Neurodivergence and Misanthropy

I’m Not a Misanthrope, I Just Hate People

Not just “sometimes”

In his Literary Hub essay, Misunderstanding Thoreau: Reading Neurodiversity in Literature and in Life, Steve Edwards says that much of what characterizes neurodivergence is often mistaken for misanthropy. To back this up, he cite some articles about Thoreau’s retreat to Walden. And, they’re not what you’d call “complimentary”. But while he’s right, there is a case to be made that we neurodivergent types actually are misanthropes. If we are, I’m blaming neurotypical society. But, whether we’re mischaracterized or actually do hate people, it seems neurodivergence and misanthropy go hand in fucking hand.

“People Fucking Suck” Is the Closest Thing I Have to a Mantra

Every so often, I’ll hear someone say that people are basically good. Whenever this happens, my response is always, “Have you met people? Because they’re fucking awful.” Now, I say this in my head because these gentle souls aren’t equipped to handle my curmudgeonly views on humanity. To be clear, I see humans as scared, selfish, tribal animals. Ones that haven’t progressed all that far since our ancestors came down out of the trees and rose up on two legs. Maybe not even that far because I feel like Lucy and her kin wouldn’t shit on other contributing members of their clan for being slightly different. Our society, however, hasn’t figured that out and seems to see neurodivergent folks as needing to be taken care of instead of contributing members of the clan.

Y’all Know I Love Definitions, Right?

Let’s take a minute to define “misanthropy” here. Most dictionaries say that it is “hatred, dislike, or distrust of humankind.” While “hatred” may be a little strong for my taste, “dislike” and “distrust” are right on the money. I mean, how else should I feel about a system/society/culture that basically tells me I exist wrongly. There are examples of this in Edwards’ LitHub essay. He shows neurotypical authors ripping the shit out of people who clearly display neurodivergent traits, calling them “cold-eyed,” “narcissistic,” and “fanatical about self-control.” Sure, they’re saying this shit about people who are long dead. But they’re people who are long dead that any ND would look at and say, “Holy fuck, that’s me!”

It’s Not Just Me

A good bit of this piece is written in the first person, talking about my experiences. That’s because I’m trying make it relatable and put a more personal spin on it. All the writing shit I read says that if you want a point to stick, tell a story, make it personal. But here’s the thing: I’m not the only ND who’s a misanthrope. Most of the neurodivergent people I’ve ever met harbor at least a mild dislike for humankind. And, I don’t know of any who believe that “people are basically good” bullshit. In part because of the fuckery we’ve experienced in our lives but also because there is almost no evidence to support that claim. NDs tend to be big on concrete things like evidence and proof and when you say stupid, unsupported shit, we don’t like you very much.

That Sweet, Sweet Neurotypical Oblivion

In the essay, Edwards talks about an anecdote that “lacks awareness of its neurotypical bias.” And that is probably the main driver of my misanthropy. Because, as a neurodivergent person, I am constantly aware of my quirks, my weirdness, my difference, i.e. all the things that make me, well, me. Neurotypicals, however, don’t seem to have any such awareness. They act like they don’t have quirks or weird ways of doing shit, Or even that they’re different from anyone else. Like, at all. Worse, they move through the world seemingly oblivious to the fact that everyone they encounter may not engage with that world the same way they do.

Neurodivergence and Misanthropy Go Hand In Fucking Hand

That neurotypical obliviousness can be a best-case scenario. Because, sometimes, neurodivergent folks are actively punished for engaging with the world in a different manner. That’s pretty much the story of my–and fuckton of other NDs–childhood. While life is improving for folks like me as society gains a better understanding of neurodiversity and how it works, those shittier aspects are still an issue. I mean, Fuckery like ABA, ADHD denial, and the nightmarish Judge Rotenberg Center still exists. As long as they do, you should probably forgive neurodivergent people for being a little misanthropic. And, by ” forgive neurodivergent people for being a little misanthropic”, I mean, “thank whatever god you worship that we haven’t murdered all you motherfuckers in your sleep.”