I'm convinced that there is something here.
One notable thing out of my childhood is dyslexia. It has taken some things away from me. Some of which I've figured out the 'emulator' for (handwriting, spelling). I'm still working on other things (messiness, forgetfulness).
However, for as much as it has taken away it has also given. I'm absurdly good at solving incredibly complex problems (both logical and sociological) and good at making fast high quality decisions. I think the reason is simple: most people naturally see "J" and "T" as different things, I struggle to do the same. That being said, while many people see two problems as different things, I can see the similarity: solving N problems with 1 solution. Another dyslexic once called it "intuitive reflection and rotation" - a name that I strongly agree with; the dyslexic mind automatically reflects and rotates both images AND concepts.
I strongly believe that many (likely not all) learning 'disabilities' are not actually disabilities. They are merely trade-offs. Children who have these 'conditions' should really learn how to capitalize on their unique abilities instead of being told that and treated like they are mentally disabled. So the kid can't spell, who cares?
Yes, there is a such thing as true, uncompensated disability, and you should thank your lucky stars that you live a life where you could even entertain the notion that there is no such thing as "disabilities". Tone note: I mean that straight, not angry or something... be thankful. It's a hard thing for all involved.
A learning challenged person who was not streetwise would probably stay away from the streets.
And some of them have already chosen to not be part of this world anymore. It is often called a permanent solution to a temporary problem, but some problems are just as permanent.
And now that I program, I do so very differently than most people, but there are times when I'm in my stride (for example, pitching to investors or juggling the pieces of managing a team) where I feel at home. Like no one can touch me.
Be careful with that -- Adult ADHD is often accompanied with delusions of grandeur. I say this from personal experience: I'll have a great idea and think it's the most awesome thing in the world, and my friends are kind of "meh". A few days later, I look back on it and say "What was I thinking?" ADHD can give you a false sense of security / accomplishment in the moment, so always be sure to get someone else to check your work. You may come up with some elegant, awesome hack to fix something... only to find there was an API in a library you already use that does the exact same thing and you just missed it in the documentation because you were so "hyperfocused" (another hallmark of adult ADHD) on fixing the problem.
That said, it can also be a great asset: an ADHD person who is in one of these "zones" can be incredibly inspirational to a team. Irrational confidence isn't always a bad thing if you're staring down a tough deadline and need to motivate your team. Just be careful you're not making an idiot out of yourself too often :)
One day you're taking over the world, one day you're totally fucked. I've actually been tracking my mood at the beginning, middle, and end of each day along with our metrics and any other thing that could sway my moods.
My conclusion is that my mood swings are completely, 100% irrational. I try to temper them on both sides. When I feel like we're taking over the world, it's a good time to talk to investors/do sales stuff. When I'm completely depressed, it's a good time to focus on all of the things that are broken with the product.
I don't know if that's ideal, but I think it's working? Who knows.
Children who have these 'conditions' should really
learn how to capitalize on their unique abilities
instead of being told that and treated like they are
On the other hand, god damn. I sure spent a lot of time thinking I was "lazy, stupid, or crazy." That... that was not fun.
I totally agree with you. We should recognize those differences in kids and focus on finding their other gifts, while helping them to find alternate strategies to do the necessary things in life that can't be avoided. Like, even if your kid has dyslexia he's going to have to file taxes and read warning labels someday.
This is why I've never been formally tested for autism/Aspergers, despite being assured by various people that I would be on the spectrum. I did the same as the OP, manually making mental catalogs of facial expressions and closely watching people for cues to behavior. If I had been labelled I think my first instinct would have been to be lazy and say "Well, there's something wrong with me, can't do anything about it."
- Proper sleep. Probably the biggest single factor. I don't always excel at this. When I don't get enough sleep nearly everything else is moot.
- Proper environment. The exact definition of "proper" will be quite different for everybody, of course. Pay attention to what works, and don't be afraid to suggest alternate arrangements to your manager. You don't have to mention ADHD ever - just mention the facts ("I'm having a tough time focusing in the noisy part of the office") and provide a constructive suggestion ("Is it okay if I work alone in the unused meeting room when the noise at my desk is too distracting?")
- Proper diet. Another thing I'm not great at. But foods that cause sugar spikes and crashes make it hard to focus for anybody, especially me.
- Exercise. Really, really helps. (True for anybody, of course!)
- Lists. The key, as I learned from Getting Things Done, is that no task should be more than 10-15 minutes. If so it should be broken down into smaller tasks. Additionally, you must review/prune your list regularly so it doesn't turn into a big failure/guilt pile.
- Medication. It helps. For me it's only maybe 25% of the puzzle or so and can be rendered moot if I'm in a distracting environment or am running on no sleep.
Social support, using todo lists, lots and lots of effort to establish habits, so you can stop spending so much daily effort (CPU) on things that most people can handle with GPU.
In some ways, I've even gotten a little too good at emulating some types of interactions. I'm still lousy at realtime verbal communication, but when it comes to written communication, I can catch all sorts of nuances and unstated assumptions that ordinary people often miss. It's one of those cases when an emulator or hypervisor outperforms bare metal under some workloads. Since my emulator is so lousy at verbal communication, I've optimized the shit out of it for written communication.
At the end of the day, though, all this heavy emulation takes a toll. My brain burns a lot more cycles (calories?) running the emulator all day long and rapidly context-switching in and out of it. It makes me exhausted after a few hours. I wish our society was organized in such a way that I wouldn't need to spin up my emulator so often.
On the other hand, because I've spent so much time figuring out how to talk to people (it's an important life and business skill) I am very good at expressing things clearly. I can see miscommunication a lot faster, and with written word I can -really- pick up on the nuances. I think it's because I've spent so many years having to figure out how people think and how they came to say the words they're saying. I have to think through every step so I can empathize better. Constantly putting myself in their shoes.
But like you said it can be exhausting. Not only am I figuring out what I want to say, but I'm trying to emulate the reasons they are saying what they are saying.
If we had a society that would tolerate it and help the kid capitalize on it, then no one should care. But we have a society that doesn't, so the kid will be hurt by it. For dyslexia, it might not take a major change. Use fonts that work better. Not care as much about spelling and focus on their own talents. Allow them access to a spell checker. Stop using the same metric to measure their performance.
But if you take someone on the autism spectrum, the level of change needed so they won't be hurt by it seems like it would require a miracle somewhere on the scale between bringing back Elvis and world peace.
We can help them cope, we can help them leverage their advantages. But give our current society, there are some differences that are going to cause a lot of hurt and pain, both while growing and once they are adults. In those cases, anyone who cares about the kid should care.
Why shouldn't the spellchecker be to dyslexic kids what canes are to people who have trouble walking -- an accepted solution to the problem, rather than shouting they should walk better. Well duh! They already want to walk better.
The person shouting to walk better is an idiot only making their lives worse; we can all agree to that. But what of the people who think a cane is good enough and elevators aren't needed? Or those who think that elevators and canes are enough? When someone can't walk well, we should still care. Because even with all the canes and all the elevators, even with leveraging all the benefits their condition may give them, there are still things they don't have access to, and sometimes those can be quite critical parts of life cut off from them. So we should still care.
Thanks... this is actually really hard to explain to people and I am very glad that some people actually get it.
I've been trying to explain several times that even the term disease (often used along with disability) is not appropiated to describe autism, but I have had little luck with that.
> So the kid can't spell, who cares?
This is really fascinating, I never though about dyslexia being generalized to behavior outside of spelling/reading/writing. It's interesting to think about other disabilities or cognitive behaviors that are made apparent in one specific way, and generalizing them outward to other situations.
To illustrate my point: we can't emulate perceiving time at a much slower pace or viewing a wider spectrum of light. Okay, that's a wrong example since we're limited by our eyes - the peripherals/sensing devices. Perhaps try emulating interpreting visible light as a color blind person would.
The separation between hardware (brain) and software (soul?) is practically non-existent. It's closer to a state-machine.
If the machinery that does all of that is missing, broken, or functions poorly, you end up with an individual who has difficulty communicating well. He can speak, is intelligent, but seems absolutely daft when it comes to social interactions.
The general response of such individuals is to use the parts that work well to reach a reasonable outcome. For example, that persons' memory might be excellent. So that person memorizes hundreds of social interactions, recalls the specific one he happens to be in, and presses the play button on the recording.
The result isn't perfect. It's sluggish. Kind of like emulating software on hardware it was never meant to run on (hence, the analogy). But it works and certainly works better than nothing.
I can give you another example. When I first had to learn what was my left and right hand, I instead visualized that I sat on a particular chair in a particular room. Then the window would be to the left, so the hand closest to the window would be the left hand. IMHO, also an emulation.
(Edit - In the second example, I visualized myself in a 3rd party perspective, so it also involved rotating the room in my head. My problem was that I couldn't apply left and right to myself at that age, only relative to other things)
Software: Have to mentally process the situation. Did this person do something kind? Is there a response I should give? Oh! "Thank you!"
If your processor doesn't have the vmx or the svm flags, for example, you can't use hardware virtualization but can still use software virtualization in its place, with a performance cost.
You can change your body (to a degree) through surgery or slow habit - (hardware / firmware); you can change your prevailing mood, knowledge, and skills through slow habit (again, only to a degree) - firmware; there seems to be a level of chemical mood or emotion that changes on the time scale of minutes or hours - disk persistence; you can change what you're thinking about and your current state of mind in a minute or so - memory; and you can react to your immediate objects of focus very quickly - cache.
The thing is I also don't think it can be thought of as a trade-off. There's no great balancing factor. I see people who expect every autistic person to be some kind of savant like the Rain Man. You don't automatically get some bonus somewhere else to cancel out the issues you have.
What you do get is a different perspective. You have to learn to cope, and in learning to cope, you learn to do things differently than anyone else might have had to. It's not because nature has somehow compensated you for what it took away, but because you simply had a different experience which forced you to learn differently.
I've got a different issue than dyslexia. I've got an attention deficit issue. There's nothing really 'good' about it, but there's a few things about it. One is that in learning to cope with it I've become very aware of my emotional state, about my motivation and stress, and how they impact my ability to focus. I've kind of come to an understanding that's hard to describe of 'why' this happens to me (in short, I run through my ability to focus very quickly, and it recovers relatively slowly, so I can focus very intensely for long while, but doing so might make me useless for a week. I'm normally living in a deficit because day to day it's hard for me to avoid spending more focus than I recover).
In that I've learned a little about how I function, how and why other people act certain ways, how to have a ton of patience and why it's really important to have downtime (for everyone, but especially for me), how to offload decision-making tasks.
And despite all of that, I still have the same challenges. I mean, I don't have full control over how much stress I'll encounter or how much I'll end up focusing and making decisions in a day. I can try to do things to limit them, but that still happens regardless.
But I gained a perspective that other people don't have, and I care about things that other people prefer to just joke about. I just happen to see things in a different way than the majority and it's important, but it's not a tradeoff, it's a consequence of this difficulty, and the fact that I'm not willing to just say "Hey, I'm disabled, I'm not responsible for myself." It's more like, "Yeah, I have this challenge, I've done this to overcome it. I still have problems doing these things, so I try to avoid having to do those things."
Other people could totally learn the same things that I have, but they just haven't been put in the position to be required to do self-reflection to get through the day.
Similarly, the things you learned because you were dyslexic might be things that other people could totally learn to do, the difference is you've ended up having to do them to get by.
It's like two kids growing up, one kid is forced to carry 30 lb weights as he walks to school. The other kid can get to school however he wants. The result of the kid who carries weights is that he will get stronger. But it's hardly a tradeoff, he's in a situation where he's forced to carry those weights whether he wants to or not, he's not getting anything in return, except the consequences of carrying those weights.
The kid who can ride the bus to school could carry weights instead, however, it's highly unlikely anyone would choose to put themselves through that much difficulty when they could avoid it. So you'd probably end up being stronger than him, but on the other hand, he could go to the gym and train and rest properly, while you're forced to carry those weights whether you want to or not.
I'm just saying there isn't some balance. But we're just forced to cope with things that other people don't have to. This gives us a unique perspective, but not necessarily an exclusive or even balancing factor.
Dyslexia on it's own doesn't give you the ability to do those things. However, it pressures you to learn those things in order to cope with the fact that you can't do it the easy way. There's no unique ability about Dyslexia itself that you could really capitalize on in that respect, but there are things you have definitely learned to do that you can capitalize on because of Dyslexia.
I don't think we should worry about trade offs. I think we should learn about what people can and can't do and why that's important. I agree, if the kid can't spell, it shouldn't be a problem if they can make themselves understood.
However, our pedagogical system is such that we want to offer one curriculum for many people. Writing happens to be a big part of that, and it's hard to measure aptitude when you're struggling to write. We also really love testing, and spelling errors are a really easy thing to grade. It doesn't really matter what we should have, certain issues are going to continue to stand out until we fundamentally change how we teach. And I don't mean relax our standards, I mean each child would have to be taught to their own capacity individually, and that's currently unreasonable.
I know now that I am a neurotypical heterossexual cis white male (and I hope to learn more ways in which my characteristics differ between humans). And it is important for me to recognize this in me and others.
Recognize is the keyword here. I am not sayingn what is right ir wrong in actions after this recognition (like affirmative policy and etc). This is to be debated as a society. Also, not all these characteristics are the same. Some of these, like gender and race, should affect our interactions less than they currently do. Others, like sexual orientation and identification and mental model , should affect our interactions more than they currently do (imo of course).
But, as individuals, we should all recognize our diversity. And spend some time reflecting about this should or should not affect our interpersonal relations.
I suspect this is just hypochondria, or something like it, but I guess it illustrates how subtle the idea of a spectrum can be.
There's a test for "Empathy Quotient", and there are probably self test versions around. (I found a few using Google, but I didn't try them so I don't know if they're harvesting email addresses or need payment) https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Empathy_Quotient
He also developed an Empathizing Quotient / Sympathizing Quotient test, and there are probably self-test versions available. http://personality-testing.info/tests/EQSQ.php
See also this (heavily caveated) test http://psychcentral.com/quizzes/autism.htm
These tests are probably better than reading DSM / ICD diagnostic criteria, but still a proper diagnosis should be done by a proper doctor with some experience in the topic.
That does have a couple of problems. 1) It can be hard to find a doctor prepared to give you an assessment and diagnosis. 2) It leads some people to think there's an industry of doctors diagnosis bogus conditions in order to prescribe medication. (See for example how dismissive some people are of ADD / ADHD).
How would I go about being tested for this? What kind of doctor do I need to see?
Mental health teams are underfunded and over worked, and so if it's not causing you difficulties you might need to push a bit harder. So, if it is causing you difficulty highlight those.
If you have the money you can find a private doctor. I'm not sure of the process to find reliable doctors!
Here's what a UK charity says about diagnosis for children and also for adults: http://www.autism.org.uk/about-autism/all-about-diagnosis.as...
By autistic standards, the normal human brain is easily
distractible, obsessively social, and suffers from a
deficit of attention to detail.
That can be a problem since telling people you have a mental illness is usually a career limiting move at most companies.
When humans are different, you're doing being human wrong. If a human has a tentacle, something's definitely off.
At least that's most people's view of psychology as of current. I think the field is changing and embracing difference a little more though. But! Big pharma wants everyone to think they're broken so they can sell more pills, so that is counteracting the progression towards accepting diversity.
Maybe there really are people with whom you can't have a well-adjust relationship. Maybe it's not your fault you can't empathize with what that person is feeling. Maybe it's their fault for getting bent out of shape over stupid stuff.
What if it's okay to get angry in bad situations and is not an anti-social disorder of some kind? What if, when someone screws you over, it's completely legitimate to yell at them and not trust them again?
Who got to decide that not wanting to work on boring work, not wanting to socialize with vapid people, not wanting to be nice to awful people, equaled mental disorders?
Especially when it comes to work, our culture sees it as "more normal" to bottle up your emotions at work and act them out in self-destructive ways at home. Yes, we criticize such people--as Mitch Hedberg pointed out, alcoholism is a disease, but it's the only disease that you can get yelled at for having--but we don't criticize them anywhere near as much as we criticize the people who quit their toxic jobs to become artists or to travel the world.
Maybe it's the world that is sick. Maybe it's the world that belongs in a mental institution.
Here it is for those who have no idea how to enable dead comments:
"gpaumier 5 hours ago [dead]
(I'm the author.) You're right that there isn't (yet) a medical test like a blood test or an MRI to detect autism. In France, the official "diagnosis" is established by a psychiatrist based on interviews and questionnaires with the person, and some of their family members if possible.
That's how it happened for me, and at the end of the evaluation process, they said I met "the criteria (CIM 10 and DSM IV) for a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, and in particular for Asperger syndrome (CIM 10: Axis I, F84.5)". I haven't looked into what those numbers refer to exactly, and I don't like all the medical connotations, but that's how it's done in France.
There's a screenshot of the report in an post I published earlier this year (in the "self-discovery" section: https://guillaumepaumier.com/2015/02/22/2014-in-review/ )."
It is a relatively objective process - it does screen out 99% of people, and clinicians usually (80%-ish of the time IIRC) get the same yes-or-no answer for the same person.
There's no medical test because (like most of the DSM) autism is a description, rather than an underlying cause. That is, if you diagnose flu using a set of symptoms, you're using the symptoms to predict that the virus exists. If you diagnose autism using the checklist in the DSM, you're simply saying that you saw the stuff on the list - there's nothing said about cause. See also here: http://intellectualizing.net/2015/03/31/not-explaining-autis...
This is a fundamental difference between DSM diagnosis (which is putting people in descriptive categories, without explaining "why") and medical diagnosis of many conditions with a known cause (which means identifying an explanation such as a virus).
Your response to this guy is [dead] so you might be shadow-banned, or some funny business about your account being too new. Nobody can read your comments unless they have enabled their account to read [dead] comments.
Nice article and welcome to HN!
That's how it happened for me, and at the end of the evaluation process, they said I met "the criteria (CIM 10 and DSM IV) for a diagnosis of autism spectrum disorder, and in particular for Asperger syndrome (CIM 10: Axis I, F84.5)". I haven't looked into what those numbers refer to exactly, and I don't like all the medical connotations, but that's how it's done in France.
There's a screenshot of the report in an post I published earlier this year (in the "self-discovery" section: https://guillaumepaumier.com/2015/02/22/2014-in-review/ ).
The "AFAIK" is key here. These days there is an "increase" of ASD cases mostly because the diagnostic was extended to cover Highly Functional cases. The thing is that individuals with High Functioning Autism can live normal lives and go undetected (Just as the author) which begs the question... Should it be detected at all?
I wouldn't give this or any other online test anything more than extreme skepticism.
And then I came back to India and I am so totally different man now, I wonder if the whole autism spectrum has society as an influential input too. Being in India I just have so many friends with whom I can discuss very intimate doubts or facts about life that you can arrive at a peaceful state of mind very easily and function as a normal member of society without ever having a doubt about yourself, while in west in general the focus on individualism means most people don't talk to each other and are always expected to behave a certain way otherwise they will get 'what is wrong with him' look all the time.
One question comes to my mind: If autism is a spectrum, and Rain Man is in one side, what is there in the other?
The implications of this part, if true, caught my attention:
"In one experiment, a group of children with Williams syndrome showed no signs of racial bias, unlike children without the syndrome. They did show gender bias, however, suggesting separate mechanisms for these biases"
In other directions/dimensions you find extroverts, ad(h)d-ers etc.
Additionally, there's a lot of overlap between autism and the various subtypes of ADHD. Whether they share a common cause or if they're two unrelated things that just sometimes happen to the same people, I don't know.
A lot of the more impulsive ADHD'ers have trouble reading social cues in many of the same ways as autists.
A lot of the more inattentive-type ADHD'ers (hello, this is me) can read social cues well but share other traits with those with autism - being overwhelmed by social situations, hyperfocusing, being overly literal at times, etc. Every time I read an article written by a high-functioning autist I find that I strongly relate to some of the traits but not others.
I hoped the HN crowd is smart enough to grasp that. That turned out to be not the case :(
They don't like newer sources even when they are clearly better and more accurate than older sources.
They don't like people who are experts to contribute to articles because it infringes on their territory and they don't like to admit they know less than the professional.
The wikipedia editing system is Byzantine and there are a lot of layers you have to go through. This eats up a lot of time and prevents a lot of experts from contributing because they don't have the time to deal with it.
Wikipedia is good for basic definitions, but it needs more flexibility.
"Neurotypical" means "person who haven't got enough attention to be examined nor a name for their specific neural features". Because everyone got some.
I'm sure there's a feedback loop (or two) and that causality is bi-directional.
TL;DR it doesn't really matter much IMO what someone says they are, but it does help if they understand themselves better and know that they're not the only ones with those traits or difficulties in life (if they perceive them as difficulties).
Oh wait, it's not. It was a claim about his self.
You don't like it? Quit reading.
As a cultural aside, I would like to point out that the German "wie geht's?" is used to actually prompt a superficial answer about one's state. It's perfectly acceptable to reply with information like "meh, I'm having some trouble". The same goes for almost every other country.
But the (US) American "how are you?" does not afford this. Like the article describes, anything but "fine, thanks, and you?" is not considered a valid response. This still trips me up when talking with Americans...
Although it's true that any answer other than "fine" tends to invite a response -- like if I say "yeah, it's been a long day" the other person would probably say something like "well, at least it's nearly over" or something to acknowledge my state before moving on. But still, you can answer the question a number of ways in normal conversation, as long as it's a fairly superficial answer as you say.
What trips me up is that in the UK (where I'm living currently) it seems like it's pretty common to ask "Are you alright?", which in the US means something like "You look terrible, is anything the matter?" but in the UK seems to be more or less equivalent to "How are you?"
It's completely proper to say "Fine, thanks", "Great, fantastic", "meh, not bad", "uggh having the worst day" or anything in between to "How Are you" in the US or Canada.
Sure, you wouldn't say that to a perfect stranger but if a friend or family member leads with "how are you", there is nothing weird about giving an actual response.
Acceptable responses to "How are you?":
"Fine, thanks." - Tells the asker that you may not be up for conversation.
"Doing well, and you?" - Tells the asker you may be up for some conversation.
"Well, you see, last week..." - Tells the asker you've had little social opportunities in a long while and he's staying around for a bit.
If a client calls me up and asks how my day is going, the socially acceptable answer is "It's going great, thanks!" with the addition of some remark about the weather, that one is looking forward to the weekend (if it's a Thursday or Friday), etc. My client doesn't really care about my day, they're just asking because it's a social nicety. (They probably do care to the extent that if I break down and start sobbing, or there's just a choked gurgling sound at the other end of the phone, then they may well not get their money's worth that day...)
On the other hand, if my wife asks me how my day has been, I can reply honestly and candidly - though, again, if she's busy or she's had a bad day herself or she's asking this question whilst spooning food into my son's mouth, maybe I will temper my response accordingly.
An understanding of these sorts of social niceties based around context is something that the socially-aware take for granted and, clearly, the author of this article and people like him find very difficult.
And I think that's simply false. A stranger in the middle of the street in Berlin is just as uninterested in your day than one in Boston. And a friend is just as interested.
Now that I think about it, that's possibly even more confusing/frustrating to non-US speaker than what you describe! Sorry :)
If you meet someone who is very low-key and egalitarian like an old hippie or punk or the like, you may actually alienate them with "fake" responses because it is fake and not open, and might imply that you perceive a status difference.
But even with a status difference, someone working as a valet could say to a somewhat uptight and wealthy customer "hot day", or similar, and if the customer is not totally mean and uncool he will respond pleasantly to this and the formality level will be a bit reduced. But someone who thinks he is high-status probably doesn't want to hear a long paragraph about the valet's life, because that guy is an asshole. It is true that a man shouldn't complain to people that his wife is on her period without extreme caution at best.
In the same way, I cannot go around using "du" or "tu" with everyone I meet either and "too much information" is a thing almost anywhere.
"Same old, same old."
(As in, it's another day full of the same old problems as yesterday.)
This will prompt the American to make a generalized expression of sympathy over the countless petty indignities of life, without feeling a need to inquire as to exactly what specific problems you're dealing with.
In the UK in many areas we say "[Are you] Alright?" and the response is "[Yes,] [Are you] Alright?". You are not supposed to say whether you are "alright", just answer "Good" or an equivalent. It's analogous to the traditional [middle/upper class] "How do you do?" to which the response expected was "How do you do?". The follow up is usually what the weather is like or something about traffic ...
Which of those other 41 countries have "America" in the name? Let me know and I'll be sure to consider them when using the word "Americans".
In practice, most references to the people on the American continents are to North Americans, Central Americans, or South Americans. Referring to the collective as 'Americans' is rare and virtually meaningless, given the total lack of shared culture, language, or ethnicity between say, Canadians and Brazilians, comparable to comparing Britons and Chinese.
And in that rare case, context should make clear whether you mean 'people of the Americas' or 'inhabitant of the United States of America.'
It really isn't an issue and I've always been baffled as to why anyone should have problems with the demonym American as it is popularly, and correctly, used.
The silly thing is that it's viewed as a form of linguistic imperialism, where in reality it's just where the chips fell. And it's not limited to just that term. In our attempts at political correctness we often make a bigger mess of things. The term "Oriental" had fallen out of favor, and now we say "Asian" which to me is horribly imprecise. In Brazil, my nationality is "norteamericana" (North American), which of course is unfair to the Canadians and the Mexicans.
At some point you just have to accept it as the convention and move on.
The terms Latin/Anglo-Saxon America are just as used used exactly to highlight this aspect of the continent.
>given the total lack of shared culture, language, or ethnicity between say, Canadians and Brazilians, comparable to comparing Britons and Chinese.
This is not true. Apart from Canada and the US the rest of the Americas are actually quite close culturally.
It is true that "how are you?" has the double meaning of "<generic greeting>" and "really, how are you doing?" but the fact that it can mean the first does not mean that it cannot mean the second. You learn from context which meaning is intended. It is also not unusual to ask the question in mode 1 but not be flustered when someone responds in mode 2, especially if they are a friend.
This may seem confusing, but there are lots of phrases in lots of languages that have shades of meaning depending on context, so it is not unique.
What seems to be unacceptable and would probably be in German also is just completely unloading with all the problems of your day in detail. Basically keep it to under like 10 words and it is an acceptable answer among friends, at least in my experience.
edit: I would appreciate it if whoever decided to follow me around downvoting all my posts for no apparent reason would provide feedback on what is wrong about my advice regarding idiomatic use of the English language.
Sometimes an asshole is just an asshole.
> And I don't believe there are many assholes around.
okay, I don't have any research so I'll accept this for a moment.
> Most people that act like assholes regularly are just affected by some illness, even if it's only a depression.
Neither of us have any research, so I wonder how strongly you feel that?
And maybe if you swap "depression" for "stress" I guess I'll agree.
> Nobody wants to be an asshole, believe me
Wait what? Plenty of people who don't have anything like a diagnosable mental illness enjoy being assholes just because. I guess we're disagreeing about definitions of asshole and mental illness here though.
"A serious developmental disorder that impairs the ability to communicate and interact." Would you not call that an illness?
> Neither of us have any research, so I wonder how strongly you feel that?
I feel it very strongly, as someone who has been affected by it.
> And maybe if you swap "depression" for "stress" I guess I'll agree.
I agree on that too.
> Wait what? Plenty of people who don't have anything like a diagnosable mental illness enjoy being assholes just because. I guess we're disagreeing about definitions of asshole and mental illness here though.
I don't believe in that. Someone who is a chronical asshole is probably depressed, stressed, an autist, a psychopath, etc.
First that is not an appropiated definition that would cover the whole spectrum. It is not "serious" for people with High Functional Autism (Umbrella term that covers deprecated labels as Aspergers, PDDNOS, etc).
Second, "Illness" is not the preferred term in this case:
"(Medical condition) As it is more value-neutral than terms like disease, the term medical condition is sometimes preferred by people with health issues that they do not consider deleterious. On the other hand, by emphasizing the medical nature of the condition, this term is sometimes rejected, such as by proponents of the autism rights movement."
Serious question: what do you mean?
So you tend to see the group of people who treat mental illness also treat autism, and learning disabilities, and dementia, and etc. This is probably a result of our previous lack of knowledge and slow-changing institutional cultures.
> Autism is a lifelong developmental disability. On its own, autism is not a learning disability or a mental health problem. But some people with autism have an accompanying learning disability, learning difficulty or mental health problem.
This site provides a nice counter - that people wanting to get distance from "mental health problem" are possibly using stigmatising views of mental illness. "This isn't in his head. It's real!"
The difference with autism and mental illness is that you are born with autism. That's probably not the case for eg schizophrenia or bi-polar, although there's probably genetic factors pre-disposing people to these illnesses for many cases.
This seems a very odd way to differentiate what is and isn't a mental illness. Consider that the brain is a growing organism that is undergoing massive changes from soon after conception til near one enters middle age (28) with some minor changes after then, to define the point at birth as some baseline seems arbitrary. Take schizophrenia, while not present at birth there are some theories about how it works that would indicate it is there at birth but doesn't activate til late teen/early adult years (it has been a few years since I last read heavily into it). Or consider sexual orientations. Are you born with it? Well you aren't likely born attracted to one gender. You probably don't even have a concept of gender. But you may be born with an underlying structure that would give a really high predictability as to which you orientation you will even up having. (Note: I'm not saying any orientation is a mental illness; I'm only using it to give an example of something which you may or may not be born with depending upon how you view being born with something.)