Neuroqueer liberation will save us all

What do TikTok, pathology, colonialism and capitalism have to do with each other?

Emma Barnes
2 min readSep 18, 2022



The pathology paradigm

There’s something awry with psychology and it’s not a recent invention. It’s called the pathology paradigm and it’s the esteemed medical pulpit from which doctors and psychologists problematised homosexuality, left-handedness and even a desire for liberation from slavery. It is, in a word, messed up.

Mightbeautistic makes crystal clear what’s missing from the pathology paradigm👇🏻

Their thread describes a list of faulty judgements made by doctors about neuroqueer folk, and supplies information to fix their diagnostics. Note what KIND of information helps:

You mightbeautistic has added experiential reports. Autistic words! Where medicine only authenticated “from without”— specifically observations of rich white cisgender boys, neuroqueers are now speaking for ourselves.

Lived experience shared and believed, not pathology handed down, liberates us all — link for subtitled version

I find it hard to imagine telling someone else who they are before asking them. I would have an extra layer of discomfort about telling someone they were a “deficit” or a “disorder”. Yet some professions make it their role. That’s pathology. That’s psychiatry. That’s colonialism.

“TIKTOK GAVE ME AUTISM”, reads a wry t-shirt. We recognise ourselves when we see ourselves. We do not see ourselves in medical diagnoses. We see ourselves on TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter. We see ourselves at conventions of our special interests. On dancefloors. Across bridge tables.

PSYCHIATRY’S TAXONOMY identifies us and its care isolates us. With one hand, diagnosis gives us a promisary hug — “you are no longer alone” . With its other hand it locks the surgery door behind us. None of our neurokin in sight. We pass each other silently in the waiting room instead of connecting to get active. Inside we are very much alone, shipping our scanty coin to back to the rich, and practicing sickness once again. If we take these pills, or do this CBT, or DBT, we can change.

We’re desperate for help. We trust.

NEURONORMATIVE SOCIETY IS SEVEN CIRCLES OF HELL; sensory, social, scheduled, stimless, dynamic, technological, natureless, NORMATIVE! Ok, eight. We need help. But not from medicine. From everyone.

NEURODIVERGENT PEOPLE ARE CANARIES in the capitalist coal mine. We are not the illness or the cure. We are the thermometer. We melt down in the supermarket? We’re measuring the environment. Our screams tell what will, unchecked, cook us all. The lights, music, and signage overwhelming us are a fever. Capitalism is the disease, coming to a boil, cooking the planet, and all of its creatures. Many humans are adaptable. Unmeasuring. Tolerating. Not us. Not our nervous systems.

Listen to us.

Believe us.



Emma Barnes

Autistic, trans, survivor, abolitionist @friedkrill on Twitstagram