Dinah Murray

Dr Dinah Murray was a political activist, autistic autism researcher, support worker, writer and mother. She liked to call herself a ‘productive irritant’. This site houses the Dinah Murray Archive: find her writing under Exploring Theory and Confronting Practice, and audio and video work under Recording Life.

She and Wenn Lawson independently formulated the key ideas of Monotropism. Later, they and Mike Lesser worked together for many years to develop, explain and apply the theory, helping many people to make sense of autism and how it manifests in themselves and others.

She died of cancer on the 7th of July, 2021, aged 75, surrounded by love.

Here are some of the obituaries and tributes to her life:

Also see her biography on the National Autistic Taskforce site, Wikipedia and this 2005 Observer interview with her and Mike Lesser. She is also mentioned in the History of Weird Pride Day, a celebration that she inspired.

A rough stone in a wood, engraved with an infinity symbol and the text 'DINAH MURRAY 1946-2021'.
Memorial at the Autism Woodland Project

Productive Irritant

Dinah chose the name “Productive Irritant” for her web site. As she put it:

The accolade, “Productive Irritant” was awarded to myself and Damian Milton by Health Economist Martin Knapp at the launch of the National Autism Project Report in 2017

This site will reproduce and supplement the content from her original site, which was never finished. As she wrote there:

This website is a home to several decades of my (ie Dinah Murray’s) work; owing to my chaotic nature not all of it can be traced to its origins. The earliest theory work, from the ’80s, laid down the grounds for thinking that an Interest model of mind is a good way to make sense of ideas like relevance and meaning and communication, as I showed in my PhD (UCL linguistics, 1986). Interest theory predicts huge human diversity and allowed me to form an idea about autism in 1990/91 as a distinctive pattern of interest with more energy / interest / processing resource for the leading interest at any moment and less to everything else. From that idea, many practical implications followed – and life experiences occurred: these led me to be a human rights campaigner in the realm of learning disabilities as well as autism. Implications extend well beyond autism to an egalitarian understanding of humans of every sort.

Productive Irritant
The logo Dinah made

A note on her name: ‘Dinah’ is pronounced ‘Dye-nah’ (/ˈdaɪnə/) not ‘Dee-nah’. She was named after Alice’s cat in Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking-Glass, and What Alice Found There.

A woodblock illustration of a kitten, held aloft by Alice.
“…and it really was a kitten, after all.”
John Tenniel’s illustration for the very short penultimate chapter of “Through the Looking Glass”

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