I have occasionally blogged about people with Asperger’s syndrome. I find it a fascinating syndrome, being neither an indicator of intelligence (or lack thereof) or of mental illness, although frequently misunderstood as both. It’s a way of thinking that can change a person’s entire perception of the world, and is often a source of misunderstanding by those who love but do not understand him.
Yesterday, Alex made a comment following my post “Missing the obvious” in which he describes his own Aspie thought processes. Since the post is over two years old, I don’t think many people are apt to see the comment. But I think it’s immensely valuable both for Aspies themselves to understand the way their thought processes may be different and also for those who may live or work with, and love an Aspie, and so I am presenting the comment here. Personally, I found it clarifying and confirming.
I have added some paragraphing, but apart from that, the description of Alex’s thoughts and experiences are totally in his words.
“I know this is an old post but I have been looking for information on this very subject as I am trying to understand myself. Any religion I get involved in, I become a raging fundamentalist. I never understood why I did that. Whatever the beliefs, label, theology, etc etc, I piss people off.
I find I can’t even handle being part of the Atheist movement although I am a devout Atheist at this point (mostly due to how I act under the influence of religion). If I take something as “the truth”, I take it to the ends of the earth and drag my neighbors through the mud figuratively speaking (yes, aspies can use figures of speech, I simply have trouble not taking everything literally despite understanding some sarcasm that even I use).
I don’t believe that all fundamentalists suffer from AS, but if an aspie is indoctrinated as a child, they will probably become a fundamentalist. It is similar to the idea that AS leads to Atheism despite not all Atheists having AS. Will you find aspies in fundamentalists circles? Probably just as much as you would find in Atheist circles. This is probably also why I never understood how my peers at church didn’t walk on “eggshells” as far as “God”, I only was capable of processing “faith” in the sense of fear due to taking it literally. I don’t understand “faith” in the sense religious people use it. I understand it in the sense of “confidence based on past experience” which is rooted in reason and logic. If it doesn’t make sense, it drives me insane. Tell me to believe something without evidence, the only way that has ever worked with me was threatening me with torture and death in the afterlife. Offering me “rewards” in the afterlife is boring, not a REAL concrete reward that I can even understand. NT’s will typically just accept it, yet I will ask 100 questions on every little detail.
I wasn’t an Atheist until I got into my twenties (and I am 34 now), before that I was a fundamentalist Christian. All I understood about Christianity was if I didn’t believe in Jesus I would spend eternity in hell. To me this was more real than the people I interacted with everyday. Never could understand why my peers(at fill in the blank church-was in the Navy when I deconverted), but they would get fed up with my ranting. They weren’t extreme enough by my standards. I finally understood that the only reason I “believed” in a man being raised from the dead was fear of Hell. I obviously never believed, I was manipulated into believing. My NT counterparts at church couldn’t understand my reasoning despite it being blatantly obvious. Their thinking was so fuzzy, not cut and dried, black and white like mine.
I even did the same as a Nichiren Buddhist. I joined the Soka Gakkai and eventually left to join a fundamentalist sect because SGI wasn’t extreme enough. I left all of it alone and wrote my own mantra/practice based on Nichiren’s teachings but rejecting all of the dogma, couldn’t practice independently because I automatically become a fundamentalist whether I like it or not. I am thankful for what I learned from Buddhism and even Christianity, but learning that my brain doesn’t work like a NT certainly has helped me to just be me, free of religion. Actually, I now attend a Unitarian church. No dogma. I even dabbled with Laveyan Satanism for about 9 months, it seemed totally nonsensical but it helped to free me from religion. I took that to an extreme as well which is why I rejected it as nonsensical gibberish.
Now I am simply an Atheist, no religion, no anger toward religion, no caring about what religious people do as long as they live and let live. Threaten me all they want, I don’t care. Not my problem. So no, being an aspie doesn’t mean a person will automatically be a fundamentalist fill in the blank nor does it mean the person will automatically be an Atheist. Being an aspie simply means the person will process the information from religion differently and react to it differently which could result in fundamentalism or Atheism. At the end of the day if we would all respect each others boundaries regardless of beliefs, handicaps, desires(given that the desires don’t involve harming anyone else), the world would be a better place regardless of being an aspie or being a NT, that could even bridge the gap between all of us.