Asperger's syndrome

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Asperger's syndrome is part of a series on autism

Asperger's Syndrome is an Autism Spectrum "Disorder" (ASD) that can contribute to someone's inceldom. The diagnosis was previously distinct from ASD in the United States but was later subsumed into the broader diagnosis of ASD in the DSM-5 manual released by the American Psychiatric Association (APA) in 2013.[1] It is still recognized in the ICD-11 maintained by the World Health Organization as a subset of autism.[2]

The diagnosis of Asperger's syndrome is/was dependent on the subject meeting the criteria for a certain level of autistic symptoms such as social deficits and obsessive interests while having an IQ in the normal range or higher and not experiencing any developmental delay in language acquisition.

People with Asperger's often experience difficulty socializing and blending in with normies, apparently due to having issues with emotional recognition and expression. On the other hand, they are often exceptionally good at recognizing patterns and investigating specific topics with intense focus. People with Asperger's are also vulnerable targets of pick up artists who scam them into buying into their ineffective programs, with Aspies being particularly susceptible to the "Attraction ambiguity problem." [3]

Origin of the term[edit]

The condition is named after Hans Asperger, an Austrian pediatrician who first described the disorder in a medical context, dubbing the condition "autistic psychopathy" (in German, the word "psychopathische" was often used to refer to any mental illness).[4][5]

Asperger is now a highly controversial figure due to revelations he contributed to the Nazi Aktion T4' euthanasia' program, with Asperger sending several of his child patients off to be killed. [6] Given this controversial legacy, the recent discovery of his role in the T4 program may have also been a factor in the redefinition of the disorder by the APA.

However, he attempted to protect some of his juvenile autistic patients, claiming it would be "best service" to the "Volksgemeinschaft" (organic racial community of the nation) if the state found a use for autistics, particularly in the sciences, as he theorized a lot of scientists and academics exhibited autistic symptoms, with Asperger famously dubbing his patients 'the little professors'.[7]

Autism and sexual success[edit]

High functioning autistic adolescents are often incel[edit]

Holmes & Himle (2014) surveyed the sexual behaviors and attitudes of high and low-functioning autistic adolescents, relying on parental reports in this regard.[8]

They found the majority (69.2%) of high-functioning autistic adolescents expressed a desire for a sexual relationship. Though they exhibited great difficulty with obtaining these relationships, with only 1.5% of them being reported as having been sexually active by their parents (parental reports of their children's likelihood of engaging in sexual intercourse are generally highly reliable).

Many autistic men are virgins[edit]

Schöttle et al. (2017) examined a sample of autistic men and women in the view of discovering if they were more prone to exhibiting sexual paraphilias (maladaptive fetishes) compared to 'healthy controls' (HCs, neurotypicals).[9]

In contrast to common stereotypes that hold that autists are generally asexual and uninterested in sexual relationships, a literature review conducted by the authors, together with their research, found no evidence for this (though autistics that lacked prior sexual activity were more likely to exhibit lower sexual desire in general). The literature suggested a general trend towards autistics (with the data from these samples often not being differentiated by sex) being less sexually active compared to neurotypicals.

In this particular study, the researchers found a significant difference between the proportion of HCs and autistics that reported currently being in a sexual relationship, with this difference being particularly pronounced for autistic males (16.1% of autistic men vs. 82.4% of HC men reported being in a relationship, with this difference being statistically significant).

The poor mating performance among autistic men found in this study was despite them exhibiting a strong sex drive, with autistic men reporting higher masturbation frequencies than neurotypical men.

Autistic men (but not women) in this sample also reported a larger frequency of experiencing sexual paraphilias such as pedophilic fantasies, sexual sadism, voyeurism, etc., compared to their sex-matched neurotypical peers. The authors suggested this sex difference in paraphilias among autism could be explained by autistic women being more 'enculturated' and socially well adjusted compared to autistic males (i.e., they are less likely to disclose the existence of such paraphilias when they have them).

Male autistics reproduce less often than autistic women[edit]

A study in 2013 examining a total of 2.3 million individuals born in Sweden in 1950-1970 using government health care records found evidence for substantially lower fertility among sufferers of various mental illnesses. The fertility of the mentally ill was computed by measuring the fertility ratio (e.g., a FR of .5 would mean that the diseased group had on average half of the children of the general non-affected population, a FR of 2 would mean double the offspring on average). This ratio reflected the mean number of children that individuals with various mental disorders had compared to control individuals of the same age and sex, also accounting for variables such as family size, affected status, and parental status. The youngest individuals involved were 40 years old and had thus had essentially completed their reproductive careers.

The researchers found evidence of substantially intense selection pressure against autism with a male FR of .25 compared to a female FR of .48. Since there is evidence that female autism is underdiagnosed, due to the disorder being perceived as a primarily male disorder[10] or possibly due to autistic women being better at 'masking' the symptoms of their autism compared to males, many autistic women may evade diagnosis.

Autism and suicide[edit]

There is plentiful evidence that the difficulties with social interaction and integration autistic individuals typically experience can have a harsh toll on their mental health. For instance, autistic children report being 28 times more likely to experience suicidal ideations than their typically developing peers.[11]

Other research indicates that autistic adults report nearly ten times as many suicidal thoughts compared to their NT peers.[12]

A large analysis of suicide rates among people with autism published by the British Journal of Psychiatry discovered that people with autism are 7.53 times more likely to die by suicide, with those with high-functioning autism having an even greater risk of committing suicide than the low functioning, being over nine times more likely to commit suicide.[13] Interestingly enough, in this dataset, high-functioning autistic women had a suicide rate than their autistic male peers, a diametrically opposite relationship compared to the typical sex difference (dramatically favoring males in most countries) in suicide rates among neurotypicals.

A clinical cohort study of adults recently diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome (N = 374, 256 men, 116 women) in 2014 found a much greater prevalence of suicidal ideation and attempts/plans for suicide among adults with Asperger's as compared to the general population. Specifically, adults with Asperger's syndrome were more likely to report lifetime experience of suicidal ideation than were individuals from a general UK population sample (odds ratio 9.6). 35% of autistic respondents reported having made specific plans for their suicide.[14]

Neurodiversity vs. autism as a pathology[edit]

There is a debate in the autistic community as to whether or not high-functioning autism, in particular, should be treated as a health problem or not. The "neurodivergent" or "neurodiversity" crowd maintain the label is stigmatizing. Some even imply that autism is good/neutral. Those opposed to the "neurodivergent" and "neurodiversity" movements claim that these movements downplay the behavioral and social issues often found in those diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorders.

Providing some evidentiary support for those that argue that autism is not necessarily a deficit in and of itself, research suggests much of the dire social, employment, and relationship outcomes autists often face may be substantially due to acts of discrimination and ostracism committed against them by neurotypicals.

For example, Beutal et al. found that commonly stated autistic deficits in social cognitive functioning only played a relatively minor role in mediating poor social and economic outcomes, calling into question the importance of the 'established' psychological deficits of autists (such as lack of theory of mind, a prerequisite for empathy).[15]

There is also some evidence that the social difficulties that those with ASD face do not only originate with the sufferer's social deficits but perhaps are substantially due to the negative perceptions of them by others. An article in the scientific journal Nature[16] presented a series of studies that demonstrated that when shown photos and clips of social interactions(filmed via a first-person perspective with a go pro camera) of a group of ASD versus neurotypical individuals. ASD individuals were perceived as significantly less attractive, dominant, likable, and fun to 'hang out' with. They were, however, perceived as roughly equally 'trustworthy,' 'smart,' and 'good to live near' compared to NT controls. Their findings also demonstrated that the "negative first impressions of adults with ASD occurred solely when audio and/or visual information was present, and not when the transcript of their speech content was evaluated. This discrepancy suggests that social presentation style rather than the substantive content of social speech drove negative impression formation of individuals with ASD.

This study suggests that much of the problems autistics face in social interactions may be due to a difference in communication styles (especially non-verbal communication), shared interests, and presentation styles compared to neurotypical interaction partners, as TD subjects evaluated the quality of the conversations as being equally high in both groups.[17]

Some research on college dorm-mates evaluated for their level of autistic traits has also found that those similar levels of aloofness (associated with the broader autism phenotype) tended to like each other more, with discordant warm and aloof combinations generally resulting in more interpersonal strife.[18]

This suggests that autists may generally get on reasonably well with each other, but differences in presentation style, flatter affect (robotic communication style), and difficulty expressing expected social dominance hierarchy based behaviors may cause even very high-functioning autists to be commonly be perceived as 'creepy,' 'weird' or, more charitably, eccentric, leading to social exclusion and thus the social deficits for which is condition is known.

Extreme male brain theory[edit]

A central controversial theory of the etiology (cause) of ASD is known as the extreme male brain theory. The theory, first proposed by the world-famous autism researcher from the University of Cambridge, Simon Baron-Cohen, states that the primary cause of ASD is excessive exposure to androgens (male sex hormones) during prenatal development. Baron-Cohen does not claim that persons with ASD are more 'masculine' than neuro-typicals, a point often lost on laymen. Baron-Cohen merely asserts that this 'extreme' masculinity takes form in a deficit of empathy in ASD individuals and an increase in their mental tendency to attempt to systematize information they receive from the external environment. He states this is a major cause of the obsessive interests and social deficits displayed by those with the disorder.

Baron-Cohen found support for his theory via analysis of the amniotic fluid of children who were later diagnosed with ASD, which found evidence of elevated androgens (androstenedione and testosterone) in the placental fluid.[19] However, the relationship between these factors is likely complex, as later studies have also found evidence of elevated levels of estrogens in the prenatal environment of those later diagnosed with autism [20]. This is likely partially due to the activity of the enzyme aromatase in the placenta, converting some of the androgens to estrogens, as there is animal evidence that prenatal estrogens can have a "paradoxical" masculinizing effect in the proper context.

The complementary imprinted brain theory puts psychotic spectrum disorders (such as schizophrenia) on the opposite end of a spectrum from ASD, purportedly resulting from a conflict in the genomic imprinting between paternal and maternal genes, with extreme genomic imprinting in favor of paternal genes being associated with ASD.[21]

This also corresponds with sex differences in empathizing versus systematizing[22] which find females are generally higher in empathizing and males highest in systematizing. Autistic individuals of both sexes typically display a more masculinized behavioral phenotype in terms of systematizing/empathizing. These developmental theories are not necessarily mutually exclusive with the theories of ASD that attribute the etiology of the disorder to greater mutational load.[23]

Autism as a deleterious mutation[edit]

There is some evidence that increasing deleterious mutational load in the population, mediated by advanced paternal age and possibly by reductions in natural selection due to industrialization and modern medicine, is contributing to the increase in global autism diagnoses.[24] This secular increase in autism diagnoses is likely not be entirely explicable by the broadening of the diagnostic criteria of autism or increased awareness of the issue.

Iossifov et al. (2015) found that 30% of cases of autism in simplex families (where only one immediate family member has the condition) arises from de novo (novel) mutations, often transmitted from the mother.[25][26] Taylor et al. found that simplex cases of autism were typically more problematic as compared to multiplex cases (multiple family members affected).[27] Advanced parental age at birth also heightens the risk of ASD in offspring, with a possible mediating role of greater paternal age elevating the incidence of de novo mutations leading to ASD in offspring.[28]

Some researchers have claimed that the lessened prevalence of autism in women, rather than being explicable by the extreme male brain theory, may be due to greater levels of mutational load possibly being required for the disorder to even be symptomatic in females.[29] This theory also implies that females who have the condition may exhibit more severe symptoms due to carrying more deleterious mutations than males with the disorder. However, it is also claimed that the lesser female prevalence of the disorder may be due to higher-functioning female autists being more effective at 'masking' the socially disruptive symptoms of the condition.[30]

Evolutionary theories of autism[edit]

In contrast to predominant theories that portray autism as being a neurological disorder driven mainly by developmental insults or mutations in the genome, several theories have been proposed that aspects of autism could be adaptive, meaning it is related to or may derive from patterns of behavior that would have been evolutionarily adaptive throughout certain periods of human history.

One theory suggests ASD represents a 'failed' instance of male mating strategies that can be seen in exaggerated forms in two somewhat similar disorders: ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) and ASPD (Anti-Social Personality Disorder, commonly known as 'psychopathy').[31] All these disorders aspects of low empathy in common. ADHD and ASPD, in particular, have a low arousal threshold (less or no fear, desire for extreme stimulation, very low inhibition) in common. Low empathy and low arousal thresholds can be evolutionarily adaptive in males, aiding them in resisting harsh environments, winning status competitions, pursuing a promiscuous mating strategy, and so on.

ASD males generally have low cognitive empathy (lack of ability to read others), which may be sexually dimorphic (favoring women), but this is likely not adaptive at all in autistics. This is because the disorder typically results in them being socially oblivious, etc. Autistics also lack to high arousal threshold of psychopaths and people with ADHD; in contrast to them, autistics often exhibit hypersensitivity to external stimuli, especially noise, bright lights, social interactions, which is another factor that usually decreases their overall activity level and tolerance for social interactions.

In a similar vein to the aforementioned theories of autism being a result of adaptive traits perhaps being subjected to deleterious mutations that remove/alter key adaptions during development, or the mating of two (non-impaired) individuals with significant sub-clinical autistic traits resulting in autism in the child, Overskied (2016) argued that many influential politicians throughout recent history, such as the German Chancellor Angela Merkel, former US president Lyndon B Johnson, and the former South African president Nelson Mandela, among many others, exhibited significant subclinical autistic traits, and argued the increase in male reproductive success associated with this status could explain some of the apparent increase in the prevalence of ASD in recent times.

Overskied attempted to explain the discrepancy in the diagnosis of the disorder by sex by noting the reproductive success associated with high status is typically only found in men, with women's high status decreasing their reproductive success. He claims these subclinical autistic behaviors shared a common cause with actual autism, prenatal testosterone exposure, per Baron-Cohen's extreme male brain theory. He also stated that the high cortisol levels often found in autistic may serve to inhibit the expression of such socially dominant behaviors in them. In contrast, the powerful figures he claimed exhibited sub-clinical autistic traits may not be subject to high cortisol levels.[32]

Other theorists have examined autism through a life history framework claiming that autism represents an extreme slow life history strategy (later age of reproduction, slower growth, focus on acquiring resources instead of early reproduction, and so on), with autistic traits perhaps being associated with the acquisition of specialized skills that may have served to enhance the eventual reproductive success of individuals that bore these traits in human's ancestral past. Some research has indicated that autistic traits are associated with other traits that reflect a slow life history strategy. In contrast, schizotypic traits have been found to reflect a fast life history strategy.[33]

Relationship between autism and looks[edit]

In apparent contrast with the extreme male brain theory, there is some research indicating those (male and female) exhibit a greater amount of physical androgyny than NTs, possibly contributing to the higher incidence of inceldom among autists. A study in the Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders demonstrated that males with higher levels of 'autistic traits' were generally more physically feminine than males with lower levels of autistic traits and vice versa for females. [34]

The authors hypothesize that those with ASD have a more androgynous physical appearance but more male brains concerning systematizing/empathizing. However, their findings are directly contradicted by another study using a similar methodology, which found that pre-pubescent children with ASD were more facially masculine. Those with more severe symptoms tended towards being the most masculinized, utilizing 3D face tracking software. [35]

One of the explanations given by the authors of the newer study is that the first study examined adults, while theirs studied children. The social victimization and exclusion suffered by many autists results in higher cortisol levels, and the subsequent lowering of testosterone that results from high cortisol levels leads to a higher Cortisol/T ratio, possibly producing an incomplete level of masculinization of the face and body during puberty. Other explanations for this discrepancy the authors of the series of studies pointed to were possible methodological errors in the first study. Since autism is not a single concrete disorder and set of universal symptoms but a 'spectrum' of behaviors and neurological differences, there is the possibility that the autists higher in social deficits are the more masculinized ones. In contrast, those higher in systematizing and obsessive interests are not.

There is also evidence that those with ASD have less symmetrical faces than neurotypicals. A lack of bodily symmetry is weakly linked to a higher level of mutational load. For instance, a study published in 2010 found evidence of "significant facial asymmetry" in boys with ASD, particularly in the supra and periorbital regions in front of the frontal pole of the right hemisphere of the brain.[36] This could be caused by differences in brain growth or/and genetic factors since the mothers of those with ASD generally exhibited similar facial asymmetry. This could result in those with ASD being, on average, less attractive as compared to NTs, due to facial symmetry being generally found to be a component of facial attractiveness.[37]

Relationship between ASD and behavioral androgyny[edit]

In seeming contradiction to the "extreme male brain" theory of the etiology of ASD, there is also evidence that ASD is associated with behavioral androgyny in both sexes. However, as stated above, the theory does not claim that those with ASD are more "masculine" in the sense that accords with cultural/biological definitions of masculinity. This theory merely proposes that exposure to excessive levels of androgens in the prenatal environment is one of the leading causes of the disorder, and this elevated androgen exposure is associated with traits that masculinize the brain of those with ASD in specific contexts, such as causing a lack of empathizing capabilities and a greater tendency toward systematizing (e.g., an extreme exaggeration of the general male tendency to be interested in "things" instead of "people").[38][39]

Regarding the behavior profiles typical of those with ASD, a study published in 2014 using a modified version of the Bem Sex Role Inventory found those with ASD generally exhibited a more androgynous gender personality profile,[40]. This was mainly due to individuals with ASD reporting less competitive drive, inferior leadership abilities, and lower assertiveness. However, women with ASD reported a greater masculinized gender identity, and two-thirds stated they were tomboys in childhood compared to one-third of control women.

Autism and transsexualism[edit]

A study in 2010 found that those with ASD were ten times more likely to be referred to a gender identity clinic than those in the general population.[41]. The findings of this study may pose a problem to the extreme male brain theory of autism because both sexes were equally likely to exhibit gender dysphoria. In contrast, one would expect females to be dysphoric than males if the extreme male brain theory was valid. However, the authors state that this form of gender dysphoria may be atypical and possibly related to the obsessional interests often found in ASD. Contrary to the majority of typically developing individuals with gender dysphoria, those in the study who exhibited both gender dysphoria and ASD were not attracted to their natal sex but were attracted to individuals of the opposite birth sex.

This increased prevalence of 'trans-lesbianism' in the autistic community may be explained by the idea, prominent in the incelosphere, that the social exclusion and sexual frustration often experienced by autistic males, in particular, may contribute to them 'transitioning' to female gender identity to gain access to women, via the evasion of direct competition with other males (sneaker male theory). They possibly also romantically benefit from the social cachét that progressive circles often confer upon transsexuals. Some have also suggested that this much greater prevalence of gender dysphoria among autistics may be simply due to the higher rate of sexual paraphilias among autistics. One of the primary causes of gender dysphoria is autogynephilia, or being sexually aroused by the thought of oneself being a woman.[42][43]

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See also[edit]