Bio-medical scientists score higher in Autism-Spectrum traits
Sunday September 30, 2007
Dear Dr. Miller and Barbara,
I have been following the recent readers’ mail exchanges about lesions in the brain. It seemed to me that “N.” from Israel was concerned about the bogus attribution of psychological problems to hypothetical ‘genetic predispositions’, while the replies were about neurological deficits and lesions that occur after conception. “V. J.” from Norway said that psychiatry is trying to heal the psyche and that somatic medicine is trying to heal the body. I don’t think that’s true for psychiatrists who belong to the American Psychiatric Association. See if you agree with me by visiting the APA website – www.psych.org – and examining the animated banner at the top of the page.
The slogan is “Member driven – Science based – Patient focused.” I had to read it twice. At first I thought it said: “Money driven – Pseudoscience based – drug focused.” But seriously, look at the images which appear in sequence at the side of the banner. To run through them again, refresh the page:
Picture 1. Two in medics in white coats and one in a surgical gown. Surgery for psychological distress? Wasn’t the inventor of lobotomy, Egas Moniz, shot and left paralyzed by an ungrateful ex-patient?
Picture 2. Two clinicians examining a sheet of brain scans.
Picture 3. Four shiny, happy people. None of them look like members of the urban poor, who suffer the highest rates of psychiatric distress.
Picture 4. A woman in a white coat talking to two people in business suits. Probably it’s supposed to portray relationship counselling, but it looks more like a management meeting in a corporate boardroom.
In the last few years newspapers have reported that an autism epidemic is underway. The cause could be thimerosal in child vaccines or other environmental toxins. But that would be a social and political problem. In “High Functioning Autism” there is no impairment of cognitive abilities and there are individuals with this diagnosis who have achieved outstanding success in scientific careers. In these cases the main symptom is “mindblindness” and a lack of empathy.
Autism researchers from a medical background are convinced that genetic factors are the cause. However, until the research which implicates genes is successfully replicated many times over, and can be used reliably to make predictions, it doesn’t count as “hard science.” Researchers who are eager to point the finger at genes seem to have forgotten the importance of replication. They make announcements to the press on the basis of unreplicated findings. It’s shoddy science. I think it’s much more likely that “mindblindness” and lack of empathy in idividuals who have “High Functioning Autism” are the result of unempathic parenting — something which can happen equally in the childhoods of medical doctors and research scientists. The following article provides well sourced evidence that ALL bio-medical scientists and experimental psychologists tend to score higher in Autism-Spectrum traits than the population average:
K. in England
AM: Thank you very much for your letter and the links. These texts explain very clearly why the discoveries of brain researchers made over the last years have not been used for a better understanding of the plight of the human being caused by experiencing FEAR early in life. To understand these connections we need to be in touch with our own emotions. If we are disconnected from them we are lacking empathy, for ourselves and for others, and our “discoveries” made only with the help of computers may remain fruitless ALTHOUGH THEY ARE SPECTACULAR AND COULD SAVE MILLIONS OF LIVES by reducing the global ignorance of spankers. Your much-telling links explain why MOST people TO THIS DAY (INCLUDING SCIENTISTS) still DON’T REALIZE that child abuse and the denial of its danger are nothing else than the effect of endured child abuse that left behind damage in the brain of the once spanked abusers.