Monday, December 3, 2012

Obsession with molecular structure

Check out the main picture from the Wikipedia article on Asperger's syndrome. Note the odd behavior of the boy, who as Wikipedia says, is obsessed with molecular structure (bonus points for identifying the molecule without cheating and visiting the Wikipedia page).

Caption: "People with Asperger syndrome often display
intense interests, such as this boy's fascination
with molecular structure." Source: Wikipedia.
This immediately suggests an opportunity for total synthesis groups to get grants: just repurpose the synthesis and NMR studies as a therapeutic exercise for the PI with Asperger's disorder. No FDA approval or expensive clinical studies required.

I have approximately zero expertise in the modern state of clinical or research psychology, but I do remember from Introduction to Psychology the stressed importance of the American Psychiatric Association's Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM), a diagnostic manual widely accepted by psychologists and psychiatrists for the purpose of describing and classifying mental conditions. Compared to handbooks in other fields (the CRC Handbook of Chemistry and Physics, for instance, is in its 93rd edition), the DSM has undergone relatively few revisions, progressing from DSM-I (1952) to DSM-II (1968), DSM-III (1980), DSM-III-R (1987), DSM-IV (1994), and DSM-IV-TR (2000). After a 12 year lull, the DSM-V is coming out in 2013

There are (obviously) some changes going into place, which psychologists find important and you can read about if you like. The changes (and the manual itself) are not without controversy. Most prominently praised/criticized have been the elimination of two items: dyslexia and Asperger's syndrome. That's interesting, as it's my understanding that both are relatively common and I know people who self-identify with either disorder. I can't help but wonder how these things impact treatments and outcomes of individuals