Aspergers, Fetishism, and Violence
By Jessika Endsley
Aspie Narrow Interests Affect "Relating"
Asperger's Syndrome is initially described with the hallmark trait of obsession. This is not news to anyone; even the most basic guide or definition of Asperger's will include the fact that those with Asperger's Syndrome have narrow, restricted, and heavily intense interests. Since most of these guides and diagnostic tools are directed at parents who are concerned that they have an Aspie child, these narrow and obsessive interests usually fall into the realm of something like electronics, a certain book, colored glass objects, or in stereotype, trains. This is all good and well albeit odd to parents who are unfamiliar with the condition of their newly diagnosed child, but what is often ignored is that this intense and narrow road of interest will eventually translate into how the Aspie relates to others and himself or herself in the world. This includes sexually and socially, or in the case of many Aspies, lack of sex and lack of socialization.
The Aspie Libido: They Do Have One!
Unlike we are portrayed through the media, those with Asperger's Syndrome are not primarily asexual androids. While characters on television are likely portrayed this way for comic relief and because it would be "unnatural" for someone with such dramatized poor social skills to ever initiate or maintain a relationship, most Aspies have become irked with this inaccurate portrayal of the link between Asperger's Syndrome and low libido. Teen and adult Aspies everywhere have sexual thoughts, experiences, and preference. Many of these translate into a mostly normal realm where the Aspie is sexually functional and capable of long-term relationships, love, and often marriage with another consenting adult. Despite our inclination to view and experience sex and romance differently due to sensory stimuli and odd socialization techniques, most Aspies are very capable and willing to fall into the "normal" realm of sexuality. But many are very much not.
Many of us who are on the Spectrum prefer to avoid any stereotypes or notions that could make us seem even more bizarre or dislikeable, but these fields of study are in deep need of further research. In the underground of what is becoming the Asperger's subculture and Aspie-to-Aspie research field (Aspies socializing,) there is a quiet understanding that many people on the Autistic Spectrum, particularly Aspies, are inclined to the realm of sexual fetishism. Sexual fetishism is a state of arousal that a person derives from a specific object or situation or a combination thereof. This fetishist behavior is not usually in the mild Sadism-Masochism realm that is accepted as fairly normal in the Neurotypical world; Aspie fetishist behavior is obsessive and specific, often relating to their primarily interest field. The correlation between sexual fetishism and Asperger's is very simple but often ignored for comforts sake; those with Asperger's Syndrome have low empathy and a poor ability to relate to others.
Inside Aspie Fetishism
During the adolescent years, when sexual preferences and thoughts begin to develop for most young people, an Aspie is likely isolated and/or unable to make meaningful connections with other people, leaving plenty of time for fantasy. Since the young Aspie is unlikely to be very aware of what sexual behavior and thoughts are acceptable and are also unlikely to care, this leaves not only time but room for fantasy. In personal interviews, quite a few people with Asperger's and severe fetishism have spoken freely and disclosed pieces of their lives that the general public would not likely embrace or even tolerate. There is not one single fetish that is highly common in the Asperger's community, but it is very apparent that the fetishist mindset itself is common. From certain sock textures to inflatables to gender-bending, Aspies with fetishes know everything they can about their specific brand of sexual peculiarity and will often seek to inform those who are closest to them of their wonderful findings, if not to encourage them to also try the behavior. Their paraphilia can sometimes be a cross to bear, but more often than not, it is a strong security blanket that they keep close at all time.
One once severely socially rejected Aspie made a point of mentioning that their violent thoughts towards society died down during the experimentation and development of his on paraphilia, a combination of gender-bending with emphasis on childish undergarments (namely socks and tights) and a "golden showers" fetish - urinating on or with others, alone, in public, or just general loss of bladder control. The onset of the sexuality and the violent urges towards society - rather than colliding and creating a murderous or hateful individual - inverted and gives the Aspie in question a safe place in which he is a subconsciously infantile being in society, neither worthy of being hated nor concerned with the actions of others. The violent thoughts died as his sexuality grew. Since many Aspies have fetishes involving fabric and things deemed to be of an innocent or childish nature, it is not uncommon to come across Aspies who have a fetish and are unaware of it until it begins to interfere with what outward life they do have. Finding another person with a similar complex and intense paraphilia can be taxing or nearly impossible, leaving the fetishist Aspie isolated for much of the time, recreating the loneliness that helped the spawn the paraphilia to begin with. But one must wonder, what would have happened if this particular person never developed a safety-blanket of a paraphilia?
Asperger's And Violence
Asperger's and violence are two things people in the Autistic community prefer not to think about or even correlate. For those who are ignorance on the topic of Asperger's or psychology in general, the simple fact that we possess "low empathy" would indicate that we are all automatically capable of violence. This is inaccurate. Low empathy due to an inability to read and understand the cues and emotions of others is an entirely different animal from one reading, understanding, and mimicking affectively the emotions of others in order to cause sadistic harm. Aspies are often uninterested in people altogether, much less hostile towards them. However, there have been cases where an individual who has committed violent acts had either been diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome or was speculated to have Asperger's, and more often than not, these happenings have been on a larger scale than most are comfortable thinking about.
Aspie Motives For Violence
The motive for someone with Autistic traits to commit a violent crime is often extremely different than that of a Neurotypical, who would often be driven by money, sex, or plain mimicry of media they have come into contact with that can bring about bouts of blood-lust in certain individuals. For the rare violent Aspie, the motive for violence is to directly communicate that the individual is offended or has been wronged, and more often than not, the violent offender with Asperger's Syndrome wants to communicate with as many people as possible that they have been wronged. The Aspie will have researched their methods obsessively before carrying them out, making the violent act itself their limited interest. The subject will gain nothing but the knowledge that they have achieved a form of revenge and communicated as globally as possible that they are offended.
Adam Lanza Was No Psychopath
While most people would say that any school shooter is a "Psychopath" to be able to plan and go through with such an act that is deemed horrific, this is often not the case. While the shooters at Columbine, Harris and Klebold, were quite obviously a Psychopath and a Borderline Personality with a motive based more around superiority than anything else, other shooters, such as Adam Lanza, have been on the Autistic Spectrum. Mass murderers who have something to gain (fame, recognition) and directly operate under the premise that gain is the goal can easily be identified as Axis 2 Personality Disordered, but this was not the case with the recent (and one of the few verified Asperger's cases) example of Adam Lanza, the young man behind the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. After killing his mother at home, he traveled to Sandy Hook Elementary where he shot and killed twenty-six people, most of which were children, before killing himself. In contrast to those, such as the Columbine shooters, who seek fame and remembrance for their crimes, Adam Lanza left no suicide note and made a point to damage the hard drive that contained the information he researched and downloaded pertaining to the most effective (logical) way to carry out his plans, including his own suicide immediately after shooting up the school. He left no clear indication of why he targeted the school he did. He just researched his method, went through with it, and ended his life.
Anders Behring Breivik
The immediate response from Autism advocacy groups was to make a public point of stating that Autism and Asperger's are "brain-related development issues" and not mental illness. This is true, but one quick search online will bring many results of people attacking those who have tried to make a connection between Autistic behaviors and certain mass murders (especially Lanza's) while others blatantly say "there is no connection." While it is obvious why we, as a group, would not want any violence attributed or connected to our own neurological condition, that neurological condition was a part of the shooters makeup and therefore worthy of exploration, just as the personality makeup of other killers should be explored without attributing each diagnosis purely to violence. Norwegian shooter Anders Behring Breivik was diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome (although some sources disagree and believe him to suffer from psychosis) as well as Tourette's syndrome and a Narcissistic personality, the latter being obvious due to the mode behind his crime. Aurora shooter James Holmes has also been rumored to have Asperger's Syndrome for the simple fact that he is highly intelligent and socially awkward, which speaks more for the misunderstanding of what Asperger's Syndrome is than as to the misunderstanding of the correlation between violence and the syndrome itself.
Uraveling Autism's Darker Sides
At the darker end of the study of the Autistic Spectrum, we have to take into account that the entire mode of thought in a person with Asperger's Syndrome is altered by having Asperger's Syndrome. As with Neurotypicals, everyone has a dark side and some people spend more of their time on that side than on the rainbow-blasted puzzle-piece side of life. As we abandon our own already slightly uncomfortable placement in society as Aspies, perhaps we can explore our existence more fully and stop feeling the need to defend our entire being when one of our own openly exhibits an odd sexual behavior or acts out violently.