Neurodiversity, the cure and X-Men

This will be quite a long post. It should be two posts, but I couldn’t find a good way to cut it up.

I read the book “Everything I know I learned from TV”, by Mark Rowlands, some time ago. The gist of it is that a lot of philosophical arguments are today played out on Television Shows. Each chapter took a programme and showed the philosophical underpinnings. “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” was used to compare premodernism to modernism; “The Simpsons” was the basis of a discussion on various theories of happiness; the chapter on “Friends” was about, well, friendship.

A few years ago, I saw the film X-Men 3: The Last Stand. In the X-Men universe, mutants (people with extraordinary powers) exist in significant numbers and are feared by nonmutant humans. The core story of X-Men 3 is a cure for mutancy. The son of the researcher who develops the cure is a mutant named Angel. Near the beginning of the film, Angel is about to receive the cure when he realises that his father has never accepted him for who he is, and angrily flies off, refusing the cure.

Rogue (played by Anna Paquin) sees things differently to Angel. Her power is to drain anyone she touches of their energy, stunning them, and if they are mutants, of their powers. She is unable to hold the people she loves for fear of harming them and regards her power as a curse. By the end of the film, she has taken the cure and is able to touch her boyfriend.

Charles Xavier (Patrick Stewart), the leader of the X-Men, is neutral to the cure. Magneto (Ian McKellan), a mutant who distrusts humans and is the antagonist, is openly hostile to the very idea of a “cure” for mutancy. The cure is extracted from a young mutant whose power is the ability to neutralise mutancies, and Magneto plans to attack and murder him.

What interests me most are the parallels between the “mutancy cure” in the film and the “autism cure” debate in real life. Recently a blogger and open opponent of neurodiversity accused those in the movement of being “anti-cure”, i.e. like Magneto. I call bullshit, Straw Man, and False Conflation.

I consider myself a proponent of neurodiversity and I am not anti-cure. If there was a genuine cure for autism, I would not prevent anyone from taking it, even though I wouldn’t take it myself. Believe me, I understand better than most why a person would want to be rendered nonautistic. But there is no such cure.

What neurodiversity supporters oppose are the so-called “cures” that do nothing for autism, and that are flat out dangerous. Abubakar Tariq Nadama died as a result of being chelated. Another therapy that is gaining support is the faecal replacement enema. This can transfer intestinal parasites, prions, and infections (even HIV) to the recipient.

In the X-Men universe, Charles Xavier and his X-Men advocate for better understanding of mutants, and greater acceptance by nonmutants. While I am no Charles Xavier or X-Man, I try to advocate for the same things for autistics.

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About autismjungle

I am a Software Test Analyst. Shortly before I turned 21 I was officially diagnosed, although I had long suspected I was autistic. Welcome to my blog
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4 Responses to Neurodiversity, the cure and X-Men

  1. Lori says:

    I suppose I have nothing against any cure for anything, that is self-administered. Therein lies the rub. It seems plausible that the first genuine cures (if any) will be efficacious mostly or exclusively very early in life, if not prenatally.

  2. SocialScienceAdvocate says:

    The problem with most treatments is they address it from a behavioral instead of an educational standpoint. The problem isn’t “inappropriate behavior” the problem is “lack of social understanding”.

    Why not just teach them the science of how to understand communication and then let them decide what to do(for good or for ill, an option that neurotypicals have with their own social skills) with that science? Too many therapies try teaching “proper” behavior without teaching any understanding of the underlying mechanics. This never works in the long run. Autistic people always want to know “why”, and that is a healthy attitude that drives our society forward.

    We have social science. It is possible to analyze, categorize, and completely flesh out the small intricacies of human behavior, and then organize an educational program to teach these things to people. We could get so good at this that not a single neurotypical would fair better left to their intuition than to be taught the “social mechanics”, including “social mathematics”. So why don’t we do this? EVERYTHING is a system. When something can be taught and understood at a deep level why leave anybody to “just pick up on it”? Why not give everyone the advantage of knowing precisely how these things work? Human evolution has always been towards conscious understanding, away from having to rely on primitive unconscious(and hence uncontrolled) understandings. This has furthered our progress and our freedom by freeing us from having to count on learning by chance and putting our education in our own hands. We should be furthering that even more.

    • n8chz says:

      In other words, why don’t people share their trade secrets? Just being facetious, of course. I’m on your side on this one. Really.

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