Discrepancy between Thinking Self and Acting Self

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Emu Egg
Emu Egg

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Joined: 3 Apr 2015
Posts: 7
Location: Belgium

03 Apr 2015, 11:01 pm


I just wondered about this. If this has been discussed extensively somewhere else in this forum, please let me know.

This night I was up thinking about a meeting I had gone to of members of a shared interest forum. I had had a really nice time and nice conversations with two people and as I got back I was rather excited and certain I had made new friends. But everything went right back to normal and those two people don't react to suggestions to meet for a chat or they simply don't want to keep emailing. I'm not an offensive kind of person, I don't push myself onto other people, either in real life or on the internet.

So what happened? My sole explanation is that I merely thought they enjoyed talking with me a lot, and that my behaviour is too bizarre to "click" with me as a person. I find it sad because I seem normal in my head. At least until I see myself as others see me... on video.

When I read about the difference between Acting Self and Thinking Self in Temple Grandin's book, I finally had a concept for my problem, the difference between how you appear to others and how you appear to yourself. Of course this isn't exclusive to people with autism, but I'm talking about the kind of difference where you see yourself on video and are struck with how odd you really are, and you know that because you see normal, NT people daily and you know you definitely didn't look/act like that on video.

Any thoughts?

Supporting Member
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Joined: 10 Jul 2007
Age: 57
Gender: Female
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04 Apr 2015, 10:31 am

Totally get this.

Read a book recently that really helped me understand how and why this might be happening:

"Consciousness and the Social Brain" by Michael Graziano

http://www.amazon.co.uk/Consciousness-S ... cial+brain

Apparently our conscious self is actually a sort of avatar ( highly simplified representation ) built by our "real" self as part of a "model of attention"/virtual reality modelling our "real" self's attention to things.

Our "real" self uses the model to keep track of both *its/our* attention *and* what others are paying attention to, which is incredibly important for social interaction, as well as to plan attention "use"/avoid distraction, prioritise brain-resources, sustain productive effort/involvement in projects over long periods etc, etc.

The two zones most involved in this modeling are two areas already known to behave differently in people on the autism spectrum, I forget their names right now ( the parietal something or other and another, on the side of the head, just above the ears ). The intro excerpt of the book at Amazon refers to them I think, and is a good read too. :)

It is v likely that we/many or most people on the autism spectrum ( and with ADHD too, which I have traits of ), have trouble modelling ourselves and others accurately/"in proportion", especially what we/they are attending to, and that might explain why have so often had precisely the experience you describe, of thinking that had made really good connection and then finding out or deducing from later behaviour of others that it was nothing special, ( at best ). It becomes clearer and clearer to me why I drank so much alcohol and smoked so much cannabis between ages 18 and 30: both of them seemed to improve my attention/focus in some way.