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Neurelitism and Aspergian Liberation

October 28, 2007

My lifetime, especially during my junior years, has overflowed with manifold contradictions. As a child, and then on into adulthood, I was continually being told by others, especially my mother, that I was egotistical and did not care for anyone except myself. I suppose I came, in this and other areas, to internalize my mother’s abuse. Taking into account Rabiner’s diagnosis of childhood schizophrenia, a disorder which included autism, I am often perplexed as to her justification for saying, “How could I have given birth to such a selfish person like you?” They are words embedded in my consciousness. With the occasional exception, she seemed to be perpetually annoyed with me.

Now, admittedly, I was generally excluded from the conversations between Rabiner and my mother. (My father was rarely present.) That being the case, I am still unaware of the information given her on the specifics my diagnosis. I vividly recall, at around the age of 13, standing in the hall of the main floor in our house while screaming repeatedly to my mother, “Am I a schizophrenic?” Finally, and vociferously, she acknowledged it. “Yes! Is that what you wanted to hear?” I sighed in exhaustion and walked away.

At my insistence, the clinical apartheid of my mother and myself was reluctantly abrogated. I recall that I was, in one of our sessions, disturbed at some comment made by Rabiner to my mother regardng my behavior. When I attempted to interrupt, he snapped back, “See, that’s the schizophrenia.” I was, after all, just a young boy, welcomed only in silence and subjection, and could have no say in statements made about me. After being informed by Rabiner that, absent improvement, I might be returned to the psychiatric hospital, I began to hide things from him. Even as a child, I recognized his threat to be counterproductive.

I have attempted to be understanding. Living with persons on the autistic spectrum can be trying, and, if I am correct, my mother had to contend with, not only myself, but also my aspie father and his virtually incessant emotional, and occasionally physical, abuse of me. In truth, the yelling in our home was unremitting and revolved, typically, around my difficulties with my father. On many occasions, my mother alternately threatened to put me up for adoption or to leave my father. As she acknowledged to me over the years, she remained with him for financial reasons but never entirely forgave him.

Outside of my family, I was bullied almost daily as a child and younger teen, but, as an adult, any ill-treatment has become more sporadic. Needless to say, the ceaseless terrorism of my childhood was profoundly painful and, I would suggest, instances a rubric of oppression. Consider that one day, in the seventh grade, as I waited to be served in the cafetaria line, a boy my age, and one of my inveterate tormenters, pushed me into the wall and broke my sternum. In succeeding years, I palpably missed the cues altogether when two of my erstwhile best friends, one in the late 1980s and the other in the early 2000s, unexpectedly engaged in conduct which appeared premeditated to drive me away.

It is, in my view, largely irrelevant that the countless perpetrators were ignorant concerning my high-functioning autism. I myself had a clouded and distorted view of the issues I faced. Indeed, an existential haze surrounded me until I was 51 year old. Clarity was then introduced only through the diagnosis. A fog light had been switched on, and the brume dissipated.

Moreover, ignorance was decidedly extraneous to the regular beltings of children by all the attendants in my ward of the psychiatric hospital. Mercifully, I was beaten only once. After I told my parents, my father threatened the woman. Subsequent to the reprimand, I received only the occasional dirty look. If the criminal battery by those attendants occurred today, and not in the psychiatric dark ages (1967 to be precise), I am fairly confident that the majority of them would be serving time.

Although I was fundamentally a well-behaved student, Mrs. Lundine, my fourth-grade teacher and someone who must have been acquainted with my psychiatric record, was manifestly bothered by my eccentricities. Once, I asked her to repeat herself. She pulled back my earlobe, and screamed into my ear. I am grateful that my mother complained to someone at the school. Still and all, the following year, Lundine was promoted to assistant principal.

More globally, ableism might be defined as a social structure, or system of behavioral rules, which justifies or enables actions detrimental to the differently abled. Notwithstanding that oppression has been among my academic interests for many years, I have only recently initiated a reflexive sociology of my own life history as a text for ableism. While categories, such as neurotypical (NT) and Asperger’s syndrome (AS), are merely linguistic conveniences, and devoid of essence, they can often function as helpful tools for personal reflection and development.

I considered several designations for neurological ableism. Neurism, neuroism, neuronism, neuralism, and neurologism have each been employed to delineate particular subject matter. Neurotypicalism characterizes a relative status, not the broader social construction. One candidate was neurologicism, but it was, I concluded, simply too cumbersome. Another contender, neuricism, reads more like a neurological trait. Ultimately, I settled on neurelitism���.

Recalling C. Wright Mills’ American power elite of the presidency, the Defense Department, and the corporatocracy, we observe a neurological power elitism, or neurelitism, in which standards of neurological normality are constructed by the neurological majority. An illustrative comparison might, perhaps, be situated in the ableist species of audism with the sanctioning of the disentitlement of the deaf and hearing impaired.

The fact is that I and many other aspies, whether diagnosed or self-defined, have, as a consequence of our neurodiversities, been subjected to traumatic and sustained abuse. This oppression of a neurological minority, as revealed in the stories we tell each other, expresses an ideology of neurelitism. Like sexism and heterosexism, two additional large-scale constructions focused significantly around performance, neurelitism, which identifies that which is good with the neurologically normative, cannot be explained away as mere individual victimization.

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