Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Reevaluating autism and depression

Wired magazine is running a fascinating article on autism and the growing movement to accept "neuro-diversity" and thus normalize the condition. Specifically, the article challenges the "disease model" of autism; autistics, it argues, aren't 'damaged or dysfunctional, just different'. I don't really know what I think, but it is certainly interesting. It is also noteworthy that autistics (just like atheists) are drawing inspiration from the gay rights movement and are campaigning to end discrimination and public misunderstanding.

In a similar vein, Paul Keedwell writes in The Guardian on "The Upsides of Being Down" and argues depression has beneficial effects that have been overlooked. While Keedwell has a point, he seems to conflate transitory sadness and clinical depression in places while underestimating just how debilitating repeated episodes of major depression can be. (He pays lip service to this, to be sure, but doesn't take it fully into account in my view). Also, I spotted at least a few fallacies: some ad hominems and a post hoc ergo propter hoc.

(Hat tip: David Spurrett for the Keedwell article).

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