This edition of Edge features an article by Christopher Badcock, about the imprinted gene theory of Autism Spectrum disorders and the psychotic spectrum disorders that he has been developing with Crespi. It is a must read and has been very nicely done.
He goes on to list the differences between autism and psychosis in a tabular form and then extends this to list the differences between mentalistic and mechansitic cognitions.
|Autism/Asperger’s syndrome||Psychosis/Paranoid schizophrenia|
|gaze-monitoring deficits||delusions of being watched/spied on|
|apparent deafness/insensitivity to voices||hallucination of and hyper-sensitivity to voices|
|deficits in interpreting others’ intentions||erotomania/delusions of persecution|
|deficits in appreciating shared-attention/groups||delusions of conspiracy|
|theory of mind deficits||magical ideation/delusions of reference|
|deficit in sense of personal agency/episodic memory||megalomania/delusions of grandeur|
|literalness/inability to deceive||delusional self-deception|
|pathological single-mindedness||pathological ambivalence|
|early onset||late onset|
|Mentalistic Cognition||Mechanistic Cognition|
|psychological interaction with self and others||physical interaction with nature and objects|
|uses social, psychological, and political skills||uses mechanical, spatial, and engineering skills|
|deficits in autism, augmented in women||accentuated in autism, augmented in men|
|voluntaristic, subjective, particularistic||deterministic, objective, universal|
|abstract, general, ambivalent||concrete, specific, single-minded|
|verbal, metaphoric, conformist||visual, literal, eccentric|
|top-down, holistic, centrally-coherent||bottom-up, reductionistic, field-independent|
|epitomized in literature, politics, and religion||epitomized in science, engineering, and technology|
|‘pseudo-science’: astrology, alchemy, creationism||‘hard science’: astronomy, chemistry, Darwinism|
|nurtured: culturally- and personally-determined||natural: factually- and genetically-determined|
|belief-based therapies: placebos, faith-healing, psychotherapy etc.||physical effect-based therapies: drugs, surgery, physiotherapy, etc.|
He lists down some of the other arguments that I have made viz the fact that Valproic acid exposure in childhood/ pregnancy causes Autism, while valproic acid is used for treating psychosis. Overall it is a very interesting read and a must read.
He also tries to address the mCDD (or simultaneous occurence of Autism and Schizophrenia) in his article, though I find that part the least convincing. Here is what he has to say:
The model appears to rule out anyone suffering from an ASD and a PSD simultaneously, and such co-morbidity does appear to be rare—but is not unknown. However, I know of cases of individuals diagnosed with bipolar disorder who also show unmistakable signs of ASD during their non-manic phases. Indeed, I have research on one individual who suffers from severe gaze-aversion, autistic deficits in a sense of self and social anxiety most of the time, but who becomes comfortable with other people during manic episodes when his sense of self hypertrophies into megalomania with the feeling that he is the returned Jesus Christ! Furthermore, there is evidence of both ASD and PSD in Newton and Beethoven, and incontrovertibly so in the Nobel-prize winning mathematician John Nash. Here the theory predicts that the ASD must come first (typically in childhood) and leave a permanent savant-like basis later built on by hyper-mentalistic tendencies to produce an unusually broadened and dynamically-balanced cognitive configuration: that of true genius.
I find this fascinating and agree with Badcock that the theory leads to many predictions and all these are testable; so we are witnessing a new paradigmatic shift in our understanding of these neurodevelopmental disorders and further experiments would definitely lend more credence to this theory in my view.