Aug 11, 2022·edited Aug 11, 2022Liked by Rhyd Wildermuth

I have ADHD and I find more comfort in thinking about how the desocialized nature of work today is bad for everyone than I find comfort in thinking about the idea of how other people have an easier time doing things.

Letting your neurological symptoms stand in for alienation can be comforting... I messed with that a little bit but found diminishing returns.

I'm 37 and I wonder if, had I been diagnosed just a bit younger, with more of an idea of a "whole future ahead of me," and more proximity to my youthful embarassments, I would have gotten more into the pasttime of imagining that things are easier for other people. At my age and stage in life, I don't think "Ah, now that I know this about myself, it will all really make sense!"

Sometimes, I'll leave the house without a wristwatch. Before I knew I had ADHD, I did that all the time and thought "Yeah that's fine I'll just use my phone." Having the diagnosis helps me to make a different decision. Knowing that I have ADHD, I just take more seriously the idea that I'll function better with a piece of jewelry that tells the time and doesn't also browse social media or receive text messages.

Like the wristwatch, all of my coping strategies are ordinary organizational things that I just take more seriously now because of the diagnosis. When I first received the diagnosis, I was more into "neurodiversity" content and I think I became a bit depressed while consuming it. I started wondering if I was missing something... it seemed that everyone else could get validation and pride from this condition but I couldn't.

I wish I'd somehow been able to foresee that the little lifestyle changes which I always knew were important for ADHD were basically all there is that's worth doing about it. Any hope I had of reorienting my worldview and experiencing more of a sense of harmony because I now had a label for my brain... I thought that would happen and then it just didn't.

I agree with you that Freddie's pep talk kind of masks the greater reality of alienation. One thing that's tough to grapple with these days is, well, how much everything is alienation.

I think I'm slowly coming to terms with something that I suspect other "bernie bros" like me are coming to terms with: that if I truly believe that idpol nonsense is a mask of material problems, I have to accept that people who believe in idpol nonsense will respond to criticism emotionally, because it feels like criticism of the real problems that are under the silliness.

I'd never insult my sjw-style friends' dumb ideas, and it's not because "they'll yell at me," it's because I know that their idpol ideas are emotional standins for material problems. If I criticize their ideas without keeping that in mind - that if I poke a goofy idea, a real problem will feel pain - I'm just being a dick.

Your description of a home from 100 years ago was extremely vivid and got me thinking more deeply about something I've thought about many times before.

For a lot of people, having a subculture provides more hope than anything else. That's unfortuante because I think that that is unsustainable. I believe that just like Marx's "tendency of the rate of profit to decline," there's a "tendency of the psychological value you get from a subculture to decline."

And by subculture, I mean something more specific, which is the sense of elation you get when you and another person say to each other "You have that hyperspecific behavior? Oh my god so do I, we're part of something!" I think it's inevitable that one day you'll no longer feel that elation but will still feel like you must be part of it. I think that's how subcultures always decline.

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We all are dealing with industrial madness. I think that much is true, and it is a very good point. I also think neurodivergence is it’s own thing- and that the lines of neurodivergence don’t necessarily cut across diagnoses we are familiar with. Consider the character of Matthew from Anne of Green Gables- he seems to be autistic in a world predating a lot of our industrial madness. I know my family history reveals a long line of lighthouse keepers and the present- day members of my family tend to fall into a very similar personality type (my husband says we’re “all alike”) which is definitely autism- spectrum adjacent. We are perhaps best described as being so square we are radical. My mild-mannered, lawn-tractor-collecting uncle who was fired from being a loan officer for not handing out loans like candy in 2008 quietly admits to being an anarchist because people just shouldn’t mess in each other’s lives. In contrast to the justification of failure pop-neurodivergence media presents, pretty much everyone in my family is highly successful and neat, clean, and organized. Of course, neurodivergence that doesn’t lead to economic hardship is a non-issue for capitalism, even if it is alienating and painful. So I guess I would visualize some sort of Venn diagram of industrial madness, people who are particularly sensitive to it, and people who were always going to be lighthouse keepers or hermits anyway.

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Nice synchronicity to see this in my inbox on the day I deactivated my twitter account!

I have come across plenty of ADHD content on Instagram and TikTok which I found very relatable - but finding it relatable seemed to have more to do with the effect that spending time on Instagram and TikTok had on my mental state than with anything inherent about the way I exist in the world. It's notable that a lot of the videos either have a peppy 'why your neurodivergence is a superpower' tone or adopt a 'you probably didn't realise you were neurodivergent' angle - both of which seem to lend themselves more to identity-building than to practical help or greater understanding.

Your work on ressentiment has been so helpful for thinking with the ways in which identities tend to be expressed online in opposition to an imagined 'other' - and the effect this has on the way we relate to one another. Our needs and strengths and joys and struggles are valid in their own right and on their own terms, and it can be easy to lose sight of that, in all the convoluted steps we have to take to get them recognised and met in our current way of living. For some people, diagnoses can be really helpful in understanding and expressing their needs, in a world which views any difficulty in adapting to machine time as some kind of deviation from the norm. But diagnoses are a double-edged sword, and identity can trap us just as easily as it can help us.

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Last year, I read Leon Brenner's "The Autistic Subject: On the Threshold of Language" which is the first English survey of the Lacanian take on Autism. That sentence had a surprising amount of capitalizations, like one long title; anyway, my interest stemmed from listening to an episode of This American Life 10 years ago and figuring out my dad has Aspberger's and around the same time I made a best friend that turned out to have Aspberger's so it's been an open question for me ever since and continues to be. But it's also the case that the world is very autistic/adhd as you're saying here. Even more so when one considers that when autism was coined it carried an implicit sense of auto-eroticism, a connotation that got sanitized out, at least to the chagrin of Freud. I think that account is nice because by that definition the narcissism of social media easily slides under the autistic umbrella.

An insight from Brenner's book that I found personally helpful, was something to the effect that the autistic person is unwilling to relinquish jouissance to the Other. In other words, the autistic person rejects giving another person the satisfaction of naming them, describing them, etc. I totally relate to that in my unwillingness to take a position, to maintain a consistent writing style or aesthetic practice, to intentionally obscure and to revel in inscrutability. I mean I'm good at these thing-- perhaps innately talented at them--but these qualities are very much a part of the aesthetics I've tracked in the 21rst century... and I think a number of things are going on there... But there was something really helpful and to the point about the way that was stated in Brenner's book that helped me better understand myself as a person amongst other people that will inevitably have finite interpretations of me... and work on it. And the flipside of it, I think is obviously, the obsession with pronouns. What I'm saying is I may be exhibiting the same deeper root impulse but in my instance it just manifests as agnosticism. And this is all kind of autistic.

Another interesting, what I would hold as a heuristic, is that... Okay, for Lacan, how one enters into language is fundamental to one's psychic structure. It installs what Brenner calls one's "constitutive exclusion"... how one cuts out parts of the world to maintain egoic cohesion and safety (and consequently creates and maintains the unconscious). So for "normies" that's "repression" and for the autistic and psychotic that's "rejection". This lumping together has always been there in psychoanalysis and I think is fairly common for Western psychology generally. The nuts & bolts of how the primary rejection of the autistic and the psychotic differ are not worth getting into, but I will note this an instance of EXTREME speculation in psychoanalysis and diving into it is like plunging into the deep-sea cavern from which Genesis emerged.

While it would be interesting to think of a way to finesse "rejection" a little bit; I'm like, my substance abuse patterns to me say "rejection" more than they say "repression". And from the feedback I've gotten I'm not spontaneously hiding stuff from myself that I cannot account for... That gets me to my big personal, just barely squeaks me over the line into autism, indicator... lying is just like a chore and a drag man... I can do it if I'm scared for my livelihood, meaning that I will convince myself that something is true... but lying is fundamentally wrong, and not in anyway morally, it's just not an accurate depiction of the state of affairs. So...

having layed all that out... wait did I was autistic or was it society and technology? My personal kind of problem with "neurodiversity", is that it reaffirms a fantastic normal position, and psychoanalysis lends the insight, that this normal position, through the constitutive act of repression, heavily edits reality to create the illusion that it is self-sufficient. And to "oppression", "exploitation", I guess I would add "repression"... who hasn't been damn repressed... you can feel it when it's happening!

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Bayo Akomolafe (who I think you are a supporter of) articulates some of the nuances, confusions and affective actions of Autism and nerodivergences in quite unique and challenging ways. I'd also say Erin Manning in her two books Thought in the Act (with Brian Massumi) and Minor Gesture provides fascinating contributions about the acts, feelings and worldings of Autistic people and those whose experiences come from a multiplicity of neurodivergencies.

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