The Potential Genius of Aspergers

A famous psychiatrist, Michael Fitzgerald (from Trinity College, Dublin) has claimed that many geniuses in the fields of science, politics and the arts have achieved success because they had Aspergers. He states that many geniuses showed Aspergers traits (e.g., Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, George Orwell, and H. G. Wells). Fitzgerald argues that the gene linked to Aspergers is the same as those associated with creativity and genius. He compared the characteristics of 1600 Aspergers individuals to some geniuses and found they have many traits in common. Thus, it can be said that some psychiatric disorders may have positive dimensions.

Aspergers individuals can be so successful mainly because they are more focused and persistent, they do not get distracted, and they are not interested in outside society as much as the “average” individual. Many grown-ups with Aspergers have the ability to function effectively in mainstream jobs and live independent lives. Additionally, people with Aspergers may make wonderful intellectual contributions to society in general. Studies suggest an association with achievements in art, music, engineering, computer science, mathematics, physics, and many more.

The deficits related to Aspergers may be debilitating, however, many people experience positive accomplishments, particularly those who are able to succeed in areas less dependent on social interaction, such as mathematics, music and the sciences It is suggested that Aspergers may be an important factor in many valuable contributions to fields and areas that benefit most from the type of thinking and attention to detail that only people with Aspergers can provide.

Aspergers is oftentimes seen as a disorder with both positives and negatives, and several well known grown-ups with Aspergers have achieved success within their career fields. There are several extremely well-known, very successful people who either had, or are believed to have had, Aspergers.

Bill Gates, the Microsoft computer billionaire is supposed to have Aspergers. Some other notable Aspergers-diagnosed people include Nobel Prize-winning economist Vernon Smith, electro pop rocker Gary Numan, and Satoshi Tajiri, the creator of the Pokémon franchise. Colorado State University professor and author Temple Grandin was diagnosed with autism at a young age, and has used her autism to her advantage in her profession as an animal behaviorist specializing in livestock handling.

Some Aspergers investigators hypothesize that well-known figures, such as Thomas Jefferson, Jeremy Bentham, Albert Einstein, Isaac Newton, Glenn Gould and Ludwig Wittgenstein had Aspergers because they showed some Aspergers-related tendencies or behaviors, such as intense interest in one subject, and/or social problems. These unconfirmed diagnoses, especially posthumous ones, remain controversial, as they work only from biographical information and sometimes ignore documented evidence that would indicate against Aspergers syndrome. Nonetheless it may be argued that it would be a loss to society if Aspergers were cured, as many of these “special” people clearly make a significant contribution to society and their skills are highly prized in many specialist fields.

Lots of people with Aspergers genuinely possess a unique gift and a chance to apply their unique talents to make a genuine contribution to the future, with examples drawn from both the present and further back in time. Additionally, it provides an insight into the kinds of work and careers that may make the best use of their abilities and skills.

The majority of the well-known individuals in the list below are thought to have Aspergers, and several are confirmed cases of Aspergers:

• Abraham Lincoln,1809-1865, US Politician
• Adolf Hitler, 1889-1945 German politician, dictator
• Al Gore, 1948-, former US Vice President and presidential candidate
• Alan Turing, 1912-1954, English mathematician, computer scientist and cryptographer
• Albert Einstein, 1879-1955, German/American theoretical physicist who provided the theory of relativity and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for the work he did with photoelectric effect
• Alexander Graham Bell, 1847-1922, Scottish/Canadian/American inventor of the telephone
• Alexander the Great
• Alfred Hitchcock, 1899-1980, English/American film director
• Andrew Jackson
• Andy Kaufman, 1949-1984, US comedian, subject of the film Man on the Moon
• Andy Warhol, 1928-1987, US artist
• Anton Bruckner , 1824-1896, Austrian composer
• Béla Bartók, 1881-1945, Hungarian composer
• Benjamin Franklin, 1706-1790, US polictician/writer and was considered to be one of the most important of the founding fathers of our country
• Bertrand Russell, 1872-1970, British logician
• Bill Gates, 1955-, US global monopolist
• Bob Dylan, 1941-, US singer-songwriter
• Bobby Fischer, 1943-2008, World Chess Champion
• Carl Jung, 1875-1961, Swiss psychoanalyst
• Catherine the Great
• Charles Dickinson, 1951, US Writer
• Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1868-1928, Scottish architect and designer
• Charles Schulz, 1922-2000, US cartoonist and creator of Peanuts and Charlie Brown
• Cleopatra
• Crispin Glover, 1964-, US actor
• David Helfgott, 1947-, Australian pianist, subject of the film Shine
• Elvis Presley, 1935-1977, US musician
• Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886, US poet
• Erik Satie, 1866-1925 - Composer
• Franz Kafka, 1883-1924, Czech writer
• Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844-1900, German philosopher
• Garrison Keillor, 1942-, US writer, humorist and host of Prairie Home Companion
• Genie, 1957-?, US "wild child"
• George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950, Irish playwright, writer of Pygmalion, critic and Socialist
• George Washington, 1732-1799, US Politician, the first president of the United States of America
• Glenn Gould, 1932-1982, Canadian pianist
• Gustav Mahler, 1860-1911, Czech/Austrian composer
• H P Lovecraft, 1890-1937, US writer
• Hans Asperger, 1906-1980, Austrian paediatric doctor after whom Asperger's Syndrome is named
• Harry Truman
• Henry Cavendish, 1731-1810, English/French scientist, discovered the composition of air and water
• Henry Ford, 1863-1947, US industrialist
• Henry Thoreau, 1817-1862, US writer
• Howard Hughes, 1905-1976, US billionaire
• Isaac Asimov, 1920-1992, Russian/US writer on science and of science fiction, author of Bicentennial Man
• Isaac Newton, 1642-1727, English mathematician and physicist
• James Garfield
• James Taylor, 1948-, US singer/songwriter
• Jane Austen, 1775-1817, English novelist, author of Pride and Prejudice
• Jeff Greenfield, 1943-, US political analyst/speechwriter, a political wonk
• Jim Henson, 1936-1990, creator of the Muppets, US puppeteer, writer, producer, director, composer
• John Denver, 1943-1997, US musician
• John Motson, 1945-, English sports commentator
• John Nash, 1928-, US mathematician (portrayed by Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, USA 2001)
• John Quincy Adams, also a president of the country, owned and kept a pet alligator in the East Room of the White House
• Joseph Erber, 1985-, young English composer/musician who has Asperger's Syndrome, subject of a BBC TV documentary
• Kaspar Hauser, c1812-1833, German foundling, portrayed in a film by Werner Herzog
• Keanu Reeves, 1964-, Lebanese/Canadian/US actor
• Keith Olbermann, 1959-, US sportscaster
• Kevin Mitnick, 1963-, US "hacker"
• L S Lowry, 1887-1976, English painter of "matchstick men"
• Leonardo da Vinci, 1452-1519, Italian Painter,Scientist
• Louis IV
• Ludwig II, 1845-1886, King of Bavaria
• Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827, German/Viennese composer
• Ludwig Wittgenstein, 1889-1951, Viennese/English logician and philosopher
• Marilyn Monroe, 1926-1962, US actress
• Mark Twain, 1835-1910, US humorist
• Michael Jackson, 1958-2009, US singer
• Michael Palin, 1943-, English comedian and presenter
• Michelangelo, 1475 1564 - Italian Renissance artist
• Napoleon Bonaparte
• Nikola Tesla, 1856-1943, Serbian/American scientist, engineer, inventor of electric motors
• Oliver Heaviside, 1850-1925, English physicist
• Oliver Sacks, 1933-, UK/US neurologist, author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Awakenings
• Paul Allen - Another Microsoft "geek", the owner of the Seattle Seahawks & Portland Trailblazers, and the second richest man in the world
• Paul Kostabi 1962-, writer, comedian, artist, producer, technician
• Peter the Great
• Pip Brown "Ladyhawke", 1979-, New Zealand Singer/Songwriter, Musician
• Richard Strauss, 1864-1949, German composer
• Robin Williams, 1951-, US Actor
• Satoshi Tajiri, the creator of Pokémon
• Seth Engstrom, 1987-, Magician and World Champion in Sleight of Hand
• Shakespeare
• Socrates
• Steven Spielberg
• Teddy Roosevelt
• Temple Grandin - She is a designer of humane food animal handling systems, and has been one of the pioneers in Autism and Asperger Awareness
• Thomas Edison, 1847-1931, US inventor
• Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826, US politician
• Tom Hanks
• Tony Benn, 1925-, English Labour politician
• Vincent Van Gogh, 1853-1890, Dutch painter
• Virginia Woolf, 1882-1941, English Writer
• Wasily Kandinsky, 1866-1944, Russian/French painter
• Wilhem II
• William Taft
• Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1756-1791, Austrian composer
• Woody Allen, 1935-, US comedian, actor, writer, director, producer, jazz clarinetist

The Aspergers Comprehensive Handbook


Bulldogma said...

*sigh* I'm hoping to mold my daughter into more of an Albert Einstein than an Adolf Hitler, but it can be such a struggle some days just to maintain my own sanity.

Great piece! Thanks!

Unknown said...

Which of these people are "confirmed"?

Anonymous said...

“Can be” is the right word. A problem is that many Autism Spectrum kids have a secondary disorder such as ADHD -- Forget the concentration that case –- which can mask the special talent. Also, too many parents are looking for it in academics (thinking Rain Man) or music (thinking Mozart). The idea of a tactile/3 dimensional special talent usually comes to mind. The parents may not see it because they aren’t watching and realizing that their child put that hard Bionical or level 3 snap together model together without even looking at the instructions. (I didn't see it until my child put together furniture that we couldn't understand the instructions for.) If it is discovered then have fun getting the teachers to use tactile teaching.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Hutten

I know that I have a genius girl. She is very good in Math, her doctor told me her solving problems skills is adult level.
She talks about numbers and she solves problems mentally. She got a grade grade in MCAS. She wants to be a scientist.

I want to thank you for your excellent information.

Good job!

Thank you,
Mrs. Silva

Anonymous said...

thanks for the new letters and info
my pain and dilemma
is that i care for , literally, my parent--dad, who i believe has this to a great extent, as well as OCD tendencies. He pays me a salary to care for him but i have been in a love /hate, resentful relationship all my 55 years because of the way he talks and treats me. The only way i could protect myself in my early adult life was to live as far away as possible. He drove my mother away with his lack of affection and controlling demeanor when i was a child. I am trying to understand this but i need concrete examples of things communications that will work with him, he is 86 about 30-40% deaf but insists the TV commercials bother him. Of course after all my reasearch i understand that this is indeed possible from a sensitivity stand point. To provide me peace, I am the one who needs to ease the pain of caring for him. I am sure no other family will do this. it is debilitating being around his constant negativity and criticisms and odd behavior where no logic will work. yet we the family dont want others to mess around with his finances...............help, more books to read with ideas??
PS my brother seems to have many of these but not to such a great extent and he denies that is is not just a " sinful" heart
same for my nephew , for whom i began this quest as he and my brother have a great deal of diffuculty being together because again, my brother denies that his son has this as well.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mark,

Thanks for your e-mail.

Yes I do. I do think he is a genius.

On the other side, I am worry that he is going to the wrong direction, doing bad things, learning bad things and hurt someone because he is totally not under our control.

He studies things so fast and so well but without guidance. He refuses all guidance and does not listen to us. It can be so dangerous. I am sure there are a lot of criminals and psychos can be Asperger as well.

Me and my wife have a deal with my boy just this month that if he behavior, go to school, then we will support his study and research. I believe it is working at the moment.

As a parent, we are so worried. On one hand, we want him to explore himself to do the best he can by supporting him. On the other hand, we want him to walk out of the door and learn the reality. We want him to know how competitive and difficult the world can be. How important social skills is.

Yes, he has high IQ. Can he use his IQ to improve his low EQ? If he can, it will be great.



Lady Asperger said...

Billy I am an Aspie and I totally "get" what you are saying...

Unfortunately, as far as I know (from both inner and outer landscape) a high IQ can make up many skill deficits It doesn't really work with the EQ thing...except in terms of appearances (which is helpful in it's place...don't underrate it, but don't make that into something it is not either).

On the plus side we really do not have the same internal *need* for social contact as other people.

Sometimes we THINK we do, but that's just cultural conditioning everything we see and hear throws a message at us that if we don't have friends we are missing out...

(Pity the media cannot be persuaded to throw out a message that not cleaning your room equals the same kind of missing out, huh?)

Best to encourage us to accept that social skills are not important for us in as many ways as they are for other people?

...and also to accept that there are some social skills we will never be able to learn.

Bulldogma, I struggle with my own inner Hitler ALL the time...most days I win. :o)

Anonymous said...

Great site. A lot of useful information here. I’m sending it to some friends!

Mick_5555 said...

I have ADD, mild OCD, and was informed that I most likely have Asperger's syndrome. I have taken several online IQ tests out of sheer curiosity and have found that I have an average IQ of 140 to 147, however most of the time I do not feel very intelligent, such as with most social situations. I can design and build my own electronics, code my own programs, repair televisions, build automotive engines, and more. I love science, but am horrible at mathematics. I seem to be a visual learner more because I can see an idea in my head, move it around, make changes, and do anything I want with the object in thought, yet I have trouble remembering telephone numbers, addresses, and names. My short term memory is horrible, yet my long term memory is known as a "flashbulb" memory, similar to photographic, but using all my senses, thoughts, dreams, and experiences. I am 33 years old, and can remember things back to about 3 years of age very vividly. The summer warmth, the clouds in the sky, the cool breeze on my face, the striped t-shirt that I was wearing while playing outside, those sandals that rubbed a blister on my foot.. I remember everything. Most people tell me that I had a hard life. I do have many scars all over my body from mean and ignorant people in Texas beating me for their amusement, and I had returned those blows with my own. Why people choose to attack others for no reason other than having something to do is beyond my comprehension. Others tell me that I am odd, weird, or they use other choice names. Some seem to fear me because I do not notice when sharp objects cut my skin or get stuck in me, such as stepping on a nail or getting a splinter under my fingernail. Most do not understand me, and yet they like me for some reason. I am honest, and I believe that honesty is a rare thing in 2011. I have a wonderful girlfriend now, and she understands me more than anyone else seems to, partly because she is has a degree in psychology. I had always wondered if I was sent to the wrong planet at birth, but now I understand that I am simply wired differently than most others. I wish to let other Aspies out there know that they are not alone.

Steve Plowright said...

The article is a great boost to the self esteem of AS people and their families. I have known many brilliant people working in the IT industry with AS characteristics or diagnoses. Many felt unappreciated until they found a field to excel in. A little encouragement goes a long way.

Steve Plowright
Author of
Asperger Awareness: A Key to Success for IT and Technical Managers

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