Category Archives: Essays

The Cognitive-Behavioural Interpretative Isolationism of Autism and Asperger Syndrome – Part 1: What the “Theory of Mind” doesn’t understand about the Autistic Mind…

 

Part 1- What the “Theory of Mind” doesn’t understand about the Autistic Mind

By Romuald Feldmann© FDScMH, LTh(Hons), CertEd,

PgCert Special Psychopedagogy,

PgCert Autism & Asperger’s, QTS

On the back cover of the seminal “Neurotribes” (Silberman, 2015) the inquisitive eye should spot a hidden gem of apocalyptic proportions, basically stating that “the future of our society depends on our understanding” of what autism is. The statement is so powerful and frightening or maybe totally insane, that when I first blogged it, it attracted virtually no likes or comments. I will attempt to better understand why.

Surprisingly for a pathologized, general view of autism, Attwood (2002) mentioned research by Hans Asperger (1906-1980) in identifying “a consistent pattern of abilities and behaviour”.

The battleground becoming contention is therefore seeing and accepting the autism spectrum as a pattern of abilities or disabilities, branching itself further into seemingly endless explanatory theories and terminology wars, which I will attempt to deconstruct and re-construct from a personalised academic and philosophical perspective.

1.The Theory of Mind (ToM):

‘[…] ToM is the ability to put oneself into someone else’s shoes, to imagine their thoughts and feelings, so as to be able to make sense of and predict their behaviour. It is sometimes called mind-reading or mentalising.‘ (Baron-Cohen, 2008, 57)

Expanding further on his own statement, Baron-Cohen summarises on the same page, that ToM can be thought of as a theory which explains that a neurotypical (NT) person is normally/usually able to explain and predict other people’s behaviour, thus leaving autistics unable to use the ToM to interpret or anticipate the actions and/or intentions of individuals whom they have contact with, and therefore mind-blindly disadvantaged.

In my opinion, -and leaving aside a random personal thought about the fairly entertainment industry resembling concept of ‘mind-reading’-, Baron-Cohen and other scientists considering this theory, have attempted through ToM to understand why autistics seem unable to mentalise/mind-read, having observed NT and autistic children/adults, comparing their reactions mainly from an observable, neurotypical-behaviour perspective, without focusing on the much more important, individually specific, selectively volitional, pre-behavioural aspect. Because regardless of age, autistic individuals may possess a more functional capacity to individually and gradually select -or not-, a momentary focus of attention, leaving a NT observant genuinely mind-blind to the fact that autistic pre-decisional mental analytics are de facto behind what could be perceived as obnoxiousness or an inability of perception. However, especially at early stages of individual development, autistics are less aware of the reasons why mentally they may decide to fixate on some encountered aspects while actively ignoring any others, even if someone tries to divert their fixated attention, oftentimes provoking as a result, unexpected reactions commonly called shut- or meltdowns. Depending on an autistic individual’s level of what I propose to be identified as a Neurobiological Socio-Interconnectivity Predisposition (NSIP), unfortunately mistaken sometimes for other, valid learning disabilities (LD) such as ‘congenital abnormalities of the frontal lobes’ (Attwood, 2002), adult autistics may decide to learn (or not), to mentally re-negotiate maintaining, or shifting the focus of their fixation, identified by Murray et al (2005) as monotropism.

Because each individual is entitled to have someone else’s undivided attention, as much as the individual(s) from whom they expect such attention, decide for reasons they should not be expected or forced to disclose, to grant it or not. Autistics have the inalienable right to ignore at least as much as we are oftentimes ignored, without any obligation whatsoever to provide a reason for our choice to socially interact or prefer to remain asocial.

(to be continued…)

 

-Attwood, T., (2002). Asperger’s Syndrome – A Guide for Parents and Professionals. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers

-Baron-Cohen, S., (2008). Autism and Asperger Syndrome. London: OUP

-Murray, Dinah; Lesser, M.; Lawson, W (1 May 2005). “Attention, monotropism and the diagnostic criteria for autism”  Autism. 9 (2): 139–56.

-Silberman, S., (2015). Neurotribes. London: Allen & Unwin

 

 

 

 

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Dark past: Latvia blocks Nazi Holocaust exhibition in Paris due to image fears…

http://rt.com/news/224591-latvia-blocks-holocaust-exhibition/

” Latvia has cancelled a Holocaust exhibition in Paris for the fear of tarnishing the country’s image as the Baltic nation currently holds the EU presidency. The exposition was to tell the story of child prisoners at a concentration camp near Riga.

The display was organized by historians from Latvia, Russia and Belarus and was scheduled to open on January 25 under the title ‘Hijacked childhood. Victims of Holocaust as seen by the child prisoners of Nazi concentration camp Salaspils.’ Salaspils is southeast of the Latvian capital, Riga.

The exhibition was all set to open its doors, however, there proved to be a last minute hitch: the Latvian delegation to the United Nations Organization for Education, Science and Culture (UNESCO) decided to block the planned project. One of the organizers, the head of a Moscow-based history group, said that the decision was explained by that it would “harm Latvia’s image during its EU presidency.”
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Wow…
Latvia seems to ho have arrived at an Orwellian understanding of its present, from where a controlled past could influence their future image…
What’s more shocking, is the UNESCO’s stepping us as a global event/thought-police, forbidding an international commemorative event, seemingly more preoccupied with Latvia’s PR stunt, than the universal right to remember.
I feel abused, raped, tortured, reduced to misery by powers better preoccupied with “Latvia’s image during its EU presidency” than with the dark history of a country which tolerated the worst form of war crimes, the organised, systematic murder of children, in the very heart of their lands…

It is in moments as such when the tears choking my breath remind me of the shame to have been born human.

‘The world is too dangerous to live in – not because of the people who do evil but because of the people who sit and let it happen’. – Albert Einstein

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Hypatia of Alexandria and NASA

materialism, mysticism and art

Rachel Weisz as Hypatia in 'Agora' Rachel Weisz as Hypatia in ‘Agora’

The NASA website, appropriately and to their credit, has a page on the Neoplatonist Hypatia.

The text states:

‘Sixteen hundred years ago, Hypatia became one of the world’s leading scholars in mathematics and astronomy. Hypatia’s legendary knowledge, modesty, and public speaking ability flourished during the era of the Great Library of Alexandria. Hypatia is credited with contributions to geometry and astrometry, and she is thought instrumental in the development of the sky-measuring astrolabe. “Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all,” Hypatia is credited with saying. “To teach superstitions as truth is a most terrible thing.'”

If only the scientists at NASA were to study and understand Hypatia’s philosophy and developments on it by others, particularly Hegel and then Marx and Engels, who stood it on its feet in a material world, they would…

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“Animal instincts”, the universal commonsense standard of morality…

It started to dawn on me that I, and most of us with a keen sense of right and wrong, were actually wrong, insofar as attempting to isolate morality as a concept to humans alone, when it does actually exist as the most basic and utterly common quality of all members of the so called “animal kingdom”, to which I will specifically refer as to all those possessing a living soul, to the various degrees provided by the possibilities existent within their own kind. Because against all the odds upheld by defendants of the existence of morality, theists, atheists and agnostics alike, morality does exist within the display of behavioural characteristics, throughout the animal realm.
How otherwise would anyone want to categorise the loving tenderness of mating rituals, the soft touch of a lionesses’ fangs when moving her cubs, or the unwillingness of some primates to let go of their dead ones?
Haven’t we become biased – under influence or not – by our own, perceived superiority, which seems to be nothing more than the exclusive place we have atop the “food chain”?
Oh, how blinded we have become by our computer aided intellects, that we have come to believe that our “social interaction” is in any way more complex and developed compared to other species, when actually history seems to be proving at every turn of it, that we are so much more inferior and degenerate than any other ones…
Who else in the world would think to expand their “lebensraum” to the genocidal detriment of closer or even remote neighbours?

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No “inferior” hoards of any animal would “unite” under the sceptre of a megalomaniac poised to “rule the world”!
Do you want me to give you some examples from our own “superior” history, or I better leave you to quietly lick the fresh, bleeding wounds of your humiliated egos?
The more I think, the more I found examples of species which could by their aptitudes and abilities, try conquering all beneath them, forcing them into some privately peculiar forms of “development”, through international monetary funded rackets – otherwise known as slavery -, or “domesticate” them into cheap labour force; yet besides their nutritional needs, these species don’t organise “crusades” in the name of salvaging their own version of what social coexistence should be.
I have never heard of the “great ant bible” in which ant-Solomon the Great gave antlings advice such as “consider the humans for their…”; while we, humans, in one of mankind’s greatest pieces of “wisdom” literature, find ourselves needing to mind the wisdom of ants…
We pride ourselves to have reached the stars, yet we have no idea what gravity truly is, and gaze in awe at the geometrical ingenuity of spiders and bees.
We fight over who’s right and wrong over philosophical ineptitudes, but fail to understand that a full stomach on a summer evening’s breeze under one’s own roof, should cause us to sing happier than the most humble of birds at the top of everybody’s trees.
We have lost the global count of starving children, yet still uphold stupid laws against “bigamy” and “polygamy”, not to mention the “moral” upheavals about gender-intimately where some people fancy their sexual fulfilment…
Have further fun, my friends. I’m mentally out of this stupid incarceration of my dignity. I’m in no way neither better, nor worse than the rest of my other, soul owning neighbours.
I’ll still eat my commonsense dictated, morally wrong BBQ steaks, with commonsense dictated morally right mashed potatoes, enriched with lots of commonsense dictated, morally questionable butter…
And oh, I’ll stay away from both lions and ants, as I don’t really want to become neither one’s meal, nor the other one’s dwelling place.
Because that’s just simple commonsense…

7th of April 4th, 1984…

– On Social Equality and Production –

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“Capitalism is the legitimate racket of the ruling class.” Al Capone

Unfortunately, life as we know it, seems to have never been at the ideal stage of what today would be called “individual, self-sustaining” economy.
Individuals making virtually all of our world’s societies, “belong” to states, or state controlled institutions, being branded from cradle to grave as “citizens”, free by definition, slaves by all means.
As previously discussed, it would take approximately from 24 hours to a week’s time, to make everyone on this planet rich; from toddler to centennial all could be rich by just tipping the world’s financial balance on behalf of the working masses. Struggle to live would become a historical past, consumption would soar, skyrocketing over our wildest dreams, to last nevertheless only as long as the last item on the last shelf would go into someone’s basket. On that dreadful day, any such a utopia shall turn into an Armageddon competing Apocalypse…
Mankind would quickly realise that behind the empty shelves there are no more labourers to fill them back, no one to dig out or harvest the raw materials, no one to turn them into consumption goods, no one to stock the warehouses, with the last cashier to have long left to spend their life-sufficient fortune on a paradise island, where right in the middle of a spa treatment, the masseur would have left to pack for a life of cruises around “infinity and beyond”…
Cliché words like “financial market”, “economy”, “money”, “bank account” and others alike would turn into dust, to be blown by the winds of a terrible, lurking nightmare… Unnumbered hoards of long-faced shadows of formerly rich people scavenging for a daily bread no one’s available or able to bake anymore…
So what are we supposed to do?
Anarchism, revolts and revolutions are useless…
Today’s revolutionaries are always tomorrow’s dictators.
Bloodsheds of viciously holding to power, just to be swapped for something similar, of a slightly different political “colour”.
As someone has wisely said, revolutions carry within themselves the seeds of their own destruction, same “…isms” with something attached at front.

– to be continued… –

6th of April, 1984…

– on social justice, or “soylent green is people”… –

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The – true or not – story about Stalin’s demonstration of what power and authority really are, keeps haunting me as a reminder of the mockery called “social justice”, regardless of its camouflage, in and through which it’s being fed to the unsuspecting, dumbed-down masses, who are slowly but surely arriving at Stalin’s chicken’s ultimate, humiliating “serenity” of a full belly, regardless of of its price…
Because since there’s truly no such thing as “free lunch”, a price needs to be paid for it, in full, by someone. And if I rightly assume that the ruling elite does not want to pay for someone else’s meals, who does?
Well, a basic exercise of logic tells me, that the overall profits of those in politico-economic authority comes from two main sources. One comes from simply and shamelessly NOT paying the vast labouring/working masses their due wages, and the other one from ruthlessly taxing what’s been left. The rest goes of course to the same elite, robbed and stolen through viciously over inflated prices of “commodities” such as water, heating, electricity, shelter and food.
And for the still unsuspecting morons, still happy in their ever shrinking, middle-class daydreaming rocking chairs, I shall add that the seemingly billions (un)paid in taxes by these covert slave masters, are actually just a small part of those same unpaid wages, necessary for subsidising the very governments they manipulate for their own, private interests, chiefly purchasing the carefully rationalised breadcrumbs, needed for keeping them at the barrier between survival and the understanding of how the system actually functions, or as Orwell put it, on a “state charity” level, enough to exist, but never enough to live…
How else would these masses, wherever they may be, cheeringly adore their leaders and governments, who are shamelessly informing them (more or less accurately…) about the billions spent on the state’s expenses of offices, personnel, PR, RRs and/or Bentleys, while demanding their sacrificial understanding of budget cuts for education, health and social services, motivated by austerity measures required by financial crises the elite themselves have generated in the first place?
Knowing this, how could the people viciously tolerate the sufferings of millions of underfed, starving, dying children, the horrific, agonising waiting lists for basic, cheap, life-saving medical treatment, or the savage incarceration of people caught stealing their starving family’s next meal…?
This dumbing-down’s end result is idiotic stupidity, with masses worshipping outright slave masters playing infatuated “dragons” in the sordid “den” of entire nations’ struggle for a daily living…
For us, every day seems to have become, “soylent green day”…

– to be continued… –

5th of April 4th, 1984…

“what does the LORD require of you but to do justice…”

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One of the Bible’s (OT and/or NT) foremost statements, mentions God’s topmost requirements from mankind, which is “to love/do justice…”
Well, if mankind’s self-righteous, mostly fundamentalist “christian” crowd would heed this basic advice, they would have to stone their god and his accomplices, simply because these scriptural books are by far, whosoever’s most blatant record of injustice against mostly unsuspecting innocents.
My inner rage against this sadistic display of injustice is paired only by a cancerous pain and sorrow for the countless victims of this merciless religion, closely followed by it’s prequel, judaism, and it’s sequel, islam, all just patched-up versions of ancient, human sacrifices requesting religions.
Because it’s utterly hard for me to decide if child sacrifices to Moloch were more vicious than leaving an entire nation to centuries of Egyptian slavery, or the sacrifice of a god’s son for the “sins” of others, or the raising to power of a god’s inquisitorial vicars, or eventually the public maiming of petty thieves, or hanging of infidels…
To expect the love of justice from heirs of countless generations of victims of gross injustice, amounts to a sadism against which the Inquisition’s methods could be considered as mere colloquialism.
A “story” we were told by one of the most idiotic zealots to call himself a “pastor” I have ever encountered, story which regardless if true or purely fictional, would make nevertheless a good point to what this so called “justice” is all about.
The tale speaks about soviet psychopath Joseph Stalin, inviting a western official to a protocol visit to his Kremlin. After usualties, the guest(s) asks Stalin about how could such a system manage to keep such a large nation into what couldn’t be called as less than oppressed submission? Stalin asked one of his attendants to bring him in, a live chicken. To the obvious shock of his guest(s), Stalin proceeds to pluck all poor live chicken’s feathers off, causing visible and violent injuries, and wounds to the innocent bird. He then calmly throws a handful of breadcrumbs on his own booted feet, laying the scared animal nearby. After a few moments of confusion, and as if nothing seems to have happened, the bleeding, naked bird starts to obnoxiously pick up the crumbs, feeding from atop the boots still sustaining the hands which savagely tortured her.
“You see?”, asked Stalin of his quietly shocked guests, “you can do whatever you want to your people, as long as you remember to feed them…”
Doesn’t this tragically resemble to all bleeding and naked religious yard-birds, thankfully saying “grace” over the usually just-about sufficient meals “provided” by the same god who just some weeks or months or years ago have maybe killed their children, husbands or wives, parents or any other loved ones, silently allowed a few world wars, a few holocausts, scripturally condones slavery, genocide, infanticide, just to name a few of these “how can’t you see” ones?
Unfortunately though, not all naked and wounded human chicken of this world have access to the scarcely provided crumbs.
The poor majority linger in overcrowded social ghettoes, silently awaiting for their well-fed gods to remember them when the time for the next culling-war of the useless’ time has come…
Allow me please, to leave you with some food-for-thought.
About some more than a decade ago, I was part of christian prison ministry, which included the highest security prison of a central European country. Only life-terms, over twenty years imprisonment for multiple and/or aggravated murder and others as such were given the “privilege” to “live” there.
On one occasion, the team leading pastor drifted downstairs with a group of Q&A, leaving me behind, alone and scared with the rest of this “elite” crowd…
One particular individual stood my way towering over my own more than 6 feet with his  7 feet and over 150 kg, asking the following:
“Is it worth being faithful to god and his commandments?”
“Of course,” I replied, “because god is love, and he has the best plan for all of us, regardless of what we’ve done!”
To which he sternly replied:
“I wonder what Job may have had to say to that…”
I left in silence, as on those dim stairs, for this locked-up for life inmate, my god-defending theology would have proved as irrelevant and humiliating, as all other religions. Because only after I have lost – as an already devout trainee minister – my own first two precious children, I understood why I should never again mention that god gave back Job more riches and more children than before.
To this day, not even the daily sight of my other precious children can ease the tormenting pain caused by the loss of my first two…
Because only a mercantile bastard would expect to be worshipped for giving “other” children to someone whose children he assassinated in the first place.

-to be continued…-