Conditional Corner: We are all neuroatypical X-Men

Conditional Corner is a series that runs Fridays on TSParentsOnline. All stories, including this one by Vrinda Pendred, were originally published at Conditional Publications.

OK, who watched X-Men 3: The Last Stand and felt like, in many ways, it was the story of their life?  Not with me?  Let me explain.

In a nutshell: The authorities have discovered a new drug to “cure” the mutants of their “abnormalities.”  Mutants queue up in the thousands to receive this “cure,” but Magneto does everything in his power to sabotage it.  Magneto believes the mutants are special for their “unnatural” abilities.  He thinks they should revel in their differences.  He takes this view to the extremes, sadly…but each time I’ve watched the film, I couldn’t help thinking how much it was like the struggle of living with a neurological condition.

There are “cures” out there, and they are unarguably a godsend for people who can’t function in life without them…but for those of us who – if properly motivated – could find alternative means of dealing with these conditions…do we need a “cure?”  Are we that damaged, or do we just have different types of brains that lead to different thinking styles, different ways of feeling and responding, different abilities (just like everyone in the world, really)?

They called it “The Last Stand” – I know where I stand on these issues, but where do you?

I suppose I’m a bit more like Professor Xavier: I believe in allowing the ‘mutants’ to make up their own minds on this subject, rather than tricking and bludgeoning them into agreeing with my perspective, as Magneto did.  But for what it’s worth, I like to think that there are darker sides to these conditions that we should fight.  It’s wrong to sink into them until they consume us and we lose ourselves.  That is illness.  Some people can’t help falling prey to this illness, because their brains won’t allow it, and I appreciate they need the drugs.

But for the rest of us, perhaps we’re overmedicating – and not just with prescriptions.  Perhaps we spend too much time feeling shameful about our brains being a little bit different, and we forget that all brains are different, that there is no such thing as a normal brain.  Perhaps we forget that our brains have made us who we are, through chemicals, neurons and the life experience they have given to us.

Do we really hate ourselves so much that we’d risk losing our personalities (those drugs are definitely mind-altering – I speak from experience) just to remove symptoms that are often only so bad because others around us don’t accept them?

I have said for years that if the world accepted our differences, we could find a way to live comfortably enough with a vast proportion of our symptoms.  This was the inspiration behind my story The Royal Bank of Scotland.  To add to that story, perhaps in such an acceptant world, we would also feel less afraid to seek help for the symptoms that aren’t so easy to manage, because there would be less stigma involved.

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