Alfred Kinsey, world famous American sexologist whose life is portrayed in the 2005 movie ’Kinsey’ had it. Stanley Kubrick, one of the most important and influential filmmakers of the last century and director of cinematic masterpieces such as ‘Clockwork Orange’, ‘Lolita’ and ‘2001 - Space Odyssey’ fits the diagnosis. Undoubtedly, Patricia Highsmith, renowned writer of crime fiction, particularly the ‘Ripley’ novels suffered from it. Likewise, Charles Darwin, one of the most influential and revolutionary scientist of all times as well as Bertrand Russell, foremost philosopher and mathematician of the 20th century meet diagnostic criteria for Asperger syndrome. Other less well known personalities such as the Swiss writer Robert Walser, Joy Adamson famous for her work with animals in Africa, the controversial British politician Enoch Powell, the gifted mathematician Kurt Gödel and the American child prodigy William James Sidis are also linked to the condition.
Asperger syndrome is a neuropsychiatric condition, a lifelong and pervasive developmental disorder, which sometimes is associated with high intelligence and creativity. The professional literature generally highlights deficits and weaknesses with very little emphasis on special strengths or talents. Some individuals with Asperger Syndrome are extremely successful in their area of expertise and lead fulfilling lives despite or because of their condition while others are considered failures and life for them is an endless struggle on the margins of society. For some Asperger syndrome appears to be a gift, for others a curse.
In order to address this issue the authors analyze the life histories of ten historical and contemporary figures from the world of literature, film, politics, science, philosophy and mathematics who had Asperger syndrome against the backdrop of neuropsychological theories of autism/Asperger syndrome, latest neurobiological research data and current interpretation of special gifts and assets. They also advance a new hypothesis of Asperger syndrome as a disorder of the social self based on right hemisphere dysfunction and demonstrate that the impact of the disorder on the development of the Self of each individual manifests itself in very distinct ways.