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AutisticMalcontent
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05 Jun 2009, 12:44 am

I'm trying to get a feel for what is going on with me emotionally concerning how I deal with other people's angers and whether you (the plural you), my autistic brethren, have a similar reaction to my own concerning anger.

I'm a nice guy, and I'm very easy to get along with. At my job, I make people laugh all the time, and because I can make them laugh, they love me to death ;) I guess I don't have some of the same social phobias that some of you might have, I've more or less grown used to the company of NT's and can make them trust me if they get to know me.

Like I said, when I'm relaxed and around people, I do just fine, and I'm happy as can be. However, whenever someone is angry at me and verbally expresses it, if someone appears to be non verbally aggressive, if I'm in a unfamiliar situation, or if I'm in a confrontational situation, I freeze up so badly. My arms feel like jello, my breathing becomes shortened, my heat beat shoots up, and feel terrified and scared inside. It takes a good 5-10 minutes to de-escalate from this stage of the "Fight or Flight" instinct. What is odd is that there is no cognitive process during the whole circumstance, no negative thinking or "What if" thinking. It is almost like it is a survival instinct not spawned by human thought, an immediate adrenaline boost with a negative effect.

At the place I'm working at, there are times where customers are overly rude or almost aggressive in behavior, and when they become so, I have the the feeling I described above. I absolutely hate having that immediate panic wave, afterward I get angry because I'm internally embarrassed at how "cowardly" I acted during the situation, that I should have been assertive or combative, and not passive and subservient.

It is because of this internalized non-cognitive panic attack that I can't compete in my favorite sport, which is boxing (actually boxing, in the sense of sparring and competition in tournaments. I used to spar around, but didn't do too well because I had the above mentioned panic attack feeling). To be a good boxer, or fighter for that matter, you must be mentally focused and strong willed. Any mental distraction or internal mental flaw will break your concentration and make you vulnerable, most often both physically and mentally. If you take a shot when you are mentally unfocused and nervous, you can easily panic and start taking shots that you would normally block with ease and see coming. You'd likely going into "defensive" mood, and try to save yourself from getting hit, allowing your opponent to have a field day with you.

I apologize, I majorly digress. Well I was wondering if any of you feel the same way, in the sense that any aggressive or angry action or attempted action a person does to you, whether verbally or non verbally, puts you into the panic state I mentioned above? And if so, what do you think the cause is?



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05 Jun 2009, 1:31 am

It happens to me too. I have no idea why. I kind of feel like a scared little animal.


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WardenWolf
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05 Jun 2009, 2:37 am

Physical threats, I can stand against, and have on more than one occasion. What's the worst they can do? Kill me? Death is not something I really fear anymore. Verbal abuse, I'm much more susceptible to. My response to that is a bit different. I can usually hold up to it in the short term and act like it doesn't bother me, long enough to remove myself from the situation, but once I'm alone and safe I may break down. I can temporarily hold it off, but only for a while.


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mechanicalgirl39
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05 Jun 2009, 6:41 am

I have that, but more of a rage attack than a panic attack.

It does the same thing to me when fighting in a martial arts contest. I don't seize up though, I'm more likely to just degenerate into sheer berserker aggression. Sometimes that works, sometimes a more skilled person can out finesse you..


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RightGalaxy
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05 Jun 2009, 8:24 am

Ditto...BUT when I young, I would seek revenge in sneaky, rather sick ways. I grew out of this vengeance mode and now I just panic,turn to jelly, then 15 minutes later call a meeting. Before, I did terrible things to people.
Threw out their lunch, stole their things, wrote anonymous threatening notes to others and signed their name on it, took a s**t and then put the turd in their drawer, got their toothbrush and scraped the underside of the toilet bowl with it, etc... (stayed late and came in early)
I brought this up in therapy and the look on the clinician's face immediately broke me out of the habit. I felt SO ashamed. They deserved it at the time. They took advantage of the fact that I was a "milktoast". That's why I'd NEVER keep my lunch in a community frige because of the things I used to do. P.S. I was a HUGH fan of the old movie "Willard". (1970's) Wanted to marry him.



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05 Jun 2009, 8:27 am

Wow! I am exactly like that except I always thought it was an emotional hangover from my possibly A.S. father's meltdowns. That just adds to the list of things I thought were psychological like not liking to be touched, the eye contact thing, the social awkwardness. This happens to me even if someone makes an aggressive political statement I disagree with. I want to make my point but I'm frozen and stammering. If someone starts screaming at me I'll turn around and walk away. I figure that I'm a reasonable person and I'll be happy to listen when they are in a reasonable frame of mind. That's what I tell myself after I stop hyperventilating.



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05 Jun 2009, 8:34 am

Ahem, just to clarify I was not responding to RightGalaxy :) I am not vengeful. I'm glad you stopped. You must have had a lot of rage bottled up.



marshall
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05 Jun 2009, 11:32 am

I'm not able to deal with other people's anger. Sometimes I get sheepish and lose my ability to think clearly.

If I feel like their anger is being unfairly directed at me I'll snap back at them in an even harsher tone. I feel deeply insulted when people try to dump their aggressive emotions on me. I have to show them that I'm in an even worse mood than they are and if they provoke me any more I might just lose it. Sometimes it escalates, other times they back off and find someone else to mess with.



Lightning88
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05 Jun 2009, 11:35 am

For me, I'm extremely particular with tone. If someone's using a nasty tone of voice with me, I'll get very upset and the situation only gets worse from there.



AutisticMalcontent
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05 Jun 2009, 12:35 pm

WardenWolf wrote:
Physical threats, I can stand against, and have on more than one occasion. What's the worst they can do? Kill me? Death is not something I really fear anymore. Verbal abuse, I'm much more susceptible to. My response to that is a bit different. I can usually hold up to it in the short term and act like it doesn't bother me, long enough to remove myself from the situation, but once I'm alone and safe I may break down. I can temporarily hold it off, but only for a while.



Interesting, to not fear physical threats, but to be susceptible to verbal confrontation. What you described is very similar to how I react in a verbal confrontation situation. I am scared witless, but I don't really show it, although the physical reaction is still there. I usually have to get away from the situation, and it takes 5-10 minutes for the feeling of panic to wear off. Still doesn't negate the feeling though.



Callista
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05 Jun 2009, 12:59 pm

I am pretty clumsy with most kinds of body language, but anger, I'm insanely sensitive to. I think I learned as a survival mechanism, because growing up I spent a lot of time hiding from various people who figured to beat NT into me. When I see the fast, jerky movements, the heavy footsteps, the louder, higher-pitched voice... I get this huge adrenaline surge, like you get when you're watching a scary movie and the monster suddenly jumps out. Instant freeze/fight/run reaction. I've embarrassed myself a couple of times, mistaking non-angry actions for anger and cowering by mistake.


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fiddlerpianist
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05 Jun 2009, 1:26 pm

I really like to make people happy. Some believe that this is a strong AS trait because it's a comfortable way for us to convey caring and compassion. So I think that making people upset is the flip side to this; it makes me really upset.

If someone is going to verbally back me into a corner and start yelling, I "shutdown" and just hope it will pass. I know I'm not going to be able to either successfully defend or go on the offensive. It's just not possible for me to either conceive of or verbalize retaliation strategy that quickly.

It's very hard on me. Afterwards, I will pore over the conversation in my head and have all sorts of "I should've told him this / that" and "why didn't I think to say this?" moments, and sort of replay the entire encounter in my head again, this time with the appropriate retorts. I can dwell on a conflict for days if it's intense enough.

Hmmm, maybe it's the other way around: working hard to please others is my long-term defensive mechanism to avoiding verbal conflict?

This actually happened to me the other day on a very small scale. I was leaving a store and someone opened the door to walk in. I was thinking about something else and just walked through the open door, not making eye contact or acknowledging the guy in any way. A few seconds later, I got a very sarcastic "Thanks!" from the guy. It was so small of a thing it shouldn't have bothered me in the least, yet I continued to dwell on the encounter for the rest of the day. I should've noticed the fellow and said "thanks," obviously, but I didn't and there really wasn't a way to go back and provide him with a long-winded explanation of why I inadvertently ignored him. It actually pained me to think that this guy thought I was a complete a--hole.


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Psygirl6
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06 Jun 2009, 9:59 am

I have an extreme sensitivity to other people's negative emotions and/or reactions to and/or around me. It makes me so sacred that when I get those reactions, I get upset and cry and tell them to stop the emotions. I would then run away and avoid that person for a few days. I always did that and still do. The difference now is that after a I have "cooled" down, I would then, in writing, tell them that I have Asperger's and that their showing of negative emotions are very difficult for me because I lack the ability to deal with it. i also mention that Asperger's is not curable nor treatable, and since it is because of Asperger's not something else, that behavior consequences, medications and/or anything else will not stop it. I also tell them that this is the way it is not if's, ands, nor buts, so that they either have to deal with my reactions or they can prevent my reactions from happening by either avoiding me when they are like that, or just keep their emotions to themselves. I usually have to avoid people who have problems where they are too over emotional about everything. If someone is willing and/or really cares about me, they would do this for me. if they have trouble, I would help them come up with ideas.



Locustman
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06 Jun 2009, 11:06 am

marshall wrote:
I'm not able to deal with other people's anger. Sometimes I get sheepish and lose my ability to think clearly.

If I feel like their anger is being unfairly directed at me I'll snap back at them in an even harsher tone. I feel deeply insulted when people try to dump their aggressive emotions on me. I have to show them that I'm in an even worse mood than they are and if they provoke me any more I might just lose it. Sometimes it escalates, other times they back off and find someone else to mess with.


That's exactly what I do. Over time I've built up a pretty colourful vocabulary of insults designed to deal with any situation others might throw at me, and I also frequently feel as though others dump their issues on me because my AS makes me look like an easy target. This is when I go into ultra-defensive mode in order to prove that I'm not.

I don't know if this ius the bset way to deal with aggressive behaviour on the part of others, but it's always been my instinctive reaction nonetheless.



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06 Jun 2009, 11:15 am

My reaction to anger...


Inquire why said person is angry

Attempt to prevent doing whatever makes said person angry

If unable to, ignore said person


If said person manages to initiate a fight or flight response at any stage from me, i will utterly destroy them