An Exact Mind: An Artist with Asperger Syndrome

An Exact Mind: An Artist with Asperger Syndrome

An Exact Mind: An Artist with Asperger Syndrome

An Exact Mind: An Artist with Asperger Syndrome

Synopsis

Peter Myers' intricate and ornately patterned drawings are brought together for the first time in this volume, which is the fascinating result of the collaboration of an artist and two scientists. The beautiful, complex images (included in full-page colour as well as black and white reproductions) serve as a rare window into the precision and exacting creativity of the Asperger mind at work.

Peter Myers was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome in 1996 and his work reflects his stunning ability to plan and to organise visual information, and to embed illusions within his pictures. Peter's brief explanatory captions which accompany the images offer insight into the ways in which he composes his pictures.

In the main text of the book, psychologists Simon Baron-Cohen and Sally Wheelwright discuss the work's great psychological significance, demonstrating in accessible language their ground-breaking systemizing theory of how the autistic mind processes information.

Excerpt

We met Peter through our research into Asperger Syndrome, and were immediately struck by his astonishing art. Peter is of course unique in precisely what he does, and on the face of it, is atypical of AS in being the kind of artist he is. But we instantly saw that in some special respects, Peter’s art could teach us a great deal not just about his own mind, but about the minds of people with AS more generally.

People with AS do what they have to do. It is as if some inner drive impels them to pursue their focused interests. This drive comes from deep within them. No one had to push Peter to produce his art!4 And no one has to push one man we know called Jeffrey (living in London) to write out lists of musical records from each decade, painstakingly cross-checking information against the name of each record, for their release-date, the names of each artist in the band, the duration of each track on the record, the name of the recording company, and other apparently trivial but clearly very detailed information.

It seemed to us that Jeffrey may produce these lists, and Peter may produce his drawings, for no other reason than to complete a system. The type of system may vary hugely from one person with AS to another, but in other respects, one can see the similarities. Take Robert, a man with AS we know who lives in Oxford, who feels that he has to compile a database of every character in Greek mythology, running into thousands of detailed entries. We asked him why he does it, but all he could say was that he is interested in the complete list. He wanted to complete the system. Or take Steven, a man with AS we know who lives in Copenhagen, who has to listen to certain songs and play them over and over again, for hundreds if not thousands of hours, until he can sing the songs in exactly the way the original version was played.

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