Asperger's Children
Hans Asperger, the pioneer of autism and Asperger syndrome in Nazi Vienna, has been celebrated for his compassionate defense of children with disabilities. But in this groundbreaking book, prize-winning historian Edith Sheffer exposes that Asperger was not only involved in the racial policies of Hitler’s Third Reich, he was complicit in the murder of children.As the Nazi regime slaughtered millions across Europe during World War Two, it sorted people according to race, religion, behavior, and physical condition for either treatment or elimination. Nazi psychiatrists targeted children with different kinds of minds—especially those thought to lack social skills—claiming the Reich had no place for them. Asperger and his colleagues endeavored to mold certain "autistic" children into productive citizens, while transferring others they deemed untreatable to Spiegelgrund, one of the Reich’s deadliest child-killing centers.In the first comprehensive history of the links between autism and Nazism, Sheffer uncovers how a diagnosis common today emerged from the atrocities of the Third Reich. With vivid storytelling and wide-ranging research, Asperger’s Children will move readers to rethink how societies assess, label, and treat those diagnosed with disabilities.

Asperger's Children Details

TitleAsperger's Children
Author
ReleaseMay 1st, 2018
PublisherW. W. Norton Company
ISBN-139780393609646
Rating
GenreHistory, Nonfiction, War, World War II, Psychology, Science, Biography, Historical, Health, Medicine, Holocaust, Mental Health, Mental Illness

Asperger's Children Review

  • Jaime
    January 1, 1970
    This book was extremely hard to get through, but well worth it. The brutality of the Nazi regime has been well-documented, but this was especially hard to read. I found it interesting, especially in light of the current administration and the creeping rise of fascism. It was disconcerting to see how intertwined fascism was with medicine and psychiatry - and how autism and Asperger’s work was so tied into and related to the Nazi ideals. I have a lot of thoughts on this book, and I’m still working This book was extremely hard to get through, but well worth it. The brutality of the Nazi regime has been well-documented, but this was especially hard to read. I found it interesting, especially in light of the current administration and the creeping rise of fascism. It was disconcerting to see how intertwined fascism was with medicine and psychiatry - and how autism and Asperger’s work was so tied into and related to the Nazi ideals. I have a lot of thoughts on this book, and I’m still working through my reaction. Well-researched, and there’s a lot more still to examine with this topic.
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  • Sandra
    January 1, 1970
    That hurt.
  • Michelle Hopkins
    January 1, 1970
    Stop BEFORE you attach a label of autism or Asperger's Syndrome to a child -- yours or anyone else's -- and READ this book. This is one of the most important books I have read in years in how it gives context and meaning to a concept society has accepted as fact. When you read the roots and evolution of this "diagnosis" ("autistic"), your heart will break, your anger will rise and you will be shocked at the flimsy and scant research on which it is based. The diagnosis has roots in the Nazi "raci Stop BEFORE you attach a label of autism or Asperger's Syndrome to a child -- yours or anyone else's -- and READ this book. This is one of the most important books I have read in years in how it gives context and meaning to a concept society has accepted as fact. When you read the roots and evolution of this "diagnosis" ("autistic"), your heart will break, your anger will rise and you will be shocked at the flimsy and scant research on which it is based. The diagnosis has roots in the Nazi "racial purity" movement, which had its own reasons for promoting Gemut, that is, the collective soul within the individual, and exterminating innocent children who could not be indoctrinated into Nazi concepts of "society" or who operated just a bit differently. Lorna Wing, who took Hans Asperger's ideas and popularized them, says: "I wish I hadn't done it. I would rather throw all labels away today and move toward the dimensional approach (observing children on their own unique merits)."It is time to stop misunderstanding and ostracizing individuals who don't immerse in large societal groups in the same fashion. This book's brilliant author Edith Sheffer concludes: "Society is becoming increasingly sensitive to nuance in issues of race, religion, gender, sexuality and nationality. As appreciation of neurodiversity now grows, we might begin to see the perils of a totalizing label based on varying traits, since labels affect the treatment of individuals, and treatment affects their lives. The history of Asperger's and autism should underscore the ethics of respecting every child's mind and treating those minds with care -- showing how society can shape a diagnosis." I couldn't agree more. Please read this book. I recommend having a light biography or novel nearby to alternate with reading "Asperger's Children" because learning what Nazi Vienna did to these children is just too disturbing to absorb without some sort of distraction.
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  • Pam Cipkowski
    January 1, 1970
    The inclusion of Asperger syndrome on the autism spectrum in the 1990s gave hope to many individuals and their loved ones who struggled to make sense of their unique personality and behavioral characteristics. Little has been made, though, of the circumstances by which Asperger’s was brought to light, and its relation to Nazi eugenics. This exhaustively and meticulously researched volume, though, tells the fascinating and chilling story of the Nazi cleansing of the population of “undesirables,” The inclusion of Asperger syndrome on the autism spectrum in the 1990s gave hope to many individuals and their loved ones who struggled to make sense of their unique personality and behavioral characteristics. Little has been made, though, of the circumstances by which Asperger’s was brought to light, and its relation to Nazi eugenics. This exhaustively and meticulously researched volume, though, tells the fascinating and chilling story of the Nazi cleansing of the population of “undesirables,” those whose sicknesses, deformities, and mental defects made them a liability to Hitler’s notion of a perfect Aryan society. This included the systematic killing of children, under the auspices of euthanasia and questionable treatment programs. Hans Asperger was part of this regime of doctors and psychologists who were complicit in the murder of children at institutions throughout German occupied territory. Sheffer’s book sheds light not only on Asperger’s role in these horrifying Nazi atrocities, but she also paints a backdrop of the dawning of Nazi eugenics in Austria’s famed medical societies and institutions, and goes into the aftermath of the war, with information on both the perpetrators and survivors. The discussion throughout of the concept of Gemüt, a German term which connotes a feeling of and fervent enthusiasm for the success of the community or the state as a whole, was very interesting, and drew parallels for me to the nationalistic, populist fervor that is being drummed up in some areas of politics today. The purging of intellectuals from institutions and appointing those with a lack of scientific achievement to high positions also draws disturbing parallels to the state of politics today.I saw some reviews that felt the book was too scholarly in tone, but I found it highly readable. Definitely the best read of the year for me.
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  • Sharon
    January 1, 1970
    Heavier read than expected as for me as it seemed closer to a textbook resource than a general audience book. Very detailed history of the subject which does provide a strong retrospective thought process for the reader of how individuals with disabilities have been treated and current direction of supports and services.My thanks to goodreads and the book's sponsors for the opportunity to read this book and extend my knowledge of the history of the subject covered.
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  • SibylM
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars.
  • FM
    January 1, 1970
    I made myself read this book is the same way I made myself sit through the movie "The Killing Fields": because it's an important story and we should not forget.I honestly had to keep closing this book and walking away from it. It was so very painful to read. There are stories in there that will haunt me. There was one story in particular about a little boy who was blind and had other disabilities whose mother sent loving notes to the facility about how to care for him all while they were deliber I made myself read this book is the same way I made myself sit through the movie "The Killing Fields": because it's an important story and we should not forget.I honestly had to keep closing this book and walking away from it. It was so very painful to read. There are stories in there that will haunt me. There was one story in particular about a little boy who was blind and had other disabilities whose mother sent loving notes to the facility about how to care for him all while they were deliberately hastening his death . . . I was reading it in an airport and had to put it down to keep from crying. The book reminds us that's so easy to dehumanize people, to think of people as "the other" and somehow not "good enough" because of some difference they have: disability, culture, language, religion, skin color, gender, whatever. The justifications that the Nazis used to murder people were couched in scientific language but were simply excuses to murder and destroy. Please, please, let's not forget this again.
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  • Caroline
    January 1, 1970
    Eye opening book on the history of Dr. Asperger in Nazi Vienna. Disturbing treatment of children and evils of euthanasia. The Autism and Aspergers spectrum was a death sentence. Author reveals so much about how the doctors had no real compassion for children who didn't fit the perfect citizen. Disturbing to know this is where these labels originated from. Won book from Goodreads and Edith Sheffer, thank you!
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  • Amy Payne
    January 1, 1970
    I received this book compliments of Goodreads in a giveaway. I’ve worked with children on the spectrum for 20+ years so I was interested to read the origins of the Asperger diagnosis. It was a lot to take in. Due to the hideous euthanasia protocol used during the Nazi regime, I could only read this book in small parts. It was obvious how hard the author worked to gather all the facts, stories and insight of this horrid time period. I am thankful that the Asperger diagnosis is no longer used in t I received this book compliments of Goodreads in a giveaway. I’ve worked with children on the spectrum for 20+ years so I was interested to read the origins of the Asperger diagnosis. It was a lot to take in. Due to the hideous euthanasia protocol used during the Nazi regime, I could only read this book in small parts. It was obvious how hard the author worked to gather all the facts, stories and insight of this horrid time period. I am thankful that the Asperger diagnosis is no longer used in the DSM or everyday language so that man is no longer credited with identifying children who display certain characteristics indicative of high functioning autism.
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  • S.D. Curran
    January 1, 1970
    A detailed look at a genocide enablerI am fascinated by the mind and history, so this book carefully blended both. The rise of autism as a diagnosis has its roots in the interwar period, and Asperger, who initially resisted the diagnosing of children, didn’t just ‘happen to get involved,’ as some might think, but was clearly involved in one of the biggest examples of genocide and eugenics this planet has ever seen. Following Asperger’s roots in Austria, this book provides evidence that Asperger A detailed look at a genocide enablerI am fascinated by the mind and history, so this book carefully blended both. The rise of autism as a diagnosis has its roots in the interwar period, and Asperger, who initially resisted the diagnosing of children, didn’t just ‘happen to get involved,’ as some might think, but was clearly involved in one of the biggest examples of genocide and eugenics this planet has ever seen. Following Asperger’s roots in Austria, this book provides evidence that Asperger knew his recommendations to send children and teens to certain institutions was effectively signing a death warrant. While Asperger never formally joined the Nazi party and remained a committed Catholic, from his vantage point in Austria, he could clearly see the direction his field, as well as his country, was heading. Even in the mid-thirties, he watched as his Jewish colleagues disappeared from the field of psychology, without asking questions or doing anything to stop it.The end result is a man who started making compromises to advance his career in his youth and wound up being involved in some of the most barbaric and inhumane experiments in all history. One of his colleagues contributed much to today’s field of psychology - using brains from numerous dead children he’d let die in institutions decades before - preserved in pickle jars in the basement of his home.A fascinating read that shows how we are always one or two compromising decisions away from being involved in terrible injustices wrought upon mankind.- Sedgy
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  • Kip Koelsch
    January 1, 1970
    3.5 stars: This is difficult but important subject matter--eugenics and its impact on child psychology and psychiatry in Nazi Germany and beyond. But, I'm not sure the discussion was well-served by these treatment. The focus of the work, Hans Asperger appears more of a tenuous thread keeping the narrative together. What amazed me the most (and maybe this was the point?) was the impact this seemingly mediocre researcher and doctor had on today's treatment and diagnosis of children. Perhaps that r 3.5 stars: This is difficult but important subject matter--eugenics and its impact on child psychology and psychiatry in Nazi Germany and beyond. But, I'm not sure the discussion was well-served by these treatment. The focus of the work, Hans Asperger appears more of a tenuous thread keeping the narrative together. What amazed me the most (and maybe this was the point?) was the impact this seemingly mediocre researcher and doctor had on today's treatment and diagnosis of children. Perhaps that really was the point of the book--calling out the astonishing increase in "autism" diagnosis following the rediscovery and propagation of Asperger's previously unheralded work in the late 70s-early 80s? If you are interested in this aspect of autism--I recommend the book. If you are interested in the depth of depravity of the Nazi eugenics, euthanasia and psychological classification programs, this will provide some insight--specifically related to the programs in Vienna.
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  • Erin
    January 1, 1970
    To say this book is painful to read is an understatement. But if you've ever wondered to yourself "How did people get to the point where they felt it was okay to judge and exterminate people during World War II?" this book helps answer some of those questions in terms of psychological and social expectations. I now more deeply understand the Reich's fixation on and promotion of the group mindset, and how this obsession with all members of society "wanting to be part of the group" allowed unspeak To say this book is painful to read is an understatement. But if you've ever wondered to yourself "How did people get to the point where they felt it was okay to judge and exterminate people during World War II?" this book helps answer some of those questions in terms of psychological and social expectations. I now more deeply understand the Reich's fixation on and promotion of the group mindset, and how this obsession with all members of society "wanting to be part of the group" allowed unspeakable atrocities to occur even well before the Holocaust, as most of us know it from history. This book delves into the lesser well-known history of the children who were deemed unworthy to be in society by psychological standards of the day. I'm thankful Sheffer spent the time and energy to research and reveal the truth, however gut-wrenching.
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  • Dan
    January 1, 1970
    Sheffer presents a detailed and thoroughly researched work. She selves in to the dire and deadly perils faced by people with disabilities under the Third Reich and the pervasive influence of Nazi philosophy on today’s field of psychiatry and special education.This work represents a critical missing piece in our current understanding of disability and neurodiversity, namely, by whose standards are we defining these individuals? It should be required reading for all educators and for parents of ch Sheffer presents a detailed and thoroughly researched work. She selves in to the dire and deadly perils faced by people with disabilities under the Third Reich and the pervasive influence of Nazi philosophy on today’s field of psychiatry and special education.This work represents a critical missing piece in our current understanding of disability and neurodiversity, namely, by whose standards are we defining these individuals? It should be required reading for all educators and for parents of children of disabilities, especially those who move within the autism community.
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  • Christie
    January 1, 1970
    Haunting and troubling, especially being the mother of a child with "autistic psychopathy", I found this book to be as informative as it was difficult to stomach. There were many times that I cried as I tried to envision the euthanasia of children, based solely upon nationalistic policy and the concept of Eugenics.
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  • Justlesa Hall
    January 1, 1970
    Such a fantastic portrayal of the time period. I learned so much not just about Asperger but about other doctors and practices at the time. I wish there had of been more about the woman who coined the term in America, her story seemed to just be a last minute addition. Absolutely love the ending.
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  • April
    January 1, 1970
    I was expecting more of what happened on a day-to-day basis inside of the Am Spiegelgrund clinic, but instead it was more about the ideology of the time.
  • Betsy Del Vecchio
    January 1, 1970
    Very well researched and written. A difficult, emotionally devastating read.
  • Leslie Jonsson
    January 1, 1970
    Extremely thought provoking book on the creator of the term "Aspergers syndrome, and his connections to the Nazi regime in Europe.
  • Nissa
    January 1, 1970
    I found this book to be really informative and well-balanced. I won a free kindle version of this book in a goodreads giveaway.
  • Steve
    January 1, 1970
    A very interesting book and tragic as well as how Nazi doctors and psychiatrists helped the Germans eliminate children who had special needs.
  • Tena
    January 1, 1970
    I won a kindle version #GoodreadsGiveaway
  • PWRL
    January 1, 1970
    A
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