Search This Blog

Monday, February 9, 2015

Is Putin as Aspie?

At Politico, Mark Lawrence Schrad -- the father of a child with Asperger's -- correctly demolishes a Pentagon report suggesting that Putin is an Aspie:
[The] report asks us to believe that all of Putin’s political decisions and inclinations are singularly influenced by Asperger’s: his impatience, his wonkish attention to detail, his comfort with routine, his obsession with controlling the day-to-day operation of running a giant country, his “basic personal struggle” to find an inner circle he can trust, seeking glory for himself and the country he leads—all of it because of something that may or may not have happened when young Volodya was a child. This explanation overlooks the tomes of research in sociology, history, political science and Russian studies suggesting that such traits are all manifestations of the sistema of high-level autocratic politics in Russia—before Putin, under Putin and will continue after Putin—regardless of whether he has Asperger’s or not.
It is not just Putin who gets further denigrated in all of this—it is those of us in the special-needs community, too. Sticking through the jargon of this Pentagon report is hurtful, unscientific and downright condescending terminology describing not just the Russian president, but individuals with Asperger’s and autism worldwide: “suffering” the “neurological insult” and “profound handicap” of Asperger’s, Putin is at a “primitive,” “pre-mammalian” and “reptilian stage of development.” Honestly, it’s so thoroughly insulting, the Pentagon should be ashamed to have paid for it.

And ultimately: So what? If, in the end, it turns out that Vladimir Putin is an Aspie—what does it matter? Can someone with Asperger’s not run a country? Certainly it’d be preferable if the Russian Federation were an actual, functioning, democratic federation, with decision-making power spread throughout the system—but it’s not. Russia is—and largely has been—a closed autocracy with most of the levers of power housed in the Kremlin. In that situation, it might actually be preferable to have someone who’s wired to be obsessively dedicated to the work of governance

The Pentagon study said that it would not be possible to diagnose Putin definitively without a brain scan.  This suggestion indicates a remarkable ignorance:  it is not yet possible to diagnose ASD reliably with brain scans.