It was during an email conversation that someone mentioned the following:
“We’ve talked for nearly a year now, and your habitual symptoms are still quite evident. Is it a mental disorder, because I’ve had a lot of experience with that? Bipolar, Asperger’s, you give definite evidence of being the “force of nature” you’d like to present.”
There are several things to note in the manner in which he writes. Firstly he uses a question mark at the end of his second sentence. Normal people are not in the habit of questioning their own statements, thus the subsequent clause will have been added without sufficient awareness. That is to say, he did it unknowingly, unconsciously.
There is another trait that he is unaware of, because he writes the following: “Bipolar, Asperger’s.” Now for any of you who read this, some of you I know have experienced Bipolar disorder at first hand, you will know that Bipolar disorder and Asperger’s are very, very different conditions. Yet he speaks as someone who has a lot of experience with these things. It is up to you to judge just how much of this experience sank in, and how much was forgotten. If it was ever known, that is.
Okay, he’s hanged himself with his own rope. It’s all you need to do with most intellectuals, because their confusion will always lead them to say something incredibly stupid.
Now: this blog is, unless clearly stated to the contrary, a no-nonsense blog. I have tackled the fundamental issues at the heart of autism – of which Asperger’s syndrome forms a part. The only difference with Asperger’s is that it develops later on, rather than exhibiting itself in infancy. The cause and the outward, social inabilities are the same.
This is only to show that such people have an extremely well protected comfort zone that has sealed them off from expressing or understanding the normal emotional responses that humans have with other people. So much for Asperger’s (1).
Perhaps if the gentleman in question ever reads this, he will ask himself if he understands what it is to have a healthy emotional life with another person: but then, the answer to this will of course be ‘yes’. What a person cannot perceive is invisible to them, so no matter how small their comfort zone happens to be, they will be happy enough. Well, until it becomes so small that it affects ones ability to deal with every-day life; a condition we call this dementia. I have several posts that deal with this phenomenon in detail as it is something I do truly understand (2).
Bipolar, however, is not.
I have a very dear friend who has suffered from this, and she is teaching me about it. Thus far I can express as being trapped outside one’s comfort zone without the possibility of finding one’s way back. The horrors that people must go through during such an experience is beyond my ability to describe. The fears that people have when they come close to the boundaries of their comfort zone are extremely clear, and are usually expressed outwardly in some form of confusion. The gentleman I was writing emails to is a case in point, as he clearly demonstrated a level of confusion in the space of a short paragraph. All I can say is that I hope he doesn’t develop Bipolar; it is beyond being tortured. At least you know the pain will stop at some point. If your world is so detached from reality that you have no conception of time: what seemed like five hours of horror might pass whilst only two ticks of the clock had actually passed.
Managing mental illness is something that should not be left to the unready: the amount of damage such experts cause must be colossal. After all, the only thing the professionals can do is to use various specific sedatives that relieve the symptoms for a greater or lesser time. That is, after all, the only measure many of them can be aware of. Whilst this is helpful in the short term, the very nature of the condition has its own ways of undermining this kind of help. Namely the negative, defensive effects of their comfort-zone. The larger problem is that any mental illness from Bipolar to Asperger’s will be distinct for each individual. Hence the panorama of sedatives available to doctors: they will know how much to offer to this particular kind of patient. Then it’s a case of “suck it and see”. Not very professional, but that’s about as good as it gets when you’ve been sectioned.
I will add that I dread the thought of a professional “analysis” of my own mentality. Such people have such a limited understanding – in itself a function of the constricting nature of the comfort zone – that anything that lies outside it is incomprehensible nonsense. Since they are the authority, and please take note of this, they are the authority here; in that they know best, and they cannot understand me, it is I who must be nuts. Just as my emailer did! The problem with the professionals is that they’ll then reverse engineer the symptoms and dope me to the eyeballs with the appropriate tranquillizer. If ever you face this kind of modern inquisition, try to act as normally as you can and do not try to convince them of anything save what they already know. That way you will not raise spectres before their eyes in the way I inadvertently did for Milena (3).
Such people know nothing of the subconscious. More importantly, they lack the capacity for self-reflection that is the order of the day if you are to deal with our modern world in anything that approaches a healthy response. Now, I cannot be more clear on this issue: it is of no importance how much this ability presents itself in your life. If you have it, even in the minutest dilution, it is there. Coax it and it will grow. Coax it more and it will flower. I guarantee you that much. However, a person lacks this, it is all but impossible for them to work with it. If for the only reason that it really doesn’t make any sense for them to bother with such things. Try as you might, they will argue until they are blue in the face that it is irrelevant to their life.
Remember: if they cannot perceive it, it will be invisible to them. No matter how close to the surface it might be, they will have any number of excuses, diversions and reasons why they need not deal with this element of self-reflection. Paradoxically, they will say they can, and will say they do.
Only this post is not about what people say: we have seen what one person said as a direct result of his inability to reflect on his own deeds. He writes something that is confusing, and having done so, goes on to contradict himself.
You can read it at the top of the page.
In conclusion, I want to say that it matters not a jot who you are or what you have suffered, gone through, become or were. You can be a humble street-sweeper on the streets of Nairobi or you can be a lifeguard on Bondai beach. If you have even a glimmer of self-reflection, you will demonstrate it to someone like me. Because that is when I hear things like ‘I try,’ or ‘it’s not very big.’ That is when I start explaining what it is and how to coax it. Most of the people who have this capacity have, for one reason or another, found themselves in a job that requires them to meet lots of people. There is no better place to coax your own abilities than in meeting others and conversing with them.
But please don’t go too far: one of them might be a psychiatrist who will then tell you that you’ve got problems. Having said that, the capacity for self-reflection, the ability to say to yourself, “is it me, or is it them?” will quickly tell you that you are straying onto thin ice. Online, without the gestures that are your securest guide, you cannot know if you have strayed. And all the temptations that come with trying to find another honest human being, it is easy to find oneself in the position of being told that you have Bipolar, Asperger’s… or that you’re just ill in some way or other that cannot be fathomed by the incourteous of this world.
(1) There is thus far, only one post about autism, which you can find here.
(2) I have a series of posts about Dementia, which are to be found under this tag. (Which looks as if it needs a little editing!)
(3) You can read my post about Milena here.