‘If I Can’t See It, I Don’t Have to Pay for It’: Towards a Theory of Disability Blindness

Introduction

Here I would like to present two potentially useful insights into the general problem of so-called “invisible” disabilities, by which I mean any number of potentially disabling conditions all of which have the common characteristic of being more or less difficult to see, understand, and accept as legitimate by anyone lacking the often specialized and/or up-to-date training required to diagnose them directly. Depending on the disability, this can include not just family members, friends, and co-workers, but even medical health professionals, including doctors whose experience and expertise lay in domains that aren’t directly relevant to the disability in question.

Such disabling conditions may include,

“…debilitating pain, fatigue, dizziness, cognitive dysfunctions, brain injuries, learning differences and mental health disorders, as well as hearing and vision impairments. These are not always obvious to the onlooker, but can sometimes or always limit daily activities, range from mild challenges to severe limitations, and vary from person to person.” (The Invisible Disabilities AssociationHow Do You Define Invisible Disability?)

Me and My “Invisible” Autism

For an example from my own life, since childhood I have struggled chronically for rational control over my own attention, striven excessively to organize my entire life around strict rituals and routines, and more or less botched up every interpersonal relationship I’ve ever had at home, school, or work. But it wasn’t until November 2016, just after my 53rd birthday, that I was properly diagnosed with the Autism Spectrum Disorder that best explains this particular triad of symptoms.

Now, one would think that such a diagnosis could only be a good thing, and I sincerely believe that in the long run it will turn out to be. The short run, however, has been a mixed bag. On the upside I finally have proper medical and therapeutic support, and at least the most important members of my family have come to embrace my diagnosis as a fulfilling source of answers to questions like “Whoa, what is up with him?” and “Why the Hell did he do that?

But I regret to say that the reaction of many has been less than sympathetic. Although much of this unsympathetic feedback is unspoken and revealed passively aggressively, at least a few hardy free-thinkers have been bluntly honest and highly articulate in their antipathy towards me. For example, consider these highly critical comments from one reader:

“…You’re not disabled. You’re just obsessed and angry…You’re a complete fraud. It’s my opinion whether you like it or not…someone with your intellect can easily research a psychological condition, go to a doctor, tell them what they want to hear listen to your tall tales of misfortune and assign you a diagnosis….”[1]

Or this one:

“You’re a sad little man playing the victim card while continually breaking rules you don’t like. Seriously, grow up.”[2]

Or this blurb (note the sadism of the final line):

“This blog is a testimony to someone who’s only ailments are selfcenterness, selfishness and greed. With the amount of energy and time you have put into this thing you could have already had another job for months. If you really have autism why don’t you blog about your search for a new job with your supposed ailment. I doubt you will though because that would be constructive and helpful to people with autism. Unfortunately the only thing readers have to look forward to is an awkward 3 month break in posts followed by a new entry about how your butthole hurts because you got your $hit puuuuussshed Innnn while in Prison….”[3]

But perhaps the most spectacular manifestation of this brand of hostility can be seen in the relentless and ongoing attempts by roughly a dozen individuals — mostly MetLife employees — to punish me for (what they must imagine to be my) pretending to have a disability and attempting to exploit public sympathy for my own selfish gain.[4]

Not that any of my former colleagues has accused me out loud of such fraudulent behavior, but at this point I think that is the hypothesis most likely to explain their collective and vindictive behavior toward me. These people can’t all be sociopaths, and if they sincerely believed me to have a legitimate disability I’m sure their behavior would have been very different. No, the most likely reason for their numerous and ongoing attempts to punish me is that they think I’m only faking my disability and that therefore I deserve to be punished.

Two Main Insights

I have thought a great deal about this whole situation and written quite a bit about it on this blog already, but here I wish to summarize my two main insights into the general problem. The first one is that these very angry but surely otherwise good people simply lack the training they would need in order to see, understand, and accept for themselves my Autism Spectrum Disorder as a legitimate disability. Because they lack this training, it really appears to them that I don’t have any disability at all, and so the obvious conclusion for them is that I must be faking it.

Although in such situations it is popular to reference the idea of an “invisible” disability, I believe this approach unfairly lays the burden of proof on the person with the so-called “invisible” disability, while lending an unearned legitimacy to anyone, e.g. a Disability Insurance company, who stands to profit or otherwise benefit from not seeing the given disability.

In order to solve these problems, elsewhere I have suggested the idea of Disability Blindness, which explicitly  acknowledges the objective possibility that, for example, a failure by Jones to see Smith’s disability might very well result from the fact that Jones simply lacks the training he would require to see it. This perspective at once shifts the burden of proof off of Smith and onto Jones, while demanding that Jones earn his legitimacy by acquiring the proper training. For a demonstration of how I have used this strategy to respond to one of my own harshest critics, please see the following 3-part series of blog posts:

  1. Am I Really Pretending to Be Disabled, Or Are You Just Pretending Not to See My Disability? An Open Letter to a Disability Claims Investigator, Part 1
  2. Am I Really Pretending to Be Disabled, Or Are You Just Pretending Not to See My Disability? An Open Letter to a Disability Claims Investigator, Part 2
  3. Am I Really Pretending to Be Disabled, Or Are You Just Pretending Not to See My Disability? An Open Letter to a Disability Claims Investigator, Part 3

The second main insight is that such Disability Blindness can actually be quite beneficial for some people, even profitable, and that for anyone who stands to profit or benefit in some way from being unable to see certain kinds of disabilities, such a person will tend to stubbornly resist the training he or she needs in order to see, understand and accept them them as legitimate. He or she will resist the training so as not to lose the profit/benefit.

This second insight can actually be expressed as a psychological law:

A Fundamental Law of Disability-Blindness

Given some disability that cannot be easily seen, understood, and accepted as legitimate without adequate training (e.g. psychiatric disabilities, chronic pain, etc.), a given layperson (one lacking such training) will nonetheless be able to see, understand, and accept the disability as legitimate to the extent that the disability doesn’t threaten to burden or inconvenience the layperson in any significant way.

Also, to the extent that the layperson perceives that he or she may be burdened or inconvenienced in some way by the disability in question, said layperson will resist the training and continue to find it difficult to see, understand, and accept the disability as legitimate, and this so as to escape the perceived burden or inconvenience.

Conclusion

All disabilities pose challenges to those who have them, but when a given disability can only be detected by people with specialized training, everyone else may succumb to the illusion that the disability is non-existent and conclude that the person with the disability is faking and attempting to exploit public sympathy for private gain. This illusion of cheating can give rise to hostility that may be expressed either covertly or overtly toward the person with the disability, thus greatly exacerbating the basic challenges associated with the disability.

In such situations, it becomes essential to understand the underlying psychological forces that are driving this hostility in order to find positive and constructive ways to cope with it. The insight, first, that the alleged “invisibility” of the disability may be due entirely to a correctable lack of training on the part of the layperson, and second, that the layperson may stand to lose profit or other benefit by acquiring such training can go a long way toward creating that essential understanding.

Of course, the above is not offered as any sort of exhaustive theory of Disability Blindness, but I’m hoping it’s a useful contribution to such a theory. I invite you to offer any thoughts, ideas, or feedback which may help to elaborate and complete the theory in a comment below.

Thanks for reading!


[1] For background and context see Hate Mail from That Disability Claims Investigator, Part 1.

[2]For background and context see Anonymous Guest-Blogger or Annoying Troll, Part 1: Who Is ‘Sulla Felix’?

[3]This bit of sadistic nonsense was left by an anonymous reader on my post Warning: This Blog Just Might Scare The Shit out of You.

[4]To summarize briefly: first these individuals unlawfully resisted my requests for reasonable accommodation of my disability, taking 7 months to revise a 1 page document granting my request (which was still wrong); then they fired me unlawfully because I filed a first complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) for resisting my requests for reasonable accommodation; then they lied to the EEOC about why they fired me, giving the EEOC an excuse to drop the investigation of my second complaint against the company; then they tried to buy my permission to use their psychologically brutal tactics on others (I call the ensemble of these tactics The MetLife Meat Grinder); and now they’re fixing to send me to jail because I staged a one-man, totally non-violent, civilly disobedient protest at their campus in Cary, NC in order (among other things) to raise public awareness of The MetLife Meat Grinder.

For a more complete understanding, see, for example:

  1. The MetLife Meat Grinder: A Significant Public Health Concern
  2. The Morally Mature, Civic-Minded, Grown-Up Thing to Do: Yet, Another Open Letter to the Mysterious Mr. Phicks
  3. Is MetLife’s Code of Conduct Recklessly Incoherent Bullshit? — An Open Letter to MetLife CEO Steven A. Kandarian
  4. An Open Letter to A Certain EEOC Deputy District Director.
  5. I Was Gang-Raped by MetLife Employees: Another Open Letter to the People of Earth.

 

Is MetLife’s Code of Conduct Recklessly Incoherent Bullshit? — An Open Letter to MetLife CEO Steven A. Kandarian

Hello Mr. Kandarian,

Is it possible that MetLife’s so-called “Code of Conduct” is recklessly incoherent bullshit?

I ask this question because I believe my own apparent failure to understand the Code’s “guidelines for appropriate business conduct and ethical decision-making” has brought relentless woe unto me and my family, not the least of which is now the threat of a criminal conviction and all that goes along with it (fines, possible jail time, etc.).

Of course, I do realize that the Code itself might be just fine, and that my failure to understand it nothing more than a unique consequence of my own idiosyncratic manifestation of Autism Spectrum Disorder. But given that I might not be the only person to find this document dangerously confusing, and of course, on the chance that it might just be equally incomprehensible for everyone, here I wish to explain why I strongly suspect it probably is just that, or as I’m inclined to put it: recklessly incoherent bullshit.

To begin with, on page 2 of the Code you personally exhort MetLife employees to “…read, understand and abide by our Code of Conduct and raise awareness of issues that may undermine the public’s trust in our corporate integrity,” [emphasis added].

Then on page 4, all MetLife employees are charged with the “…responsibility to…Disclose or raise concerns about any potential violations of law or policy, or any other potential issues….” [emphasis added].

Now, the way I see it, for the past two years or so I have attempted in various ways to fulfill this Code-mandated “responsibility”. More specifically, I have tried to raise awareness on a variety of issues, not the least of which is a psychologically damaging procedural artifact I think of as The MetLife Meat Grinder, meat_grinder_MetLife_your_brain_750x500by which I mean MetLife’s systematic, for-profit exploitation of people with psychiatric disabilities (Autism, Bipolar Disorder, etc.). But despite my persistent efforts to raise awareness of The MetLife Meat Grinder and other “issues that may undermine the public’s trust in [MetLife’s] corporate integrity”, I must tell you that the company’s reaction toward me has been not just ungrateful, but in fact quite fiercely retaliatory, and thus precariously out of sync with the company’s glossy promise to not retaliate against attempts to fulfill this “responsibility”.

As boasted in MetLife’s Code of Conduct:

Our commitment to non-retaliation

We do not tolerate retaliation for making a report in good faith. MetLife prohibits employees from engaging in any form of retaliation against anyone for raising concerns regarding a violation of any law, rule, regulation, internal policy, this Code, or about unethical activity….

Code of Conduct, page 6

Yet despite this boast, MetLife fired me illegally last year, subsequently lied to EEOC investigators about why I was fired, tried to bribe me with $37,000.00 to keep my mouth shut about what had happened, most recently requested and was granted a No Contact Order against me, and is now pressing criminal charges against me, all in what looks to me exactly like retaliation for my numerous Code-mandated attempts to raise awareness of The MetLife Meat Grinder and other issues.

Did I get that right? Am I overlooking something?

Actually, I’m pretty sure the source of my hapless misunderstanding of the Code can be traced back to one particular sentence, found on page 6, and which I find especially baffling, thus:

“We do not tolerate retaliation for making a report in good faith“…

[emphasis added]. Now, really, what’s baffling for me about this sentence is that I have no idea what is meant by this phrase “in good faith”, although I do think it’s safe to say at this point that MetLife as a company has somehow decided that my many reports have definitely not been made “in good faith”, and also that in such a case retaliation is not only tolerated, but for me at least to be pursued with fanatical zeal.

That much seems obvious, but what isn’t obvious to me at all is who judged my numerous reports as being not “in good faith”, and by what criteria was this judgment made? Was there any sort of objectivity involved in making this judgment? Was my “faith” evaluated against some sort of checklist?

Was the Bible consulted? The Hadith? The Code of Hammurabi? The I Ching? This can’t possibly be a religious thing, can it? Did you all somehow figure out that I’m an atheist and decide to persecute me for my lack of religious belief? I don’t seriously believe that, of course, but then what?

Why have my attempts to report The MetLife Meat Grinder (and other issues) been judged by MetLife as being made in not “good faith”?

Here I wish to submit for your consideration that there is no rational answer to that question. Here I wish to propose that the aforementioned judgment of my “faith” as not “good” was made for no rational reason at all — that it was in fact made whimsically, nonsensically, wholly arbitrarily. Here I will publicly suggest that the human beings who judged my utterly sincere reports did so impulsively, thoughtlessly, and with great and continuing negative consequence to me and my family.

To be clear: I’m not claiming here that these individuals are actually as incompetent as they appear. On the contrary, I think they did what they did because the Code itself is confusing, by which I mean recklessly incoherent bullshit.

Sincerely,

Daniel L. Scholten, a.k.a. “The Walrus”

The Morally Mature, Civic-Minded, Grown-Up Thing to Do: Yet, Another Open Letter to the Mysterious Mr. Phicks

Dear Mr. Phicks,

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Oh, come now, Mr. Phicks, don’t be that way. Really, there’s nothing to be afraid of!

I know you asked me not to contact you again, but I also know that your request arose from a state of ignorance and cowardly panic. You didn’t have all the facts and mistook your fear as evidence of actual danger. You saw that I got arrested for something, jumped erroneously to the conclusion that I was therefore guilty of something, subsequently forgot that you were an adult, and chose to flee and hide like a frightened child.

Hey, I get it. It happens. Behaving like a morally mature, civic-minded grown-up is often a challenge. But that was a few weeks ago, and you and your client have had a chance to breathe, cool down, come to your senses, get your bearings, pull yourselves together, think things through.

Perhaps by now you’ve recognized that innocent people do get arrested sometimes. Perhaps you’ve taken a closer look at why I got arrested, and why I committed the alleged “crime” (they’re calling it “misdemeanor breaking or entering”). Perhaps you’ve come to see, as I do, that what I actually did was really just what any morally mature, civic-minded grown-up would do in the situation I was in at that time, which is to say:

Perform some alarming (and of course non-violent) gesture in order to draw attention to, and warn the public about The MetLife Meat Grinder

…which is to say, MetLife’s systematic, for-profit exploitation of people with psychiatric disabilities.

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MetLife wants to crush me like an egg for exposing their cruel, for-profit exploitation of people with psychiatric disabilities.

Mr. Phicks, make no mistake: MetLife will stop at nothing to guard the secret of this corrupt and diabolical revenue stream. No doubt the company wishes to crush me like an egg for trying to expose it. If I am successful in doing so, MetLife could face tremendous losses due to litigation, not to mention the effort it will take to revisit millions of previously denied disability claims, and of course all of the benefit payments MetLife will eventually have to disburse as many of those previously denied disability claims are finally approved. Who knows how long MetLife has been cheating and shenanigizing the psychiatrically vulnerable in this way?

The upshot here is that my success will entail an epic financial disaster for MetLife, and I expect the company will spare no expense in order to avert that disaster. Heck, really no one should be shocked or surprised if I die mysteriously or disappear suddenly in the coming weeks or months. At the very least MetLife will try to discredit me, make me look like a criminal, and send me to prison for as long as possible.

I need help here, Mr. Phicks, and by “help” I mean corporate sponsorship. If I am to see this project through to success then I need a corporate ally to have my back on this: one who can match MetLife’s financial muscle. I need at least one major corporation (the more the merrier, really) who can fund my legal defense: a company like your client, I believe, is exactly what I need right now.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: there’s no middle ground here, Mr. Phicks. Last year when MetLife did what they did to me and my family, it was like the company drew a line in the sand and shoved me on one side and themselves on the other, and now absolutely everybody else on Earth must choose a side, including your client. Unfortunately, your client’s expressed wish to “not participate”

line in the sand me vs MetLife_445x300

There’s no middle ground here because MetLife captured it from all of us. They invaded it, took it over, built office buildings and parking lots on it, leaving the rest of us with precisely two places to stand: MetLife’s side or mine. Ugh! What a sucky situation!

is simply not an available option. Especially since they have also exploited my psychiatric disability for profit, then to my view they definitely do not have the option of not participating. Of course, your client is definitely not obligated to choose my side, but with just two sides available in this situation, if they refuse to sponsor me in some way in this fight, then by default they ally themselves with MetLife.

Please, Mr. Phicks, perhaps millions of psychiatrically vulnerable people are counting on you and your client to step up and do the right thing here. Please do not turn your back on us like the effete, privilege-bloated cowards who run MetLife. This is your opportunity to do some good for a great many people. I implore you: embrace this opportunity to act like the morally mature, civic-minded, grown-up we both know you can become!

I believe in you Mr. Phicks! You can do it!

Sincerely,

Daniel L. Scholten, a.k.a. “The Walrus”


Image Credit: (mysterious businessman skulking away in the night) Pixabay

The MetLife Meat Grinder: A Significant Public Health Concern

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This is what I think of when I think of MetLife’s Short-term Disability Insurance Product. Image Credit: Shutterstock

In preparation for my upcoming defense against criminal and civil charges filed recently on behalf of the Metropolitan Life Insurance Company (MetLife), here I wish to document and explain the machinations of an internal, reusable process that MetLife has in its Human Resources toolkit and which not only did the company use to unlawfully terminate my own employment on May 19, 2017, but which the company is also free to use whenever it wishes to shirk its responsibilities as mandated by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

Armed with this cold, algorithmic process — I have come to think of it as the MetLife Meat Grinder due to the trauma it can inflict on a person with a psychiatric disability — the company can dismiss with impunity any otherwise qualified employee with a psychiatric disability and simply for having that disability[1].

Such a discriminatory dismissal is supposed to be unlawful under the ADA.

Furthermore, the MetLife Meat Grinder is potentially damaging not just to thousands of the company’s own psychiatrically vulnerable employees, but is also potentially damaging to the psychiatrically disadvantaged of any company that offers MetLife’s Short-Term Disability Insurance product to its employees as an employee benefit. It’s important to recognize that this may represent not thousands but millions of potential victims of the MetLife Meat Grinder, making this process a significant public health concern.

The MetLife Meat Grinder

meat_grinder_MetLife_your_brain_750x500

If you have a psychiatric disability and believe it to be covered by MetLife’s Short-term Disability Insurance product, be very, very careful about filing any claims. Image Credit: Shutterstock

What I’m calling The MetLife Meat Grinder is a re-usable process that MetLife has developed and which can be used by the company whenever it wants to shirk its ADA-mandated responsibilities. Beginning in late October, 2016 and continuing till today, my family and I have been suffering from the inside the debilitating effects of this process, which not only traumatized us, not only jettisoned us all into an unpredictably long period of financial free-fall due to the loss of my job, not only caused me to fail at the job I finally found five months later, but is in fact now threatening to result in a criminal conviction, all because I have dared to complain and to keep complaining about the MetLife Meat Grinder.

I urge you not to underestimate the public health risks posed by The MetLife Meat Grinder. Not only does it jeopardize the health and safety of every MetLife employee with a psychiatric disability, but this inhumane device can actually be exploited by any other company that offers the MetLife Short-Term Disability product to its employees as a so-called “benefit”. This is a potentially huge number of people whose psychiatric disabilities are being exploited to protect and pad the bottom line profits of MetLife and the companies that purchase MetLife STD insurance for its employees.

Here is a summary of how it works:

  1. meat_grinder_210x314

    If you have a psychiatric disability and need to take time off work to recover from a flair up of symptoms, please use extreme caution with MetLife’s Short-term Disability Insurance Product. Image Credit: Shutterstock

    When an employee with a psychiatric disability attempts to use the MetLife Short-term Disability Insurance product while on a doctor recommended medical leave, the MetLife Claims Department takes a very long time to process the claim, during which time the employee has no income, which puts intense financial pressure on the employee to return to work before his or her symptoms are being properly managed, thus increasing the likelihood that the employee will manifest potentially disruptive psychiatric symptoms in the work place.

  2. When an employee with a psychiatric disability requests reasonable accommodation for that disability, the Human Resources Department takes a very long time to process the request, during which time the employee is required to work without the necessary accommodations while continuing to fulfill all of his or her professional expectations, putting unreasonable stress on the employee and again increasing the likelihood that the employee will manifest potentially disruptive psychiatric symptoms in the work place.
  3. When an employee with a psychiatric disability is working full-time and waiting for requested reasonable accommodations, the employee’s manager assigns tasks that are unreasonably difficult, thus increasing the employee’s stress and the likelihood that the employee will manifest potentially disruptive psychiatric symptoms in the work place.
  4. When the employee with a psychiatric disability becomes symptomatic on the job under the above described conditions, the employee’s symptoms are deliberately misconstrued as violations of company policy and the employee is fired for these alleged violations.
  5. Following termination, any formal complaints (e.g. EEOC) or lawsuits are settled in mediation for a price that is far below the true actuarial present value (APV)[2] of the employment opportunity that has been lost by the employee.

Please let me know if you have any comments, suggestions, or questions regarding the above.


[1]e.g. Autism Spectrum Disorder, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, Depression, etc.

[2]An APV is a rational estimate in today-dollars of a stream of future payments (e.g. salary, bonuses, benefits, etc.), discounted according to interest, mortality and other relevant contingencies. For more information on APV, see the Wikipedia Article.

Please, Sir, Don’t Be a Coward! — An Egregiously Unlawful Open Letter to My Fourth Alleged ‘Victim’, MetLife Exec Geoff Lang

Dear Mr. Lang,

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Don’t be frightened, Mr. Hare, I just want us to be friends! Image Credit: Pixabay

First, I wish to explain here why I feel absolutely no shame, remorse, guilt, or regret for allegedly frightening you and at least three other MetLife employees on June 14 when I took my quiet and polite stroll through the buildings of the MetLife, GTO campus in Cary, NC.

To be clear: I don’t use allegedly here out of any suspicion that you and the others may only be pretending to feel fear. On the contrary, I find wholly credible these words from your own sworn affidavit, for example, which was submitted to the Wake County District Court at the end of June in support of MetLife’s request for a No Contact Order against me:

“…this post[1], coupled with the fact that Mr. Scholten broke into MetLife and came specifically to the executive offices, cause me to fear for my safety…”

Especially after watching the moving testimony of the three others who found the courage to face me in Court last week, I am quite certain that the fear is real for all of you, for which you have my sincere sympathy, empathy, and compassion. Furthermore, I can only feel admiration for the three who had the guts, despite their fear, to sit not 10 feet from me in the courtroom, even though I wore no cuffs nor chains nor muzzle to restrain me (I would have, and with great panache, but no one thought to ask me).

No, it’s not the fear itself that I find suspicious, but the idea that it was somehow caused by me, which is why it’s difficult for me to feel any guilt, remorse, etc. regarding your anxieties. You see, I happen to know as a matter of fact that I am physically harmless to all human beings, including all who work for MetLife, including the four of you. And because I know this all as a matter of fact about myself, I can only conclude that you cannot possibly be frightened of me, per se, which is to say, the real me, the human being I actually am, but rather you simply must be afraid of your own misunderstanding of me.

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I am not your misunderstanding of me. Image Credit: Pixabay

Mr. Lang, I am not your misunderstanding of me. Your misunderstanding of me is a figment of your own imagination. It is pure conjecture, a speculative bogeyman built from irrational neuronal activity sparking and echoing zealously within your own skull. Your misunderstanding of me is a frightening fantasy, a kind of waking nightmare you’ve been having, and one that is proving more and more consequential for me and my family — my children!

As you surely realize, by writing to you in this way I am now in direct violation of the useless and wholly unnecessary No Contact Order that was granted to MetLife last week by a Wake County District Judge, and if you don’t quickly find the courage to face your hysterical fear of your misunderstanding of me (and come to my defense), your cowardice will surely now result in my incarceration and a permanent criminal record.

I implore you, Mr. Lang, please don’t be a coward here. The juvenile inability to confront one’s own irrational fears is dangerous in a leader such as yourself. Please, good sir, I beg of you: dig deep, “grow a pair”, as they say, and manifest the courage you need in order to face what frightens you needlessly (your misunderstanding of me).

I can help you do this. I am willing to sit down with you at your earliest convenience and speak frankly with you, answer any questions you may have, help you prove to your own satisfaction that you are perfectly safe in my company. I want to help free you from the burden of your childish cowardice. I want to help you grow and develop into the morally mature and responsible adult you can surely become. No doubt you will be a better leader for it, and MetLife can only benefit as a company. For my part, you will also share in the admiration I feel for those three subordinates of yours who bravely accepted last week to be used by you in court as a human shield.

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Please, oh, please, won’t you grow a pair of these! Image Credit: Pixabay

You are afraid; I get that. But cowering behind your subordinates and a useless No Contact Order will only perpetuate your fear and delay the inevitable. You are a leader, sir, and a leader must have the courage to face his irrational fears. Well, I can assure you that your fear of your misunderstanding of me is as irrational as they come. That bogeyman of yours simply does not exist. The real me comes to you in peace and with an open hand extended in friendship toward you.

I sincerely hope that you can find the courage to accept it. If you do so, then you will get to know the real me, at least well enough to see that you need not fear me.

And if you do not, well, I’m pretty sure this letter will give the District Judge what she needs to lock me up for awhile. If she does that, then it is my sincere hope that the fact of my incarceration will help you find at least some relief from the burden of your own cowardice.

Otherwise, you may wish to look into entering the Federal Witness Protection Program. I don’t know if they’ll accept to protect you from figments of your own imagination, but you can always ask.

Hope that’s helpful!

Sincerely,

Daniel L. Scholten, a.k.a. “The Walrus”


[1] “this post” is a reference to the first open letter I wrote to Mr. Lang several weeks ago.

Blueberry Pie for Dinner!?!? — Yet Another Metaphor for Autism

beef_goulash_331x210You’re sitting in a restaurant with a friend trying to figure out what to eat for dinner. You decide on a savoury beef goulash, and your friend orders a banana split sundae.

“Whoa, what about dinner?” you say. “I thought we came for dinner, no?”

“Oh, right,” your friend says. “OK, I guess I’ll start with the blueberry pie. That looks yummy.”

“Uh…no, that’s not dinner either. Pick dinner food.

“Dinner food, right, yes. Um…well, the carrot cake looks –”

“Nope! Try again.”

“Creme brulee?”

“HOLY COW! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? PICK A STEAK OR SOMETHING!”

Now, unbeknownst to you, the waiter had accidentally given your friend a dessert menu instead of the entree menu, so that’s why your friend keeps making all of these weird choices.

Without pretending to speak for all autistic people, I can tell you that for me the situation with autism is a lot like that. From a perceptual and conceptual standpoint, I live in a world that is quite different from that of so-called “normal” people. But for me at least, and unlike with the restaurant scenario, this perceptual and conceptual “menu” of mine actually overlaps sufficiently with that of everyone else’s so that I’m able to communicate and function under many conditions well-enough. For example, I’m definitely not actually delusional or hallucinating, but under various circumstances my behavior can strike many as bizarre or crazy, as if I were delusional or hallucinating.

So if you ever witness me making choices that strike you as, well, bizarre, it’s just because I’m not choosing from the same menu as you. You’re making your choices off of your Normal Person’s Menu and I’m making my choices off of my Autistic Person’s Menu.

Two different people, two different menus.

I hope that’s helpful!

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Mmmmm, dinner anyone? Image Credit: Pixabay

You Don’t Fear Me; You Fear Your Misunderstanding of Me: An Open Letter to All The Sheeple Who Imagine Me to Be Dangerous

#KeepFamiliesTogether

Note: If you would like to donate to help the 2,500 immigrant children that were recently kidnapped from their families as a result of the Trump Administration’s cruel Zero-Tolerance Immigration Policy (protested yesterday by thousands throughout the US), please see the links provided in the following article: Here’s how to help immigrant children separated from parents at U.S. border.

Dear Sheeple,

Everyone who actually knows the real me knows that I am nothing like a threat to your personal safety. I am 54 years old, have no history of violence, have no interest in violence, and own no guns nor weapons of any kind.

I don’t even play violent video games.

Because I know for a fact that I pose no threat to your personal safety, it simply cannot be the case that I am the cause of your fear. If indeed you are afraid of anything, then it is your misunderstanding of me that frightens you.

To be clear: I am not your misunderstanding of me. Your misunderstanding of me is an imaginary bogeyman who doesn’t exist. The person I really am is nothing to fear.

I have almost no control over your misunderstanding of me. Other than pity you, the most I can offer as consolation is the opportunity to get to know the real me. If you can find the courage to do so, then I’ll be happy to sit with you and talk, answer your questions, help you to see that you’ve been afraid of nothing.

Other than that, what can I say? You are on your own.

Sincerely,

Daniel L. Scholten, a.k.a. “The Walrus”

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