October 16, 2013

Did Jonathan Edwards Have Asperger's?

I was planning on writing a post about my theory that Jonathan Edwards had a form of high-functioning autism known as Asperger's Syndrome (now, with the release of the DSM-V, officially known as "autism spectrum disorder").* However, it seems another blogger beat me to it. Here's the link.

For those who don't know, Aperger's is a neurological condition characterized by difficulty interpreting and responding appropriately to non-verbal social cues. Due to their abnormal brain chemistry, those with Asperger's (Aspies) process information very differently than those with more typical neurology. In practice, this means that Aspies tend to be very intelligent (genius-level in many cases) while being socially retarded (and I mean that quite literally).

Based on my (admittedly limited) reading about Edwards' life and my (slightly more extensive) reading on Asperger's Syndrome, I've discovered that Edwards had many of the symptoms (love of solitude, difficulty with small talk and social situations, all-consuming interests, and just a general, all-around eccentric manner to name a few). Frankly, I can relate.

P. S. Based on some things I've read about A. W. Pink, I think that he, too, may have had Apserger's. I should get to work on a blog post about that before the aforementioned blogger beats me to the punch on that one as well.

*Yes, I realize that it has become somewhat of a trend in recent years to offer armchair Asperger's diagnoses of historical figures and celebrities (Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, etc.), but despite that, I couldn't resist. The symptoms seem quite obvious to those who are familiar with the condition. Plus, I'll admit, I like the idea that one of my theological heroes struggled with the same difficulties that I, as one of the neurologically atypical, face on a daily basis.

1 comment:

  1. Since writing this post I've discovered more evidence that Edwards was on the autism spectrum.

    In this podcast (http://reformedforum.org/podcasts/eoe16/) discussing Edward's life and ministry, the participants discuss an incident of pastoral insensitivity that contributed to Edwards losing his pastorate at Northampton. They also discuss his generally tactless and unsocial nature. All sounds very Aspergerian to me.


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