Do I need to be healed?

This is the third of three posts of excerpts from Elizabeth Moon‘s novel The Speed of Dark. (Part one – How normal are normal people?, and part two – What does it meant to be “me”?)

In this excerpt, Lou is considering what it might mean to be “healed”:

If my self definition is limited and rule-dictated, at least it is my self-definition, and not someone else’s. I like peppers on pizza and I do not like anchovies on pizza. If someone changes me, will I still like peppers and not anchovies on pizza? What if the someone who changes me wants me to want anchovies…can they change that?

Asking if I want to be healed is like asking if I want to like anchovies. I cannot imagine what liking anchovies would feel like, what taste they would have in my mouth. People who like anchovies tell me they taste good; people who are normal tell me being normal feels good. They cannot describe the taste or the feeling in a way that makes sense to me.

Do I need to be healed? Who does it hurt if I am not healed? Myself, but only if I feel bad the way i am, and I do not feel bad except when people say that I am not one of them, not normal. Supposedly autistic persons do not care what others think of them, but this is not true. I do care, and it hurts when people do not like me because I am autistic.

As I finished up my initial draft of this, I came across Estee’s post What do we think we know? We know what it is like to be us, we know how to do things, we just can’t always explain it.

Hopefully I’ll have my full review done by the end of this (thankfully long) weekend.

6 thoughts on “Do I need to be healed?

  1. Lou has a hard choice to make there. I wouldn’t want anyone changing my anchovy sense.

    There is a slight problem with the viewpoint, i think.
    …I do care, and it hurts when people do not like me because I am autistic…

    People don’t like Lou because he acts differently from what they desire, not because he’s autistic or pdd or anything else.

    (Yes, that’s the Author’s problem, and not Lou’s.)


  2. Look, this isn’t about being liked, or fitting in, or meeting some definition of normalcy. It’s about you learning that chemicals were put into you that caused harm to your brain. Stop listening to all of these idiots who want you to accept that insult to your brain and have the hazardous chemicals removed. People who advise against this are evil incarnate.


  3. @Patrick,

    It’s hard to get across in such a short excerpt, but in the world that Moon has created (at least how I understand it), it is because he is autistic that people avoid him and give him a hard time. In general, the society depicted in the book “accepts” autistics much as modern American society “accepts” African-Americans.

    Non-blacks say they have no problem with blacks, but some (too many) will still “not like” someone, before they ever get to know them, just because they are black. The same is true in Lou’s world; acceptance is the cultural norm, but individuals will still “not like” a person just because they are autistic.

    Like I said, kind of hard to get across in a short excerpt, and I’m not sure I really got it across here.


  4. @John,

    I didn’t really give a lot of the background from the story, but the basic premise is that the cause of autism has been discovered to be a genetic issue and effective pre-natal treatments have been developed so that no more children are born autistic. Lou’s challenge is whether he should try an experimental therapy targeted at the few remaining autistic adults. In the world of the book, environmental insults (mercury, vaccines, etc) are not addressed.


  5. “Everyone knows autism is not genetic.” The perfect non-response. Especially when it contradicts the research. Of course, the research comes out of a massive conspiracy to hide the truth, so we’re all deceived and deluded.


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