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The Social Network is a film which portrays Mark Zuckerberg’s life as he creates Facebook and the subsequent lawsuits which followed.  Zuckerberg’s character is portrayed as someone who has issues with social interaction which raises questions about whether he has Aspergers syndrome.

Image: angus mcdiarmid

The portrayal of the main character is the reason viewers are so drawn in, Zuckerberg has dismissed the film as “fiction” so when I refer to Zuckerberg I will be referring to the character in the film and not the actual person.  The film deals with a real life issue as many have suggested Zuckerberg’s character is on the autism spectrum.

And there are numerous reasons for this suggestion.  Throughout the film the character doesn’t make eye contact, in fact the character is usually preoccupied in something and sees no reason to leave the activity to look at someone.  He frequently looks out the window and in one instant comments on the weather.

His body position is often inappropriate for a social interaction, despite being in a court room the character continuously slouches in his chair.

With regards to peer relationships Zuckerberg is depicted as somebody with only one true friend, despite the importance of maintaining this friendship the character frequently lacks the ability to consider the effect of his behaviour.

For instants Zuckerberg sees no reason not to decrease his friend’s share in Facebook from 30% down to 0.3%.

Lacking emotional reciprocity

He also lacks emotional reciprocity in relationships, the movie starts with his girlfriend breaking up with him after he says she doesn’t need to study due to the school she goes to and then insults her by saying he could introduce her to people she would otherwise not meet.

The character then has two opportunities to rectify his behaviour, firstly immediately after the event, instead he writes an offensive blog about her.  And secondly on a chance meeting with her sometime after where he completely lacks the ability to apologise for his actions and instead tells her about the website he’s making.

Zuckerberg is also not capable of sharing enjoyment, he arrives at a party not to be with his friend but to tell him about his idea and then leaves stating that a looped video of Niagara Falls is distracting him.

The character can become easily preoccupied this is clear through his ability to “wire in” a concept Zuckerberg created where he is so involved with computer coding that he is oblivious to that happening in his surroundings.

Despite the many reasons for believing the character has Aspergers there are many to suggest he does not.  He creates social situations on his level, for instants a drinking game of computer coding and taking shots.

Emotional awareness

And in a single, all-encompassing moment the character shows a great deal of emotional awareness when he finally adds his exgirlfriend to facebook.  On a number of occasions throughout the film it is clear that he has never forgotten her and in this scene viewers are lead to believe the character is sorry for his behaviour.

Similarly some of the character’s interactions with his best friend suggest that he is emotionally aware of his actions on a number of occasions, such as in a scene where he tells his friend he doesn’t want him to get left behind.

Whether or not the character is meant to have Aspergers it’s clear the film has gone to a great deal of effort to highlight the character’s difficulty in social situations, in doing so it has done a fantastic job of emphasising an important issue through mainstream media.

Intrigued? Well to read my review of the film click here.

Image: angus mcdiarmid

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Vulnerable British citizens are not protected from the law of other countries despite possessing mental illnesses.

A British man who suffers from a mental illness has been sentenced to death in China and may be put to death as soon as Tuesday.

Akmal Shaikh travelled to China following the delusion that he could become a pop star. The charity, Reprieve are claiming that his mental illness left him susceptible to people who tricked him into carrying heroin.

His family have travelled to China to insist a full mental health evaluation should be performed. But why hasn’t he undergone a psychiatric examination already?

How can a person with a past history of bipolar disorder and delusions be treated as a healthy individual who has maliciously committed a crime?

And just why can’t Britain look after its own?

According to reports Gordon Brown and David Miliband have attempted to prevent the execution. But it seems that China is still going to go ahead and kill a delusional man.

The song Akmal Shaikh recorded beleiving it would bring him fame.

This video belongs to the charity Reprieve

The case runs in parallel with that of Asperger’s sufferer Gary McKinnon. Gary hacked into US military computers whilst looking for evidence of UFO’s. America applied to have him extradited for trial. The high court failed to prevent his extradition. And now his only hope lies with the European Court of Justice.

If the Brit is sent to America he could face 60 years in prison. More worryingly Gary has suicide tendencies and the stress he is under could lead to him attempting to end his own life.

So just why does Britain lack the ability to protect it’s vulnerable citizens? Does the rest of the world have so little respect for the UK that countries can do as they wish with our mentally ill?

You have to question just what the rest of the world currently thinks of the UK.

Bill Clinton made an unexpected trip to North Korea earlier this year. He travelled back to the States with two American journalists who had been imprisoned for entering the country illegally.

And Gordon Brown can’t even prevent a mentally ill British national from being put to death.

Image: Salvatore Vuono / FreeDigitalPhotos.net