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  • Cited by 49
  • Print publication year: 1991
  • Online publication date: December 2009

1 - Asperger and his syndrome


Asperger's pioneering paper published in 1944 is part of the classic literature of child psychiatry, and a landmark in the development of the concept of autism. So far it has been accessible only to the German reader. While Kanner's original paper on autism, published in 1943, has become extremely well known, Asperger's has been strangely ignored. The neglect in turn has led people to believe that Asperger did not merit their attention. Nevertheless, the terms Asperger syndrome and Asperger's syndrome are fast becoming used to describe certain patients who have never been easy to classify but who seem to constitute a recognisable type of autistic individual.

In the last ten years there has been an increasing interest in Hans Asperger and his syndrome. This volume makes a start in answering some of the questions that are now being asked. It contains a translation of Asperger's 1944 paper, and in addition, presents reviews of current concepts of autism. These reviews suggest that the time has come to differentiate various forms of autism. As the contributors to this volume contend, one of these forms is justifiably called Asperger's syndrome. Supporting the argument are a number of case histories. At this stage it is largely through detailed case studies that we can begin to understand the syndrome. Just as one comes to recognize a Mondrian painting by looking at other Mondrians, one can learn to recognise a patient with Asperger syndrome by looking at cases described by Asperger and other clinicians.