Excellent study shows Aspies have more empathy

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Dillogic
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11 Apr 2015, 3:55 pm

Misleading headline

Since people with an ASD will have some form of emotional dysregulation, it goes that people with such might feel too much emotion (or too little).

That's not empathy though. The inability to read nonverbal cues doesn't mean you don't care.



starkid
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11 Apr 2015, 3:58 pm

starkid wrote:
According to your definitions, affective empathy is the emotional susceptibility to others emotions, and cognitive empathy is the ability to recognizing another's state of mind. How do these things imply a lack of knowledge of how to express empathetic feelings?


If you have an impairment in recognizing and/or identifying another person's emotional state, then it logically follows that you will not likely know how to appropriately address it.


That's doesn't seem to be quite the same thing that I'm talking about. The person who posted the empathy definitions said that autistic people have trouble expressing their empathy. This implies that they already have some idea of how to appropriately address others' emotions (namely, responding with their own emotions), but they are simply uncertain about the execution of that response. Maybe I'm splitting hairs.

At any rate, I don't agree that an inability to recognize how other people feel logically implies a lack of knowledge concerning how to address those feelings once they are recognized. In general, recognizing a problem and handling it are distinct abilities. I'm tempted to give analogies, but I doubt that they'd be sufficiently relevant to social situations.



starkid
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11 Apr 2015, 4:00 pm

Dillogic wrote:
Since people with an ASD will have some form of emotional dysregulation,

I didn't know that.



ajpd1989
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11 Apr 2015, 11:13 pm

I used to have quite a bit of empathy, but lost it somewhere along the years. I had to learn to shut it off just to be able to somewhat cope with daily life.

I think I'm too cold and uncaring sometimes. A few others have said that about me too.
I feel like I can't allow myself to feel, because when I have it's not so good.
As in, I tend to be way overly emotional and have some pretty severe mood swings.



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12 Apr 2015, 1:13 pm

"The children cannot be understood simply in terms of the concept 'poverty of emotion' used in a quantitative sense. Rather what characterizes these children is a qualitative difference, a disharmony in emotion and disposition." - Hans Asperger 1944


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btbnnyr
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12 Apr 2015, 1:25 pm

I am not highly sensitive to others' feelings.
I generally don't feel what they feel.


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12 Apr 2015, 1:53 pm

That's an interesting study. What I've found from my experience is that I don't feel empathy for people a lot, but I do feel sympathy for other people a whole lot more. Fr example, someone was telling me a story about a girlfriend he had who cheated on him, and I felt incredibly sad for him, even though I'd never been in that position before (sympathy over empathy). I sometimes feel emotions so strongly that I have to shut them off sometimes to cope with them.



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12 Apr 2015, 4:05 pm

Was the study carried out on the base of the "Empathy Imbalance Hypothesis of Autism" of Adam Smith e.a.?

Some aspies have indeed more affective empathy, even too much, when it comes to anxieties, because they lack the cognitive empathy to keep them in check.
Others have toughened themselves or got toughened by life against overwhelming feelings. In the worst case this can lead to psychopathic behaviors.

There might be some alexithymia though, without much affective empathy and independent of any toughening challenge, people who are a bit more on the spectrum, maybe? and raised in a calm family that did not display emotions very much, and in a calm environment? But I am not sure about this last point. I have basically just one case in mind here, and I might lack part of the picture.



Alita
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12 Apr 2015, 4:47 pm

I agree with this. Aspies: Have you ever been talking to a NT about something sad and at some point they've inevitably shaken themselves up, said something like, "Yes, very sad... Now, what shall we have for dinner?" and happily gone about their business while you've sort of dragged along behind, still caught up in the sad emotions your discussion has evoked?


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dryope
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12 Apr 2015, 8:01 pm

Yes, NTs can seem really callous, talking about emotional things and then just shrugging them off. I don't get it.

Some aspie women talk about being psychic. I roll my eyes at this, but it's true for some in a way: I am very aware of people's emotions but don't know how I know. I did "psychic" (I told people I am not psychic when I did the readings, because I don't believe in psychic stuff) readings in college and get pretty good at it. It was a way to connect with people emotionally around a (sort-of) rule-based system.

Anyway, I don't always pick up on the emotions other people have or identify them correctly. But when I do, it's really powerful and I often don't know what to do about it.

Maybe I should start up my non-psychic readings again. ;). Seemed like a good way to connect with people.


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Ichinin
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12 Apr 2015, 11:40 pm

starkid wrote:
Ichinin wrote:
starkid wrote:
No study was cited in the blog post; seems like a couple people just came up with a hypothesis which is being inaccurately referred to as a theory. The link to the original article does not work for me.


True, but the claim that aspies do not have empathy or have lowered empaty is a false statement made by dimwits who think they know the diagnostic criteria.


Ok. That has nothing to do with the post of mine that you've quoted.


It have everything to do with it. You are making a claim about a blog post as proof against an already established diagnosis. It does not matter if the blog post does not "quote any studies".



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12 Apr 2015, 11:48 pm

Ichinin wrote:
starkid wrote:

Ok. That has nothing to do with the post of mine that you've quoted.


It have everything to do with it. You are making a claim about a blog post as proof against an already established diagnosis. It does not matter if the blog post does not "quote any studies".

I wasn't trying to prove anything. I was observing an apparent fact that contradicts what the OP said. Stop trying to read my damned mind.



dryope
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13 Apr 2015, 12:05 am

Science is never done, and past research needs to be based on observation and replicable before it advances to a law. That's why there are so few scientific laws.

The research on empathy in autistics is not finished by any means. There is still plenty of debate in the scientific community on this issue.

I just searched PubMed and cherry-picked a nice fMRI study on this issue that shows autistics care more but show less:

Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2014 Aug;9(8):1203-13. doi: 10.1093/scan/nst101. Epub 2013 Aug 7.
Empathic arousal and social understanding in individuals with autism: evidence from fMRI and ERP measurements.
Fan YT1, Chen C1, Chen SC1, Decety J1, Cheng Y2.
Author information
Abstract

Lack of empathy is a hallmark of social impairments in individuals with autism spectrum disorder (ASD). However, the concept empathy encompasses several socio-emotional and behavioral components underpinned by interacting brain circuits. This study examined empathic arousal and social understanding in individuals with ASD and matched controls by combining pressure pain thresholds (PPT) with functional magnetic resonance imaging (study 1) and electroencephalography/event-related potentials and eye-tracking responses (study 2) to empathy-eliciting stimuli depicting physical bodily injuries. Results indicate that participants with ASD had lower PPT than controls. When viewing body parts being accidentally injured, increased hemodynamic responses in the somatosensory cortex (SI/SII) but decreased responses in the anterior mid-cingulate and anterior insula as well as heightened N2 but preserved late-positive potentials (LPP) were detected in ASD participants. When viewing a person intentionally hurting another, decreased hemodynamic responses in the medial prefrontal cortex and reduced LPP were observed in the ASD group. PPT was a mediator for the SI/SII response in predicting subjective unpleasantness ratings to others' pain. Both ASD and control groups had comparable mu suppression, indicative of typical sensorimotor resonance. The findings demonstrate that, in addition to reduced pain thresholds, individuals with ASD exhibit heightened empathic arousal but impaired social understanding when perceiving others' distress.

© The Author (2013). Published by Oxford University Press. For Permissions, please email: [email protected].

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23929944

But this doesn't settle the issue, either. I think it's going to be a long while before we have enough to close this debate. I know I feel very strongly when I see violence or feel that other people are unhappy, but I'm often just not sure what I can do about it. And I also lose my ability to speak in those cases or freak out and have a meltdown...so...this study resonates with me. But it's just one study, nothing to get excited about.


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Norny
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13 Apr 2015, 12:28 am

Alita wrote:
I agree with this. Aspies: Have you ever been talking to a NT about something sad and at some point they've inevitably shaken themselves up, said something like, "Yes, very sad... Now, what shall we have for dinner?" and happily gone about their business while you've sort of dragged along behind, still caught up in the sad emotions your discussion has evoked?


That could be emotional regulation:

LINK


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Venger
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13 Apr 2015, 1:22 am

dryope wrote:
Yes, NTs can seem really callous, talking about emotional things and then just shrugging them off. I don't get it.



I think the internet in general is actually strong evidence that NTs often feel less empathy than autistics, but "fake-it" more IRL to abide by their unwritten social-rules. The vast majority of all those countless rude people you come across on the internet are no doubt NTs being their true semi-evil selves. :?



dryope
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13 Apr 2015, 2:13 am

Venger wrote:
I think the internet in general is actually strong evidence that NTs often feel less empathy than autistics, but "fake-it" more IRL to abide by their unwritten social-rules. The vast majority of all those countless rude people you come across on the internet are no doubt NTs being their true semi-evil selves. :?


I love your username! Anyway, I was talking about NTs IRL. One will blow up at me one minute and I hear them laughing in the kitchen with someone else the next. I could only do that if I were at a breaking point from anxiety and stress, but that doesn't seem to be the case for them. Normally emotional situations leave me...emotional.

Internet discourse probably reveals something dark and horrible for humanity as a whole. 8O (But NTs dominate humanity, so...you're probably on to something.)


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