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Dr-David-Banner

Brain Child

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Dr-David-Banner

Brain Child is my favourite episode of The Incredible Hulk TV series. It must be the case Kenneth Johnson must have been familiar with Asperger Syndrome. That in itself is odd since AS only appeared in the late 1980s and The Hulk was a seventies series. Kenneth Johnson himself was a big super hero producer doing shows like V, The Bionic Woman and so on. In Brain Child, Dr David Banner meets a female runaway. This 16 year old girl had been dumped by her mother for being odd. She was taken in by The Kirkland Institute and used in an experiment. Through intensive teaching the girl became a maths genius, biologist, chess player, classical pianist and poliglot. Yet she had no experience of daily life and wanted to find her mother. When she meets Dr David Banner, he offers to help and they stop off in Mejico to work picking fruit. Soon the girl gets herself into trouble after being invited to watch a bruja heal sick villagers. Bruja is like a witch doctor in South America. As the old lady performs a healing, the girl figures it is only honest to logically explain to the peasants how it was all a trick and has no awareness of the need to show tact in a different culture. The bruja is enraged and the girl is dragged into her small caravan. Banner frantically tries to apologise and explain but he is pushed around and tied up. Then comes the usual metamorphosis, Banner's shirt splits and he changes into The Hulk. I have known someone like this however. Some autists who are fanatical over their interests tend to give the image of being know-alls as they don't know how to be low key. They may be in a conversation and correct people or relate technical facts. I find what pisses people off is also over enthusiasm. I had one friend who practised guitar six hours a day. He had no idea how to teach as he expected his students to be more dedicated. Funny twist in the story was the actress who played brain child couldn't act autistic. She moved around very normally. Funny though how Asperger themes existed on TV before it was diagnosed. Columbo was definitely sort of autistic and Mr Spock was supposed to be unemotional and logical.

 

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Dr-David-Banner

Found the trailer here:
 

 

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Sanctuary

While it's possible the writer knew about autism / what we now call Asperger's Syndrome, or encountered someone with those characteristics (almost certainly undiagnosed at the time) it's also likely he just saw the dramatic potential in a character who is in many ways remarkably talented but who has poor social skills or "emotional intelligence". The combination of intellectuality and social ineptitude is also used a lot in comedy, e.g. in "nerd" or "geek" characters. 

The point about gait or walking style is an interesting one. Many people on the autistic spectrum have had remarks made about the way they walk or move but I don't think a distinctive style is universal among those with autism and it isn't one of the diagnostic criteria (although it might arouse attention). The links between gait and autism might be good as a separate topic. 

You make a very good point about how autistic individuals may have problems judging how to display their knowledge and expertise on certain topics such as their interests. Sometimes an expert (not necessarily someone with autism) will hear others discussing the topic and feel they have made errors; alternatively he or she might want to spread their knowledge. Knowing when and how to do this though involves social judgement. Correcting others is sometimes necessary but often it risks the expert appearing to be a "smart-arse" (or more kindly a pedant). Spreading knowledge can have good intentions but leave others bewildered and bored and it risks the expert seeming "obsessive" or "weird". ASD often involves a fascination with "details" but the same interest is much less common among neurotypicals with their greater interest in "the big picture" and their generally wider but shallower interests. Autistic individuals are often portrayed as lacking the social skills to know when their expertise will be appreciated and when it will not and for supposedly "droning on" about their interests without any concern for whether others are interested or not. This is often an unfair representation as as many with ASD are well-aware that their interests are considered "pointless" or "weird" and therefore keep quiet about them for fear of negative social judgement. This is certainly the case with my interests but it then means these become "guilty secrets" and it can be frustrating not to have the opportunity not to discuss these things. 

 

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Dr-David-Banner

The other Hulk episode that seems to have an Asperger sub-theme is "The Confession". A geeky, loner, computer-programmer feels he is always insignificant and ignored. Desperate to get some attention, he "turns himself in" as the man who changes into The Hulk.
 

 

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Dr-David-Banner
4 minutes ago, Sanctuary said:

While it's possible the writer knew about autism / what we now call Asperger's Syndrome, or encountered someone with those characteristics (almost certainly undiagnosed at the time) it's also likely he just saw the dramatic potential in a character who is in many ways remarkably talented but who has poor social skills or "emotional intelligence". The combination of intellectuality and social ineptitude is also used a lot in comedy, e.g. in "nerd" or "geek" characters. 

The point about gait or walking style is an interesting one. Many people on the autistic spectrum have had remarks made about the way they walk or move but I don't think a distinctive style is universal among those with autism and it isn't one of the diagnostic criteria (although it might arouse attention). The links between gait and autism might be good as a separate topic. 

You make a very good point about how autistic individuals may have problems judging how to display their knowledge and expertise on certain topics such as their interests. Sometimes an expert (not necessarily someone with autism) will hear others discussing the topic and feel they have made errors; alternatively he or she might want to spread their knowledge. Knowing when and how to do this though involves social judgement. Correcting others is sometimes necessary but often it risks the expert appearing to be a "smart-arse" (or more kindly a pedant). Spreading knowledge can have good intentions but leave others bewildered and bored and it risks the expert seeming "obsessive" or "weird". ASD often involves a fascination with "details" but the same interest is much less common among neurotypicals with their greater interest in "the big picture" and their generally wider but shallower interests. Autistic individuals are often portrayed as lacking the social skills to know when their expertise will be appreciated and when it will not and for supposedly "droning on" about their interests without any concern for whether others are interested or not. This is often an unfair representation as as many with ASD are well-aware that their interests are considered "pointless" or "weird" and therefore keep quiet about them for fear of negative social judgement. This is certainly the case with my interests but it then means these become "guilty secrets" and it can be frustrating not to have the opportunity not to discuss these things. 

 

"Many people on the autistic spectrum have had remarks made about the way they walk or move but I don't think a distinctive style is universal among those with autism and it isn't one of the diagnostic criteria (although it might arouse attention). The links between gait and autism might be good as a separate topic. "

For some reason, that distinction was used to distinguish HFA from Asperger Syndrome, in as much as those with HFA were said to lack apparent physical clumsiness. I disagree with this distinction (and so did very many genuine psychologists).

"Correcting others is sometimes necessary but often it risks the expert appearing to be a "smart-arse" (or more kindly a pedant). Spreading knowledge can have good intentions but leave others bewildered and bored and it risks the expert seeming "obsessive" or "weird"

I think this applies to me. On one technology forum I ended up being ridiculed, mocked and excluded. It didn't help the forum itself was made up of fairly conceited, retired TV engineers who resented "upstarts" getting ahead of themselves and simply not blindly accepting what the "more experienced" had to say. The snag was I was expected to just drop any books I had made progress with and blindly follow the most revered members. This is partly why I tend to get a bit edgy over "likes" and "dislikes" buttons on forums, especially in light of the fact the member of that forum had a huge "community rating". In reality he was very rigid, intolerant, dismissive and haughty. Fortunately I joined an American forum and then a lot changed. The American tech people tended to be a lot more easy going and inclusive. Plus I then started to realise the need to avoid seeming to be a "know-it all". In real life, I'm not really a "know-it all". I may give that impression but, in reality, I became aware of my faults and shortcomings too. On the American forum I'm actually quite liked and more settled.

I also sense a certain resentment on a Russian autism forum I joined ages ago. It's something I can't put my finger on but I just pick up on bad vibes connected with my being English but with now advanced Russian language skills (only due to very hard work and long hours study). With so much talk of autism needing to be treated with drugs and medicine and purely a "disorder", I guess my presence gets up a few peoples noses. Or maybe I have it read wrong.

In Brain Child, the girl's big mistake is to assume the villagers would appreciate her blunt exposing of la bruja (female witch doctor). With technical expertise, she explains to the villagers why the "psychic surgery" had to be fake and how the anatomy of the proceedings contradicted medical textbooks. Dr David Banner frantically tried to cover for the girl and explain she just doesn't understand but too late! The crowd turn on them both. La bruja says, "Mi casa es tu casa, niña!" and she's dragged into the caravan (the one you see smashed up in the clip). This is where Dr Banner's shirt rips (but his pants as ever don't give around the waist!). That episode really touched me personally when I saw it. Although the actress who plays the girl appears typically neuro-typical in the way she communicates, the script seemed to me very observant. I wondered had Kenneth Johnson known somebody he had based the script upon? Especially touching was the part where the girl's mother rejects her when Banner finally traces her. When her daughter suggests they can "analyse" their problems and solve them together, she gets a slap across the face and the comment, "You were not like normal children!" This actually brought a few tears to me when I saw it. They made some great TV shows in the 1970s.

Here's a pic of Lou Ferrigno and Bill Bixby (who played David Banner).

images1ba.jpg

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Sanctuary
16 hours ago, Dr-David-Banner said:

In Brain Child, the girl's big mistake is to assume the villagers would appreciate her blunt exposing of la bruja (female witch doctor). With technical expertise, she explains to the villagers why the "psychic surgery" had to be fake and how the anatomy of the proceedings contradicted medical textbooks. Dr David Banner frantically tried to cover for the girl and explain she just doesn't understand but too late! The crowd turn on them both. La bruja says, "Mi casa es tu casa, niña!" and she's dragged into the caravan (the one you see smashed up in the clip).

This shows how it's often best to leave others' illusions intact. Even factually-incorrect beliefs can have a genuine usefulness to those who hold them and trying to challenge them can upset and even offend. For example there would be no value in telling a very young child that there is no Father Christmas or telling a seriously ill or dying person that you believe there is no afterlife. Sometimes these people will move away from these beliefs of their own accord but even if they don't they can find happiness or comfort in them. Some incorrect beliefs do have to be challenged because they are harmful but others are benign and should be left alone.

As regards your examples from forums you have used, forums can be like communities which operate with their own paradigm or sets of assumptions / expectations about matters. While they will often accept debate within certain parameters they may not take kindly to someone who seems to operate within a different paradigm. It may well be that the "newcomer" or "outsider" has an equally valid or even superior approach but it is to be expected it will be met with lack of appreciation and even hostility. Progress often comes from those who challenge the status quo but it is a difficult task and change can take a long time and needs the right circumstances to occur. Being the outsider in these cases can be a lonely and frustrating role and sometimes it's better to move on as you did to places where your views meet with better reception.

Generally there is a social skill in knowing when and where to express certain views - "a time and a place". There are circumstances when expressing contrary views will meet with a bad reception, even if those views are based on good evidence. A good example is when a person has died. This is seen as a time to share positive memories of the person. It may well be that the person also had a rather negative history but in the raw period just after he or she died it is not wise to express those views in the name of "objectivity" or "balance". Society tends to construct its members as "heroes" or "villains" so it's also true that pointing out that a deeply-unpopular, even reviled person also did some good deeds or had their merits can meet with hostility. This doesn't mean that alternative views can't be expressed but the right time and place is needed for them. Individuals with less tact and sensitivity are less aware of these issues and more likely to cause offence. There are also people who deliberately state contrary views with the intention of causing hurt, offence and even outrage but more usually the damage is done accidentally.  

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

This shows how it's often best to leave others' illusions intact. Even factually-incorrect beliefs can have a genuine usefulness to those who hold them and trying to challenge them can upset and even offend. For example there would be no value in telling a very young child that there is no Father Christmas or telling a seriously ill or dying person that you believe there is no afterlife. Sometimes these people will move away from these beliefs of their own accord but even if they don't they can find happiness or comfort in them. Some incorrect beliefs do have to be challenged because they are harmful but others are benign and should be left alone.

As regards your examples from forums you have used, forums can be like communities which operate with their own paradigm or sets of assumptions / expectations about matters. While they will often accept debate within certain parameters they may not take kindly to someone who seems to operate within a different paradigm. It may well be that the "newcomer" or "outsider" has an equally valid or even superior approach but it is to be expected it will be met with lack of appreciation and even hostility. Progress often comes from those who challenge the status quo but it is a difficult task and change can take a long time and needs the right circumstances to occur. Being the outsider in these cases can be a lonely and frustrating role and sometimes it's better to move on as you did to places where your views meet with better reception.

Generally there is a social skill in knowing when and where to express certain views - "a time and a place". There are circumstances when expressing contrary views will meet with a bad reception, even if those views are based on good evidence. A good example is when a person has died. This is seen as a time to share positive memories of the person. It may well be that the person also had a rather negative history but in the raw period just after he or she died it is not wise to express those views in the name of "objectivity" or "balance". Society tends to construct its members as "heroes" or "villains" so it's also true that pointing out that a deeply-unpopular, even reviled person also did some good deeds or had their merits can meet with hostility. This doesn't mean that alternative views can't be expressed but the right time and place is needed for them. Individuals with less tact and sensitivity are less aware of these issues and more likely to cause offence. There are also people who deliberately state contrary views with the intention of causing hurt, offence and even outrage but more usually the damage is done accidentally.  

I think Prof Dawkin was a bit like that and really I admired his position. Dawkin simply stated that religion seeks to place itself beyond criticism or question. I.see this creeping into Russia for example in the Orthodox Church. The result is recent persecutions of Jehova's Witnesses there and all because people culturally accept all they are told. Dawkin pointed out it is fine apparently to question evolution or relativity but to question religion is seen as offensive. From this we spread further to social programming where everybody seeks popularity and acceptance by following the accepted ethics. Most of these beliefs have little solid foundation but it's assumed thousands of people can't be wrong. Maybe even communism was an example more so under Stalin. On a fresher note though, the girl in the series has assumed the simple Mexican villagers could be helped by a bit of medical science to show la bruja was a charlatan. Her enthusiam in anthropology and anatomy was beyond the grasp of the villagers. Clever as she was she could not judge the cultural sensitivities involved. The episode was aired in 1979 and I can say this much: In 1986 my psychiatrist had no Asperger diagnosis to explore. Little was known. Yet we see the issue reflected on TV. I mean Columbo is classic Asperger with his clumsy, socially inept behaviour and amazing eye for detail. Again too in The Confession a stereotype Asperger personality is used by Kenneth Johnson. The subject has no girlfriend, wears specs, solitary, ignored and works on his own in an IT dep. He decides to try and be noticed and so confesses to being The Hulk. So really this is odd that the Asperger personality has had a place in culture before it was medically outlined in more detail. Maybe this is where we get nerd syndrome often used as a less formal description. One final point is I have a real love of these old TV shows I grew up with. I love watching them alone as if time had stood still. There was a sense of fun and adventure to these programs. To name a few: The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, Kung Fu, Columbo, Lost In Space and many scripted by K Johnson.

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Dr-David-Banner

It dawned on me both of the A.S. characters in The Hulk series ended up in a scene where they were about to jump off a roof. The girl was going to jump because her mother had rejected her. The man was going to jump because his idea of being noticed had failed. No journalist had taken seriously his claim of being the hulk. I thought this was odd in itself that two characters were based on HFA and both nearly jumped off a roof. Both were saved by The Hulk in the end. I don't think anyone planned this as such. All in all there were dozens of episodes. Of the two representations of AS, the male I thought was the more stereotyped and least flattering. A solitary job, no girlfriend, ignored as boring, craved to be noticed. I can think of someone similar I know who frequently goes to a shop but somehow he projects badly. Over polite in a way that arises distrust. Never jokes or smiles. Seems harmless to me but girls catch him staring and find it "creepy". The guy hasn't learned to hide his gaze or break the ice by making casual conversation. He is very unpopular with the women on account of these very basic shortcomings. I did myself used to be shy with women but at some point I realised I am not wired to play the alpha role or flirting game. It was much easier just to be myself. Then I discovered I chat more easily in groups of females without giving it much thought. 

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Dr-David-Banner

The other day I explored the two episodes quoted above to see if by any chance they had the same writer. Funnily enough, they did not. Two totally different writers. One for Brain Child and one for The Confession. I did notice one very strange fact, though. The background music for some scenes in the two episodes was the same. Yet no similarity in other episodes. The scene where Harold is first seen going to work uses the same music as in Brain Child. I watched the episode again anyway. Harold was viewed as someone who craved to be noticed but nobody noticed him. So he confessed to being The Hulk. The reaction by the press reporter was to burst into laughter.

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