26 August 2010

Extra Thoughts and Some Music

I've got what feels like less than enough time to finish my dissertation and so my brain has, naturally enough, kicked into overdrive.  As a result, I have a few things that keep floating up to the surface of my consciousness so I'm skimming them off here in the hope that that will lay them to temporary rest.

1)  I've often thought about the problem of being in a relationship and having a mental disorder.  I've written about it before, a couple of times.  Today, however, I started thinking about it in a different way.  I've been thinking about it only in terms of the way I feel as though I were "damaged goods": it's a cruel phrase, but it's the one lodged in my subconscious mind.  If one looks at it more broadly and with fewer innappropriate moralistic overtones, then on can reframe it as a relationship (potentially) between a neurotypical person and a non-neurotypical person.  It seems to me that this correctly captures the extra effort required with the additional advantage of making it perspicuous that the effort flows both ways.  The statistical likelihood is that if I (a non-neurotypical person) end up in a relationship, that relationship will be with a neurotypical person because there are a lot more neurotypical persons than non-neurotypical persons.  Thus, the expectation that I will have to make extra effort to accommodate a person whose neurological architecture is significantly different from mine is a strong expectation.  I do no, however, consider that the effort is too costly.  It seems fine and acceptable to me.  Whenever I have hitherto considered it from the other side, however, it has often felt like it would be asking too much of any person to bear the burden of accommodation for my non-typical neural architecture.  The effort, however, that that hypthetical neurotypical person would have to make is theoretically no greater than any effort I will have to make; it is just statistically less likely that any given individual neurotypical person would have to make that effort in any given relationship.  Thus, I can now see that I have been falling for an informal fallacy all these years!  I'm going to try to stop worrying about it, or at least to acknowledge the effort I would have to make as being equally important.  Liberating.

2)  Learning the music for a Handel oratorio, while a joyful and worthwhile end in itself, is not actually commensurate with writing a dissertation.  Must put mp3 player away now.

3)  There was another one but now I can't remember what it is.  Distracted even in my distractions.  Damn!  That's some distracted!  Oh well.

Here's some Handel for your delectation:

And some silly Handel with dancing by the ever-wonderful Mark Morris Dance Group:

Almost done!  Can't wait!  Day in bed with chocolate, Carson McCullers novel and Handel score coming up.  Then, my 30th birthday party.  How did I get this old?  Last time I checked I was still 25.


  1. re. 1) I'm still puzzling over the dichotomy here. Would a neurotypical person be some sort of ideal form as hypothecised by scientists, clinicians and say, social scientists to which each individual approximates to a greater or lesser degree, and if so what consistent criteria would it be based on? Would these criteria shift in accordance with environmental/historical parameters? (I think I'm just questioning the notion of a neuro-typical person. Does such exist?)
    Couldn't it also be the case that a non-neurotypical person defined on these terms may have similar or less work to do in a relationship with a neurotypical person than another non-neurotyical person because they have more simularities on other grounds ( e.g. political persuasions, hobbies, family or class backgrounds) than the differences narrowly defined by neuro-psychology (call it what you will)?
    I'm probably getting in a muddle here already. I'm not a philosopher. Besides, I think you resolved the dilemma at the end on much clearer terms!
    I like the music by the way. I'm yet to watch the dance group!!
    Happy birthday too. Is it today? tomorrow? very soon? Have a wonderful day whichever. x

  2. Re: 1. I have considered myself damaged goods, but I think of it in a bit of a different way. It isn't, to me, so much about adjusting to someone else's way of thinking, but who is more likely to fall to pieces. As a mentalist, if I am with a "normal", the obvious answer seems that I am the one who is more likely to fall to pieces and need the other to help scoop me up and put me back together. Yes, I would be there and available if the other fell to pieces, but that is less likely. It is also more likely that, in the event that the other falls to pieces, I will be no help because I am also in pieces, than vice versa. It seems unfair of me to agree to a relationship that could quite possibly turn more into a convalescent/caretaker relationship. I do often feel this way with friends I already have, that they support me far more often than I support them, simply because I have occasion to require support more frequently.

    But I'm terrified of anything to do with dating, so none of this becomes a major player on that front.

  3. I wouldn't say you're muddling at all. Neurotypical, as I use it here, is definitely a historically contingent definition. The most efficient way to define it would probably be to say that neurotypical persons are persons about whom know one has yet noticed anything extreme - be it intelligence or irritability or mood or speech/language or what have you that's to do with neural processes. Non-neurotypical persons are persons who have been noted as extreme in any direction - e.g. very smart, selectively mute, extremely anxious, anhedonic, hyper-sensitive, colour blind or what have you. It is entirely a relative and slippery thing but that doesn't make it unreal, in my opinion, because of the criterion that it must be noticed. Whether it refers to some constant or not is too difficult to say and I would hesitate to project it back into history because persons who existed in the past had other methods of describing what seem to be similar phenomena - it's just that some of those ways of description, such as demonic possession (to take the common example), don't mean much scientifically. But I'm not trying to make a timeless claim and it's quite right to question whether I am or not.

    And yes, depending on the nature or presentation of the non-neurotypical-ness of any two individuals, two non-neurotypical individuals could quite possibly have more effort to put in than a neurotypical person and a non-neurotypical person. It would depend on whether the aspects of non-neurotypical-ness were mutually comprehensible in an immediate way or not.

    Still have 12 days til the official birthday; just celebrating early before half of my university friends scatter to the four winds. Thank you for the birthday wishes! I'm looking forward to my new decade.

  4. I did entirely fail to think about the caretaking aspect of a potential relationship - thank you for pointing that out. I think that's quite a reasonable thing to consider. Thinking about it this right now, I'm realising how much my own fears about this have dissipated over the past couple of years.

    It seems to me that one has the risk of an alteration into a caregiver/convalescent relationship in any relationship; the difference comes in because the risk of needing a caregiver is more known if one has a long-term illness. Thinking about it now - and I want to say very clearly that my perspective on it now is very different from what it was - it feels like something to be considered intelligently but not enough of a reason to decide not to try to have a relationship ever (unless one just doesn't want to, which is a sufficient reason in itself). It seems like a good reason not to be in a relationship with some specific people - not everyone is good at it - but not a reason to avoid a relationship in general. For one thing, no one ever knows when they're going to be hit by a bus or contract meningitis or fall down the stairs, so the potential for needing a caregiver is always present in any individual. For another, if the situation were reversed, I would not be put off.

    It can go horribly wrong, I grant you, but I wonder whether the caretaker/convalescent dynamic is a sufficient causal explanation. I really understand why this worries you, though. I'm not entirely sure why it doesn't worry me very much anymore - I'm going to have to have a think about this.