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Autism Genes Creativity

Autism Genes Creativity

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Autism Genes Creativity

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  1. Autism Genes Creativity Wales 2nd International Autism Conference. 8 – 10th May 2006. Professor Michael Fitzgerald, Department of Psychiatry, Trinity College, Dublin 2.

  2. Genius and Creativity • Inventor as God e.g. Prometheus taught use of fire. • Romans spoke of genius of person or place. • Aetiology: • God touch. • Melancholy humour. • Muses.

  3. Genius and Madness • The Poet Dryden: Great wits are sure to madness near ally’d – and thin partitions do their bounds divide’. • Cesare Lombroso (1890): The man of genius who had various characteristics of degeneration’.

  4. Genius and Madness • Seneca: ‘No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness’. • Shakespeare: ‘The lunatic, the lover, and the poet – are of imagination all compact’.

  5. Mark Twain Comments on innate ‘individual differences are what make horses race’.

  6. Genes and Genius Multiple genes of small effect. Genes effect: • Traits of persistence. • Concentration. • Curiosity. • Certain types of stimulation (? Novelty).

  7. Temple Grandin ‘Genius is an abnormality’. ‘If science eliminated these genes maybe the whole world would be taken over by Accountants’.

  8. Oxford English Dictionary Defines: ‘Extraordinary capacity for imaginative creation . . . often contrasted with talent’.

  9. Act of Genius • Original. • Novel. • Bring about a change in our understanding of a subject.

  10. Asperger Savant • Special talent at high I.Q. • High creativity.

  11. Ask questions a child would ask. Ask fundamental questions. Curiosity. Focussed. Workaholic. Narrow interest. Visual immagination. Reject received wisdom. Persistence. High energy / motivation. Asperger

  12. Autistic Intelligence • Unconvertional. • Unorthodox. • ‘Pure and original, akin to the intelligence of true creativity’ - Hans Asperger. • Musical. • Abstract and logical.

  13. Extreme Male Brain and Autism • Asperger 1944 extreme form of maleness. • Autism more common in males. • Folk physics (Baron-Cohen): • Good hominid evolution. • Tool use, hunting skills, construction skills. • Engineering.

  14. Male Brain • Simonton: In the annals of science ‘fewer than 1% of all notables are female’. No female equivalent of Newton. • Baron-Cohen: Female superiority / Folk Psychology. Male superiority / Folk Physics. • Without skills of the male brain we would still be at the stage before the wheel was invented.

  15. Male Brain Lateralisation (Schultz) • Males tend to be more strongly lateralised for functions than females and adjusting for body size to have larger brains. • Males therefore show increased modularity and decreased interconnectedness that is dictated by the physical constraints imposed by their larger brains.

  16. Male Brain Lateralisation (Schultz) • Schultz states that ‘the larger brain in persons with Asperger’s syndrome would be increased modularity of function with less overlap and integration of functions perhaps resulting in a lack of central coherence.

  17. Larger / Heavier Brains (Happe) • Increased cell packing in certain areas. • Abnormal number of neurons (nerve cells) due to failure of pruning. • Processing with excess neurons could result in a failure to process information for gist with increased capacity for exemplary based processing. • Embracement of riches at neural level.

  18. Central Coherence (Happe) • Processing incoming information in context. • Pulling information together for higher order meaning (often) at the expense of detail (i.e. gist / global processing). This leads to (Sigman and Capps): • Problems of joint attention and theory of mind. • Preservation of sameness. • Repetitive and stereotyped movements. • Restricted range of interests.

  19. Evolutionary Psychology Mechanically orientated minds would be particularly suited from an evolutionary point of view with their invention of tools etc..

  20. Hans Christian Andersen had Asperger’s syndrome. Biography by Jackie Wullschlager Father: • Shoemaker, odd man, eccentric. • Unpractical and naïve. • Unhappy depressed man. • Read to Hans Christian Andersen. • Silent and loner. • Felt devil visited him and scratched his arm.

  21. Hans Christian Andersen Mother: • Strange but robust. • Into trolls, ghosts, and fortune-telling. • Stuck pieces of St. Johns Wart into ceiling and from their growth decided whether people would live long or die soon. • Her sister ran a brothel.

  22. Hans Christian Andersen Paternal Grandfather: • Made odd carvings – men with beasts heads. • “Insane”. • Wandered in woods covered in garlands, singing top of voice followed by shrieking children. • Was very visual and loved reading and hoarded coins.

  23. Hans Christian Andersen Features of Hans Christian Andersen: • Loner. • Clumsy. • Bullied in school. • Singular dreamy child. • Over sensitive.

  24. Hans Christian Andersen Features of Hans Christian Andersen: • Few ordinary childhood pleasures. • Felt a changeling. • Depressed with suicidal thoughts. • Identity diffusion. • Felt different.

  25. Hans Christian Andersen Features of Hans Christian Andersen: • Art saved him from suicide. • Autistic restlessness at school. • Autistic wanderer. • Autistic persistence.

  26. Hans Christian Andersen School: • Teacher said: • ‘Nothing good can come of you’. • ‘You’re a stupid boy, who will never be any good’. • ‘No one will ever read what you write’.

  27. Hans Christian Andersen School: • Problems with grammar and spelling. • Poor school performance. • Severely mistreated and humiliated by staff and pupils leading to elements of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – recurrent traumatic dreams of this period to end of his life.

  28. Hans Christian Andersen School: • Hypersensitive. • Loner and very egotistical. • Lack of social know-how. Lack of empathy for others. Lack of theory of others minds.

  29. Hans Christian Andersen Interests and Work: • Voracious reader and compulsive autobiographer. • Massive autistic imagination. • Extremely visual.

  30. Hans Christian Andersen Autistic Fearfulness: • Death anxiety – death in many stories. • Fear of being buried alive. • Fear of dark and insanity.

  31. Hans Christian Andersen Social Behaviour: • Archetypal social outsider / loner. • Sexually uncertain – diffuse sexual identity – masturbation only sexual outlet. • Fear of intimacy e.g. with Collin. • Related better to children like Lewis Carroll.

  32. Hans Christian Andersen Social Behaviour: • Naïve and socially immature. • Tactless (and self destructive) in his attack on the powerful Johan Ludwig Heibergthe playwright. • Grossly overstayed his welcome with Charles Dickens. Saw himself like Moses in terms of social relationships i.e. not ever being able to make an intimate one.

  33. Hans Christian Andersen Narrow Interests: • Compulsive writer. • Merged with characters in his stories. • Into paper cut-outs. • Fascinated by language.

  34. Hans Christian Andersen • Control: Very controlling. • Nonverbal: Awkward movements – gauche, peculiar, strange, ungainly, slouching, ugly, gawping and clumsy. • Narcissism: Could be misdiagnosed as Narcissistic Personality Disorder – grandiosity and hunger for praise.

  35. Hans Christian Andersen Identity Diffusion: • Poor sense of self, fragmented self, no clear sexual identity (homosexaul / heterosexual confusion). • “Alien” like many of his fictional characters. • Wanted to be fully human like W. B. Yeats.

  36. Hans Christian Andersen Identity Diffusion: • Hans Christian Andersen was the man without a shadow – “inhuman” in a way. • Hans Christian Andersen wrote ‘I cannot recall my own features’.

  37. Hans Christian Andersen Identity Diffusion: • Novels fail because characters not sufficiently human. • Mary Russell Mitford the novelist described him as ‘a toad-eater, a hanger-on in great houses’.

  38. Hans Christian Andersen Stories: • Weak central coherence – able to see details others miss e.g. Emperors New Clothes. • Autistic superego – seen in stories about good and evil. • Similarities to Lewis Carroll. • Elizabeth Barrett Browning’s son Pen said ‘he is rather like his own ugly duck, but his mind has developed into a swan’.

  39. Outcome of Asperger’s syndrome / High Functioning Autism • Ludwig Wittgenstein (Tractatus – Philosophical investigations, depression, suicidal ideas). • Isaac Newton – One paranoid psychotic episode. • W. B. Yeats – Late marriage, special wife of persons with Asperger’s syndrome (wife – mother of person with Asperger’s syndrome).

  40. Outcome of Asperger’s syndrome / High Functioning Autism • Bruce Chatwin – AIDS. • Vincent van Gogh (+ Bipolar). • George Orwell – Poor care of health.

  41. Outcome of Asperger’s syndrome / High Functioning Autism • Simone Weil – Eating disorder. • Erik Satie – Alcoholism. • Andy Warhol – Neglect of health. • Ramanujan – Neglect of health.

  42. Arts / Asperger’s syndrome / Creativity • Herman Melville. • Lewis Carroll. • A. J. Ayer. • Ludwig van Beethoven.

  43. Arts / Asperger’s syndrome / Creativity • Bella Bartok. • Glen Gould. • L. S. Lowry.

  44. Unstoppable Brilliance Prof. Michael Fitzgerald. First Annual Hans Asperger Memorial Lecture. In Association with Committee of International Asperger’s Year. Trinity College Dublin. 10th April 2006.

  45. Genius and Creativity • Inventor as God e.g. Prometheus taught use of fire. • Romans spoke of genius of person or place. • Aetiology: • God touch. • Melancholy humour. • Muses.

  46. Genius (from Latin) ‘The Male Spirit of a household’. Genius also from ingenius which means innate ability.

  47. Genius and Madness • The Poet Dryden: ‘Great wits are sure to madness near ally’d – and thin partitions do their bounds divide’. • Cesare Lombroso (1890): ‘The man of genius who had various characteristics of degeneration’.

  48. Genius and Madness • Seneca: ‘No great genius has ever existed without some touch of madness’. • Shakespeare: ‘The lunatic, the lover, and the poet – are of imagination all compact’.

  49. Mark Twain Comments on innate ‘individual differences are what make horses race’.

  50. Kant Kant said: ‘Mysteriously imparted to certain artists by nature, and dies with the person’.