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NCC1701
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15 May 2014, 11:44 am

I ran across an article, albeit a very short, not-so-helpful article, about mind-blindness a few weeks back. For whatever reason, and I really hope that it is not because I am an idiot, I have been unable to really grasp what this means. I think it is that I have a difficult time explaining it in my own words. I also am unable to come up with a common example of the way mind-blindness has manifested itself in my life. I have read about the Sally-Anne Test, but that seems like a rather extreme example, in my opinion. I suspect that I do not struggle as much with mind-blindness as others do, but I have to wonder if it may be that I am just not recognizing the situations where it comes into play.

I have what I think may be an example, but I am not sure. I would like some insight into it.

I love reptiles, especially leopard geckos, A LOT! Everyone knows this about me. I have trained myself to avoid the topic of reptiles because I tend to talk about them so much when I begin to share about them. One week, the homework my therapist gave me was to be brief if I chose to talk about reptiles. I said that I did not understand why I had to be brief and that it was not fair. She told me that not everyone loved reptiles. I claimed that the reason that they may not love reptiles is because they do not know enough about reptiles, and if I told them about how awesome reptiles are, they would like them and be interested. My reasoning was that they do not like them because they do not know about them, but if they learn about them, then they will like them. That is how it was with me. I did not know about them at one point, so I did not care about them. But when I learned about them, I began to love them. In my mind, that is the way it works. She has reminded me a few times that not everyone likes reptiles and probably does not want to hear about them. I was unable to realize that others could have different thoughts and responses to them than I had. I figured that their thoughts would work the same as mine, in respect to reptiles.

I am not sure if that example demonstrates mind-blindness or not. I would like to hear some thoughts on this, if anyone is willing to share theirs.

Also, can anyone give me some more examples of mind-blindness and help me to condense the basics of Theory of Mind into an succinct, relatively short explanation?



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15 May 2014, 12:41 pm

It sounds like you've got the right idea of it. When I talk to aspies they sometimes bore me with their obsessions. Even if they're saying something interesting I'm bored because they go into great detail and I just don't have enough technical knowledge to understand what they're talking about. This makes me think of how people must feel when I talk about my obsessions. I have to tell people about them because to me they seem like the best things ever. I think, if only people would listen they'd see that too. Then I go into too much detail because I have to precisely explain some intricate technicality which requires a long winded explanation which they won't understand unless they're elbow deep in the same hobby and even then it's not guaranteed so when they listen for a long time without understanding they get bored.

As for mind blindness, I think even if aspies lack mirror neurons it doesn't mean we can never understand what people are thinking. Of course we can understand what people think about situations when it's obvious and even when it's not obvious up to a point. My hypothesis about NTs and their mirror neurons is that they work on a purely subconscious level. So NTs draw conclusions about people without understanding why. Aspies can learn to understand people by consciously imagining ourselves in the same situation. We can empathize with other people but we have to make the effort to think about it consciously instead of intuiting it subconsciously. If you get good at conscious empathy you might even find it more effective than NT mirror neurons. NTs rarely have a complete picture of what others are thinking because with their subconscious intuition they don't understand the reasons behind their conclusions but for us, we can learn to see the reasons behind the results and so connect the dots to form a bigger picture.

That's my hypothesis anyway.



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15 May 2014, 12:45 pm

Being blind from birth, or color blind from birth, or deaf from birth.

Basically never having a direct knowledge of sight or a missing color or hearing, you can logically know it exists, but you cannot know it because you feel it. Although you can feel sound waves through vibrations and earthquakes and stuff. I'm referencing hearing through the auditory nerves.


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RetroGamer87
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15 May 2014, 1:40 pm

Yes but does anyone ever truly touch another's mind? Are we just brains trapped in bony prisons? Doomed never to know any thoughts but our own?



NCC1701
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15 May 2014, 1:47 pm

I do not understand the above comment. It is impossible to touch someone's mind. We also have skin, not just bones. We actually have a lot more than just bones. Also, if someone expresses to us their thoughts, then we can know them.

I am not exactly sure where you are going with this.



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15 May 2014, 2:00 pm

NCC1701 wrote:
if someone expresses to us their thoughts, then we can know them.


Precisely! I was trying to refute stardraigh's idea that we can never have knowledge of another mind like the deaf can never know what sound is. If the deaf can learn to lipread than we can learn empathy.



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15 May 2014, 2:05 pm

RetroGamer87 wrote:
NCC1701 wrote:
if someone expresses to us their thoughts, then we can know them.


Precisely! I was trying to refute stardraigh's idea that we can never have knowledge of another mind like the deaf can never know what sound is. If the deaf can learn to lipread than we can learn empathy.


Okay, I understand now. I think the two comments before the last one threw me off. LOL



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15 May 2014, 4:46 pm

To my way of understanding the subject, NCC1701's description is very accurate as to the nature of 'mind blindness'. NT social development goes in a pattern where the NT person learns the art of social and conversational reciprocity at a fairly early age... it's a vague and mysterious sort of 'understanding' between individuals of what's what, what is desired socially and the ability to reflect the emotions and actions of the other person. It occurs during the years when most AS children's differences start to become detectable,if not obvious - just at that time when the pruning of neurons is most acute (ages 1.5 or so to 3) and language development really picks up.

People on the spectrum either don't pick up on these subtle social cues (like 'just knowing' when you are boring your listener to death with the details of your latest enthusiasm) or they learn them at a very slow rate...and the slow rate usually causes a lot of developmental difficulty during the early years. One must remember that the NT child is also on a social learning curve and their rejective behavior of the AS peer is their own (unfortunate) default mode...it takes a very skilled school program to help the NT child learn to accept and integrate the AS child into our/their shared worlds. With a lot of training, reinforcement, patience and understanding both the NT and AS child can be taught how to 'just get along'. These are the best school programs (very rare)...mostly the AS child is left to suffer and bumble along, while the NT child learns at best to tolerate and not bully those who are different.

Over time, AS people can and usually do learn how to control their reactions and interactions...but it's not a default or normal state for them... I have to remember to limit my comments on my own interests and try to discern and then respond to what other people actually mean (as opposed to what they might say)...

Theory of mind posits as normal a fairly rapid acquisition rate of these social skills, as well as the possession of a level of hard wired neural talent for their development. Children on the AS spectrum only learn them with varying degrees of hard work, as the neural patterning is different. AS adults, if they are fortunate, do come to understand this concept and they can (with practice) learn the social arts...

And RetroGamer87...Your hypothesis is spot on. My question to you is this; At what age and stage of your own development did you come to this idea? Your comments also illustrate the concept that individuals on the spectrum actually can develop a more acute set of social skills than the NT person - but it takes a lot longer (often well into the thirties and beyond) for the AS personality to fully mature, whereas the NT personality seems to settle into place much earlier, but with a lower or shallower level of self understanding and self reflectivity.



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15 May 2014, 9:20 pm

NCC1701 wrote:
I love reptiles, especially leopard geckos, A LOT! Everyone knows this about me. I have trained myself to avoid the topic of reptiles because I tend to talk about them so much when I begin to share about them. One week, the homework my therapist gave me was to be brief if I chose to talk about reptiles. I said that I did not understand why I had to be brief and that it was not fair. She told me that not everyone loved reptiles. I claimed that the reason that they may not love reptiles is because they do not know enough about reptiles, and if I told them about how awesome reptiles are, they would like them and be interested. My reasoning was that they do not like them because they do not know about them, but if they learn about them, then they will like them. That is how it was with me. I did not know about them at one point, so I did not care about them. But when I learned about them, I began to love them. In my mind, that is the way it works. She has reminded me a few times that not everyone likes reptiles and probably does not want to hear about them. I was unable to realize that others could have different thoughts and responses to them than I had. I figured that their thoughts would work the same as mine, in respect to reptiles.

I am not sure if that example demonstrates mind-blindness or not. I would like to hear some thoughts on this, if anyone is willing to share theirs.

Also, can anyone give me some more examples of mind-blindness and help me to condense the basics of Theory of Mind into an succinct, relatively short explanation?


Awesome, couldnt have gave a better example and perfectly explains mind blindness.


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16 May 2014, 8:00 am

RetroGamer87 wrote:
Yes but does anyone ever truly touch another's mind? Are we just brains trapped in bony prisons? Doomed never to know any thoughts but our own?


RetroGamer87 wrote:
NCC1701 wrote:
if someone expresses to us their thoughts, then we can know them.


Precisely! I was trying to refute stardraigh's idea that we can never have knowledge of another mind like the deaf can never know what sound is. If the deaf can learn to lipread than we can learn empathy.


Not sure what you thought I was referencing. I think you're talking about telepathy, but I could be wrong, yet I'm going to make that assumption. From a religious standpoint, I do not believe unmodified humans will ever be able to read another humans mind. I'm LDS and there is a scripture in the Book of Mormon that explains man alone can't know the thoughts of others.

From a technical standpoint, I know that we have technology now that can read signals in realtime in the brain and display that information. This kind of information is visual imagery, emotions, and the functioning status of the brain(EEG). This is technology external to the human which doesn't conflict with the religious belief I hold. Maybe this will end up being a cybernetic implant, or even be allowed through genetic engineering which again, not conflict with the belief I hold.

If you were referencing something other than Telepathy, I'm confused.


I just used those examples to show that someone can be mind blind, not just from a processing body language or empathy stand point, but also through biological physical construction.

This isn't to say those deaf from birth can't learn to empathize. This was to say, those deaf from birth cannot hear noise through their auditory nerves. Science can show that sound exists, and biology shows that optimally the human body would have a functioning auditory reception system. Those deaf from birth still can't hear and don't know what it's like to hear despite knowing that others can hear(Yes I know there are cochlear implants). They are mind-blind to hearing.

I worked with a man who has been color blind since birth. He has never seen anything other than white to black and grey in between. He knows that colors exist through science and anecdotal evidence from others. He has no idea what color looks like, nor can he act on anything that relies purely on color without help. He is mind-blind to colors and cannot process how they appear to someone who is not color blind.

There are of course ways around being mind-blind. For autists, it's study once you become aware you are deficient. If it's purely biological based such as a defect in the body, then Cybernetic and prosthetic systems can be used to surpass the mind blind-ness.


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16 May 2014, 8:19 am

BornThisWay wrote:
And RetroGamer87...Your hypothesis is spot on. My question to you is this; At what age and stage of your own development did you come to this idea? Your comments also illustrate the concept that individuals on the spectrum actually can develop a more acute set of social skills than the NT person - but it takes a lot longer (often well into the thirties and beyond) for the AS personality to fully mature, whereas the NT personality seems to settle into place much earlier, but with a lower or shallower level of self understanding and self reflectivity.


In year 8 and 9 I had a remedial class twice a week. The teacher was NT but seemed to have a good understanding of ASD. He said aspies could understand certain social concepts better than NTs and at the time I didn't believe him. About a month ago I read a book called What Every Body is Saying. I thought it would reveal to me the secrets of body language that all NTs already knew. Well it did give me a few pointers on body language but it wasn't written for aspies in particular. It was written for a general audience because NTs don't really have a very good understanding of body language either.

The book not only covers reading people but also the image you project to people. I was really surprised when it said if you use certain body language, people will draw certain conclusions about you and yet they won't know why. It's all subconscious to them. That's when I realized that NTs don't really understand what they're intuiting.

I've also observed that some NTs aren't very good at hiding their emotions or adapting their speech patterns when they're among different company. Some aspies may have better success in these areas. If you're your shy just act as you would if you weren't shy and eventually you'll have less to be shy about.

Maybe my social skills will mature when I'm in my 30s. I keep on wondering when I'll feel like an adult. Even when I learn something I feel as though I should've learned it earlier.

stardraigh wrote:
Not sure what you thought I was referencing. I think you're talking about telepathy, but I could be wrong, yet I'm going to make that assumption.


I was referencing telepathy but I was only using it as a metaphor. When I'm having one of those aspie days, it seems like all NTs are telepaths and I'm just a muggle but really, they don't need any ESP, they just know a secret language amongst themselves. Sometimes I keep on waiting for some NT to tell me something, only to realise in their own way, the already did and they're waiting for me to acknowledge.

stardraigh wrote:
There are of course ways around being mind-blind. For autists, it's study once you become aware you are deficient. If it's purely biological based such as a defect in the body, then Cybernetic and prosthetic systems can be used to surpass the mind blind-ness.


Perhaps you can surpass mind blindness without waiting for cybernetic implants. Not all deaf people have cochlear implants yet they can still learn to communicate.

stardraigh wrote:
He is mind-blind to colors and cannot process how they appear to someone who is not color blind.


You mean to say it's just caused by the way his mind works? It's not due to his retinas having only rods and no cones? I was a little surprised that someone could be entirely colour blind. I usually think of colour blindness as just being a colloquial term for dichromacy.



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16 May 2014, 9:44 am

RetroGamer87 wrote:
stardraigh wrote:
Not sure what you thought I was referencing. I think you're talking about telepathy, but I could be wrong, yet I'm going to make that assumption.


I was referencing telepathy but I was only using it as a metaphor. When I'm having one of those aspie days, it seems like all NTs are telepaths and I'm just a muggle but really, they don't need any ESP, they just know a secret language amongst themselves. Sometimes I keep on waiting for some NT to tell me something, only to realise in their own way, the already did and they're waiting for me to acknowledge.


Thank you for the clarification. Your analogy for NT's mindreading is a good one. I've never thought of it that way, and that does make sense. I'm going to file that away and use it.

RetroGamer87 wrote:
stardraigh wrote:
There are of course ways around being mind-blind. For autists, it's study once you become aware you are deficient. If it's purely biological based such as a defect in the body, then Cybernetic and prosthetic systems can be used to surpass the mind blind-ness.


Perhaps you can surpass mind blindness without waiting for cybernetic implants. Not all deaf people have cochlear implants yet they can still learn to communicate.


I think we're not quite connecting on this example of being deaf from birth.

The deaf can learn to communicate outside of hearing, but they can't process or understand hearing without taking the extra steps. Other senses may work without problem such as touch, smell, taste, sight, balance, pain, self emotion, anxiety, and body image. It's just the hearing the deaf are mind-blind to. Think of it like a pie. You have several slices, each one of them representing a different sense. Each slice will get replenished to be consumed when it's needed/wanted. The deaf person got their pie without the slice for hearing and will never get a slice for hearing. They can take and eat the rest of it and process it, but they do not have a piece of pie for hearing. They cannot take it in and process it because it's missing to them. That's probably a really bad analogy, but I tried. Basically what I'm saying is that the person who is deaf from birth is mind-blind to hearing, only hearing, and nothing but hearing as far as being deaf from birth is concerned.

I hope that wasn't confusing.... and the pie analogy is a bad analogy. Not as good as your mind reading one.

RetroGamer87 wrote:
stardraigh wrote:
He is mind-blind to colors and cannot process how they appear to someone who is not color blind.


You mean to say it's just caused by the way his mind works? It's not due to his retinas having only rods and no cones? I was a little surprised that someone could be entirely colour blind. I usually think of colour blindness as just being a colloquial term for dichromacy.


I don't know. I guess it could be either no cones, or his brain can't interpret the signals from the cones, or even maybe something in between on the optic nerve. He didn't know himself.


Also, I came up with a few more mind-blind examples

Androgynous(Possible MB to either gender but not neccessarily)
Asexual(MB to sexual desire)
Gay/Lesbian(MB to sexual attraction of opposite gender)
Transgender(possible MB to the gender that is normative to their birth sex but not neccessarily)
Those who from birth, can't feel touch(Can't remember the name for the condition but you don't know how the feeling of touch works. They usually have poor internal temp control and risk death from overheating or extreme cold)
Those who are always hungry(MB to being in a state that's not hungry. I don't remember the name of the condition)
Sociopath (Inability to empathize)


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16 May 2014, 12:07 pm

stardraigh wrote:
RetroGamer87 wrote:
stardraigh wrote:
There are of course ways around being mind-blind. For autists, it's study once you become aware you are deficient. If it's purely biological based such as a defect in the body, then Cybernetic and prosthetic systems can be used to surpass the mind blind-ness.


Perhaps you can surpass mind blindness without waiting for cybernetic implants. Not all deaf people have cochlear implants yet they can still learn to communicate.


I think we're not quite connecting on this example of being deaf from birth.

The deaf can learn to communicate outside of hearing, but they can't process or understand hearing without taking the extra steps. Other senses may work without problem such as touch, smell, taste, sight, balance, pain, self emotion, anxiety, and body image. It's just the hearing the deaf are mind-blind to. Think of it like a pie. You have several slices, each one of them representing a different sense. Each slice will get replenished to be consumed when it's needed/wanted. The deaf person got their pie without the slice for hearing and will never get a slice for hearing. They can take and eat the rest of it and process it, but they do not have a piece of pie for hearing. They cannot take it in and process it because it's missing to them. That's probably a really bad analogy, but I tried. Basically what I'm saying is that the person who is deaf from birth is mind-blind to hearing, only hearing, and nothing but hearing as far as being deaf from birth is concerned.


Ah. I didn't realize that those deaf from birth couldn't use cochlear implants but a quick look at Wikipedia revealed they tried that and it failed for the reasons you explained. But still I think we're on the same page. I'm just saying we can compensate, not grow mirror neurons, just as the deaf can compensate. I wasn't using deaf people with cochlear implants for my example, I was using deaf people without cochlear implants for my example.

Maybe if we take a different approach to understanding other people, we might even see some things that NTs would miss. Over time people can get pretty good at compensating. I'm sure you've heard the urban legends about the blind having better hearing and the deaf having better sight. I don't think the blind have better ears or the deaf have better eyes but they still have the same sized brain so if the pie was the same size yet divided into four slices instead of five, each slice would be bigger. Maybe they can devote a bit more brain power to their existing senses. There are certain things the aspie brain can never do but if we have the same sized brain than maybe that frees up a bit of brain power for other things.

stardraigh wrote:
Those who from birth, can't feel touch(Can't remember the name for the condition but you don't know how the feeling of touch works. They usually have poor internal temp control and risk death from overheating or extreme cold)


Hmmm. I've heard of the one about not being able to feel pain but this one is new to me. Some have suggested that being able to feel texture and being able to feel temperature are really different senses but this makes it seem like both are handled but the same part of the brain. After all, much of our knowledge of how the typical brain works comes from studying brains that are missing just one part.
stardraigh wrote:
Those who are always hungry(MB to being in a state that's not hungry. I don't remember the name of the condition)


That's a condition!? That sounds horrible 8O

stardraigh wrote:
Sociopath (Inability to empathize)


The thing that confuses me about sociopaths is that some of them can perfectly feign empathy. The blind couldn't feign sight. But if they can mimick empathic reactions without feeling them, it sort of reminds me of the philisophical zombie, a person with no mind at all and yet mimics a normal thinking person in every way. Then how can it be said the philosophical zombie has no mind? How is he any different from us?

My hypothesis is that a sociopath has only selfish motives, not that he's unable to work out what other people are feeling.
Someone's probably done a test on this already. Giving a sociopath scenarios and asking them to predict how the people in them would feel but not asking if they'd feel motivated to help them.



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16 May 2014, 2:44 pm

We were on the same page the whole time. I see where I was using definitions off from the ones you were using. I get what you're saying.

I had an idea for the future. lets say we get some type of cybernetic eyes like in the movies and can run software on them to overlay various readouts on top of what is seen through the eye. One of them can be a body language popup, or it can feed the information to you through some other feeling like internal thought, emotion, tapping into an auditory nerve and having a sound notification. Somehow it would notify you what the other person was doing as far as body language is concerned. Tech like this would be wonderful.



2 more examples of mind-blindness and one of them is directly related to me

I've had eye problems my whole life with a lazy eye. To describe it, I can let everything go unfocused and blurry and see only one thing. I can close one eye, have unblurred vision and see one thing, or I can see clearly with both eyes opened(even with glasses) and have double vision.

Up until I had surgery in 04 on my eyes for this, I had never had or experienced depth perception with my eye-sight. The results were: Everything in my vision that was center, down, or to the right, had depth perception if both eyes were open while wearing glasses. If I look to the top of my eye sight or to the left, my sight doubles and I have no depth perception.

From a logical standpoint, I understood the concept of depth perception, but I couldn't figure it out or make it work. I've had several car accidents because I couldn't judge how far or close things were, and a few other mishaps related. I couldn't throw a ball and reliably get it to where it needed to go. I have never been able to see the hidden image in a stereoscope picture.

Once I got the eye surgery, it was like the world was opened up and much safer for both myself and for others :). I was no longer mind-blind to depth perception and I could use it and life was good. Still can't see a stereoscope picture... :(

2nd example:

It is impossible for humans to think or imagine a color outside of the visible light spectrum. So all of humanity is mind-blind to additional colors or even seeing other parts of the spectrum such as IR and UV. Humanity does understand that there are other things to see besides visible light even though humanity is unable to inherently see it. We have also overcome the lack of ability to see other colors and parts of the EM spectrum by using technology that can interpret the rest of the EM spectrum into data we can understand.



Overall on mindblindness ---

Mind-blindness can be overcome, worked around, or mitigated.
Technique for dealing with mind-blindness vary depending on what the mind-blindness is.
There are some things individuals can be mind-blind to that at this time and date, aren't able to be overcome, worked around, or mitigated.


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17 May 2014, 3:36 am

stardraigh wrote:
I had an idea for the future. lets say we get some type of cybernetic eyes like in the movies and can run software on them to overlay various readouts on top of what is seen through the eye. One of them can be a body language popup, or it can feed the information to you through some other feeling like internal thought, emotion, tapping into an auditory nerve and having a sound notification. Somehow it would notify you what the other person was doing as far as body language is concerned. Tech like this would be wonderful.

Sounds like a plan but in the near term it would be a good app for Google Glasses. I'm still waiting on them to make Google Glasses that look like normal sunglasses though.
stardraigh wrote:
2 more examples of mind-blindness and one of them is directly related to me
I've had eye problems my whole life with a lazy eye. To describe it, I can let everything go unfocused and blurry and see only one thing. I can close one eye, have unblurred vision and see one thing, or I can see clearly with both eyes opened(even with glasses) and have double vision.

Up until I had surgery in 04 on my eyes for this, I had never had or experienced depth perception with my eye-sight. The results were: Everything in my vision that was center, down, or to the right, had depth perception if both eyes were open while wearing glasses. If I look to the top of my eye sight or to the left, my sight doubles and I have no depth perception.

From a logical standpoint, I understood the concept of depth perception, but I couldn't figure it out or make it work. I've had several car accidents because I couldn't judge how far or close things were, and a few other mishaps related. I couldn't throw a ball and reliably get it to where it needed to go. I have never been able to see the hidden image in a stereoscope picture.

Once I got the eye surgery, it was like the world was opened up and much safer for both myself and for others :). I was no longer mind-blind to depth perception and I could use it and life was good. Still can't see a stereoscope picture... :(

So you train your brain to use binocular vision, even though you'd never experienced it before? You can't see stereoscope pictures? You mean Magic Eye pictures or 3D movies?
stardraigh wrote:
It is impossible for humans to think or imagine a color outside of the visible light spectrum. So all of humanity is mind-blind to additional colors or even seeing other parts of the spectrum such as IR and UV.

True but some people may have extra sensitivity to colour within the visible spectrum. See this.
http://discovermagazine.com/2012/jul-au ... man-vision