chapter  12
34 Pages

Theory of Mind in Autism and Schizophrenia: A Case of Overoptimistic Reverse Engineering

Although autism and schizophrenia present as widely differing disorders, there are intriguing connections between them, which have led to a number of speculative attempts at theoretical unification. First, the term autism, now confined to autistic subjects, was first coined by Eugene Bleuler in the 19th century to capture the social isolation and lack of impetus to engage with the world characteristic of schizophrenics experiencing what today would be called “negative symptoms.” Second, both autistics and schizophrenics have sensorymotor disorders including perceptual abnormalities, stereotypy and disorganization, unusual patterns of affect, attentional and executive deficits, and social problems. Third, these are both disorders where the range of symptoms extends in a characteristic pattern across many cognitive domains, although general intelligence is sometimes spared.