09 August 2007

For what it''s worth, Einstein was...

...not autistic, at least not in my mind. Alas, I do not have an answer of my own to offer to the question of "Does it matter?" If you were to press me, I would say that it doesn't matter if it matters to me, it depends on whether or not it matters to you.

We all have our own point of view, and the answer to this question is - yes - relative to that point of view. Several people commented to my post Was Einstein autistic? Does it matter?. I encourage you to read those to get an idea of the answer from some diverse points of view (parents, autists, anonymous anti-autistic fundamentalists).

Was Einstein aloof? Yes. Emotionally distant? He could be, but wasn't always. Obsessive? I'd say passionate.

In the comments to that previous post, Joseph questioned Einstein's view toward his mentally ill son, Eduard. Here's what Isaacson had to say:

Eduard was unable to keep his balance. He began cutting classes and staying in his room. As he grew more troubled, Einstein's care and affection for him seemed to increase. There was a painful sweetness in his letters to his troubled son as he engaged with his ideas about psychology....

"Tete [Eduard's nickname] really has a lot of myself in him, but with him it seems more pronounced," Einstein conceded to [his first wife] Maric. "He's an interesting fellow, but things won't be easy for him."
It is true that Einstein did not see Eduard much as he grew older, and spent more and more time in institutions. As Isaacson puts it, Einstein "simply walled [Eduard] out when the relationship became too painful."

Sounds pretty normal (god, I hate that word) to me.

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Joseph said...

Eduard might have been a victim of the times. Did they really have to institutionalize him? I bet today they wouldn't.

FWIW, that description by his father supports the notion that Eduard was autistic, not schizophrenic.

Anonymous said...

Did Einstein have Asperger Syndrome, No! Because he rather had high-functioning autism, he began to speak when he was four.

That's why!


I don't think it matters if he was autistic, I think he can be a source of inspiration to anyone who has a special interest.

Susan said...

I have always found Einstein to be an inspirational character...used him as a role model when I taught at-risk kids because of his non-conformist image and his lack of "fitting in."

Now that I have an autistic son, my favorite T-shirt is one that states "I hear Einstein was a late talker."

Do *I* think Einstein was on the spectrum? Yes. Does it matter? Not really. I just appreciate seeing the history of a kid who struggled socially and verbally, yet went on to make great contributions to the world...and I hope my son can do likewise.