised’ (31 July 2019)
Inequality. Men being treated as “higher beings”.
Never had any problems with landlords in the Netherlands. Never.
Had three in Florida. The first and the third were fine, but the second one was not and his attorney was rumoured to have mafia ties, I kid you not. But I heard that later. I think it was actually a legal aid lawyer who told me that who I talked with later, long after I’d moved out and his lawyer started pestering me. I’ll spare you the details.
My third landlord was the husband of the person I volunteered with on Saturdays and sometimes Sundays. (He was a builder, built huge places, the way they are in Florida. Nice guy. I think he was in the US Army for a while, and they lived in places like Morocco. ) She stopped by one day – to bring me two birds – and was appalled and suggested I move in to one of their places. They owned a small apartment building that was mostly used by snowbirds (people from for example Canada who take winter vacations in Florida).
Some time later, I moved to Britain.
In Southampton, I knew several landlords. (Only one of them was mine.)
One said that only educated people were decent human beings, and I was too shocked to respond. He called tenants who rang him because the washing machine or heating wasn’t working (properly) “bad tenants”. This was not my own landlord, but someone I met within a business context and was friendly with for a while. Wasn’t actually a bad guy at all, strangely enough.
I also knew one who proudly told me how he had tricked an elderly woman with beginning Alzheimer’s out of her flat, I kid you not.
On another occasion, the same guy was talking with me about a new building he was constructing and then added that it did not have to be very good “as it is only for tenants”.
In Portsmouth, I’ve met two who dump rubbish on other people’s front courts and patios. I caught one red-handed and the other one admitted it.
I have principles.
If I can help make things better for people who come after me who are less strong in some way – okay, except physically as I am getting old and I am feeling it – I will try to do that. And that baffles the hell out of (most) Brits. But that is not my problem.
These two Dutch headlines were in one of my e-mails from this morning.
One talks about studies that show (brain activity) that men and women do NOT have different responses with regard to sex.
The other one talks about psychiatric patients being kept in chains in Indonesia.
Both topics are part of my latest course.
However, it can come across like that on the disadvantaged side of exclusive solidarity:
I find this talk very enlightening, also with regard to my own situation as a migrant in the UK. I will have to do some thinking about how I can apply this knowledge.
What Rebecca Saxe calls parochialism, I call exclusive solidarity (as opposed to inclusive solidarity). Rebecca Saxe’s talk also explains that scarcity – imagined or real, as opposed to having an abundance mindset – causes it. Parochialism. When you’re afraid that there won’t be enough for all, you will only want to look after your own.
In connection with this topic, this book by Kathleen Taylor, another neuroscientist, is very enlightening as well:
In my latest course, I also talk about stigmas, including the fact that I unsuspectingly became burdened with at least five stigmas after I moved from Amsterdam to England. It’s shocked and hampered me greatly, and it also taught me a lot.
My most embarrassing moments in this respect?
Finding myself wanting to emphasize that I am not eastern European “or something like that”.
Because even worse than being seen as a migrant was being seen as a migrant from eastern Europe “or something like that”, when I was living in Southampton.
“I am not one of them. I am one of you, I am one of us.”
I still cringe when I think back to it.
Nobody is immune to the destructive self-perpetuating power of a stigma.
Watch this and notice that one of these TBI patients believed that his family members were out to kill him in the period immediately after his accident:
… on the tolerance, compassion and understanding spectrum:
Taking a twitter break (mostly) while I try and finish the book – “Stigma Machine”- which accompanies this wonderful gif — ( a gif I very much enjoyed designing in collaboration with graphic artist Tom Morris https://t.co/bosmPpuHQv ) pic.twitter.com/yO0z6YOObC
— Imogen Tyler (@ProfImogenTyler) November 30, 2018
The topic of pain is part of the course. Want to know more?
Take a look at videos from the 2015 conference Visible Solutions: How Neuroimaging Helps Law Re-Envision Pain (on Vimeo).
Most Many Brits despise women – and I am correcting that view, the idea that women deserve nothing but contempt. (I can dream!)
The past few days, I have been going around telling women that they should be proud of themselves, that they’re human beings, not punching bags or trash, as most have been told most of their lives.
I have also reminded a few men of the fact that Britain is officially the world’s most (openly) hostile place for women and asked a few to teach their sons not to beat up on women. (Figuratively and/or literally.)
Some observations follow.
- A very impressive young woman along Kingston Road took out her earbuds to listen, told me that she works in the military, locally. Her male colleagues treat her like she’s a 5-year-old. Her digital skills are likely a thousand times better than theirs – in view of what she does – but they have dicks and, hey, that is all that matters, in Britain. She also said that nobody here talks with anybody. That was the first thing she said, actually. (True! People here mainly communicate through violence, deception and threats.)
She told me to “keep fighting”. She does not let any of it get to her, she said. She meant it, I could see that and she impressed the hell out of me. Hats off to her! But she fully agreed that Britain is horrible in this respect, that women are seen as less than men and as having to be subservient to men. Her I wanted to hug and give a protective yet also very impressive superwoman cloak that she can wear all her life. (It does not need to be visible, such a cloak.)
She made my day, but I also felt very sad for the abuse she has to take while at work. I should add that when I addressed her, I was mainly still fuming over the relentless and immensely destructive abuse I have experienced myself, as a female professional and business owner in Britain.
The US Has Officially Started Using CRISPR on Humans
On Monday, a University of Pennsylvania spokesperson confirmed to NPR that the institution’s researchers have officially started using CRISPR on humans — marking a national first that could lead to a more widespread use of the technology in the future. Thus far, CRISPR has been used to treat two cancer patients, both of whom had relapsed after traditional cancer treatment.
Joe Pinsker in The Atlantic:
“These mothers and fathers live in a world in which the mark of good parenting is substantially tied to where one’s children are admitted.”
Read more: A Scandal Fit for a Win-at-All-Costs Society
What’s your opinion?