8 responses to “The New History of Autism by David Dobbs

  1. I always have difficulty commenting here on yahoo, since it keeps asking me to log in, despite already being logged in. I’ll try one more time on another device.
    In short, I don’t tend to embrace the view that autism is a spectrum. At least, not when we refer to clinical autism. The spectrum concept came from Lorna Wing in the 1980s and I believe she made this definition based on Kretschmer’s essays. Kretschmer outlined various psychopathic personalities such as musterkinder and Wing, clearly having read these descriptions, decided to introduce Asperger Syndrome as “a spectrum condition”. There has been criticism of this approach to autism diagnostics, summarised by G. Sukhareva in a large paper. I could at length outline the problems the spectrum terminology presents but that would be out of the scope of my comment.


    • If you ever want to expand, please consider writing a blog for cortical chauvinism. Your opinions are always carefully researched and denote a lot of knowledge. We could all learn from them.


      • That’s appreciated, thanks. My views tended to change a bit over time as I read more material. I try to be flexible. The “autism as a spectrum” issue I am still looking into so I can better explain where I feel problems arise. As I gather, psychologists in Kretschmer’s time didn’t totally dismiss the spectrum concept but concluded it applied more to non-clinical personality types (schizothymia). The big problem I hope to solve is where the line actually is between a schizothymic type (eccentric personality, or nerd) and an actual clinical pathology. Feliz navidad. Espero que lo pases bien durante estas fiestas.


    • I’ve been getting a sense of decline in mainstream clinical psychology as well as a lack of interest in hard science (especially compared to the 1960s when science inspired a generation). After having studied psychology for a few years, I’m aware psychology has always struggled to develop more concrete, definite diagnostic outlines. For example, the old Kanner vs Asperger debate – were they all suffering the same autistic condition? I came to understand how hard it is to accurately diagnose autism, given autism differs in degree, cause and impact. Possibly I think overall psychology research hit a peak in the 1980s but I have reservations during the present period. As many people know, a lot of the popular research of recent years romantisized autism research, with a lot of loose, wide-ranging terms such as “autism spectrum*. As we know, this sweeps together a whole load of people under one term, yet pays less attention to scientific diagnosis. Just thought I’d share that.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. And I will share over the last few months I’ve been studying Latin. Not sure why but it’s relaxing and a bit like castellano but more complicated. “Nolo quod cupio statim tenere,
    nec victoria mi placet parata.” This quote I like:” I don’t want what I wish for instantly and don’t like easy victory. “

    Liked by 1 person

      • I will have to do an article on the German aspect of the history of autism and give a link, at some point. What we used to refer to as Asperger Syndrome, I traced to the original term “Verschrobene”. Later it became Schizoid Avoidant, Autistic Psychopathy – in the mid 1920s. Asperger shortened it to just “Autistic Psychopathy”. Wing and Goulde then coined the term “Asperger Syndrome”. Key figures in the field were E.Kraepelin, E. Kretschmer, G.E. Suhareva, S.Muhnin, Leo Kanner, Van Krevelen, V. Kagan. There is also one psychiatrist, as far as I know, totally unknown to the west but briefly referred to by G.E. Suhareva. His research includes a lot of physiologica! data. Also very deep in diagnostics.


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