Autism Is For Boys, Anorexia Is For Girls


The thing that makes Simon Baron-Cohen genuinely dangerous is that his half-truths about autism become a foundation for others to build on.  Jennifer Bremser provides a particularly obnoxious example of this with her theory of the "extreme female brain."  Baron-Cohen thinks autism is an "extreme male brain" in part because more males than females are diagnosed with it.  So, since more females than males have diagnosed eating disorders, why not assume that anorexia is a manifestation of the extreme female brain?

Bremser goes to ridiculous lengths to find evidence that eating disorders show excessive empathy:

Clinicians will often ask whether someone is a vegetarian, because it is a good predictor of whether that person is vulnerable to an eating disorder. This connection is generally understood in terms of health-conscious, restrictive eating patterns that go along with disordered eating. But we have started to ask whether maybe it is a reflection of greater emphasising – a person with the extreme female brain could be expected to be more sensitive to the pain and suffering of others, and more likely to choose a vegetarian path.

People use autism as a megaphone to amplify their own agendas.  The pop science approach taken by Baron-Cohen encourages opportunists like Bremser to use us in this way.

Because autistic people with eating disorders?

That never happens, right?