Another study claims we have less empathy

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Joe90
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08 Jun 2019, 12:35 pm

My NT boyfriend says I'm the most empathetic and understanding girlfriend he's ever had, and no, he's not lying, because I know how empathetic I am. I feel and express too much emotion, and I am easily affected by other people's moods.


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Mona Pereth
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08 Jun 2019, 12:52 pm

Joe90 wrote:
My NT boyfriend says I'm the most empathetic and understanding girlfriend he's ever had, and no, he's not lying, because I know how empathetic I am. I feel and express too much emotion, and I am easily affected by other people's moods.

How well do you pick up on subtle changes in other people's moods, as opposed to being very affected by obvious changes in their moods? Also, is your boyfriend very good at verbalizing his feelings and the reasons for them?


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Mona Pereth
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08 Jun 2019, 12:57 pm

Trogluddite wrote:
Quote:
It may be that lower empathy for those with autism actually has unforeseen benefits that we do not fully understand yet

Oops - that's a bit of an ambiguous parse!

Quote:
Those with alexithymia have a difficult time understanding their own emotions as well as others. However, it has been unclear if autistic people without alexithymia experience the same difficulty.

As far as I understand it, alexithymia isn't a "condition", it's merely a descriptor of certain dimensions of personality. If the autistic people "without alexithymia" were found to have the same problems as those "with alexithymia", then by definition, they are alexithymic.

I would guess that, by "the same problems", the article meant "the same problems picking up on or understanding OTHER people's feelings", whereas alexithymia entails difficulty identifying or verbalizing one's own feelings as well.


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08 Jun 2019, 1:18 pm

"Mentally tiring exercise"

This



Joe90
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08 Jun 2019, 1:55 pm

Mona Pereth wrote:
Joe90 wrote:
My NT boyfriend says I'm the most empathetic and understanding girlfriend he's ever had, and no, he's not lying, because I know how empathetic I am. I feel and express too much emotion, and I am easily affected by other people's moods.

How well do you pick up on subtle changes in other people's moods, as opposed to being very affected by obvious changes in their moods? Also, is your boyfriend very good at verbalizing his feelings and the reasons for them?


My boyfriend doesn't express his feelings verbally as much as I do. He often tells me that he loves me more than he shows, but I already know that.

But please don't undermine my skills, I don't have many skills but empathy is one of them, and I don't like being doubted just because I'm on the spectrum.


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Mona Pereth
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08 Jun 2019, 2:18 pm

Joe90 wrote:
But please don't undermine my skills, I don't have many skills but empathy is one of them, and I don't like being doubted just because I'm on the spectrum.

I'm sorry to have made you feel undermined.

I've been told that I am a very "understanding" person too, though perhaps I'm "understanding" in a very different way than you are. In my case, I do NOT pick up on subtleties well, at least not in real time, especially with people I don't know very well, but I can be very empathetic when someone is talking to me about their feelings or about goings-on in their life. So I was wondering if you are "understanding" in the same way I am, or a different way.


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Last edited by Mona Pereth on 08 Jun 2019, 2:43 pm, edited 1 time in total.

Trogluddite
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08 Jun 2019, 2:22 pm

@Mona
Yes, quite right; I was too quick to type, too slow to think, as so often! :oops:


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Joe90
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08 Jun 2019, 2:49 pm

Mona Pereth wrote:
Joe90 wrote:
But please don't undermine my skills, I don't have many skills but empathy is one of them, and I don't like being doubted just because I'm on the spectrum.

I'm sorry to have made you feel undermined.

I've been told that I am a very "understanding" person too, though perhaps I'm "understanding" in a very different way than you are. In my case, I do NOT pick up on subtleties well, at least not in real time, especially with people I don't know very well, but I can be very empathetic when someone is talking to me about their feelings or about goings-on in their life.


Sorry, I hope I didn't make you feel guilty.
It's easier for anyone to pick up subtle emotions better with people they know more than people they don't so much.
And it's common for strangers to lack affective empathy with other strangers, as in public people only judge you by what they see on the outside and will stare, instead of considering what could be going on inside your head. Yesterday there was a man with some sort of neurological disorder in the supermarket. I didn't know what disorder he had, but it was obvious he had something by the way he was acting and he was with another guy that looked like he was a carer. But nobody wanted to get near him, instead they just stared or even laughed. I didn't though. It was obvious that he had something wrong, so I just went near him like he was any normal person, to get what I needed, and I didn't bat an eye. I didn't even see him as a threat, because I could see in his body language that he was a harmless man with some sort of disability.


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Mona Pereth
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08 Jun 2019, 3:16 pm

Indeed I think there tends to be a 2-way empathy problem between NT and ND people. NT people tend to have good empathy for other NT's of the same cultural and class background, but not for ND's or for people of other cultural and class backgrounds.


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BiffGriff
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08 Jun 2019, 8:48 pm

When I am firing on all cylinders, I have complete cognitive empathy. When I'm having an episode, my empathy dissipates and is very difficult to summon.



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10 Jun 2019, 3:22 pm

Looking at the original research paper, it's important to point out that they sampled people from the general population and they got their results by measuring Autism symptoms and tendencies (AQS) against an empathy questionnaire. No actual diagnosed Autistics were recruited.

Basically a more accurate headline would be: 'People with more stereotypical Autistic traits score lower on empathy questionnaire'.

This does not necessarily mean that these results would scale up to people with ASD.


In my experience though, I feel like I have too much emotional empathy towards other and I have no issues with understanding other perspectives. I definitely experience mind blindness but that is only when I am stressed/panicked (which happens a lot in social situations).



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10 Jun 2019, 10:00 pm

dyadiccounterpoint wrote:
Empathy is a loaded term that means different things.

I used to struggle immensely with cognitive empathy, or rationalizing perspectives outside of your own. I have made vast improvements in the last couple years on this, due to a lot of forced, mass social interaction and introspection on my social failures. I've also researched a lot about human behavior and motivations, which helps.

I always have, and still do, struggle with affective empathy, which appears to be what is being described in the research, the whole "sharing and communicating feelings fluidly" thing. People confuse this with compassion when it's really more like "emotional resonance." An ASD person is likely to miss this resonance because of communication and other difficulties. I suspect this is what "masking" is covering up...that behavior that would normally manifest from experiencing typical levels of affective empathy (the fake smiles and gestures which indicate interest and enjoyment of interaction). I look at this as the "struggles to feel group humor or becomes withdrawn during complex social interaction" issue. Perhaps I am defining it poorly and someone can correct me, because I see a lot of ASD people vehemently defend their experience of affective empathy as though it is the same thing as compassion and expressing sympathy. Perhaps I am making the mistake in definition.

I have a lot of compassion for suffering, which is increased by my improvements in cognitive empathy. I can fathom, to a degree, how awful life circumstances can be for others, and I feel strongly about improving the life quality of all humans. It causes me severe distress sometimes thinking about it.


I have a hard time with cognitive empathy, I don't always react the right way or say what is expected.

I have extreme emotional empathy. I think being overly being affected by emotional resonance is one of the biggest blocks to my being able to communicate with others.

I probably come across as having lower compassion than most. I can't help it, but because of the high emotional empathy, I can feel if people are not genuine in their suffering and I don't respond with much care if they aren't. I have a lot of compassion for people in situations out of their control--extreme weather, starvation from war politics. Someone who trips and falls because the are texting and not looking, I probably wouldn't stop to help because my first reaction would be that it's their own fault.



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10 Jun 2019, 11:01 pm

starcats wrote:
dyadiccounterpoint wrote:
Empathy is a loaded term that means different things.

I used to struggle immensely with cognitive empathy, or rationalizing perspectives outside of your own. I have made vast improvements in the last couple years on this, due to a lot of forced, mass social interaction and introspection on my social failures. I've also researched a lot about human behavior and motivations, which helps.

I always have, and still do, struggle with affective empathy, which appears to be what is being described in the research, the whole "sharing and communicating feelings fluidly" thing. People confuse this with compassion when it's really more like "emotional resonance." An ASD person is likely to miss this resonance because of communication and other difficulties. I suspect this is what "masking" is covering up...that behavior that would normally manifest from experiencing typical levels of affective empathy (the fake smiles and gestures which indicate interest and enjoyment of interaction). I look at this as the "struggles to feel group humor or becomes withdrawn during complex social interaction" issue. Perhaps I am defining it poorly and someone can correct me, because I see a lot of ASD people vehemently defend their experience of affective empathy as though it is the same thing as compassion and expressing sympathy. Perhaps I am making the mistake in definition.

I have a lot of compassion for suffering, which is increased by my improvements in cognitive empathy. I can fathom, to a degree, how awful life circumstances can be for others, and I feel strongly about improving the life quality of all humans. It causes me severe distress sometimes thinking about it.


I have a hard time with cognitive empathy, I don't always react the right way or say what is expected.

I have extreme emotional empathy. I think being overly being affected by emotional resonance is one of the biggest blocks to my being able to communicate with others.

I probably come across as having lower compassion than most. I can't help it, but because of the high emotional empathy, I can feel if people are not genuine in their suffering and I don't respond with much care if they aren't. I have a lot of compassion for people in situations out of their control--extreme weather, starvation from war politics. Someone who trips and falls because the are texting and not looking, I probably wouldn't stop to help because my first reaction would be that it's their own fault.


I find this whole issue rather stimulating. I notice some ASD people seem to relate to what I experience, and others feel the emotional contagion too intensely, as you do. I will say that I pick up certain kinds of resonance. I can easily become terrified by negative behavior towards me. I can freak out because of it and get overwhelmed and emotionally exhausted. I struggle with sharing subtle and light hearted resonance however. It works better with someone I am comfortable and have long term rapport with.

My compassion is similar to yours. I don't feel much for the person who trips in front of me, although I will assist. My compassion is mostly reserved for large scale suffering, like starvation as you have mentioned.


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