Frankenstein & Autism

I recently finished Mary Shelley’s classic, Frankenstein. My perception of the novel was skewed by the movie clips I’ve seen, and I was pleasantly surprised by the novel’s depth. It certainly isn’t the graphic horror story I anticipated.

Learning of the creatures awakening to the world, I was struck by a few descriptions and I wonder if Shelley knew something of Autism.

A strange multiplicity of sensations seized me, and I saw, felt, heard, and smelt at the same time; and it was, indeed, a long time before I learned to distinguish between the operations of my various senses. (Chapter 11)

No distinct ideas occupied my mind; all was confused. I felt light and hunger, and thirst, and darkness; innumerable sounds rang in my ears, and on all sides various scents saluted me; the only object that I could distinguish was the bright moon, and I fixed my eyes on that with pleasure. (Chapter 11)

I don’t have Autism, but from what I’ve read, I think she beautifully and accurately describes the overwhelming, hyper-sensitivity to sensory stimulus that so many autistic people struggle with.

If you’re interested in writing and reading, I also posted this on my writing blog, Discovering Writing.

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2 comments

  1. I’ve read that this can describe synesthesia, when your senses are combined so you see a number and associate a colour with it.

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