Did anyone else find the Chris Packham show (https://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b09b1zbb/chris-packham-aspergers-and-me) worrying?
Had Chris chosen to be single, I would have applauded every aspect of this show and agreed wholeheartedly with his horror at the 'curative treatments' he witnessed in the USA / sentiment that his Aspergers was an intrinsic and positive part of his make-up.
But he isn't single, and I was horrified at how casually the show treated the dysfunction in his relationship with Charlotte.
He admitted to having difficulty in empathizing with other humans. The only feeling he expressed for Charlotte was gratitude that SHE loved HIM; he showed her no affection, avoided physical contact with her, said that he only knew how long they'd been together because she had told him (10 years), aggressively forced her to greet his dog before he otherwise acknowledged her after a significant period of time apart... for her part she acknowledged many difficulties in the relationship but the show presented her concluding that it was worth it because she so admired how his mind works. Was that just editing? Can it really be enough? Surely anyone can admire how his mind works, it doesn't mean that you have to be in an exclusive 'romantic' relationship / 'partnership' with that person to witness it.
I worry for her enormously, because I am only just now recovering from a "catastrophic" end to a relationship with a man on the Autism Spectrum. I wrote on this forum about it last year. The short version of it is that I supported him for years, and he ended our relationship a few hours after my Dad's traumatic death because HE found it too intense.
There was more too, but beyond the scope of this post. It's impossible to express the psychological impact these events have had on me, it was devastation upon devastation. That was about a year and a half ago. It has been a very tough time and although I'm starting to pull through now, my own mental health has been in the toilet for most of it.
What is a relationship for if not reciprocal intimacy and support? The show completely glossed over his really unpleasant attitude to humans in general, and Charlotte in particular. In addition, I'm concerned that the show may have given the impression that treating a partner with such disdain is acceptable. It's not.
I completely agree that Aspergers has unique potential to offer a whole other set of intellectual skills which are of enormous value to humanity, but it is my opinion that it is irresponsible for someone who does not have the capacity for human empathy to be involved in a romantic relationship.
Given the available time, I thought the programme was excellent. My only criticism relates to scheduling: I would have liked the programme on BBC1 at prime time. Making that programme could not have been easy and I think Chris Packham should be applauded for helping to improve the understanding of autism and Asperger's in particular. I did not find his attitude to people unpleasant, but that is probably because I have a similar attitude. I much prefer animals to people. With regards to the relationship with Charlotte, we do not know if there were reasons (other than time constraints) for limiting the time given to that aspect of Chris Packham's life. The relationship seemed ideal to me. If Chris and Charlotte are happy or contented, or whatever word(s) you wish to use to describe a relationship that works for them (and they are not hurting anyone), then we should not criticise that relationship. People are different and a relationship means different things to different people.
He seems to connect with his partner in a way that feels comfortable to him....that feels safe and manageable....whether he feels any guilt or concern that it might not be ideal for her is another matter