Whose Planet Is It Anyway?

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

With Friends Like These...

Originally posted June 2005

This fact ought to be too obvious to be worth mentioning:

Psychologists are not our friends.

They are responsible for maintaining a vicious diagnostic regime that classifies autistic neurological differences as an inherently disordered, impaired, and defective state of being. Whenever an autistic child is excluded from a mainstream classroom because his needs are allegedly too difficult to meet, drugged with dangerous medications to make him appear "more normal," or subjected to abusive behavioral "interventions," you can be sure that a psychologist or psychiatrist is to blame. In order to ensure a steady demand for such "work," they have created a brutal self-fulfilling prophecy that declares autistics to be hopelessly mentally disabled, of no value to society, and in need of extensive (and expensive) lifelong psychological services. That description often causes governments, schools, and parents to treat autistics accordingly. Major depression, extreme anxiety, and other completely preventable disabling conditions are the inevitable result of such treatment.

Because of the widespread abuse of autistic people by psychologists over several decades, it has even been suggested that an
Autism Truth and Justice Commission should be established to expose the depths of their crimes against humanity.

Friends or enemies? It's not a hard call.

And yet, some autistic adults who were fortunate enough to avoid the diagnosis and its resulting stigma as children are now voluntarily deciding to visit psychologists for the purpose of being diagnosed with "Asperger's Disorder." Apparently they have been persuaded that this shiny new label, with its stereotyped list of "impairments," will somehow validate their life experiences and establish them as full-fledged members of the autistic community.

In a word: Bullshit.

To make myself completely clear on this point, I am not talking about those of us who have made the practical decision to seek a diagnosis in order to obtain services or accommodations. That is a rational response to a woefully irrational and label-obsessed society that is stingy as all hell when it comes to providing services. Sometimes you just gotta do what you gotta do.

But there are some autistics who, for reasons I can't fathom, have chosen to flaunt their diagnosis as if it were a badge of membership in an exclusive social club. These twerps act like teenage girls comparing rock-star autographs, proudly posting on the aspie boards, "I got my diagnosis from [insert name of well-known autism expert] personally!" Often they will follow this up by posting snide comments suggesting that their opinions as "real" autistics are more valid than those of the undiagnosed barbarian hordes. A few of them have even scanned their letter of diagnosis into their computer and posted it on their website.

Here's what I have to say to the Diagnosis-Fan-Club-Twerps: Whatever you're smoking, dudes, it's gotta be powerful stuff. I don't know what sort of status you think you've acquired, but here's a news flash: Society's "beautiful people" are not lined up around the block waiting to be officially diagnosed as mentally impaired. If you are not in need of services or accommodations, the only thing you're likely to get as a result of an autism diagnosis is a nice cozy spot on a permanent government database registry of diseased citizens. (And if you think that's a paranoid exaggeration, take a look at
this thread on Aspies for Freedom. Our good buddies the psychs are no doubt responsible for the passage of that charming bit of Nazi-esque legislation, too.)

Let's put this in historical perspective. Other minority groups that were oppressed by psychologists acting as agents of social control, such as homosexuals and feminists, had the good sense not to treat their demeaning diagnostic labels as reflecting some sort of validation of their identity. Back when homosexuality was listed as a disorder in the DSM, you didn't find gays flocking to psychologists and bragging to others in the gay community that they had an officially diagnosed psycho-sexual disorder. And you didn't find feminists at consciousness-raising group meetings declaring giddily, "I got my hysteria diagnosis from Dr. Freud himself!" Both of these groups understood quite well that the diagnostic labels did not reflect neutral scientific truth but were instead deliberately biased instruments of social oppression.

I suggest an act of political protest in the same spirit as feminist bra-burning: Use your letter of diagnosis as an asswipe. Then mail it to your favorite autism "charity" in an envelope marked "contribution."

(Edit and clarification: A few people thought this might be a serious suggestion. Actually, I was just being sarcastic. Please don't really harass anyone through the mail. The postal inspectors would be very unhappy, and I don't want any of my readers getting in trouble with the law.)

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