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Aspergers Syndrome

What famous people have Asperger's Syndrome?

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March 24, 2011 11:23AM

Most of the people on the following list are speculated to have Asperger's Syndrome, rather than being confirmed cases of Asperger's Syndrome. Asperger's Syndrome was not included in the World Health Organization's diagnostic manual until 1991, and not in the American Psychiatric Association's manual until 1994. Also, for a number of the people on this list, there are other characteristics evidenced by the people listed that would suggest that they did not have Asperger's Syndrome.

Historical people from earlier periods (died before 1975)

  • Jane Austen, 1775-1817, English novelist, author of Pride and Prejudice
  • Béla Bartók, 1881-1945, Hungarian composer
  • Bobby Fischer, 1943-2008, World Chess Champion
  • Michelangelo, 1475 1564 - Italian Renissance artist
  • Erik Satie, 1866-1925 - Composer
  • Ludwig van Beethoven, 1770-1827, German/Viennese composer
  • Alexander Graham Bell, 1847-1922, Scottish/Canadian/American inventor of the telephone
  • Anton Bruckner , 1824-1896, Austrian composer
  • Henry Cavendish, 1731-1810, English/French scientist, discovered the composition of air and water
  • Emily Dickinson, 1830-1886, US poet
  • Thomas Edison, 1847-1931, US inventor
  • Albert Einstein, 1879-1955, German/American theoretical physicist
  • Seth Engstrom, 1987-Present, Magician and World Champion
  • Henry Ford, 1863-1947, US industrialist
  • Benjamin Franklin,1706-1790, US polictician/writer
  • Kaspar Hauser, c1812-1833, German foundling, portrayed in a film by Werner Herzog
  • Oliver Heaviside, 1850-1925, English physicist
  • Thomas Jefferson, 1743-1826, US politician
  • Carl Jung, 1875-1961, Swiss psychoanalyst
  • Franz Kafka, 1883-1924, Czech writer
  • Wasily Kandinsky, 1866-1944, Russian/French painter
  • Abraham Lincoln,1809-1865, US Politician
  • H P Lovecraft, 1890-1937, US writer
  • Ludwig II, 1845-1886, King of Bavaria
  • Charles Rennie Mackintosh, 1868-1928, Scottish architect and designer
  • Gustav Mahler, 1860-1911, Czech/Austrian composer
  • Marilyn Monroe, 1926-1962, US actress
  • Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, 1756-1791, Austrian composer
  • Isaac Newton, 1642-1727, English mathematician and physicist
  • Friedrich Nietzsche, 1844-1900, German philosopher
  • Bertrand Russell, 1872-1970, British logician
  • George Bernard Shaw, 1856-1950, Irish playwright, writer of Pygmalion, critic and Socialist
  • Richard Strauss, 1864-1949, German composer
  • Nikola Tesla, 1856-1943, Serbian/American scientist, engineer, inventor of electric motors
  • Henry Thoreau, 1817-1862, US writer
  • Alan Turing, 1912-1954, English mathematician, computer scientist and cryptographer
  • Mark Twain, 1835-1910, US humorist
  • Vincent Van Gogh, 1853-1890, Dutch painter
  • George Washington, 1732-1799, US Politician
  • Ludwig Wittgenstein, 1889-1951, Viennese/English logician and philosopher
  • Virginia Woolf, 1882-1941, English Writer

Historical people prominent in the late twentieth century (died after 1975)

  • Isaac Asimov, 1920-1992, Russian/US writer on science and of science fiction, author of Bicentennial Man
  • Hans Asperger, 1906-1980, Austrian paediatric doctor after whom Asperger's Syndrom is named
  • John Denver, 1943-1997, US musician
  • Glenn Gould, 1932-1982, Canadian pianist
  • Jim Henson, 1936-1990, creator of the Muppets, US puppeteer, writer, producer, director, composer
  • Alfred Hitchcock, 1899-1980, English/American film director
  • Howard Hughes, 1905-1976, US billionaire
  • Andy Kaufman, 1949-1984, US comedian, subject of the film Man on the Moon
  • L S Lowry, 1887-1976, English painter of "matchstick men"
  • Charles Schulz, 1922-2000, US cartoonist and creator of Peanuts and Charlie Brown
  • Andy Warhol, 1928-1987, US artist

Contemporary famous people

  • Tony Benn, 1925-, English Labour politician
  • Pip Brown "Ladyhawke", 1979-, New Zealand Singer/Songwriter, Musician
  • Charles Dickinson, 1951, US Writer
  • Bob Dylan, 1941-, US singer-songwriter
  • Joseph Erber, 1985-, young English composer/musician who has Asperger's Syndrome, subject of a BBC TV documentary
  • Bill Gates, 1955-, US global monopolist
  • Genie, 1957-?, US "wild child" (see also L'Enfant Sauvage, Victor, )
  • Crispin Glover, 1964-, US actor
  • Al Gore, 1948-, former US Vice President and presidential candidate
  • Jeff Greenfield, 1943-, US political analyst/speechwriter, a political wonk
  • David Helfgott, 1947-, Australian pianist, subject of the film Shine
  • Garrison Keillor, 1942-, US writer, humorist and host of Prairie Home Companion
  • Paul Kostabi 1962-, writer, comedian, artist, producer, technician
  • Kevin Mitnick, 1963-, US "hacker"
  • John Motson, 1945-, English sports commentator
  • John Nash, 1928-, US mathematician (portrayed by Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind, USA 2001)
  • Keith Olbermann, 1959-, US sportscaster
  • Michael Palin, 1943-, English comedian and presenter
  • Oliver Sacks, 1933-, UK/US neurologist, author of The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat and Awakenings
  • James Taylor, 1948-, US singer/songwriter
  • Robin Williams, 1951-, US Actor
  • Jamie Hyneman, 1956-, Co-host of Mythbusters
  • Seth Engstrom, 1987-, Magician and World Champion in Sleight of Hand. The best man with a deck of cards that the world has ever seen.

Amy Lee

Richard Pearse (First to fly a plane),

Dr Janet Frame (Famed Authoress),

Charles de Gaulle (Great French warzhyphenztime/peacezhyphenztime leader/President),

T E Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) (British leader of Arab Revolt against Turks),

Captain Matthew Webb (First to swim the English Channel),

Satoshi Tajiri (Pokemon Inventor - formal diagnosis),

Dan Aykroyd (Leading Musician/Comedian, Blues Bros - formal diagnosis?),

Alfred Hitchcock (Horror-movie Sub-genre Creator),

Bobby Fischer (Greatest Chess Player Ever),

Daniel Tammet (Smartest Man Alive Today - formal diagnosis),

Les Murray (Greatest Living English Writer/Poet Alive - self diagnosis),

Gary Numan (Greatest Industrial Synch-pop Musician Ever),

Craig Nicholls (Lead singer of top Australian group The Vines - formal diagnosis).

Comment:

I do not believe that Les Murray has any formal diagnosis of Asperger syndrome. He does have a formal diagnosis of depression, and has self-identified as autistic, and does have a close relative with a formal diagnosis of autism. Can you back up the above claim with any published references?

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Sorry, quite correct...

Les Murray wrote an amazing poem AFTER his self discovery re Aspergers...

"I very much wanted to ask him about his self-diagnosis of Asperger's Syndrome, but he hadn't publicly read the poem (which plays upon the phrase from the opening line of the old Latin Catholic Mass, Asperges me hyssopo, [Sprinkle me with a Hyssop branch], where Murray transmutes it to Aspergers me, and ends on such a wry note with "Hyssop is a bitter herb"), so it seemed too personal to ush the question succinctly." [Peter Craven, The Monthly]

Further Audio comment from a podcast (skip 1st 3 minutes) featuring Les talking about his 'mild' Autism and a case of Autism per se in his family is at: http://www.abc.net.au/rn/bookshow/stories/2006/1634867.htm

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The best place that I know of to look for information about famous people and Asperger syndrome is the list maintained at the blog Incorrect Pleasures (Google it). It is a big and diverse list of famous people backed up with references to published or mass-media sources that are generally produced by professional journalists, authors, psychologists or psychiatrists, including book biographies, journalistic interviews, scholarly and medical journal papers, famous people's own blogs, and books specifically about famous people and Asperger syndrome. There's even a reference to a poem in which a famous poet identified himself with Asperger syndrome, and the details of a YouTube video of another famous person filmed rocking in a very autistic manner. Many of the journal papers and other resources linked to and listed at this list are freely available to read or view or listen to through the internet. The list at Incorrect Pleasures is based on references that meet a higher standard than the one set for the Wikipedia, which often accepts trashy, misspelt and anonymous bits of writing that can only be found on the internet, or dead links, as documentary evidence to back up claims made on the Wikipedia. Every effort has been made to avoid nationalistic and other types of bias in the compilation of this list. The list is not dominated by American names or consicuously geeky scientists and mathematicians.

One word of caution, though - only very few of the famous people in the list at Incorrect Pleasures have been given a formal diagnosis of autism or Asperger syndrome during their lifetime, as adults. Many famous people have been posthumously diagnosed, and the list also includes a few living people who claim to have been clinically labelled as autistic when they were children. There is also quite a collection of famous people, including one Nobel Prize winner, who claim to be themselves currently autistic, to varying degrees. Rock star Craig Nicholls was formally diagnosed by a Dr Attwood in 2004 in Australia. Fields Medallist Prof. R. Borcherds was sorta-kinda diagnosed by Prof. Baron-Cohen, and this diagnostic process was described in detail in a popular science book. See the list at the blog Incorrect Pleasures for more details. Below is a very rudimentary list of the names listed at Incorrect Pleasures:

John Couch Adams

Joy Adamson

Hans Christian Andersen

Sherwood Anderson

Archimedes of Syracuse

Hans Asperger

Julian Assange

W. H. Auden

Sir A.J. Ayer

Dan Aykroyd CM

Charles Babbage FRS

Stefan Banach

Syd Barrett / Roger Barrett

Béla Bártok

Daisy Bates

Samuel Beckett

Ludwig van Beethoven

David Bellamy OBE

Jeremy Bentham

Richard Borcherds

Robert Boyle

Gordon Brown

Anton Bruckner

Warren Buffett

Tim Burton

David Byrne

Lewis Carroll

Augustin Louis Cauchy

Henry Cavendish

King Charles XII of Sweden

Bruce Chatwin

Bram Cohen

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

Marie Curie

Helen Dale / Darville / Demidenko

Henry Darger

Charles Darwin

"Dibs"

Emily Dickinson

Paul Dirac OM FRS

Greg Egan

Albert Einstein FRS

Robert Emmet

Paul Erdos

Robert "Bobby" Fischer

Tim Fischer AC FTSE

Sir Ronald Aylmer Fisher FRS

Henry Ford

Janet Frame ONZ CBE

Rosalind Franklin

Evariste Galois

Bill Gates

Antoni Gaudi

Charles de Gaulle

Johann Carl Friedrich Gauss

Kurt Godel

Major-General Charles George Gordon CB

Glenn Gould

Temple Grandin

Sir William Rowan Hamilton

Daryl Hannah

G. H. Hardy

John Hartford

Hermann Hesse

Patricia Highsmith

David Hilbert

Gerard Manley Hopkins

Edward Hopper

John Howard (1726-1790)

Peter Howson

Stonewall Jackson

Thomas Jefferson

Muhammad Ali Jinnah

Irene Joliot-Curie

Sir Keith Joseph CH PC

James Joyce

Wassily Kandinsky

Leo Kanner

Immanuel Kant

Andy Kaufman

Alfred Kinsey

Stanley Kubrick

Ladyhawke / Pip Brown

Paul Laffoley

Joseph Louis Lagrange

Oscar Levant

Charles Lindbergh

Nikolai Lobachevsky

Deborah Locke

Courtney Love

H. P Lovecraft

L.S. Lowry

James Clerk Maxwell FRS

Darius McCollum

Herman Melville

Gregor Mendel

Michelangelo

Reg Mombassa / Christopher O'Doherty

Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, 1st Viscount Montgomery of Alamein KG GCB DSO PC

Caiseal Mor

Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart

Les Murray

John F. Nash Jr.

Craig Newmark

Sir Isaac Newton FRS

Craig Nicholls

Nico / Christa Paffgen

Moe Norman

Gary Numan

George Orwell

Patrick Pearse

Grigori Perelman

King Philip II of Spain

Henri Poincare

Enoch Powell MBE

Willard Van Orman Quine

Srinivasa Ramanujan

Charles Richter

Bernhard Riemann

Paul Robeson

Peter Mark Roget FRS

Bertrand Russell

Carl Sagan

Erik Satie

Solomon Shereshevskii

William Shockley

Boris Sidis

William James Sidis

Adam Smith

Vernon L. Smith

Socrates

Spinoza

Richard Stallman

Lawrence Summers

Screaming Lord Sutch / David Sutch

Jonathan Swift

Satoshi Tajiri

Daniel Tammet

Nikola Tesla

Henry David Thoreau

Alan Turing

J. M. W. Turner

Maurice Utrillo

Eamon de Valera

Michael Ventris

Louis Wain

Robert Walser

Andy Warhol

John B. Watson

Simone Weil

Orson Welles

Herbert G. Wells

Opal Whiteley

Norbert Wiener

Thomas "Blind Tom" Wiggins

Ludwig Wittgenstein

Jack B. Yeats

W. B. Yeats

Bill Gates

If you are also interested in famous people who have or might have had synesthesia/synaesthesia, there is also a list of famous synaesthetes at the Incorrect Pleasures blog.