Hrithik says Kangana has Asperger’s syndrome: But what is this disease?

  • HT Correspondent, New Delhi
  • Updated: Mar 17, 2016 13:50 IST
Hrithik Roshan and Kangana Ranaut have slapped each other with legal notices alleging mental illness, hacking and stalking. (YouTube)

Can Asperger’s Syndrome make people obsessive compulsive to the point of stalking others?

That’s what actor Hrithik Roshan’s legal notice to Kangana seems to suggest, which reportedly accuses her of stalking and defamation while alleging she “suffers from Asperger’s Syndrome”.

Read: Hrithik Roshan, Kangana Ranaut’s star war, how love led to legal mess

The legal notice claims she sent him 1,439 emails, most of which were “senseless, personal and absurd” since May, 2014.

Can heightened ability to focus and repetitive behaviour associated with Asperger’s, which is an autism spectrum disorder (ASD) on the “high functioning” end of the spectrum, turn people into stalkers?

No, say experts.


“Stalking is a behavioural problem and is not related to any mental condition. There is no scientific evidence to support that stalking could be associated with Asperger’s syndrome. Also, there is a diagnostic debate here, one can’t say that someone has the disorder without proper evaluation,” said Dr Samir Parikh, director at department of mental health and behavioural Science, Fortis Healthcare.

The term “high functioning” when used for a sociopath means a person who exhibits antisocial personality disorder, but is good at integrating with the society.

“The term ‘high functioning’ autism is used to describe people with Asperger’s as they have better cognitive functions than other people with autism. But, they do have problems in social interaction and communicating with others. On the other hand, stalkers are delusional and have personality disorders,” said Dr Sameer Malhotra, director for mental and behavioural sciences at Max Healthcare.

Read: Why hearing is not enough, you need to listen

Repetitive pattern of behaviours and interests is another characteristic of Asperger’s. But, that would not translate to stalking someone.

“People with Asperger’s tend to repeat motor acts like clapping or pursue a particular interest like cycling. But, this will not mean they will repeat complex behaviours like sending emails, messages or calls,” said Dr Parikh.

Also, there is no scientific evidence to support the claim made in the legal notice that Kangna “imagined things” because of her illness.

“What is being described here is hallucinatory behaviour and there is no research based or clinical evidence to suggest that Asperger’s can cause hallucinations,” said Dr Smita Deshpande, head of the department of psychiatry at Dr Ram Manohar Lohia hospital, adding that stalking by women in itself is very rare.

People affected are likely to display signs of

* Limited or inappropriate social interactions

* Robotic, repetitive speech

* Lack of eye contact or reciprocal conversation

* Poor non-verbal communication (gestures, facial expressions, etc.) with above-average verbal skills

* Difficulty comprehending emotions, humour and non-literal phrases

* Obsessive interest in unusual subjects

* One-sided conversations

* Awkward movement and mannerisms


Asperger syndrome is a “high functioning” autism spectrum disorder. Diagnosis is often missed till affected people display obvious problems in social interactions and exhibit repetitive behaviours. It can be treated with counselling, including cognitive behavioural therapy to build \social skills and control emotions, obsessions and repetitive behaviours.


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