The artist Michelangelo may have had a form of autism called Asperger’s Syndrome, and Albert Einstein, Socrates and Jane Austen may have had it too. Psychiatrists describe Michelangelo as “strange, without affect, and isolated” and “preoccupied with his own private reality.” Other potential Asperger’s cases are Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton, Marie Curie, the poet W.B. Yeats and pop artist Andy Warhol. Even Microsoft’s Bill Gates has been mentioned as possibly having it.
People with Asperger’s often have one great talent, such as in math or art. Researcher Simon Baron-Cohen says, “This goes to show that people who get by without a diagnosis have found a niche where they can use their skills to make a contribution. This need not be dramatic?perhaps they are a very methodical worker, who understands the rules of their chosen profession.”
In bbcnews.com, Megan Lane quotes psychiatrist Muhammed Arshad as saying, “[Michelangelo’s single-minded work routine, unusual lifestyle, limited interests, poor social and communication skills and various issues of life control appear to be features of high-functioning autism or Asperger’s Syndrome?This reflects the positive side of this gene, that people with it can contribute in many ways. Being single-minded, it gives them the chance to focus on something which interests them. Their talents are not diluted by the everyday interactions that take up so much time for the rest of us.”
Researcher Simon Baron-Cohen says, “The condition does tend to affect men more than women, especially among those who are high-functioning. Males outnumber females nine to one in this diagnosis.” People with Asperger’s find social situations confusing, hate making small talk, have trouble understanding how other people feel and are good at facts and details and can concentrate well. The syndrome was first identified in 1944 and now psychologists think that many genius-level social misfits may have it.
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