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Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism Paperback – January 29, 2008
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"Unstrange Minds makes the case that the rise in autism diagnosis is nothing more than an epidemic of discovery." -- Slate, January 15, 2007
"A fresh view of the challenges posed by this condition...Grinker's exploration of cultural differences in attitudes to autism is very moving." -- Nature, March 1, 2007
"Anthropologist Grinker's affecting investigation communicates a much-needed truth: autism is both a disease (biological) and an illness, i.e., a life-altering experience completely at odds with society. Hope then comes like a bullet via vignettes of parents from America to Korea who've adapted to their children's `unstrange' worldviews." -- Library Journal LJ Best Books, 2007
"Fascinating book at many levels. It is very well written and enjoyable to read." -- PsycCritiques (American Psychological Assoc.), August 1, 2007
"Grinker shows us that it's possible, and perhaps valuable, to deconstruct autism as a means of understanding and addressing it. Given the desperation so evident today, this is a welcome perspective." -- The Journal of Clinical Investigation, December 2007
"His daughter Isabel was diagnosed in 1994, and his warmth and compassion for autistic children and parents alike shines through this immensely readable and informative narrative that looks closely at how culture influences the ways we understand, classify and treat autistic-spectrum disorders." -- Toronto Globe & Mail, April 7, 2007
"In Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism, Grinker uses the lens of anthropology to show how shifting cultural conditions change the way medical scientists do their work and how we perceive mental health." -- Time Magazine, January 19, 2007
"Rigorous and compelling. . . Deeper and more provocative than other such memoirs, his work beautifully conveys the fact that Isabel is not her disability; instead she is invested with `an inner truth . . . struggling to blossom.'" -- People Magazine, January 26, 2007
"Scientifically rigorous and profoundly moving..." -- AHA newsletter
"Thoughtfully written by a father and scientist trying to understand his daughter and illuminate her disorder." -- New England Journal of Medicine, July 19, 2007
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This dovetails a lot into a common theme with him; a lot of conditions are constructed, or just labeled different over history. He doesn't doubt ASD exists, but in his studies he's learned that some cultures(such as Korea) will hesitate to diagnose or treat ASD, others will treat it as a form of mental retardation, and finally the "explosion" of ASD in the West is largely reflective of a change in awareness amongst mental health professionals, and diagnostic tools/metrics used for ASD. In a sense, ASD is "new", but in the other it's always existed; we just didn't identify it as such.
Dr. Grinker's stories about Korean culture w/regard to education is particularly harrowing, and is well worth remembering if you ever hear someone talking about how Asian countries have a better education system than the US.
Before this one, the only other book regarding autism that thrilled me as much was, "Not Even Wrong:..." by Paul Collins. Actually, if you are going to order two books, get that one and this one. I wouldn't bother with "Strange Son" or as I prefer to call it, "Strange Mom." That book is not anywhere in the same league with Unstrange Minds: Remapping the World of Autism. I have an autism spectrum adult child who lives with me, and I have an Asperger's diagnosis myself. I have an AB degree in psych from UCD and I have been a part of the UC Davis MIND Institute's "epidemic task force." I am convinced that there hasn't been an epidemic, or even a great rise in the number of autistics. Dr. Grinker gives you convincing evidence of that, and he's packaged it in an interesting story.