A Mind Apart
"How does everyone resist the lusciousness of others’ minds, moving around us, with us, all the time, like a gallery of veiled art?" asks Susanne Antonetta in A Mind Apart: Travels in a Neurodiverse World (Tarcher/Penguin). Within its pages, she investigates the lives of several neuroatypicals: her friend Dawn, who has Asperger’s syndrome and found human society difficult until she learned to exist with gorillas; her friend N’Lili, a 55-year-old man—in body—who has some 200 women living inside him; and Kyle Anderson, a teenage neighbor who killed an 8-year-old boy because, he said, the boy was driving him crazy with questions. We are invited most deeply, of course, into Antonetta’s own mind, which is relentlessly inquisitive, dangerously intense, lyrical in its self-talk, and diagnosed bipolar. On the eve of an era when the genetic eradication of multiple-personality disorder, manic depression, Tourette’s, and autism has become a real possibility, Antonetta not only warns us against a world impoverished by the absence of the future Van Goghs, O’Keeffes, Virginia Woolfs, and William Blakes, she suggests that given the slipperiness of consciousness, and the fine lines between creativity, adaptability, and madness, the rest of us might not be as neurotypical as we think.

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