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Dr-David-Banner

THE DISTORTION OF ASPERGER'S

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Dr-David-Banner

I stumbled upon the website of Candice Hilligoss which is here:

http://www.candacehilligoss.com/

This turns out to be quite an interesting site for me as it features interviews with the cast and director. There is also an on-site location tour of the movie site. The funny thing is this was Candice Hilligoss's only big on screen role and she never became an established actress.

I always had a kind of interest in actors who appeared in older movies.

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nichii
On 4/11/2018 at 12:16 PM, Dr-David-Banner said:

To me it sort of suggests like the door is one she can pop her head through some of the time but, during the derealisation experiences, it closes fully and she realises she just can't "belong".

Not belonging is a pretty common thing for people who experience derealization. Since a person with DR feels disconnected from the world and their surroundings, it's not surprising that they would also feel like they don't belong. I know this feeling well back when my DPDR was severe. 

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Dr-David-Banner

I found something interesting. On Candice Hiligoss's site there is featured a short interview with Herk Harvey. Well, it gets really interesting here. Harvey had apparently taken a trip to Salt Lake City and stopped off to take a look at the old, abandoned pavilion. He says he was standing there taking it all in and suddenly experienced a very weird, eerie feeling of being completely disconnected and unreal. The pavilion somehow affected him and made a huge impression. At that point, he decided to make the film Carnival Of Souls.

I have very rarely had this sort of atmosphere-related experience of derealisation, seemingly triggered by buildings or scenes or locations. On the very rare occasions I experienced it, it felt a bit like a shift in time as if you suddenly sense all the history of a location. This particular experience is very different to the type of derealisation where I will feel disconnected from people so I think it is the former that Harvey experienced. And yet, the movie goes on to address the latter.

When the film was released it originally flopped. It was screened at drive-in movies as a kind of cheap, low-budget chiller movie. The sort of movie a guy would drive into with his girlfriend and a cone of popcorn. Basically it wasn't understood whatsoever and was too deep for the movie fans. Then, it turned out, as time passed by, more and more people started to catch onto the film and it went "underground".

Not only does the movie interest me in a way I can directly relate to the concept of being "invisible", "disconnected", "estranged", "deeply troubled" but it also interests me in regard to its actual filming and the director's aspect of it. I highly recommend you watch it on YouTube or try to get a copy on DVD. I mean, check out all those huge early sixties, gas-guzzling cars. The way the women dressed as well.

The scene that I found amusing was when the troubled Mary first meets her really lecherous, creepy co-tenant Mr Linden. This guy struck me as a failure in his approach to get girlfriends. I mean, wow, I would never just push myself into a woman's room as soon as she opens the door (without first being invited). Of course, the kicker is that this woman has major, serious issues and Mr Linden finally exits the movie with the words, "That's all I need. To get mixed up with a woman who's off her rocker!!"

Turns out some of the scenes were shot in Kansas but the pavilion itself in Utah was destroyed once in a fire and then again after it was rebuilt. The second time was through a huge storm.



 

Edited by Dr-David-Banner

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nichii
On 4/13/2018 at 12:42 PM, Dr-David-Banner said:

Harvey had apparently taken a trip to Salt Lake City and stopped off to take a look at the old, abandoned pavilion. He says he was standing there taking it all in and suddenly experienced a very weird, eerie feeling of being completely disconnected and unreal. The pavilion somehow affected him and made a huge impression.

I've never heard of an experience like this before. It does seem a bit different from derealization because derealization is triggered by either trauma or a drug reaction. It's not a well understood disorder. It's interesting that something like this can happen. There's a lot science doesn't understand. This may be one of those things. Aphantasia is a fairly common condition that only recently was discovered and given a name. It's been around for god knows how long and people have lived their lives without realizing that anything was wrong. This experience Harvey had is possibly something that science hasn't been able to explain or something that science doesn't even know about. I tried looking for any information about this and the only thing that comes up is derealization. It may be related to derealization, but has an unusual trigger. 

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Dr-David-Banner

I had two experiences similar to that of Harvey but it's not derealisation. To me it felt paranormal. The point is though the film then goes on to address derealisation and the experiences of not belonging. What struck me was the scenes where people can't see Mary as in the clothes shop. I often find if three people are talking already, they never seem to react to my arrival. It comes across as very rude but also very strange. 

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Dr-David-Banner

So, briefly getting back to the main these of the thread, Paul Cooijman wrote:

"In reality, Asperger syndrome is a severe handicap which makes life very much harder than it would be for a person of the same intelligence without the condition. It is always hard to express the severity of a handicap, but a safe guess is that Asperger is on par with for instance missing both legs (not just one) or with being completely blind (not just having very bad eyesight)"

And then he continues:

"In any case, the severity of the handicap is underestimated in popular publications about Asperger syndrome. The professional success of some Aspergoid individuals in adult life is deceptive in that it hides the inner suffering of the persons, which is nevertheless revealed by the high incidence of depression and suicide among them."

Apart from myself, I had two friends on the spectrum, both now dead. One had the symptoms more severe than myself but he also had several co-morbid issues as well. In fact, very possibly his Asperger condition had morphed into psychosis. He became totally convinced of the fact women found him to be ugly on the basis he had no girlfriends. At that time I had no knowledge of psychology and was unable to explain to him his relationships with the opposite sex were held back by personal interaction and poor social skills. This guy you would know straight away he was on the spectrum due to the strange way he moved around, his very hesitant attempts at greeting people and his total lack of awareness of what you can, or cannot say, in routine conversation. He spent pretty much most of his life on prescription drugs, handed out by a psychiatrist. Despite being gifted in music and maths the only job he ever had was as a cleaner.

My other friend on the spectrum was female but a more mild case. She was a bit of a Tomboy. A lot of Asperger females are a bit tomboyish. She had issues with being very scruffy. She was also a talented artists and photographer and was doing her second degree in geology via Open University. She did have a few friends but wasn't very employable at all so she made her living doing peoples' gardens and looking after houses for friends on holiday. I don't think my female AS friend had any major issues with the condition morphing into more serious conditions.

My other main point I made before is I think there has been this huge tendency to "whitewash" A.S. and only represent to the public the pluses of the condition. To be perfectly honest, I would look back on my entire experiences with A.S. as representing a huge struggle, followed by years of effort to try and partly "normalise" aspects of my life. I can clearly point to significant delays in school education, co-ordination and mobility, delays in maturity and an overall risk of more serious factors. Employment was always a nightmare, because practically all aspects of employment today depend upon social skills and popularity (which boils down to either being liked or disliked). Plus, with all those negative factors I was lucky enough to have managed to cope around some aspects of the condition (mainly through education in some pertinent psychology). However, that far from enables me to live anything like a normal life (the type most people take for granted).

 

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nichii
15 hours ago, Dr-David-Banner said:

"In reality, Asperger syndrome is a severe handicap which makes life very much harder than it would be for a person of the same intelligence without the condition. It is always hard to express the severity of a handicap, but a safe guess is that Asperger is on par with for instance missing both legs (not just one) or with being completely blind (not just having very bad eyesight)"

And then he continues:

"In any case, the severity of the handicap is underestimated in popular publications about Asperger syndrome. The professional success of some Aspergoid individuals in adult life is deceptive in that it hides the inner suffering of the persons, which is nevertheless revealed by the high incidence of depression and suicide among them."

I think it depends on the person. Autism is on a spectrum and no two people with autism are the same. It's possible to have high functioning autism that doesn't affect the person's life too much. Some people with ASD can hide their symptoms well enough and live a happy life despite the hardships that come with ASD. Then there are people on the lower end of the spectrum that truly are handicapped. People that can't function on their own and need to be taken care of for the rest of their lives. 

I see people with HFA as people who have both a gift and a curse. Some people with ASD are significantly troubled by their symptoms and it can make life very difficult. I also see ASD as a gift in a sort of way. Maybe it's just the people on this forum, but it seems like people with ASD are very kind and thoughtful. Kinder than a lot of people. I've been on many forums and the people on this site are the kindest people I've known. That's why I stay here despite finding out that my autism diagnosis was a mistake and I was misdiagnosed. 

 

15 hours ago, Dr-David-Banner said:

I can clearly point to significant delays in school education, co-ordination and mobility, delays in maturity and an overall risk of more serious factors. Employment was always a nightmare, because practically all aspects of employment today depend upon social skills and popularity (which boils down to either being liked or disliked). Plus, with all those negative factors I was lucky enough to have managed to cope around some aspects of the condition (mainly through education in some pertinent psychology). However, that far from enables me to live anything like a normal life (the type most people take for granted).

I can as well. School was difficult for me. Not because I was dumb or anything, but because of anxiety, depression, ADHD, possible learning disabilities  (like with math), and a general dislike of school. I gave up and slept in all of my classes because I stopped caring about school and everything. I sometimes wonder if I would have turned out differently if I got the right treatments and knew the things that I know now.

Employment was a nightmare for me too. I've only had one job and it was absolute hell. It worsened my mental health significantly. I had to take shots of vodka before work just to calm me down enough to go. I don't have the skills required to work in a fast paced environment. I get overwhelmed when I' m expected to work quickly. Plus I'm not good at math which is something that's kind of necessary when working as a cashier. I also have poor social skills and hate talking to people. I have to pretend to be a normal and a well functioning employee, but even with my attempts at trying to seem normal, I was still known as the weird guy. It's experiences like this that deter me from finding a new job. Especially because of my lack of education, job experience, and no references, I can only work at the worst jobs like retail.  

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Dr-David-Banner
7 hours ago, nichii said:

I think it depends on the person. Autism is on a spectrum and no two people with autism are the same. It's possible to have high functioning autism that doesn't affect the person's life too much. Some people with ASD can hide their symptoms well enough and live a happy life despite the hardships that come with ASD. Then there are people on the lower end of the spectrum that truly are handicapped. People that can't function on their own and need to be taken care of for the rest of their lives. 

I see people with HFA as people who have both a gift and a curse. Some people with ASD are significantly troubled by their symptoms and it can make life very difficult. I also see ASD as a gift in a sort of way. Maybe it's just the people on this forum, but it seems like people with ASD are very kind and thoughtful. Kinder than a lot of people. I've been on many forums and the people on this site are the kindest people I've known. That's why I stay here despite finding out that my autism diagnosis was a mistake and I was misdiagnosed. 

 

I can as well. School was difficult for me. Not because I was dumb or anything, but because of anxiety, depression, ADHD, possible learning disabilities  (like with math), and a general dislike of school. I gave up and slept in all of my classes because I stopped caring about school and everything. I sometimes wonder if I would have turned out differently if I got the right treatments and knew the things that I know now.

Employment was a nightmare for me too. I've only had one job and it was absolute hell. It worsened my mental health significantly. I had to take shots of vodka before work just to calm me down enough to go. I don't have the skills required to work in a fast paced environment. I get overwhelmed when I' m expected to work quickly. Plus I'm not good at math which is something that's kind of necessary when working as a cashier. I also have poor social skills and hate talking to people. I have to pretend to be a normal and a well functioning employee, but even with my attempts at trying to seem normal, I was still known as the weird guy. It's experiences like this that deter me from finding a new job. Especially because of my lack of education, job experience, and no references, I can only work at the worst jobs like retail.  

"That's why I stay here despite finding out that my autism diagnosis was a mistake and I was misdiagnosed. "

It helps I think to stay very open over diagnosis. A diagnosis may change over time. Naturally, in the early days a sense of diagnosis is very important but, for me, over time I really don't care too much about what diagnosis I have. What really matters is "understanding" what is going on and trying to pinpoint and define what's experienced. As, for example, derealisation as I experience it isn't quite the same as what most people experience.

I had a biology teacher once who used to tell the class, "I don't want terminology. I want understanding!"

If I recall your case, did one of your psychologists pick up on the fact you "developed" A.S. symptoms and that caused some questions? Were you once diagnosed with AS and Hikikomori simultaneously? Of course, all of this is always very complicated. For example, are we born with the condition or does part of it get released due to stresses around the condition? To be honest, I am totally self-diagnosed for a good reason. The first reason is I was never at any time helped by anyone in authority (primarily at school) despite obvious difficulties. When I did at some point seek help the Asperger diagnosis wasn't available at that time (1987). I started off by self-diagnosis of A.S. but then started to realise I also had had some signs of early learning disability and the obvious short delay in reading. I then saw it more as HFA but (weirdly), I also read people with HFA aren't supposed to have motor clumsiness. Later I found Hans Asperger himself had a more simple definition of his syndrome. Most of what He did was to gather all the kids with serious problems together and then connect all they had in common. I guess over time what really started to matter was not the narrowing down of terminology but exploring where the limitations are, what they are and what could have been the cause. The bottom line is, the same as you, I have a lot of struggles. By the way, I liked the bit about the vodka. I used that method when I had to teach classes overseas. I was just at the point of being let go when I developed an emergency formula made of red wine and juices. However, the family found traces of it in the bath and assumed it was blood!! I would drink it really quickly just before the class to knock out my nervous energy. I never confessed to the host family and recall them discussing what the red stains in the bathroom might have been.

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Dr-David-Banner

I think so far as concerns me personally I seem to have discovered something unusual about autism. One thing is for sure I experience part of it very differently to others. Not that I don't get the same main symptoms such as sensory issues, empathy and non verbal language. I get all of that but there is one big difference. I won't say what it is but suffice it to say all this started out as a puzzle. It took many years to first realise I don't process information in any way similar to normal people. I thought all people were the same so the tricky bit was identifying the differences. Then it was a gradual process. Psychologists will look at all of this academically by comparing data and drawing similarities based on how all people react to stress. To me though part of this is like discussing how you ride a bike but never experiencing getting on one and pedaling. It is as hard for me to understand neurotypical thought because really that way of processing information is alien. Although I am not good at diagnosing other people I can at least connect all the dots that relate to my own experience. Part of this I can associate with other people on the AS spectrum but not the full scope of it. I also have a theory that Hans Asperger was researching autism for motives beyond merely trying to decide if the defect merited elimination.

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Sanctuary

i would certainly agree with David that diagnosis - and non-diagnosis - does not end the matter. Diagnosis of AS remains a very inexact process and much depends on the perspective (and competence) of the clinician. Some people are wrongly told they don't have AS but there are others who are wrongly diagnosed as having it. There's no easy solution to this as the criteria for diagnosis depend on interpretation. Diagnosis has certainly widened considerably over the last few decades and Hans Asperger probably conceived it as having a much narrower interpretation to refer to children with profound difficulties. It is good that we have recognised in more recent times how autism can affect broader sections of the population and that those people can receive recognition of being affected and get some support (unfortunately often rather limited but a step in the right direction). While more people are being diagnosed with ASD some who have the condition do miss out and I would recommend anyone who feels this has happened to get a second opinion although I know that may not be easy to obtain.

After weighing up the evidence a clinician may correctly decide that someone doesn't have AS. However although they may not pass the "threshold" they may still have elements of the condition and these need to be recognised.

 

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nichii
16 hours ago, Sanctuary said:

Some people are wrongly told they don't have AS but there are others who are wrongly diagnosed as having it.

This is why people should see someone who specializes in ASD if they believe they have ASD. I know this isn't always possible though. People should also pay attention to what education the psychiatrist or psychologist has when seeing someone for a diagnosis. I first saw a psychiatrist who had a lesser degree than the other psychologists I've since seen. It only took him a few minutes before he thought I had autism. I saw two other psychologists since then. One told me that I don't have it because I didn't present the symptoms as a child. The other psychologist I went to for another opinion said that he also doesn't believe I have it.

I don't remember what education the first psychologist has, but the second one has a PhD in psychology which is a lot better than what the psychiatrist I saw has. He's only a psychiatrist nurse and even told me that he wanted to see someone for a second opinion because he doesn't know enough about autism. The second psychologist I saw also saw me for weeks and got to know me before suggesting any diagnosis. I hate how a lot of psychiatrists will see someone for 5 to 10 minutes and think they know them well enough to diagnose something. They're so quick to make a diagnosis so they can push medication on someone. I'm pro-medication, but they need to be more careful when it comes to diagnosing and prescribing medication after only a few minutes of talking to the patient. Seeing someone only once for a few minutes shouldn't be enough to diagnose anything. Especially when it's something as complicated as a mental illness and can't be diagnosed with blood tests or whatever. 

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nichii
On 4/17/2018 at 12:42 PM, Dr-David-Banner said:

It helps I think to stay very open over diagnosis. A diagnosis may change over time. Naturally, in the early days a sense of diagnosis is very important but, for me, over time I really don't care too much about what diagnosis I have. What really matters is "understanding" what is going on and trying to pinpoint and define what's experienced. As, for example, derealisation as I experience it isn't quite the same as what most people experience.

I no longer care much about a diagnosis. Especially for ASD. I used to want a diagnosis, so I could feel validated. That I was right when I suspected I had autism and a diagnosis could show me proof that my suspicions were correct. I have symptoms of autism, but it doesn't matter to me anymore whether I do or don't have it. I'm fine whether I have it or not. 

 

On 4/17/2018 at 12:42 PM, Dr-David-Banner said:

If I recall your case, did one of your psychologists pick up on the fact you "developed" A.S. symptoms and that caused some questions? Were you once diagnosed with AS and Hikikomori simultaneously?

Well one of the psychologists I saw once told me that I don't have autism because I never presented the symptoms as a child. I do have symptoms of autism now, but it's likely that the symptoms are related to some minor form of schizophrenia. Many of the negative symptoms of schizophrenia are similar to symptoms of autism. Both disorders are quite similar in some ways. Hikikomori isn't a diagnosis, but rather what I am. Hikikomori is a label that's given to someone if they're a shut-in, but it's a lot more complicated than just being a shut-in. Shut-in is just the closest word we have in English for the word hikikomori. 

When someone uses the term hikikomori, it's often used in the context of what someone is. Like someone can say "that person is a hikikomori" or "I am a hikikomori". It's like how someone might say that they're a shut-in, but not that they have shut-in, like it's a medical condition that's diagnosed. Isolation is a symptom of several disorders, but being a hikikomori doesn't require that the person isolating themselves be doing so as a result of mental illness. It's separate from a mental illness, but a lot of people with a mental illness can be a hikikomori. The book titled 'Hikikomori: Adolescence without End' is an excellent source of information regarding the hikikomori phenomenon. It was translated to English and the original author who wrote this book is the person who coined the term hikikomori and knows the most about it.

 

  

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Sanctuary
5 hours ago, nichii said:

I no longer care much about a diagnosis. Especially for ASD. I used to want a diagnosis, so I could feel validated. That I was right when I suspected I had autism and a diagnosis could show me proof that my suspicions were correct. I have symptoms of autism, but it doesn't matter to me anymore whether I do or don't have it. I'm fine whether I have it or not. 

 

Well one of the psychologists I saw once told me that I don't have autism because I never presented the symptoms as a child. I do have symptoms of autism now, but it's likely that the symptoms are related to some minor form of schizophrenia. Many of the negative symptoms of schizophrenia are similar to symptoms of autism. Both disorders are quite similar in some ways. Hikikomori isn't a diagnosis, but rather what I am. Hikikomori is a label that's given to someone if they're a shut-in, but it's a lot more complicated than just being a shut-in. Shut-in is just the closest word we have in English for the word hikikomori. 

When someone uses the term hikikomori, it's often used in the context of what someone is. Like someone can say "that person is a hikikomori" or "I am a hikikomori". It's like how someone might say that they're a shut-in, but not that they have shut-in, like it's a medical condition that's diagnosed. Isolation is a symptom of several disorders, but being a hikikomori doesn't require that the person isolating themselves be doing so as a result of mental illness. It's separate from a mental illness, but a lot of people with a mental illness can be a hikikomori. The book titled 'Hikikomori: Adolescence without End' is an excellent source of information regarding the hikikomori phenomenon. It was translated to English and the original author who wrote this book is the person who coined the term hikikomori and knows the most about it.

It's certainly true that some people may not see getting a diagnosis of ASD (or any condition) as important to them. Getting diagnosed is not always necessary or helpful to everyone and as you've outlined you know your characteristics whatever label (or no label) clinicians use. In some instances though the diagnosis and "label" are vitally important, whether for self-understanding or in order to access support or special consideration. 

The point about childhood is an interesting one. Autism is a lifelong condition so should be present in some form in childhood (and adulthood - it shouldn't "fade away"). However it may manifest itself in very different ways at different stages of life due to different circumstances. For example in my case the problems associated with AS didn't really hit me until adulthood but it's also true that the characteristics were still present in childhood, e.g. social isolation, "oddness", intense, specialised interests. However the anxieties and feelings of low self-esteem didn't really emerge until I left the relative comfort zones (for me) of family and education. For others the pattern may be reversed with ASD characteristics more prominent when they were younger. Depression, anxiety and social isolation at any age certainly have the potential to intensify ASD characteristics while success in life can reduce them. Clinicians do need to dig deep to uncover all these issues and not assume that ASD will affect someone in similar ways throughout life. 

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Dr-David-Banner

The accepted standard was children with AS don't show any symptoms of speech of reading delay. For AS in childhood there should be symptoms like stims, problems bonding with other kids, fussy about fabrics on skin and noise sensitivities. AS can be a very subtle condition for some. With HFA there are delays in reading so that was the main distinction. Based on my own experiences I found it helped to forget what the definition says you should be like and explore how you actually are. For example, I have my own diagnosis pinned to detail but it doesn't fit what is expected. I had delays in various aspects of development. Even my sleep disorders are a part of it. I don't quite fit AS as there were definite classroom and attention issues. HFA seemed a closer bet but with that dyspraxia is very rare and I'm very clumsy and slow. Simplifying it I can safely say I was autistic from childhood and was left to fend for myself as no diagnosis existed. For years I figured I was more or less the same as other people but slow and always struggling. Once I did find out how autism is categorised all the pieces slowly started to fit. I also learned a lot about how NTs interact and why feelings and emotions are so important to them. My big problem today is I am positive NTs can quickly notice my different neurological characteristics. There are obvious signs of it too like not swearing or acting out roles to try and impress. In fact I really dislike how people copy the trends to try and be popular. 

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