The Social Network: Mark Zuckerberg has Asperger’s….


From the opening scenes of The Social Network, the movie about the creator and creation of Facebook, it’s obvious to those of us immersed in the culture…founder Mark Zuckerberg has Asperger’s syndrome.

Asperger’s is the latest frontier of public and medical community awareness on the autism spectrum frontier. The syndrome only landed in the medical books in about 1981, though recognized and eponymously named by German psychiatrist Hans Asperger within about a year from when Leo Kanner gave the constellation now known as autism a name.  

Often what keeps family members, teens and adults from recognizing and accepting the diagnosis is several things. First, the word autism. In reality the disorder encompasses a huge continuum of functioning. Secondly, the stigma of disAbility. While the intellectual capacity of Asperger’s is average to often gifted–the individual communicates with words, so, what’s the problem? A lot. Until autism and markedly in Asperger’s, where people often may seem otherwise normal–sometimes.

Do not be misled by the assumption that children who did/do have some speech challenges early on or who as children or adults are OVERLY social do not fall into the Asperger’s diagnosis. Such misbeliefs have kept many family/child/adult from receiving needed services. Remember, there is a constellation of symptoms across the entire spectrum. Society, as we are learning weekly, is packed with people who have Asperger’s and who’ve never been diagnosed, and who are either having difficulty meeting the demands of a typical workplace-pace or, who have somehow managed to finesse an arsenal of coping skills….

Bless Temple Grandin. Her following paraphrased proclamation makes it into every interview and speech I’ve heard her deliver in her endearingly odd-inflected voice. If it weren’t for Asperger’s syndrome, she declares, we’d have no engineers, NASA scientists. And, Einstein plus Mozart and more, would today be diagnosed with the disorder.

As I am learning from someone to whom I am very intimately connected–causing me to really put legs onto the words from 14-years of the disAbility journey with my daughter–the key is to see disAbility as a difference….Not a deficit….

We have the intellectual, social…Asperger’s difference of Mark Zuckerberg to thank for the social media phenomenon of Facebook.

As for The Social Network, the movie? Go see it. Entertaining, engaging, fascinating and exploding with layers of irony….A social network created by someone with a social…challenge….


Have you seen The Social Network ?  What do you think…does Mark Zuckerberg have Aspergers?


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Leisa Hammett
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Leisa Hammett

Author. Blogger. Speaker. ARTism Agent.;;

0 thoughts on “The Social Network: Mark Zuckerberg has Asperger’s….

  • May 19, 2013 at 5:47 pm

    It kinda makes sense…the whole FB concept would be inviting to aspies as we deal with people in an analytical manner better than face to face, we prefer facts to fiction and are easily distracted by emotional displays. Zuckerman unfortunately also suffers with the typical “predictable”nature which left him wide open to exploitation by those who would take advantage of his “compulsive” see through nature, as As/aspies don’t pull off a very convincing “poker face”, are easily read by others and are sadly compromised in reading other people as in detecting “hidden motives”, or typical signs of dishonesty in others. He was the brains behind it and his “associates”(i wouldn’t call them friends!) simply waited on sidelines before cashing in on their collective conspiracy against the guy,all because they were jealous that they could only fumble with a pipedream and he actually created and succesfully made a reality,in short they were outraged at a “geek.” “outcast” or “underdog” outdoing
    them. anyway just wanna say..AUTISTIC PEOPLE ROCK!!

  • May 31, 2012 at 7:34 pm

    @SavonDuJour@xanga – Actually, an expert in the field of Autism, Dr. Donald Oswald, PhD has said that if you suspect you have Autism/Asperger’s then more than likely you do. As the parent of an 11 yr old with Asperger’s I can spot a kid or adult on the spectrum almost immediately. When you are around people with Autism all the time you do become quite good at spotting them and I for one knew early into the Social network movie that Mr. Zuckerberg was indedd an Aspie.

  • April 3, 2012 at 11:06 am

    @BR – @BR – i agree with others that this is just a movie and the actor sure does seem to have it. but an aspie kid coming up with a “social network” where there is a new way of communicating makes perfect sense. the hardest part of having a conversation with another human being is connecting the words and the emotional reactions like face gestures and eye contact… which is what an aperger’s person is missing! talking on the computer eliminates alot of this, which in turns give these people a new avenue of communicating!  

  • February 26, 2012 at 11:50 am

    he also suffers from a mild case of Down Syndrome… Brittany Spears has Lordosis, or a swayback. I can go on and on, but what’s the point?

  • February 15, 2012 at 8:58 am

    I’m a woman with Asperger’s Syndrome, originally diagnosed as autistic when I was younger. I find it absolutely mind blowing that despite having documentation from multiple sources attesting to my diagnosis and the services I received growing up, that I’m still faced with skepticism and doubt any time I tell someone that I have Asperger’s Syndrome, because I do not meet some misconceived image they have of, and they immediately declare I couldn’t possibly have it, without actually knowing me, or knowing my history, yet everyone is so quick to proclaim Mark Zuckerberg has it based on how he was portrayed in a movie?

    Do you have any idea what a slap in the face that is to people like me who struggle with the basics of socialization, and getting and holding jobs?
    Is trumpeting Mark Zuckerberg as a pillar of aspie success supposed to make us feel better ? Because it doesn’t. It really just enforces false stereotypes which ultimately hurt those such as myself.

  • January 23, 2012 at 8:18 pm

    @explosive@xanga – So because he “steals, lies and cheats” you agree that you think he has Asperger’s?  How did you draw that connection?  You sound like someone who really doesn’t like people with Asperger’s with pretty much no foundation to be so prejudiced.  Does it make you feel good to pick on people with a disability and to be hateful towards them?

  • October 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm

    @you – 
    Aspergers do have empathy. They have feelings like every body else. Its just less visible or they don’t know how to act in such a situation. It is also more difficult to detect other people’s feelings. To ‘detect’ when a joke is inaprophiate (but that can be learned).

    I know because I have Asperger. I know that when I hit someone that person has pain. And that insults can hurt.
    It gets more difficult when I make a joke and someone is insulted. Because it is just a joke and not ment to hurt someone.
    Which can be unexpected because humor is diffirent for everyone. If a joke would be offended to me then I know that it can hurt someone else. But I am usually uneffended by any humor  because I know that it is not ment to offend me.

    But sometimes it is a bit hard to understand why someone is offended by a joke I wouldn’t mind when the roles are reverse. Also its a joke and not meant to offent or hurt.

    But you learn this over time. If you for instance joke about an illness but learn that this person had this illness (or someone in his/her familiy) then you completely understand why that person is offended.
    I am very sarcastic but some people can’t apreciate it. This is why I am cautious using it with people I don’t know well.

    I find it insulting to say that aspergers have no empathy at all.

  • August 29, 2011 at 12:10 am

    Somebody having Asprerger’s has always been just weird too me. I can’t figure out how to tell if somebody really has it. Great discussion, by the way.

    From the Idol Lash girl

  • July 1, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Interesting reading through these comments.  I must admit when I saw the film I was of the opinion that [at least the character portrayed by Jessie Eisenberg] “might” have aspergers.  But you can’t make a diagnosis of a real life person by the way an actor/screenwriter/director choose to portray him. Unlike some of the commentators here, I do believe that creating a site such as Facebook is exactly the sort of thing someone with AS would do. 

    Many people with AS do not choose to stay insular, it’s simply the fact that they do not know how to introduce themselves into groups of people and find that sitting in the corner, immersed in something else is ‘less uncomfortable’ than trying to interact – especially after experiencing years of trying, getting it wrong, coping with rejection, etc.  Being able to do this in a virtual world is on the face of it, the perfect solution.

    Many people, famous or not, are subject to speculation as to whether or not they have AS – in the absence of an official diagnosis.  For close friends and family, this sometimes provides a possible explanation for concerns they may have.  When applied to famous people by the general community though, it amounts to little more than tittle-tattle.

    My son has recently been diagnosed, at the age of six, and we are and will be doing all we can to help him through what may be a difficult time growing up.  I may or may not have it.  It would answer a few things, but I’ve learned to live with who I am and at the age of 45 I don’t think a diagnosis or otherwise would help. 

    Gary Numan famously announced that he had been diagnosed with AS late in life, and that it helped explain a lot of things.  As to whether Mark Z. has it, that’s for him to find out – if he wants to.

  • May 12, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    I think you’re right on the money!  I had the same thought and googled it only to land on your blog.  LOL

  • April 25, 2011 at 10:37 pm

    Hell, again as above he may not in real life, the movie certainly portrays that and those of us living in that world can pick up on it. As the parent of a child with autism..the signs are all there. One of the biggest mistakes people make is that everyone fits into a mould..having aspergers may not mean that he was delayed in anyway as a fact some can go undetected for most of their life.

    Someone asked why we assume that he aspergers.  Along with his obvious intelligence he also posseses a lot of social issues known to asd, he was often obessive in whatever he was doing, talking about or thinking..overly so, he couldn’t hold back remarks we as a society believe as inpolite ect, in fact he struggled so much with the lack of social understanding the only way he thought he could make friends was to create somthing worthwhile of giving him that status and therefore friends having no understanding of what friendship really is.  Though he did have one friend, the co-founder and was fiercly protective even in the face of a law suit, again somthing a lot of adults with aspergers do is attach themselves to certain people..and are very loyal.

    I know this may not explain my belief that the character in the movie has aspergers, and I may not have explained as well as I’d have liked to…trust me living it day in and day out and spending time with all different people with the was very quickly picked up that he had aspergers.

    I was afraid to say anything incase people thought I was mad as a hatter untill I see that others had the same thoughts.

    All in all a fantastic movie.

  • April 21, 2011 at 12:50 am

    @hkfaber – HOW OLD ARE UR KIDS? MY SON IS AUTISTIC , HE IS 5 AND I CAN SEE THAT HE is gifted eventhough his speech is still delayed ..

  • April 8, 2011 at 9:06 am

    @SavonDuJour@xanga – @SavonDuJour@xanga – Oh chill the hell out no one is diagnosing anyone. Don’t get your panties in a bunch. They are just saying that as portrayed in the movie, the character of Zuckerberg displayed characteristics consistent to that of someone who has Asperger’s syndrome.  Jesus.  Overreact much?

  • March 30, 2011 at 10:25 am

    My nephew was a high school friend of Mark Zuckerberg.  My sister is a Special Education teacher.  The first time Mark came to her house she immediately felt that Mark had Aspergers after interacting with him for several hours.

  • March 3, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    What do you mean when you say “how dare you diagnose someone?” Can’t someone give their opinion? And someone ‘immersed’ in the Asperger’s culture would have a very informed opinion. My son has Asperger’s and  because of this I can spot the traits in others. Doesn’t mean I profess to having the credential to ‘diagnose’. Anyhow, doctors don’t always know everything. It took a while for my son to receive an official ‘diagnosis’ of Aspergers. I hadn’t known of its existence before then. In the first few minutes of watching The Social network my Asperger’s detection radar was going off, and even though I thought the real Zuckerberg presented quite differently in his Youtube clips, he still seemed to have traits of Asperger’s in my ‘opinion’. Aspies is quite an interesting and complex condtion!

  • February 28, 2011 at 11:16 am

    That was the first thing I said while watching the movie. He must have Asperger’s if the character portrayal was realistic.

  • February 25, 2011 at 4:47 pm

    I just recently rented this on DVD and I thought it was a facinating movie. I have a son with Asperger’s and have done lots of research trying to understand it and my son. It would seem that the way Zuckerberg is portrayed that he would definitley have Asperger’s. However, I understand that he had absolutley nothing to do with the making of this movie, so if he actually does or doesn’t have it IRL, this movie isn’t the way to tell. Regardless, Jesse Eisenberg does an amazing job playing an Asperger’s-type character; the mile-a-minute speech, seemingly not paying attention (but actually is!), even down to the confusion on his face when people are outraged at his behavior. He gets Asperger’s down pat.

    And I like hkfaber’s comment “its not a disability, its a superability.” That it is!

  • February 24, 2011 at 7:53 pm

    I noticed this too from the first scene.  I’m going with thumbs up on Aspie.

  • February 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    Haivng a child with Asperger…the first thing I said was he HAS to have Asperger…atleast as portrayed by Jesse Eisenberg! Great movie! Very entertaining and interesting!!

  • February 21, 2011 at 11:22 am

    Yes, the movie character does seem to have Asperger’s. But remember that the movie is not a documentary. A lot of the things that happened in the movie did not happen in real life — they are fiction. So be careful not to diagnose the actual man based on the character.

  • February 14, 2011 at 12:50 pm

    I’ve never met the man, Mark Z., but from what I’ve seen him say and how he acts in interviews it does lead me, a doctor, to believe that he might fall into this group. The movie really tries to force the point of how different he is with others. I would be shocked if he hasn’t been told about Aspergers. The real catch is that it doesn’t matter how much money you have there is no fixing his odd social skills as well as having no empathy for others.

  • February 11, 2011 at 8:54 am

    Eisenberg’s portrayal of Zuckerberg included some Asperger behaviors such as rocking in his seat in the middle of conversation and shunning being touched by others, as they celebrated the 1,000,000th member for example. Also, Mark’s own blogging about the ex-girlfriend shows a tendancy to lack empathy, although he did express empathy for Eduardo’s situation which would not be typical. Anyway my 14 yr old nephew has Asperger’s and an obsessive interest in comp sci, so we are not worried about his prospects! The ultimate irony is that someone with a disorder inhibiting development of social skills has totally deconstructed successful social interaction and translated it into software code.

  • January 29, 2011 at 11:01 pm

    How do you know he has Asperger’s? He may just be introverted and awkward, as many people including myself are, without Asperger’s.

  • January 10, 2011 at 2:46 pm

    I agree with those who said “the actor” certainly had asberger traits …I have 2 autistic kids …both are insanely brilliant to the point where it blows me away …I have never seen Mark IRL so I wouldn’t have any idea about that but it wouldn’t surprise me at all …Aspie’s are generally brilliant …seeing the world in pictures gives them a learning advantage ….it can be troublesome in ones youth but really …its not a disability …its a superability.

  • November 29, 2010 at 5:32 am

    As a psychologist – yes the way Mark was “portrayed” in the movie definatley showed traits of Aspergers. As a aunt and sister in law to 2 gorgeous apies males, I could see a lot of them in the way Mark was portrayed.

    I have never seen the “real” Mark so I can not comment on the actual person, and I read on IMDB that Mark didn’t have anything to do with the movie (but he did the book) which makes it even harder to say yes or no.

  • November 29, 2010 at 4:38 am

    He does not have Aspergers; what is the deal with all people who are successful and young as being part of the aspergers culture. The actor was having a bit of fun there is no way Mark Zuckerberg or any of the founders of facebook have it. Just because someone has a interest in IT or Buisness does not mean it is the case. What is next Richard Branson had AS or what about Hitler. Is it not funny that only well of or academically smart people have AS what about Bush he could have had it.

  • November 13, 2010 at 7:58 am

    “…or, who have somehow managed to finesse an arsenal of coping skills….”

    This strikes a chord with me, I sometimes feel as if I have to deal with situations that  look  easy for others through use of ‘raw processing power’. I really felt for “Zuckerberg” in this film, his character was really well acted, and resonated with the bewilderment that I often feel, “looking at the architecture”.

  • November 2, 2010 at 3:16 pm

    Ahh the irony of a potential Aspergian developing a “social network;” it makes me laugh. BTW, his personal interviews support this potential diagnosis as well.

  • November 2, 2010 at 3:09 pm

    “Do not be misled by the assumption that children who did/do have some
    speech challenges early on or who as children or adults are OVERLY
    social do not fall into the Asperger’s diagnosis. Such misbeliefs have
    kept many family/child/adult from receiving needed services.”  – I can relate!

    This article over at Psychology Today references your blog!

  • October 29, 2010 at 12:54 pm

    Zuckerberg may not, but the character certainly seems to in the movie.  That would be pretty cool if he did, you’d never expect a guy who created the most successful network of all time to have Asperger’s.

  • October 29, 2010 at 11:58 am

    You can’t “diagnose” Mark Zuckerberg based on how he was cast and portrayed in a movie, especially when you take into consideration that the writers probably took a fair amount of artistic license. Also, near the end of the article you claim that there would be no engineers or NASA scientists, which is a little insulting, as you’ve effectively suggested that those of us who have chosen to study in those fields owe our success to a disorder that few of us actually have.

  • October 29, 2010 at 3:27 am

    What degrees in psychology or psychiatry do you hold?  What qualifications apart from ‘being immersed in the culture’ and a writer (of fiction?) gives you the right to diagnose anything in another human being?  Do you not go to a doctor (medically-qualified) when you think you have something wrong or do you just go to someone who is ‘immersed in the culture’, let’s say the receptionist at the doctor’s office?  Or perhaps you just send a video of yourself….

    I wonder what the specialists in this field would make of your spurious ‘diagnosis’?

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