Wednesday, April 20, 2005

Einstein and Asperger's (more info)...

news release from couple years ago...

Scientists Wonder if Einstein, Newton Were Autistic
LONDON (Reuters) - Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton were geniuses but British scientists believe they may have suffered from Asperger syndrome -- a form of autism.
The condition, first described by Viennese physician Hans Asperger in 1944, is a disorder that causes deficiencies in social and communication skills and obsessive interests.
But it does not affect learning or intellect and many people with AS have exceptional talents or skills.
Although it is impossible to make a definitive diagnosis in people who are dead, Simon Baron-Cohen of Cambridge University and Ioan James of Oxford University studied the personalities of Einstein and Newton to see if the two scientists had symptoms of AS.
"Newton seems a classic case. He hardly spoke, was so engrossed in his work that he often forgot to eat, and was lukewarm or bad-tempered with the few friends he had," New Scientist magazine said on Wednesday.
Baron-Cohen said Einstein was also a loner and as a child he repeated sentences obsessively. Although Einstein made friends and spoke out on political issues, Baron-Cohen suspects he showed signs of Asperger syndrome.
"Passion, falling in love and standing up for justice are all perfectly compatible with Asperger syndrome," he told the weekly science magazine.
"What most people with AS find difficult is casual chatting -- they can't do small talk," he added.
But Glen Elliott, a psychiatrist at the University of California at San Francisco, said geniuses can be socially inept and impatient with other people without being autistic.
"Impatience with the intellectual slowness of others, narcissism and passion for one's mission in life might combine to make such an individual isolative and difficult," he told the magazine.
Baron-Cohen said he hopes the research can improve understanding of Asperger syndrome and make life easier for people who suffer from the condition.

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