In 1887, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle introduced the world to an isolated, socially-awkward and eccentric man named Sherlock Holmes. Under Conan Doyle’s pen, Holmes was obsessive and compulsive. He didn’t seem to have conversations but rather single-minded discourses. He had no friends other than the dedicated Watson.
Could it be, as others have suggested, that Holmes had Asperger’s syndrome?
As a writer, what interests me is how Conan Doyle created Holmes. Was he based on one person he knew or on a compilation of many? Conan Doyle was a doctor. Was the character of Holmes inspired by a patient of his or from an article he had read in a medical journal? Did Conan Doyle first describe Asperger’s syndrome more than fifty years before Hans Asperger, the Austrian physician, first reported on the syndrome?
I know there are a legion of Sherlock Holmes fans out there who can offer an opinion on Holmes’ diagnosis but whatever it may be – Sherlock Holmes appears to be the fore-runner to some modern day fictional scientists and doctors of TV fame, namely: House, Monk and (my favorite) Bones. Like Holmes, all appear to exhibit qualities associated with Asperger’s syndrome.