Did Einstein have Asperger’s? Recently, I found myself miffed at yet another conference on Autism. In this case, it was a day long seminar lead by an M.D. from the child study center of a major Connecticut medical university. What upset me was that he implied that only M.D.’s can correctly diagnose Asperger’s; moreover, that diagnosing anyone in less than four days was simply people out to scam money out of the poor families.

That this man was narrow minded is clear. What stayed with me, though, was a comment he made about people like Einstein and Bill Gates not having Asperger’s. Why not? Because, he said, they do not need medical assistance.

What is important to see here is why they did not need this medical assistance. Why didn’t they? Because their “special interest” generalized to an interest in which the general population is also interested. According to Dr. Iknowbest, though, people who achieve public success cannot possibly suffer from Asperger’s.

Here again, we see a case wherein symptoms, rather than personal suffering, drives the diagnosis. However, before I address this misnomer further, I need to first make a disclaimer. I want you to know that I, in no way, mean to imply that all medically minded folks are asses. In truth, I relish reading medical studies such as those Harvard recently did, wherein they used brain imaging to explore the physical identity of Asperger’s.

In truth then, I am only against people who use these kinds of studies to depersonalize human suffering. Moreover, saying Einstein did not suffer socially ignores everything we know about him as a person. To me, this is profoundly sad, and ignorant, especially in light of that his social ineptitude is a matter of record. As is that of people like Thomas Jefferson, Socrates, Lincoln and Newton, and so many others just like them.

That these men had a hard time socially connecting to others is simply fact. Newton, for instance, spent most of his life shut away in his apartment. Doing what? Thinking and writing about his “special interest”; physics. In a way, then, it’s a miracle we even know of his work, given his aversion toward social shallowness and people in general.

Whatever the case, we do know him. Asperger’s and all.

What is Asperger’s? So how do I define, Asperger’s? Let me first define the spectrum to which it belongs; autism. I define autism as, “a social impairment wherein a person suffers from a pervasive category of socially disconnecting distractions.” Moreover, what I mean by “socially disconnecting distractions” is that the person has the very tendency to which I have been referring; a personality sized “special interest.”

What, then, is the principle symptom of this suffering?

The profound inability to connect to socially normal people. Especially to social peers.

The principle behavior which drives this behavior?

Compulsively focusing on things other than personal relationships at the expense of personal relationships. Here again, the tendency to have “special interests.”