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Asperger's in Television and in Real Life

written by: Maryam DiMauro • edited by: Paul Arnold • updated: 7/27/2010

Who are the famous people with asperger's and what is the impact of this on our society's view of asperger's? Find out here!

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    Unconfirmed Famous People with Asperger's

    Because asperger's is still viewed in some quarters as taboo, very few celebrities have outwardly come forward to admit having this condition. This is a shame as being in the public eye could help to make people more aware of how capable, intelligent and talented individuals with asperger's can be.

    Because those afflicted with asperger's are highly functional it is not something that can be easily detected. However, here are a few prominent people who are believed to have had asperger's. I will also discuss characters in television and films that have asperger's.

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    Unconfirmed Famous Cases

    There are a number of famous names who appeared to fit the criteria for asperger's, though without knowing the full context of their lives we cannot be truly sure. During their lives the condition had not been studied and described, and so a lack of diagnosis, and therefore a lack of appropriate treatment is believed to have driven many to serious depression

    • Emily Dickinson- Described as increasingly reclusive and unable to socialize with others, it is believed she might have had aspects of Asperger's syndrome
    • Jane Austen, 1775-1817- Author of Pride and Prejudice, and described as a " homebody". Many have speculated she had asperger's. However, noting the tongue in cheek humour of her novels, this might be just an urban legend. Due to the fact that many diagnosed with asperger's do not understand sarcasm or jokes and her novels are littered with these.
    • Einstein1921 by F Schmutzer Albert Einstein- Brilliant yet struggled in school, and had problems socializing with others he is believed to have exhibited symptoms of Aspergers.
    • Virginia Woolf- Another writer who is described as reclusive and suffered from great depression. It is unclear whether she might have been a manic depressive.
    • Vincent Van Gogh- A brilliant painter who was unable to connect with his peers and slowly descended into madness
    • Sylvia Plath- Poet who eventually killed herself.

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      Aspergers on TV and film

      Perhaps the most positive cases of asperger's do not come from real life examples but ones depicted on television and film. Although they are not fully diagnosed they do depict clear symptoms of asperger's. I will only limit myself to three examples.

      Dr. Bones- Bones (American crime drama that premiered on the Fox Network)

      The creator of the show outright admitted that the character was molded on asperger's characteristics. Although the television network forced them not to admitting it outright this soon became part of the general criteria of the character. The way she takes things literally is a running joke on the show and her colleagues. She has slowly opened up in the series with her budding relationship with her co worker.

      The Big Bang Theory- Sheldon (American sitcom that airs on the CBS Network)

      Sheldon is incredibly intelligent but also widely not empathetic to his peers. He has trouble interacting socially and takes everything literally. Depicting as being in his own world, his relationship with his roommates and Penny have made him endearing to audiences.

      Lisbeth Salander (character who appears in the Swedish Millennium Trilogy)

      This character is perhaps the most complicated and layered of all the examples. She is highly intelligent and has become the victim of a system that took advantage of her poor social skills to place her in a mental institution. Her photographic memory, her incredible hacking skills and huge will to survive has created a modern day super hero.

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      Picture Credit

      Image in public domain as copyright has expired