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Camus’s L’étranger and the first description of a man with Asperger’s syndrome.

Psychol Res Behav Manag. 2018;11:117-121

Authors: Shuster S

The continued discussion about the meaning of Camus’s famous novel, L’étranger, provoked a re-reading, and this, in turn, led to its clinical analysis and further investigation. The book rests entirely on the thoughts, words and actions of its central character, Meursault, and these were found to show impairment of social relationships, communication and interaction, with other traits diagnostic of the Asperger’s subgroup of the autism spectrum disorder. It was then found that Camus had based Meursault on his close friend Galindo, and a search was therefore made for evidence of Galindo’s character; this revealed him to be an intelligent but odd person, who exhibited the characteristic impairment of social and personal behavior of Asperger’s syndrome. Thus, Camus had recognized and understood his friend’s strange behavior before Asperger’s syndrome had been defined; his use of it for the creation of Meursault is therefore the first published account of a man with this disorder. Many of the interpretations and ideas developed from Meursault’s words, thoughts and actions must now be reconsidered, as they are a misreading of the words and behavior of a man with Asperger’s syndrome. The outcome of this clinical examination of L’étranger is unique; it shows that a precise account of a person with a neurobehavioral disorder was made by a novelist before the disorder had been clinically defined.

PMID: 29695940 [PubMed]

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