Yahoo Answers is shutting down on May 4th, 2021 (Eastern Time) and beginning April 20th, 2021 (Eastern Time) the Yahoo Answers website will be in read-only mode. There will be no changes to other Yahoo properties or services, or your Yahoo account. You can find more information about the Yahoo Answers shutdown and how to download your data on this help page.


How were Asperger's or autistic people treated in the middle ages?

I always wondered.

I know that severely autistic people were treated as demon possesed and those with intellectual disabilities as feeble minded but what about Asperger's people?

I bet they were seen as evil or weird people or something

4 Answers

  • 10 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    Asperger's syndrome was not an identified pattern of behavior until 1944, it was not identified by any medical body until the 1970s, and was not in the DSM until 1994.  So any pattern is purely conjecture.  There is a huge difference between evil and weird. I grew up with undiagnosed Asperger syndrome and it was primarily a personality pattern - loner, introvert, socially awkward, intellectual, geeky, etc. All through school I had a circle of friends that were just like me.  I don't think Asperger syndrome became anything bad until it was labeled as a disability. Now the same things I did as a kid are now diagnosable. Now people seem to embrace the idea of being an outsider in a negative way, rather than just seeing themselves as different. I would guess in the middle ages it would be the same. My best guess is that most people who would be diagnosed with Asperger's now would have been wizards then. The typical description of a wizard largely matches a Asperger diagnosis of today.

    Feeble-minded did not exist as a diagnosis until the late nineteenth century. Feeble-mindedness was not readily identifiable until people were expected to be able to do simple math and reading. Feeble-mindedness was seemingly more common in the middle ages as unless it was severe it was actually pretty common and acceptable. Many kings have been considered feeble-minded. It often occurred on account of poor diet, side-effect of disease, hard labor, the commoness of marrying within the family. 

    So I suggest you rethink this whole idea of people with disabilities in general as being ostracized and treated badly. That is a modern notion. People who had seizures,leprosy, open infected wounds,  and other specific disabilities (now mostly substantially no longer in existence or medicated) were treated differently as they were considered cursed by the devil. Disability was hugely present in the middle ages and for the most part just ahard part of life. 

  • Glass
    Lv 7
    10 months ago

    Disability is largely defined by culture. In the middle ages there were no bright lights and loud noises to overstimulate you. You knew everyone in your community and life followed a steady routine. Being able to hyperfocus on a task or have a specialized skill in something would be a strength. People also weren't expected to be completely independent and do everything by themselves. You would probably live with family your entire life. A person with Aspergers may not have stood out as unusual at all, they might even have thrived.

  • 10 months ago

    Yeah, but, autism was extremely rare if not non existent. At most you could suggest rates were 1 in 15000 which is what they used to be from our observations from recent history. Autism rates are now about 1 in 75 for males and 1 in 110 for females, Why rates have sky rocketed is another story that maybe you should think about

  • Rick
    Lv 7
    10 months ago

    hidden away in the back ............................................

Still have questions? Get your answers by asking now.