Michele Pridmore-Brown

Michele Pridmore-Brown is a research scholar at the Centre for Science, Technology and Medicine at UC Berkeley. She is also the science editor of the Los Angeles Review of Books.

Unfeeling Malice: Murdered by Asperger

Michele Pridmore-Brown, 21 March 2019

Why is ‘Asperger’s syndrome’ such a part of our lexicon? Why did its use take off in the mid-1990s? One reason is that Asperger’s thesis was translated into English by Uta Frith in 1991, without its Nazi intellectual frame (the preface); Frith also avoided his term ‘autistic psychopathy’, translating it simply as ‘autism,’ an act of linguistic de-Nazification. But there’s more to it than that. Edith Sheffer is clear: autism in its severe forms is about underlying biology; but what we now call Asperger’s syndrome is a cultural artefact.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences