One day after we came back, we had to go to the White House for a meeting on oil and the
balance of payments.
And who should be the Undersecretary of the Treasury but my old mentor from Standard Oil
who had explained to me how offshore banking centers worked.
He explained to Herman and me that he told the Saudi Arabians, “You can charge whatever
you want for oil.”
This was right after America quadrupled the price of grain to finance the Vietnam War
in 1972-73, and OPEC responded by quadrupling the price of oil.
The Undersecretary of the Treasury explained to me that they could charge whatever they
wanted for oil.
He knew that the higher they charged, the more the American companies would be able
to charge on domestic oil.
But the Saudis had to recycle all of their dollars into the United States, into Treasury
bonds or the stock market.
“You can’t buy American companies, you can only buy stocks or bonds, and you have to
price your oil in dollars.
If you don’t, we’ll consider that an act of war.”
So here I was right in the middle of understanding how imperialism really worked.
This was not what is in most textbooks.
Most don’t talk about the balance of payments, but the key to financial imperialism is the
balance of payments.
The United States fights to prevent other countries from going back to the gold standard,
because at the time America went off gold in August 1971, every American dollar bill
was backed 25% by gold at $35 an ounce.
Well, finally there was no more surplus gold, and that’s what forced America off gold.
Its price immediately went way up.
As an American citizen, I wasn’t allowed to buy gold.
So I knew it was coming but I couldn’t make any money off it.
Instead I bought Tibetan and Indian art, Asian art primarily.
To make a long story short, I became a financial advisor to the Canadian government as a result
of the stock brokerage work in Montreal.
They said, “We need somebody who knows the American stock and bond market”.
I was at that time the highest paid economist per diem in the United States for financial
So I got a call saying, “They’re going to want to hire you but there’s only one way
in which they can tell how intelligent you are.
Do you know about wine?”
When I grew up at the University of Chicago, the university paid its professors so badly
that to make more money, their ideal was to be a wine steward at the Pump Room, which
was the fancy restaurant in Chicago.
It was featured in the Blues Brothers comedy with John Belushi.
Anyway, I took a sommelier course, got a license, and brought two bottles, one Richebourg and
one La Tâche that I bought in the remainder carton at an uptown store.
I gave them to my host in Ottawa and the government guys said, “That’s the guy we want.”
So I wrote a study that Canada didn’t have to borrow money abroad for the provinces to
They could create their own money.
Basically, what I wrote was the first example of what’s now called Modern Monetary Theory,
that governments can create their own money, their own credit.
They don’t need a foreign-currency backing for it, and so all basically the same circular
flow analysis that I’d developed from my history of thought.
a Physiocratic analysis.
One of the top investment analysts for the Royal Bank decided to become the head of personnel.
He said he thought that it’s a personality problem that economists can’t understand how
the world works, that there’s a particular kind of dumb person that becomes an economist.
It’s a kind of autism, of thinking abstractly without a sense of economic reality.
So he got me an appointment with the Secretary of State of Canada.
In Canada the Secretary of State is in charge of education, films and culture.
So I became Canada’s cultural adviser, which is what I thought was fine all along, and
I wrote a report.
Around that time I also was an economic adviser to the
United Nations Institute for Training and Research, UNITAR, writing their reports on
North/South debt, the foreign debt of third world countries, denominated in dollars, and
how this was deranging their economies.
They had a meeting in Mexico financed by the Mexican president and I was invited down there.
I gave a report saying that there was no way that the third-world debts can be paid.
My first job I worked on at Chase Manhattan was to estimate how much export revenue Argentina,
Brazil and Chile could make.
The idea was that all of their export earnings could enable them to pay interest on money
borrowed from US banks.
The idea was that the entire trade surplus should be pledged as debt service to the American
My job was to think how much that was, and what should Chase’s share be.
So, at the Mexican UNITAR conference, I said that these debts cannot be paid, therefore
they should not be paid, they should be canceled.
There was quite a stir over that.
Well at the end of the conference they had the rapporteurs summarizing the papers.
The US rapporteur said that Dr. Hudson has given a report saying that third-world countries
should export more in order to pay their debts.
I stood up slowly and said, “I must insist that the President of Mexico offer a public
explanation, apology to me and the conference.
This rapporteur has inverted and reversed everything I said.
I believe he has a covert purpose.
I’m pulling out the American delegation and I’m pulling out the Canadian delegation too.
We cannot be a part of this travesty.”
Then I walked out, wondering what’s gonna happen!
The Russian delegate came out laughing and said, “Ah!
You’ve dominated the whole conference.
You’ve made chaos out of it.
You’ve embarrassed the CIA.
This is fantastic.
Here’s my card in New York.”
Later that evening I was told, “You know, they’re looking for you to beat you up.”
Well as it happened an old girlfriend of mine was in a group who were in Mexico for an
They were surrealist artists from Amherst, and they were also doing a surrealist ballet.
So I went to the ballet with them and they said, “Look!
The thugs are there.”
So I hid out with them on the stage in their ballet.
The goons were looking in the audience and I was on the stage and we were all just surrealistic.
Nobody knew how to dance or anything, it was all just surrealistic.
And they, you know, the goons all went home.
I learned that if they can’t find you, they usually give up and leave you alone.
I went back to New York, but I realized that the debt issue was so controversial –
the idea that debt couldn’t be paid.
I spent about a year and I’d got through medieval period, Europe, World War One, and then even
Greece and Rome.
But then I found — it was about 1980, 1981, at that time I sold my house on the Lower
Side and moved into a loft near Wall Street which was very low price there at that time,
(I bought it for $20,000.
Later I sold it for $580,000 but that’s another story), it shows you the real estate in New
York, but at that time nobody wanted to live in lofts, and I wanted a big loft because
I had a big library at that time and a lot of art that I wanted to keep.
So basically I stopped working.
I realized that in the Bible there was the Jubilee Year and there were references to
Sumer and Babylonia and that there was a background of the biblical debt cancellations, almost
the same word for deror in Hebrew is andurarum in Babylonian.
I found that there was all this material and that had never been written in anywhere outside
of the field of assyriology.
There was no economic history of the ancient Near East, no economic history of Sumer and
It was all about religion and some culture, Gilgamesh and all that, but not what I was
most interested in, which was the debt cancellations.
So I wrote a draft of what I could find by 1984.
And one of my friends was the Ice Age archaeologist Alex Marshak.
Although he lived in New York, he was connected to Harvard’s Peabody Museum.
He showed it to the head of the Peabody, Karl Lamberg-Karlovsky, who told me, “This is great!
Nobody else is working on it.”
He appointed me a fellow of the Peabody Museum in Babylonian economic archeology.
I thought, “This is wonderful, this is really what I want to do.”
So I spent the next maybe three years writing the first draft of what became the book that’s
being published in a few months, “… and forgive them their debts”: Credit and Redemption
from Bronze Age Finance to the Jubilee Year.
I submitted it to the University of California Press.
They sent it to scholars to referee, who said that it was impossible that debts could be
Their argument was that if debts were cancelled, who would lend money?
That’s what Rabbi Hillel argued in the Judaic tradition.
I said, “Most debts were not the result of loans.
Most debts were when the crops would fail and the cultivators could not pay the palace
for the fees they’d run up, the rental fees for the land, the fees for the water, for
the draught animals, or the beer lady for the beer that they’d drunk.
So every ruler, when they would take the throne in Sumer and Babylonia, for a thousand years,
would start their rule by cancelling the debts with a clean slate, an amnesty.
It’s the same amnesty of the kind that Egypt’s Rosetta Stone commemorates.
Everybody knows that the Rosetta Stone has trilingual inscriptions of Greek, Egyptian
But few know that it’s a fiscal debt cancellation.
That’s what we call cognitive dissonance, people can’t imagine that the debts were cancelled.
I realized that this was very controversial, and so my Harvard colleague, Karl Lamberg-Karlovsky,
suggested that we hold a series of meetings, and asked me to organize them.
He said that we would hold a colloquium for each controversial chapter of my book.
We decided to have a meeting every two years, and invite every major specialist from early
Sumer, the Neo-Sumerian period, Babylonia, other Near Eastern realms, and Egypt.
Their role was to collect everything they had on whatever the meetings’ topic would
Since I was in New York, I worked with the leading Hebraic linguist Baruch Levine at
I needed someone who was respected in the linguistic field to invite people, because
most Sumerologists, readers of cuneiform, stayed away from economics, because the mainstream
economic idea of how society developed is as if Margaret Thatcher would have created
How would she have done it, or Milton Friedman, or what we call vulgar Marxists who think
that it was the idea that seemed plausible to Engels when he wrote The Origin of the
Family, Private Property and the State.
That’s not how early history actually occurred.
So the Sumerologists wouldn’t talk to economists.
But because I was now an archaeologist with Harvard in the anthropology department, they
agreed to come to the conference.
The first meeting, in 1994, was on privatization in the ancient Near East and classical antiquity.
Harvard published that.
Two years later, we moved on to the second volume, which was on land use and real estate
ownership: How did property ownership come into being.
Then, we had planned from the very beginning for the third colloquium volume.
That was on debt and economic renewal in the ancient Near East.
I asked for everything that people could find about debt cancellations.
We found that these occurred all the way through the first millennium.
Herodotus talked about debt cancellations in Babylonia.
It was a tradition remaining in the Near East for new rulers taking the throne to cancel
agrarian debts, to start their reign with the economy in balance.
Already in Hammurabi’s time 1750 BC, scribes would calculate the growth of compound interest,
and at that time it was 20% interest.
This growth diagram is the same exponential chart that I’d drawn up in the savings banks
in the 1960s to trace the growth of American debt.
So they were quite aware of the fact that debts couldn’t be paid and that, if you
insisted on them be paid, you would have debtors falling into bondage.
So they freed the bond servants, or for debtors had sold their means of self-support, the
land, they returned the land that had been sold under economic distress.
The word “distress” means the collateral that you’ve pledged to a creditor.
It’s an Irish term basically.
So we published that volume.
By that time I’d got the people Baruch and Karl and I had invited – the leaders of
their fields – agreeing with my interpretation.
We then followed it up with another meeting at the British Museum on the origins of money
and accounting, and the idea that money was created not for barter, not for trade in goods
and services, but to denominate debts.
If a cultivator owed a debt, how did he get money?
So we did the history of money.
Then, the one thing we hadn’t done finally was the origins of labor and what it was paid.
That took ten years to complete, and we found that the origins of labor was organized basically
in the palace economy, the palaces and temples.
The main use of such organized labor from the Neolithic and Bronze Age to classical
antiquity was to fight in the army and to work as corvée labor to build public infrastructure.
So how do you get a supply of labor?
You assign it land tenure.
Land rights were created to assign families enough to support themselves so that they
could perform corvée labor and fight in the army.
So taxes came first, then came land tenure, based on what labor you had to supply.
Attempts to substitute someone to work on the corvée became the basis for paying labor.
So all of the payments came from what today would be called the public sector.
That’s not really a very good term.
It was really the palatial sector, the palace and the temples, as opposed to the community-based
family on the land.
So we had a new analysis of the origins of property, not just individuals grabbing,
as Engels had thought.
Property was created by the public sector, by the palaces, as assignment of land as needed.
How much land area is needed in order to supply the labor for the public infrastructure, corvée
work and service in the army?
This was the reverse of what’s taught in economic textbooks today, which is, as I said, how
Margaret Thatcher and right-wingers and Donald Trump would have designed an economy if they
went back in a time machine.
So after organizing and editing these five volumes, I’m now writing my own popular version,
starting with a history of debt.
Then will come Temples of Enterprise, a series of books on classical antiquity.
I’m now following up with Greece and Rome.
Throughout early Greece and Rome, the main fight was between creditors and debtors.
Creditors ended up grabbing the land.
The same fight occurred all the way down through the Byzantine Empire.
The most divisive tension throughout history, from 3rd-millennium Sumer to 2nd-millennium
Babylonia to the 9th and 10th century in the Byzantine Empire is between the palace wanting
to collect taxes and have labor for the army, and creditors wanting this land and labor
This way of getting the economic surplus is not the way that Marx described it as being
obtained under capitalism, by employing labor to produce goods to sell at a profit.
It was by debt and taking interest in ultimately foreclosing in land, which was the real objective.
In the 9th century there was a big
fight against strong royal power.
It was sort of like Donald Trump and the Tea Party Republicans are fighting against the
state, like the privatization in the Soviet Union fighting against the state.
The Byzantine emperor invited general Bardas to a big meal.
The general said, “There’s only one thing that you should do if you want to end the
You have to tax the wealthy families so that they don’t have any surplus at all.
You have to give them so much burden that they can’t fight against you.
You have to prevent the polarization of wealth, because if you let the private sector make
an enormous amount of wealth, they’re going to try to fight against you and keep all the
wealth for themselves that you and the palace are now getting.”
This idea was expressed all the way back in the 7th century 6th century BC with Thrasybulus
and Periander of Corinth.
When Thrasybulus took Periander’s herald to a field of grain and said, “Here’s what you
The land was a field of grain and he took a scythe and he cut off the tops, to make
all the grain of equal height.
So Periander went back and exiled the wealthy families, seized their property.
There was probably a bit of fighting there, and that is basically the fight throughout
So that’s what I’ve been working on for the last 20 years.
Question: How did you take up the interest in Chinese economy?
Hudson: As Samir Amin said at the meeting yesterday, China is the economy that is trying
to be the exception to the Western economic model.
That model is forcing a choice between civilization and barbarism.
The West is moving rapidly into economic barbarism and militarism.
As you can see, the austerity program of the Euro is destroying the economy there.
The United States is cutting taxes on the rich, while indebting the working class very
The one country that is independent and not taking the advice of the World Bank and the
International Monetary Fund is China.
So we’re hoping to do what we can to make the Chinese economy successfully resistant.
What that means is how is China going to handle its real estate, how is it going to handle
its debt, how is it going to handle its tax system.
What I’m trying to do is what David Harvey was trying to do in the speech he gave yesterday:
getting Chinese Marxists to read volume 2 and especially volume 3 of Capital, where
Marx discusses the dynamics of finance.
Marxism is much more than volume 1 of Capital.
You have to read volumes 2 and 3, and especially the elaboration that Marx wrote in the drafts
that he left for volumes 2 and 3, his Theories of Surplus Value where he discusses the history
of economic thought leading up to him.
You realize how Marx was the last great economist in the classical tradition.
He showed that capitalism itself is revolutionary, capitalism itself is driving forward, and
of course he expected it to lead toward socialism, as indeed it seemed to be doing in the nineteenth
But it’s not working out that way.
Everything changed in World War One.
Afterward you had an anti-classical economics, which really was an anti-Marxist economics.
The fight for marginalist theory, for Austrian theory, the fight for junk economics that
we have today, is basically a fight against Marxism, because Marx showed the logical conclusion
to which the Physiocrats, Adam Smith, John Stuart Mill, Ricardo and Malthus, the conclusion
it was all leading was the synthesis that he made.
It was later developed by people like Thorstein Veblen and Simon Patten in the United States.
So I’m hoping that I can contribute what I can to help China’s economy to avoid the financialization
process and dynamic that is destroying the West.
Explaining Autism is not always easy. This is a question that we all grapple with from time to time. In this video I’ve included a 4-step guide to walking someone through the journey from having no idea, to developing and understanding of autism in general, and most importantly, autism as it applies to your specific situation.
Professor Tony Attwood believes the “out of the box” thought processes of people on the autism spectrum will solve the world’s big problems. He is credited with being the first clinical psychologist to present Asperger’s syndrome not as something to be “fixed ” but as a gift, evidenced in many of the great inventors and artists throughout history.
But while Professor Attwood has reached the top of his field, he reveals in this episode of Australian Story the personal cost of a missed diagnosis in his own family. Early in his career, he didn’t see the signs of Asperger’s in his son Will. The consequences were devastating for everyone.
First Symposium of the Evolutionary Psychiatry Special Interest Group of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, Oct 4th 2016 in London.
Lecture by Professor Simon Baron-Cohen from Cambridge University Autism Research Centre.
Presentation available here:
Evolutionary Psychiatry Special Interest Group (EPSIG) of Royal College of Psychiatrists, UK:
with with Asperger’s syndrome age 12
outperform typical 12 year olds in
solving these kinds of mechanical
reasoning problems suggesting that
despite their social difficulties in
certain aspects of the environment their
understanding is actually precocious so
I’m located at Cambridge
so opportunistically we decided to look
at the rate of autism amongst the math
students at Cambridge University so we
just asked them that very straight
question do you have autism and you see
you see the results show a much higher
rate of diagnosed autism in students at
I would say this a very good University
in the field of mathematics compared to
the humanities so again reinforcing this
idea that there might be a link between
a lot of autistic traits or even a
clinical diagnosis of autism and talent
at understanding systems including
mathematics and again just taking
advantage if you like of students thing
on the doorstep we gave the aq that
measure of autistic traits to students
working in Sciences or in the humanities
finding that the scientists didn’t have
a higher rate of autism they just had
more autistic traits compared to those
working in the humanities so again those
individuals who are attracted by the
more predictable world that can be
systemized which is what we do in
science where we try to understand
lawful relationships between variables
might end up in science it may have
higher number of autistic traits than
those who can deal with the less lawful
world of people the unpredictability of
people and the way we write about people
for example in literature where this
link comes from between autism and
scientific talent is likely to be
genetic because years ago we looked at
the occupations of fathers of children
with autism just asking them about where
they work and finding a disproportionate
number of fathers of children with
autism work in the field of engineering
compared to fathers of typically
developing children obviously
engineering is a very good case of where
you need to be good at understanding
systems but to get the job you may not
have been selected on the basis of your
social skills more your understanding of
how things work so looking back where
there’s a child with autism in the
family at the genetics if you like
what’s been positively selected perhaps
in evolutionary terms is not autism
absent aptitude for understanding
systems which would be an advantage in
fields where you’re either building a
system like engineering or trying to
understand the system we found the same
pattern amongst the grandfathers of
children with autism on both sides of
the family so this led to the prediction
is autism more common in places like
Silicon Valley so Silicon Valley
obviously obviously been attracting
people who have an aptitude for systems
for quite a few years and they moved
there and they work there and they
potentially start a family there and
have children so if there’s a genetic
link between scientific aptitude or
technical intelligence and risk of
autism in the offspring we should see it
in places like Silicon Valley so Silicon
Valley is quite a long way away from
London so we went to a Silicon Valley a
bit closer to home in the Netherlands
and looked particularly at the city of
Eindhoven Eindhoven has got the
Eindhoven Institute of Technology a bit
like MIT it’s also had the Philips
Factory there for over a hundred years
attracting people to go and work there
in the fields of electronics and more
recently IT so that now a third of jobs
in Eindhoven are in the IT sector
we compared the rate of autism in
Eindhoven to to other Dutch cities
Utrecht and Harlem selected because
there are a similar size and similar
demographic and found that the rate of
autism in Eindhoven was more than twice
as high as in those two other Dutch
cities this was based on school records
contacting every school in each of these
three cities to ask them for the number
of kids who already have a diagnosis of
autism we don’t know much about the
parents this was a school-based study
where the inference is that this may be
something to do with the parents
occupations so and to try to make sense
of all of the data that I’ve shown you
this afternoon and to try and make it
more relevant to an evolutionary
perspective I just want to mention
the model that was mentioned at the
introduction this empathy systemising
model the idea is that in the population
in the general population these are two
dimensions along which we see individual
differences so along the y-axis we’ve
got empathy and if you’re at zero it
means you’re absolutely average for the
population as you go up the y-axis
you’re above average at empathy or the
ability to read other people’s thoughts
and feelings but also respond emotion
with an appropriate emotion if you’re
below zero it means you’ve got
difficulties in that domain and on the
x-axis we’ve got systemising the ability
to UM like to understand a system but
also build a system by identifying the
rules that govern the system and so you
can predict how the system works again
towards the right so the positive values
you’re above average on systemizing and
over to the left you’re below average
the idea is that we all fall somewhere
in this space these two dimensions what
we found in our research is that in the
dark blue quadrant up at the top left
more women in the population fall in
that area where they’ve got
above-average empathy but there
systemising could be anywhere from
average through to below average
sorry that’s in the light blue part of
the graph in the white part of the graph
are individuals who are equally good at
systemising or empathy so they may be
equally talented or equally challenged
but they don’t show much of just of a
discrepancy in their aptitudes or
abilities in both areas the pink area is
where most men on average fall in the
population where their systemising is at
a slightly higher level than their
empathy and what we were predicting is
that people with autism would fall in
the bottom right hand quadrant that dark
red zone where their systemising may be
anywhere from average to
above average but their empathy would be
less than minus one so in the below
average range which is often the trigger
for needing a diagnosis that they’re
struggling with relationships so that
was the model and what we did was we
went out into the population we gave
people these two questionnaires the
empathy quotient which measures your
empathy the systemising quotient which
measures your systemizing and just sort
of helping you read the data here in
yellow are females in the population and
you might be able to see them clustering
in the top left-hand quadrant of the
graph in green are males in the
population where you might see them
clustering more in the center and in
purple and red are males and females
with autism who you might be able to see
clustering in the lower right-hand
quadrant so each data point here is an
individual and and of course all we can
do is look at groups males females
people with autism on average because
individuals may be typical or atypical
for their group so you know we can see
we can see a little green dot up here of
a man who’s well up in the female range
on his empathy and we can see you know a
woman all the way down here who’s in the
so-called autistic range so individuals
may not fit the trends for their groups
well we can talk about is statistical
averages but if we do account for these
different brain types and this is my
last slide so we can leave time for
discussion this is what we find that if
we look at individuals whose empathy is
at a higher level than their systemising
we find more women than men in that have
that profile if we look at the opposite
profile individuals whose systemising is
at a higher level than their empathy
this is percentages we find more
men than women show that cognitive
profile and if we look at it at it at an
extreme of this one so systemizing is
either intact or above-average but
empathy is below average well this is
where we find the majority of people
with autism or Asperger’s syndrome so
the data and are in line with the
directions predicted by the model but
really the reason for leaving this up as
my final slide is to show that diversity
that exists in the population we all
fall in one or other of these five brain
types if you like defined in cognitive
terms although increasingly we’re
starting to map their neural substrate
and the both environmental and
biological determinants of these
different brain types but we might well
imagine that natural selection has
favored one type of brain over another
for different kinds of evolutionary
niches over thousands hundreds of
thousands of years or millions of years
in primate evolution some of which fall
out along and sex differences but
actually are nothing to do with your sex
because it turns out that prenatal
hormones and genes play a much bigger
role than your actual sex and that
people with autism may just be showing
an extreme of the variation that we see
in the population selected potentially
for their bare talents being very good
at spotting patterns being very good at
innovation at understanding new machines
or new tools that will help us even if
they find the social world more
challenging so I’m going to stop there
thank our funders and particularly the
autism research trust that supports our
work and we can open it up for
discussion thank you
Thank You Simon I’m sure there’d be
quite a number of questions but could I
just ask you a flea I’ve had reason to
work with large numbers of transgender
patients over the years and what the
observations I have is that there are
certainly some trans women who will say
you know I always socialized with women
and the reason I liked doing that was
that they didn’t just kind of thump and
kick each other they talk to each other
at school for example and it was a safer
and better place to be
which seems fine and fixed with the
model as it were there another group of
people though who appear to describe a
kind of subject to change when they
start to take when they begin estrogen
hormone treatment and I got a very vivid
recollection of one patient in
particular who talked about you know the
sort of revelatory experience of being
amongst the girls and finally feeling at
home as it were which was very striking
at the time I’m not aware of that should
be but not aware of literature looking
specifically at that group of people and
particularly at hormone exposure for
transgender patients so I just wonder if
you’ve got any knowledge of that area to
comment on or just a brief comment and
which is that the and the the area of
research of autism and gender is just
beginning to open up and including
transgender so we’re now becoming a bit
more aware that instead of asking people
for their sex and giving them a binary
choice male or female we need to be a
bit more sort of fluid because a lot of
people with autism don’t want to
identify as either male or female and
they prefer to tick the other box and
that increasingly a lot of people with
autism are identifying as either
transgender or discussing how their
gender doesn’t fit neatly into
traditional categories so whether
there’s a hormonal element to this or
some other factor but there’s this is a
new area of research certainly evident
for hire and expected number of trans
male patients with autistic traits and
that would certainly be our clinical
experience and okay so you have the
furry microphone somewhere pause can I
ask a question please do engineers that
marry have as many children as others
two engineers marry and have as many
children yes because the evolutionary
theory yeah would be about reproduction
Shawn so presumably people with autistic
traits it does an evolutionary advantage
some would have as many children not
less because it’s difficult to explain
autism in evolutionary terms yeah if it
decreases Fitness sure and so I don’t
know the data on fertility fertility
rates amongst engineers versus other
groups and the population maybe other
someone else does and but you know if
you think again about um for the
fertility in relation to resources an
engineer could be someone who ends up
with considerable resources if they have
the skills and the tools that other
people need in the community
so if engineering skill is related to
resources we know that you know there is
a connection between wealth economic
status and fertility rates that may
explain the persistence of the range
Jeanne’s yeah I mean the puzzle always
was that you know back in the old days
the kind of autism we saw in the clinic
we couldn’t really imagine this person
ever growing up to have a relationship
let alone an intimate relationship that
might result in children so why were the
genes for autism persisting in the gene
now we’ve broadened autism into a
spectrum and we can look at Asperger
syndrome and we see what’s called the
broader phenotype amongst the parents of
children with autism which might include
skills in engineering or in technical
intelligence we can see that actually
there’s plenty of scope for these
individuals not only having married and
had children so passing on their genes
but maybe even being selected positively
selected by a mate for those positive
traits well Bill Gates is a really
interesting example so everyone
speculates that he’s got autism he
resists the idea so anytime a journalist
a journalist tries to sort of thrust a
microphone into his into his face and
say you know mr. gates do you have
autism Lord and it kind of they’re sort
of a blunt way that journalists
sometimes do he gets sort of irritated
but those people who’ve worked with
games a sort of report that actually
he’s got a lot of those behaviors and
he’s done quite well yeah what are you
thoughts about the contention that
represents a slow life history strategy
or is associated with a slow life
history strategy and that their
reproductive success or niche is with a
state of intense monogamy and long term
relationships and investment in a single
relationship as opposed to psychosis
which is claimed to be a fast life
history strategy and that I mean there
has been this research and these claims
I don’t know what your thoughts are
about that yeah I don’t I don’t know
that research but I mean it makes sense
the way you’re describing it slow life
and fast life certainly there’s quite a
lot of data that’s
accumulating showing that fathers of
children with autism tend to marry late
so maybe that fits in with the slow life
is that right and you know it’s been
kind of open to interpretation as to why
that’s the case and some people suggest
well that could just be because their
social skills are not as great they’ve
got some of the genes for autism because
we see it coming out in the next
generation so maybe they’ve just taken
longer to find a partner because of
reduced social skills but I mean you
know I guess you’re talking about slow
life and fast life trajectories which
may not be sort of under the within the
awareness of the individual these are
just sure but it’s very interesting from
one Simon to another I’m Simon Forester
from red car and yet I’m a child
psychiatrist so I’m fascinated by autism
I heard you talk 20 years ago and you’re
just as accessible and entertaining as
you were then so it’s great to hear you
again what I’m wondering is did the
extent of genetic or the the extent that
the genes are distributed amongst the
chromosomes doesn’t that suggest that
autism is very old it’s been with us for
a long time have you got any thoughts on
that and that might be one implication
and so you know the one one view about
the genetics of autism is that it’s not
about disease two genes or you know
mutations rare mutations although there
are rare mutations that can give rise to
so-called syndromic autism but autism
may also be the result of common
variants in the population and that
these common variants may be distributed
in you know right across the genome
each of these common variants may be
contributing very small effects so it
may be combinations of particular
variants that are not disease genes they
just contribute in different ways to
two skills whether its language or
whether its mechanical skills or or any
other now you’re sort of suggesting that
because we see those dots right across
all 23 pairs of chromosomes that that
means it’s very old another view might
be that actually the epigenetic factors
are more important that actually maybe
the Apple genetic factors cannot can
influence a lot of gene expression and
that when we pick up genetic findings
we’re kind of we’re not looking at the
epigenome so there’s different ways of
interpreting it and I just think that
the first person that picked up a
burning stick or a bit of half half
burnt flesh from a thunder and lightning
storm and thought this is tasty
maybe we can reproduce this effect
ourselves were they systematizes sure
well I mean I think I think you’re sort
of raising the question about and about
when an evolution did some of some of
these very human attributes first emerge
and I think if you look at the evidence
from tools for example the fossil
evidence from tools in evolution you’d
probably go back at least 70,000 years
in terms of when tool-making already
took off and where you can see the
evidence of a very systematic mind at
varying their tools which you didn’t
really see much before 70,000 years ago
spiritualness I make cansado adult
psychiatrist I’ve been and I have been
seeing people with autistic spectrum in
the clinics over the years and one of
the things that they impressed me it was
in the what I had in my mind the
difference between Asperger’s and autism
and that the autistic people they did
not want to be with people where the
Asperger’s wanted to be with people and
it seems that that that has it’s as if
it’s not so much important but it for me
in the clinical practice and especially
how you can deal with the people you
know a huge amount of difference yeah
sure I mean it’s not an binary that you
either want to be with people or don’t
want to it’s probably about the kind of
dose of social interaction that each of
us enjoys so some of us enjoy seeing a
friend once a week other people need to
see a friend once a day you know so
there’s an individual differences in
social motivation and social behavior
and and you know whether it’s a kind of
discriminated between autism and
Asperger’s I’m not sure because even
within the group called Asperger’s you
see quite a variation that some people
are very content just being solitary and
they actually sleep during the day
they’re awake at night because then
they’re not they’re not having to have
any social contact and others you know
do want the social contact but don’t
have the social skills to know how to
have those relationships and so feel
very lonely and isolated so I think
there’s kind of this individual
difference is even within Asperger’s
syndrome do you ever feel that events
will a pre-submission a predisposition
to autism to a more florid form and if
so what sort of in a bed I see and so I
think of the word florid as the word
that sort of adult psychiatrists use in
relation to psychosis you know that kind
of uni you suddenly see all the symptoms
you know blossoming whereas in autism I
don’t know that we kind of really think
about the manifestation of symptoms in
this kind of Florida way I think it’s
much more sort of and that if you look
back you can see a particular pattern of
behavior that was there right from the
earliest point so in I work in a clinic
NHS clinic for adults with suspected
Asperger’s syndrome but we ask the
parents to come along with their 40 year
old son so that we can get a
developmental history of was the pattern
of behavior there even
at primary school and so it’s not so
much this kind of Florida explosion of
symptoms where there’s a trigger it’s
more that actually right from the
earliest point this was a child who
didn’t really socialize in the same way
they were more focused on objects than
on people maybe they didn’t need a
diagnosis in primary school or even
secondary school because they somehow
sort of managed in primary school maybe
they were focused on their academic work
didn’t really mix with kids in the
playground in secondary school we often
see a kind of more difficult picture
where suddenly the adolescent teenage
group is much more demanding of you know
and if you don’t have social skills it’s
much harder to navigate that so a lot of
the kids get their diagnosis for the
first time in secondary school but some
of them have managed to get through till
they leave home and they go to college
and then they need their diagnosis or
when they are not functioning well at
work so in midlife so it’s not about
particular triggers it’s about what you
know what niche they’re in who’s
protecting them whether it’s their
family up until a certain point who’s
concerned about the child or the
individual and at what point do they –
they’re symptoms they’re autistic traits
start to interfere with their where
they’ve been one point I was told as a
student that a number of children became
autistic when their fathers came back
from the war right and you the
association between mother and child was
interrupted right so I would say that
probably theories of autism have changed
a little bit I mean we used to have all
sorts of theories about autism to do
with how the mothers were cold and
unemotional or maybe over involved with
the child and you know so I can imagine
this kind of event of the father coming
back from war might have fitted in to
certain kinds of theories of autism but
I think nowadays we kind of understand
autism as this biomechanical
neurodevelopmental condition which I’ve
hoped I’ve shown is is just a different
pattern of the relative sort of focus
that the the individual has on the
social world versus the non social world
and that sort of events that might
happen in the child’s life about whether
the father is absent or present as
they’re probably less important than the
genetic predisposition and there are
there must be environmental factors but
we’re not very good at identifying what
those are yet I guess if dad comes home
with PTSD imitates takes to whisky a big
wave starts knocking mum around that
might have an impact on the social scale
well but for a fairly child
yeah that’s right it may be a creation
of show phenotypes as yeah yeah that’s
just a it’s a good question I think on
the David guinea retired psychiatrist
could I ask you a little bit about the
group at the other end of the spectrum
that is individuals who are very high
empathize yes and low in system
what are they what is this group like Oh
clinically so I see well the word
clinically is probably the most
important word here because they may not
come to clinics so these people have got
very good empathy so we might infer that
they’ve got good social network and good
relationships friends and you know
community so actually there may be
protected from needing to go to a clinic
it’s probably the people who have below
average empathy who struggle with
relationships who might then develop
secondary depression because they’re
isolated who end up coming to clinical
attention so the people up at the top
left-hand quadrant with super empathy
maybe doing just fine we don’t know too
much about them we know that they exist
because you can see them there we can
see more yellow dots so there’s more
females but you can see the odd green
dot and we know also that they may
struggle with systems so maybe at school
they didn’t enjoy mathematics or the
Natural Sciences and went for other
kinds of subjects and that when the
computer goes wrong they just phone the
helpdesk so you know I don’t think that
these individuals would necessarily have
problems they just are part of the
variety we see in the population I
suppose I was wondering whether they
were the group that one does see from
time to time people who are do seemed
deeply empathic but really very
disorganized and that the sort of term
I’m not sure this at all PC the term
that springs to mind is scatty
and just not a clinical diagnosis which
is them okay it’s a it’s a non clinical
term but its description of what of how
a person may be like that and I’m here
I’m thinking wow how that fits into the
evolutionary picture right if you think
that is that could characterize what
that sort of person might be like right
so as I say we don’t we don’t there
hasn’t been much research into the
people who are at the opposite end of
autism so we know a lot about people
with autism because they come to
clinical attention and then they make it
into research studies the group at the
other end of that dimension if we think
of the diagonal we know less about maybe
they’ve got sort of executive type
problems and in being very systematic
and organizing things but I think that
may be a bit too simplistic because
people with autism can also have those
executive type organizing difficulties
and we just say no but I think it’d be
good to have more research into that
I just wonder whether those of us who
might ask you that question have tend to
be male I just got to two daughters both
of gone through adolescence that I’ve
seen both shockingly empathic and I
found it very difficult to comprehend at
times women we’re sort of a coffee time
I think really I’m necessarily really
pressing questions so so I think first
of all just to thank you very much for a
really enlightening and beautifully
flowing presentation which i think is
just you know been excellent for us as
clinicians and and to think about in
terms of the evolutionary background to
these conditions choosing my words
carefully there so thank you very much
that it will go and one of the things
we’re trying to say is
it will go okay don’t know when don’t
know how but it will go the sooner the
better and when it’s over we’ll do
something fun together because one of
the characteristics of autism is a
depression attack it’s an absolute
deluge of negative emotion no I on
YouTube there is an excellent series of
videos by Maya today she calls herself
the an mish Maya is from Copenhagen in
Denmark and she has Asperger’s and the
thing is from the age of seven she would
have episodic depression suicide attacks
what’s the point of life I’m gonna hold
my breath till I die
but anyway the seeds were there from
now she developed a remarkable concept
that I am now using and encouraging
called energy accounting this was
designed for adults but can also be used
for teenagers and the idea in energy
accounting is that you have in your day
the concept of that energy bank account
that sometimes events will occur or
people that you meet will drain you of
energy and in that draining of energy
you are going to become energy depleted
so there are energy withdrawals and
energy deposits there are things that
will energize you it can be mr. kitty
your cat mr. kitty mr. kitty is probably
one of your fastest Energizer’s and just
being in his mere presence is enough in
knowing he exists it’s enough okay so
what we do is go through what may be
potential energy withdrawals and
deposits this is the cheat sheet these
are the things that we found that
withdraw energy deplete you socializing
yes the person with autism can socialize
can be the life and soul of the party
absolutely fantastic but tomorrow social
migrate under the covers in the cupboard
that’s it I’m gonna pay for this it was
so good coping with change even if it’s
to a preferred activity too many changes
I have to use a lot of mental energy to
recalibrate my mind to the same
situation and if my main way of
is to have a huge and rich memory store
of social events that I can use to
imitate and become the person in that
situation if I’ve never seen that
situation before if it’s totally new I
have no idea what my role and script
will be making a mistake sensory
sensitivity daily living skills can
drain you with energy one of the major
ways of energy draining is coping with
anxiety and for the kids they use so
much energy coping with anxiety at
school there’s no energy left for the
schoolwork there can be overanalyzing
social performance analysis to paralysis
specially inhibiting sleep sensitivity
to other people’s moods being teased or
excluded crowds yeah
you don’t have to interact with people
it’s just lots of people around
government agencies Centrelink yeah yeah
body shape it can be perceived injustice
and there’s a psychologist I say there
is astronomical psychology and some
people are emotional black holes they
suck away all your energy you are just
with a cap and it’s gone and it never
comes back they suck away your energy
keep away from them okay what are the
deposits solitude but it takes time
special interest is your fastest energy
restorative physical activity animals
and nature computer games meditation
caring for others yes it can be
nutrition get rid of junk food sleep
reading Harry Potter books by thought I
want to put that in because it’s one my
mental health vacation day that okay are
gonna take a day off because I’m got the
energy to cope information on the
being with pets and certain people are
the Sun they have that ability to
totally energize you
so in energy accounting we have a
currency a numerical value how much an
activity is draining or refreshing from
day to day with an energy range from one
to a hundred so on Sundays you may get
socializing are totaling was the cake
today was a twenty ah today nine no
hundred today was a hundred so what
you’re trying to do is balance the books
between energy depletion and energy
restoration so we add a numerical value
of debits or credits and if needed must
shed your more energy infusing
activities into the next day or week so
we fight autism with autism
we’re pedantic and we have lists so this
is the list of withdrawals and deposits
so you may have on the Left column what
is it that drains you of energy okay add
it up twenty forty sixty eighty twenty
total 360 what we’re today’s deposits
twenty twenty thirty forty total to
forty oh dear you can cope without for a
while but as you are sinking your reach
a tipping point and you’ll just go
straight down into a depression this is
an illustration it’s a teenage girl
Ellen she’s I think fifteen at this
stage these are the things that debit
her account being late to school ten to
forty when I asked the guys why because
everyone’s looking at you that’s what
drains me of energy crowds twenty to
sixty now mom being cranky when I think
mom’s upset with me when she’s snappy
thirty to a hundred now when we analyzed
it further mom can be cranky with her
ass be brother but it’s nothing to do
with her but the mere fact that mom’s
cranky infects a a huge degree teachers
being snappy pre
instead of tension 10 to 30 friends not
being nice to each other 20 to 30 this
was important friends own problems 20 to
90 Wow okay then a few other things
their team sport 30 to 40 okay what tops
her up TV programs star kids Harry
Doctor Who Sherlock and Tolkien I like
those because they can be great
restoratives reading alone 30 to 40
dancing freestyle gets home from school
goes into a bedroom locks the door so
our brother can’t get in cranks up the
high five dances freestyle thirty to
fifty but down there is talking to boys
10 to 30 girls drain me boys infuse me
very important other components we’re
aware of can be substance abuse for
teenagers and adults because if you
don’t manage your emotions in an
effective way you may discover there are
alternative ways with alcohol and
marijuana now sometimes that substance
abuse is yes for emotion management it’s
to engage reality to make you relaxed in
a social setting but then you don’t do
things by half or to escape reality of a
bubble of numbness and I don’t care so
alcohol and marijuana is freely
available in modern society it’s a
social lubricant it reduces social
anxiety but you also then become in a
member of a group with clear rules dress
language codes of conduct and it’s a
relaxant so please emotion regulation
and management is important because if
you don’t they may discover ways of
achieving it that we do not recommend
also there can be a high level of
anorexia nervosa and ASD research
suggests that actually about one in four
of those in eating disorder clinics have
signs of an autism spectrum disorder
it’s not always the disorder of body
image it can be issues of fascination
with an association with diet exercise
food rituals to prevent
feelings of being out of control or to
eliminate disabling anxiety or a special
interest in nutrition and calories which
means that any psychotherapy that is for
gender dysphoria that anything that may
be helping in terms of eating disorders
borderline cover must be adjusted for
the autistic mindset otherwise it’s
going to cause a huge amount of problems
now this slide was put in Jeannette
before you decided to change your name
to Yin but does that webpage still work
she does that for me too okay and
talking about cooking away barb cook
spectrum women calm a place to go to be
part of the tribe and understand each
other another one of course is yellow
ladybugs we promote this as best we can
because it’s the best it really is good
it’s amazing now the National Autistic
Society in London have a free course on
girls and women on the autism spectrum
free until March then you pay for it but
if you want to download especially as a
professional also one of the topics that
Yin mentioned is clinicians knowledge of
autism but especially girls and women
now Michelle and I are doing a master
class in children and teenagers with ASD
in diagnosis and treatment will be
returning to Melbourne and we’ll be
there on Thursday and Friday the 17th
and 18th of October and I think we have
some fliers there but also you may be
interested that the day after the
Saturday we’re doing a whole day on
girls and women in great detail so I
think a look at the timing of that
okay thank you
In this empowering lecture, Professor Tony Attwood discusses the defining characteristics of ‘Aspies’ – people with Asperger’s Syndrome – and how these change from early childhood to the adult years and vary according to gender. Professor Attwood challenges you to imagine life through the eyes of an Aspie, and recognise the invaluable and unique contribution they make to society and intellectual development.