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A Brief History of Cassandra

Posted Jul 09 2009 4:45pm 3 Comments
As Tony Attwood begins his US speaking tour at a conference in Hartford, Connecticut, where he is scheduled to appear tomorrow, autistic rights advocates from ASAN New England are making it clear that the bogus concept of "Cassandra Affective Deprivation Disorder" is discrimination based entirely on neurology and that the autistic community cannot stand for that.

Because some people are still wondering what the controversy is about, I'm providing a brief explanation of the history and nature of this purported disorder, directly from a primary source: The Asperger Couple's Workbook (Maxine Aston, Tony Attwood; Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2009).

Chapter 9 of the book (viewable in part through Google Books ) explains that the term "Cassandra" comes from a Greek myth and refers to a prophet who was cursed with never being believed. You can find more information here about the Cassandra story and the actual characteristics that were attributed to Cassandra and Apollo in classical mythology. I've quoted a short excerpt (which is fair use under US copyright law) from the book below:

"This feeling of not being believed is typical of how many NTs feel when living with a person with undiagnosed Asperger Syndrome.

Over the years the terminology for the effect of Cassandra has changed. Before Cassandra it was referred to as the mirror syndrome by the Families of Adults Affected by Asperger Syndrome (FAAAS) and then referred to as the Cassandra phenomenon (Rodman 2003). Terminology has since progressed from Cassandra affective disorder and now more appropriately Cassandra affective. The Cassandra phenomenon was first made public at the Families of Adults Affected by Asperger Syndrome (FAAAS) conference in 2003 as Cassandra affective disorder (CAD) (Aston 2003b) and finally Cassandra affective deprivation disorder (CADD) (Aston 2007).

…CADD is the result of emotional deprivation due to the fact that one partner, affected by Asperger syndrome, is unable to provide the emotional support the NT partner needs to stay healthy within the relationship."

It bears repeating that no legitimate research has ever been conducted to support "Cassandra Affective Deprivation Disorder." Maxine Aston simply made it up. Although it's likely that she never would have gotten into print and would have been widely dismissed as a crank if she had made such claims on her own, her association with Tony Attwood over the years has enabled her to feed off his professional reputation and thereby gain an appearance of credibility.

And sadly, judging by Attwood's continued unwillingness to repudiate the crankery and bigotry of Aston and FAAAS, it seems he's a willing participant in their schemes.
Comments (3)
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I'm not sure if the above was written long ago but there seems to be support for it among other professionals such as Attwood, Simons, Henault, Jennings-Linehan,and others. There is a study examining whether CADD qualifies American Psychiatric Association criteria for relational disorders which seems to say it is legitimate:


 As to the myth of Cassandra it seems silly to argue the 'right' interpretation because analogies are subjective imaginative comparisons not scientific analysis. The word Cassandra has been dropped anyway, or so it seems judging by the above studies?


 The Cassandra syndrome is very real to me.  I am married to a highly functioning  Aspie, and i am so angry all the time. Why? I never get my feelings vallidated ever!!! I feel like I am talking to a computer. But he is a good man. What can I say. He means well. I thank God for researchers like Mr. Atwood, and Maxine Ashton. I say thank you for diagnosing the way I am effected in this marriage. And once again so typical of  Aspies for not acknowldging that your personality quark is effecting your loved ones.  


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