Johnson, Analysis 1

Out of all the reading assigned for this week, I was most intrigued by Chapter 9- “The Rain Man Effect” (Silberman). I think I was specifically intrigued by this chapter because 1) We had just watched the film in class, and it was my first time ever watching it and 2) The chapter was very eye opening to me personally.

I was quite disturbed by the content in the chapter, but was also unfortunately not surprised. I was immediately disgusted at the way Bill (the man introduced at the beginning of the chapter) and the other “inmates” were treated. They were referred to as “imbeciles” which I thought was not the right word at all. Sure, the different ways in which these people behaved was new and mind boggling to almost everyone during that time, but people were blindsided (and still tend to be) by the enormous amount of intelligence that each of them possessed. They may not all be what we call “street smart”, but most have some outstanding qualities that simply go unnoticed simply because they’re “different”.

I’m glad that stories like Bill’s have gotten out over the years and have been talked about in the film industry. Nowadays, and I’m sure during the time period in which “Rain Man” was released as well, people tend to relate a lot personally to media. Many individuals connect everyday life situations to things they see in the movies, on TV, or what they read in a magazine. Also, sadly enough people tend to believe almost everything they hear on TV or see in the latest movie, especially ones that deal with real life situations. That is why I think “Rain Man” was so successful and eye-opening to many. In the part of the chapter where Silberman discusses the idea of the movie which at the time lacked a producer, I can see where the wishy washy behaviors of the potential producers came from. I think the producers wanted to take on the challenge of the content in this film because they knew it would amount to something great for society, but I also think many were scared because they didn’t want to give the new found disorder a false outlook.

Although the film ended up becoming very successful, there were some individuals who were unclear of the overall message the film was trying to give. Since autism was so unfamiliar to most, people weren’t grasping the idea of why Raymond was acting the way he was in the movie and why he couldn’t correct his behaviors. Since I know very little about autism myself, I decided to do some research on some of these comments and began browsing different reviews on the movie. I stumbled upon a short, yet to the point review from someone who has a son with autism. The review I read was from 2011, so fairly recent. In the review, the author who like I mentioned has an autistic son, makes some valid points. He wants to make it clear that every person who has autism is different. There are many levels to the disorder, ranging from individuals who are severely impacted and others whom you can barely tell have the disorder. He also made it very clear that people with autism and other disorders related to that are not put in institutions like Bill was in the beginning of chapter 9. The author of the review states,

“We don’t put people in institutions any more if there is any way we can help it. I know some people think that institutions are the “answer,” but that’s only true if the question is “how can we totally invalidate someone’s right to choice and due process.” If you don’t know someone with autism, try introducing yourself. You might make a lifelong friend.” (Raynelson).

This alone stood out to me. I have observed that many people tend to be awkward around others who show the slightest bit of difference in the way they are because they don’t know how to respond or react to their unique qualities. Chapter 9 of the text gave me a different outlook on it as well. I look at autism as an opportunity to explore a unique perspective on life and how others live. Just by watching “Rain Man” and reading some of the articles related to the film, I have learned that the aspects of autism are so intriguing and special and I am really looking forward to learning more about it more in this class.



Raynelson. “Autism Movie Review: Rain Man.” Raynelson’s Autism Blog. N.p., 31 Aug.

  1. Web. 09 Sept. 2016.

Silberman, Steve. Neurotribes: The Legacy of Autism and the Future of Neurodiversity.

Place of Publication Not Identified: Avery Pub Group, 2016. Print.


2 thoughts on “Johnson, Analysis 1

  1. vanords

    Like you, I was also intrigued the most by chapter nine in the reading. Although I was off-put by a lot of the terrible things depicted, I was ultimately moved by the end of Bill’s story. I agree that the paragraph calling the residents at the asylum “imbeciles” seems wrong. In addition to that, a few lines down when it’s relieved that residents are also referred to as “inmates” and Bill’s mother Mary has to request for Bill to be “paroled” in order to have time with him I was surprised. I was kind of repulsed to see a comparison being drawn between people with mental health issues and criminals. It painted a picture in my head of asylums being a way for a scared society to “contain” people who don’t fit into the normal mold.

    When you said ‘[t]hey may not all be what we call “street smart”, but most have some outstanding qualities that simply go unnoticed simply because they’re “different,”’ I immediately thought of wasted potential. Even though people who have mental health issues aren’t savvy in conventional ways, they often have unique qualities that people of the “norm” don’t possess. This thought paired with reading Bill’s story got me pondering how different things could have been for Bill if he was born in today’s world where he wouldn’t have been brushed aside and thrown into an asylum like a criminal. I could imagine that Bill would have been taught to read, write, handle money, have better hygienic health, and have a better family from the start. For his particular case it was the times he was born into that halted his personal progression; It was the old ways of thinking that prevented him from reaching his full potential and that’s very sad to think about. Of course Bill ends up enjoying his life, loving his new family, and demonstrating that late in life you can still learn and grow. But I can’t quite shake how he didn’t have to be unable to read or write, or lose his teeth, or have had to wear a wig for the majority of his life. These obstacles didn’t stop him from being happy but they altered the way he viewed himself I think. When Bill says in the book “[h]air, like what you got. That’s why you’re a regular good man, see?” my heart dropped a little. I was considering how Bill must view himself. That by missing one of the usual traits that “regular good men” visibly have, he thinks he must not be a regular good man.

    Since the time that Bill was raised in I think society has grown a lot. Considering there are no longer asylums, there’s more awareness for people who have mental health challenges, and there is more medical research and knowledge surrounding these disorders I would say society is taking mental health challenges more seriously. There is still room for continued growth but I am glad to see it already happening in awareness through literature and film.

    Those are mainly the stand out ideas that went through my head while reading Neuro Tribes as well as your blog post and review citation. I’m definitely in agreement with where you seem to be coming from and like you, and I’m sure most others in the class, I’m intrigued to see what more we get to learn about Autism over the next several weeks. If the other readings are anything like what we’ve read in Neuro Tribes, then it should be a cool and interesting course. Hopefully.


  2. Uyen Nguyen

    I’m on the same boat with you. It was my first time watching “Rain Man” and I also don’t have much knowledge on autism. I mean, I’ve had people that walked into my life that has autism but I never asked them about it. This movie showed me a new light and a different perspective on how an autistic person might see things and the different behaviors that they go through. In chapter nine I also highlighted how Bill was diagnosed as an “imbecile” which I didn’t understand why they would go that far to “diagnose” him with that. The way that they neglected and abused him was another thing that appalled me the most. For instance, not teaching him to read or write, not giving him proper health care that he needs, and the money he earns is something that he can’t even use outside of the hospital. It’s just so sad to me the way he was treated. Most of the people including Bill that were in his institution were treated like almost like they were prisoners.
    In regards to what you talked about with about what effect “Rain Man” had on people, I decided to ask my friend, who is diagnosed with autism, her initial reaction when she first saw the film. I was a little surprised by her response since she said she wasn’t too impressed with the film. She told me that the movie showed mostly negative stereotypes of autism and argues that not all autistic people have that sort of behavior and she was disappointed that this was what they chose to portray. She wasn’t too impressed with the plot that they chose with Charlie using his brother’s to get a large amount of cash. I thought this was interesting since the book talked of people being able to relate to this movie and felt comfortable with themselves because of this movie. I mean, most of the positive feedback for this film might be because autism wasn’t well known and that’s why it was so eye opening to people. Morrow who wrote the script was even surprised by the term “autism” because he’s never heard of it before.
    My friend also described to me the different levels or “spectrum” of autism as well. She helped me understand by giving examples like how there are high functioning, low functioning, and the differences between them and what they understand and how they see things and also specifics on their behavior. Most of what she mentioned was similar to what Temple Grandin’s, in chapter eleven, characterized descriptions of the different spectrum.
    I’m just so fascinated by everything so far that I’ve read and seen for this class. Like I said before, I don’t really know much about autism but now I’m really interested in sharing what I’ve read to my friends that are diagnosed with that and we have had some interesting conversations and discussions. I’ve never heard of class having an emphasis on this so I’m really excited to see what the rest of the semester has in store for us.



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