While most of my ideas tend to the crazy end of speculative, it looks like the gray matter/white matter distinction is going to become an important one.
Yesterday, I was working with a woman with Parkinson’s who still has her faculties, except for some significant memory problems and subjective time dilation (“That was yesterday? Feels like it was a week ago”). I grabbed a bib for brushing her teeth that had fuzz on the underside like a peach, and when this touched her bare skin she had an extreme reaction. Later, she described it as her “blood itched”, and she had acted in the moment like she was halfway between a migraine and full-body electrocution.
This sort of over-reaction to peach fuzz is the archetypal example of sensory overstimulation in autistics (autism+peach+fuzz gets 137K hits on Google). It is typically interpreted as “painful”, but I think this is due to the communication barrier between autistics and their caretakers.
Parkinson’s and autism sufferers share the trait of underdeveloped white matter, which gives them a high ratio of gray:white matter. In autistics and Asperger’s, this appears to be due mostly to high testosterone causing higher gray matter production, and it seems possible that the only thing differentiating Asperger’s from autism may be healthy white matter production (hence the healthy verbal development). What we call autism in Somalians is probably just miscellaneous retardation. Parkinson’s sufferers reach this situation later in life when dopamine production gets broken somehow, and white matter begins to atrophy through lack of activation. (As I’ve mentioned previously, white matter acts according to classical conditioning principles, where dopamine is “good” and cortisol is “bad”.)
I think it is quite possible to induce autism in someone who would otherwise merely have Asperger’s through a stress event of some kind that makes a child negatively suggestible at an early age, so that they don’t develop critical portions of white matter during the natural period of development. For instance, if a 1-year-old kid is abused for six months and experiences a prolonged, high level of cortisol, it is unlikely they’ll develop their Broca’s area properly. Why communicate with a hostile world? Probably, heavy doses of mercury from intense vaccine schedules could provoke this sort of cortisol reaction.
Anyway, it remains for me to puzzle out why peach fuzz in particular is often unpleasant. Not like anybody else is gonna do it; I’m coming to the conclusion that no one in psychology really gives a shit about anything except posturing.