Cassandra affective deprivation disorder

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Cassandra affective deprivation disorder, sometimes referred to as "Affective deprivation disorder" and abbreviated as CADD or AfDD is a fictional currently unproven[1] disorder that is supposed to be caused by the horrible nightmare of having an autistic spouse. It is not recognized in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders. Because why admit that you might have a role in your own marital problems when you can just blame it on your spouse's disability?

Anti-autism groups such has Families of Adults Afflicted with Asperger’s Syndrome,[2] a group that encourages judges to discriminate against autistic parents in custody cases, have eagerly embraced the idea of this disorder.[3]

While earlier writings solely blamed autistic people for the disorder's existence, people with alexithymiaWikipedia's W.svg (a personality trait involving difficulty understanding emotions) are now beginning to be blamed too.


Marriage counselor Maxine Aston invented the term after talking with wives who complained of having emotionally distant husbands. She later wrote a paper on her disorder, which cited websites and "common knowledge" instead of peer-reviewed evidence.[4]

How it supposedly works[edit]

Cause and symptoms[edit]

According to Aston, autistic or alexithymic people are just so unloving and unempathetic that it makes their spouses go crazy. (Never mind that autistic people are shown to have plenty of affective empathy.[5][6][7])

Symptoms of CADD are claimed to include depression, sleeplessness, and maybe cancer.[8] Most of them sound exactly like seasonal affective disorder.


The scientific community has largely ignored CADD due to lack of proof, and autistic advocates have spoken up about its unfairness.

If an autistic or alexithymic adult tries to defend themselves or disprove CADD, they can be told that they simply don't have enough empathy to understand how much their lack of empathy is making their spouse suffer.

It would also be reasonable to point out that many marital problems aren't just the fault of one spouse. For example, if someone feels that their partner is not affectionate enough, they can just ask their partner to be more affectionate. This is how mature adults typically behave.


Claiming CADD could be a way to alienate and blame an autistic spouse if a marriage is struggling. This could further ostracize an autistic adult who may already be stressed about the aforementioned relationship problems.

The myth of CADD could also hurt the self esteem of autistic people, particularly those who are or want to be in serious relationships. One autistic woman wrote about CADD and described staying with an abusive husband because he used her autistic traits to blame and manipulate her.[9] Considering that autistic people are at increased risk of abuse as-is,[10][11][12] the last thing they need is for the abusers to be given more tools to use against them.

See also[edit]