Turning the Monkeys Autistic
#1
Certain comments made about The Supreme Gentleman in his own thread have prompted me to finally get around to this.

[Image: harry-harlow-monkey-experiment.jpg]


"Autism" is a very much abused word that means some kind of social dysfunction that seems to be at the core of a person. Perhaps innate, also perhaps a consequence of social malformation. I could write about my own thoughts here, or I could link a very fun video.




Link: https://youtu.be/znBa3lap5jQ?si=_xntQ13kDLi0zFv2

I am inclined to believe that attachment theory and a focus on early socialisation experiences explain a significant amount of what we call "autism". Harry Harlow is happy to run demonstrations for you with his monkeys. If you can't be bothered giving him half an hour skip to 16:30 and observe the monkey doing the autist tic. It appears to have been possible using some fairly simple experiments to code certain psychological profiles into monkeys by manipulating their socialisation/upbringing. And in this extreme example, Harlow created an autist monkey that freaks out, shuts down, and starts stimming in response to a scary situation.

The video says more than I could or should here. Please watch if curious and post thoughts here.
#2
According to mainstream science, autism is strongly genetically heritable ("Numerous studies, including twin studies and family studies, have estimated the heritability of autism to be around 80 to 90%"). In recent years it is often diagnosed in early childhood ("In the United States, the current average age of first clinical diagnosis of ASD is 4.2 years."), and signs such as reduced eye contact are visible even in infancy.

Gen Z seem to love ironically describing their behavior as "autistic" and/or falsely diagnosing themselves with mental disorders after watching Tiktok videos. Even though the system has reached the consensus that autism has a mostly genetic/epigenetic basis, I think there is also large scale misdiagnosis of autism and other genetic mental disorders due to corruption and low standards in psychiatry (and some other non-genetic diagnostic categories like depression are "not even wrong").

Both of these things contribute to a lot of misunderstanding about what autism really is, and the term has developed misleading popular connotations. I don't mean to lump you in with those who carelessly use the word colloquially, but I think you've slightly confused "autism" as the symptomatic behavior difficulties commonly caused by the disorder, rather than the developmental disorder itself, which is IMO hard to dispute as primarily genetic in origin.

If I'm wrong for trusting the science here and anyone thinks there is a strong basis for an environmental origin of autism then I'm open to debate, I haven't bothered to look into the vaccine stuff before for example. The theory you are putting forth is known as the Refrigerator mother theory. Women sending their babies to daycares and entertaining them with iPads surely has some deleterious effects relating to social development, but I wouldn't classify this as autism.

I watched some of the video but it made me too sad.
#3
Thanks for making this thread. I'll start by saying that my knowledge of psychiatrics is that of a novice. Even so, The Scientific Experts and Top Doctors seem to be of comparable levels when it comes to recognising basic patterns and coming to a consensus on not only what exactly causes autism, but why such developmental disorders have experienced something like several tens of thousands percent increase over the last fifty years. Most say that autism and related disorders are likely to be largely genetic. Again, this isn't really my wheelhouse, but it doesn't make much sense to me how we'd have such an insane growth rate in such a short amount of time if something is largely, perhaps mostly, genetic, as the diagnosis rate and prevalence should be more stable if that were the case. 

My mind immediately wants to believe that part of it is similar to the Gay Question. Apparently, 7.2% of Americans are gay, with Gen Z being 19.2%, Millennials being 11.2%, Gen X being 3.3%, Boomers being 2.7%, and the Silent Generation being 1.7%. You get the point. Now, it's my opinion that these numbers, particularly Gen Z and Millennials need to be taken with a small grain of salt, because the same poll indicates that 13.1% and 6.9%, respectively, are so-called "bisexual". I doubt that I'm the only one who knows females of these age cohorts that supposedly became "lesbians" after 20 or so lived years of being straight, and then magically turned straight again after a brief stint in college. My point being—sparing the irrelevant explanation—that the whole "bisexual" thing for younger females is probably fake, and lesbians aren't real in the same way that fags are. I don't want to discuss homosexuality, but merely reference the phenomenon as a similarity, for what it's worth, to think about.

[Image: 6n0iNBB.jpg]

If they can turn the monkeys autistic, what's stopping them from turning the frickin frogs gay? Yeah... right. 

Anyway, if you're familiar with the impolite theory that something like a parasite might be the actual cause of homosexuality, and hence why it may not necessarily be as simple as saying that it's "nature" as opposed to "nurture" (i.e., "they're born that way", i.e., genetics), it's likely that you'll see where I'm going with this as it relates to speculative causes of autism. Much like I'm doubtful that there is a 'gay gene' that somehow not only survives but thrives despite being antithetical to genetic fitness, the genetic explanation for autism isn't convincing to me at all for the same reasons. Not only is autism exponentially more common than it was not even a century ago, but it also seems to be catastrophically more severe in the most extreme cases. A theory of natural selection in which you have totally maladaptive traits and behaviours being selected and proliferating at such a rate is one that I'm completely unaware of. Nor does this supposed genetic explanation make much sense when you consider the increasing prevalence of regressive autism, which is maybe somewhat demonstrated to an extent by our test subject monkey friend. 

I am chary of the idea that even a fraction of the numbers we are seeing can be explained solely by something like genetic mutation or the effects of negative social experiences, either taken alone or together. As you've probably expected, I obviously find it highly plausible that both adults and their newborn babies/developing children have essentially been being constantly poisoned since some point in the 20th century. I doubt this is even controversial here, and to me, it shouldn't be controversial anywhere. But what do I know? Granted, there are scientists out there that admit that environmental toxins are likely another contributing factor. The problem is that I don't think it's merely likely another contributing factor, but rather near certainly the main one. Of course, I can't prove this, but where there's smoke...

[Image: HLnAaNW.jpg]

[Image: fGRD5fz.png]

[Image: kUuNv6A.jpg]

"You're not one of those Q-anoners or whatever that thinks vaccines cause autism are you??"

1. No, it's more likely the industrial paint thinner and mass-scale pesticides that no one currently alive has any choice but to ingest; and
2. I am Q.
[Image: JBqHIg7.jpeg]
Let me alone to recover a little, before I go whence I shall not return
#4
Mason Hall-McCullough Wrote:According to mainstream science, autism is strongly genetically heritable ("Numerous studies, including twin studies and family studies, have estimated the heritability of autism to be around 80 to 90%"). In recent years it is often diagnosed in early childhood ("In the United States, the current average age of first clinical diagnosis of ASD is 4.2 years."), and signs such as reduced eye contact are visible even in infancy.

Gen Z seem to love ironically describing their behavior as "autistic" and/or falsely diagnosing themselves with mental disorders after watching Tiktok videos. Even though the system has reached the consensus that autism has a mostly genetic/epigenetic basis, I think there is also large scale misdiagnosis of autism and other genetic mental disorders due to corruption and low standards in psychiatry (and some other non-genetic diagnostic categories like depression are "not even wrong").

Both of these things contribute to a lot of misunderstanding about what autism really is, and the term has developed misleading popular connotations. I don't mean to lump you in with those who carelessly use the word colloquially, but I think you've slightly confused "autism" as the symptomatic behavior difficulties commonly caused by the disorder, rather than the developmental disorder itself, which is IMO hard to dispute as primarily genetic in origin.

I think you've hit at where my thinking on autism leads here even if you didn't mean to. We can draw a line between people with a genetic condition which primes one for awkward socialisation and those who just experienced awkward socialisation. But when what we're ultimately concerned about is the behaviour of mature or maturing people, does this distinction matter?

You say yourself here if I'm reading you right that the condition is ultimately linked to socialisation, and that this genetic autism is merely a factor in the formation of the finished type.  If genetic autism is not a necessary factor in producing a functionally autistic youth and adult, is it really a matter worth primary consideration?


Quote:If I'm wrong for trusting the science here and anyone thinks there is a strong basis for an environmental origin of autism then I'm open to debate, I haven't bothered to look into the vaccine stuff before for example. The theory you are putting forth is known as the Refrigerator mother theory. Women sending their babies to daycares and entertaining them with iPads surely has some deleterious effects relating to social development, but I wouldn't classify this as autism.

Sure, it might not be genetic autism, maybe as babies they made great eye contact. But if they end up falling into the same poor socialisation life pattern as those with the genetic disposition the distinction seems unhelpful and pointless. Again, it seems to me like you've said that genetic autism is not necessary to produce someone who is functionally autistic.

Quote:I watched some of the video but it made me too sad.

I think it's great. Harlow is such an old school American scientist type. He's so eager and positive and diligent while conducting experiments that Hitler would blanch at. And the research is invaluable in my opinion, despite its cruelty. He's showing that we can consistently produce character types by manipulating socialisation experiences of social animals. Some of these experiments get really interesting as they go more in depth. Things like trying to resocialise monkeys they've deliberately rendered antisocial by exposing them to different social situations (if I remember right they can recover some social instincts if surrounded by healthy juveniles younger than themselves, in one case). Fascinating stuff.



august Wrote:Thanks for making this thread. I'll start by saying that my knowledge of psychiatrics is that of a novice. Even so, The Scientific Experts and Top Doctors seem to be of comparable levels when it comes to recognising basic patterns and coming to a consensus on not only what exactly causes autism, but why such developmental disorders have experienced something like several tens of thousands percent increase over the last fifty years. Most say that autism and related disorders are likely to be largely genetic. Again, this isn't really my wheelhouse, but it doesn't make much sense to me how we'd have such an insane growth rate in such a short amount of time if something is largely, perhaps mostly, genetic, as the diagnosis rate and prevalence should be more stable if that were the case. 

I agree that genetic autism doesn't make a lot of sense. Even in cases where the signs appear visible in children. Were the parents like that? Is autism recessive? Was the world carrying an improbably enormous amount of latent unexpressed autism in the genes of ordinary appearing people?



Quote:Anyway, if you're familiar with the impolite theory that something like a parasite might be the actual cause of homosexuality, and hence why it may not necessarily be as simple as saying that it's "nature" as opposed to "nurture" (i.e., "they're born that way", i.e., genetics), it's likely that you'll see where I'm going with this as it relates to speculative causes of autism. Much like I'm doubtful that there is a 'gay gene' that somehow not only survives but thrives despite being antithetical to genetic fitness, the genetic explanation for autism isn't convincing to me at all for the same reasons. Not only is autism exponentially more common than it was not even a century ago, but it also seems to be catastrophically more severe in the most extreme cases. A theory of natural selection in which you have totally maladaptive traits and behaviours being selected and proliferating at such a rate is one that I'm completely unaware of. Nor does this supposed genetic explanation make much sense when you consider the increasing prevalence of regressive autism, which is maybe somewhat demonstrated to an extent by our test subject monkey friend. 

I am chary of the idea that even a fraction of the numbers we are seeing can be explained solely by something like genetic mutation or the effects of negative social experiences, either taken alone or together. As you've probably expected, I obviously find it highly plausible that both adults and their newborn babies/developing children have essentially been being constantly poisoned since some point in the 20th century. I doubt this is even controversial here, and to me, it shouldn't be controversial anywhere. But what do I know? Granted, there are scientists out there that admit that environmental toxins are likely another contributing factor. The problem is that I don't think it's merely likely another contributing factor, but rather near certainly the main one. Of course, I can't prove this, but where there's smoke...

I want to talk about these "extreme cases". I got banned from ApisForum for saying this. Leading to a new forum being required to contain me. We've come full circle.

These "extreme cases" of autism to me very often look like mental retardation that isn't connected to anything as obvious as Down Syndrome. How much of our catastrophic "autism" epidemic is actually either environmentally induced brain-damage or parents desperate to believe that their mentally hopeless children are actually just socially hampered and somehow a switch will flip one day? Something I've never seen looked into is, are diagnosis of retardation going down as extreme autism cases are going up?

I still believe that there are two autisms. There's what is practically a socialisation issue. And there are people who are practically retarded. A relationship between each and the above mentioned genetic autism I believe may exist but is in both cases not essential and tentatively proven. The relationship between genetic autism and these functionally retarded types is something that I haven't looked into much, but am interested in.



How did we decide that this guy and Elliot Roger are manifestations of the same genetic condition?
#5
Mason Hall-McCullough Wrote:Both of these things contribute to a lot of misunderstanding about what autism really is, and the term has developed misleading popular connotations. I don't mean to lump you in with those who carelessly use the word colloquially, but I think you've slightly confused "autism" as the symptomatic behavior difficulties commonly caused by the disorder, rather than the developmental disorder itself, which is IMO hard to dispute as primarily genetic in origin.

One of the greater issues about "misunderstanding" the word is that autism was first supposed to describe schizophrenia. Entries from Richard Sterba's Dictionary of Psychoanalysis:

Quote:Autismus (autism; autisme)
is the name given by E. Bleuler (1912) to the preponderance of inner mental life with active turning away from the external world, as can be found in schizophrenia (see also autistic thinking [below]).

autistisches Denken (autistic thinking; pensée autistique)
is the name given by Bleuler (1912) to a kind of thinking that proceeds independently of the rules of logic and in their place is steered by affective needs. [...]. Autistic thinking is in contrast to realistic thinking, which takes reality into account and proceeds according to the rules of logic.

The coining of the phrase ("auto" +"ism") was very deliberate. It was a divorcement from reality, where the patient would exhibit almost no movement and no interest in the external world. You can see why this would be an appropriate word to describe cases of profound mental retardation. In the cases of mental retardation, where the sufferers have no real comprehension of the external world at all and have IQs on par with an eight month old infant, there is no coherent attachment to what we consider reality. And, of course, the behaviors of these patients would then influence the definition to the point where Harlow's papers uses the word "autistic" to describe the monkey behaviors. It is my understanding that, when we're speaking of multiple kinds of autism, part of the issue in describing it involves these historical details. It's an extremely specific symptom of schizophrenia that was then applied to the mentally retarded, then applied to a more broad set of behaviors...so on and so forth until we find ourselves here debating its real meaning.
#6
It must be seen as to what the purpose is of someone identifying with a label of mental illness. The definitions corresponding to a particular mental illness are, it seems, more likely to be self-attached as means of self-assertion, that someone will use the definitions (symptoms) of the mental illness more for self-benefit or as will to an arrangement of drives (self-regulation). 

For example Bipolar is similar to the narrative of someone who has a superpower (mania) but has flaws (depression). A person given what I stated above would be inclined to identify as Bipolar if one can recollect moments in their past in order to persuade him/herself that they really are Bipolar. This is especially the case if this person is lacking in a certain area. For example, he/she is tired, interprets this as being depressed, then, for want of energy, can somehow "tap in" to their mania, under the justification that he/she is bipolar, but which is, under this label, the working of drives and their realignment owing to a desire for energy. 

It can be seen why someone might "achieve" multiple diagnoses. Such a person will have assembled a set of justifications for their behavior/internal regulation, or will have operated under the assumption that he/she has figured him/herself out through these drives, albeit through the stamping of them with these labels. 

An idea of uniqueness tied to self-esteem can be justified under these labels, and with these labels as values, one can draw energy from them, and count, in this act, oneself as really "feeling" or understanding oneself. Of course, this is just falsity, but this appears to be a very common process at work presently. 

As to autism: autism as seen as social-dysfunction might be just this. Such a person verifies in real time a type of social-awkwardness, with the intention of proving that one is unique to be a certain way, with a special task. Such acts verify an identity that one wants or drives that one wants to keep constant (with intermediate verification). 

As to a "natural" autism as social dysfunction: I think this might be a subjective mistake. Disgust with others for example can lead to social dysfunction. If the disgust occurs often enough and the social dysfunction long enough this is still not autism. The disgust might develop gradually, starting at a point in life, but this point as origin is still not autism. 

So-called autistic social dysfunction might also be the realization of a contradiction in the general rules of communication and one's own honest mental processes. To have to be social in the way demanded would be an affront to oneself, and this can be viscerally felt. For example, saying like/literally constantly (and becoming this character) is behavior not found among the truly intelligent (would Kant/Schopenhauer/Nietzsche say like/literally constantly?).
#7
The spergmonkey ~18:30 is especially interesting. He's around 8 months old per Harlow. Rhemuses usually die in their 30's and males don't typically enter puberty until around 3-3.5 years of age; let's assume he's 8 years old in human terms. As opposed to his earlier socialized bros, he doesn't possess as firm an instinct towards Clothmother. After some time in the Fear environ he seizes upon her as a means of physical self-comfort, but obviously lacks the real emotional attachment towards her his priors hold (is this how "stimming" works?).
#8
Healthy young monkey goes to doctor, is deprived of Clothmother, doesn't feel good and changes - AUTISM. Many such cases!
#9
(12-10-2023, 12:40 AM)JohnTrent Wrote: One of the greater issues about "misunderstanding" the word is that autism was first supposed to describe schizophrenia.

[...] It's an extremely specific symptom of schizophrenia that was then applied to the mentally retarded, then applied to a more broad set of behaviors...so on and so forth until we find ourselves here debating its real meaning.

Thanks very much for this. I have encountered people with PDD and autism diagnoses that were either also diagnosed with schizotypal personality disorder or, if undiagnosed for that, otherwise displayed typical schizophrenic behaviours or tendencies. I've always wondered about that, and this is really helpful in clarifying. It's somewhat frustrating to me, because I feel that there is a general downplaying or destigmatisation of autism that is probably quite dangerous to society considering that no rational person would do the same in the case of actual schizophrenics (as in, not just internet "schizos").

(12-10-2023, 02:33 AM)GraphWalkWithMe Wrote: Healthy young monkey goes to doctor, is deprived of Clothmother, doesn't feel good and changes - AUTISM. Many such cases!

Doctor says, "Treatment is simple. Great Clothmother is in town tonight. Go see her." Young monkey bursts into tears, says "But doctor... I'm already autistic!"
[Image: JBqHIg7.jpeg]
Let me alone to recover a little, before I go whence I shall not return
#10
There have been mainstream attempts at de-stigmatization of Schizophrenics. If you listen to a typical lecture on schizophrenia you are likely to hear a how-to-lie-with-statistics style claim that schizos are "less likely to harm others, more likely to harm themselves" in terms that obfuscate the kill-death ratio when one does snap.
#11
On the subject of How Autism Became Autism, I was going to link this somewhere already, then stupidly thought that since I am so familiar with this I shouldn't bother. I don't think this paper got around too far so it's probably worth sharing whenever the subject comes up: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3757918/


Quote:This article argues that the meaning of the word ‘autism’ experienced a radical shift in the early 1960s in Britain which was contemporaneous with a growth in epidemiological and statistical studies in child psychiatry. The first part of the article explores how ‘autism’ was used as a category to describe hallucinations and unconscious fantasy life in infants through the work of significant child psychologists and psychoanalysts such as Jean Piaget, Lauretta Bender, Leo Kanner and Elwyn James Anthony. Theories of autism were then associated both with schizophrenia in adults and with psychoanalytic styles of reasoning. The closure of institutions for ‘mental defectives’ and the growth in speech therapy services in the 1960s and 1970s encouraged new models for understanding autism in infants and children. The second half of the article explores how researchers such as Victor Lotter and Michael Rutter used the category of autism to reconceptualize psychological development in infants and children via epidemiological studies. These historical changes have influenced the form and function of later research into autism and related conditions.

Does this answer anything? Not really. But it does make it clear how shaky psychs have always been with language and concepts. There was never really a pure and coherent original definition which we corrupted. Just a long line of confusion and theories displacing each other up to now. Probably an important general subject interest resource that I should consider putting in the OP.
#12
I think the nature of things like autism and mental illness can't really be understood without also addressing the adjacent issues of psychometrics and statistics. I believe these conditions are often simply inferred indirectly through statistical analysis of correlations and behavioral clustering. But of course no one can actually define some underlying structure of autism or schizophrenia, and I don't think such a thing exists. Likewise, psychometric constructs like g or IQ don't actually define intelligence, yet statistics consistently indicates that something like g exists and is very useful for making predictions (and much more rigorous than the other constructs, to be fair). Once these correlations have been discovered you can find countless other correlations with genetics, morphology, and so on.

I think there is a world of statistical aggregates that has its own mechanics as a physical system. There is also a world of molecules, atoms, particles etc., which is also physical but of a different order. Hence it isn't quite correct to think of genes as a genesis of the whole organism when there is an entire living, pulsating world of organic chemistry, and attempts to link aggregated states like autism back to specific genetic configurations will generally be incomplete and unsatisfying. The genealogy of autism is not in the germs of the individual, but in how they are made to converge on certain statistical states.

The fact that autists exist can tell you much about the time you live in, i.e. that it creates autists, by whatever means (probably some combination of biochemical poisoning, institutional torture, etc.). But it can not tell you about some kind of underlying structure of the psyche, or that it collapses into such failure modes due to an innate preexisting function. That is also why these concepts seem to quickly dissolve into sand when trying to extrapolate them across historical eras.
#13
anthony Wrote:
Quote:Anyway, if you're familiar with the impolite theory that something like a parasite might be the actual cause of homosexuality, and hence why it may not necessarily be as simple as saying that it's "nature" as opposed to "nurture" (i.e., "they're born that way", i.e., genetics), it's likely that you'll see where I'm going with this as it relates to speculative causes of autism. Much like I'm doubtful that there is a 'gay gene' that somehow not only survives but thrives despite being antithetical to genetic fitness, the genetic explanation for autism isn't convincing to me at all for the same reasons. Not only is autism exponentially more common than it was not even a century ago, but it also seems to be catastrophically more severe in the most extreme cases. A theory of natural selection in which you have totally maladaptive traits and behaviours being selected and proliferating at such a rate is one that I'm completely unaware of. Nor does this supposed genetic explanation make much sense when you consider the increasing prevalence of regressive autism, which is maybe somewhat demonstrated to an extent by our test subject monkey friend. 

I am chary of the idea that even a fraction of the numbers we are seeing can be explained solely by something like genetic mutation or the effects of negative social experiences, either taken alone or together. As you've probably expected, I obviously find it highly plausible that both adults and their newborn babies/developing children have essentially been being constantly poisoned since some point in the 20th century. I doubt this is even controversial here, and to me, it shouldn't be controversial anywhere. But what do I know? Granted, there are scientists out there that admit that environmental toxins are likely another contributing factor. The problem is that I don't think it's merely likely another contributing factor, but rather near certainly the main one. Of course, I can't prove this, but where there's smoke...

I want to talk about these "extreme cases". I got banned from ApisForum for saying this. Leading to a new forum being required to contain me. We've come full circle.

These "extreme cases" of autism to me very often look like mental retardation that isn't connected to anything as obvious as Down Syndrome. How much of our catastrophic "autism" epidemic is actually either environmentally induced brain-damage or parents desperate to believe that their mentally hopeless children are actually just socially hampered and somehow a switch will flip one day? Something I've never seen looked into is, are diagnosis of retardation going down as extreme autism cases are going up?

I still believe that there are two autisms. There's what is practically a socialisation issue. And there are people who are practically retarded. A relationship between each and the above mentioned genetic autism I believe may exist but is in both cases not essential and tentatively proven. The relationship between genetic autism and these functionally retarded types is something that I haven't looked into much, but am interested in.



How did we decide that this guy and Elliot Roger are manifestations of the same genetic condition?

A long time after you were gone (his reasoning about you: oh he brought the mood down, WTF arian cowardice) The Spig, visualized a bunch of words as demons in one of his meditations. He mentions aut*sm (censored to protect the reader) as a lizard like monster with 8 eyes arranged as a square and a tail that represented perversion. I see this perversion as kind of a mocking kind of nature where it takes everything pure and corrupts it after a ruthless calculation. The perversion aspect is also see as tied with any-chan users who throw that word around to make fun of themselves and others often while engaging in perverse tastes.

It was about words and not the actual affliction, but it seems to tie into the debate about classification, where you take disparate conditions and try to tie them together into a chimera of suffering. However, it does feel like a post hoc feeling of being tired of the debate.
#14
The "autistically retarded" ETSUBATSU is clearly genetically diseased and is incidentally socially inept (contrast with your basic Downie Chad). The "functional autist", ie Sperg, is perhaps in part a result of unfortunate breeding, chemobiological status, but is more obviously a result of insufficient socialization. That the two types are necessarily regarded under the same tent really lays bare the vacuousness behind the Scientific Method in modern Psychology.

The "autistic" monkeys in Harlow's study are of the Sperg type. They were kept and observed under the most bare solitary confinement up to the point the camera rolled. Their behavior isn't the product of any genetic deformation, but of deliberate environmental and social deprivation.
#15
anthony Wrote:How did we decide that this guy and Elliot Roger are manifestations of the same genetic condition?

This question hits the nail on the head. I cannot speak much to the social causes of autism, of which I'm convinced there are important ones and the OP already points in the right direction. But on the neuro-biological, genetic side, I can shed some light. 

Post scriptum intro: I wrote much more than I initially intended, so I highlighted the most important sentences for the skimmers. 

The first tripping wire in this discussion is of course the colloquial terminology. It may seem unimportant, but the fact that we've come to call slight social akwardness "autistic" really does something to our perception of the phenomenon. When discussing this, you should at least check your own terminology to try and be exact about what you mean. I would also refer to recent literature showing that much of the supposed increases in autism and ADHD in the new millenium is due to less strict diagnostic guidelines - this process cannot be separated from the public discussion around it.

The second thing is then much more general, pervasive and difficult to untangle. What everybody outside of psychiatric/neurological research needs to understand (and many within, unfortunately) is that these "diseases", menthol elf problems, are phenomenological collection bins, conceptual groupings of symptoms. The underlying physiological mechanism are diverse and very poorly understood. In plain English: Two people can be diagnosed with depression, or schizophrenia, or autism, and even share symptoms, while having little to nothing in common "under the hood". The brain (or even the whole body) is in many ways much more complicated than the behaviour it produces. The outputs are very limited compared to how much can go wrong. 

Because it is important to me that I communicate this properly, I will create a comparison: When somebody has the flu, a doctor has also learned a "conceptual grouping of symptoms" that helps him recognise that, yes, this patient has the flu. Every patient with the flu will not have the all of the symptoms, and some will have almost none of them, and many will have symptoms from other diseases as well. In that way, you could say there is a "flu-spectrum". However, we understand the etiology of the flu pretty well. We can do a test for influenza virus, and determine the variant even. We know what the virus does to the body and can explain the symptoms in terms of those vectors of attack. 
Now we compare this to autism. We know nada. There is no biomarker, no virus, bacterium, fungus, contaminant, nothing we can objectively test. There are symptom checklists. We say Elliot R. and the screaming retard both shared some symptoms like eye contact aversion and mysoginy, and later we determined that they both have a rare mutation in some gene that may or may not explain 0.003% of the variance in social behaviour. So we classify them both on the autism spectrum, and treat them according to convenience. That's it. That's the summary of fifty years of autism research (not being generous, but you get the point).

Why are we not progressing to a point where we can say "Serotonin-deficiency in the brain causes depression", "Vaccines cause autism", "TV causes schizophrenia"? Because these are category mistakes. Some cases of the extremely varied behaviours that are currently all classified as autism could very well be due to vaccines*, or smartphones, or deleterious genetic mutations. But never all of them. By the maxim that "absence of evidence is (after doing loads of research) evidence of absence", we can even with some confidence say that not even a larger subset of these symptoms has a single common etiology. These categories are simply incoherent in biomechanical terms, and rest on social intuition first and foremost.
 
So, what should we do then to progress this research? Abandon the symptoms-based approach altogether. It's unlikely that we can convince doctors of this yet, but basic research needs to deal with research-domain specific approaches. The goal has to be an insight of this format: 

"Cause X leads to abnormal Y leads to behaviour Z"

"Mutation in gene X disturbs development of neural pathway Y which changes social interaction Z". 

"Glyphosate contamination of leafy greens leads to malabsorption of Vit.C in 4% of population which increases their average eye contact avoidance by 7.3%" 

If that sounds unsatisfactory, that's the point. If there were a slam dunk for this, it would have been found. My whole point is, there can't be a slam dunk while we focus on classifications that are based on phenomenology instead of mechanical connections. 

Fortunately, there is movement in this direction, and my prediction is that it will result in the disolution of psychiatry as we know it now, if successful. Instead of treating all depression with SSRIs, we will hopefully come to recognise different ways in which somebody can be damaged that lead to him presenting "depressed", and find interventions appropriate for each. Similarly, the nonsense about autism has to stop. I am not very well versed on it's likely causes, to I won't comment, but it's clear to me that there's a ton of different disorders, from autoimmune to social neglect, that have an influence on the behaviours that are now haphazardly categorised as autism.

Something that should be mentioned about Harlow is that he also studied how to reverse the damage he caused. Anthony correctly identifies him as an archetypal scientist worthy of admiration. 

*(I don't think it's likely btw, it's more likely to be a compound effect of contaminants that includes some vaccines. There are weird auto-immune effects when the body has to deal with a bunch of intrusions that could separately be harmless)
#16
anthony Wrote:I think it's great. Harlow is such an old school American scientist type. He's so eager and positive and diligent while conducting experiments that Hitler would blanch at. And the research is invaluable in my opinion, despite its cruelty. He's showing that we can consistently produce character types by manipulating socialization experiences of social animals.


anthony Wrote:I'll say urban dog ownership does disgust me. I don't just dislike it. It's awful. Bad for people and the animals. It's awful the lives most dogs get sentenced to. Furry four legged anti-depressants.
#17
Cr-ACK!-robatty Wrote:
anthony Wrote:I think it's great. Harlow is such an old school American scientist type. He's so eager and positive and diligent while conducting experiments that Hitler would blanch at. And the research is invaluable in my opinion, despite its cruelty. He's showing that we can consistently produce character types by manipulating socialization experiences of social animals.


anthony Wrote:I'll say urban dog ownership does disgust me. I don't just dislike it. It's awful. Bad for people and the animals. It's awful the lives most dogs get sentenced to. Furry four legged anti-depressants.

And no contradiction there.
#18
JohnTrent Wrote:One of the greater issues about "misunderstanding" the word is that autism was first supposed to describe schizophrenia. Entries from Richard Sterba's Dictionary of Psychoanalysis:
[...]

This is quite interesting and I wasn't aware of it, thanks for sharing. I don't think they were right however, since schizophrenia has a distinct (and also highly heritable) genetic basis, as well as a slower gradual onset of symptoms that usually aren't detected until early adulthood. I can see why early psychologists might have thought autistic behavior had something in common with psychosis, but schizophrenia's hallucinations/paranoid delusions and autism's social/sensory difficulties are definitely separate categories of symptoms.



august Wrote:My mind immediately wants to believe that part of it is similar to the Gay Question. Apparently, 7.2% of Americans are gay, with Gen Z being 19.2%, Millennials being 11.2%, Gen X being 3.3%, Boomers being 2.7%, and the Silent Generation being 1.7%. You get the point. Now, it's my opinion that these numbers, particularly Gen Z and Millennials need to be taken with a small grain of salt, because the same poll indicates that 13.1% and 6.9%, respectively, are so-called "bisexual". I doubt that I'm the only one who knows females of these age cohorts that supposedly became "lesbians" after 20 or so lived years of being straight, and then magically turned straight again after a brief stint in college. My point being—sparing the irrelevant explanation—that the whole "bisexual" thing for younger females is probably fake, and lesbians aren't real in the same way that fags are. I don't want to discuss homosexuality, but merely reference the phenomenon as a similarity, for what it's worth, to think about.

The big difference between the epidemiologies of homosexuality and autism is that homosexuality is only 8-25% heritable (no surprise there) while autism is 80-90% heritable. These are very big genetic studies and there is a lot of research in this area so I think we should trust it.

Quote:Anyway, if you're familiar with the impolite theory that something like a parasite might be the actual cause of homosexuality, and hence why it may not necessarily be as simple as saying that it's "nature" as opposed to "nurture" (i.e., "they're born that way", i.e., genetics), it's likely that you'll see where I'm going with this as it relates to speculative causes of autism. Much like I'm doubtful that there is a 'gay gene' that somehow not only survives but thrives despite being antithetical to genetic fitness, the genetic explanation for autism isn't convincing to me at all for the same reasons. Not only is autism exponentially more common than it was not even a century ago, but it also seems to be catastrophically more severe in the most extreme cases. A theory of natural selection in which you have totally maladaptive traits and behaviours being selected and proliferating at such a rate is one that I'm completely unaware of. Nor does this supposed genetic explanation make much sense when you consider the increasing prevalence of regressive autism, which is maybe somewhat demonstrated to an extent by our test subject monkey friend. 

I am chary of the idea that even a fraction of the numbers we are seeing can be explained solely by something like genetic mutation or the effects of negative social experiences, either taken alone or together. As you've probably expected, I obviously find it highly plausible that both adults and their newborn babies/developing children have essentially been being constantly poisoned since some point in the 20th century. I doubt this is even controversial here, and to me, it shouldn't be controversial anywhere. But what do I know? Granted, there are scientists out there that admit that environmental toxins are likely another contributing factor. The problem is that I don't think it's merely likely another contributing factor, but rather near certainly the main one. Of course, I can't prove this, but where there's smoke...

[Image: HLnAaNW.jpg]

The mainstream argument to explain away graphs like these is that autism was vastly underdiagnosed until relatively recently. I think this is plausible considering that the term "autism" itself was only coined at the beginning of the 20th century, and to begin with their understanding of the disorder was poor. It wasn't until recently that the current consensus of autism being a "spectrum disorder" became popular and integrated into the DSM-V in 2013, resulting in a broader diagnostic category that would lead to increased numbers. The diagnostic criteria and terminology have been constantly changing (and always in the direction of lowering the standard of evidence for a diagnosis), so showing a graph of a singular "autism" value is misleading since it wasn't measuring the same thing in each year (but it's not like a graph could do much better).

I do also think that psychiatrists have falsely diagnosed a lot of kids with Asperger Syndrome/autism or exaggerated the conditions of those with lower grade symptoms, because pharmaceutical companies coerce them to get as many kids as possible on antidepressants and antipsychotics. Government agencies also have a perverse incentive to do anything they can to pump up statistics so they can justify demands for more funding. This could explain the other autism graph you posted which is referring to numbers of children served by a government program.

You're probably right that there is at least some non-illusory component to the increase in autism rates, but I would be surprised if these factors are the main drivers of the statistics. A general dysgenic increase in mutational load, and artificial environmental factors (glyphosates etc.) influencing epigenetic expression are probably both real to some extent.



anthony Wrote:I think you've hit at where my thinking on autism leads here even if you didn't mean to. We can draw a line between people with a genetic condition which primes one for awkward socialisation and those who just experienced awkward socialisation. But when what we're ultimately concerned about is the behaviour of mature or maturing people, does this distinction matter?

You say yourself here if I'm reading you right that the condition is ultimately linked to socialisation, and that this genetic autism is merely a factor in the formation of the finished type.  If genetic autism is not a necessary factor in producing a functionally autistic youth and adult, is it really a matter worth primary consideration?

We could define autism however we want, but I think being concerned primarily with the behavior of people is the domain of sociology, not psychiatry. We already have some psychiatric diagnoses which are mostly socially contingent such as borderline personality disorder and depression, and they are pretty useless and arguably harmful. We probably lack the vocabulary to describe the character of this improper socialization, but I don't think we should stretch the meaning of terms that already have a strong basis in psychology and genetics.

Quote:Sure, it might not be genetic autism, maybe as babies they made great eye contact. But if they end up falling into the same poor socialisation life pattern as those with the genetic disposition the distinction seems unhelpful and pointless. Again, it seems to me like you've said that genetic autism is not necessary to produce someone who is functionally autistic.

I don't think common modern poor socialization patterns result in similar outcomes to autism, since the idea of what is commonly considered to be "functionally autistic" is an inaccurate caricature.

The type of person I think of when you describe an incorrectly socialized person that did not grow up with autism, is a young person who has few real world friends and spends a lot of their time on the internet. This is the sort of person who will reply with anime reaction gifs and unfunny memes when you try to have a serious conversation with them, and does not seem to have any capacity for original thought. Rather than being disinterested in socialization, these people are often hypersocial and have developed strange and offputting mannerisms to facilitate this behavior and disregard social norms, which may be confused for autistic traits. Ironically, such people will sometimes identify with the label of autism because it signals status within their subculture, which is neurotypical behavior. These types are probably more closely described by Ted K's "oversocialization" than "autism", although I don't think either fit that well.

Quote:I want to talk about these "extreme cases". I got banned from ApisForum for saying this. Leading to a new forum being required to contain me. We've come full circle.

These "extreme cases" of autism to me very often look like mental retardation that isn't connected to anything as obvious as Down Syndrome. How much of our catastrophic "autism" epidemic is actually either environmentally induced brain-damage or parents desperate to believe that their mentally hopeless children are actually just socially hampered and somehow a switch will flip one day? Something I've never seen looked into is, are diagnosis of retardation going down as extreme autism cases are going up?

I still believe that there are two autisms. There's what is practically a socialisation issue. And there are people who are practically retarded. A relationship between each and the above mentioned genetic autism I believe may exist but is in both cases not essential and tentatively proven. The relationship between genetic autism and these functionally retarded types is something that I haven't looked into much, but am interested in.

How did we decide that this guy and Elliot Roger are manifestations of the same genetic condition?

I think these low-functioning autism cases arise from similar genotypes to the high-functioning ones, but some specific developmental milestone is never reached due to environmental factors. Missed developmental milestones probably also are the reason Down Syndrome and other retard disorder sufferers appear visibly retarded (I already can see our previous disagreement re-emerging), but with autism in particular it is not genetically fixed at birth whether the child will reach key milestones. Also, it is not uncommon for individuals with high-functioning autism to unexpectedly reach developmental milestones sooner than their peers. It seems that autism fucks up the development of the brain in some way that can cause faster or slower progress, and in the case of slower development this sometimes exceeds the time limit, causing everything to crash to a halt and the child never grows up.

I see it as likely that if many low-functioning autistics were given more picture books and kept away from car exhaust fumes, they may have grown up (more) normally. But I would not dispute the common genetic basis since this is the real kind of science that makes strong statistical predictions.

If low functioning autism was a separate disorder, it could not have much genetic heritability (similar to homosexuality) because it obviously greatly reduces reproductive success. I guess they can't actually measure the heritability of LFA in particular without forcing them to fuck in captivity, a task for Mengele's spiritual successors. However, there is absolutely a strong observed genetic link between LFA and HFA (and anecdotally, I knew an guy whose family was an example of this).
#19
Quote:And no contradiction there.


"Urban dog ownership": A social animal is placed in an situation/environment it's designed for. It's bad because "furry four-legged anti-depressants".



Spergmonkey experiments: A social animal is placed in a situation/environment it's not designed for. It's good even though Hitler would've hated it because reasons.



Quote:I see it as likely that if many low-functioning autistics were given more picture books and kept away from car exhaust fumes, they may have grown up (more) normally.


At which point they would likely grow up to become the "normalfags" you despise.
#20
Guest Wrote:"Urban dog ownership": A social animal is placed in an situation/environment it's designed for. It's bad because "furry four-legged anti-depressants".



Spergmonkey experiments: A social animal is placed in a situation/environment it's not designed for. It's good even though Hitler would've hated it because reasons.

Since you're discussing me I should answer. 

In the former case violence is done to both parties for no real positive end or plan. It's just a desperate clinging of the emotionally drowning. The latter case is practical social science executed by what is now an exceptionally clean and sharp looking man with a clearsighted shamelessness that seems to almost border on naivete. I find the severity of his experiments paired with the positivity of his presented demeanour funny. And like the android observing Ridley Scott's Alien creature, I can admire the purity of what I'm seeing. Pure, white coat science. I open with the picture for that effect. Do you not admire any part of this?



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