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Charles Darwin 'had autism'

world Updated: Feb 18, 2009 12:28 IST

English naturalist Charles Darwin, who achieved lasting fame for his Theory of Evolution, had "autism", a leading psychiatrist has claimed.

According to Professor Michael Fitzgerald of Trinty College in Ireland, Darwin probably had Asperger's syndrome, a form of autism related to creativity and originality, and was suffering from a behavioural disorder.

In fact, Darwin who penned 'On the Origin of Species', which sets out the famous theory of natural selection, had an extraordinary attention to detail but he also had difficulties with social interaction, he explained.

Prof Fitzgerald was quoted by 'The Daily Telegraph' as saying: "It is suggested that the same genes that produce autism and Asperger's syndrome are also responsible for great creativity and originality.

"Asperger's syndrome gave Darwin the capacity to hyperfocus, the extra capacity for persistence, the enormous ability to see detail that other people missed, the endless energy for a lifetime dedication to a narrow task, and the independence of mind so critical to original research."