Neuroskeptic’s blog post Genetic Testing for Autism as an Existential Question related the story of “A Sister, a Father and a Son: Autism, Genetic Testing, and Impossible Decisions.”
“I decided to put the question to my sister, Maria. Although she is autistic, she is of high intelligence.
Maria was excited to be an aunt soon, and was willing to do what she could to help my baby – even if what she was helping with was to avoid her own condition.
She is high enough functioning to know some of what she’s missing in life, and has longed her entire life to be “normal.” If she could save her niece or nephew some of the pain and awkwardness her condition had caused her, she was willing to help.”
In the concluding paragraph:
“What struck me about this story is the way in which the prospect of the genetic test confronted Maria with a very personal decision: will you do something that might help prevent someone else becoming like you?
Isn’t this very close to the ultimate existential question: all things considered, would you wish to live your life over again?”
Aren’t the majority of humans also “high enough functioning to know some of what she’s missing in life?”
Aren’t our feelings of what we’re missing one of the impetuses for us to have also “longed her entire life to be normal?”
This feeling was aired in Dr. Arthur Janov’s blog post What a Waste:
“What it was, was the feeling of great loss, something missing that could never again be duplicated.
It was no love where it could have been the opposite if the parent’s gates could have been open. But it could not be because that would have meant terrible pain and suffering for them; and their whole neurologic system militated against any conscious-awareness.”
We long for what was and is impossible:
- For many of us, the impossibilities of having normal lives started with prenatal epigenetic changes.
- Our experiences of our postnatal environment prompted us into adapting to its people, places, and contents. These neurological, biological, and behavioral adaptations were sometimes long-lasting deviations from developmental norms.
- Other genetic factors combined with the above to largely make us who we were and are.
And our longing for an impossible-to-reconstruct life doesn’t go away.
We often may not be aware of our longing for what “could not be” and of its extensive impacts. More often, such feelings impel us into so many hundreds of ideas, beliefs, and behaviors, a sample of which were referred to above:
- Behaviors to “do something that might help prevent someone else becoming like you”
- Ideas such as existential philosophy
- Beliefs that manifest the “wish to live your life over again.”
The problem is that spending our time and efforts on these ideas, beliefs, and behaviors won’t ameliorate their motivating causes. Our efforts only push us further away from our truths, with real consequences: a wasted life.
What keeps an individual from understanding their reality? I invite readers to investigate Dr. Arthur Janov’s Primal Therapy for effective therapeutic approaches.