July 10, 2008

Han Reiser and autism

Category: Disability Studies,Tech — Biella @ 1:09 pm

Autism Vox has a post about the recent autism defense for Han Reiser’s case. It will be interesting to see play out (and I am as baffled as she is about the Duckbill Platypus. Is it just supposed to be a stand-in for strange?)


  1. I once worked with Hans Reiser (1995-1996). He always struck me as a brilliant and stubborn guy who was a bit off, as well as being somewhat autistic and quick to anger. Still, he had his good side, and part of me held out hope that he didn’t do it, right up to the point where he removed all doubt by leading the authorities to the body.

    My daughter’s been diagnosed with Asperger syndrome, and I suspect that I would have qualified as a child too, but Reiser was clearly further on the autistic spectrum than either of us.

    But I don’t see how any of that matters as a defense. An autistic person has difficulty with “other minds” (someone with Aspergers’ has mild difficulty): what others are up to, how one’s own actions are perceived, etc. But he knows what he did and knows it’s wrong.

    Comment by anonymous — July 10, 2008 @ 2:14 pm

  2. The defense wasn’t that he was autistic so it’s okay that he murdered. It was that he was autistic and that’s what caused his weird guilty-seeming behaviour after she disappeared. The jury didn’t buy it: they thought his guilt-seeming behaviour was because he was guilty. Turns out they were right.

    Comment by Barak A. Pearlmutter — July 11, 2008 @ 4:09 am

  3. There’s a fair big of overlap between the symptoms of autism and a narcissistic personalty. Where the autistic person is blind to many social cues and conventions, the narcissist just doesn’t care, considering himself above them.

    This article clearly depicts him as something more sinister than autistic.

    Comment by Velvet Elvis — July 13, 2008 @ 4:15 am

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