Asperger’s Syndrome: Albert Einstein

Asperger's Syndrome

Hans Asperger, 1944.

Hans Asperger, 1944.

In 1944, the pediatrician and psychiatrist Hans Asperger published the work “Autistic Psychopathology in Childhood” and obtained a permanent position as a professor at the University of Vienna. The following year he was appointed Chief of Pediatrics at the University and Chief of Service at the Vienna Children’s Clinic.

These appointments were largely due to the success of their publication. In it, Asperger, coincided with the works of the Russian researcher Grunya Sukhareva, published in 1926, and coined the term autistic psychopathy. Scientific success partially offset the recent death of his brother at the Battle of Stalingrad.

Little teachers.

Hans Asperger, used the definition of autistic psychopathy to define the behavior of some boys, studied at the Vienna Children’s Clinic. These boys had some very specific features:

– They showed difficulty in developing friendships with other children.

– They were clumsy in their movements.

– They had a high level of attention to specific matters of interest to them.

– They showed little empathy.

These children were capable of achieving great knowledge in their favorite subjects. They could freely debate them, even with adults. For this reason Asperger dubbed them “his little teachers.”

Despite the difficulties these boys presented in childhood, many of them achieved remarkable success in their professions. It should be noted that one of his patients was a Nobel Prize winner for Literature. Another one of his “little professors” became a professor of Astronomy and amended Isaac Newton’s mistake.

The theories put forward in 1944 by Hans Asperger, claimed a place in society for these patients, at a time when Nazi politics proclaimed the superiority of the Aryan race, and sought the extermination of all those they considered imperfect.

Hans Asperger described the features of this syndrome

A syndrome without a name.

In the scientific field, his theories clashed head-on with those put forward, at the same time by Leo Kanner, with his definition of childhood autism. The theories of Leo Kanner enjoyed great popularity throughout the world, while those of Hans Asperger were not translated into English. For this reason they went practically unnoticed, being reduced to the German-philosophical scientific field.

In 1981, the British psychiatrist, Lorna Wing, used the term Asperger’s Syndrome for the first time. Lorna Wing had an autistic daughter and was very interested in studying the autistic world. He published an article in the journal Psychological Medicine, entitled “Asperger’s Syndrome: a Clinical Account.”

In 1991, Uta Fritz produced an English translation of Asperger’s writings, and her work became known. In 1993 the term Asperger’s Syndrome was incorporated into the WHO ICD-10 classification. A year later it is included in the DSM-IV of the APA (American Psychiatric Association).

Dr. Hans Asperger and his “little teachers”.

New York, 1945.

New York, 1945.

While in Vienna, Hans Asperger was enjoying his new job at the University, on the other side of the Atlantic, in New York, covered under the winter snow of 1945, the famous scientist, and already Nobel laureate in Physics, Albert Einstein, considered to be one of the most prodigious minds mankind has ever known, addressed the public in a speech.

Little Boy.

It was only a few months since the war had ended. The North American bomber Enola Gay, had dropped on August 6, 1945, on the Japanese city of Hiroshima, the first atomic bomb (the “Little Boy”).

The bomb exploded at a height of half a mile above the city. Despite the fact that its outbreak was much less effective than the theoretical forecasts, it caused 80,000 dead on the spot and a similar number of serious injuries.

A few days later, the Enola Gay headed towards the city of Kokura. Bad weather made a target change at the last minute. The bomb was dropped by another B-29, the Bocksar, and fell on Nagasaki, leaving a trail of destruction. On August 15, 1945, the Japanese Empire capitulated.

During the war, Einstein participated, along with Robert Oppenheimer, in the Manhattan project, for the development of nuclear weapons. He was one of those responsible, with his well-known letter to President Roosewelt, for convincing the army to get involved in the project.

Although the war had ended, there was a minority current that condemned the methods used and the massacre carried out on the Japanese civilian population. Despite being a declared antiwar activist and having openly expressed his opinion against violence, Albert Einstein was considered by general opinion as the “father of the atomic bomb.”

“Little Boy” the first atomic bomb that fell on Hiroshima

Speech in New York.

Albert Einstein, in his New York speech, pronounced phrases like this:

“Today the physicists who participated in the construction of the most tremendous and dangerous weapon of all time are overwhelmed by a similar sense of responsibility, not to mention guilt.”

Or this other:

“We help to build the new weapon to prevent the enemies of humanity from doing it earlier, since, given the mentality of the Nazis, they would have consummated the destruction and enslavement of the rest of the world.”

It is undoubted that the controversial end of the Second World War, left a deep mark on the great physicist.

Princeton, 1955.

Albert Einstein died on April 18, 1955, at Princeton Hospital. He voluntarily refused surgery, which could have prolonged his life, after suffering a ruptured aneurysm in the abdominal aorta. “I want to go when I want to,” he told the surgeon. “It is in bad taste to prolong life artificially.”

At the time of his death he was writing a speech, to celebrate the seventh anniversary of the state of Israel. The draft of the speech began like this:

“Today I speak to you not as an American citizen, nor as a Jew, but as a human being.”

When he died, the term Asperger’s syndrome did not yet exist. It was coined by Lorna Wing a few decades later. Nor can we be sure today with certainty that Albert Einstein suffered from Asperger’s Syndrome.

The psychiatrist Lorna Wing coined the term “Asperger Syndrome”

Asperger’s Syndrome, 1981.

At present, Asperger’s syndrome is included as one of the autism spectrum disorders. It is defined by a series of mental and behavioral traits: There is difficulty in social relationships and communication. This difficulty varies greatly from one individual to another. These patients show great interest in very limited areas. Sometimes they present stereotypes.

Childhood autism, described by Kanner in the 1940s, must be clearly differentiated from Asperger’s syndrome. In the latter, intelligence is not affected, being generally equal to or higher than the average. There is also no language alteration, which develops at normal ages. This disorder appears at an early age, but in many cases it is not diagnosed until years later, when social relationships , which is the most deficient area, become more important.

There are quite a few authors who coincide in pointing out that Hans Asperger when he described his “autistic psychopathy” in 1944, was aware that he himself, in his childhood, had had the same traits, which he described in his “little teachers”. In this case, the discoverer of the syndrome would have been the first patient.

Popular characters.

After the recognition of Asperger’s Syndrome by the scientific community and its inclusion within the diagnostic criteria of DSM-IV and ICD-10, the term has become popular.

Illustrious historical figures have been known who probably had Asperger’s syndrome. It is worth mentioning Mozart, Isaac Newton, James Joice, Franz Kafka, Bertrand Russel, Gustav Mahler, Albert Einstein or Alan Turing.

Literary characters with this disorder have appeared, who have starred in best sellers and have sold millions of copies, such as Lisbeth Salander, from the “Millennium” trilogy, Norman from “The Daughters of Cold” or the detective Sherlock Holmes. On television we have Sheldon Cooper (“Big Bang Theory”), Lisa Simpson (“The Simpsons”) or Pippi Longstocking.

Other more current well-known characters have been diagnosed by psychologists and psychiatrists, such as the former world chess champion Bobby Fischer, the film director Woody Allen or the actor Keanu Reeves.

Admittedly, many characters have been diagnosed as “Asperger”, although they have denied it and their names circulate on numerous lists on the internet.

International recognition.

On the 100th anniversary of the birth of Hans Asperger, in 2006, the WHO celebrated the International Year of Asperger Syndrome. From the following year, on February 18, coinciding with his birth, the International Asperger Syndrome Day is celebrated.

It is not my intention in this article to analyze the causes, epidemiology, symptoms or treatment of Asperger’s Syndrome. Rather, I intend to approach its discoverer and show a vision of the more human side of some of the most illustrious characters diagnosed with this disorder.

Celebrities with Asperger’s Syndrome: Woody Allen.

Albert Einstein, 1879.

Albert Einstein, 1879.


Albert Einstein is considered one of the most outstanding geniuses of the 20th century. He was born in the German city of Ulm, near Stuttgart, under the zodiac sign of Pisces, on March 14, 1879. His parents, Hermann and Pauline, formed a Jewish family. From his mother he inherited a love for music, perseverance and patience. Generosity and a kind character came from his father.

Throughout his life he changed his nationality several times: German, Swiss, Austrian and American. This fact together with his Jewish origin gave rise to a famous anecdote, when at the end of his life he told a journalist: “If my theories had been wrong the Americans would say that I am a Swiss physicist, the Swiss that I am a German scientist and the Germans that I am a Jewish astronomer ”.

Einstein had a sister, Maja (or Maria) younger than him, who was very talkative. Albert, on the other hand, began to speak late, at the age of three. Apparently one night, when Albert had not yet spoken a word, the family was dining around a table. The soup was very hot and the boy burned his tongue. To everyone’s astonishment, he exclaimed: “Mom, the soup is very hot.” The surprised father said to him: “If you speak so clearly, how have you not done it until now?” The boy replied: “Until now everything was in order.”


In his childhood, Albert was a peaceful, meticulous and patient child, who shied away from playing with children his age and accepted only his sister Maja as a companion in his leisure time. He would rather walk than play. He liked to take long walks alone, lost in thought and daydreaming.

Despite being Jewish, he completed his primary studies in a Catholic school. At the age of five, he was fascinated to discover a compass that his father had. The fact that the magnetized hand always pointed north made a deep impression on him. In high school he got good marks in general, especially in natural sciences.

His adolescence was a difficult period, especially high school due to the rigid discipline and his scant dealings with his classmates. He managed to overcome this period thanks to popular science books, his fondness for the violin and the study of algebra, instilled by his uncle Jakob.

Albert Einstein playing the violin, one of his hobbies.


He was fifteen years old when one of his teachers, Dr. Degenhart, yelled at him in class and told him that he would “never achieve anything in life.” It is evident that the professor enjoyed genuine clairvoyance.

His uncle Jacob, an entrepreneurial engineer, influenced Einstein who grew up among ingenious gadgets, inventions, gadgets, and projects. At the age of fifteen he began the study of the infinitesimal calculus in a self-taught way. He was passionate about mathematics and physics, but took little interest in the other subjects.

There is a false belief that Albert was a bad student. This is due to a confusion between the values ​​used in Germany and Switzerland to score the exams. In Switzerland the maximum mark is a six and in German a six is ​​the worst mark. Young Albert had the highest grade in the main subjects: a six.

Mileva Maric.

He entered the Federal Polytechnic School of Zurich, with the idea of ​​studying physics. To do this, he had to leave Germany, renouncing his citizenship, apparently to avoid military service.

This same year, 1986, he met and fell in love with a partner, with feminist and radical ideas, the young Serbian Mileva Maric. With her he had a secret daughter, of whom nothing else is known. At age 22, the couple graduated from Zurich Polytechnic, obtained Swiss citizenship and subsequently married, against the will of his parents.

In 1900 he graduated and obtained the diploma of professor of physics and mathematics. Four years later they had a son, Hans Albert Einstein. Some time later he finished his doctoral thesis, which was inspired by an after-dinner conversation. While they were having tea, Einstein asked his interlocutor:

“Could it be the reason for a good doctoral thesis to calculate the dimension of sugar molecules?”

Mileva Maric, Einstein’s first wife

The most famous equation.

While still an unknown physicist, in 1905 he published his theory of special relativity and with it his famous equation on the equivalence between mass and energy: E = mc². From this moment on, his discoveries and discoveries followed one another without interruption.

With his theory of general relativity, he completely changed the concept of gravity. In 1919 he was publicly acclaimed and became famous throughout the world. He received the Nobel Prize, in 1921, for his contributions to physics, but not because of his Theory of Relativity, which was incomprehensible to the Nobel jury.

In a meeting with the great Charles Chaplin (Charlot), Einstein told him: “You are admired and understood by everyone.” Charlot replied:

“His merit is greater than mine, because everyone admires him, but almost no one understands him.”

Einstein had a reputation for being clueless. One day a girl sat next to him on a tram. Einstein, half lost in thought, asked the girl her age and her name. The little girl replied: “My name is Clara, Dad.” The anecdote seems unlikely, because in addition to his first daughter named Lieserl, whose whereabouts are unknown, he had two more children with his first wife, Mileva Maric, the first Hans Albert Einstein and a second son Eduard, who suffered from schizophrenia.

Elsa Lowenthal.

His marriage relationship with Mileva deteriorated. She was jealous of Elsa Lowenthal, a cousin of her husband, whom he visited frequently. After a serious family argument in 1916, Einstein proposed a divorce to Mileva. This produced a serious nervous breakdown, which coincided with the schizophrenic outbreak of her son Eduard.

Einstein divorced his wife Mileva in 1919. Three months later he married his cousin Elsa who had pressured him into a divorce. Einstein liked Elsa for being a great cook. Everything seems to indicate that it was a platonic marriage.

Elsa Lowenthal, second wife of Albert Einstein


The fondness for the violin was a constant in Einstein’s life, since his mother taught him in his teens. His virtuosity as a violinist is debatable, since an anecdote circulates, according to which, a humorist, who made cartoons in a local newspaper, began to laugh when he saw him perform in front of his friends. Albert approached him and said very seriously: “It is not good to laugh at other people’s work. I never laugh at his work. ”

Famous characters are assigned many anecdotes that are not true. However, this seems to be true. After giving a lecture, a journalist asked him: “Can you explain the theory of relativity to me?” Einstein asked him: “Can you fry an egg?” The journalist said: “Of course.” To which Einstein replied:

“Very well. Do it, but assuming that I do not know what the fire, the frying pan, the oil and the egg are ”.

Marilyn Monroe.

On one occasion when Einstein complained about the boringness of lecturing, his chauffeur suggested switching roles. Einstein would drive the car and the chauffeur would give the lecture (he knew them by heart from listening to them so much).

Einstein accepted the deal, they swapped roles, the chauffeur gave the lecture, and it was a great success, as the attendees did not know Einstein physically. At the end, a spectator asked a question. The driver had no idea, but answered fluently: “Your question is so simple, what will I let my driver answer.”

At a meeting, he came across the exuberant actress Marilyn Monroe, who said, “Professor, do you think we should get married and have a child? Can you imagine a child with his intelligence and my beauty? To which Einstein replied:

“I’m afraid not, my dear. We could have a child with my beauty and her intelligence ”.

Marilyn Monroe y Albert Einstein

Einstein’s brain.

Upon Einstein’s death, his brain was stolen by Thomas Harvey, the doctor who performed the autopsy. The scandal that formed was enormous, but Harvey kept the brain for 40 years, except for some fragments that he sent to neuropathologists in jars of mayonnaise, for examination. At 80, Harvey put his brain in a “tupperware” and took it to Einstein’s granddaughter, who lived in California.

Many are the phrases of Albert Einstein that have passed to posterity. I particularly like this one a lot:

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Alexa Clark specializes in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. She has experience in listening and welcoming in Individual Therapy and Couples Therapy. It meets demands such as generalized anxiety, professional, love and family conflicts, stress, depression, sexual dysfunction, grief, and adolescents from 15 years of age. Over the years, She felt the need to conduct the psychotherapy sessions with subtlety since She understands that the psychologist acts as a facilitator of self-understanding and self-acceptance, valuing each person's respect, uniqueness, and acceptance.

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