Rich Shull: HBO Temple Grandin Special

thought_bubbleRich Shull writes with an intensity that befits a man struggling to whittle a rapid-fire slide show of thousand-word pictures down to a sentence or two at a time. Mr. Shull is part of a longstanding online community of picture-thinkers who see Picture Thought as the underlying basis for all thought; he is concerned also at the learned helplessness he sees being taught to younger generations of autistics. In communicating this he uses shorthand, typically a capitalized word or three (Einstein, Rain Man Era, Old Working Autism, and even the already-abbreviated MR/DD) to signify concepts which themselves could be expanded into a thousand words or more. Reading Rich can sometimes lead to the feeling that—as was once also said of the experience of listening to Thelonious Monk—one has stepped into an empty elevator shaft. As did Monk however, Rich has a story to tell and sufficient courage of conviction to tell it on his own terms, in a sometimes bewildering rush of enthusiasm, optimism, and wry good humor.  As was said of him by an editor at OpedNews, Rich offers “an invitation to think outside of the proverbial box as you read the words of someone who has had to learn to think inside the box.”

Big Time Autism—Generation Rescue—has managed to shoot the cause of autism in the foot once again.  This HBO special (airing Saturday, February 6th) is just short of a Rain Man movie event and can’t possibly promote more than the “helpless version” of contemporary autism.  When contemporary Autism was born via Rain Man, suddenly—and upon “expert” advice—most of the successful things we did as autistic people that unknowingly made us successful, instead became taboo.  Our Splinter Skills and Obsessions were stripped from us as quality caring doctors that KNEW of our pain tolerance, Picture Thoughts, genius side and odd social skills were all banished from Autism as it reached its new fame-driven heights.

The late Dr. Rimland, father of the movie Rain Man, seemed to know of our success and at one time he was keen on old autistic people like me that missed Rain Man’s Curse but alas, admitting to us would have kept the new era Autism and the impending fame-driven epidemic of stars to support the cause from ever happening to start with.  The movie Rain Man would have been a flop, if Old Autism facts were not ignored and “misplaced,” allowing for a watered-down autism epidemic to take root.  Dr. Rimland would not have been able to ride the fame train and become “top dog.”  Hundreds of other professionals would have never gotten their moment of fame or their chance at autism’s newest cure or diet.  Obviously if the Old Autism diagnostic standards were restored and quality professionals were allowed to work with us, we could now tell of our journey that BUILDS on the work of Temple Grandin and takes her picture thoughts all the way to the threshold of normal thoughts.  This thought process has never been in a book before and it is Autism 101. Autism spans from MR/DD as we know to Einstein and current era autism is just filled with too many people, mostly narcissistic parents and professionals, more worried about their next fame fix than their poor kid who’s going to a group home anyway, no matter what they do or how many times they appear on television.  I mean really, what better way to gain fame if your a professional of some type than preying on kids that are “too stupid” to be trusted or listened to—again they are going to a group home anyway, so who cares?

I’m sorry to rain on the parade, but Autism was once pretty well figured out before it was fame- and star-struck.  Before Rain Man we were so close to figuring out the Picture Thoughts that made us work and connect to normal thoughts that if Rain Man hadn’t happened we could have added another 1000 chapters to the psychology books by now as older people missing Rain Man’s Curse united and compared notes to discover we did a double blind human thought experiment that exposed the building blocks of the mind:  yes, they are Picture Thoughts that once learned yield normal thoughts.  Too bad none of what we figured out has been in a text book yet, or peer review would have listened to us and Contemporary Autism would not be forced to ignore us to save their empire and epidemic.  Just how can they admit to Old Working Autism without knocking out the foundation from under the Monster we know as Autism?  It would be akin to a Wall Street collapse of Autism.

The above is a substantially revised version of a draft which originally included the following two paragraphs, published here by editorial fiat:

None of the rest of these picture thoughts has ever been in a text book before.  Autism thoughts are building blocks of the mind and most normal people use autism thoughts all the time unknowingly but, being normal you never know or “see” the internal thoughts that make you think.  Those thoughts we learned by trial and error are indeed the one by one thoughts that make all human minds work.  Since none of this has been in a textbook before it will never pass the muster of experts of any type.  Since the thought process we figured out is all new news to mankind it is suspect on those grounds alone.  Even worse, the answers it presents are not very glamorous or impressive as man was rather hoping his mind was divine but sadly, it is more like a photo album.

I predict when all is said and done these Picture Thoughts will be the next 1000 chapters in psychology, as they link everything from stuttering to dyslexia to genius to MR/DD and even borderline personalities together in one simple explanation that fits everything.  I hope someday Kindergartens will be teaching the Picture Thoughts, the sublevel thoughts—thoughts we need to know before the normal ones really work.  I hope some day this knowledge of the internal thoughts can help reprogram a stroke victim or others with a brain injury.  Please keep in mind your normal thoughts are indeed shortcut thoughts and thus they present as advanced, and when you connect them to their roots the human mind is not quite the marvel we had hoped for.  On the bright side however all humans have the Einstein ability in them!

Both versions of HBO Temple Grandin Special first appeared at Pre Rain Man Autism.

HBO presents “Temple Grandin” on February 6th at 8 PM (ET/PT)

on 02/5/10 in featured, The Unconscious | 3 Comments | Read More

Comments (3)


  1. Clay says:

    Myself, I’m pretty sure that I’ve never been able to think in pictures, I’m a “words only” kind of guy. When I first heard of autism, (Jerry Newport’s segment on “60 Minutes” in 1996), I was referred to a couple of books, Grandin’s “Thinking in Pictures” being one of them. I just couldn’t relate to her story, it’s nothing like mine, and that just isn’t the way I think.

    I just ran across an interesting blog on this topic, that has even more interesting comments on it.

  2. Mark Stairwalt says:

    Thanks Clay, good points. I’ve already placed some weight on the validity of picture thought in a couple of my own posts here — all without being a picture-thinker myself. So I will keep this all in mind; I certainly put a lot of stock in Cowen and in, er, reality-based thinking in general. That said, there is a long line of thought running back from post-Jungian psychology though the Renaissance thinkers to Plato’s Cave and Heraclitus that has Image as underlying reality — and as we know, autism is a patchwork of experience rather than a narrow, unvarying stripe. If there’s any intersection at all between Autism and Image, it’s bound to be an interesting place.

  3. Rich Shull says:

    Man in general thinks in Shortcuts all the time. The Shortcuts are what he knows as normal thoughts. The longhand version of the thoughts are autism thoughts that take place during the lack of eye contact.

    If you don’t think you (as a normal thinker) think in pictures, have you ever been stunned and had to stop a conversation and been forced to say “I can ‘picture him, but I can’t think of his name? Then your mind’s eye displays a thought only you see that turns off the optic vision? If so you just witnessed a picture thought you don’t know you have that runs below the surface of the mind all the time. I see hundreds of those below-the-surface thoughts all the time and they make me Einstein at times and a fool at others. Streamline them and figure out how to use them and they make me “normal.” If science could hook monitors to our brains (everyone’s) I predict it would be nothing more than a big photo album that talks.

    I know and feel the point of view of people who don’t picture think, indeed most people in society don’t think in pictures like we do. However this is very important, once we learned our picture thoughts, the ones that build on Temple’s still and motion Pictures the result is pictureless, streamlined thought - or, normal thoughts. In essence If my theory is correct, once we learn what to do with our “daydream thoughts” during the lack of eye contact thoughts process we come up with normal thoughts. I predict that once all these picture thoughts that I think are sub-level daydream level thoughts are learned and disseminated in Psychology ,they will be the building blocks of the mind.

    My Autism Hero Alan Turing (1912-1954) who was father of the computer is noted in his biography (The Enigma 1983 Andrew Hodges) as being very “odd” in school (1920’s) and descriptions of his not paying attention and laughing at the oddest things tells me his internal picture thoughts like mine, were working very well. He was laughing at his daydream thoughts and occassionally our picture thoughts and reality clash and make us laugh. It puzzled his teachers, but like most of us from this era when Autism was not an issue they just learned that was Alan and that was his way. Despite NOT paying attention as his teachers would have preferred with eye contact, he did manage to get good marks on tests. Results were results.

    Again once we learn these picture thoughts pictureless thoughts the resulting normal thought it was amazingly easily to go pictureless. Still today, I use pictureless normal thoughts for social and normal things like when I’m at work or driving and use the Picture Thought for the inventions, the ideas and the deep thoughts. I wonder if the deep Picture-based thoughts are just not “Einstein”? When I work on my Turing Motor Invention I can have 1500 ‘engineering drawings going at once as I detail the motor.

    For a more modern Picture Thinker, You might look up the work of Autistic Author Bill Stillman.

    I realize all this Picture thought business is not realized by everyone so it has no real bearing on life (it would seem) but it is also a sub-level thought process that has never been in a text book before, so that is why no one has “discovered” it unless we have been there and done that. I hope that some day once its figured out It has a real link to the normal mind.

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