Asian Cultures are Autistic

Have you ever wondered if there is any cultural characteristic which spans diverse Asian cultures? Let me talk about one that is obvious, but almost never mentioned- Autism.

Yes, that is correct. I believe that Asian cultures from Japan and China to India are autistic. Some of you might wonder if I am implying that these cultures have a higher than usual number of individuals with autism. No.. I am not implying that- though that might also be the case.

I have come to believe that entire cultures can be functionally autistic.

The question which set me on the path leading to this hypothesis began with my innate dislike of Bollywood movies. Even as a child, I simply could not understand why Bollywood movies were popular even though they were so incredibly formulaic and repetitive. While many Hollywood movies are also formulaic, there are a significant number of outliers and even the formulaic ones try to appear less formulaic. In contrast Bollywood movies TRY to be as formulaic as possible. Hongkong movies are not different and with the exception of a few Kurosawa-type figures, all forms of Asian film-making and popular entertainment (TV, books sitcoms, video games) are very rigid and formulaic.

So why are they so popular in those countries?

Think about it- What kind of person would willingly watch the exact same stuff again and again. Normal people will get tired and bored of anything- even if they really like it. However those of an autistic mind love repetition and spend more time obsessing over details than overall meaning.

Cultural autism can also explain many other peculiar Asian behaviors.

Ever wonder why Asians obsess over money even if they have more than enough of it? Money is useful only if you spend it to buy what you desire while you are still alive and able to enjoy it. After a certain point making more money does not improve your lifestyle, yet most Asians (from Indians and Chinese to Koreans) are unable to stop obsessing about making more of it. But to what end? Very few people of any group will make enough to be filthy rich, therefore most of those who sacrifice their youth and happiness to make more money are “clever” morons.

But what if obsessing about money is a manifestation of autism (stereotyped behavior), similar to flapping your arms and rocking back and forth?

Consider food.. Indians are infamous for their obsession with vegetarianism and equating it with social status- inspite of its obviously negative effects on their health. But why would people keep on trying hard to do something that is obviously deleterious to them? Could it be that the urge to maintain a familiar, but dysfunctional, pattern supersedes any desire to act in your best interests? Asians will often reject or indigenize otherwise perfectly acceptable and tasty cuisine. Let me be clear- using a few drops of Tabasco on your side of french fries is very different from altering the fundamental taste of any food.

What if the Asian obsession with familiar tastes in food is linked to maintaining continuity rather than enjoying a better product?

The inflexibility of roles and behaviors in interpersonal relationships which are far more pronounced in Asians might also be seen as a form of cultural autism. Any person with more than half a brain innately understands that one size does not fit all- especially when it comes to relating with people around you. However Asian culture and philosophies are based on people fulfilling inflexible roles which may have been optimum in some previous era. Don’t you think that the rapidly falling birth rate in east-Asian countries and individuals is linked to their unwillingness to change many aspects of their traditional beliefs of how other people should live and behave? Similarly a lot of Asian uncreativity and deference to authority can be explained by the desire to keep things “as they were”, even if doing that is creating major problems and better ways are both accessible and being used by others.

What do you think? Comments?

  1. December 25, 2011 at 12:30 am

    so if an American is a creative sort, they should not fear their job being outsourced?

    • Ray Manta
      December 26, 2011 at 12:09 pm

      American management prefers uncreative, interchangeable worker bees. So they would favor outsourcing.

  2. Columnist
    December 25, 2011 at 10:34 am

    Spot on. Many people in Europe are fawning about the Chinese. Then I pointed out the Chinese may be intelligent, but somehow, they don’t get it.

  3. Zilchy
    December 25, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Conformity, conformity with a side of……….. yep, CONFORMITY. These cultures were/are not allowed to think outside of the box and their cultures never supported this idea in any manner. The mundane runs strong to the core.

    These countries have individuals who are professional students by the time they are 13 years old. They are excellent at rote memorization, but it takes most of them 2 hours to figure out how to flush a toilet.

    It’s really no surprise that most (if not all) off the technological wonders the world now enjoys were discovered by Euro-based ideology.

    • ryan
      January 10, 2012 at 10:46 am

      you’re an idiot. paper, gunpowder, the compass, printing, tea, and paper currency were all invented in china alone. do some research before you open your ignorant mouth.

      • Columnist
        January 10, 2012 at 11:09 am

        There are a lot of Chinese, so a there are a lot of Chinese inventors. The author admits Chinese are intelligent. But with a different culture, they would have ruled the earth centuries ago; and till the present day.

  4. December 26, 2011 at 2:24 am

    I also believe in group differences, and see no fault in your argument.

    I’ve been living in SE Asia for over 10 years.

  5. December 26, 2011 at 2:28 am

    Among expats in Thailand it’s a well know frustration, to the point of being a joke, that you can’t ask for any custom service from any staff. They will say they “can’t” give you a sandwich with butter instead of mayonaise. If something is out of the routine, they don’t feel empowered enough to change the routine. They will give you a deer in the headlights look, and you can see their brain freeze.

    • P Ray
      January 24, 2013 at 8:56 pm

      I had the same difficulty structuring subjects at university in New Zealand.
      Must be that “autistic Asian culture” they have there, amirite?

  6. sam
    December 27, 2011 at 10:35 pm

    There is some truth to your post, but not entirely. Let’s divide the post and discuss:
    1) Regarding Bollywood movies: I agree with you on the part that many bollywood movies are strictly formulaic. Also a lot of these movies are not hits in a real sense. A lot of these movies are manufactured hits (This is possible in India). Frankly if today’s generation can say about the movies which are currently produced in Bollywood, many of the movies will be criticized. The best way to explain the whole scenario is People need an art form to enjoy (which the movies are satisfying), and People are stuck with and so are tolerating the bollywood movies rather than enjoying them because they don’t have another choice. On the paper it seems like poeple are have choice, but the truth is not. It’s like which party in US is good Democrat or Republican? Initially it may seem like people are having a choice, but the truth is all the parties are same. The same is the case with Bollywood entertainment.
    2) Now regarding money. Class differences in India and very clearly visible, So people are from very childhood were inculcated to earn as much money as possible. That’s what visible today. And for the not enjoying youth part, the need for dating/going out arises only to find a partner which can be taken care by family. For eg, in most of the states in India, ever to this day parents look for bride or groom for their children. This way young people can concentrate more on earning money.

  7. Ulick McGee
    December 29, 2011 at 11:27 am

    Good insight, AD, you are on to something.

    I’ve lived in various parts of China for 17 years. For the last few years I have joked that some behaviour of Chinese people is mildly autistic. For example, walking down a sidewalk they seem unable to divide it into a half going one way and a half going the other. Multiple streams of people form with the occasional person leaping from one to another in a crowd, thus slowing everyone down.

    Another weirdness, complete strangers suddenly join up shoulder to shoulder walking in the same direction and maintain it for up to minute. Behind them a crowd gathers on a narrow sidewalk and they remain oblivious. I realise the concept of personal space is different but acting as a damn to a herd of angry rush hour commuters should raise the hairs on the back of their necks.

    People shoot out of doorways into crowded sidewalks and force other walkers into emergency breaking procedures which takes a while if you are 6’2″ and 200 pounds. I have had several women bounce off me which always results in verbal abuse in Hong Kong. So they basically shoulder charge me and then get angry when it hurts them.

    I once saw a women try to open her umbrella in a tight crowd. She couldn’t raise it up because it got stuck between the legs of the women in front of her. She then tried to force it up which was quite funny to watch as the women in front jumped up and down in discomfort.

    You can blame culture or selfishness but that doesn’t make sense to me. Eventually, if you experience being slowed down every day, you would naturally adopt a more efficient way of walking. The Chinese are probably the most practical people in the world. It seems strange that they can’t spontaneously collude to walk more efficiently.

    On a similar topic, it seems that popular sports/hobbies in China have a few traits in common:
    -you don’t really exert yourself e.g. badmington, table tennis
    -there should be a lot of expensive equipment involved and preferably training courses e.g. photography, golf, scuba
    -they are all individual activities. The Chinese are supposed to have a group mentality but they don’t like to play team sports.

  8. anon666
    December 29, 2011 at 12:27 pm

    Every once in awhile, Japan pumps out an impressive, original and compelling piece of pop cultural entertainment. While I’d say that 90-95 percent of anime is formulaic and childish, they occasionally pump out something like “Death Note”, which rivals “Breaking Bad”, “Game of Thrones”, “The Wire”, etc.

    I think you’re on to something by attributing their low birth and marriage rate to their unwillingness to make their institutions more flexible. I’ve read articles about the phenomenon in Japan, where the men say that they don’t want to marry because they don’t want to slave 12 hours a day as a salaryman to support an ungrateful wife and the women don’t want to marry because they don’t want to be domestic servants. It’s as if they’re incapable of imagining marriage as anything other than that, whereas the institution has a lot more flexibility in the west (although it’s still not too appealing to me even here).

    Off-topic, AD: I had an escort tell me that she HATES having Indian men as customers because most of them try to find ingenious ways to remove the condom during sex. She can’t relax during the session, as she’s constantly worried about them removing the condom? What’s up with that cultural practice, AD? Any insights? It’s not enough to have CFS with a hot naked girl?

  9. January 3, 2012 at 2:11 pm

    Finally someone says it! Most Asian girls I’ve met, especially Chinese, for lack of a better word have been socially retarded when I try to interact with them.

    • P Ray
      January 24, 2013 at 8:38 pm

      They’re socially retarded with guys they cannot yet directly control.
      Ever hear of “sajiao”?

  10. Wake Up!
    January 7, 2012 at 11:04 pm

    Asia is a big place. Starts in Turkey, ends in Hawaii. So you would have to specify WHICH particular Asian culture is it that you feel is “autistic” because there are literally thousands of different Asian cultures.

    I never understood this myth that “Asians are not creative”. I’ve travelled all over Asia and have met the most creative, artistic and adventurous people in my life.

    Let’s imagine for a moment how strange WE must appear to THEM.

    SupermanPUA, it is YOU who appears socially retarted to those Chinese women.

    • Columnist
      January 10, 2012 at 11:11 am

      Nobody accuses Black people of being autistic.

  11. david
    January 24, 2013 at 2:24 am

    from what I’ve observed living in the Philippines for three years yet being from the US is Asian attitude seems to be “be patient and let it happen for you” where US or westurn attitude is “go out and make it happen” social role performance is not a priority of importance in asian cultures as in the west. Most Asians seem to be paralyzed in fear, so initiative is void or absent in most Asian cultures I’ve visited. Asians seem to be inflexible in alot of ways, Asians seem to be extremely disorganized and productivity seems to be of little to no significant importance. Social roles are well defined and conformity and social expectations of those roles seem to be very rigid and inflexible. Also, alot of what I’ve observed in South east asia is poverty, ignorance, suppression, depression, and indoctrinated fear, more of a King-peasant/servant hierarchic of power. For example in Philippines many filippino’s claim they hold central family values, however, within that cutlures, village girls will have a child, then be sent by their boyfriend to Manila to prostitute to earn money to be sent back to the village and fee and support the girls boyfriend, kid and family. This seems to be socially acceptable and justified, there’s many filippino women working abroad as domestic workers sending money back home to support their family, while their husband has several mistresses which he supports by means of his wives pay check, what kind of family values are those? Desperation and poverty and suppression seem to be prevalent throughout most Asian cultures.

    In my opinion most Asian cultures and people’s are unable to do problem solving, they live in a perpectual state of fear or panic from what I’m not sure, in the Philippines, my belief is 20 years of Martial Law had something to do with it, and 400 years of being a slave colony of Spain has influenced modern day filippino mentality, no matter the US influence in the Philippines they are still a Asian culture and are extremely racist against foreigners earning money within their country. There seems to be extreme animosity within the culture directed toward whites or foreigners, yet they request US support for their problem with China, very strange attitude.

  12. Dr. Crawford
    February 27, 2013 at 9:53 pm

    I am sorry, but you are an idiot. I never speak to people in that manner but when I see such stupidity being passed on I have to speak out. First, and foremost, there are less “Asians” with autism then there are Anglo Americans. Secondly, you have made blanket statements about the Asian cultures that reflect your total ignorance of autism and their culture. I am a specialist in this field, with a PhD, and 20 years experience. Also, my adopted daughter is from China so I take real offense at your ignorance and prejudice. I find it strange that you discussed the Indian cultures as if they were the same as the Asian cultures. Hopefully, no one with any intelligence will this more than a laugh.

    • P Ray
      February 28, 2013 at 8:33 am

      So do you still respect the people in your field?
      It has gotten easier, which is why more people have that qualification (which is an arts subject), amirite?
      P.S. I’m Asian … and agree with what he says.

  13. December 30, 2013 at 10:19 pm

    And what about Americans who get pissed when other Americans aren’t Baptists/Protestants. Isn’t that spiritual Apserger’s? I’m fairly sure there’s a difference in being an ego-maniacal twat and someone with a real disorder.

  14. June 20, 2014 at 5:59 pm

    Damn. I actually love Hong Kong movies and feel their action flicks are superior to American action films, especially ones from the 1980s. LOL – But I do agree that Asian filmmakers obsess over small details rather than the overall picture. That’s probably why I enjoyed them so much (John Woo used to repeat the same action in various angles when a person gets shot in his movies, which I found to be utterly artistic and a method hard for most film directors to accomplish).

  15. Great Grimoires For Masons
    June 22, 2014 at 9:01 am

  16. JS
    November 3, 2014 at 6:58 pm

    East Asia is the most agricultural centric region in the world. It’s one of the few places where people didn’t die from starvation because East Asia was able to have a stable agrarian society. This being said, it has become a curse that East Asians are generally unfriendly and less sociable because in very agricultural centric societies, people don’t want to be bother with their neighbors’ concerns, and want their problems to be outsourced to someone else.

    • P Ray
      November 3, 2014 at 8:30 pm

      But isn’t it funny how the Western nations outsource their call centres to East Asia, like the Philippines and Singapore, for example?

  17. JS
    November 3, 2014 at 7:01 pm

    And autism might be the infantile or petty behaviors that one observes from East Asians. East Asians have a poor cultural and intellectual tradition when compared to the West. Their philosophical traditions and their version of Buddhism is so simplistic and unevolved when you compared them to the West with its philosophers and the different sects of Christianity.

    • P Ray
      November 3, 2014 at 8:28 pm

      Every religion has different sects, maybe you just haven’t paid attention?

      • JS
        November 4, 2014 at 1:52 pm

        How many sects of Buddhism are found in China? Why is Confucianism such an unevolved philosophy? Better yet, why are East Asians materialistic uncultured phonies?

      • P Ray
        November 4, 2014 at 7:13 pm

        ^ I don’t know where in this world you find that race of people that are not in some way “materialistic uncultured phonies”.
        Money is not everything, but everything costs money.

  18. JS
    November 3, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    I don’t understand PDA’s of lumping South Asians (ex. Indians, Pakistanis) with East Asians. South Asia has produced a philosophical and literary tradition that has surpassed those of China and Japan. In America, despite the stereotype of the money oriented Indian immigrant, you are more likely to find Indians as college professors and CEOs of American companies, which you rarely find with East Asians.

    • P Ray
      November 3, 2014 at 8:30 pm

      Let’s hope they have real qualifications though, and didn’t get passed by a degree mill.
      Lots of people entering higher education, puts pressure on the establishment to pass many people who should not have graduated.

      • JS
        November 4, 2014 at 1:51 pm

        East Asians do not belong in the colleges because they view school as a venue for skills training and not critical thinking.

      • P Ray
        November 4, 2014 at 7:11 pm

        ^ Try and see how far your “critical thinking” gets you in an employer’s job market.
        (Parachute) Managers (that didn’t learn a craft or trade from proper qualifications and practise) don’t like those who think critically and can point out that they are just bumbling along.

  19. JS
    November 5, 2014 at 8:26 am


    East Asians are vocational oriented and not intellectual oriented, hence their backward societies. Who cares about a job market? Most jobs are becoming obsolete anyway and we’ll be stuck with a lot unemployed Asian chumps who can’t think.

    • P Ray
      November 5, 2014 at 5:05 pm

      You should be very worried about that, as a majority underclass who is disengaged and has no hope for the future … tends to make things violent, unpredictable and short for the people at the top.

      • JS
        November 6, 2014 at 8:08 am

        Asians make your consummate obedient chumps. Further, they’re autistic like, which means they are always disengaged.

      • P Ray
        November 6, 2014 at 9:36 am

        ^ Yes, the revolutions in Vietnam, Indonesia and other former colonial outposts were done by totally disengaged people, is that what you’re saying?

      • weiglaf
        November 10, 2014 at 7:30 pm

        ^ Aren’t those considered South-east? When people say East Asian, I think China/Japan/Korea.

  20. JS
    November 8, 2014 at 10:06 am

    The author of this blog is wrong about Indians, and his comparison with East Asians is not entirely correct.

    I can tell you there are more Indians in literary studies than they are East Asians, who only care about money that spans multi-generational. When Indians become Westernized, they take on the interests of Whites, but not so much with East Asians. Further, there are a few Indian American CEOs in Western Companies, yet NOT ONE EAST ASIAN is found among them. Now being a CEO just doesn’t require a money hungry mindset!

    • P Ray
      November 8, 2014 at 11:21 pm

      You can find Chinese and Indians born in East Asia, who are fully aware of “Money is not everything, but everything costs money”.
      Are they Asians or East Asians?
      Unfortunately, when Asians become Westernised, there are some who think they’re “white” and try to “outwhite whites”

      • JS
        November 16, 2014 at 9:25 am

        I find that post to be defeatist and contradicting.

        Isn’t the self-hate coming from these individuals, the issues you have with South Asians and East Asians? Their motive of being more “White” than Whites has to do with the flaws of Asians that are being addressed on this blog. One thing you will hear from these individuals is that they find their own people to be “less cool”, or autistic as you would say.

      • P Ray
        November 17, 2014 at 12:54 pm

        One thing you will hear from these individuals is that they find their own people to be “less cool”, or autistic as you would say.
        The reality is that using the idea of those people are “less cool” limits your ability to build connections with those who may lead to business opportunities.
        In the battle between “being racist” and “making money”, I believe “making money” is the better bet.
        Mainly because money gives everyone freedom.
        Of course, you can speak about those like the (stupid) Krukauer that got themselves killed going “Into the Wild”, but bear in mind, they got their ride previously, so it’s not like they didn’t get to experience their fair share of hedonism.

      • P Ray
        November 17, 2014 at 12:56 pm

        whoops, it should read Of course, you can speak about those like the (stupid) McCandless that got themselves killed going “Into the Wild”, but bear in mind, they got their ride previously, so it’s not like they didn’t get to experience their fair share of hedonism.

      • JS
        November 18, 2014 at 7:39 am

        You just derail the discussion into nonsense land!

      • P Ray
        November 19, 2014 at 4:56 am

        ^ Here’s something for you to think about:
        Whether or not Asians are autistic,
        “Money is not everything, but everything costs money”.
        Your (implied) view that that is not the case … is the real “derail the discussion into nonsense land”.

  21. Ian
    July 27, 2015 at 11:39 am

    I think you are onto something here, but your arguments are not exactly on point.
    1.) Repetitiveness in culture, movies, plays is not an exclusive thing thing for Asia, throughout the history many “entertainment forms” are repetitive and inane, e.g. moral plays, everyman, Greek tragedies, etc.
    2.) Obsession with money is a proxy to security for people who don’t understand power or too afraid to venture into the true dynamics of the “economics” of trade, favors, social hierarch, etc. (i.e. money is a form of power, it is the most tangible one because it is the most ubiquitous, but it is really a power for one to potentially get what they want)
    – Think the puritan church, the medieval times, the guilt and shame mongering of pleasures such have having bacon or shagging a hot chick/dude, the idea of sinning, etc.
    – People want a proxy to comfort and when bad things happen they don’t want to dwell into the true cruel mechanism of the world.
    (when one gets stabbed, ones’ husbands cheat on them, they would think that it shouldn’t happen to a someone who has “done well in life”, because they have money, even though money is probably not relevant to both cases)
    – If you look at the history, people are being oppressed (whether or not the intention is good is irrelevant, people being controlled is an insult to a person’s integrity) via an irrelevant proxy is common, such as how much you pray (still ongoing in muslim countries), your families honor in war (re.: the house of lords), etc. it is just a part of conservative thinking.
    3.) You are really pointing out the behavioral consequence of people who are afraid to venture out with their own opinion, performance, etc. It might or might not be consequential to the prevalence of autism, or maybe natural selection leading to the advantage to fear; however, only people can be “autistic”, inanimate “objects”/”concepts” such as cultures cannot be “autistic”, so beware when making such arguments, because it is in itself (attributing human characteristics to non-human) is pretty “autistic”
    4.) It seems that I am grouping all conservative thinking into this argument, and yes, I do think that the fear/guilt/shame mongering of the olden values display “autistic characteristics”.

    P.S. I’m an Asian born in Hong Kong, and conservatism is “autistic-ish” but the people don’t have to be, in general, I think people demonstrating hierarchical thinking and submission to people due to a proxy of an inanimate idea such as “authority”, are more likely to be autistic. If you look at the amount of resistant to authority in Hong Kong, you’d know that it’s not the people, it is really just the culture.

  22. July 30, 2015 at 7:10 am

    Reblogged this on oogenhand.

  23. alex
    January 9, 2017 at 5:20 pm


  1. January 1, 2012 at 4:35 pm
  2. January 4, 2012 at 2:04 am
  3. February 12, 2014 at 6:24 pm

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