Masking is grounded in trauma and is a trauma response
February 5, 2021 3:28 PM Subscribe
A groundbreaking analysis of the social context of autistic masking has been published by Dr. Amy Pearson (University of Sunderland) and Kieran Rose (autistic self-advocate) titled A Conceptual Analysis of Autistic Masking: Understanding the Narrative of Stigma and the Illusion of Choice (open access until February 10, 2021; the virtually identical preprint remains available after that date). Rose's associated essay explains the context and development of the collaboration.
From the essay:
From the essay:
Our views match in particular around where the Academic Masking narrative has gone and is going. We have shared concerns that so much context is missing from it, particularly around stigma and trauma and, even more specifically, with the fact that similar Masking behaviours are described across multiple marginalised groups, based on similar experiences. [...]From the paper:
The blame narrative I mentioned before effectively states that the reason Autistic women and girls have gone unrecognised is not because of a sexist system of recognition and diagnosis, not because of a literally sexist socialised system existing in society, but because the sneaky and crafty differently Autistic women and girls have been hiding from everyone all this time, with their superhero like power of camouflage and invisibility.
Research has shown that dehumanizing attitudes toward autistic people are still highly prevalent despite years of campaigning for awareness and acceptance, and 80% of the stereotypical traits associated with autism are rated negatively by nonautistic people. These findings are consistent with the study of Goffman on “stigma,” suggesting that familiarity with the stigmatized does not reduce negative attitudes toward them. Rose explains: “We move, communicate and think in ways that those who do not move, communicate and think in those ways struggle to empathise with, or understand, so they ‘Other’ us, pathologize us and exclude us for it.” This stigma can manifest in negative social judgments toward autistic people who are more likely to report negative life experiences including bullying and victimization. Thus acknowledging the social context in which autistic ways of being are stigmatized and derided is essential for understanding reasons that masking may occur, and what can be done to reduce the pressure to mask and associated impact.Bonus blog post: Kieran Rose on the use of dehumanising rhetoric, containing an extremely well-footnoted open letter from Dr. Sophie Vivian to King’s College London about ethically-indefensible and scientifically-outdated ideological content in its Applied Neuroscience graduate program. [CW: dehumanising language; mentions of medicalised child abuse and torture]