Clinically Significant Disturbance: On Theorists Who Theorize Theory of Mind
Keywords:theory of mind, autism, rhetoric, violence, embodiment
This essay is an autie-ethnographic narrative that traces the problems with and limits of theory of mind (ToM) as it is currently constructed in psychology and cognitive studies. In particular, I examine the role of the body in ToM—or rather, the ways in which autistic people are disembodied in theories about ToM. I argue that theories about ToM deny autistic people agency by calling into question their very humanity and, in doing so, wreak violence on autistic bodies. I suggest, furthermore, that feminist rhetorical studies represent one potential location for dismantling the complex web of oppression that ToM has come to signify.
Keywords: theory of mind; autism; rhetoric; violence; embodiment