promoting human empathy through self-coddling self-diagnosis of shadow syndromes

November 5, 2007

A "how Asperger-y are you?" quiz is making the rounds. A friend of mine LJ'd her results and there was some interesting followup conversation. This was my (somewhat jumbled) response:
I emerged as rather more neurotypical than I expected taking this. I kind of like the idea of shadow syndromes; I *think* - but am absolutely not sure - that neurotypical folks can feel some hint of empathy w/ people w/ many conditions, that relatively few mental states and disorders are 100% foreign and distinct from the basic human condition: for myself, I've had incidents that have reminded me of the forgetfulness and lapses of alzheimers, the alienation and sensory overload of aspergers, the raging id and weird interaction of tourette's, the hardcore ebbs and flow of focus of ADD, the odd mixups and phonetic swaps of dyslexia. (especially the last one, but it's not nearly as trendy as it used to be.) Not to say that the difference is just one of quantity not quality, there is a giant world of difference with people for whom these "shadow" symptoms are controllable and workable and just an intermittent, lightweight "huh thats funny" and people for whom its a major, almost identity-defining and socially crippling characteristic -- and maybe this whole concept of similarity is more misleading than I realize, unrelated conditions similar only in surface aspect. But still, I'm not so down on potentially self-coddling self-diagnosis of shadow syndromes, if only how it can promote human empathy with those who absolutely have the condition.
So this weekend... Rockport work was rained out so my weekend was full of "creative leisure": some miscellaneous online tasks, starting work on this one intensely geekish game-project "CAoleslaw", writing yesterdays "sunrise/sunset" tool-- and then some great leisure-leisure, finishing the Xbox 360 game Bioshock (after a month or so of intermittent play), watching the Patriots come from behind to win this year's "Game of the Century of the Decade" despite some lousy officiating - I defer to the commentators, and when THEY say it was "tough call", my self-righteous ire gets up in arms. But generally I've decided I need to work on cultivating equanimity in my team's success or failure, especially seeing how little it has to do with me, or anything of major importance...

Quote of the Moment
"If you can't laugh at yourself, you're a fool."
--Entertainer Robert Goulet, RIP

Link of the Moment
A cute little WW2 book for kids about how they can help win the war. It ends with a pitch for buying bonds... what stunned me is that, according to an online inflation calculator, the $18.75 a bond costs is about $250 in today's money. Man!