Mind-Blindness, Theory of Mind, and Fiction

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Ettina
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08 Dec 2015, 8:32 am

OJani wrote:
About empathy. This question still hits me with puzzled-mind. Though I had been thinking about it, I still lack comprehension. I'm sure I can feel empathy in some cases, when the situation is simple, e.g. a child cries in my presence. On cognitive levels, it is much more difficult to me. One example for a strange and appalling behaviour of mine I experienced in my life was "the lack of empathy" when my grandmother died after a series of suffering. I felt relieved when I was supposed to show pain...


That's normal. When a loved one is dying slowly, many people get their grieving done while the person is still alive and therefore don't grieve much when they finally die. And since she was suffering, feeling relief that she's no longer suffering is an empathetic reaction. Meanwhile, other family members may have been in denial, thinking to themselves that she would get better rather than die, and so they didn't start grieving until the actual death.

Were you criticized for not grieving then? Keep in mind that a person in emotional pain can sometimes be irrational and cruel because their own pain impedes their ability to see someone else's perspective.



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08 Dec 2015, 12:26 pm

mori_pastel wrote:
I'm a self-diagnosed Aspie, and as such I am constantly second-guessing myself with hopes of arriving at a more definitive answer than "maybe I have it, maybe I don't." Asperger’s fits me better than anything I’ve come across, including every differential diagnosis that could possibly exist to Asperger’s.

I have sensitivities to lights and food textures, I’m incredibly resistant to changes in my routine and environment, etc., etc. But that said, it’s not a perfect fit. tend to like socializing and the company of others in much smaller quantities than neurotypicals, but I don’ think this is a particularly valid characteristic when looking at fiction. If this were the root of the problem, than it would make more sense for Aspies to be drawn to fiction, not less. A book can substitute human relationships without making the same demands that people place on us.


(note: I’m speaking from an American perspective),. On the more intellectual end, you see more sci-fi readers. It’s not until you take an “intellectual” type of man that you’d typically see him reading any sort of general fiction on a regular basis. Where exactly does this stem from? I think that chances are, if we could find the answer to this, we could find the root of why Aspies are said to hate fiction.



Quote:
I think 'mind blindness' is misunderstood a little. Since our minds work differently than non-Aspergers (Incidentally, if non-Aspergers were in the minority we would say they have a remarkable skill in social relations). Non-verbal cues that you have from childhood, from other children and adults and in the rules and systems of the world, teach you in ways that you take for granted, that you learn.There have been several studies that show that empathy must be learned, it is not automatic. As an example, I have frail health and I have found that super healthy people cannot have empathy for me. I could say they are unkind or deliberately being difficult, but they literally don't understand poor health so they can't be empathetic. Whether or not they are sympathetic or compassionate depends on whether or not they are humble and can concede there is another understanding then the one they have and their willingness to care, but the actual empathy is not there. I try to appear well all the time as I try to appear socially adept and non-Aspergers, to relieve them of the burden of having to deal with an empathy or understanding of something that doesn't come easily to them.



Our love of science fiction is usually due the new ideas, imagination and philosophy expressed. Science fiction, besides having great imaginary worlds and people contained therein which is just plain fun, is full of allegory and ideas that are mind expanding. Sometimes questions are raised and by taking you outside the real world you can look objectively at issues, many philosophical. Sometimes it is a fight between good and evil and since many Aspergers have strong sense of justice, this appeals to us. Many non-Aspergers want stories about real life but we have to live real life why read about it? We care about people and their problems but don't want to read stories that go on and on about the problems. We would rather sympathise, then try to come up with a solutions (the male brain). I've been told by several people that I am better than the average person at perceiving intentions. I prefer science fiction with a good character (hero) that I can root for, which is the best of both.




Finally, just wanted to thank everyone who put up with this super-long post. Asperger’s has become something of my special interest for the past six months, and I still feel like there’s just so much I don’t understand. I would really like to move forward soon and find some professional certainty, but thank you all for putting up with my anxious doubts in the meantime. : )

OJani wrote:



About empathy. This question still hits me with puzzled-mind. Though I had been thinking about it, I still lack comprehension. I'm sure I can feel empathy in some cases, when the situation is simple, e.g. a child cries in my presence. On cognitive levels, it is much more difficult to me. One example for a strange and appalling behaviour of mine I experienced in my life was "the lack of empathy" when my grandmother died after a series of suffering. I felt relieved when I was supposed to show pain...



Picking up on all the first points the OP made, that shows character strength and maturity when a post like that delivers precise answers we all seek and who most, would 'emphasise' with.
Not all aspies have a lack of these skills, but growing awareness is key.

"Empathy must be learned it is not automatic". Good one. Shows true character building.

Secondly,

Unlike fiction, there is definitely more than one type of death. I’m picking up that you were unable to feel any grief when your relative died, but I am not going to ask how she came to that point, because being alive whilst dying inside, is a slow death and long healing process for anyone, which you can only account for because you may have been that close.
I know many people on the spectrum, feel a lot of pain when people they’ve loved have passed on, and although it may not be anyone's fault, its grief that can either overwhelm or destroy.. (or both)

So, from a non typical, non judgemental point of view that relies on physical and emotional strength, you are more than just an anatomy of science fiction, more a bigger part of the jigsaw of life.



xile123
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16 Oct 2016, 11:54 pm

OP you made the mistake in thinking that anti-social people and sociopaths lack empathy. A lot of the time anti-social people (especially sociopaths) tend to have very good empathy and thus they are able to control and manipulate others easily. You don't see Autistic people doing this because our empathy is poor.



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10 Aug 2018, 10:38 pm

Quote:
Must be a work of great fiction or just pure genius to post all that, some have fallen short of the empathy over the years another Mark Anthony trait I guess.

Goosebumps was something I used to read when I was twelve years old. I could establish the main differences between characters, and I still enjoy non fictional detail with the description intact.
I’m going to take on more reading as I get older as I’m bound to it.
You don’t need to be a scientist or historian to have traits of any ASD, like you I’m self diagnosed and hope to discuss this in further detail sometime.

If you've left, then its a shame, W.P could do with some more women and maybe men who can attribute a focus by contributing more of their own sensory perceptive natures.

Most of these discussions have left because of long explanations which I can discuss at length but have failed to find the latest bookworm to 'shop' with. All part of the aging process.

Putting the reality of these traits into words, defines a persons human ability to read and write, most aspies use a grid map or person, but human experiences balances the mind of reason and view.

Actually, this is starting to turn into the late late show for church goers, but defining a positive outcome comes from the person. Not persons.. 8) I've used up my current thinking time.



I've been absent from Wrong Planet for quite a long time. Years. I only returned yesterday and I'm having trouble navigating, but have confidence that it will come back to me. I find this subject very interesting, relevant and relatable. I offer my own human experience in the form of a journal entry I made back in 2009 (on another ASD Forum) on the subject of a session with my psycho therapist and my own AS diagnosis. It is entertaining, I think, if nothing else.
*****************
Private Journal Entry
Tue Nov 24, 2009 5:06 pm
Went to see my doctor today. Since it's always up to me to start the session, after taking my usual seat in the black leather Ikea type recliner which I never recline in, I said "I don't have anything to talk about today. Can't think of anything at all to say. Haven't had any dreams lately either.

He shrugged his shoulders. A minute or two of silence. I told him things were going pretty good and my stomach hasn't been acting up. He made note of that in my file. At least I think he did. More silence. He peered at me as he always does Then I remembered something that might be worth discussing. My foot rash.

Me: Oh yeah. I just thought of something to talk about. I got a really ugly rash on my left foot. Couldn't imagine where it came from, and since I've never had a rash like that on my foot or anywhere else I got worried. I've always been afraid of getting a foot fungus. So anyway, my daughter and I looked up foot rashes on the internet but we couldn't find any that looked like mine. I was so alarmed about the rash that I decided I better call the dermatologist the next day and make an appointment as soon as possible. Then I started thinking how I could have gotten such a rash and I came up with a couple of very bizarre scenarios.

Remember the dream I had about my boots? The one where I am flying over a highway, afraid that I'll crash, and then to my amazement I land smoothly and safely in the parking lot on the other side and look down at my feet and realize I am wearing my boots and my boots are responsible for my safe landing, that they are magical boots and I'm so happy that I wore my special boots and didn't make a crash landing?

Well, I really love those boots. It's hard to find the perfect pair of boots. But my boots were getting old, I've been wearing them for about 3 years and the heels were worn down pretty bad but I couldn't bear to part with them because I might never find another pair like them. So anyway, after one of our sessions I dropped my boots off at the shoemaker's shop next door for new heels and then picked them up the following week. So, as I was saying, in wondering about the rash, I started thinking that it must have come from my boots and that my boots must have become infected while they were at the shoemaker's shop because two days after I got my boots back the rash appeared. Well, it was a rather weird place, that shoemaker's shop, with two very strange characters in it. They seemed to be a mother and a son, the mother didn't speak English, she didn't speak at all as a matter of fact, and the son kept his eyes averted the entire time I was there. He never looked at me once but just kept looking down all the while he was talking to me and getting my information. So I got to thinking that this son was probably wearing my boots around the shop at night because he likes to wear women's shoes and got his kicks that way, and that he had a foot fungus and by cramming his bare feet into my boots he left the fungus there for me to contract; or else it was the mother, she liked my boots and was wearing them now and then during the week they were in the shop and it was she that left her fungus in my boots. But then I thought, no, no, no, that's just too far out. Which means I have a good grip on reality I think. But then again, the morning after I got my boots back I did put them on without any socks and wore them around the house that way for about an hour, plenty of time to catch the fungus which appeared on my left foot the next evening. So it must have been the boots. It had to have been the boots. Then I got another more sensible idea. Those forms that the shoemakers put your shoes on while they're working on them, shaped just like a foot, sometimes it's wooden, sometimes it's metal, but they probably don't disinfect them after each use and hundreds of fungus infected shoes may have been on that form leaving it crawling with bacteria and fungi which found its way into my boot. Even the pharmacist where my husband went to get me some foot spray said that it was entirely possible that I got the rash that way.

So anyway, I decided to wait and see if the rash got better on its own. If it got worse, I would go to see the dermatologist. And I also decided to give Christian Science a shot. Use the principles of Mary Baker Eddy to eliminate the rash by declaring that it does not really exist. I decided to just put a sock on it. Keep it out of sight and out of mind. Sure enough, the rash got better each day and it's now gone.

(I will spare you, my Gestalt friends, the next twenty minutes of free association that had to do with Christian Science, mind over matter, foot fetishes, my father's weird little foot trick, my father's ape walk, and other free floating gems that left my mind through my mouth. For someone who had nothing to say, I managed to cover a lot of territory today. Finally, though, my time was up.

My Doctor: So. You have Asperger's?
Me: (totally surprised by what I thought I heard him say) What?
My Doctor: And you believe you have Asperger’s?
Me: Yes. I do. Why?
My Doctor: You have all this emotion. People with Asperger’s don’t have a wide range of emotion.
Me: But that’s not true. Some people with Asperger’s do show emotion. (yeah for me. I was completely on auto pilot, so it wasn’t courage)
My Docter: Oh?
Me: Yes. It goes by degree.
My Doctor: And what degree would you say are you? Severe? Mild?
Me: I am mild. Perhaps very mild.
My Doctor: Very mild. I would agree.

It didn’t hit me till I left the office and was walking to my train. OMG. I have just been diagnosed as having a mild (okay - a very mild) degree of Autism. I have been validated. I have been on the right track all along for almost three years. I can’t wait to break it to the family at the Thanksgiving dinner table. I can’t wait to see the expression on the faces of all those who have been snickering and rolling their eyes and changing the subject every time I mention the “A” word.

Postscript: I may not be able to find my way back to this thread tomorrow because I have a terrible sense of direction. Have a good evening, morning, or afternoon, depending on where you are located on this planet.

:salut:



Last edited by cosmiccat on 10 Aug 2018, 10:54 pm, edited 1 time in total.

auntblabby
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17 Aug 2018, 5:00 am

in my own case my aspie self's distaste for most fictional works has nothing to do with mind blindness or TOM or any other such thing, but simply THIS- the events depicted in purely novelistic fictional works [those NOT based on a thread of actual happenstance] did NOT happen in this dimension at least, they are imaginings, and other people's imaginings generally don't interest me unless they lead in the direction of illumination regarding some topic which is important to me, such as in speculative fiction/sci-fi, and/or in morality tales based on human concerns in this present lifetime.



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17 Aug 2018, 5:15 am

auntblabby wrote:
in my own case my aspie self's distaste for most fictional works has nothing to do with mind blindness or TOM or any other such thing, but simply THIS- the events depicted in purely novelistic fictional works [those NOT based on a thread of actual happenstance] did NOT happen in this dimension at least, they are imaginings, and other people's imaginings generally don't interest me unless they lead in the direction of illumination regarding some topic which is important to me, such as in speculative fiction/sci-fi, and/or in morality tales based on human concerns in this present lifetime.


That is the point of fiction--to enlighten. Fiction is about emotional truths, not facts. Truth is much more valuable than fact.


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auntblabby
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17 Aug 2018, 5:19 am

HighLlama wrote:
auntblabby wrote:
in my own case my aspie self's distaste for most fictional works has nothing to do with mind blindness or TOM or any other such thing, but simply THIS- the events depicted in purely novelistic fictional works [those NOT based on a thread of actual happenstance] did NOT happen in this dimension at least, they are imaginings, and other people's imaginings generally don't interest me unless they lead in the direction of illumination regarding some topic which is important to me, such as in speculative fiction/sci-fi, and/or in morality tales based on human concerns in this present lifetime.


That is the point of fiction--to enlighten. Fiction is about emotional truths, not facts. Truth is much more valuable than fact.

I would rather these "emotional truths" had at least a smidgeon of fact-based reality to them. that is just the way my brain works [or some would say "doesn't work"].



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17 Aug 2018, 11:47 pm

I don't hate fiction, it just doesn't really interest me. I've read several fictional novels in my life & enjoyed all of them. My reading comprehension of them and enjoyment of the stories & even visuals and dreams they brought to mind were all just fine. I believe it's simply as Dr. Tony Attwood described: Aspies tend to read for knowledge, to learn, not to be entertained. I'm like that. I read a LOT, but it's news, science, business, finance, real estate, technology etc etc not storybooks.


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18 Aug 2018, 4:29 am

goldfish21 wrote:
I don't hate fiction, it just doesn't really interest me. I've read several fictional novels in my life & enjoyed all of them. My reading comprehension of them and enjoyment of the stories & even visuals and dreams they brought to mind were all just fine. I believe it's simply as Dr. Tony Attwood described: Aspies tend to read for knowledge, to learn, not to be entertained. I'm like that. I read a LOT, but it's news, science, business, finance, real estate, technology etc etc not storybooks.


All the things you mentioned are fictions though. To take them so seriously is a danger.


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SZWell
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18 Aug 2018, 7:29 am

Loved children books when I was younger(Captain underpants and the like) but just lost interest in those


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18 Aug 2018, 9:13 am

I have always loved fiction. I am definitely not the type of aspie who reads to learn and gain knowledge, I read for entertainment and adventure. I tend to find non-fiction boring (the only exception being books about animals).

I have never understood the big deal about stories from reality, as my grandfather liked so much. They're true, so what?

I have read fiction books since I was old enough to read. Young books (like Ruffen the sea serpent), adventure (like Famous Five and the Five Find-Outers by Enid Blyton), funny books, exciting books, and some 'problem' books in my older childhood/teens, series like the Little Vampire, and so much more.

I definitely had my favorites as a kid, but I was still more of an all-rounder then than I became later.
In my adult life I used to have a strong preference for horror, sci-fi and fantasy. These days my preferences tend to be horror and thrillers, and then some dystopia, sci-fi and fantasy.

I have never taken the slightest interest in interpreting fiction. I'm all about the plot, not reading societal issues into them or anything like that.

The vast majority of what I read/ have read has not been linked to special interests or obsessions. Unless interesting fiction itself is one...


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18 Aug 2018, 9:06 pm

SZWell wrote:
Loved children books when I was younger(Captain underpants and the like) but just lost interest in those

this overgrown big kid useta love captain underpants :mrgreen: :oops:



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19 Aug 2018, 6:32 am

IMO it’s a myth that people with an ASD don’t like fiction. There may be a statistical leaning towards this, but I know several with an ASD who like fiction. Personally though I struggle reading fiction or stories in general as I struggle understanding what is going on. I used to collect comic books as a child but rarely read them, I used to love the art. I love marvel and D.C. and love the films but have similar issues understanding film plots. When I watch a film it’s more of a case of going to see a firework show.