Autistic Spectrum Digest (Autism) Issue 22, September 2015 - Page 53

As a Vulcan, Spock's life is ruled by logic. Although he does feel emotions, they are deeply repressed. His speech pattern is very detached, almost clinical. Because of his logical and utilitarian perspective, Spock often appears dismissive, cold-hearted, or just plain rude to his fellow shipmates. In many ways, Spock's traits are similar to autism, and many autistic people identify with him. For example, in her book Thinking in Pictures, Temple Grandin, a renowned autistic scientist and author, recounts how she related to Spock from a young age: Many people with autism are fans of the television show Star Trek. [...] I strongly identified with the logical Mr. Spock, since I completely related to his way of thinking. I vividly remember one old episode because it portrayed a conflict between logic and emotion in a manner I could understand. A monster was attempting to smash the shuttle craft with rocks. A crew member had been killed. Logical Mr. Spock wanted to take off and escape before the monster wrecked the craft. The other crew members refused to leave until they had retrieved the body of the dead crew member. [...] I agreed with Spock, but I learned that emotions will often overpower logical thinking, even if these decisions prove hazardous. In this example, and in many others, Spock's perception filter prevents him from understanding human decisions mainly driven by emotion. Those actions appear foolish or nonsensical, because Spock interprets them through his own lens of logic. He lacks the cultural background, social norms and unspoken assumptions unconsciously shared by humans. The reverse is also true: Whenever humans are puzzled or annoyed by Spock, it is because they expect him to behave like a human; they are often confronted with a harsher truth than they would like. Humans interpret Spock's behavior through their own emotional perception filter. They often misunderstand his motives, assume malice and superimpose intents that change the meaning of his original words and actions. 53