The Nazi History Behind ‘Asperger’Roundup
tags: Nazi, Hans Asperger, Asperger syndrome
My son’s school, David Starr Jordan Middle School, is being renamed. A seventh grader exposed the honoree, Stanford University’s first president, as a prominent eugenicist of the early 20th century who championed sterilization of the “unfit.”
This sort of debate is happening all over the country, as communities fight over whether to tear down Confederate monuments and whether Andrew Jackson deserves to remain on the $20 bill. How do we decide whom to honor and whom to disavow?
There are some straightforward cases: Hitler Squares were renamed after World War II; Lenin statues were hauled away after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But other, less famous monsters of the past continue to define our landscape and language.
I have spent the past seven years researching the Nazi past of Dr. Hans Asperger. Asperger is credited with shaping our ideas of autism and Asperger syndrome, diagnoses given to people believed to have limited social skills and narrow interests.
The official diagnosis of Asperger disorder has recently been dropped from the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders because clinicians largely agreed it wasn’t a separate condition from autism. But Asperger syndrome is still included in the World Health Organization’s International Classification of Diseases, which is used around the globe. ...
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