Politics Magazine

Introversion Does Not Equal Aspergers

Posted on the 13 March 2014 by Calvinthedog

notagain001 writes:

Ever hear of Asperger’s Syndrome? These high IQ’s sound more than introverted – they sound Aspie.

I do not agree that weird or really weird introverted types are all Aspies, a common cultural meme floating around for some time now. It has long been known that many introverts are kind of weird.

I should know, I am one! I am an introvert, and supposedly, I am pretty darned weird too, at least according to some people. Not that there’s anything I can do about it. I think it is mostly OCD. OCD makes you look distracted, out of it, off in space, off in your own world, disconnected, etc. I had a PA once who had OCD and he was really out there and spacey, but in a rather funny, ridiculous and harmless way. But I could see how someone who doesn’t know the illness might be afraid of him.

People also say my eyes dart around a lot, and some folks do not like that. They think, “He is hiding something. He is a secret psychopath. He has a hidden dark side.”

Why my eyes dart around, I have no idea, but I have noticed that a number of really smart people have eyes that are always moving in all sorts of ways, mostly small, tiny, darting little movements. It gives off the impression that their eyes are “sparkling.” Also it often seems that they are observing everything around them, even when they are talking to you. You also get the impression that they are “trying to read your mind” and even “trying to read the minds of those around them.”

Mostly really high IQ types seem weird because your average person has no idea what they are going on about a lot of the time. I notice a lot of these types sprinkle their everyday conversation with all sorts of weird references, little jokes that might be hard to understand, clever comments and statements, puns, references to TV shows, movies, famous people, famous remarks, cliches, history, figures of speech, etc.

They also make a lot of analogies to all sorts of stuff no matter what they are commenting about. Needless to say, nearly all of this goes completely over the head of your average 100 IQ and your average 90 IQ type (sadly typical in my town) are no doubt completely lost and baffled and just conclude the guy is either a loon or he’s from outer space.

I read a paper recently that simply said that Asperger’s is simply introversion carried to a wild extreme. In other words, Aspergers is the far highly pathological end of the introverted spectrum.

It looks like this:

Normal (Situational syness/reclusiveness in response to mood or life events “I just want to be alone for now.”..) -> moody, quiet type (artistic temperament – artist/writer, etc.) -> introverted traits -> introvert (classic type) -> highly introverted -> extremely introverted -> avoidant traits -> Avoidant Personality Disorder -> schizoid traits -> Schizoid Personality Disorder -> Borderline Aspergers -> Aspergers -> moving off into many degrees of True Autism territory.

The paper pointed out that many of the traits found in “Aspergers” types are simply the relatively normal traits of the ordinary, garden variety introvert, but in the introvert, the traits are attenuated and within a normal spectrum while in the Aspie the traits have gone wild into full-blown pathology. The piece also pointed out that many extremely introverted types (non-Aspie) who superficially may resemble Schizoids are actually unbelievably healthy psychologically – “robustly healthy,” and are described as about as healthy and functional psychologically as a human being gets aside for the desire to be left alone that is.

Many types who go off alone in the woods or wherever for quite some time can be quite normal.

In the Island of the Blue Dolphins story, a woman, the last speaker of her language of one of the Channel Island California Indians, was the last of her tribe. When found by explorers, she had been all alone on that huge island with only a dog for a companion for 17 years. The explorers described her as robustly healthy psychologically.

She was taken back to civilization in Santa Barbara where she saw White civilization for the first time. She was a local celebrity and spent all her time in a daze, smiling, laughing and singing with sheer happiness and chattering away nonstop in an unintelligible language. Finally, a local Indian man was found who spoke one of the local Costanoan Indian languages, and he said he could understand some of her language as it was similar to his.

Tragically, within two weeks, this fluttery little human bird was dead of a White man’s disease.

The moral to the story: Even 17 years of pure seclusion from contact with any other human beings is not enough to drive a robustly healthy personality insane. The psyche simply adjusts to the new reality and reaches a sane accommodation with it.

In conclusion, the notion that all odd, weird or strange introverts are Aspies is nutty. High introversion correlates with degrees of dysfunction, but many variously dysfunctional highly introverted people are not Aspies in any way, shape or form.

Many of these folks have high levels of anxiety or even anxiety disorders, and anxious, nervous people often seem pretty strange. They often look distracted, have blank stares, and have all sorts of odd, funny nervous habits, weird tics and whatnot. Anxiety disorders seem to correlate with introversion.

I have known many, many odd, strange or weird introverts (usually intelligent to brilliant), but I would characterize very few to none of them as Aspies. In fact, I have never met an Aspie in my entire life, and I’ve met enough funny introverts to fill a stadium.

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