Instaread Summary of Switched On A Memoir of Brain Change and Emotional Awakening, by John Elder Robison
Three out of five stars
There is something inherently disturbing about what is described in this summary, applying electricity to a person’s brain in an attempt to “cure” them of Asperger’s syndrome. It is also unusual in that the author is the person being treated. The treatment is called transcranial magnetic stimulation, or TMS.
What disturbed me is that Asperger’s is a milder form of autism where the person has normal intelligence and language ability. Therefore, and this is backed up by a lot of clinical opinion, for most people there is nothing to “cure”, only a condition to manage. Given the wide spectrum of human behavior, the people diagnosed with Asperger’s could just be different, on one end of the complex range of human personalities. Zapping their brains with electrical charges seems to be excessive. It should also be noted that there is evidence that many good computer programmers have some level of Asperger’s.
There is a summary of the author’s personal relationships, while they have been difficult, they are not that unusual. The really interesting part is the perceived results of the TMS treatments that the author receives. In this summary, they come across as ambiguous at best. One important point that is left out is that this is only one person’s experiences with an experimental treatment and the results that others will have can vary, not necessarily in a good way.
I found this omission a bit unusual, even for a summary and wondered if there is a disclaimer in the book. There was nothing in this summary that came close to convincing me that TMS is a valid and effective treatment for Asperger’s syndrome.
This book was made available for free for review purposes.