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Pet Dragon


The Meaning of It All

or, There and Back Again

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Pet Dragon

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I have a gorgeous new icon! mjules made it for me. *loves* Thank you again!!

(And if someone will let me know how to insert names as links, I would really appreciate it.)

The Spam Kings at The Ultimate Pharmacy are keeping up their end. Today I got another spam from them; this time the sender was "Disproof O. Turncoat".

They've just got to be using some sort of program to generate these names, and whoever put it together has a hell of a sense of humor.

It's still hot here. It's going to stay hot here, apparently. Well, it's July. I guess it's to be expected.

So a few weeks ago, and how long a time it seems, mollita inducted me into the wonderful world that is Joss Whedon's Firefly. Now I'm a scifi fan from way back, an X-Men fan from my teens, and it had been a really long time since anything had grabbed my imagination quite the way this series does. (Yes, I know the man writes X-Men too. It's wild. He's the modern Leonardo da Vinci.) I love the writing and the attention to detail; as a science-based science-fiction fan, I also love that the science-fiction is consistent and reasonable. (If I hadn't already been in love, I would have been all theirs the minute they actually acknowledged that you can't fire a regular gun an a vacuum.)

However, as a medical student, I have a bone to pick with Simon Tam. *g* I don't know whether he missed a few classes in psych while becoming a hotshot trauma surgeon, but my belief is that he's misdiagnosed his sister. She isn't a paranoid schizophrenic.

I think River is autistic.

There's a wonderful book by Oliver Sacks, the same man who wrote "Awakenings", called "An Anthropologist On Mars". There are a lot of very intelligent and high-functioning autistic people out there; it's unfortunate that the stereotype of the completely noncommunicative person is so prevalent. And the numbers of autistics who have prodigy-like levels of math or art or music skills are amazingly high.

At the end of the book, Dr. Sacks profiles a woman named Temple Grandin, who is both autistic and a PhD in her own right. She is very articulate on the subject of what it is like to be autistic, and I'm taking the liberty of inserting some of the text in the hopes that it might encourage some people to go buy the book. *g* It's well worth the read.

"Temple's own explanation of [the lack of emotional response] is a simple mechanical one: 'The emotion circuit's not hooked up--that's what's wrong.' For the same reason, she does not have an unconscious, she says; she does not repress memories and thoughts, like normal people. 'There are no files in my memory that are repressed,' she asserted...'The amygdala locks the files of the hippocampus. In me, the amygdala doesn't generate enough emotion to lock the files of the hippocampus.'

I was taken aback and said, 'Either you are incorrect or there is an almost unimaginable difference of psychic structure. Repression is universal in human beings.' But, having said it, I was not so sure. I could imagine organic conditions in which repression might fail to develop, or be destroyed, or be overwhelmed. This seems to have been the case with [a famous mnemonist] who, though not autistic, had memories of such vividness as to be inextinguishable--even though some of these were so painful that they surely would have been repressed had this been [physiologically] possible."

-An Anthropologist on Mars, Oliver Sacks, MD, Vintage Books 1995

Sound familiar?

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And if someone will let me know how to insert names as links, I would really appreciate it.

You type this: <*lj user="mjules">

Just take out the asterisk, which I had to put in there so you would see the code instead of the end result:

You are an angel. I knew someone would clue me in.

Thank you!

(Deleted comment)
There is a reason people don't generally treat their near relatives, yes. *g*

Simon is also clearly one of those surgeons who's very used to being the one in charge and the one who constantly is being told he's a god on earth. It's been fun watching him get his comeuppance between trying to treat River and having to suddenly deliver babies and direct his own surgery.

Important lesson for all doctors to learn: you are not *really* in charge here.

River having Asperger's Syndrome (or did you mean she's a high-functioning autist?) hadn't crossed my mind before now, but it makes a great deal of sense. (and also? makes me want to do a whole lot more research *g*)

Mm, fabulous theory.


Oh, goody, someone who knows the lingo. *g*

Glad you like my theory. Technically, neither one, I guess, since I don't think there's a clinical definition for autism or Asperger's that includes a traumatic etiology--I think the current thinking is that they're based on some kind of genetic disorder. (The whole post-vaccination theory has been pretty thoroughly dismantled--it seems like a case of post-hoc thinking, just because the symptoms of autism tend to show up at about the time the MMR is administered.)

But her self-absorption, fascination with dance and movement and her dissociation from reality all seem to me to point more towards an autistic-like syndrome rather than schizophrenia. Plus--and I hadn't seen this when I posted the original--when Simon scans River's brain he says "they stripped her amygdala" and "she feels everything--she can't not." This sounds a whole lot more like what Temple Grandin is describing above than anything else, and they do think it's something about the amygdala.

Although, in the childhood scene--she's already talking the way she talks now, even before, so maybe there was some tendency towards Asperger's even before the surgery was done on her. Since the whole thing is basically diagnosed on a sliding scale, it's hard to define the exact point where someone "has Asperger's" or not. If you can function in society, you don't tend to get diagnosed with anything; if you have trouble, you probably don't.

The one thing that argues against this is her deep attachment to SImon; most people with Asperger's and autism seem to have a great deal of difficulty even understanding basic interpersonal relationships. Although that's not always true either; some of Dr. Sacks' profiles make that pretty clear.

So! Nice to meet you. I think I have one of your W/R fics downloaded, actually, if you're Catlin O'Connor?


I'm not a doctor, or a psychologist, or anything but a really avid reader (plus, this is a topic that interests me to no end), so these are my thoughts, given what I know about the subject and River:

I agree with you to some extent, largely because of her: repetitiveness, living in her own world, pedantic tone when talking, use of language and rememberance of facts(though they do tend to be relevant to the situation, so.).

She does show a desire to interact with her peers, though she doesn't as yet seem to understand when she's done something socially wrong (she knows, though, when she sees the reactions of those around her, but she doesn't seem to understand *why* it's wrong).

And speaking of understanding... there is, of course, the fact that she makes the distinction between 'understand' and 'comprehend'; a meticulousness which lends itself to the theory that she might be somewhere on the scale of the Autistic Spectrum Disorder.

Reasons that're beginning to poke holes in this theory for me, are:

Her dancing - most with Asperger's seem to have high verbal skills, but tend to be clumsy; the reverse is true in most cases for those with autism, which suggests she could be a high functioning autist, except --

Her creativity, which neither those with Asperger's nor those who're autistic seem to have a grasp on; her attachment to her brother and her apparent understanding of how the others feel about her (though this could be attributed to her 'gifts'), and a need to belong to this group of people.

So while she has many of the symptoms of autism and Asperger's, quite a few of the key diagnostic criteria would not be met.

(interesting note: I did read a book that suggested autism can be caused by a virus in the unborn child rearranging the genetic code - not sure if I believe that, though.)

There're too many discordant notes to make a diagnosis, IMO (and as I said, I'm not a doctor), but perhaps the movie will change all that. One can hope. *g*

And yup, I am Catlin O'Connor - Hi :)
I'm here via your post on WolverineRogue, but I saw your fic was a sequel, so I decided to read them in order, but then couldn't find the first one. Such is my luck. /grumble


Well, to say nothing of the silliness of trying to diagnose a fictional character. *g*

I just appreciate that they make an effort to get at least the basic science right, and someone obviously did some neuro research before writing that episode. I'm anxiously awaiting the movie--I bought the Visual Companion on Amazon, not realizing it includes the whole script, so now there it is and I can't read it yet. Argh.

If that's you, then I really loved "19 Hours" and "Looking for a Girl He Can Fuck." *g*

I clearly should have included a link to that first part! It's right down below somewhere toward the end of July, the 27th, I think. It's called "Seven Minutes in Heaven."

Sorry! Next time I will link.


Well, to say nothing of the silliness of trying to diagnose a fictional character. *g*

Well, yeah, if you're going to bring rationality into it.

I really loved "19 Hours" and "Looking for a Girl He Can Fuck."

Thank you (though I did leave the 'he can fuck' part off of the title *g*) - I'll have to read your fic, too, as I have heard Good Things. (and the end of July makes a lot of sense, as far as me not seeing your fic goes - I was out of the country, and didn't have access to the internet.)

New fic, yay!


Well, yeah, if you're going to bring rationality into it.

Right, right, I can't imagine what I was thinking for a second there.

Never mind.

Thank you (though I did leave the 'he can fuck' part off of the title *g*)

Thus proving conclusively that your sensibilities are more refined than mine. *g*

So you did. Then when I saved it, I must've put it back in. Foul-mouthed little thing, aren't I....

Oo--Good Things. From Interested Parties? *g*

So just thought I'd mention here so as not to sound too much like an infomercial on the other board, that even though I don't plan to do any more with the Seven Minutes scenario, there's other stuff in the WRFA archive (under 'Artemis'). If you were gone most of the summer you may not have seen any of it, since I really only started writing last spring. You might like the Fighter/Artist stuff.

There's also some slightly not-so-much for public consumption stuff on this site that you can't see until I friend you.

There, now you can see it. Please, no rotten tomoatoes. I know it's weird stuff.


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