Page 1 of 2 [ 18 posts ]  Go to page 1, 2  Next

TheOutsider
Blue Jay
Blue Jay

Joined: 26 Jan 2022
Gender: Male
Posts: 79

17 Sep 2023, 6:39 pm

Not long ago, I was diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder and I don't understand how anyone with average intelligence or better cannot grasp the idea that other people have distinct minds, experiences, and thoughts that are separate and independent from their own... at least on an intellectual level. Does anyone here struggle with theory of mind? Is this very common among autistic people? Or is this an idea that has been debunked? I'd be interested in hearing from anyone who lacks theory of mind and what it's like to have this struggle.

Perhaps my unwillingness or lack of ability to understand someone else's struggle with theory of mind is evidence that I have a certain degree of difficulty in this area as well, but I'm still interested in learning about it from someone who has issues in this area.



MatchboxVagabond
Veteran
Veteran

Joined: 26 Mar 2023
Age: 43
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,207

17 Sep 2023, 6:54 pm

Understanding that other people have different opinions is one thing, identifying it when it's relevant and using it to make decisions is another.

It's more often the case that we struggle to use a theory of mind to guide our actions and expectations with respect to others.



GreenVelvetWorm
Deinonychus
Deinonychus

Joined: 3 May 2023
Age: 30
Gender: Non-binary
Posts: 363
Location: Canada

17 Sep 2023, 7:04 pm

I don't think I have much trouble with theory of mind, but there are times when I notice myself having difficulty making that leap.

One example is aesthetic preferences- like if I'm doing an art commission and the client tells me the colour combination they want for their character, I might think "why are they choosing bad colours when it's just as easy to make a character with good colours?" And I have to remind myself that to them, these colours do look good together.

(Edit for context- these are furry commissions, so they tend to be animals with unusual colours and markings. I don’t like some colours like red or dark grey or ultramarine, but those are really common ones that people choose)



TheOutsider
Blue Jay
Blue Jay

Joined: 26 Jan 2022
Gender: Male
Posts: 79

17 Sep 2023, 10:51 pm

So, perhaps my understanding of theory of mind is a bit off. Does theory of mind go beyond the mere understanding that others have the capacity to think and feel differently? Is it also the ability to know what they are thinking or feeling without being told? That would be somewhat different. It seems like that would be very difficult for anyone, not just autistic people.



goatfish57
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 12 Nov 2015
Gender: Male
Posts: 617
Location: In a village in La Mancha whose name I cannot recall

18 Sep 2023, 6:46 am

MatchboxVagabond wrote:
Understanding that other people have different opinions is one thing, identifying it when it's relevant and using it to make decisions is another.

It's more often the case that we struggle to use a theory of mind to guide our actions and expectations with respect to others.


This is my problem and it relates to an additional empathy deficit that I have struggled with my entire life.


_________________
Rdos: ND 133/200, NT 75/200

Not Diagnosed and Not Sure


naturalplastic
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 26 Aug 2010
Age: 69
Gender: Male
Posts: 34,114
Location: temperate zone

18 Sep 2023, 9:58 am

Look up the "Sally-Ann Test".



naturalplastic
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 26 Aug 2010
Age: 69
Gender: Male
Posts: 34,114
Location: temperate zone

18 Sep 2023, 10:30 pm

TheOutsider wrote:
So, perhaps my understanding of theory of mind is a bit off. Does theory of mind go beyond the mere understanding that others have the capacity to think and feel differently? Is it also the ability to know what they are thinking or feeling without being told? That would be somewhat different. It seems like that would be very difficult for anyone, not just autistic people.

It means "getting into other folks head". Seeing it from their pov. Anticipating how they would react.

To take a weird example. In WWII the Japanese occupiers had an airbase on one of the many islands they seized in the Pacific. The airplane fuel was stored in big underground tank and the end of the air strip. On the ground right above this zillion gallon underground silo they put a group of fake airplanes. Fake zeros. But they were purposely crudely made fakes. They used "theory of mind" to guess that the Americans would see these laughably made fake zeros and think "the Japanese think were dumb enough to be fooled by those crude decoys and will waste bombs on them, so we will make a point of NOT bombing them". And it worked.

For months the US bombed the base but never touched the fake zeros. Until one day an American bomber accidently over shot and its line of bombs went past the end of the runway and landed among faux zero planes, and ...a giant mushroom cloud of burning airplane fuel erupted out of the ground.



renaeden
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 12 Jun 2005
Age: 47
Gender: Female
Posts: 2,200
Location: Western Australia

19 Sep 2023, 10:12 pm

naturalplastic wrote:
Look up the "Sally-Ann Test".


I failed that test on my first try. :oops:



naturalplastic
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 26 Aug 2010
Age: 69
Gender: Male
Posts: 34,114
Location: temperate zone

19 Sep 2023, 10:43 pm

The good news: a number of folks on WP have tried it and failed.

The bad news: theyve designed a nonverbal version of the test for primates. And guess what. Most chimps, bonobos, and orangutans, PASS the test! :lol:

Aint THAT a kick in the pants?



renaeden
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 12 Jun 2005
Age: 47
Gender: Female
Posts: 2,200
Location: Western Australia

19 Sep 2023, 10:50 pm

It certainly is! How embarrassing. :oops:



EmQ
Emu Egg
Emu Egg

Joined: 18 Aug 2023
Age: 39
Gender: Female
Posts: 4
Location: England

20 Sep 2023, 2:48 am

As yourself personally I don't struggle with theory of mind in fact I was assessed professionally by Cognitive Personality Theory to have a highly convergent FeSe pairing meaning that I pick up on nuances, subtext etc extremely well (not to be confused with MBTI pseudo science). It just seems evident to me & applying this in real time is automatic. I think it's an outdated theory to be honest and the psychiatrist that diagnosed me (I had to go through multiple to be believed) also stated that it's a redundant theory. I'm a mental health professional myself and have noted similar findings. As you say I think anyone with an average to high intellect is going to be able to grasp this. I had mediation with my boss recently and implicitly understood prior to going in exactly what she was going to; I was scarily accurate. In fact it's a strength not a weakness. Obviously I can't vouch for everyone but I will say in services I do see some people using this as an excuse when they're in trouble (I work on a very dynamic and demanding ward environment). Of course I'm sure there are people that do struggle albeit autism is a very heterogeneous condition. Baron-Cohen who espoused this theory found little credence to support his hypothesis even trying to say that autistic people must have somehow used their intellect to get round having a lack of theory of mind...derogatory & unscientific it seems to me.



EmQ
Emu Egg
Emu Egg

Joined: 18 Aug 2023
Age: 39
Gender: Female
Posts: 4
Location: England

20 Sep 2023, 2:54 am

Ps I've done the advanced theory of mind test and passed with flying colours. I think in real time due to processing speed deficits in some people there may be a slight delay. It just seems self evident to me that people have their own agendas, thoughts, feelings which are dynamic on an ever shifting terrain, this could be due to my cognition however & we're a varied bunch. I'd love to hear from people who genuinely find this difficult to grasp.



bee33
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 19 Apr 2008
Age: 60
Gender: Female
Posts: 2,390

20 Sep 2023, 5:29 am

I've never taken the Sally-Anne test and since I know how it works I wouldn't be able to take it as a test, given that I already know the right answer. My understanding is the test is usually given to children, in which case I could imagine failing the test, as a child, simply because I might have assumed that someone had told the person while they were out of the room that the marble had been moved. I can also imagine that I might not have been able to guess what the other person knows, so I might think that they know where the marble is by some means that I am not privy to. It would have more to do with realizing that I don't always know what is going on outside of my view and what information is being shared rather than being unable to understand or conceive of what "Sally" knows or doesn't know in her own mind. So I can see how it would be possible to fail the test for various reasons, but I'm not sure that it proves what it sets out to prove.



MatchboxVagabond
Veteran
Veteran

Joined: 26 Mar 2023
Age: 43
Gender: Male
Posts: 1,207

20 Sep 2023, 12:21 pm

bee33 wrote:
I've never taken the Sally-Anne test and since I know how it works I wouldn't be able to take it as a test, given that I already know the right answer. My understanding is the test is usually given to children, in which case I could imagine failing the test, as a child, simply because I might have assumed that someone had told the person while they were out of the room that the marble had been moved. I can also imagine that I might not have been able to guess what the other person knows, so I might think that they know where the marble is by some means that I am not privy to. It would have more to do with realizing that I don't always know what is going on outside of my view and what information is being shared rather than being unable to understand or conceive of what "Sally" knows or doesn't know in her own mind. So I can see how it would be possible to fail the test for various reasons, but I'm not sure that it proves what it sets out to prove.

Not necessarily, but I did have some issues on some of the tests because I knew the "correct" answer as well as the answer that I wanted to give, and they both felt equally me.

In this case, I do think that it's worth understanding that being able to reason out the correct answer or relying upon a memorized result are not what they're looking for. It should be a more or less automatic correct answer with the questions they're asking.

That being said, I do think that the whole bit is rather problematic, if for no other reason than what you expect people to do is going to be heavily impacted on the people that you're hanging out with and the general cultural expectations. If you haven't got that for any reason, it's going to be a problem.



Pagliaccio
Tufted Titmouse
Tufted Titmouse

User avatar

Joined: 29 Jul 2023
Gender: Male
Posts: 29

21 Sep 2023, 10:47 am

I have no problem with theory of mind. I think it's one of those autism myths like lack of empathy. For decades autism was IQ<70 so if you are intellectually disabled you will lack theory of mind, empathy, and a whole lot of things. Maybe this is the source of the stereotype, reinforced by psychotherapists who will tell you that you suffer mind-blindness as a consequence of being autistic. (Pygmalion effect.)

TOM is associated with the 'social brain' which may be underdeveloped in people who have been socially isolated.



naturalplastic
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 26 Aug 2010
Age: 69
Gender: Male
Posts: 34,114
Location: temperate zone

21 Sep 2023, 3:28 pm

When I interact with folks...it amazes me how folks would put reams of words into my mouth that I never said...and falsley accuse me of lying...lying about topics I wasnt even talking about.

Could be about TOM. I dont anticipate how folks reacte to what I say.

Once I told a low level superviser lady that she did a particular thing in an inefficient way. And that "most supervisors do it this way...they divide the crew into two groups...the high ranking people count the LOW stuff, and the low ranking people do the high (easier) stuff."

The task was counting greeting cards in stores. And what I said was based on simple observation. Supervisors would divide up the small crew..and I noticed that I was always put with the dumb greenhorns doing the high stuff, and the boss, and the top guns, were always all on the floor doing the low stuff. I felt a bit slighted, but hey...I get to do the ez stuff. And I appreciate the good strategic thinking behind it.

But I didnt feel I had time to relate all of that above anectdotal storytelling to this lady supervisor.

This lady supervisor did not take kindly to a subordinate telling what to do. Thats not surprising. But apparently she took it REALLY hard.

We ran into each other at another store. And she seemed to be holding back tears when she brought up the topic and said "I dont believe you about that...because...there a people who are much faster counters than you." THAT was her basis for calling me a liar. That there are faster workers in the company than me. Either a total dumb nonsequitar. Or Im missing something.

I didnt have time to argue with someone on the job in front of coworkers. It was bad enough that she falsely accused me of lying. BUT...I couldnt figure WHY she thought that the fact there are faster counters than me...had anything to do with the subject or had a damn thing to do with proving her point, or disproving what I said.

Then it finnally occurred to me that she projected something into what I said that wasnt there. She thought I was claiming to BE one the high ranking people.

Dont know if its her fault for "hearing" words I never said. Or my fault for failing anticipate that she think I was saying that.