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Every Head is a World

Dear Reader

Welcome to my world. I am the Other, and it is the world in my head that I invite you to explore. I am a musician and composer and I have Asperger’s Syndrome, a condition on the Autism spectrum of disorders. According to the criteria for diagnosis, I am impaired, I lack, I have failed to develop, and my behaviour is inappropriate.

Apparently, I have a defective mind.

I do not consider myself defective, and I use the term ironically in the title of this thesis, but Asperger’s Syndrome makes me different to you in ways that you may not see easily, in ways that I did not fully know or understand, before undertaking this doctorate, but these differences are not so rare that you will not recognise yourself.

What is it like to be someone else, to think like someone else, to make music like someone else? Conventional wisdom suggests that the more similar the Other is, or the more familiar, the more possible it is to imagine and understand their world and to call on that spontaneous understanding of the perspective others that is known as Theory of Mind. We are exhorted to “walk in the other man’s shoes” and enter the world in their head, to have empathy and sympathy for others as a part of being moral human beings.

To do this we rely on a combination of observation and assumption. If the Other is similar to us, perhaps they will experience and respond to situations in a similar way. But if the Other is different, the relationship is more difficult because there are less common experiences. Cultural differences may generate false assumptions, as may gender and sexuality, education, language and experience, but we can negotiate this by observation and through first hand accounts of the Other’s experience, modifying our assumptions and making allowances for a wider range of possibilities.

In this study I have offered my first hand experiences, my music, my thoughts and my visions. I have tried to present them using the multiple layers and links of this website as a reflection of my own mind, in a way that is active and experiential, and to give thoughtful discussion of their meaning. It is a story of self-discovery with music as its driving force.