Fact sheet on famous cases of Asperger's syndrome


It has been speculated that Isaac Newton had what is now considered Asperger syndrome.Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton may have had Asperger syndrome, but a definitive diagnosis is impossible as both scientists died before this condition came to be known. Albert Einstein's brain has been preserved. As physical features of the brain connected with autism become better known it may become possible to tell whether Einstein has those features.


Case for autism

Ioan James,[2] and Michael Fitzgerald[14][30] believe that Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton had personalities consistent with Asperger syndrome; Tony Attwood has also named Einstein as a likely case of mild autism.[17] Asperger's involves difficulties with social skills and preoccupation with complex subjects like music, which Einstein had. Fitzgerald says society should accept and tolerate eccentrics as they frequently have positive contributions to make.


Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton both experienced intense intellectual interests in specific limited areas. Both scientists had trouble reacting appropriately in social situations and had difficulty communicating. Both scientists sometimes became so involved with their work that they did not eat. Newton spoke little and was frequently lukewarm or bad-tempered with the few friends he had. If no one attended his lecture he still lectured to an empty room.[31] When he was 50, Newton suffered a nervous breakdown involving depression and paranoia.


It has been speculated that Albert Einstein was on what is now considered the autism spectrum.People claim that Albert Einstein was a loner as a child, was a late speaker, starting only at two to three years old, and repeated sentences obsessively up to the age of seven. As an adult his lectures were confusing.[31][32] He needed his wives to act as parents when he was an adult—factors people claim make him "obviously" (or at least stereotypically) autistic. He was also the stereotypical "absent-minded professor"; he was often forgetful of everyday items, such as keys, and would focus so intently on solving physics problems that he would often become oblivious to his surroundings. In his later years, his appearance inadvertently created (or reflected) another stereotype of scientists in the process: the researcher with unruly white hair.


Finally, in the words of Albert Einstein

“ My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities. I am truly a lone traveler and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties, I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude... ” [33]


Case against autism

Oliver Sacks says that claims that Einstein had autism "seem very thin at best".[8] Glen Elliott, a psychiatrist at the University of California at San Francisco, is unconvinced that either scientist had Asperger syndrome. "One can imagine geniuses who are socially inept and yet not remotely autistic. Impatience with the intellectual slowness of others, narcissism and passion for one's mission in life might combine to make such an individuals isolative and difficult."[32] Elliott added that Einstein had a good sense of humor, a trait that is virtually unknown in people with severe Asperger syndrome. Viktoria Lyons and Michael Fitzgerald state that the prevailing "research has shown that individuals with autism and Asperger Syndrome are impaired in humor appreciation, although anecdotal and parental reports provide some evidence to the contrary."[34] They describe several individuals with Asperger syndrome who display a sense of humor and further suggest that a minority of such individuals, especially those that are mathematically gifted, can possess a sense of humor that is superior than average due to their unusual personalities, experience and intelligence.



1 Ashoori A, Jankovic J (2007). "Mozart's movements and behaviour: a case of Tourette's syndrome?". J. Neurol. Neurosurg. Psychiatr. 78 (11): 1171–5. doi:10.1136/jnnp.2007.114520. PMID 17940168.
2 James I (2003). "Singular scientists". J R Soc Med 96 (1): 36–9. PMID 12519805. Retrieved on 2007-11-26.
3 Goode, Erica. "CASES; A Disorder Far Beyond Eccentricity", New York Times, October 9, 2001. Retrieved on 2007-11-26.
4 Fitzgerald, Michael (2005). The genesis of artistic creativity: Asperger's syndrome and the arts. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. ISBN 1843103346.
5 Walker, Antoinette; Michael Fitzgerald (2006). Unstoppable Brilliance: Irish Geniuses and Asperger's Syndrome. Liberties Press. ISBN 1-905483-031.
6 Fitzgerald, Michael (2004). Autism and creativity: is there a link between autism in men and exceptional ability?. East Sussex: Brunner-Routledge. ISBN 1583912134.
7 James, Ioan (2006). Asperger's Syndrome and High Achievement: Some Very Remarkable People. London: Jessica Kingsley Publishers. ISBN 1843103885.
8 Sacks, Oliver. Henry Cavendish: An early case of Asperger's syndrome? Neurological Foundation of New Zealand (Reprinted with permission from the American Neurological Association). Retrieved on 2007-06-28.
9 Houston, Rab; Uta Frith (2000). Autism in history: the case of Hugh Blair of Borgue. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. ISBN 0631220895.
10 Sacks O (2001). "Henry Cavendish: an early case of Asperger's syndrome?". Neurology 57 (7): 1347. PMID 11591871.
11 Gillberg C (2002). "[Charles XII seems to have fulfilled all the criteria of Asperger syndrome]" (in Swedish). Lakartidningen 99 (48): 4837–8. PMID 12523067.
12 Lagerkvist B (2002). "[Charles XII had all symptoms of Asperger syndrome: stubbornness, a stereotyped existence and lack of compassion]" (in Swedish). Lakartidningen 99 (48): 4874–8. PMID 12523074.
13 Brilliant minds linked to autism. BBC News (8 January 2004). Retrieved on 2007-11-25.
14 Laurance, Jeremy. "Keith Joseph, the father of Thatcherism, 'was autistic'", The Independent (London), July 12, 2006. Retrieved on 2007-11-26.
15 Abrahamson S (2007). "Did Janet Frame have high-functioning autism?". N Z Med J 120 (1263): U2747. PMID 17972967.
16 Stace H (2007). "Janet Frame and autism". N Z Med J 120 (1264): U2791. PMID 17972997.
17 Attwood, Tony. Strategies for Improving the Social Integration of Children with Asperger's Syndrome (PDF). Tony Attwood. Retrieved on 2007-09-09.
18 The Variations of Glenn Gould; A Look at the Life and Career of a Brilliant Pianist. National Public Radio (September 21, 2002). Retrieved on 2007-09-09.
19 Ledgin, Norm (2000). Diagnosing Jefferson. Future Horizons. ISBN 1885477600.
20 Michelangelo 'linked' with autism. BBC News (June 1, 2004). Retrieved on 2007-11-26.
21 Arshad M, Fitzgerald M (2004). "Did Michelangelo (1475-1564) have high-functioning autism?". J Med Biogr 12 (2): 115–20. PMID 15079170.
22 Selcraig, Bruce (2004-09-28). Golf's purest striker rarely missed a fairway. USA Today. Retrieved on 2007-09-09.
23 Fitzgerald M (2002). "Did Ramanujan have Asperger's disorder or Asperger's syndrome?". J Med Biogr 10 (3): 167–9. PMID 12114951.
24 Marschall, Laurence A (February, 2007). Richter's Scale: Measure of an Earthquake, Measure of a Man. Natural History. FindArticles.com. Retrieved on 2007-11-26.
25 Baron-Cohen, Simon (c2003). The essential difference: the truth about the male and female brain. New York, N.Y.: Basic Books. ISBN 0738208442.
26 Were Socrates, Darwin, Andy Warhol and Eisntein (sic) autistic?. Medical News Today (11 January 2004). Retrieved on 2007-11-26.
27 Zick, William. Thomas "Blind Tom" Wiggins (1849-1908), African American Pianist and Composer; A Blind And Autistic Slave Was A Musical Genius. AfriClassical.com. Retrieved on 2007-09-09.
28 Fitzgerald M (2000). "Did Ludwig Wittgenstein have Asperger's syndrome?". Eur Child Adolesc Psychiatry 9 (1): 61–5. PMID 10795857.
29 Fitzgerald M (2000). "Ludwig Wittgenstein: autism and philosophy" (PDF). J Autism Dev Disord 30 (6): 621–2. PMID 11261476.
30 Fitzgerald M (2000). "Einstein: brain and behavior" (PDF). J Autism Dev Disord 30 (6): 620–1. PMID 11261475. Retrieved on 2007-11-26.
31 Einstein and Newton 'had autism'. BBC (30 April 2003). Retrieved on 2007-11-07.
32 Hazel Muir (April 30, 2003). Einstein and Newton showed signs of autism. New Scientist. Retrieved on 2007-09-09.
33 Einstein, Albert. The world as I see it. The Center for History of Physics. Retrieved on 2007-11-26. Originally published in "Forum and Century," vol. 84, pp. 193–194, the thirteenth in the Forum series, Living Philosophies.
34 Lyons V, Fitzgerald M (2004). "Humor in autism and Asperger syndrome" (PDF). J Autism Dev Disord 34 (5): 521–31. PMID 15628606. Retrieved on 2007-11-26.


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Albert Einstein is a possible case of a famour person with Asperger's syndrome, one of the Autism Spectrum Disorders