Gordon Peterson—early music specialist, professional musician, and former tenured music professor—was diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome at the age of forty-five, by which time he had suffered through decades of misdiagnoses, misguided psychiatric treatments, and despair. “For the first time ever,” he recalls, “I felt the correctness of the diagnosis.” Gordon attributes many of the hardships he has endured to being “wired all funny” with Asperger’s, but he sees the condition as the primary source of his musical talent, intellectual prowess, and fertile imagination as well. “In my mind,” he says, “there is an impossibly complex web of musical and non-musical cultural connections across time and geographic location . . . . I see a ribbon-like time line [that] stretches back from today all the way to the beginning of recorded history, and before . . . and I can walk around in it, looking at the instruments, hearing the sounds, hearing the language.” Asperger’s is “my superpower,” Gordon attests, but as the chapter chronicles, that superpower exacts a very high toll on him in terms of the anguish and turmoil it brings.
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