Monday, October 27, 2008


In the Amazon Vine novel I am currently reviewing - "The Northern Clemency", by Philip Hensher - there is a character called Francis, a young man with the following characteristics.

He's intelligent, rather sensitive to his environment, but curiously aloof from other people. He doesn't do empathic relationships or girlfriends and his parent suspect he might be gay, although there is no evidence for it. Rather, there's a 'curious blankness' about that part of his personality.

Francis is perfectly competent at his government job, but his personal life is a void. He appears to have no inner drive to do anything, but is easily influenced by the suggestions of others. Faute de mieux, he does long walks, although at the point in the novel where I am at he has decided, on a recommendation, to do a solo trip to see Rome.

Coincidentaly I was re-reading "Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman and came across the description of alexithymia. Correlated with Asperger's syndrome but not identical, it was immediately clear that this was Francis. I hadn't heard of the condition before but it's described by the Wikipedia here, and there's an online self-diagnostic test (fairly obvious, given the syndrome traits) here.