Friday, February 22, 2008

Computer users and Asperger's syndrome

I have been following with interest the murder trial of Linux programmer Hans Reiser, not because it has particular IT Law implications, but because it involves a prominent open source community member. Mr Reiser married his late wife, Nina, in 1999. They had some marital problems leading up to 2006, and were involved in a messy divorce and custody battle. She was last seen in September 2006, and is presumed dead. As a result of their personal circumstances, Hans Reiser is accused of murdering her.

An interesting part of the trial has been Reiser's actions. He is said to lack social skills, which explains some of the reportedly strange behaviour after his Russian wife went missing. For that effect, the defense called a psychiatrist, who commented that computer users may suffer from Asperger's syndrome. Wired reports:

"Defense witness and psychiatrist Beverly Parr, on the stand for the second day, testified that those who use a computer regularly "possibly" might have Asperger's syndrome. Those diagnosed with this disorder have impaired social skills."
As an avid computer user, I must assure my readers that it is not my intention to kill anyone any time soon (unless they are coming at me inside World of Warcraft wielding an axe).

I cannot comment on the social skill aspect though... wait a second... that actually explains so much!

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