Thursday, February 12, 2009

The direction of society.

I had a really odd experience a few days ago, where a friend tried to get me to join a cult.

I know it's a bit harsh to call it a cult (apart from the fact that it actually is one), but this organization works just like Scientology: it's a self-help program geared towards "helping you realize your full potential in life" and whatnot. You pay $500 or so for a weekend-long retreat where inspirational (common sense, really) messages are drilled into your head.

One of my good friends is buying all of this bullshit. He's a good kid with good values, but he's sucking it all in for some reason - he's already been to a few introductory meetings and is signed up for the retreat in a few weeks. I'm scared he won't be the same.

He tried to get me to go to one of the meetings recently, but after some research I was afraid of what would happen to me. Being free-spirited and having the capacity to make my own opinions on things is one of my favorite traits about myself, and yes, the most Aspie-like thing about myself that's remained after years of adjusting to the real world. At the same time, I'm impressionable, extremely gullible, and I always fear that something is wrong with me that I MUST fix. At various times I've thought I've had high blood pressure, ADD, or various personality disorders, while I'm really just hypersensitive to my own faults and will expand their severity in my own mind. I'm a hypochondriac who will go to great lengths to try to fix myself when I probably just have little issues that everybody has to deal with. I don't like having my faults, even imaginary ones, exposed, and then being told I need to fix them (as you can imagine, social skills training didn't sit well with me, haha).

I can't understand why anybody would subject themselves to brainwashing, furthermore PAY to be brainwashed. Freedom of expression is one of the greatest things humanity has to offer, and when you water that down, then there's very little left to appreciate. If we can't be fully ourselves then what do we do?! 

Furthermore, I feel like Aspies are susceptible to being brainwashed. We are outsiders who must conform to a given set of social rules so we don't stand out so much. We have to learn proper motor skills, learn to withstand wearing uncomfortable fabrics, and put up with small talk and appropriate conversation, among many other things. 

Having Asperger's often means we have enhanced abilities in other areas as well, and when we try to compensate for those areas in which we are lacking, aren't we losing something of our original talents? If a blind man suddenly gains back his vision, will his other senses start to deteriorate?

Though adjusting to NT society may mean good things in the long run, if we change too much, will we end up losing a bit of ourselves? 

This scares me. Please try to hold onto your skills and viewpoints which make you an individual. I don't want to see George Orwell's fantasy happen anytime soon.


Fleecy said...

With "cult" type things like that, I find it's best to watch out for: 1. something that asks for lots of money, 2. something that requires you to follow a restrictive diet (not enough protein, or not enough carbohydrates, for example, impairs your brain's ability to work the way it does when it has a balance of nutrients) amongst other things. Makes it easier to brainwash you. These are just two possible big tipoffs something is not quite right. I hope your friend isn't on an unnecessarily (as opposed to medically necessary) restrictive diet for this thing?

I agree that it's important not to lose a sense of yourself and individualness. I'm to a point where I've tried to hide so much of "me" for so long that it's kind of becoming not an option any more. I can pretty much either look a little weird all the time, or look less weird most of the time until I look very weird when I start freaking out and no one understands why.

Anonymous said...

People will join a cult (or other, less troubling groups) for a sense of belonging, something that is sorely lacking in our society. I have sought this sense of belonging all my life--not in cults, thank G-d, but in various kinds of religious, academic, and corporate institutions.

One of the great freedoms of being diagnosed an Aspie at 50 is that I realize I can never belong to any kind of narrowly constituted group. I will always be the odd one out, the strangely wonderful eccentric, and the sort of person who smiles at people at funerals just because I'm glad to see they're still alive.

I hope your friend will find his way through all right. We all take wrong turns at times, but he has youth on his side and many years to make right decisions.

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