Neuroqueering the Neuroculture: Exploring our place in society through the neuroqueer lense

Recently I started talking about a concept I call neuroculture, by discussing the risk of harm to society if the prevailing neuroculture becomes homogenous (find that discussion here). In this discussion, I would like to explore our individual contributions to said neuroculture, and how we can effect change in a neurotypical dominated culture.

It’s no secret that neurodivergent people are actively oppressed by society. We live in a neuroculture that assumes anything outside of neuronormative standards is broken or sick. Neurotypicality has become the dominant culture, and with it, the pathology paradigm.

Despite this, largely on the Internet, smaller and more contained neurocultures are developing. These cultures are still largely homogenous, consisting mainly of a particular neurocognitive style. However, the advancement of the neurodiversity movement and an increased understanding of what is and isn’t neurodivergence is allowing people of many different ‘flavours’ of neurodivergence to come together. Thanks to this, there are now neurocultures developing that allow for the inclusion of multiple neurocognitive styles.

So now, we have two distinct neurocultures, the dominant neurotypical culture, and a neurodivergent sub-culture.

Here is where neuroqueering comes into the mix.

In order for society to survive, we need a fully inclusive neuroculture, that allows neurotypical and neurodivergent people to co-exist without any one group retaining more privilege than another. Effectively, a neurocosmopolitan society. In order for this to happen, the prevailing neuroculture needs to subvert and erase the neuronormative standards that hold us back in the pathology model.

Neuroqueer theory tells us that the best way to destroy neuronormativity is to intentionally queer our neurological processes. To put it another way, the mask must be fully destroyed, and we must act in a natural and authentic way, not the way that society expects us to act.

This will be difficult for everyone in the current neuroculture, but especially difficult for neurotypicals. Neuronormative standards come easily to them, and subversion of those standards has been stigmatised for a long time. Therefore, the neurodivergent led neuroculture needs to model the queering of societies expectations and roles. It is on us to teach the dominant culture that there is another way to exist.

By engaging in the act of neuroqueering, we ‘normalise’ the subversion of neuronormativity, and the more of us who do so, the more ‘abnormal’ society as a whole will become. Isn’t that a wonderful thought?

Of course it’s not a quick or simple process. Many of us are not privileged with the safety to just drop the mask completely. That’s why advocates and activists must work everyday, and change the neuroculture one small step at a time; until each drop becomes an ocean of change.

Society needs a cosmopolitan neuroculture to thrive.

Published by David Gray-Hammond

David Gray-Hammond is an autistic mental health and addiction advocate living in the South East of England. He is in recovery from addiction and psychosis, as well as other complex mental health conditions. He was diagnosed as autistic seven months after achieving sobriety, and is resolved to share his experiences with the world in the hopes of being the person that he needed when he was younger.

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