Reading Age of Autism Part 2 – Mercury still not good for you

10 Oct

OK, so you might’ve seen by my tweets that I struggled a bit with Chapter 2. I hope the narrative picks up in upcoming chapters.

Anyway, the overall gist of Chapter 2 is that of Chapter 1 – mercury is bad for you, m’kay? To which the the retort is still – Holy Obvious Batman!

The tale of Chapter 2 is how the beginning of the Psychoanalysis movement (an easy mark, being bollocks) missed the ‘obvious’ signs – that Freud/Charcot/Breuer etc diagnosed hysteria when they should’ve diagnosed (you guessed it) mercury poisoning.

Now call me picky but isn’t this book, called The Age of Autism, supposed to be about ‘y’know, autism? I mean, don’t get me wrong, I appreciate the authors are setting out a hypothesis here and doing a bit of scene setting but who really gives a shit these days if Anna O. Dora etc were really cases of mercury poisoning when what we’re supposed to be doing is linking mercury poisoning to _autism_ ?

In fact, this scene setting is doing quite a lot of harm to the Blaxill/Olmsted hypothesis. They go through some of the symptoms of the respective case studies in painstaking detail. Lets look at them in the context of _autism_ shall we?

Charcot diagnosed hysteria in a nurse called ‘Etch___’ a Nurse in Bordeaux. She was nearly raped and descended into a ‘nervous state’ and a convulsion a year later was attributed to the near rape. She returned to work (in Paris though) but suffered:

…repeated and more frequent convulsions, urinary retention, paralyses and other complications…

Page 66

Blaxill and Olmsted claim these as symptoms of mercury poisoning. They may well be. But I tell you what – they sound *nothing* like autism.

Charcort also examined another patient who showed the following symptoms:

…comatose for half an hour and in bed for two days; afterward he continued to exhibit classic symptoms of decreased sensation, twitching and vision loss…

Page 67

I mean, does that sound anything like autism to you?

Blaxill and Olmsted recount a myriad of other symptoms including limb paralysis, hallucination, a relentless cough, paresis and many many more. They’re unified in Blaxill and Olmsted’s minds by their obvious connection to mercury poisoning – maybe they are. But vastly more obvious to me, if not to them, is that they’re unified in presenting a medical picture that is about as far removed from autism as its possible to get.

11 Responses to “Reading Age of Autism Part 2 – Mercury still not good for you”

  1. Emily October 10, 2010 at 19:17 #

    There is always a danger in retrospective diagnosis. These assumptions are particularly iffy given the variety of exposures and mechanisms that could explain these symptoms. Certainly, “hysteria” is about as relevant as “miasma,” but the discounting of those doesn’t mean that mercury poisoning was next in line.

  2. Emily October 10, 2010 at 19:19 #

    Also, keep us posted on whether or not they make mention of hatters and mills workers and their progeny and autism.

  3. Kev October 10, 2010 at 19:34 #

    That bits coming up. I had a quick flick through before reading and saw a few references to that sort of thing.

    I’m intending to do at least one blog post per chapter. Might get a bit dull for readers though 😉

  4. Barbara October 10, 2010 at 19:47 #

    Let us know if they mention teeth falling out. I think that’s a big thing in mercury poisoning.

  5. Kev October 10, 2010 at 19:51 #

    Yeah that’s been mentioned a few times. But not in a big way. I’m expecting more of that in the next chapter which is about Pink’s Disease.

  6. Laurentius Rex October 10, 2010 at 21:40 #

    For fucks sake you wankers Tourettes is mercury poisoning too you gobshites 🙂

  7. lilandtedsmum October 10, 2010 at 21:44 #

    Larry – we are not worthy!!! LMAO

  8. Michael5MacKay October 11, 2010 at 04:37 #

    I am very grateful for this series of blog entries. Please do at least one per chapter. I refuse to buy this book, but want to know what it says. I did contemplate shoplifting it, but even that would give Blaxill and Olmstead full royalties.

  9. stanley seigler October 12, 2010 at 20:23 #

    enjoy the humor, sarcasm, satire…should be on maher, stewert, colbert and others outside USA with whom i am not familiar…

    tho, not sure it adds to issue of Hg in VAXs, fish, fillings, etal…

    stanley seigler

  10. Prometheus October 13, 2010 at 19:16 #

    While I agree that Freud and Jung (and others of that ilk) were generally full of …. stuff, I think that blaming it all on mercury is just as ridiculous as blaming it all on “penis envy” or “Electra complex”.

    What B&O seem to be bulding up to is:

    “One Element to rule them all, One Element to find them, One Element to bring them all and in the darkness bind them. In the Land of Autism where the Shadows lie.”

    Are you sure that this book was in the non-fiction section?



  1. Tweets that mention Autism Blog - Reading Age of Autism Part 2 – Mercury still not good for you « Left Brain/Right Brain -- - October 10, 2010

    […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Kev, Francis Jurado, Brandon Blietz, Alltop Autism, Curtis Maybin and others. Curtis Maybin said: Reading Age of Autism Part 2 – Mercury still not good for you: Now call me picky but isn't this book, calle… #autism […]

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