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AmethystRose
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08 Jul 2014, 9:23 pm

I've heard it said more than a few times that people on the Autism Spectrum have a kind of "hierarchy blindness;" that we have "trouble understanding" hierarchies and our places in them.

It is true that I do ignore rank. BUT: Another term for "hierarchy blindness" is "egalitarianism."

I am an egalitarian. I don't think that these automatic hierarchies that spontaneously form whenever humans gather are good for our society, and I don't think society is made any better by trying to force people on the spectrum into "understanding" and accepting social rank.

Everyone, regardless of their assumed social rank or what amazing things others claim about them, has to prove themselves to me before I will defer to them. This has always been true of me. It got me into trouble as a child many times, but I don't regret standing firm as an individual and refusing to "accept my place" or "do as I'm told." I don't regret speaking up against adults I disagreed with in my youth (even though it led to discipline) and I don't regret speaking up against my sociopathic, bullying ex-employers (even though it led to me being written-up and eventually fired; I will get the final laugh).

I can see that an actual blindness to hierarchies can, in some situations, be dangerous; but I think we should focus on learning to navigate that danger, not on trying to avoid it completely by just fitting in. Seeing the hierarchies around us is good; learning to accept and belong in them, I think, is bad.

Thank you. :)



cathylynn
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08 Jul 2014, 9:48 pm

women in general (NT's included) tend to be egalitarian. men tend to think hierarchically.



AmethystRose
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08 Jul 2014, 9:50 pm

Quote:
women in general (NT's included) tend to be egalitarian. men tend to think hierarchically.


But I see women defer to men and to older women all the time; in fact, I think it's very normal. How is this not hierarchical?

Edit: Women also seem to defer a lot to people who are better dressed or better looking than they are, which I just think is weird.



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08 Jul 2014, 10:03 pm

Some women - particularly Queen Bee types - are heavily into hierarchy. I've had quite a few jobs and the worst for this were women bosses, and I experienced far more bullying from them than from male bosses overall. (I am a woman). The women were also pettier, sneakier, underhand and far more malicious. Not that all the males were angels.. though they were more upfront about their communication and thoughts.



AmethystRose
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08 Jul 2014, 10:16 pm

I think the difference between stereotypical "male" hierarchies, like you see in the military and at work, and stereotypical "female" hierarchies, like you see in cliques and at community events, is that the "male" hierarchies tend to be more explicit and rigid, while "female" hierarchies tend to be more subtle -- so that intuition tells you where you and others stand, not any official rank or title.

I don't think gender matters in this, though, except in so far as gender-specific childhood conditioning makes it matter. Hierarchies spontaneously form wherever people gather. It just HAPPENS.



slushy9
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08 Jul 2014, 10:48 pm

i treat everyone equally unless theyre attractive. ;) i think it has to do with experience. ive had dumb professors and teachers before who were arrogant just because they had a phd or whatever. Also security guards who think that they own the place just because they are guarding it. i think its a blessing because it prevents people in authority from taking advantage of you. In the end, everyone is a flawed human being.



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09 Jul 2014, 12:23 am

I think you're making a lot of great points AmethystRose. I blieve that I myself am not so much 'blind to hierarchy' as much as I do perceive the hierarchy structures around me (for example, at work), but I choose to remain on the fringe of any hierarchy. Like you, I am an egalitarian. However, that does not mean that I think any hierarchical structure is inherently bad. Mutual respect is key. A hierarchy assigns tasks and functions to each member. But I think someone who is a step 'up' the ladder will function a lot better when they show respect toward the ones who are of 'lower' rank. It would harvest sympathy among their subordinates, and it would also be an indication that the 'higher up' is aware of their own responsibilities within that particular hierarchy.

You can have an organisation where there is a clear hierarchy, yet everyone is still treated as equal. That's not a contradiction, but in reality it unfortunately often doesn't go like that.
I'd love to see an absolutely egalitarian society, but I realize that with how most societies look like right now, it would be very difficult to sustain an organisation that's just one broad horizontal plain of equals, without any clearly defined leadership positions on any level. A body needs a head, and arms need shoulders.

This post also marks the first time in my life that I've defended hierarchy. 8O At work, I'm typically the rebellious loner.


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09 Jul 2014, 12:25 am

I definitely have some hierarchy blindness.


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09 Jul 2014, 12:28 am

AmethystRose wrote:
I've heard it said more than a few times that people on the Autism Spectrum have a kind of "hierarchy blindness;" that we have "trouble understanding" hierarchies and our places in them.

It is true that I do ignore rank. BUT: Another term for "hierarchy blindness" is "egalitarianism."

I am an egalitarian. I don't think that these automatic hierarchies that spontaneously form whenever humans gather are good for our society, and I don't think society is made any better by trying to force people on the spectrum into "understanding" and accepting social rank.

Everyone, regardless of their assumed social rank or what amazing things others claim about them, has to prove themselves to me before I will defer to them. This has always been true of me. It got me into trouble as a child many times, but I don't regret standing firm as an individual and refusing to "accept my place" or "do as I'm told." I don't regret speaking up against adults I disagreed with in my youth (even though it led to discipline) and I don't regret speaking up against my sociopathic, bullying ex-employers (even though it led to me being written-up and eventually fired; I will get the final laugh).

I can see that an actual blindness to hierarchies can, in some situations, be dangerous; but I think we should focus on learning to navigate that danger, not on trying to avoid it completely by just fitting in. Seeing the hierarchies around us is good; learning to accept and belong in them, I think, is bad.

Thank you. :)


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Most hierarchies are conceptual delusions. They are hive-mind garbage.



AmethystRose
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09 Jul 2014, 1:04 am

Quote:
You can have an organisation where there is a clear hierarchy, yet everyone is still treated as equal.


Yes! Very good point. This is not a contradiction because there is a distinct difference between a social hierarchy and a workflow hierarchy. Businesses and group projects need workflow hierarchies because someone has to take care of the details of a job, and someone has to focus on the bigger picture and direct the team. Details get lost in the bigger picture, and the bigger picture gets lost in the details. :)



AmethystRose
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09 Jul 2014, 1:30 am

Quote:
You can have an organisation where there is a clear hierarchy, yet everyone is still treated as equal.


Yes! Very good point. This is not a contradiction because there is a distinct difference between a social hierarchy and a workflow hierarchy. Businesses and group projects need workflow hierarchies because someone has to take care of the details of a job, and someone has to focus on the bigger picture and direct the team. Details get lost in the bigger picture, and the bigger picture gets lost in the details. :)



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09 Jul 2014, 3:15 am

I find hierarchy to be a rather distasteful concept....and no interest in accepting 'my place' in one.


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09 Jul 2014, 4:15 am

'Hierarchy blindness' is a term that should be recognised as a primary marker of ASD/autism/Aspergers. I don't remember seeing the term before and wonder if it has been recognised in research and theory?

I certainly have hierarchy myopia. I might not be completely blind although I may have originally been blind and (over time) developed other means of recognising hierarchy as a necessary prerequisite to social survival.

I live reasonably successfully in the corporate world and can say that hierarchy blindness can be helpful in certain contexts. It depends on the nature of the job. In my case, I'm a health and safety professional in a large construction company so hierarchical blindness is helpful in cutting across social barriers (that I'm mostly unaware of). I am the ultimate speaker of the truth.


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09 Jul 2014, 5:48 am

I think the concept of Hierarchy Blindness is probably crucial to the concept of the Troubled Loner Syndrome.

Until I became self-employed in my late twenties, I was constantly moving from job to job because I was incapable of understanding my place in the social and management structures which were in place. But at the same time, I was frequently over deferential to authority figures, and never really saw them as people not much different from me - I tended to view them as I would view members of an alien tribe (a mixture of fear and wonder).

From the age of 30, I never worked alongside anyone except when my son started to help me. My main source of income for 30 years was as a chimney sweep, and the job took me into every type of dwelling in the land from the meanest hovel to the grandest stately home.

Because I was, however briefly, the 'expert', I was much better able to find a way to relate to the person who was employing me. And I have to say that I had some extremely enjoyable exchanges with some extremely high-status individuals. Because I only saw them once or twice a year, I was able to keep up my pretence of being normal, whilst continuing to surprise the customers with my ability to hold a wide-ranging and relatively well-informed conversation. I had many customers, at all levels of society, with whom I shared a genuine mutual respect - and some of them almost became 'friends'.

The idea of an egalitarian society is in some ways very attractive, but it is completely impossible, and IMHO totally undesirable.



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09 Jul 2014, 6:07 am

That is really interesting. I am in a (well earned) privileged position. My post probably gave the idea that I'm somehow immune to social opinion and power. I'm at a point in life where my professional reputation, expertise an sheer knowledge of subject matter is such that I can hold my own against anyone, anywhere, anytime. However, all that I am now is built upon many years of deference to authority as a means of survival. Survival required blind deference to authority, any authority, because I had little idea what authority had to be deferred to and which should be ignored and when. At some point the gloom parted, the sun shone, I became what I now am; strong, respected and very capable in my field of expertise. Hierarchy of Blindness is now just furniture but that was not always the case.

Definitely, the 'Troubled Loner' is closely associated with 'Hierarchical Blindness'.


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09 Jul 2014, 6:32 am

Jabberwokky wrote:
'Hierarchy blindness' is a term that should be recognised as a primary marker of ASD/autism/Aspergers.

Yes, I agree.

Jabberwokky wrote:
I don't remember seeing the term before and wonder if it has been recognised in research and theory?

I think you won't find much about it in academic research from researchers who are not on the spectrum, because it would mean they would have to admit and openly talk about all the formal and informal hierarchical structures that define neurotypical society. Many people don't like to admit that social status is a form of hierarchical organisation, especially in cultures that view themselves as democratic or "egalitarian".

Star Ford has written a brilliant book on the topic of social communication and social status http://www.afieldguidetoearthlings.com. Highly recommended for anyone who wonders about the significance of hierarchies.

Jabberwokky wrote:
I live reasonably successfully in the corporate world and can say that hierarchy blindness can be helpful in certain contexts. It depends on the nature of the job. In my case, I'm a health and safety professional in a large construction company so hierarchical blindness is helpful in cutting across social barriers (that I'm mostly unaware of). I am the ultimate speaker of the truth.

Correct, ignoring established hierarchies is the only way to avoid a distortion of the truth. The relationship between typical culture (hierarchical organisation) and autistic culture is one of mutual interdependence as I explain in this thread http://www.wrongplanet.net/postt262209.html.