Exclusive - David Mitchell Extended Interview Pt. 1

  • Aired:  10/01/13
  •  | Views: 38,872

In this exclusive, unedited interview, author David Mitchell disputes the notion that those with autism lack empathy. (6:11)

>> Jon: MY GUESTTONIGHT, BEST SELLING AUTHOR,

HIS BOOKS INCLUDE CLOUD ATLASHE'S HERE TO TALK ABOUT A BOOK

HE TRANSLATED ANDWROTE THE INTRODUCTION FOR, IT

IS CALLED THE REASON I JUMP.

THE INNER VOICE OF A13-YEAR-OLD BOY WITH AUTISM BY

NAOKI HIGASHIDA, PLEASE WELCOMETO THE SHOW DAVID MITCHELL.

[ APPLAUSE ]>> Jon: THANK YOU SO MUCH FOR

BEING HERE.

>> IT IS A PLEASURE.

>> Jon: AS MUCH AS I LOVE YOURBOOKS AND I DO LOVE YOUR BOOKS

-->> THANK YOU.

>> Jon: -- THIS, THE REASON IJUMP IS ONE OF THE MOST

REMARKABLE BOOKS I THINK I HAVEEVER READ.

IT IS TRULY MOVING, EYE OPENING,INCREDIBLY VIVID, HOW DID YOU

BECOME INVOLVED IN THIS?

>> WELL, BRIEFLY, MY WIFE AND IHAVE A BOY WITH AUTISM.

SHE HAPPENS TO BE FROM JAPANAND SOME YEARS AGO, THREE OR

FOUR YEARS AGO, SHE WAS LOOKINGTHROUGH A WELL-KNOWN ONLINE

RETAILER, AND SHE FOUND AREFERENCE TO THIS.

SO WE HAD THE DIAGNOSIS OFAUTISM FOR OUR SON BUT WE

DIDN'T, STILL DIDN'T KNOW MUCHABOUT IT.

SO SHE ORDERED THE BOOK, READIT, STARTED READING SECTIONS OF

IT FOR ME, IN THE END SHE WASREADING THE WHOLE BOOK, AND

IT REALLY SORT OFALTERED HOW WE VIEWED OUR OWN

SON'S AUTISM AND HOW TO RELATEWITH HIM

AND WHAT HIS POTENTIAL COULD BE.

WE STARTED TO DO AN UNDERGROUNDTRANSLATION FOR THE PEOPLE WHO

LOOKED AFTER OUR SON AND THEN MYAGENT GOT TO HEAR ABOUT IT AND

HERE WE ARE.

THE COMPLEXITY OF THIS YOUNGBOY'S UNDERSTANDING OF HIS

PROCESS EXPLODES SO MANY MYTHSABOUT PEOPLE WITH AUTISM.

>> YES, WE FEEL SO -- OF COURSE,AS YOU KNOW, YOU DO SOME

FUNDRAISING WORK FOR AUTISMYOURSELF, YOU ARE AWARE OF HOW

MANY PRESENTATIONS OF AUTISMTHERE ARE, AND IT MAKES MORE

SENSE TO TALK ABOUT AUTISMS,THAN IT DOES ABOUT AUTISM.

FOR NAOKI, HE HAS HAD A LUCKYGENETIC HAND THAT HIS AUTISM,

WHILE HE COULDN'T HAVE THISCONVERSATION FOR EXAMPLE, HE

WOULD BE TOO AUTISTIC FOR THAT,HE IS ABLE TO TYPE, AND BECAUSE

OF THAT, YOU CAN SEE WHAT MENTALELOQUENCE CAN EXIST BEHIND THIS

WALL OF SPEECHLESSNESS WHICH ISA PRETTY COMMON MANIFESTATION OF

MANY PEOPLE WITH AUTISM.

>> AND THAT IS THE VIEW, I THINKTHERE IS A TENDENCY YOU CAN VIEW

A CHILD OR A GROWNUP WITH THISAS BROKEN.

THEY ARE BROKEN.

>> YES.

>> Jon: AND YET WHEN YOU SEETHEIR LIFE AND THEIR INNER LIFE

IS AS COMPLEX AS NUANCED, ITSTRUCK ME, I SPENT THE SUMMER IN

JORDAN AND EVERYONE SPOKE ARABICBUT ME AND IT WAS VERY ISOLATING

AND I COULDN'T SPEAK THELANGUAGE, AND OBVIOUSLY I WAS

ABLE TO COMMUNICATE WELL ENOUGHTO GET WHAT I NEEDED AND THEY

UNDERSTOOD WHERE I WAS COMINGFROM, BUT I WAS REALLY STRUCK BY

THE IDEA THAT PEOPLE THAT HAVEAUTISM OR THE SYNDROME ARE NOT

-- DON'T WANT TO BE ISOLATED,THEIR CONDITION ISOLATES THEM.

>> YES.

I THINK OFTEN SYMPTOMS AND CAUSECAN GET MIXED, IT IS A

MYSTERIOUS CONDITION.

ESSENTIALLY, WE WILL ONLYUNDERSTAND

AUTISM WHEN WE UNDERSTAND THEBRAIN, AND WE ARE ABOUT TWO OR

THREE EINSTEINS AWAY FROM THAT,HOWEVER, IT IS NOT THAT THEY ARE

BROKEN, IT IS THEIR MEANS OFCOMMUNICATING, WHAT IS GOING ON

IN THEIR MIND, THAT IS BROKEN.

AND WITH LUCK ANDWITH HELP YOU CAN WORK ON THAT,

AND HELP THEM TO EXPRESSTHEMSELVES.

>> Jon: WHAT WAS THE MOSTHEARTBREAKING PARTS TO READ ARE

THE PARTS WHERE THIS CHILD ISVERY AWARE OF THE STRESS THAT

THE CONDITION IS CAUSING ON HISCAREGIVERS AND ON HIS PARENTS

AND THE PEOPLE, AND HIS LOWSELF-WORTH BASED ON NOT BEING

ABLE TO CONTROL THESE THINGS,THAT HE KNOWS YOU WANT HIM TO

CONTROL.

>> YES.

AND WHEN WE WERE TRANSLATINGTHAT, I JUST WANTED TO TELL HIM

-- YOU HAVE ENOUGH TO WORRYABOUT WITH YOUR AUTISM, DON'T

WORRY ABOUT ME.

DON'T WORRY ABOUT US.

BUT HE DOES, AND THAT'S ONE MORETHING THAT PEOPLE WITH AUTISM,

AREN'T SUPPOSED TO BE ABLE TODO.

I MEAN, FOR A LOT OF PEOPLE, ON-- THAT IS ALMOST THE DEFINING

FACET OF AUTISM, THAT THEY AREINCAPABLE OF EMPATHIZING AND

INCAPABLE OF UNDERSTANDING HOWOTHER PEOPLE MIGHT BE FEELING.

BUT HE CERTAINLY CAN, AND MANY,MANY PEOPLE WITH AUTISM ARE MORE

ABLE TO EMPATHIZE THAN WE GIVETHEM CREDIT FOR.

>> Jon: ALMOST THE ANTITHESIS,IT IS SO RAW FOR HIM THAT HE

ALMOST CAN'T BEAR TODISAPPOINT

IN THAT REGARD.

>> YES.

YES.

TO WHAT DEGREE THIS IS AUTISM,TO

WHAT DEGREE A 13-YEAR-OLDJAPANESE KID WHO DOESN'T WANT TO

LET PEOPLE DOWN FOR REASONS, ITIS MYSTERIOUS AND WHERE AUTISM

BEGINS AND PERSONALITY STARTS.

IT IS A VERY HAZY AREA, BUT THEBOOK WAS SO HELPFUL FOR ME IN

RELATING TO MY SON, AND IT ISNOT THAT UNUSUAL.

MANY PEOPLE WHO -->> Jon: IT IS THE MOST

ILLUMINATING BOOK I THINK I HAVEEVER READ ON THE SYNDROME AND ON

-- AND ON THE INDIVIDUAL AND ITALLOWS YOU TO SEE SOMEONE WITH

THE SYNDROME AS AN INDIVIDUAL,AND THAT IT IS NOT A SYNDROME.

>> IT COMPLETELY RUINS THEVOCABULARY.

>> Jon: WILL YOU HANG AROUNDFOR A LATE BIT.

I DON'T NORMALLY URGE YOU -- THEREASON I JUMP IS ON THE

BOOKSHELVES NOW,PLEASE IF YOU HAVE

A CHANCE, PICK IT UP,IT IS REMARKABLE.

DAVID MITCHELL.

WE WILL BE RIGHT BACK.

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