Q & A on Neurodiversity, Normality, & Group Identity


From an unfinished graphic novel, art by Lucinda Horan

This week’s co-conversationalist is Benett Freeman, whom some readers will already have encountered in the comments section as “consentient.” Benett had some questions to ask me so I suggested we do a podcast. We spoke for two hours but as usually happens the conversation had its own trajectory and we never did get to his questions. Benett sent me the questions after and, rather than plunge into another long conversation, I’m going to use them as a platform for the accompanying blogpost this week. My answers may be a bit cursory, as I don’t want this to take all morning, and also because Benett & I may get to them at some future point; but in the meantime, it’s a way to keep them alive.

Benett: What is the autistic spectrum?

If you’re looking for my definition it is more of a perceptual spectrum than anything diagnosable, though it does also relate to neurology and biology.

Benett: What is being measured on this spectrum? 

Depends who is doing the measuring. Mostly it is outer behaviors, though also to some extent neurological patterns and the like. Real measurement requires exploring the inner perceptual experience, which by definition can’t really be done.

Benett: Given that autism is not a single identifiable condition, why then do people who identify with it such as yourself identity with this single essentialist concept? “I am ‘autistic’” or “I am ‘neurodiverse’.” Surely no-one is truly typical in the sense of neurotypical?

It’s a convenient way of establishing difference. I am not like you. Do not expect me to function, perceive, or express in ways that are familiar to you. If for example I do not want to shake people’s hands, the simplest way is to say “I am autistic.” This way no one’s feelings get hurt and I don’t have to go too far out on a limb by talking about energies and stuff. It’s also a good way to open dialogue with people. My own reasons also include wanting to increase general awareness about what autism is. If I take on the label willingly, some people are obliged right there to rethink what they think they know about autism. And since I am on the spectrum, I can’t tolerate small talk!

Benett: I don’t really understand the idea of ‘normal’ people. Most normal people in the sense of frequency are clearly not normal as in healthy.

Hence the term typical. It relates to a collective identity and group think. People think in ways that are predetermined, or regulated, by the social collective they belong to. I understand your question at a theoretical level, but at a purely experiential level, to me it’s quite palpable when I am dealing with neurotypical behavior and when not. Admittedly, this is also a spectrum, and pertains more to behaviors and perceptions than individuals; it’s only that, in many or even most cases, individuals are more or less consistent in their perceptions and behaviors, i.e., they seem more or less the same each time we encounter them. Of course they aren’t, and this perspective ironically is a fairly neurotypical one. As I said to Olga, the idea of autism is a neurotypical idea because it’s based on the premise that we exist as discreet individuals, which is an egoic perspective. So as a word, “autism” is oxymoronic. But for something outside the dominant paradigm to be understood within it, it has to wear the clothes of that paradigm.

Benett: You talked about a kinship of people that can pass in the night, assist each other, and share a sense of not belonging to the dominant culture, but not live together. Have you ruled out the possibility of living with like-minded people?

Not ruled out entirely, but it’s not on the agenda at present. More a desire to find and connect with those likeminded people whom I already live in proximity to, or who are “out there” in the world. Community doesn’t need to be a physical thing.

Benett:  And on a related note, when Kunstler asked you who would be your ideal group, you asked him to clarify and he said “the one you kinda have”. I’m far more interested in the one you would want most of all. What would it look like?

What I want is something sourced in the past, patterns of trauma and abandonment which have laid down the tracks of need and desire in my psyche. They aren’t necessarily that valid as a means to shape my current behaviors. So what I would really want in this regard is something which I won’t know what it looks like until I find it (pardon the clunky grammar)

Benett: What is the difference between ‘wholeness’ and ‘happiness’ ?

Happiness is an emotional state that is fleeting. Wholeness or embodiment is a total body state that is permanent and unchanging. Or so I’ve heard.

Benett: Why is it that some people DON’T need a group identity for their survival? What is difference about these people?

I am not sure I accept the premise. Show me the person who does not need a group identity, and then we can ask them. But even accepting the premise, I don’t see how the question either requires or can ever have an answer. The question “why?” rarely does. Why do bees make honey and mosquitoes suck blood?

Benett: Why is it so important to flesh out all the details of conspiracies and the occult? I mean, are overarching principles not more important in looking for happiness and inner calm? You’ve researched the occult for a lot longer than I have – what do you feel you’ve gotten out of it?

Anything you can use as a mirror to map invisible tracks in the psyche, group and individual. What we are drawn to explore and map, we are drawn to for a reason. Mapping it then becomes a way to discover those reasons, and by knowing the world, we can know ourselves. One measures a circle beginning anywhere. It doesn’t matter what we choose to “flesh out all the details” of, as long as it engages all of our attention and allows the soul to “lock on” to it.

As I said during our talk, it is all metaphor, including ourselves. (Identity is a metaphor.) Finding out what sort of metaphor, the shape of the trauma that created the metaphor by which we keep reality at bay, the construction of our own armature, seems to allow for a gradual letting go of that metaphor-armor and an opening up to something more like pure, undefended perception.

Benett: You mentioned that talking to Ann Diamond was a threshold moment for you in accepting a conception of society as a mass psychological assault. What do you see as the goals of this particular strategy of the psychopathic elites? What do they gain from the abuse of Ann, for example? How has the abuse of Ann affected, for example, my life (BF).

That’s one of those lazy questions. It is a bit like asking a writer to tell you how his novel ends up so you don’t have to read it! Try that some time and see if you get satisfaction.

To be continued in the comments section (I suspect).

11 thoughts on “Q & A on Neurodiversity, Normality, & Group Identity

  1. Thanks for taking the time to answer the questions that I have.

    I’m most interested in the idea that it’s palpable to you whether or not you are talking to a person you might label neurotypical. Which immediately makes me wonder what you felt when you talked to me. Care to share?

    • Those are two separate questions. I was thinking of fairly extreme cases of normalcy when people I encounter are unnaturally friendly, cheerful, and shallow and I feel just completely put off by that facade. In many cases it could be a case of the person feeling uncomfortable and trying to cover it up. At the other end of that scale there are cases when I meet someone and feel an affinity due to some inexplicable factor which could be related to their neurodiversity. In the end it comes down to how open a person is, and how engaged, how willing to be present or real.

      If I’d only met you through an exchange such as we had at this blog, I would have been put off pretty quickly. Since we met through a friendly email and then voice, I got a better sense of you and although your thick-skinned-ness was occasionally abrasive, it was clear you were sincere and that counts for a lot, maybe even the most at that early stage. If I’d have to guess, I’d say you were somewhere on the A-spectrum, maybe Aspergerian, as you are analytic, kind of one-pointed, a bit insulated, belligerent, but also eccentric, i.e., not a conventional thinker. My guess is that people who know you consider you an oddball and maybe a bit inscrutable.

      Since you asked . . .

  2. I never open a door unless I’m prepared to walk through, and I thank you for your thoughts. I’ll consider them in depth and probably come back to you on them at a later date.

  3. Defining terms. So I know sort of what I am talking about in reference to Jasun Horsley’s emphasis and concerns:

    a mental condition, present from early childhood, characterized by great difficulty in communicating and forming relationships with other people and in using language and abstract concepts.
    • a mental condition in which fantasy dominates over reality, as a symptom of schizophrenia and other disorders.

    the branch of medicine or biology that deals with the anatomy, functions, and organic disorders of nerves and the nervous system.

    The autism spectrum or autistic spectrum
    describes a range of conditions classified as neurodevelopmental disorders . . . These disorders are characterized by social deficits and communication difficulties, stereotyped or repetitive behaviors and interests, sensory issues, and in some cases, cognitive delays.”

    What has always interested me is that you consider yourself relative autism. I can understand that even while I do not accept it as a most likely thing. Especially considering that I expect a presence that reveals a ‘weirdness’ obvious of that, a noticable deviation of some sort. Whatever autism or that is. I don’t frankly know what that personality acts like. Other than an obvious disfigurement. But let me think about it.

    Anyway, the nuanced version, subtle, not obvious, ‘different than others’, what is that? it can be, will be often hidden. That in itself, choice or no choice, may be a manifestation of personality in duress, covering for itself, ‘with a smile’. Thinking about it Jasun, you do show obvious differences than most folks. A presence, if I may say so and I do, that right off the bat, exposes a ‘strangeness’, certainly compared to the ordinary ‘normal’, with all our (I am including myself?) divergences and disparity of personality cloak. One example of you might be your ultra calm, measured, deliberate, almost pulled into yourself, quiet dialogue in response to whatever. Sort of emotionless. Not altogether by any means but . . . evident nonetheless. But that in my view was/is simply ‘you’. Very English. Hah.

    Now we get to trauma. An outrage that happened. A ‘blow’ of some sort. Goes way, way back, into family and neighborhood. Introduced, sudden, a ‘trauma’ causing for some reason, for one thing, this keeping close to the vest emotion. As well as all else noticeably off angled. (Not all ‘angles’ elaborated for sure; this will be long enuf as evident as it is) While at the same time Jasun, not subdued far as expressing self, saying a lot but quietly. Trauma, eh, causing an unnatural reservedness, or quietude, even monotone, with variation, yes. But on a normal indexing of voice, perhaps one would have to invent another type rating graph altogether. I don’t intend that much to entrance Horsley psychology, my interpretation, evaluation which in any event is detached, from a distance, and strictly of course opinion and personal. Time to stop. (Really?) But the implications now that I have briefly personalized as you, may open us up to perhaps an element of this issue. Your focus of so much energy on autism.

    The trauma that causes a person to shift into a mode of personality otherwise not to be, unless traumatized I understand. A blow to the head may be irreversible in some instances, long lasting, unraveling a character, shaping whatever personality emerges. The kind of perceptions that form therefrom, from the ‘trauma’, add ‘new’ dimension otherwise that would not manifest without the ‘condition’, the trauma. Even an ‘idiot’ savantism eh.

    Your answer to Benett’s question:
    “And on a related note, when Kunstler asked you who would be your ideal group, you asked him to clarify and he said “the one you kinda have”. I’m far more interested in the one you would want most of all. What would it look like?” You answer:

    “What I want is something sourced in the past, patterns of trauma and abandonment which have laid down the tracks of need and desire in my psyche. They aren’t necessarily that valid as a means to shape my current behaviors. So what I would really want in this regard is something which I won’t know what it looks like until I find it (pardon the clunky grammar)”

    Okay, All this adding up to . . . your continued search I guess, maybe not, my opinion only, to find yourself in terms of what it was primarily but also what it is makes you up, as you interpret yourself to be. A puzzlement of a kind. I would propose that is of an iota of concern at least. Then this question Benett brings up, this group identity or not aspect. I’ll pass on that aspect and the division that makes and it’s importance or not. Your interest in the occult? Most obvious, a visceral pursuit, expressed in writings over time and I am quite familiar with that. After all, you apprenticed actively shamanism. Again, adding up elements of interests that can reveal secrets of self you suggest that “mapping” out things helps to discover who we are. But of course. Dimensions from input of all kinds of living enterprise would be avenues to travel to discover, find outselves. That from which and why we emerge as we appear to be. And actually are eh, depening on the conviction about reality AS IS or whatever. You say that in any event, “all is metaphor” Finding out what that “metaphor” is. “Finding out what sort of metaphor, the shape of the trauma that created the metaphor by which we keep reality at bay, the construction of our own armature, seems to allow for a gradual letting go of that metaphor-armor and an opening up to something more like pure, undefended perception.” And the search goes on. To discover that which makes us up . . . metaphor. (And why, why, why oh why, am I spending so much Sunday afternoon time like this . . . ?)

  4. I found this clicking to Aspie & Autie February 13th, Auticulture 2013 post discussing correlate to my surface observation of Jasun and his/your attitude about it’s appendage to possibility informing personal psychology. Dialogue Between an Aspie & Autie (Left-Brain & Right-Brain), Part One

    “Jason: It’s like round pegs in square holes, a little bit. Although it’s a spectrum, so it’s not necessarily either/or, like somebody’s autistic or somebody isn’t; but the more autistic that we are, the more different our perception of what’s going on is, the harder it is to actually adapt our behavior to fit with other people. So without realizing that, the only sense is kind of of something, like an inadequacy. I always had a feeling of inadequacy, that somehow I wasn’t able to be like other people expected me to be, so it was a kind of a negative, you know, like something was missing. So then the label of autism, although I think it’s limited, and limiting, like any label, it’s helpful because it turns a negative into a positive. It’s not that I wasn’t like, that I didn’t have something that other people had, it’s that I had something different. That’s basically it. We’re just different. So we’re not actually able to behave the way people expect us to behave, or perceive things the way that they perceive them, because we don’t. We perceive things differently.”

    By the way, Jasun, it seems from your Anne Diamond podcast, Part 4 I believe, that you more than just inferred you are moving away from former attractions to influences either or forced on you by almost if not real alien, conspiratorial? influences. Which would include the consideration of active energies that are designed to do us harm. Not to deny your understanding of your family background etcetera as enormously personality shaping. I am just passing thru this quickly right now, without returning to sources, and perhaps I am being too casual, cavalier I’d like to say just to get to use the word now and again. Not specific enuf perhaps but that is what I come away with listening to Part 4. That you have discarded former ‘studies’, focuses, abandoned your other name persona, other worldly persona invention, that percevied from a perspective of outside normal dimensions. But what hit me as very important, to me for sure, is your mention of “metaphor” as the makeup of us in any event. If I got that straight anyway. Which I read as ultimately, finally, whatever we are is but metaphor. Something other than. We ‘name’ ourselves’ our own entity. We are not literally what we are in the sense that all elements of our manifest are labels that we assign ourselves to begin with. So that, whatever is conclusion about what makes us up, what we are, emanates, is informed by, our ‘naming landscape culture’ which is a manufacture from the illusion that opinion begins with. Now I could be wrong about that.

    In answer to why I am spending ths time with you Jasun? It would seem I enjoy the exercise. Yes it does get me to thinking. Thinking the kind of thinking I like to think. When I bother. I must say, Jake, this site of yours, this AutiCulture blog, is nicely laid out, very accessible, and offers a wonderful forum for some intriguing, informative, enlightening, delightful dialogues. Triggered by you of course, and enhanced by your involved ‘friends’. Furthering discussion about whatever the focus, advancing the dialogue, Always when I engage–and this spurt of ‘comment/reply’ is after a long spell not engaging (although believe this, I think I have saved most all AutiCulture emails which of course I do not plan to get to)–always I feel like I have exercised an intelligence and relevant word play that may be a bit beyond my ordinary facility–you bring that out. I’d say that is a gift of yours. Moreover, me being a blabberer, plus being witness to your working thru things, I have fun, ‘wasting’ my time thus.

    It is interesting to me, that I would reengage AutiCulture on the Leonard Cohen emphasis and his relationship to your CULTURAL ENGINEERING focus. It was accidental, but was it? I just decided arbitrarily to click to that email that late morning and it turned out that Cohen was more important to me than I ever thought possible. He was really, while of course appreciated for his work, in my priorities little more than the composer of HALLELUJAH , which is enuf of course. But which I took to, learned the song, and intended to sing it first chance I got. But that it/he/your subject would inform me that I can’t sing that song. Not so much, while adding reason to be sure, because of his alleged and dubious associations with nastiness, but rather because the song isn’t true to a heartfelt prayer that I must have before I am going to commit to it, that is for sure. And that’s what it is, a prayer, to me anyway, and that is huge, as they say. At first, frankly, I wasn’t going at it as a prayer, just a melody and words that were mesmerizing and a ‘joy’ to sing. But as I got involved I gave it more meaning and dimension, and why not? It was, lots of dimension, in the melody and lyrics eh. But, as I said, I was dubious about it, something about it bothered me from the start. And finally, your Cultural Engineering focus told me what was bothering me. Hallelujah is devious. I would be deceitful singing it as such. I had to let the song go. But what a great thing! I was confronted with myself and my faith, which I barely know I have, never dwell on. But this was so all encompassing in so many ways, a song I learned to sing, a spirtual eh, a prayer song. Which revealed to me what I will do when it comes to my FAITH in what I believe. A direct line to . . . The GRAT BEYOND, heh. Which as I said before, you don’t put obstacles of sophisticated ‘reality’ even, that will hinder, slow down, or stop a prayer from getting thru to . . . whatever. Whatever needs no name in my book, if I believe within and without IT I AM and I swear by ‘GOD’, that accordingly, IT is ONLY good as far as I am concerned and within reach. Regardless. Why, I AM of IT! Thus I should certainly be able to . . . talk to myself and get some answers. No pun intended.

  5. I really enjoyed the utopia-dystopia dialectic you guys had on this podcast. It made me think that maybe humans have broken apart the natural living order over the last 5k years, thus laying the groundwork for something new (mentioned by Jasun).

    Is there some idea that the motivation for seeking out a new paradigm, or to transcend, is to heal our own trauma from having lost the more intimate herd/primitive/tribe?

    I’d also be curious about what you all think of the idea of the mind as separate substance, or as technology able to access other worlds/frequencies, and whether that means we should be less concerned about the body.

    • I don’t know, to be honest. Those are very broad questions. I don’t think of the mind as a substance, maybe a sort of eggregore…. the image i often have/use is that of a snowball made of flakes, in this case, a temporary structure made of language/memories/thoughts

      ‘we should be less concerned about the body’ is an odd phrase. We need to land there first; at which point, there will be no more need for concern!

    • “Is there some idea that the motivation for seeking out a new paradigm, or to transcend, is to heal our own trauma from having lost the more intimate herd/primitive/tribe?”

      Most ‘primitivist’ philosophers make the point that nearly all ‘creative’, ‘artistic’, or ‘imaginative’ activity is yearning for a lost life, when individuality, wholeness, togetherness and oneness with nature were all there. John Zerzan, whom one poster has suggested Jason interview (though I don’t think he’d accept), writes about this in comprehensive detail.

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