problem

Breaking Bad’s Walter White and life advice

It’s easy for people so say about that character of Walter White from Breaking Bad things like “Wow, what a psychopath!”. That’s typical lack of empathy and insight. Dramas like this carry much more food for thought if one is willing to ponder.
If you examine the path he took and where it all started, you might realize the true story of that character. Something that might apply to the situation many people are facing.
So let me give you my take on this:

There’s tons of widespread popular life advice about how to succeed, to find fulfillment, to overcome obstacles etc. But a lot of it is self-serving smartass talk, projecting own experiences onto other people.
The uncomfortable reality is that what Walter White did matches that life advice. His character in a way portrays what happens when you just do what needs to be done to empower yourself in a screwed up situation, to turn things around and act, to do something about your unhappiness.
No doubt that he tended to be an ass at times, or horrible to others, or talked bullshit, but who said it’s gonna be a clean path? Don’t get discouraged by adversity – ha-ha. Do what you feel you need to do to be yourself, to find balance. Ha-ha.

Do you now see the problem here?
It’s not that easy. Not when you still consider certain social norms to be valuable. Not when you cannot help but also consider the well-being of others while searching for your own well-being.

I imagine a typical life-advice self-help guru telling Walter his ‘wisdom’, and then a year later he tells Walter in distress: “This is not what I meant!” And Walter responds: “If you didn’t mean it, you shouldn’t have said it. I exactly followed your advice and acted in a goal-oriented way. Things might not be easy or all sunshine and rainbows, but nobody dares to mess with me anymore, and that’s a good start. I have found the confidence now that you talked about. Now I see why YOU were so confident. Now that I am reborn as Heisenberg, I feel like I could share my own success story with the world and tell people what they need to do to find personal fulfillment and self-confidence. … I am a self-made man now. Who I am, I accomplished by myself, through hard work and perseverence! Isn’t that great? So empowering! If only other people could follow the same advice instead of finding excuses!”

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Do we all have autism?

Some of the typical ways in which autism can reflect in someone’s behavior are things that you also find (allegedly) non-autistic people doing. I’m playing with the idea that “autism” might, as many other things, just be something that labels a type of personality development that has reached sufficient deviance from the norm (e.g. causing problems to others, subject unable to overcome it even with external input) to be labeled an illness.

A thought experiment is to consider that every human being has so-called autism, but many have it to only a small degree where it is more manageable, more under control, still subject to the mind’s conscious influence.

It would also be an interesting line of thought to examine situation-dependence here. This factor could still draw a line of distinction, because the more someone shows typical symptoms associated with autism, but more in some situations than in others, a simple definition might become less advised.

Comparative thought: Someone is called a criminal not because they did something antisocial, but because they broke the law. Alternatively, we are all committing crimes. It just depends on the standard you apply for what is socially acceptable.

A definition of something that draws a clear line of severity runs the risk of putting the idea in people’s mind that it is impossible to change and profoundly different, when in fact it might just be a relative extreme on the scale of a much bigger problem.