For years after his death scientists have speculated that Albert Einstein (as well as Isaac Newton) suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome, a mild form of autism. Since he is not longer alive to test him science will have to wait until more physical features of the brain connected to autism can be established before they can study his brain tissue for possible features.
Asperger sufferers have difficulty with social skills, and a preoccupation with complex subjects like math, science and music. Due to the nature of the “high mind set” connected with math and science, people usually brushed off his behavior as simply being “eccentric,” or having trouble communicating due to his heavy German accent.
Einstein was so intent on his work that often he would forget to eat or change clothes. He was what many called the stereotype of the “absent-minded professor,” forgetting everyday tasks, and oblivious to his surrounding and the people in it as he went on intensely concentrating on his work. Later in life he took on the disheveled look – with his wild white hair, that people nowadays often associate with the “mad scientist” image he depicted.
The fact that he was a loner as a child, didn’t speak until he was around three or four years of age, and incessantly repeated sentences until the age of seven, were other indicators he could have been suffering from a mild case of autism.
On the other side of the coin, however, stands scientists such as Glen Elliott, a psychiatrist at the University of California at San Francisco, who doesn’t believe Einstein had Asperger syndrome. “One can imagine geniuses who are socially inept and yet not remotely autistic. Impatience with the intellectual slowness of others, narcissism and passion for one’s mission in life might combine to make such an individuals isolative and difficult.”
Elliott went on to observe that Einstein possessed a wonderful sense of humor. People with autism and Asperger’s syndrome do not usually have a developed sense of humor, but it has been found that a minority of them, especially those who are intellectually gifted in mathematics, have a highly developed sense of humor.
“ My passionate sense of social justice and social responsibility has always contrasted oddly with my pronounced lack of need for direct contact with other human beings and human communities. I am truly a lone traveler and have never belonged to my country, my home, my friends, or even my immediate family, with my whole heart; in the face of all these ties, I have never lost a sense of distance and a need for solitude… ”Â – Albert Einstein
Â It may never be determined if Albert Einstein has Asperger’s syndrome or not. It is possible that his genius was due to wiring that was different from most of us, but then again it could simply be he was so intent on finding answers to as many questions as he could that he simply didn’t have time to waste on mundane tasks, unless it served his ability to unwind. We may never know.
Wikipedia – Absent-Minded professor: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absent-minded_professor
Yahoo Answers – Absent Minded Professor Syndrome??? http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070916190625AAlVQVz
Autistic Spectrum Disorders Fact Sheet – Did Einstein and Newton Have Asperger’s? http://www.autism-help.org/points-%20aspergers-einstein-newton.htm