Susan Boyle and Asperger’s

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In one of the most confusing posts I have seen recently, Susan Boyle says she has been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome and that “it is a relief” to have the right label for her condition.   Okay, anyone who has seen her knows that she is a little different and most doctors could have made this diagnosis via the broadcast in about ten seconds. In fact, that is what made it so cool when she became a global sensation on “Britain’s Got Talent” in 2009.   Getting a diagnosis really doesn’t change anything now, does it?    Susan said that “I have always known that I have had an unfair label put upon me”.  That also confuses me.   Yes, I am sure her life was pretty hard and she still has issues.  That being said, life is weird and her quirkiness actually helped her sell millions of records, and even get her a big-screen debut in the holiday movie “The Christmas Candle.”  Maybe life isn’t so unfair anymore, huh?  This post is not to hammer Susan Boyle but to instead point out that labels or diagnoses aren’t as important as many people think they are.  As much as I feel for some of the problems she has had in life I think she is lucky to be blessed with that voice.  Not many other handicapped or disabled people have been able to capitalize as much as she has.  And many still suffer with our without a diagnosis. 

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected]

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6 Responses

  1. mamadoc says:

    I grew up around a lot of research scientists and their children, and when I first heard about Asberger’s I was surprised it meant something was wrong. A lot of very high functioning, productive and well respected folks I knew well were just like that. We just thought they were weird.

  2. Jody says:

    I understand exactly what she means, getting a diagnosis made a world of difference to me, at last I knew why I was so weird and different from everybody else. I went to a school where everybody was very much the same and then there was me, just didn’t fit in the expected mold at all.
    Yes, a relief, big one, an actual reason for being the way I am.

    • Doug Farrago says:

      Point taken.

    • Sir Lance-a-lot says:

      Wow. I had the exact same experience growing up, Jody, except that I’m not considered to have any diagnosable disorder.

      Does that mean that I’m truly weird, and now, suddenly, you’re not anymore?

      Does that mean that you suddenly “fit in” now?
      It looks like it means that I never will.

      Should I feel marginalized and outcast as a result of your remarks?

  3. David B says:

    Of course she prefers to have the “label” of Asperger’s; it’s better than being just weird. Now wait for the deluge of objection (justifiable, I think) from the large and vocal Asperger community over APA’s decision to eliminate the diagnosis from DSM5 and fold it in with all the other Autistic Spectrum Disorders. People with Asperger’s have generally regarded themselves as quite different from others with autism, and really don’t like being thrown back in with them.

  4. Ken says:

    The trouble with psychiatric diagnoses is their lack of objective criteria, as as a skeptic, I continually question the validity of these diagnoses. Think how wonderful it would be if we could only have a blood test or an MRI finding to help us with these–until then we have to rely on questionnaires and other inaccurate tools (how would you like to diagnose malaria based only on a questionnaire?). When is a patient just a variation of normal (whatever that is) vs having adult ADD, aspergers, PTSD etc? When is someone depressed and not just sad, lonely, or wallowing in self-pity? Until we get a good test, the experts will continue to argue and change their minds (remember DSM III and homosexuality?); even aspergers has fallen by the wayside as a legitimate diagnosis. And, of course, meds will continue to be prescribed, lots and lots of meds.

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