Remembering Mr. Spock from an Asperger point of view

With the death of Leonard Nimoy we say goodbye to a man who generated worldwide sympathy for people with Asperger traits


Leonard Nimoy passed away on february 27th 2015. On youtube numerous tributes have already been uploaded to remember him, particularly in his most famous role of Mr. Spock in the original series of Star Trek.

Mr. Spock was a character with quite a few Asperger traits. He approached issues and challenges by means of logical thinking, substantiating his conclusions by facts and empirical evidence. When the starship Enterprise and its crew boldly encountered all kinds of new phenomena, Spock was frequently fascinated, as is shown in the compilation below.

However, his persistence to logic was accompanied by emotional detachment, as emotions cannot be predicted in a logical way. His lack of interest for the feelings of others frequently annoyed dr. McCoy, as can be seen in this compilation.

This preference for concrete logical thinking is captured by the concept of systemizing — a person’s strength of interest in systems (in terms of the drive to analyse or construct them) — in contrast with empathizing — a person’s strength of interest in empathy (the ability to identify and understand the thoughts and feelings of others and to respond to these with appropriate emotions). His systemizing abilities served him well as a scientist on board of the Enterprise, which is appreciated by other scientists, as can be seen in the following video.

In this scene out of The Big Bang Theory, it is clear that Sheldon — a scientist who is also not devoid of Asperger traits — idolizes him as a role model.

Because of his tendency to systemize, communication is regularly taken too literally by Spock, thereby pragmatically missing the actual point.

Hence, because of his lack of social reciprocity and systemizing persistence, Mr. Spock might have been diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome (if this diagnosis would still have been valid on his stardate). From an Asperger point of view, the way in which Leonard Nimoy impersonated Mr. Spock was invaluable. In spite of being awkward and (half) alien, Spock still made friends and was loved. This can be seen and felt viewing the death scene and the funeral scene out of The Wrath of Khan.

This impact was not only fictionally present among his crew members and Star Trek fans, but can also be felt in the reality of the present worldwide mourning after the death of Leonard Nimoy. He will live long and prosper in our hearts, helping everyone to accept and appreciate people with Asperger traits.

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