This is an excerpt from a recently published piece of writing by Simon Baron-Cohen:
“A characteristic of anorexia that many clinicians and parents instantly recognize is the self-centred lack of empathy, even though this is not one of the diagnostic criteria. While her (although on occasions his) parents are besides themselves with worry as their child continues down the potentially fatal path of self-starvation, the girl herself may stubbornly insist that she is happy with her body shape and weight. She may insist on eating separately from the rest of the family, more concerned with counting calories and weighing food to the nearest milligram than in fitting in with the family group.”
Some tough talk from the prof. I haven’t read the whole book yet, and I may well not bother, so I don’t know whether the prof also advocates that other sufferers of delusional mental illnesses should stop behaving like crazy people and get with the program. Should we advise schizophrenics to tell “the voices” to rack off, and get a life? Should we follow the philosophy of Chopper and implore depressives to “Harden the f*** up”? I guess if they didn’t have mental illnesses they might well have a go at acting sensibly, and try to fit in. Or they might choose otherwise, as is their right, as long as no one is being hurt. I’d like to offer the suggestion that it might be the mental illness that is the problem, not the attitude or the social disconnection of the patient, but who am I, a mere housewife, to contradict the opinions of a Cambridge professor? Is this the professor who is supposed to be some kind of world expert on the subject of empathy? So far, in this book, I haven’t encountered much of it. The title seems very appropriate.
Baron-Cohen, Simon (2011) Zero degrees of empathy: a new theory of human cruelty. Allen Lane, 2011. p.106.