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Oh, what an introduction.

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Oct. 4th, 2004 | 08:20 pm
mood: predatorypedantic
music: Tori Amos - Agent Orange
posted by: drworm in death_note

This is an elaboration on the topic covered in this post by v_voltaire ... whom I applaud for making the connection. Though I expected it to be made a lot sooner, to be honest.

L and Autism: Pointing Out Things No One Else Cares About

A slight disclaimer: no, I do not think L is intended as an autistic character, and I don't expect you to either. This is not a 'diagnosis;' I'm no medical professional, despite the user name, and anyway you can't diagnose a fictional character. You can, however, choose to interpret such a character under the figurative umbrella that such a categorization offers. It is, one might say, simply food for thought.

And I still find it amusing to see how well-liked L is by fans.

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Comments {19}

i am a jedi, like my father before me

(no subject)

from: tatooine
date: Oct. 4th, 2004 05:49 pm (UTC)
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My younger brother was diagnosed as being mildly autistic when he was little, and I know I haven't been paying much attention to this community, but -- congratulations, that was a very nice analysis. I'd been toying with the idea that L was autistic from fairly early on in the series, but you've done a much nicer job of elaborating on the why than my high school psych and I could have managed.

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miiol

(no subject)

from: miiol
date: Oct. 4th, 2004 05:50 pm (UTC)
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Hee, that was really indepth. You seem to have taken a lot of time to write that! ^^ Thank you for sharing! (Sorry this isn't too coherent. @@ It's 2am here~)

Um, one point that might be of interest is the thing about how L holds a pen. Er, I'm not sure if it's 'traditional Greek' or something, but I was taught to hold a pencil/pen like that to write when I was living in Greece. L mentions living in England for 5 years, so maybe~ it's something to do with his education if he lived in Europe for a while or something? XD

Ah, sorry about rambling! ^^;;;

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DrWorm

(no subject)

from: drworm
date: Oct. 4th, 2004 06:09 pm (UTC)
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You seem to have taken a lot of time to write that!

Happily for me, I love writing essays; the time, it just flies.

Er, I'm not sure if it's 'traditional Greek' or something, but I was taught to hold a pencil/pen like that to write when I was living in Greece.

Wow, really? Heh... that makes more sense, at least to me; my experience with holding writing utensils involves gripping them too tightly or awkwardly, something that L's method doesn't lend itself to. Still, I thought it was noticeable enough that not bringing it up would leave a gap. Thank you for this information; it's seriously interesting and helpful (um... to me, at least). Maybe I'll try writing like that. :3

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miiol

(no subject)

from: miiol
date: Oct. 5th, 2004 06:44 am (UTC)
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That's absolutely no problem. Whee, I'm glad you like writing; you have a lovely style, so it shows! ^^

And hee, I had to go try writing like that, and found out I can't anymore. Hopefully your attempt will be better than mine! X3

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EVILNEKOHILDA

(no subject)

from: evilnekohilda
date: Oct. 4th, 2004 05:54 pm (UTC)
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I didn't have time to do much but scan your analysis, but I'm quite interested by what I picked up. I have no background in that part of psychology, or any part really ^^; But I can understand where you're coming from. At first I disagreed; I would've classified L as a savvant (sp?) before I thought about autism... but the latter makes much more sense.

Thanks for the bit of insight, it's always cool to hear/read intellegent stuff like this <3

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subdee

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from: sub_divided
date: Oct. 4th, 2004 06:45 pm (UTC)
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Whee~ analysis! I, also, like writing essays, but more than that I enjoy reading well-written ones. Bravo for your insights! Also, I've commented on that other thread, although from more of a literary-analysis than psychological-analysis perspective as I'm completely unqualified for the later.

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subdee

(no subject)

from: sub_divided
date: Oct. 4th, 2004 07:04 pm (UTC)
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Also, it's not surprising that the topic got dropped earlier. It's not because it wasn't interesting or we didn't care: it's a question of authority. Or, at least for me it was.

The first people to post on the topic had done research over the internet or known, distantly, someone with AS. Later, when people who were a lot closer to the issue came along, it became impossible to argue. Because obviously they'd know a lot better than the rest of us, see? I know that I, personally, didn't think I had the right to debate it.

Ah, but you're the closest person to the issue of all, so of course it is alright to agree with you XD.

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DrWorm

(no subject)

from: drworm
date: Oct. 4th, 2004 07:54 pm (UTC)
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Ah, but you're the closest person to the issue of all, so of course it is alright to agree with you

Well... yes, broadly. I do like people agreeing with me, but I don't object to disagreements (that are based on, well, arguments that don't suck and aren't based on misunderstanding; and there are plenty that I think could be made), and I don't think I should be... um... an "authority" exactly. People with AS have a wide variety of experiences and opinions, and I would really hate for anyone to think I'm trying to present what I know as the beginning and end of AS; I'm just relating what I know because it interests me, particularly in this context. Yes. Or maybe I'm just trying to avoid taking responsibility for what I wrote. One of those.

But, ah... no, I'm glad you liked the essay. *still have to check that other comment out*

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eris

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from: aerie
date: Oct. 5th, 2004 01:54 am (UTC)
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Mini-rant to get off my chest here, not directed at you but re: your disclaimer, with which I wholly agree. XD We (western culture?) tend to dish out constant judgements when we consider someone abnormal ("you're such a hypochondriac!" "you're so obsessive-compulsive!"), and whether based on some internet research, flipping through the DSM, or personal experience with a case, I really recommend taking these 'diagnoses' for a grain of salt. I've had introductory psych classes in college, including a course dedicated to abnormal psychology. I am by no means an expert, and that is exactly my point: one of the very first things one learns in the study is that it's foolish to pass around diagnoses for psychological disorders when one is not a trained professional with years of experience in psychopathology. Even trained professionals require extensive work with the client/patient to reach a tentative diagnosis; people are incredibly complex and dynamic, and diagnosis is a process, not an immediate conclusion based on observing some signs and consulting the DSM. Therefore I've always found it rather pointless to argue amongst ourselves over the "correct" diagnosis of a fictional character rather than discussing the traits in question and their narrative repercussions, because
1) We are not trained professionals in the field.
2) Even if we are, it is impossible to diagnose a fictional character for the reasons above.
3) The author is most likely not a trained professional either, so it is doubtful she wrote Death Note with the specific intention of accurately examining a clinical case.

That said, I do find it a very useful tool for assisting in character study*, and I'm sure many authors do as well. I see nothing wrong with an author using diagnostic criteria for Aspergers as a foundation for her characterisation of L, or analysing L's motivations with that bias. It's when we get into "my best friend has Aspergers and it's nothing like L!!" that I, um, rant in LJ communities.

* lovely essay <3 particularly organising the manga panels to illustrate your point. I would like to point out, re: supposed aversion to touch, that in recent chapters L has been rather touchy-feely with Raito. I had always considered him to be someone who would avoid touching, myself, but there are points when, for example, he will lean over Raito to examine the computer screen and rest a hand on Raito's shoulder for no apparent reason. Of course, this may be a natural consequence of spending months in forced proximity due to the handcuffs, but I still found it pretty interesting.

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Lacy

(no subject)

from: lacewing
date: Oct. 7th, 2004 07:06 am (UTC)
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Can also be brought on because he does consister Ratio a friend. Many with autism and AS after a time (from personal experience here) if they have an adversion ot touch will begin touching that which they like, even if it's a person. Though usualy it's animals or things.

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DrWorm

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from: drworm
date: Oct. 7th, 2004 12:47 pm (UTC)
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one of the very first things one learns in the study is that it's foolish to pass around diagnoses for psychological disorders when one is not a trained professional with years of experience in psychopathology.

Aha, yes, and it reinforces a misconception of what I would think is the main point of a diagnosis: developing a plan for treating an individual or helping them to better cope with daily life to the best of their abilities. It's not really necessary to have or seek a diagnosis if one is not affected, even if certain symptoms are familiar. Unless these symptoms are impairing functioning in some way, there doesn't seem to be much reason to diagnose. But so many medical and psychological phrases have wormed their way into the vernacular that it can be challenging to separate a need for intervention from a need to categorize. If that makes sense.

in recent chapters L has been rather touchy-feely with Raito

Yes, that's true, and certainly very interesting. Of course, not every person with AS experiences significant sensitivities to touch, but even for those who do it rarely comes down to a ban on all forms of physical contact. Some people are most comfortable making contact when they are in control... I grab your shoulder, I pat your head, I shake your hand, etc. which may be traced to a need for certainty of reaction. For others, it's all about pressure: light touches are an irritation while firm touches are reassuring, or vice versa. Or maybe it's body heat that's the problem, and touching someone with a layer or two of clothing providing separation is not difficult at all. I think reactions can also vary with the degree of sensory stimulation being processed; at a rock concert, for example, the loud music dominates the senses and so the press of other people becomes secondary. In the end, though, I do think it comes down to a sense of predictability in others. If the sense of predictability or sequence feels wrong, for whatever reason, the feeling becomes irritating or painful.

And... yes. Thank you very much for your comment and your rant, which was a very good read. :D

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(no subject)

from: empress_nothing
date: Oct. 5th, 2004 03:23 am (UTC)
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Oh, that was absolutely fascinating! Thanks for sharing something that's obviously so personal.

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Hal Jordan! Let's do it!

(no subject)

from: memlu
date: Oct. 5th, 2004 06:10 pm (UTC)
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This really is interesting to read and consider; whether or not it is recognized in canon at all (which would mean it'd have to be canon, and I'm just making an arse of myself), it certainly fits at this point. Wonderfully done (and! illustrations for the points! that's always fun) - very clear and to the point, and I think I've saved it to my hard drive for future reference.

As for L's popularity, it might be because the differences about him that, if he should be autistic, could serve to alienate him in real life make him seem fascinating in fiction? (Which, just generally speaking, is sad, considering people in the real world are more important than fictional characters.) Also, toes. :D

(Unrelated: I love your fanfiction. Um. I just thought I should say this, having never really gotten up the courage to randomly pop my head up in your LJ or anywhere. XD And I totally understand if this is random and creepy. Okay, I'll go hide now.)

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Lacy

(no subject)

from: lacewing
date: Oct. 7th, 2004 07:01 am (UTC)
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As goes on with the ever increasing ongoing debate. I'm actually waiting for an interview with the author who will likely say "Yes I actually used this or that to make the charactor" he researched everything to death for this.. Taking the old advem 'use what you know' Because as many bits are pointed out there are TOO MANY clues.

and not all people with AS or Austism are disliked. I had a boyfriend with AS once, he was as adorable to me as L is ^_^ And several other friends and a sister in law who have Austism ot various degrees.

Frankly as with any disorder, even despression, if they got better edgucation out there would help. I remember when I was in school they actually ran a thing where for a WEEK the classes where set up akwardly, or we were stuffed in things like wheel chairs and crutches, or given heavy things to put on, or having to write our papers with a mirror.. (this really should have told me somehting, i acutaly found tha was easier to work with -.- I'm mildly dislexic, but I've learned on my own how to funtion) But I think they should make something like that mandatory, because everytime a student complain they would state "ANd this is what the world is LIKE for someone with a disorder"

The students in our special class got alot more respect I will tell you that. Respect that didn't go away after a bit either.

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DrWorm

(no subject)

from: drworm
date: Oct. 7th, 2004 12:17 pm (UTC)
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As goes on with the ever increasing ongoing debate.

Is it? Ongoing, I mean. This all seems very mild to me.

and not all people with AS or Austism are disliked.

Who said they were? Though everyone is disliked by someone, of course, regardless of whether they have any kind of disease or disorder.

But the actual crux of AS and autism is an inability to correctly and consistently interpret emotional and physical cues that are crucial to reciprocal interaction. Some people are able to compensate for this better than others, but in the end it means that all relationships are going to be affected by some degree in a way not pervasively experienced by neurotypical people. Not that this precipitates active dislike, but it certainly can put a strain on potential and active friendships.

And in my own experience, probably prejudiced, strangers are not likely to be overly thrilled with someone who might speak, move, look, and act completely or mildly contrary to any of the major societal norms.

As for 'educating the masses,' I've never entirely seen that as productive. Particularly when it comes to autism, since I'm having trouble envisioning how one might replicate the sense of lack of empathy or theory of mind. Beyond that, I've come to find those sort of things vaguely embarrassing. I can't quite fathom why people would be interested in how or why we do the things that seem perfectly natural to us (though I could clearly talk about it for hours).

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Lacy

(no subject)

from: lacewing
date: Oct. 7th, 2004 08:54 pm (UTC)
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lol, even a mild debate when still talked about can be an ongoing debate. I do know a couple poeple who will venimently claim L is just eccentric, because the idea he could possibly have a disorder of any kind makes them want to get sick.. and as I say "It's just a fictional charactor"

I understand that part, but really the edgucation I'm talking about is not the stuff they do, which hardly edgucates at all. It just says "These poeple are sick." is what it boils down to. ANd sick though can be taken negitively.

You're not sick, just diffent, and everyone's different. Some just have a harder time than others because of what's considered normal.

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(no subject)

from: fani
date: Aug. 22nd, 2005 03:10 am (UTC)
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And is it just me or L is a bit on the “stereotypical” side of autism? I mean his whole behavior? I think it’s a bit of overkill. I don’t mean to disrespect the authors but it seems like they were on “ooo let’s make a character autistic!” without giving the proper respect to the people who actually has that. Maybe it’s just me…but I think …L should have been written with more respect *if* he is autistic.

One thing that adds to the “autism” debate on L is he is extremely very good at separating his emotion and the fact.

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Marjohn

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from: marjohn666valo
date: Oct. 6th, 2010 05:09 pm (UTC)
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the link doesn't work anymore :( I'm really interested to read it. would you please fix it? ^^

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(no subject)

from: roseblight
date: May. 29th, 2012 12:37 am (UTC)
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The Wayback Machine saves the day again.

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