Larry Welkowitz's Radio Weblog
Discussing Asperger's Disorder and other Psychology topics

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Friday, May 17, 2002

Danes, Asperger's, Theory of Mind

I gave a talk in New York Wednesday morning to a delegation of about 40 psychologists from Denmark on cognitive-behavioral treatments of anxiety disorders and Aspergers.  The Danes, like all Scandinavians, are incredibly polite, so it's hard to say if I put them off by my disparaging remarks about Theory of Mind.  I told them that while I think of myself as a "tuned in" kind of guy, I really have no idea what any of them are thinking right now...Are you bored?  hungry?  Are you thinking about my ideas about Asperger's or are you thinking about lunch?  My point is, do we really think that the ability to infer others' thoughts is the key distinguishing factor between those on the autism spectrum and those who are not?  I would like to hear others thoughts about this...

Again, I think that those "Spectrum" folks are attending to other types of stimuli (other than person-centered stimuli)...they simply don't tune in to the subtleties of social interaction...but neither group really reads minds.

Douglas Carnall is a blogging physician from the UK who has a terrific doctor/geek blog worth checking out.  He messaged me suggesting that keeping one's clinical hours to a minimum helps "keep you fresh" and encourages better listening.  Of course, you're right about this Doug (I only do one day a week of clinical practice/consultation and spend the rest of my week at the college), but my point is that even when I'm "really listening" I'm not reading my patient's mind, per se.  Instead, I'm getting a sense of their distress and their problem, etc.  If I want to know what it is they are thinking or feeling, though, I have to ask them.

2:12:56 PM    comment []

I presented my BLOG this morning at a technology conference here at Keene State College.  It was a kind of electronic poster session in which geeky college profs and staff milled around and visited various exhibits (e.g., how to use your palm pilot to transmit powerpoint slides and so on).  I showed people my Blog along with all the nifty Radio Userland features and made the following points:

  1. Academics can use a Blog to "open source" their ideas (rather than endure the painfully long traditional journal process).
  2. Track and receive feedback about your ideas
  3. Simply use the Blog as a professional diary, which encourages you to think about your research areas on a daily basis.
  4. Create non-invasive "conversations" about your research.

Of course, I still believe that the jury is still out as to whether Blogging is going to accomplish all of this for me, but for the time being, I'm on board!  I'm off to help a chemistry prof. set up his Blog...

2:03:09 PM    comment []

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