Dan Harmon talks about Asperger’s syndrome – Why Abed is a shaman  [SubEng] [SubIta]

Dan Harmon talks about Asperger’s syndrome – Why Abed is a shaman [SubEng] [SubIta]


Let’s talk about – as we jump all over the
damn place – your sudden realization, as you sort of crafted Jeff a certain way… at some
point during the run people are writing to you that Abed, he’s got Asperger, clearly.
You find yourself somehow taking an Asperger test on the Interwebs, and finding out that
maybe you’re closer to Abed then Jeff. Yeah, that’s a good way of putting it. A bad
way of putting it would be that I… It’s such a hip illness, I didn’t mean to diagnose
myself with Asperger, that’s a terrible thing to do.
It’s the new autism, let’s be honest. Yeah, exactly… it’s the new gay, it’s the
new black – Hey, I’ve got Asperger! – I think that’s a very accurate way of saying it is
that… what happened was the character of Abed was being well responded to by the, kind of… call it the spectrum community, I don’t know.
Sure. The audience. I was curious about it, I was sort of googling
around and I would… I found this forums and chat rooms and things where people with
so called affliction were really responding to this character. And I say so called affliction
because I think one of the most interesting things about it is that… with spectrum disorders
is that, you know, there’s a lot of people out there who don’t consider it an affliction,
because the definition of an affliction should be that it somehow inhibits you, where…
actually the inhibition is on the part of other people. That’s why, these are people
who… they’re different. And they have what’s called a disorder by a mob of doctors who
are basing their standard of perfection on you know, a bell curve.
And they are in the pockets of the pharmaceuticals anyways.
Sure, fuck those guys… Yeah, I mean let’s get real! But the… So I was like, ok this
are cool people, this are my kind of people, because they’re nerdy and they… traditionally
they love them some Spock and some R2-D2 and some Mork from Ork and any character that
you come up with that has one foot in and one foot out and that is weird, and people
are trying to tell them: -You need to be more like normal people! – And then they’re like:
– I wish I could but I can’t – Data from Star Trek: The Next Generation. What I noticed
is that they really liked this Abed character and they considered him a refreshing portrait
of someone with their so called disorder because he… One of the most important things about
him to them was that he wasn’t, he didn’t have Pinocchio syndrome, he didn’t wish…
You know, he wasn’t like – I really, oh if only I could have an emotion chip, and
be like all the normal boys and girls – He was what he was ok with it and it was up to
other people to figure out how to deal with him. And they really liked that a lot. Something
about it just rang with me and I was like: – I don’t wanna let this people down, ever –
They don’t get a lot of role models on tv, and I know how important that is. What happened
is alongside to that, the interesting personal thing that happened, I think is the… Yeah,
I didn’t wanna disappoint this aspies, who were responding so well to this character,
so… I also didn’t wanna diagnose him on camera, I don’t, I mean… It’s incredibly
difficult to diagnose adult aspergers, it’s not… It can take forever, it can take a
decade, because you can recognise it in children, but what happens is this is a disorder that
is a functional thing like, people aren’t handicapped, they’re just different. And they
learn to blend. The same way you, if there’s something wrong with your leg and you kinda
like, you start walking differently, they just become like this weird personalities,
they cope in all this different ways, you can’t tell one from another, there’s not similarities
among them They adapt, assimilate.
You know… so it become like this thing where it’s like: – Well, is it a disorder at all?
Or are we just diagnosing being weird, being exceptional? – You know, they talk about that
in their communities on the Internet, and I… As I said I just didn’t wanna do wrong
by these people. And so I researched this thing just to make sure I never did something
like to have Abed say he love pikles and then it’s like: – Everybody knows that nobody with
any form of mild autism or any spectrum disorder, you can’t stand any briny food or a cucumber
based product, now he blew it – I just… That was the impulse, it was like, just
make sure you got this right, you got an handle on what this is. And so I researched it and
it just started sounding awful familiar. But I do think that we’ve all done this before,
if you google “Bump on my neck + cancer” because you got a bump on your neck, you’re gonna
find out the bump on your neck is cancer, whether it is or it isn’t. The Internet is
real good for that. So I… I know I’m not normal, but I… I think the important thing
is that I, as you put it I think is the best way to put it, I started to discover that
I had a lot more in common with Abed then I did with Jeff. Jeff was originally me, the
idea… the sexy version of me, it was the idea that as I said before like: – Oh if talk
long enough I can make anything right or wrong, I have this, like ??? mouth that I can just
activate and I just like mesmerize people. I have to learn how to… even though that
makes me not believe in God or not believe in right or wrong and not believe in love,
I’m gonna learn all this things because I’m with these knuckleheads – You can see the transition
happening in the chicken fingers episode in the first season, it’s a conversation between
Jeff and Abed in the kitchen at the end of the episode and… They’re talking and they
make a deal that Jeff characterizes as: – Well, let’s be like Knight Rider – Meaning that Abed
can be the car and he can be the David Hasselhoff. It’s like : – let’s help each other, like
you be smart and weird and I’ll be human., like you help me… Point me in the right direction and I’ll do
the talking – And Abed misinterprets it… It’s a real hoot. But it’s in that moment,
in that conversation that the transition happens. Right.
I don’t walk away from that scene identifying with the sexy Irish guy anymore, I am now
the weird Indian kid, after that episode. And then second season started and I was kinda
like, him the whole time… But Abed sort of represented a lot of what
you were describing in terms of where you were at when you met Rob, what your interests
were, that part of you that has evolved, and he rapresented the Trojan horse of getting
you inside the network sitcom world. That part of this story is absolutely fan-fuckin-tastic.
No, truly, it is. It allowed you to thrive creatively and also to sort of transition
away from the fantasy of being Han Solo to celebrating being Abed
R2-D2. No, no, no, but I mean being the far more
complex… And also, by the way, Abed is crazy charming, in his way. Of course. Everybody wants to [be his friend] yeah. I mean, he doesn’t have self esteem
issues. That’s the interesting thing about him, is that he likes to be the way he is,
he’s just frustrated with his alienation. He loves people. Every… This is the thing
that I think is the most important profound thing… And please somebody tweet in or call
or correct me if I’m wrong, but… Out of all… There are disorders, afflictions whatever
you call’em, head injuries that can cause people to like eating poop, there are people
who sleep with corpses, there are people who get turned on by women stepping on their face,
there are people who wanna fuck teddy bears, there are peole who eat dirt, there are people
who murder children, there is no such thing, there is no twisting of the mind possible
that has ever resulted in any person wanting to be alone, liking solitude. You take hardcore
rapists, serial killers, homicidal maniacs, and you put them in solitary confinement and
they immediately start losing their mind, they beg and cry to be put around other people,
though rape and kill them, but they want the company. We are social mammals taken to such extremes
that there’s nothing like it on Earth. You can kinda see similarities in chimps and things,
but even they don’t get along quite as well, they don’t have the sort of natural instinct
for cooperation and compassion. Things that we think are fake conceits, they are genetic,
like they’re in us. We are different because we want each other to succeed, and we don’t
do it all the time, but we are known to sacrifice ourselves for each other. It’s amazing…
So you take a character like Abed… you know, what’s really cool about this is that is not
some dick like… Every single character on that show, the one thing they have in common
is that they’d rather be with each other than be alone. And Abed is… his condition is
he’s just afraid… Kids that grow up with Asperger, the most common link we can find
with them is frustration, fear of alienation, fear of being outcast, because we all feel
that, they grow up with it. Their personalities are formed in this crucible of constantly,
they just have every day, five times a day, somebody points at them and says: -What are
you doing?! – And they find out that their pants are on their ankles and you are not supposed
to do that when you pee, you’re supposed to only pull them down enough to put your wiener
out. Some social costume that they didn’t pick up on or understand and they were the
last person to realize that they’ve been doing it wrong the whole time. They feel humiliation,
they feel terror, because there’s nothing worse you can do to a human being the threaten
them with kickin’ them out. Well, the question of: – What are you doing?
You are doing it wrong – Those sort of messages have been sent by family members, either patriarch
or matriarch or siblings, as a way to either judge or compete. So I think there’s this
inherent social disorder that is in all of us, because of that upbringing of someone along
the ways of alleged authoritative plateaus saying: – What the fuck are you doing?
Yeah. We all had to not step in traffic and not touch hot stoves, we all have to learn
that you can’t call a door an elephant, for all the rest of the people won’t know what
the fuck you’re talking about. So we often characterize being told what to do as a bad
thing, but we want our parents to approve of us, and they’re the agents of, like…
All of us, aspergers or not, we all experienced that primal humiliation of somebody going:
– What the fuck, man! What are you doing? But not just doing something incorrectly,
you know what I mean? I think there’s something now inherent, not now, but always, inherent
in the social environment, where somewhere along the way, someone in your life, or several
people, either competitiveness at school… Now it’s this huge bully movement, or acknowledgment
of a forever lasting bully movement… Someone in a position of alleged power, or self imposed
power saying: – You’re an idiot. Yeah. Usually a mob. If it’s an individual
person it’s just somebody who’s been invested with the authority of the mob. You know, it’s
a popular kid, or a bully that everyone fears… How many people you know that do better walking
into a social situation after a drink, or something that relaxes their crack?
Yeah, I, what? How many people? I mean, how high is that percentage? So there’s
a form of human instinct… You say the aspergers come up with frustration basically every day,
about being excepted, so I think I’m venturing into: that’s in human nature already.
Yeah, definitely. There are people that we call kleptomaniacs, but we all know what it
feels like to wanna steal something. There are people that we call stutterers, but we’ve
all been tongue tied. So a character like Abed… the thing that they represent is the
part of us, all of us, feel like weirdos, we all are kept in line by our terror of being
outcast. It’s the force that pushes us toghether. We don’t wanna be that last person left out
in the rain, we know we’ll die.

100 comments / Add your comment below

  1. I think you can only hide the Aspergers if you are also very intelligent. The pitfall of that is that your internal world is anything BUT normal, but you are smart enough to be able to hide it. The danger there is that you end up living a fake life of fake social acceptance, rather than embrace your unique nature and live a real life like a real person.

  2. He calls it a "spectrum disorder". I call it "mental retardation", which is what it really is. These people are retarded, god help them, please. They are fucking retarded, lets not water down our language with bullshit, please.

  3. Wtf?! Harmon always surprises me. Solitude is my JAM, I wish I could be living alone in a cabin off far away, hell, that's what I'm working towards. I just can't believe he would make such a ridiculous statement.

    Well, it's more the way he put it.

    If you think that wanting to be alone is unnatural, I just… I can't understand that

  4. You know. I've been diagnosed as someone in the "autism spectrum" a year ago. I don't find Dan Harmon's words here offensive. I don't think the video isn't negative as well. He's talking straight to the point and with care. He seems to be aware of the topic and it's great. I agree with many things he said, specially how someone that is diagnosed at adult age can feel lost because we already adapted (some better than others) to society's standards. The feeling of isolation and being apart is real. People telling you things like "WTF?" Is real also. The eccentricity is a big part of it as well. But contrary on what I was told when the doctor gave me the diagnosis, I don't believe it's a gift or a good thing. It's incapacitating if you do not have the means to cope with it, and specially if you do not have someone besides your family to "show you the way" things are outside of your house. We do not need people taking care of us, but you know that protective mother, the overly caring girlfriend, the job that sometimes need to understand a specific situation? Unfortunately, these are kind of essential. Regarding the many difficulties, bullying, I think, is the worse. But the feeling that you're unwanted, the silence every time you talk and the segregation – it's what keep us from having a normal life. I do not have watched Community yet, but I guess it's good that someone that writes for TV has the sensibility to portray the problem in a humanistic way. Another thing essential when you've got Asperger is being real. We live in a world we're people lie for diversion, and aspies are very literal. So my advice to aspies out there and people in general is: laugh, be responsible, do not hide behind a diagnosis, take care of yourself; but, specially, be nobody's fool, because there a lot of people that want you to be their idiot and they don't deserve you to meet their expectation. You can be bad at your worse. But at your best, you're amazing…

  5. Harmon's statement about humans being naturally social creatures who disabled or not, can't live without social acceptance is stereotyped and incorrect. I myself for example has high functioning Autism. Since I was in preschool, I never gave less of a f*ck about the children around me. Teachers and my parents tried to encourage me to playing with other children, but I didn't like the feeling of being included so I'd go away from them quickly as possible..

    This continued throughout my school years, I never wanted to interact with other children, even speak to them generally. I was much happier on my own and always have been. Ever being put in a social situation would cause me stress and great discomfort, like I'm being forced to stop what I'm doing to try and interact with them.. It was a burden for me.

    Not to mention I'd get quickly annoyed with that other person on the odd occasion they tried to play with me.
    (Being alone at school, I had an insane imagination and would RolePlay these crazy awesome adventures with myself at school. Of course other children didn't know intense Roleplay like I did as their imaginations weren't as advanced as mine so they quickly lost focus in my game and couldn't understand what to do. That made me mad cause they'd kinda awkwardly stand around after 5 minuets of trying to engage then run off to play with one of their friends)

    But most of the time thankfully none of the kids at school wanted anything to do with me because I was 'scary' to them. Lol they didn't want to be seen with the weird girl and if they interacted with me at all, they'd throw insults, beat me up, manipulate me (holding my hand for a minuet saying they're my friend, then running away with other children to laugh at me) and that's only a chip of the iceberg! so you can see why I never wanted to have friends or be with anyone else. They're sly and weird. Social interaction for me is the uncanny vally and a good chunk of Autistic people I know/have spoken to have similar stories and utterly agree with me.

  6. The twisting of the brain that makes people want to be alone is called Anthropophobia. I could also make an argument for one of several anxiety disorders. Some people just aren't people persons.

  7. After reviewing my life an all the lives I know, pretty sure if your expectations aren't what is happening, you're fundamentally wrong.

    If the Universe is fair and just, what is happening is what should happen. If in your beliefs the world is unfair, welcome to Hell, by definition. An unfair reality is at least purgatory, nothing Sane.

  8. Abed made me learn a lot about myself. It started making so much sense as to why I always related to Monk. Yeah, it was obvious as a kid.. not so much now. I learn to interact "better-ish

  9. I can usually spot people with aspergers.. though people learn to seem less different, watching the eyes will point out alot. Like how much someone looks down as they talk is very familiar

  10. The worst thing that happened to me was my head injury.. it seemed to make me more normal, though as time passes I get closer to being the person I know and love.

  11. Lol I’ve know I’ve had Aspergers since I was 6 and when I learned what it was called I thought it was funny. I’m glad is throwing respect towards the community.

  12. fuck you dan harmon, now im taking the aspergers quiz from wired, and in the end the shit asks if you can calculate the thing manually, in fucking coding a javascript thing to get the result 😐

  13. In the latest DSM they dropped Asperger's. It's actually just ASD or autism spectrum disorder now. I think they did this because two labels for the same condition is just kind of redundant, and ASD is a neat umbrella term for everyone on the spectrum.

  14. thats why we love you man. Everybodys got problems. its how you deal with it. you are a shining example to any one that wants to strive for creativity, conviction, and abstract interconnectivity. keep up the good work Dan. thanks for the new writers too… season 3 was definitely the best so far. Fuck the neigh sayers

  15. 3 years ago and he mentions both pickles and people who eat poop. I see the seeds were planted very early on.

  16. I work with mild to several autsies for a living from ages 20 to 40.
    Dan Harmon hardly seems on the spectrum. He moreso seems like a chubby, spoiled manchild with a lack of self development. A neck beard with a conscience and a privileged life…

    It's sort of infuriating to hear him talk about his life.

    What a invalid loser.

  17. I'm 20. I've had problem with interacting socially all my life. I've been alienated, bullied for being weird and having to hide some of my stranger habits I can't explain. This year I was diagnosed with Autism and watching something like this is amazing

  18. I hate how we put people in boxes because they think a certain way, when we have little to no idea what goes on in our own head.

  19. I am watching community for the first time and I just watched the chicken finger episode and am just now watching this. Idk i felt excited and my friends wont understand.

  20. -"The character of Abed was being well responded to by the…kind of…call it the…spectrum community"
    -"Sure. The audience"

    Lol

  21. The "infliction" of having aspergers is that the world is reverse engineered in the view of the aspie. We tend to unknowingly point out the absurdities that the rest of society accept as normal. When we challenge what is accepted as "normal" and show that it is only perceived as normal because they have been indoctrinated with "beliefs" that have been sold as "facts" thru a systematically instilled fear of societal alienation if not accepted it threatens to undo all the self decieving prophecies that fool them into feeling secure with the "beliefs" that created a comfortable feeling that "normal" is what balances the world out and protects against complete anarchy. Aspies have an inability to accept self decieving prophecies that are projected onto them by a passive means in the form of societal non acceptance. That is met with a reaction by "normals" with an angered sense of their beliefs being just that, beliefs and not facts derived from a source of rational thought processes. Which creates a unwanted self realization that "security" is only a sense that is self embedded by the insecure as a tactic of self-preservation from rational thoughts by rationalizing the irrational beliefs into a self perceived "comfort" by means of a societal acceptance of a standardized perception of "normal". The infliction endured by aspies is due to the lack of insight by normals. the aspie may not actually be "abnormal" but rather maybe that "abnormal" is only defined by people who label things as such due to the false rationalization of what they don't understand as being irrational. even tho it must be fully understood first before an effective label can be applied. the aspie lacks the desire to be perceived as "normal" because it's an arbitrarily agreed upon definition that has no clear set of boundaries that dictate the parameters necessary for proper labeling. The truth is the world is so rejecting to anyone who's presence challenges the legitimacy of beliefs that created self perceived security. And society shits on the aspie as a form of cognitive dissonance that helps them justify to themselves that "abnormal" equals "irrational" because they lack the ability to understand that "abnormal" is a label the insight impaired use to comfort themselves and creates a state homeostasis within the perception of the normals that maybe they fear self realization.

    So, to translate from abnormal to normal talk….. Normal people are petty and insecure dicks that are easily threatened by aspies and they make life for us unnecessarily impossible to ever enjoy…. Impossible to hold onto jobs that utilize out talents, impossible to be in relationships without enforced codependence by constantly seeking falsely reassured validation, impossible to ever have meaningful connections because normals need friendship for the purpose of defining themselves by the company the keep as means to falsely reassure themselves whatever bullshit they think narcissistically projects how others percieve them as a means to indirectly blind themselves from their own insecurity they could never consciously accept…..

    It's hell for aspies and it's debilitating for a lot of them.

  22. I prefer to think I'm "clinically more interesting". Love Dan's view on this though. It's awesome to see such a prolific creator have a solid stance on something so common, yet oddly ostracised.

  23. Aspergers is the most shamed illness out there, it only comes close to coming close to being the new black or gay if you're a chad

  24. You get used to the terror after awhile. I've grown quite comfortable in solitude. I don't so much crave company as I do a beautiful environment, even if it were to kill me. I guess I have different priorities.

  25. I've been alone for so long that I honestly find it hard to be with other people and prefer solitude. Especially if it's people who's been so lucky in life that they don't even understand the meaning of the word problem. I get wanting your situation to be better no matter what. But when people start to gossip or complains about things that is either minor or not important at all, I feel drained afterwards being around them. I used to be different, but life smacked me hard in the face, and I keep getting up but I also get knocked back down every single day. And when you get sick like that you will either be the type of person who wants to be taken care of, or you want to be left the hell alone. People seeing you when your in pain is both embarrassing and exhausting cause they don't know what to do about it, they think their helping by asking how your doing, or if there is anything they can do. But after hearing it so often it's hard to come up with something new to say.

  26. This video led to my self-Diagnoses and now official diagnosis of Asperger's… It was 3 am.. what a night

  27. He really goes off on some bit of bullshit which he confuses for an eternal truth. Is he sixteen with a fake beard?

  28. I think labeling ASD as purely positive would erase a lot of people's experiences, and I don't think it would engender full (self) acceptance either. It seems to me that there's this cult of positivity that has to reduce everything to one or the other. 'If it's positive then it can't have any negatives. If it's negative, then there's nothing positive about it.' Fear is unpleasant and so is pain, but they're both useful—vital even. I imagine the best way to look at it is with a perspective that accepts nuance. It can qualify people for disability. There's medication for it. It's a disorder. However, everyone has there struggles, whether it includes that label or not, and that's okay. The problem comes when people assume that means a whole lot of other shit because of stigma, like how the antivax crowd treats children with autism as defective. Disorder is just a word, like mental illness is just a phrase, whose connotations need to change. What's wrong with having a disorder? What's wrong with being defined by one's disorder? Nothing, unless people want to be narrow minded about it.

  29. So people with Asperger's hallucinate? Abed hallucinates a lot throughout the series. Hallucinations are not a common aspie symptom.

  30. i understand where he's coming from, but isn't that thinking problematic in a way? "are we just diagnosing being weird?" autism isn't something awful and there's nothing wrong with not being "normal", but to say it's not a problem and doesn't inhibit people is very strange considering how so many people are affected by autism.

  31. I realised I had Asperger's after this video. 3am at a Wednesday. Now, 4 months after watching it, now I have my diagnosis :).

  32. Huge Harmon fan but he rrally needs to do more research on some things.. Sure many people may be awesome nerds but others could go the darker route and be killers without remorse..

  33. It is a disorder. We can't handle being around people. I have horrible issues with movement and noises. Yes, I don't want to be 'normal' but I want friends and a job like other people in society but whenever I'm around people I don't understand or feel connected I make them confused and upset. I have to pretend to be what a person should be and I fail. I am always frustrated with myself and others.

    Dan Harmon is my favorite writer and I love Abed but I found this pretentious. We don't choose to be like this. I'm not wise beyond my years or right all the time. I'm an idiot with a disorder. I'm somebody who's never had a friend and won't fall in love or have a great job and it's because of my disorder that I need help functioning. I'm not a character you can relate to and say "Maybe I have autism/aspergers too because I'm quirky or an introvert!".

    Sorry I'll delete this if people get pissed off. I love Abed but he is written to be a self insert and sexy version of an autistic person.

  34. Dan Harmon is a fraud, an asshole, and an exemplification of everything wrong with leftist/globalist ideology.
    They are lost individuals, trying desperately to fit into something they don’t truly understand, and thus, are inexorably drawn to what they think is “cool,” “hip,” and/or “woke.”
    They/he possess no conviction but to SEEM like they do, and they’re so desperate for approval, they’ll watch others be destroyed, and even cheer it on if they think it will spare them a modicum of discomfort.

    In short- it’s evil.
    Weak people acting powerful at the expense of literally everyone around them.

  35. I am a journalist who is autistic and writing a book about autism in popular culture and I always HATED Sheldon (I see him as autism blackface). For book research I saw clips of community and was like "DUDE! THAT'S ME!!!" Thanks, Dan for creating a great character.

  36. Harmon isn’t on the spectrum at all like he claims. He’s just an alcoholic asshole who won’t take responsibility for his actions. Like all alcoholics he makes excuses. He needs medication and a year to dry out.

  37. The Big Bang Theory is so offensive, how they portray geeks and comic book fans, it's just terrible. Worst show ever, period. That show always pissed me off, I never could stomach watching a full episode. The laugh track is so irrigating, and the way they portray them is such bullshit. The writer are such assholes, the actors are annoying, I cant stress enough how much I hate everything about it. Shows you how most people have the worst taste ugh. People are so annoying lol. How was it so popular, wtf. Ppl suck

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