Fixations and idiosyncrasy quotient

People on the autistic spectrum have many traits that can be generalized, but they also display a variety of idiosyncrasies. I believe the latter arises from one of the most important traits of autism, a stereotypical tendency to mental fixations.

Understanding of how fixations work is best communicated in the language of behaviorism. In Skinner’s classic experiment, a mouse is trained to press a lever by randomly rewarding it with a pellet. Eventually, the mouse becomes addicted to pressing the lever and does so continually, at the expense of all other activities. Because the reward was random, the mouse can’t possibly understand why he’s pressing the lever; it must be pressed for its own sake. He’s probably thinking up theories about how pressing the lever is pleasing his mouse gods (or maybe not pressing it would anger them) while he does it.


This is a learned behavior. For example, maybe in the past I always wore a hat when I went to my grandma’s house, and every time I went to grandma’s I got to eat my favorite ice cream. Now, I just wear the hat because it reminds me of the good old days, and that makes me happy. Wearing the hat doesn’t do anything for my reproductive fitness because it doesn’t cause me to get ice cream, but now I wear it for its own sake. The association has nothing to do with the initial causality.

(Here keep in mind I’m making this up in my head, it’s not from reading proper science stuff.) A fixation occurs when the original neural pathway for some reward has decayed while the associated pathway has been strengthened. So, the mouse continues to get a dopamine reward for pressing the lever for a while (call it the pleasure of anticipation), but fails to get the dopamine reward of the pellet. Eventually the starvation causes frantic lever-pressing behavior because the brain is dopamine-starved, reinforcing the perverted (i.e. “disordered”, “in the wrong order”) behavior with diminishing dopamine returns long after it has become pathological, because the more general pellet-seeking pathway has degenerated.

Because of the process I’m describing here, I’d expect the tendency to develop fixations to be a general trait in all people with low time preference, who rely on anticipation of future rewards to motivate present behavior. This could explain all manner of fixations and particularly sexual ones, aka fetishes like homosexuality, BDSM, and transexualism. I would describe the personality trait which corresponds to the formation of fixations the “idiosyncrasy quotient”, by analogy to intelligence quotient, and expect that people on the autism spectrum have a right-shifted distribution on this trait.

This is of interest considering the fact that the more intelligent individuals with the Aspergoid condition are often inclined toward science or art, and that many if not most geniuses appear to be rather Aspergoid. It is a public secret that the world’s greatest minds tend to be sexual deviants, as expressed in sayings like “Once a philosopher, twice a pervert”, or Hoe groter de geest, hoe groter het beest (Netherlandic for “The greater the mind, the greater the beast”). When reading honest biographies of geniuses, one can not escape this fact. It is also something that may make one, secretly but with perverse delight, smile whenever one hears someone claim to be “the world’s smartest man” or have “the world’s highest I.Q.”.

Paul Cooijmans
Asperger’s 1944 article summarized

The same general tendency to fixations which predicts sexual fixations then predicts the intellectual and ideological fixations that we also observe in Asperger’s, as well as the tendency to personality disorders in general. Most notably, the diagnosis is often comorbid with ADHD, OCD, Tourette’s, and cluster A “eccentric” disorders.

Paranoid personality disorder: characterized by a pattern of irrational suspicion and mistrust of others, interpreting motivations as malevolent.
Schizoid personality disorder: lack of interest and detachment from social relationships, apathy, and restricted emotional expression.
Schizotypal personality disorder: a pattern of extreme discomfort interacting socially, and distorted cognitions and perceptions.


(More than likely I’m retreading old ground here, given that they’re already called personality “disorders”.)

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15 Responses to Fixations and idiosyncrasy quotient

  1. Heaviside says:

    Schizotypal and Asperger’s are mutually exclusive.

    • Aeoli Pera says:

      It’s often not obvious what definition a person is using for Asperger’s. Would you please elaborate?

      • Heaviside says:

        I agree the term Asperger’s is used to refer to a lot of different things which may not have much in common; my best guess is that if there is a bonafide Asperger’s it is some kind of neurological disorder which interferes with motor function and as a consequence makes it difficult to read body language, understand gaze, etc.

        A large part of schizotypy is very active theory of mind/mentalism, excessive preoccupation with gaze, etc. I know I have leaned more towards “hyper-mentalist” cognition since I was very little. I think this is totally incompatible with Asperger’s.

        • Aeoli Pera says:

          Okay, I thought that might be the case. My first instinct is that this systemizing-socializing axis is a useful *trait* (compare to EQ) but drastically oversimplifies the trait clusters it’s attempting to explain. E.g. the comorbidity of tic disorders with Asperger’s.

          • Heaviside says:

            I think autistic-psychotic is more accurate than systematizing-empathizing.

            • Robotnick says:

              True. I remember Curt Doolittle making a point of this. Males being more autistic and females more psychotic. Not sure if it’s the same definition of psychotic Aeoli uses though.

              The left/right, liberal/conservative political paradigm corresponding.

            • Heaviside says:

              Both the left and the right are pretty autistic.

    • Ulixes Orobar says:

      Asperger syndrome and schizoid personality disorder often look superficially similar. Schizotypal PD and schizoid PD share some symptoms, but schizotypal PD doesn’t really resemble Asperger syndrome. (Your link has contains some interesting ideas about why this is–negative versus positive schizotypy.)

  2. Koanic says:

    Sure. The fixation with rock chipping is the primordial engineering talent.

  3. bicebicebice says:

    distrust of sapes and (((them))) = a “disorder” (not following their “order”) with the word personality thrown in to completely demoralize and force conformity, the killing joke being sapes have no personality and (((their))) personality stems from sapeness-association + actual mental disorders from inbreeding (savant territory), a smart sape being autistic , syringed, or clubbed in the head to activate the inner WINNING. Hollywood burning explains the twice the pervert and probably autistic sapes rapenapping women into their dungeons. Two sides of the same coin.

    • uuouij jkjkjkjk says:

      Bice, that who doesn’t “follow” has a (personality!) disorder is so in ants, bees, any pack/herd/hive/”social” species… don’t tell me there are ((((ants)))) ((((bees)))) [[[shepherds]]] in nature, lol.

      The {{{difference}}} can be of degree. Of course different breeds or races have a different Addiction-to-Commanding average Quotient… that’s unquestionably obvious, and becomes manifest once you have dealt with a sufficient number of representatives from every kind of humans.

      I have been, or rather tried to be, on countless normie fora where there was no shadow of ([{them}]), and the most trusted and admired (= “followed”) was always who lied the most and best.
      When I see criticism of ***them*** unaccompanied with criticism of mankind as a whole, it smacks of the bitterness of the defeated, not a song of justice.
      All the more so if it’s accompanied, for instance, by the “gamma hunts” we see in some cyber places.

      I loathe the game, not the team, or players, that are on top of its ranking.

      It can be said that all who loathe the game were losers at the game. And how would I deny it. You can’t understand something and see it clearly, until you have been pushed to a far-enough distance. And to be pushed afar is what happens to they who lose.
      Winners… of all people, are the ones with the least chances to self-awareness.

      If there is a thing I disagree with in the Gervais Principle is Rao downplays self-deception in sociopaths. The fully self-aware sociopath that plays the willing-to-be-pawns on his chessboard knowing he’s doing it for the sake of its addiction to playing pawns and power is a rarity, not the regular case.
      Per + verted. The “per” is pejorative (as in “persistent” in its original negative meaning, “pervicacious”, “perennial” also maybe — you rarely find “perennial” about something reckoned as beneficial or welcome).

      • uuouij jkjkjkjk says:

        Then of course mainstream psychiatry and psychology are mere reflections of power mechanics and dynamics — the power gameplay one would almost say, in a certain zeitgeist.
        Like the rest of mainstream culture — and with the same scant self-awarenness.

        I mean, how not to notice the 2 meanings of “order” and “to order”… To set things tidy and make them work and to cast the will and fate of the subject.
        It’s the same thing, for the human species.

        If I had to recommend a book about this point, it would be Jaynes’ The origin of consciousness in the breakdown of the bilateral mind.
        Everything was every bit as it still is for ants and bees up to some 3000 years ago.
        And we know what a minuscule step 3 millennia are, in evolutionary terms.
        Humans love and follows the singles, and groups, who deceive them best. However — and this is why I smile at who sees the masses as victims of narrow circles of very ill-meaning sociopaths — humans have a need for this.
        It’s like the female in the mating or dating game. Her self-image needs prevent her from being conscious of the fact that she wants to be gamed; she wants to be granted some sufferance — if he can make her suffer, he stands higher somehow, he deserves her admiration.
        The same mechanics apply in the male world, and entire society.

        Humans want the phony psychiatic diagnoses. They have always needed cultural and psychological tools to brush off their minds whoever says things too ambiguous, or unconsciously painful, to them.
        “Disorder”, that is.

        We see it in videogames. Vgs are beginning to be “mature” in the sense that they deal with the same topics as science, psychology, art…
        So, there’s the unconscious.
        Evere game dealing with the unconscious will get a torrnet, when not a slavine, of Steam reviews saying “it’s weird” or that parts of it are “nonsense”.

        Funny, isn’t it, how humans have been magnifying their understanding of their environment, and have made no progress inward.

  4. Pingback: Addendum: sadism as self-flagellation | Aeoli Pera

  5. Pingback: Hypothetical approach for general disorder | Aeoli Pera

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