Monday, March 26, 2007

The focus of my blogs for a while

I will be posting about my low NO hypothesis of ASDs for a while. I am in the process of writing it up, and have been for several years. It is a work in progress, and it is not small. It is the combination of a couple things, a paper discussing the ongoing symtoms associated with ASDs as being caused and exacerbated by low NO which I prepared for Ferid Murad, and a paper discussing how ASDs are an evolved "feature", that invokes the "tool making and using phenotype", the classic nerd with Asperger's (ie me). It is about 32,000 words now, and I estimate it will be over 50k by the time I finish. It is a work in progress because I am still learning and formulating my understanding of this.

Some may consider this to be "woo-like". It is not.

The objective of this paper is not to “prove” that low NO causes autism, but rather to demonstrate that considerable ASD symptomology is consistent with low basal NO, and that there are plausible mechanisms by which low NO could lead to the neuroanatomy and other symptoms characteristic of ASDs. My purpose is to stimulate the interest of ASD adults, and people working with ASD children and adults sufficiently to consider first steps leading to a clinical trial (where the only real proof lies) aimed at increasing that basal NO level. While all treatments have “side effects” which must be matched against any therapeutic effect, I consider the reestablishment of a normal commensal relationship with these bacteria akin to other aspects of “normal” health, a nutritious diet, moderate exercise, sufficient sleep. While there are “side effects” associated with a nutritious diet, moderate exercise and sufficient sleep, there are no known adverse side effects, and it is likely that there are none. Even a modest improvement or amelioration of even a few symptoms associated with ASDs would be sufficient to balance a treatment of negligible risk. I think the improvement may be considerably greater than that.

This document represents several years of work, as I have added to my knowledge of NO physiology and of ASDs. I apologize for it being so long and cumbersome, but NO physiology is not simple, neither are the developmental effects that lead to ASDIs.

Personal note: I have found that increasing my own basal NO levels through the application of AAOB to my skin, has lessened the severity of some symptoms associated with ASDs. My Asperger’s has gotten “better”. In particular my ability to “multi-task” and to work in the presence of distracting stimuli has diminished. I used to be able to read, think, and work productively at high levels while listening to National Public Radio. I was surprised when it became too distracting. However, there has been a marked increase in my ability to absorb, process, integrate and use information and I can now think “bigger” and more complex thoughts and understand things in ways I did not before. My reading speed has increased remarkably (it was never slow). I understand a great deal more of the body language of individuals around me (but as yet find my own body language to be unsatisfactory). I think I am more creative than I was before. This is an unsatisfactory way to describe the changes that I have observed in my thinking process. There are unquestionably marked improvements, although they are subjective. However acquaintances have noticed and commented upon positive changes in my affect and ability to interact socially and my psychiatrist of ~15 years has noted “decreased anxiety, depression and increased emotional connectedness”[i]. In retrospect Asperger’s explains a great deal of my life history, extreme proficiency at science, honors graduate from MIT, coupled with considerable anxiety, social awkwardness, and vulnerability to being picked on. I consider a “placebo” effect unlikely because I was unaware that I had Asperger’s when I started my NO experiment and I knew very little about autism until after I had noticed changes (the reduced ability to multi-task) and started reading about ASDs. As someone with Asperger’s I don’t have the motivation or the ability to be duplicitous. While I do want to be “right”, it is not to satisfy my ego, it is simply so that my conceptualization of reality corresponds with the reality that actually exists. I am perfectly able to accept that I may be wrong. I don’t think I am. As far as I have been able to tell, everything here is completely consistent with everything that is in the literature (once it is filtered for content that is wrong or mistaken). I do not want notoriety; I have agoraphobia, and don’t like crowds. Being the center of attention is extremely stressful. While this discovery will likely bring me fabulous wealth, making the world a better place for my children (and all children) is more important to me, my “legacy”.

I think the changes have to do with percolation. The brain is a neural network in the near percolation threshold. The sensitivity of the network to change is exponentially realated to proximity to the percolation threshold. The percolation threshold is a true critical point, changes are truly exponential, extremely non-linear.

More important than preventing or treating ASDs, is preventing the low NO and low ATP psychosis that accompanies severe stress, which I think induces the state called going “berserk”. I fear world leaders with control of sufficient nuclear weapons to extinguish the human race made delusional and psychotic by low ATP and “stress” more than anything else. I am 52 years old. If I can experience dramatic changes (though they did take several years, and are still ongoing), I anticipate that children on the autistic spectrum will experience even greater changes, perhaps sufficient normalization for some to constitute what some might call a “cure”.

The notion of a “cure” in ASDIs is problematic because of the fear that people who are “normal” would impose their standards of “normality” on ASDIs, and erase characteristics which those ASDIs feel are important aspects of their personalities. While I feel that fear is well grounded (in that erasing abnormal traits (and individuals) has been a very common aspect of human history), raising a person’s NO level will not have that effect. If the “disease” state is an arbitrarily defined one (as I feel ASDs are), crossing the arbitrary threshold constitutes a “cure”. Just as if 5’3” was defined as “short”, becoming 5’4” would make one “tall”. The changes have not made me “normal”, but they have greatly improved my functionality. While an n of 1 does not constitute “proof” it is “data”, (albeit of low statistical power). While my functionality as I perceive it has increased greatly, I suspect that NTIs would still consider me abnormal and in need of “something”. The inability of some NTIs to accept ASDIs is about NTIs, not about ASDIs.

As someone with Asperger’s, the degree of difficulty in getting my ideas even considered by others in the scientific community has been astounding to me. It is astounding because the difficulty has had nothing to do with facts or logic, but rather by the inability of NTIs to understand my ideas. That difficulty has been important in formulating my understanding of the importance of social isolation in the ability to recognize which scientific and cultural paradigms are “wrong” and so be able to go beyond them. Everyone who has rejected my low NO hypothesis has done so without understanding it, no one who has rejected it has (so far) been able to (or willing to) point out any flaws, or inconsistencies, or where it is incompatible with data in the literature. There have been some senior scientists who have accepted my ideas because they have taken the time to understand them (at least in part). When I have (rarely) submitted manuscripts they have been rejected as “uninteresting”.

I suspect that the difficulty NTIs (those without a significant level of ASDs), have in working and acting outside existing cultural and scientific paradigms relates to mirror neurons and the compulsion that NTIs have to be an accepted and acceptable member of society. I suspect that a large part of the antipathy and malevolence that many NTIs feel toward ASDIs (though they may deny such feelings), relates to the absence of a compatible mirror neuron mediated cultural/communication paradigm in the ASDI. I suspect that lack of compatibility leads to an invocation of the “xenophobia subroutine” directed toward the culturally incompatible individual. When a parent feels xenophobia toward their own child, the result is dissonance which at times is resolved by displacing the malevolent feelings onto any perceived “cause”, the evil pharmaceutical industry, anti-chelation skeptics, or in times past witches. Because ASDs don’t invoke mirror neuron mediated recognition, and they don’t pass the subconscious “Turing test”, they don’t appear as “fully human”, and so extreme measures are acceptable to “correct” this (and so make them "human"). These “treatments include chelation, Applied Behavioral Analysis (ABA), and providing negative “consequents” (inflicting pain via electric shocks, which in any other context would be called torture). Alan Turing was very likely on the ASD spectrum, and his brilliance in mathematics was essential to the Allies winning WWII. I find it ironic (and very sad), that Turing himself in effect “failed” the “Turing test” with respect to the British authorities, who then subjected him to hormone injections to “cure” his sexual orientation. It didn’t “work”, and he killed himself.

For every group that has been discriminated against, ethnic groups, women, gays, Jews, cultists, atheists, and now ASDIs, that discrimination has been “justified” by the feelings of the perpetrators that such bad treatment was appropriate because individuals in the group were “different”, and so not fully “human”, and worthy of the natural respect that “humans” are naturally endowed with. In the US Declaration of Independence, the writers state “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness”. What they actually “meant” was that all white land-owners were created equal. The decision to exclude women, blacks, native Americans, and others doesn’t appear to have been conscious, otherwise they would have explicitly done so in their language. The writers of the US Declaration of Independence were not stupid, or ignorant. They were educated and literate. Presumably it was something they simply didn’t have the capacity to understand, much like Louis Armstrong’s statement about Jazz, “Man, if you have to ask what it is, you'll never know.” How many of our own “self-evident” truths are only “self-evident” because of our blindness that there are alternatives?

[i] #### #######, MD., PhD. Director Psychotherapy training Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute (personal communication).


Edward A. Taub, M.D. said...

May I send you a complementary copy of a book about NO that I have written with Dr. Ferid Murad?

I think you'll find our work very interesting. Where shall I send the book? It's best to communicate via my email address:

Edward A. Taub, M.D.

Carol said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Edward A. Taub, M.D. said...

I am so sorry but I lost your address a long time ago so I never followed thgrough on sending you a book. Please re-send it to me.

edward a. taub, m.d.