Recently, some researchers, in particular, Simon Baron-Kohen and John James, suggested that such well-known personalities from the past, as Albert Einstein and Isaac Newton had Asperger’s syndrome. Scientists say that they showed some tendencies of the syndrome in their behavior, such as an intense interest in one topic, or social problems. One of the chapters of this Gillberg’s book is devoted to this theme, including a detailed case analysis of the situation with philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein with the conclusion that the person meets the criteria for Asperger’s Syndrome. Naturally, the absence of diagnosis during life does not mean that there was nothing to diagnose, especially if we bear in mind that while there was no widespread knowledge about the syndrome (as often happens with Asperger’s syndrome, which recently has been widely recognized in psychiatric circles). However, such post-mortem diagnosis remains controversial.
Arguments in favor of the alleged autism spectrum disorders in famous personalities vary from person to person. Some of them argue that in the case of Albert Einstein (one of the most frequently cited suspected autistic), he learned to talk late, was a lonely kid, organized violent tantrums, silently repeated the previously pronounced sentence, and needed his wives to play the role of parents when he was an adult – the stereotypical factors for autistic individuals. Isaac Newton stuttered and suffered from epilepsy. Many of these alleged historical cases of Asperger’s syndrome can be quite soft (not expressed), but some skeptics argue that in these cases only some features of autism can be seen, and they are not enough to diagnose autism spectrum. In the end, many critics of historical diagnosis claim that it is simply impossible to diagnose the dead, and therefore nothing can be said with certainty about historic individuals with (or withour) Asperger’s syndrome.
All of these assumptions may be just an attempt to create a pattern of behavior (role model, an object for imitation) for people with autism, and demonstrate that they can do constructive things, and make a contribution to society. Such a presumptive diagnosis is often used by activists for the rights of people with autism to show that the treatment of autism would be a loss to society. But others in the organizations for the rights of autistic people do not like these arguments because they feel that people with autism have to appreciate their uniqueness even if they do not want to be healed, regardless of whether people like Einstein were autistic.
Some features of appearance and facts of activity indicate that John Carmack is also a man with AS, or he has other unusual personality type of a similar nature.
Possible causes and origins of Asperger’s syndrome is hotly debated and controversial topic. The majority opinion today is that the causes of Asperger’s syndrome are the same as autism’s. Some researchers, however, disagree and argue that the Asperger syndrome and autism are lead by two different things. All this occurs during the ongoing wider debate about whether Asperger’s syndrome and other conditions (such as attention deficit disorder and hyperactivity disorder – ADHD) are the part of the so-called autism spectrum.
Among many competing theories about the causes of autism (and, therefore, as many believe – Asperger’s Syndrome) – theory of non-complete connection, developed by researchers of cognition at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of Pittsburgh, the theory of marginal male brain of Simon Baron-Kohena, the theory of pre-working, theory of social structure and genetics.
Some theorists give more arguments in favor of Asperger’s syndrome than autism. Sometimes they argument that some specific theories play a greater role in Asperger’s syndrome, for example, theory of social structure and genetics. However, this is the area of considerable controversy.