Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Defining my disorder

This was an interesting NY Times op-ed ("Defining My Dyslexia") of someone's firsthand account of dealing with dyslexia and coming to see it as having both helped and hurt him in his life. I thought there were some interesting parallels:

Last month, at the Emily Hall Tremaine Foundation Conference on Dyslexia and Talent, I watched several neurobiologists present evidence that the dyslexic brain, which processes information in a unique way, may impart particular strengths. Studies using cognitive testing and functional M.R.I.’s have demonstrated exceptional three-dimensional and spatial reasoning among dyslexic individuals, which may account for the many successful dyslexic engineers. Similar studies have shown increased creativity and big-picture thinking (or “gist-detection”) in dyslexics, which correlates with the surprising number of dyslexic entrepreneurs, novelists and filmmakers.

The conference’s organizers made a strong case that the successes of the attending dyslexic luminaries — who ranged from a Pulitzer-winning poet to a MacArthur grant-winning paleontologist to an entrepreneur who pays a dozen times my student loans in taxes every year — had been achieved “not despite, but because of dyslexia.”

It was an exciting idea. However, I worried that the argument might be taken too far. Some of the attendees opposed the idea that dyslexia is a diagnosis at all, arguing that to label it as such is to pathologize a normal variation of human intellect. One presenter asked the audience to repeat “Dyslexia is not a disability.”

On what role people with a disorder should have in helping to define that diagnosis:

At the heart of the conference was the assumption that a group of advocates could alter the definition of dyslexia and what it means to be dyslexic. That’s a bigger idea than it might seem. Ask yourself, “What role should those affected by a diagnosis have in defining that diagnosis?” Recently I posed this question to several doctors and therapists. With minor qualifications, each answered “none.” I wasn’t surprised. Traditionally, a diagnosis is something devised by distant experts and imposed on the patient. But I believe we must change our understanding of what role we should play in defining our own diagnoses.

Before I went to medical school, I thought a diagnosis was synonymous with a fact; criteria were met, or not. Sometimes this is so. Diabetes, for example, can be determined with a few laboratory tests. But other diagnoses, particularly those involving the mind, are more nebulous. Symptoms are contradictory, test results equivocal. Moreover, the definition of almost any diagnosis changes as science and society evolve.

Diagnostics might have more in common with law than science. Legislatures of disease exist in expert panels, practice guidelines and consensus papers. Some laws are unimpeachable, while others may be inaccurate or prejudiced. The same is true in medicine; consider the antiquated diagnosis of hysteria in women. Those affected by unjust diagnoses — like those affected by unjust laws — should protest and help redefine them.

I like that part, particularly "Diagnostics might have more in common with law than science. Some laws are unimpeachable, while others. . . inaccurate or prejudiced". He mentions as an example the role that people with autism have had in helping to change the common understanding of what that disorder means, particularly outside of clinical settings in which most disorders are studied. Once people started coming forward in droves as having autism, it helped spawn the neurodiversity movement and got people to challenge their false assumptions.

Some people might balk at  efforts to redefine disorders (particularly one as nefarious sounding as sociopathy) as not being all bad or even having positive effects on both the life of people with the disorder and the world around them. I don't see why, though. Wouldn't you want to think that people (even sociopaths) are not all bad? That they have special skills that could benefit society? That they might also have rewarding lives? I guess I just don't ever see the long term wisdom in further marginalizing already fringe  groups.

54 comments:

  1. I wonder what dyselxia feels like.

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    1. i think it fells bad.

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    2. i heard that it is frustrating and makes the person feel shame. Also heard that children might feel "stupid" before what they have is diagnosed and addressed, because they dont see same language as the others.



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    3. I am sure it feels pretty bad. If one looks at a stop sign , and it says to the dyslexic, " pots", or "tops", or "spot", I could see how challenging that disorder could be.

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    4. i know 2 very talented people who need to read for part of their living and also to secure new jobs coming up. THey both quit because they didnt want to risk shame associated with people knowing of their dyslexia. I thought they should tell so they would get a pass on certain things. They couldn't feel ok with that.

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    5. There is still so much stigma attached to dyslexia. My son is dyslexic and he graduated with honors in a reading and writing intensive major only because we provided private academic language therapy for him. It is a processing difference not a lack of the ability to read and write. Who is to say that sociopaths don't just have a processing difference when it comes to emotions and not a lack of the ability to feel emotion? They say sociopaths can't be cured but if it is a processing difference all the psychotherapy in the world is not going to cure it. The ticket would have to be much more concrete. Dyslexics are concrete thinkers when it comes to language. They don't just buy into all the crazy rules of the English language. You have to convince and show them that these rules make sense most of the time and show them why. The public schools do not teach language this way. Left-brained people just accept written language. Right-brained people (dyslexics) question it. If you teach a dyslexic all the rules about language in a concrete, multi-sensory way they start reading, spelling and writing better than a lot of neurotypicals. Just saying ... research is needed into how a sociopath's brain processes things like emotions and also time. Did you know that a neurotypical brain processes time by marking it with emotions? Now a sociopath probably can not do that and so time may feel totally different to a sociopath. I wonder then if that explains the extreme boredom that sociopaths have to deal with ... just saying you deserve to have some research done on your behalf. And yes definitely true that different ways of processing have their advantages as wells as their disadvantages.

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  2. Dyslexics: Yet ANOTHER group that, when honest about how their brain functions, doesn't get called evil, pretentious, misguided, or simply delusional.

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    1. dyslexia is a learning disability not a character disorder.

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    2. oh. nevermind then.

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    3. My son is dyslexic and he was called evil when he was in the second grade by the backwards principal of his elementary school. His spoken vocabulary was huge and he I believe he sometimes talked over her head but because he was struggling with reading and writing, the principal thought he was possessed. There is a lot of ignorance in the world especially in places where it should not be like our public schools!

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  3. How do you redefine an atypical neurological pattern that is synonymous with evil? Witches were an example, but the solution for them was to undefine them. Of course, modern day witches are your practitioners of holistic healing.

    I think being considered atypical, or AT as compared to neurotypical, or NT is a good place to start. Different, not disabled. I see an umbrella advocacy group that doesn't want special treatment, just equal protection and equal rights under the law. So many 'sufferers' of 'neurological disorders' do perfectly well, and when people who are atypical are labeled as diseased, they tend to act diseased, and all their actions are interpreted as diseased.

    Many people come here to villify people that identify as sociopaths, but others come to find support among those who sometimes taunt them, but can at least relate to them in some way. Most people, however, will go through life without ever trying to effect change, to improve their own situations and the situations of those like them.

    Say what you like about M.E., but she has balls. She stood up for what she believes, and wrote a book that might start to change people's opinions of atypicals. The worst criticism thus far is that she's too awesome to be a sociopath, so she must be a narcissist or something else.

    Maybe the solution isn't to go around trying to fix people that are different, because they're not broken. The dyslexics mentioned are entrepreneurs, novelists, and filmmakers, not drooling idiots. Sociopaths are your lawyers, politicians, CEOs, doctors, and soldiers.

    What's your trajectory? M.E.'s reaching for the sky while most people are trying to dig holes big enough to bury the hot air balloons they call heads.

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    1. "most people are trying to dig holes big enough to bury the hot air balloons they call heads"
      ha!

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  4. I have to say this before I go out. You think NTs are warm fuzzballs.

    I get so much hatred for being Jewish and standing up for Israel. I am simply bombarded with hatred from "spiritual people".

    I hate these fake hippie types who preach peace and love but are the worst haters.

    I have just gotten really beaten up and I am kind of reeling. It is funny that I find solace here, where you guys are supposed to be the ones with no heart.

    The hatred in this world toward Jews is as mind boggling as anything anyone has ever said on here.

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    1. Hi Monica. Condratulations getting your dog back.

      Do you feel like the Jews are scapegoated similarly to the way sociopath is scapegoated?

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    2. No, it is not similar at all. I will try to see if I can explain why, later. xx

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    3. I suppose Monica it could have something to do with the sociopathic way they treat the Palestinians?

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    4. in all fairness the Palestinians would do the same if they were capable of it. the difference is that they lack the weapons, training, and technology to properly reciprocate. and this was way off topic and i apologize for that

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    5. I come here for a little solace and I get this~

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    6. So what's your take on it? When you try to defend the indefensible you should expect a little opposition. It's not hatred, it's debate.

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    7. I know, Snoopy but I have gotten so beaten up by these fake, spiritual people that I am tired. I will be back, though xx

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    8. I can't discuss it here, Guys. I can't deal with the hate toward Israel.

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    9. That's ok Monica. Maybe ask yourself in a quiet moment why the world is so angry with Israel. At least the Israelis don't hate themselves!

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    10. The world is angry at Israel for a number of reasons but the core one is spiritual. The Bible talks about God circumcising your heart. One's heart, without God, is one of darkness, for any human. Part of the darkness is hating Jews as they are God's Chosen People. This does not imply that they are loved more than others, which people resent, but God choose the Jews to enact His plan on earth i.e The Ten Commandments with Moses and Jesus.They are called the apple of God's eye and if you hurt them, you will pay. "I will bless those, who bless thee and curse those who curse thee"

      For people whose heart is not touched by God, there will be a natural hatred of the Jews. Some people, like David Socio, have a love for the Jews. God puts that into certain people. The Gentiles who love the Jews are what allows Israel to survive.

      However, the short answer is that the Main stream media lies about Israel, as it does about most things. Israel got her land in a legitimate way( from England)as did Jordan.

      There are no legitimate Palestinians. There home is JORDAN. Jordan kicked a bunch of troublemakers out and the Arabs called them Palestinians, overnight. They are a made up people and a lie.

      That is it for me, as I hate discussing this but God seems to use me everyplace to do it ~

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    11. All slaughter in the name of god is entirely meaningless. People that kill and are killed because of their religion do die for a divine purpose, though. Their deaths serve to reduce the amount of hate, ignorance, and stupidity in the world.

      Do I have to pick a side? I'm on both their sides. Either they stop killing each other and become useful and relevant, or they continue to sate their bloodthirst, and hopefully wipe each other out.

      Whose opinion do you like better, mine or the anti-Israel faction?

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    12. You act like a boob, Andy.

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    13. Are you on drugs Monica? Don't forget Jesus was killed by the Jews.

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    14. You are right about Israel, Monica.

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    15. "The Gentiles who love the Jews are what allows Israel to survive."

      No, what allows Israel to survive is American foreign policy that gives them enough cash for sufficient quantities of ammunitions to blow the Palestinians to kingdom come. Stop deluding yourself Monica.

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    16. You are stoopid, Snoopy. Join the sheeple Baaa Baaa

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    17. Follow the money. God's chosen sheeple ;)

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    18. How is this even remotely relevant to how the brain works. To the poster who sad jesus was killed by the jews you forget he was born, lived and died a jew. Christianity formed many years after his death. He was a rebel trying to fix corruption not enmass cultists into division. Im sorry you feel segregated by ypur religion but honestly how would anyone know...unless you randomly blurt it out like you have on here. The truth is your faith is your own and good for you. Dont involve others into your life choices. Dont come for pity. Celebrate your independance. Israel has the power to stop being massive cunts. They stole land and kicked people out as a sence of entitlement funded by the U.N. And you question why the world might be hostile? Personally I dont care. Their tirade is juvenile and eventually someone is going to get tired of killing children or someone will fuck up and a world power will once again step in to intervene. Stop looking for pitty. Be less dependant on your faith as your personal identity. Its a path and a set of guidelines nothing more. You are being sensitive and needy. Now back onto the mind I would like to see more expansice research into things like dyslexia. I have a processing dissorder and working memory issues that for a long time went undiagnosed. I would confuse and frusturate teachers, peers and family when things that were said to me dissapeared in my brain. I was often confused as lazy and or stupid. (once in grade 4 my teacher tried to label me as retarded) turns out Im in the 98th percentile of north american intellects. When I do remember something. Its there forever. I still can recall memories that my mother has informed me are from when I was no more then one or two y.o. Growing up undiagnosed I was told frequently I wouldnt pass high school. So I did and not only that put myself through both university and college. None of that however would have been possible without being psychoanalyzed. It is my opinion that more people should have that exposure abd insight into their own mind. Sorry for the spelling and grammatical errors. This was done on my phone.

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  5. I don't think people that are sociopaths like you are necessarily evil, but you're not necessarily good either. You're what I would consider "neutral" meaning neither good nor bad, but certainly motivated by their own desires and because of that, I wouldn't necessarily trust your kind.

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    1. Yeah, don't ever trust anyone motivated by desires. They're monsters, every one of them!

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    2. i wouldnt consider myself evil, though i can be cruel and i take a certain delight in hurting those who have wronged/irritated me. but i also enjoy helping those that i like

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  6. I have some of the mentioned sociopathic traits and empathic traits. Some of my clients easily recognize me as an empath yet others who I am close to know I am a consensual sadist. Sometimes with intimacy, I feel a drive to give such pleasure to my partner that it will make quite an impact on them, but have no other emotion. Sometimes I am overcome with emotion for a partner. I have strong manipulation and convincing skills and revel in the success and ability of that. But on the other hand I dont think thats so unique and avoid interfering in the paths of others...except for the ones who have given themselves over to my leadership as long term partners. Living life with such contrast can be confusing amd alienating as well.

    I do appreciate the book and the author's efforts to humanize such a stigmatized type of people.

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    1. This is how I'm realizing I've felt my whole life. How can I be in the "middle"? Confusing. Shameful. Every time I think I know myself I realize I don't.

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  7. What is the best book any of you have read on psychopathy?

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    1. The Sociopath Next Door and also Who's Pulling Your Strings is also a good read about manipulative people in general not just sociopaths.

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  8. touches on some of these issues and the imperfect nature of a clinical diagnosis

    http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/01/opinion/i-had-asperger-syndrome-briefly.html?_r=1

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    1. that's a good article.

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  9. I have just finished your book and found it to be a well-written, honest portrait of the mind of a sociopath. I was a psychotherapist for over 20 years and always wondered how they could justify the damage they are/were doing. I have a much better understanding now, thanks to you. In addition, I was a target for some sociopaths because I was naive and vulnerable as a child. I thought something was terribly wrong with me, that I had some kind of shameful flaw that only certain people could see and were willing to use against me. I know now that it wasn't the dark hole in my own orbit but I did suffer long and hard with some lasting effects. I also thought about the conflict between reason and emotion and sometimes reason should prevail as long as it doesn't debase someone's character.

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  10. I am dyslexic. However, my forum isnt mixing up letters so much. Its that I cant keep a beat. I can't, its horrible when your father was a musician.
    I cant sound things out. I memorize how to spell most things or constantly use spell check.
    I alsi have adhd which doesnt help. I'll type slower then i can think which doesn't help with the spelling.

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    1. These are some experiences I've had with being dyslexic as well. And whoever suggested dyslexics can't read stop signs is ill-informed. The stop sign is an iconic symbol in traffic that was intently designed to avoid misinterpretations. I don't read "pots" or "tops" whenever I see one, because I understand the sign means I must come to a complete stop.

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