This blog is specifically about social conformity. A synonym for this would be the herd mentality where the sheeple live in the Matrix. It has a purpose of creating the illusion of control and security when the reality is completely out of control. Social conformity also creates social biases and discrimination by creating the concept of ‘the other’, ‘different’, ‘enemy’ or ‘outsider’ as a part of the process of building its social structure and definition. While there is nothing inherently unethical with a social construct defining its own architecture and style, there is something inherently evil about some of the demolition that occurs in the path of its creation. Just as a corporate organization is made up of individual employees, so too is a defined society made up of individual people. Which brings the discussion to some research on autism spectrum disorder.
Before discussing social bias and autism, I would like to back track to my personal experience in residency training. When I first entered residency, on my first day, I sensed intense unspoken hostility. No one was making eye contact. Non-verbal communication was conveyed that made me sense condescension and disdain. I was not welcome and at the time I did not understand why and I did not know how to address it.
One of the disadvantages of being a quiet thinker is that social manipulators can have the opportunity to set the tone with their narratives either overtly or behind closed doors. Hindsight 20/20 showed me that it was wise to keep enemies close as it would have given the chance to show I was not truly “the other.” I was human also. However, the social controllers’ narratives had stuck and I was labeled as “socially awkward”; a “social klutz”. “Oh it’s sad that you need to be told that way.” “You do not know how to read people.” “ I think she has aspergers.” “I think you have ADHD.” “You need to control your facial expressions.” I was actually sent to HR to work on my facial expressions. The most reaffirmation I got was one chief saying “have you ever felt like no one understands you?” I told him “yes”. He said “I’ve felt that way. The reason is because you are highly intelligent.” Yet he did not tell the others to back off or include me in their social circles. It was just lip service. I took the neuropsychiatric test that was demanded by the chairman; it was normal. In fact the emotional intelligence component of it, with reading faces and situations, came back above average. The psychologist who administered the test was confused and told me at the end, “maybe you shouldn’t have pissed off your boss.” I was not on the spectrum, but many highly educated respected people, thought I was. But why?
I received an email from a chief saying that the nursing staff thought I was extremely rude. He also told me that I was not allowed to bring this up with them to discuss. I did not think this was fair because I should be allowed transparent feedback and if there is something I said or did that was seen as rude, I needed to find out what and how to make amends. When I went to speak with the nurses, they told me that they were not annoyed with me at all. They did say they did not like me in the beginning several months prior because they thought I was too aloof but then they realized it was because “you were just quiet and we did not know how to approach you and did not give a chance for your personality to come out.” I later received an email from the same chief that I had disobeyed his orders of speaking with the nursing staff and then he reported this to the program director who put it in my file as an official reprimand to the chairman. Being an INTJ, which only makes up 0.5% of the female population, probably makes me be seen as different in my personality to the majority of women. I would have had to alter my persona a lot faster to meet the nurses’ social expectations so they would not misinterpret my personality. By not fitting the box as to how a woman should behave and interact with people, I easily became labeled as “other” and there was a lot of gossip behind my back. As a female colleague alluded about my male co-residents gossiping about me, she said “they are treating you like Mean Girls”. This brings me to my next point about autism spectrum and social bias.
The above article compared differences in implicit and explicit social bias between “neurotypical” and Autistic spectrum folks. Reading the article sent chills down my spine in a bad way. They were looking for reduced social bias in people with high functioning Autism. While certainly that maybe true for people on the spectrum, it concerned me that my superiors interpreted my non gender role conformity and shyness as a neuropathology and a disorder. I was even told by a chief resident to take the neuropsychiatric test so that I could be given a diagnosis of ADHD. He was insinuating I would then have an excuse for not fitting the social box. The fact that who I was did not fit the gender role, I had to be diagnosed with a condition to have an accepted place in medical society; it was not the narrow fearful minds of those in power who were viewing me incompletely or incorrectly. The chairman told me repeatedly with a smile that he was “omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent.”
My mind flashed back to a clip from Idiocracy “my first wife was tarded, she’s a pilot now.” Anti-intellectualism and materialism ran unchecked in the future of the United States in the film where having intelligence was pathologized and labeled as “tarded”. The current multifaceted economic forces that medicine faces promote the bottom line over independent thought, curiosity and education. I remember my chief specifically telling me “no independent thinking, do as you are told.” Any thought deviation from the norm has to be seen as other, diagnosed with a disorder, seen as a disease. Not having biases, having an open mind, suspect for being on “the spectrum”. But what is the shape of the lens creating the spectrum of light or the spectrum of minds we are allowed to see? This is not an argument that Autism spectrum does not exist, but that it can be used as a slippery slope for an excuse for dystopian mind control. Agent Smith runs the medical industrial complex.
After having left residency, I did an extensive post mortem. I asked myself why I did not seem to know immediately how to fight back wisely and call things out diplomatically. Why did I hide? Why did I allow my boundaries to be violated, have the bias I was being seen through emotionally affect me and allow it to spread to others view of me? Partly, at the time, it was because I did not understand the bias I was being seen through and also I believed they were right. This was partly because of my own perfectionism. I thought I was responsible for everything and did not hold them accountable for what they were responsible for. However, I also subconsciously associated being the new kid on the block as being in a very socially vulnerable position from a childhood trauma.
In 5th grade I was shoved from behind during a touch football game. I fell onto a planter which left me with a perforated bowel and torn spleen. The doctors thought I had been in a car accident. I still remember being so frightened, screaming and grabbing hold of the elevator doors not wanting to be taken to the OR. I had an open laparotomy, woke up with an NG tube, foley catheter and two Jaxton Pratt drains. It was not fun. All the food commercials being NPO made me develop a taste for fast food after my injury. Before that I was never a big fan of fast food or pizza. Life went on after that but my parents both told me my personality dramatically changed. I became a lot quieter. I do remember that the girl who pushed me was one of many who bullied me socially since I was new in school. Before the accident, I never let people seeing me as weird or different phase me. Afterward, I learned that being different not only lead to me being teased and socially ostracized, but badly physically injured. Her need to exert power and control over me because I was different, manifested as a subconsciously driven act of accidental violence. In order to avoid being targeted by social controllers, I thought by being quiet, by not fighting back, I would not be targeted. Subconsciously the childhood physical trauma influenced my response to the hostility in the beginning of residency. At the time, I was not self-aware of it nor could see how that could be detrimental in the long run. The responsibilities of residency itself are a lot to process let alone trying to overcome people’s unjustified disdain when you have already had one life changing experience in childhood.
As we move into the post #metoo era. It is important to make note that diversity goes beyond skin color, sex, orientation, religion, or age. You can have a group of all these different social categories of people all with the same outlook and the same world view. All who conform to the social construct defined by the monetary walls of the medical industrial complex. If your “neurotype” does not fit nor benefit the business model, you can be seen as other, be pathologized, interrogated, ostracized and mobbed. It has happened repeatedly throughout human history as societies have defined and redefined themselves. How money is used in a social construct has a huge impact in what individuals are able to do, what they are able to experience and therefore it shapes the lens through which they see life. As noted in the book, the Giver, there are those few creative people who can still think beyond the walls they are shown, they can see the invisible, they can see the future but in so doing they can be labeled as disordered by those who fear intellectual changes that would reduce their monetary power and influence.
My hope is that in the future we do not have a new diagnosis called “Creative Spectrum Disorder”. Maybe the future of human societies will consist of multiple social Matrices where people of only one “neurotype” exist generating a specific AI and fueled each by different economic structures allowing that given neurotype to thrive. Those AIs are all interconnected, creating an even larger consciousness AI. “God made man in his image” right? “Omniscient, omnipresent and omnipotent.”