Pride II

The pride and love I have for my country make me cringe in disgust when I hear the security announcements at the sleepy local station. Please report anything suspicious to a police officer or a member of the station staff. Why would a police officer be here? What like? Have they left a bag unattended? Maybe they put it down for a moment. Are they wearing a big coat to hide something? Maybe they have a thyroid problem. Are they avoiding staff and police?

Citizens! Study those around you with suspicion. Your prompt action could protect the Country we Love from Terrorists! Or, just turn it into Hell on Earth. See it. Say it. Sorted. The Dunning-Kruger effect in action- a police idea of a catchy slogan. Look, it alliterates!

Good to see them ticking the equality boxes. Terrorists can be female too! Or, the police informant with that large bag- is there a bomb in it? is not scoping her out to see if she is trans, but wondering if he can escape by drawing attention to an innocent passenger.

When I get to Tate Modern, there is a queue for the bag check. How dare they, really, how dare they poke and prod through my handbag? Why every single bag, making people wait? “Open the bag please” he says. Oh, fuck off. I do so with ill grace, and take my waterproof out on command. Then I go in to the gallery.

Here I can get into the holiday mood, relaxed, open, happy, in an instant, usually, but the guards and searching just ruin it. If I wanted to bomb an art gallery, where better than to run in and explode just where it is crowded, at that queue?

To the exhibition Art in the Age of Black Power. I much prefer this to “Queer British Art”- we queers were prosecuted and vilified, and most of that was suffering soft people oppressed by the authoritarian control freaks. Here I see Malcolm X portrayed in bright colour, a Prince, Black, Bad and Beautiful, a hero. Black people still get shot after being stopped for no discernible reason by traffic police- well, none of the gun death in the US is explicable to a European, all of it is abhorrent, but the racial prejudice in these killings is an additional dimension of vileness; and here people whose lives are under threat are Proud, standing tall and free. It is beautiful.

Sitting in front of that portrait I realise I am high on art and progesterone. It is a good experiment. My feelings are heightened, more immediate and more intense. And, usually when I am this out of my skull I am at home or with friends. I have to be aware of the possibilities of overreacting. That said, it’s a good feeling.

To the British Museum. Here, visitors are shunted round barriers so we slalom from the front gate to the side of the courtyard, even though there is no queue. Four security guards get us through, standing on a pedestal behind a desk so I must offer up my handbag.

It is lovely to see H. We see the Hokusai, wander off for dinner somewhere, and passing the Leicester Square ticket booth get tickets for An American in Paris, which is wonderful. By the third time I am resentful of having my bag prodded, but it is now a dull ache rather than anger. I am glad this is only occasional for me at the moment. It would take some of the joy out of life. I would hate to get completely accustomed to it, though.

Is a trans woman really a woman?

Yes. But what can we say if told that we have testicles, so our sex is male, so we are men? It’s scientific, innit?

The word “man” has always had a different meaning from adult human with testicles. Rudyard Kipling: if you can show unswerving integrity, moral courage, and gentle acceptance of others’ inadequacies; if you never complain or show weakness, and

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

You’ll be a Man, which may or may not be different from a “man”.

Well I tried my damnedest, and I couldn’t. Force anything that hard and it breaks.

Someone quoted George Orwell: Don’t you see that the whole aim of Newspeak is to narrow the range of thought? In the end we shall make thoughtcrime literally impossible, because there will be no words in which to express it. Every concept that can ever be needed will be expressed by exactly one word, with its meaning rigidly defined and all its subsidiary meanings rubbed out and forgotten. Ah, they is a martyr for Truth, rather than a tedious, pedantic, unmannerly oaf, calling me a “man”. Actually, that quote supports me rather than them. They seeks to simplify, we multiply words to seek to express nuance- gender queer, gender fluid, non-binary, trans woman. They wants to appear so Clear, Definite and Right, and is angry and desperate.

Trying to answer with science- “I have a woman’s brain, look at this study of white matter”– is a good start. That argument sometimes works, sometimes doesn’t. Scientific analysis shows many variations on the genitals, in intersex conditions, and in the genes of those who appear to be cis. However, you are on the “man” side if you have or had working testicles and penis, and I share the feminist objection to asserting that innate gendered differences in brains cause men as a group to behave differently from all women. There is too great a range of behaviours in both genders for it to be so rigid. I feel the words “man” and “woman” have a use.

“Manliness”, “manhood” and “man” define an ideal, which is enforced in the culture. We don’t fit it. The answer is, change the culture, but that can’t be done quickly. Meanwhile, some people transition. We have been doing it for thousands of years, and the threat of death has not stopped us. I could not have accepted my feminine self without transition. As things stand, presenting male is just too difficult for me.

Then, this powerless group becomes a political football. EU human rights law has led to the Gender Recognition Act in Britain. The law says I am female. It makes my life easier. It is generally a working compromise. I dress female, use a female name, make some effort to lighten my voice, and mostly get by. Vulnerable people, for whom this is the most important thing in our lives mostly get tolerated. It takes all sorts to make a world. Me identifying as female is weird for some people, but then some people identify as Scottish first, or British, or Glaswegian, or European, and the relative importance differs for each person- and some of us get very steamed up about that. Anything human is rarely cut and dried. It is continually changing.

Some of the objection is transphobic. Ew. Men in women’s clothes! I want to be myself. I might look a bit odd. Greater acceptance of diversity benefits everyone, freeing us to benefit from each others’ gifts unrestricted by the strain of trying to appear normal. Everyone becomes aware of more possibilities, some of which they might try out. Everyone feels less need to conform, so as none of us fits stereotypes completely we are all more free.

It is possible that acceptance of a trans woman as a woman in some exceptional situations may harm other vulnerable people. That is certainly not true in every case, and the risk of someone being upset at seeing a trans woman in some random public loo is not a good reason for prohibiting all trans women from women’s loos. There might be particular circumstances where a trans woman should not use women’s space. I am open to persuasion. We should behave considerately in women’s space, but then, everyone should behave considerately in every public space.

That particular individual is incorrigible. Consider more of their drivellings: if we erase the notion of biological sex from the language, it would be impossible to walk into a wrong bathroom or discriminate against the opposite sex. But then we will live in the 1984 dystopia. What a martyr they is! I don’t want to erase the notion of biological sex, just permit the odd discrepancy, because human culture is complex, and changing it difficult, requiring bodges. Casting the issue in such apocalypic terms, they are surely justified in causing me such small discomfort as to instruct me what toilet to use. It is not an argument. There will be no meeting of minds. It is a power struggle.

Fermi’s Paradox

Where are all the alien species? Why can’t we detect them?

If there are space-faring civilisations, they have to be social. Solitary animals, passing on skills to their offspring, might not even learn to make flint axes, leave alone smelt iron. Ironwork requires specialisation. Even reaching the moon involved more than 300,000 people. Rocket science is not particularly complicated, unlike brain surgery; rocket engineering is extremely complex.

They also have to be altruistic. We are destroying the environment because enough people care more about their own short term gains. We may destroy our species, or even our biosphere, before we have been transmitting radio waves for two hundred years. From the start of life to the end of intelligence takes perhaps 3.8bn years, and two hundred is a tiny part of that. Alternatively, we are increasingly transmitting information by cable rather than broadcast, so we may stop emitting radio waves because of improving technology.

This is not certainty. The Singularity, in transhumanism, is the moment when intelligent machines start to program themselves, and their intelligence starts to increase exponentially. Possibly before the biosphere is destroyed, such machines will have been created, operating automated plant to reproduce. With unfettered neoliberalism, they could inherit paranoid selfishness from their creators, and seek to destroy any other civilisation which they would perceive as a threat.

However, I hope that the spacefaring civilisation would see the galaxy as a place of abundance rather than scarce resources needing conquest to avoid competition. We would certainly not be slaves in mines, as any civilisation which could travel through space could mine with automation more efficiently.

I hope that we have two things they might want to preserve. We have our culture. If we were contacted by a more advanced civilisation, our culture might become a pale imitation of theirs. They want us to develop without contamination, to benefit from our unique way of seeing the universe, and relating to one another. We have our genetic diversity. Considering that bacteria are as different from archaea as eukaryotes are, possibly there are unique genetic solutions on Earth, never seen elsewhere.

Though as humans are destroying the biosphere’s genetic diversity, they might want to conquer us in order to preserve it.

Intelligent life may not be common. If it evolves in aquatic species, it will not lead to technology, leave alone space travel. Life here may need the Moon, which keeps our axial tilt stable: Mars’ axial tilt varies from 0° to 60°, which could cause climate change too rapid for species to adapt, preventing complex evolution. Life may need Jupiter, whose gravity captures rocks like the Chicxulub impactor, or we would have had more mass extinctions from such impacts.

They have not come yet.

And now what shall become of us without aliens?
These people were in sooth some sort of settlement

Emotional thinking V

Emotional thinking is rational thinking.

Before University, I went for a taster weekend at St Andrews. We stayed in the halls, had a tour and saw the tiny town with its three parallel streets; and had a few sample lectures and a dance. How could anyone ‘live by logic’? asked a philosophy don about Star Trek. Who would do anything without desire? Logic can work things out, emotion motivates. But emotion also creates rational decisions, of what is in my interests or what I find bearable. Vulcan main characters in the Star Trek universe show loyalty and drive. Their subsuming emotion means doing their duty when they would feel fear or disgust, and judging others impartially. They have no sense of humour, but one of honour and right conduct. Minor characters also show a sense of their own importance and the respect due to them, sometimes overblown, and even competitiveness.

It is hard to see how emotion might be excluded from any opinion or decision. We cannot be “rational”, making appropriate decisions, if we do not use emotion. Vulcans would not be impulsive, they would defer gratification or eschew lower animal tastes, they would be imperturbable, but the emotion is underneath, influencing their actions.

I wonder about those impulsive decisions. Fear and desire war in me until desire overcomes, and I do the foolish, ridiculous thing- which is liberation for me, even authenticity. Decisions about what risks to take are emotional. Even “logical” tools like enumerating pros and cons of alternatives are a way of drawing out the emotional reaction- for which are more important? Illusion, asserting that something is not as it really is, is a way of suppressing true feeling.

Desiccated? But desiccated thinking uses old, diseased emotion, old resentments and hatreds, to find revenge where there is no delight left in it, and even completed revenge would leave the hatred unappeased.

Rational thinking is emotional thinking, using healthy emotion to find what will best help the actor flourish and be their true self. Logical thinking, finding what is clearly right, is emotional. Even rationalisation is emotional, believing what I need to believe so as best to nourish my relationships.

Only through emotion can I find who I truly am, and only through emotional decision making can I realise my true self, and flourish.

I love Theresa May’s necklace of huge chain links, like shiny carabiners.

It looks like a slave thing, she said. I am not sure. Possibly her disapproval was not diminished when I said I thought it more strong than submissive- to appeal to the virago rather than the submissive woman. That’s my sexuality you are discounting, I think. There is gay pride, I need an analogous but distinct pride. The patriarchal ideal of sexuality is flaunted all the time. It is a clear part of the Foreign Secretary’s public persona.

The pride stirs in my heart even as worry at disapproval and wanting agreement and reconciliation- both very me- arise too. With such feelings, how hard for me to attain authenticity! So many competing feelings to permit, to nurture to maturity, to reconcile! How beautiful I will be, when I do!

Recovery from burnout

Only achievers burn out.

I got that lying doctor sacked. Then I am on the balance of probabilities sure that the second one was lying, was certain of it at the time, and think any disinterested party would agree. The Benefits office and their medical services were not disinterested, wanting to assert that they did nothing wrong ever.

I went into the tribunal and accused the examining doctor of lying. The doctor on the tribunal laid into me. How dare I impugn the integrity of a professional man? So I went back to the waiting room, burst into tears, and soon after I stopped doing benefits tribunals. I took a demotion and went round people’s houses filling in attendance allowance claims.

I found that I would not give up until I am dangling on the end of a rope, and at the time I was proud of it. Rightly proud, that ability to push myself that hard is strong. Yet there is a flaw in it. It might be better to recognise that the work was tiring, and stop before I fell. I had done a reasonable amount of work. And having got the first doctor sacked, with set-back after set-back over months, I might have been better to realise that it was above my paygrade, not my job, and possibly too difficult.

I had to burn out before I gave up. I had to be reduced to tears and unable to go on before I would stop.

Then there was that dinghy sailing course on Cumbrae in my teens. There was a swell, we had to paddle the boat to the jetty, and I was paddling really hard. I feel the man paddling on the other side of the boat sensed I was frightened, and am still peeved, because I was not frightened of the boat capsizing but of not paddling as fast as he was. Possibly he was merely surprised at how hard I was paddling.

So how can I recover from this?

You are recovering, she says. You recover by exercising your intellect. You have ambitions. You don’t feel strong enough to fight or confront, you don’t feel resilient, but will become so. Have faith! You have this capacity for energy and enthusiasm, though not all the time. It shows in your face. Burnout only happens to achievers.

I did not know when to stop. Burnout was the only way I could protect myself. Just as when I went home from work to kill myself and then realised I did not want to die, just to get out of there immediately. If only I could take avoiding action before I got to that stage. I am worth preserving.

I was weeping on the phone with the Samaritans. I can be the Rational Man, suppressing feeling but Angry, and then if I accept the weeping and give myself to it I can be the Dancer.

-A petal or a razor blade, she says.
-There might be something in the middle.

-Why is fighting masculine? Is that indoctrination, that boys are strong, girls weak?

Something in the middle- a flower, not just a petal which falls to the ground.
-How about a whole garden?
A bush, I say, putting forth flowers, seeds and thorns.

I am away for the weekend soon, with HAI, then for a week with Quakers. All lovely, open people.

-I am glad part of you takes time to have fun.

There might be something in the middle. Either I am worthless or the centre of the universe. Either I work as hard as fighting for survival or I hide away and do nothing. I am fighting for survival, because there is the parental judgment, now internalised, if I do not work hard enough I am No Good, and that is a threat to my existence. And you can’t fight for survival all the time, especially if it is not real. I gave up because I could not work that hard all the time any more. These responses are unconscious, I just do it without consciously choosing, and I wonder how much good analysing them does.

Doctor Who is Trans

The Doctor is Trans.

Doctor Who is left wing- see the Evil Capitalists in Space plots, such as Oxygen, where air is discharged to preserve market value. But the first trans character was a satire. Lady Cassadra, the malevolent trampoline, had had hundreds of operations, the latest bleaching her blood so that veins did not show. I get it- lots of people find vaginoplasty or FFS repellent to imagine- but it is a vicious swipe at trans from a gay writer. And I might not have realised, until she said “When I was a little boy”.

Missy, however, explains The Master perfectly. He is trans, pre-transition. He wants to destroy things, he is so angry; he wants to control, in a horrid caricature of Manliness, and eventually he goes mad.

Then he transitions, and she is playful. This is the first time the character has shown joy. She dresses like a tranny with poor dress sense. She dresses in a particular style- cameo brooches were fashionable in 1996, wasn’t it? Those skirt suits with maxi skirts, the pussy-bows, the high collars, all very trans. I have worn suits like that. I still have a skirt like that. I like it, I wear it occasionally.

She is lonely, and wants her friend back. She despises human beings, thinking less of killing us than we would of killing a spider, but wants to be friends with the Doctor. Her first plan was to give him a present, an army of cybermen so he could “do good” all over the galaxy.

The broken, insane character transitions, and is still broken and insane, but slightly less violent. She might even become sane.

And now The Doctor will be female. This is a mature transition, the gentle, peaceful Doctor who will sacrifice self over and over again for friends, becomes a woman. She is beautiful and retains the deep sanity of the character. This is a transition for now, not the poor persecuted broken trans of the past but a trans person never broken by the world, fulfilled by transition, effortlessly herself.

 

Norethisterone IV

My dear friend Richard explained to me that I transitioned because I misunderstand what femininity is. Well, of course I do, but I feel he simplifies it worse. My father, a pansy, found a virago, and they were married for 33 years. Then 18 months after she died he found another, who is now his widow. He was happy.

We had some difficulty on finding the right word. I want to be- dominated? No, no, yuck, the connotations of leather, pvc, whips and chains revolt me. Subordinated, perhaps. Ruled, even. Those words will do. He says this is inauthentic, a cop-out from the existential duty Sartre called all human beings to. Yeah, right- so tell me again why Sartre had a fifty year relationship with a woman who was cleverer than he was.

I said that if I were a woman seeking a man, wanting to be dominated would be unremarkable, and at that he said no, only equality is acceptable within a relationship. Why should my father not be happy? Or I? He insisted, and then said I misunderstood femininity. He accepted it was cultural. Women are strong. I agree equality is a good model for a relationship, yet feel “Wives be subject to your husbands as you are to the Lord” is OK if that fits the people involved- and the other way round, too, for some couples.

What would a gay man know about it anyway, I wondered. Possibly he was projecting, but as we were getting a little heated we agreed to change the subject, and went onto politics.

I have enough norethisterone to have ten nine-day sessions of it, at the dose I had been on. I find that it makes my emotions more intense, so came off it, and the endocrinologist said I should not take it, but I wanted to experiment. At times, more intense emotions could be fun or a learning experience. This is day three.

I arrived a little early, and phoned his house in case he had not left yet. When we had poured the tea, I noticed a tedious chord progression in the background music- I V VI IV repeated, eight semiquavers to each- so unimaginative- and complained about it. “That sounds like Batman”, he said, Nananana nananana… I put my hand up to stop him, embarrassed and peremptory. Ah. Possibly that’s the norethisterone. Its purpose with HRT is to prevent endometriosis, and as I have no uterus, it has no value. My needs and desires have greater immediacy, and then I find myself apologising and explaining.

Sartrean authenticity may be impossible.

Theory, Myth, Reality, Dancing

The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has precise diagnostic criteria for Gender Dysphoria. The previous one had slightly different diagnostic criteria for Gender Identity Disorder. In small cell lung carcinoma, there are clear ways to diagnose the condition and a clear treatment pathway once it has been diagnosed, depending on its stage; it would be lovely to imagine that were possible for the thing some people wanted to call Harry Benjamin Syndrome; and the DSM might make it appear that it is. You visit your doctor, you say what your symptoms are, you answer questions, and get a diagnosis.

Diagnosis of GD/GID- you will transition, you will be happy and fulfilled ever after.

No diagnosis of GD/GID- you are not trans.

The DSM omits to mention many things that will affect the success of your transition- what is your family and work situation, how well do you pass, what is your personality like. Some of these are not quantifiable. People attempt transition on a wing and a prayer, and some of them succeed. “Do you want to transition?” is the main question. Some assessment of whether the desire is likely to persist, or whether you can succeed, may be useful, but that is not subject to precise scientific measurement, and may not be knowable.

There are also theories of the cause of GID, such as Autogynephilia, which is complete rubbish. There is a great deal of research about differences in trans folk’s brains, or DNA. This is reassuring. “I have a woman’s brain,” you say, because that justifies your decision to transition in your eyes, and this should be precisely measurable, ever since the BSTc was found to be female sized in a small sample of trans women.

I don’t feel scientific theories explain something this human. It is worthwhile attempting to explain scientifically, but also to recognise the limitations and incompleteness of the hypotheses.

I would rather use myth to explain my actions. “I have a woman’s brain” is refutable; “I am two-spirited” is not a statement of scientific fact but a myth, a story which justifies what I did. I transitioned. If you want a reason for that, “I got a diagnosis from a psychiatrist” would work, or “I wanted to,” but “I am two-spirited” is emotionally satisfying. Rationally, as a scientific theory, I am a materialist, but emotionally, when I consult what I feel about it, I am a theist, a believer in God. If I attempt a scientific, rigorous explanation of God or transition it is refutable and may be ridiculous, but “I am two-spirited” is not. It’s not a scientific theory, it is a story I tell. Stories guide us through life.

And then there is reality. I am faced with a choice. What do I want to do? Stories, or using pseudo science like a story, might justify my decision, or alternatively I might decide according to the story or the pseudo-science, and find my decision so unbearable that I decided the other way. Some things are irreducibly uncertain.

I can be the Rational Man, even now. I will put my feelings to one side, and work out in a rational way what is going on. I will behave sensibly. Then I cannot bear it any more, and break down in tears, unable to speak coherently, possibly curled on the floor. If I accept that state and pass through it, I become-

The Dancer

I love it. That is who I want to be. I just respond in the moment, though the crying may have exhausted me: I have clear access to my feelings and I can express my essence in words and action. I wish I could find a way to get to that state less traumatically, and earn money while in it.

Bullshit II

The sword of truth shall shatter against the shield of bullshit.
Then Mr Valiant for Truth shall be smothered by the blanket of bullshit’s warm, dank embrace
and all the congregation shall say, “Amen”.

My dear blogging buddy Violet, a friend since 2013 when we met commenting on an extremist Christian blog, is completely astonished that so many people can believe all this [the world, the universe] is here on the whim of an invisible being. Well, as with any action, I believe what is in my interests to believe. I have no particular need to understand how the Universe, or life, or my species came into existence, and no-one knows what caused the big bang or the first self-replicating molecule anyway. I like to believe that the institution of the University seeks the truth, that those academics who investigate the biologic column have useful theories about the history of Earth, and that their careers depend on approximating truth and eliminating error. So I believe that the planet is 4.6bn years old.

Others believe that the Bible is literally true and the Earth about six thousand years old. It bonds them in their communities, which can be extremely supportive to those who do not rock the boat. It gives them a shared morality and understanding, and a belief in a certain, explicable world, which is reassuring. For the worst, it shows they are the Saved, and everyone who does not agree is dead through [their] trespasses and sins following the course of this world, following the ruler of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work among those who are disobedient. Believing that everyone who does not agree with you is deluded by Satan is reassuring.

I believe in truth. Some things are ascertainable. The planet is warming because of industrial CO2 emissions. Brexit will be a disaster. Donald Trump Jr. met a Russian government lawyer because she promised dirt on Hillary Clinton. If human beings can agree what our circumstances are, we can work together to improve them. This is the mainstream Labour/Labor/Democrat view.

Increasingly the Conservative/Liberal/Republican view is that people with power and wealth should do as they please, and the fittest will survive. They should not be taxed; instead the poor should work for the minimum the market will bear. Government spending should be minimal. That means the Right cannot speak the truth, as it would stop them doing what they want. So Republicans have a negative view of higher education- 58% -ve, 36% +ve, while Democrats are positive by 72 to 19%.

There has always been bullshit in politics, but it has been increasing. Climate change denial is bullshit, yet politicians persist with it- because the truth would require international government co-operation, and stop their paymasters from doing what they want. There was a sprinkling of bullshit, on the most important issues, such as Mr Reagan’s “Supply-side economics”, which GHW Bush called “Voodoo economics”- the idea that tax cuts on the rich increase economic growth, and even tax receipts. They wanted to reduce tax on the rich, so they said it would be a good thing for everyone, even though that was repeatedly proven untrue. Mr Trump, however, ignores the truth for a Bugsy Malone Splurge-gun of bullshit: claiming that Mr Putin would want a Hillary Clinton victory is only a part of it.

Are there vacancies at the top of the US Administration because Trump has not nominated people, or because the Democrats have blocked confirmation proceedings? I tend to believe the NYT, rather than Mr Trump’s twitter feed, that it is Trump’s fault, but one could dig down into the data, and compare with the performance of earlier administrations. However cynicism about politicians serves the Right and not the Left, because it decreases respect for a common shared truth. Instead, the Left needs to tell the truth, and point out the lies. If we never forgive the liars we may defeat them.

Should the British Government renege on treaty obligations to the EU? They involve paying a substantial sum. Mr Johnson, the foreign secretary, says the EU can “whistle” for it. Germany, which paid off the last money due under the Treaty of Versailles in 2010, may disagree, and how may we enter a new treaty if we have proved ourselves untrustworthy?

Only the Left can act in the interests of all the people. Therefore only the left is patriotic. Patriotism is not about military parades, leave alone invading other countries.

 

The intense world theory

“What is wrong with you?” is rarely a useful question. “How do you differ from me?” or “Who are you?” are different ways of approaching the other- as distinct from me, or as someone in their own right. How they differ is easier for me to understand, because I start from myself, and understand myself; but it might cause me to ignore important things, or see myself as the default. Anyway, I may miss parts of you which are too far from my own experience.

The intense world theory suggests how autistic people may be gifted, and how their gifts might be nurtured, rather than how they may be sick, and made as normal as possible.

Here is the Sally-Anne experiment.

Simon Baron-Cohen performed this experiment on autistic children, some of whom failed to answer correctly that Sally would look for her marble in the basket, not knowing that Anne had hidden it. He deduced that these children did not have a proper theory of mind, knowing that others felt and thought differently from themselves.

However, Henry Markram considered other possible explanations for the autistic children not answering the question correctly. They could actually be better at seeing into the minds of others. This is so disturbing that they develop strategies to avoid it. His theory predicts that all autistic children have exceptional talents that are locked up; an upbringing introducing them gently to a rich, diverse environment in a predictable way could allow those talents to develop.

The children are easily traumatised. Fear memories were so quickly acquired, lasted longer, were difficult to erase and over generalized… the neocortex could render the world intense, highly fragmented and overly specialized while the amygdala would dial up the emotional component of the intense world making it potentially extremely painful and aversive forcing the autistic child to take refuge in a secure bubble. Neural microcircuits in their brains process information more intensely, so that they see, feel and think more intensely. The infant brain should make and trim connections rapidly- that is why we sleep so much when we are babies- but the autistic brain develops these circuits too early, and does not trim the connections. Some microcircuits that should wait their turn to develop, develop too early and begin to dominate over the other microcircuits driving hyper-preferences, repetitiveness, idiosyncrasies and eventually making unlearning and rehabilitation very difficult.

Henry Markham claims this is a unifying theory, explaining all the observations. Other theories explain less, or are based on a view of autism as a form of mental retardation. We explain more if we can see something as good in itself.

This is from this article, which I found here. Simon Baron-Cohen, famous autism researcher, believes the problem is a lack of empathy, but I observe in my Aspie friends a great deal of empathy.

However, here I read that the child subjects were asked three questions-

Where will Sally look for her marble? (The “belief” question)
Where is the marble really? (The “reality” question)
Where was the marble at the beginning? (The “memory” question)

What were the autistics’ answers on the control questions?

Here, there are alternative explanations of why the autistic children might have been recorded as failing to answer the belief question. Autism would be a disorder of communication rather than of empathy.

I want to understand others as I want to be understood- not disordered, but different.