My wife is currently watching a K-drama which she said I might like, because the leading female character in that is autistic. “You have ADHD, and you might be on the spectrum, so you can at least half watch with me”, she said.
Given that it is in a language that I don’t know, I can’t really “half watch”, but I’ve sat through an aggregate of about ten-fifteen minutes of the show in the last 2-3 days.
My first impression of the show and the character was “gosh she’s such a stereotype”. They showed her in court or something (the character is a lawyer), and she takes something someone says extremely literally. And then there was something else that seemed rather stereotypical and then I almost wrote off the show.
And then they showed one scene, which is also possibly stereotypical (I don’t know) but which I massively massively empathised with, and then my view of the show turned, and at this point in time I’m “half watching” the show (to the best extent you can when you need subtitles) as I write this.
I might have written about this before – back in 2013, after about six months of taking methylphenidate for my ADHD, I had started to believe that it was crimping my creativity. What I thought had defined me until then, which is also something you see a lot on this blog, is connecting very random and seemingly unconnected things.
In fact, I considered that to be one of my superpowers – to see connections that a lot of other people can’t. After a few days of not taking the medication (when I saw myself making those connections again), I decided to get off them. I didn’t get back on till 2020 (as things stand I take them).
Anyway, back to the show, the protagonist is shown having a vision of a whale, and that vision reminds her of something else, and she keeps connecting one thing to another (I was really empathising with her in this snippet), and gets a massive insight that solves the case that she is on. My view of the show turned.
A few pertinent observations before I continue:
- One of the speakers at one of the early episodes of NED Talks made a point about how some of have possibly evolved to have what are now considered as “disorders”. “Hunting and gathering are team activities, and you need different skills for it. Not everyone needs to run after the prey. The autistic person in the tribe will be able to detect where the prey is and the rest can hunt it”.
So we have evolved to be different like this. Putting together genetics and game theory, it is a “mixed strategy”.
- The downside of being able to connect seemingly unconnected things is that you tend to hallucinate. I’ve written about this, in a completely different context.
- Another downside of seeing visions and connecting unconnected things to find a solution to the problem that you’re working on is that it makes it incredibly difficult to communicate your solution. Having seen it in a “vision”, it is less explainable. You cannot “show steps”. Then again I don’t think this trait is specific to people with ADHD or on the autism spectrum – I know one person (very well) who doesn’t have ADHD by any stretch of imagination, but has a worse problem than me in showing steps
- I have always been happy that I didn’t study law because it’s “too fighter” and “involves too much mugging”. But then the protagonist in this show shows remarkable attention to detail on things that she can hyperfocus on (and which her visions of whales can lead to). I’ve also read about how Michael Burry found holes in CDOs (back in 2008 during the global financial crisis) because he was able to hyperfocus on some details because he has Aspergers (now classified under the autism spectrum in general)
Anyway as I was writing this, I half watched parts of the second episode. In this again, the protagonist had another vision of the whales, which led to something else and an insight that led her to win her case. Now it appears stereotyping again, after I saw the same setup in two different episodes – it seems like the standard format the show has set up on.
I don’t know if I’ll half watch any more.