A few days ago I committed a faux pas.
Or maybe not.
I said that Austin Ruse, who had written an uncomprehending essay on his “takedown” after committing the “gaffe” of saying that liberal professors “should be taken out and shot”, suffered from journalistic Asperger’s.
I also insinuated that he was witless, an asshole, and awe-inspiringly dense.
No assholes objected. Nor did any of the vast cloud of the witless, nor the dense.
But two regular readers who have been diagnosed with Asperger’s said that they were insulted and hurt by my analogy.
This inspired some self-examination.
And I concluded that maybe my reader friends were being overly sensitive. That is understandable, especially in the recently diagnosed, but I do not think I said anything wrong.
I have in the past called people morally blind and tone deaf. I could conceivably write about people who suffered from journalistic ADHD, or who are morally bipolar, or suffering from spiritual PTSD.
I think those are good and valuable analogies.
This was reinforced when the two “Aspies” (their term, not an insult) began discussing tactics of imitating social convention to make up for their temperamental inability to empathize.
Which really makes my point.
If we cannot use contemporary diagnoses as analogies we are impoverished as writers. I hope that my use of “journalistic Asperger’s” is no more insensitive to the plight of those so afflicted than my use of “morally blind” betrays a callousness to those who are actually, not figuratively, blind.
Nor was it a moral judgement. Neither were my comments on the witless or the dense, and I certainly do not equate Asperger’s with witlessness or density; all they have in common is a lack of volition regarding their state.
Assholes are another case. I sort of think them more responsible for their assholiness.
Though it is true that Asperger’s, ADHD, and the rest are medical diagnoses, not simply states of mind.
I realize that a lot of people discover much about themselves from such diagnoses; one only need to read the comments from the “Aspies” in the comboxes to see this.
Me, I have never tried that road of self-discovery. I probably would end up diagnosed as mild Asperger’s, suffering from multiple PTS disorders, with some ADHD and bipolarism thrown in. But I don’t think I am the type to benefit from such a diagnosis. I would probably be one of those for whom it was a suffocating and constricting knowledge, not a liberating one.
All such labels and diagnoses are, after all,human constructs, attempts to fathom and navigate the mysteries of the soul, of human consciousness: sloops in the vast sea, kites in the sky.
If such a diagnosis is helpful to you, God bless you. If it is not, God bless you.
But as a writer, I hope you will bear with me when I use what tools are at hand, psychological and physical diagnoses included.