Why I'm easily triggered by this lack of empathy BS

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quite an extreme
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02 May 2021, 6:22 pm

Empathy makes life easier but there are more important things than noticing and sharing the emotions of others. In case of my divorce both kids decided to stay with me. My son did say that the character counts more.
I watched people becoming manipulated easily because of their empathy. Seems to make it easier to make them believe lies. For this be carefully with the ones who are good at emotional manipulations. Despite of that it's always good to improve at noticing and reading the emotions of other people.
I know that I'm able to emotional empathy in rare cases but I don't yet know the trigger that enables it...


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Joe90
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02 May 2021, 7:10 pm

I thought believing lies was being naive, as I've often seen on WP people talking about autistic people being more gullible than NTs by believing lies or being emotionally manipulated.

I feel emotional empathy severely. Just now I was watching a 3-minute video on YouTube that made me cry because it was sad.

I usually feel other people's moods and I can easily tell their moods through body language and tone of voice. When other people are unhappy it makes me feel unhappy too.

I'm usually driven by other people's emotions, even with simple things like if I'm doing the dishes I'll think, "well my boyfriend will be pleased the dishes are done" even though he didn't verbally tell me to do the dishes. Also if I'm waiting for a phone call that could be good news or bad news, I can usually tell if it's good or bad news by the tone of voice of the other person on the phone when they say hello.

I usually yawn when others yawn, or clear my throat when someone else's voice is croaky. My mum says that when I was a baby I would cry if another baby cried, like hearing another baby cry "set me off". Also she says I would smile when others smiled - in most of my baby photos I was smiling because the person taking the picture would smile and so that would make me smile. I don't know if that works for all babies but it did for me.


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AprilR
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02 May 2021, 11:17 pm

People equate empathy with caring and kindness which really confuses me. Just because someone has this ability that makes it easier to live in society does not make them a kinder or nicer person.

Being a nice person is a choice. This kind of thinking is very cruel in my opinion because people don't choose how they are born and if someone has low empathy this kind of thinking implies they are naturally evil. I guess the empathetic nt people don't have enough empathy to understand how cruel this is.



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03 May 2021, 12:38 pm

I think people can be unintentionally empathetic or intentionally empathetic.
People can be inconsiderate or considerate.
It depends on how much effort you put in - when making plans do you act selfishly or at least try to take other people into consideration.
Sometimes I don't feel the way my wife feels, or I may really feel quite the opposite about something that happened or is going to happen. But I can make an effort to be consciously considerate, which is much better than being inconsiderate. We don't have to agree and I don't have to "feel her feelings for her".
There are other times where she really DOES want me to feel what she is feeling, and I many not be able to.
I can tell her that she is valuable, and I want her to get what she needs. Sometimes I advise her to talk to a friend - perhaps I am just not the right person to help her get what she needs. I need to at least try to look at things from her point of view - things go better for us when I do.


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03 May 2021, 6:25 pm

Empathy is a touchy subject for me. I have been told at different times in my life that I am very empathetic, but at other times not empathetic at all. And I feel like the question of what empathy is and is not isn't clearly understood by NT people in general. No two people I have met will agree exactly on what empathy is exactly, and there is almost always an exception to the criteria.

I think the best that anyone can be is attempting to be empathetic, whatever that "perfect" criteria is, but the assumption that some people are good at it and others not feels to me like it misses the point. No one will ever be perfectly empathetic, so it just doesn't make sense to classify people as one or the other.

Coming here for the first time I immediately observed that some people put in their signature lines details they feel others want to know about them, and that includes their results on a few online tests for ASD or that pertain to ASD. This apparently includes an Empathy Quotient Test, and the thing that I find interesting about it is that it is a scale from 0 to 80. This means it is a spectrum. Some people fall low on the spectrum. some fall high. And pretending that empathy is a "you have it or you don't" sort of thing is pretty irritating when it seems so obvious that it is a gradient.

That is a personal frustration of mine with so many other people in that there are certain rules and criteria that are set up socially and then people act shocked when people do not hold up to the criteria they themselves set up, when I can see it right away because said person didn't follow the rules of society.

Why have the rules in the first place if they aren't gonna apply when necessary?

pet peeve aside and getting back to the point: if empathy is a spectrum, then we need to stop pretending it is a switch that is on or off. It is unfair to those on the low side of the empathy spectrum when it is just assumed that they are incapable of empathy. Not true, obviously.



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03 May 2021, 7:50 pm

I think it's the way society associates lack of empathy as bad or as a threat. NTs see empathy as a good thing, like caring and understanding and being respectful of another person's feelings.
A lot of Aspies see empathy as a bad thing, like bullying, negative emotional manipulation and antisocial behaviour.

In everyday life people use the word empathy as another word for being nice or understanding. For example if a man was giving up smoking and his non-smoker wife was getting impatient with the weakmindedness of him, she'd be told to show a bit of empathy. That is one example of how people generally use the empathy term.
But a lot of Aspies seem to break it up and turn it into something else.

@Something Profound - I agree with what you said, how empathy isn't "all or nothing". It's unfair for NTs to say that autistics have zero empathy. Some autistics can feel empathy for A and C but not B, D or E, while some NTs can feel empathy for C and E but not A, B or D. Some people have more empathy skills than others. I don't think empathy should be associated with whether you're autistic or not.


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04 May 2021, 12:16 am

I remember when talking to my old therapist I was explaining how I regularly felt disconnected to other people. She then asked me how my empathy was. At the time I was horrified because I thought she was suggesting that I was a sociopath or something. In retrospect, I think she was suspicious that I was autistic. I didn't really know anything about autism at the time.



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04 May 2021, 1:13 am

Enough Aspergers agree that they have empathy to the point that it annoys you when people say we don’t!

Why have the experts not changed this!??



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04 May 2021, 1:23 am

^ Did attempted various evidences. Some tried to directly rectify the stereotype.


But at least parts of the public and at the mainstream views did not change it's minds, nor removes the idea out of the general consciousness. :lol:

No amount of science and facts did.
Only the power of persuasion do, no matter how ridiculous.


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Fenn
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04 May 2021, 9:44 am

One way I sometimes try to use (I only am able to do this sometimes) to approach this without getting into us-and-them thinking:
take a careful look at the Maslow pyramid
Image
- use my thinking and knowledge to try to see what may be behind the literal interpretation of the words.
Is the other person engaging in aggressive behavior by blaming me? That is a fight or flight response - what need is not being met causing the fight or flight response? What need does the other person think or fear he/she might be loosing out on?
In what way can I relate to that sense of loosing the same need or a similar need, or that desire to fulfill that need?
What happened before the fight or flight response - could that be the cause instead of the stated cause? The other person might not feel comfortable exposing themselves by revealing the real need - this is the "flight" part of fight or flight.
Then I can look at my own Maslow pyramid. What need is not being met or do I think or fear might be lost. Are there other ways I could get this need met with less conflict? Would it help if I stated that need clearly, or would that feel more vulnerable and unsafe? Is there another person I could go to to get that need met in a more healthy way - could I meet my own need in a healthy way? Am I triggering a fight or flight response in the other person by trying to get my needs met?
Is there a way we could both get our needs met without further conflict. Do we feel safe engaging in problem solving together? Could another person help with problem solving around our unmet needs?

A shorter and related version of this same approach is the word:

HALT

The letters stand for the words "Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired" (and the H also sometimes stands for "Hurting").
The word HALT also, itself represent the idea of "Stop and Think". I can "Stop and Think" am I feeling Hungry, Angry, Lonely or Tired. I can stop and think if I am "Hurting". If I am Hungry I can eat something (one of Maslow's needs). I can choose to eat healthy food and food that I like. If I am Tired I can take a nap, or plan to get to bed early, or look at things which might be disturbing my sleep (one of Maslow's needs) and think about what helps and what doesn't help, or makes sleep worse for me. The Angry leads me to think about other met or unmet needs. Lonely addresses the upper levels of the pyramid. I can also evaluate the extent to which I am being balanced in the spectrum of being "a part of" and being "apart from" - am I out of balance (for me) and what can I do to get back in balance, or start to work on better, healthier balance.

HALT is a lot less to remember than this long and rambling post :-)


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Joe90
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04 May 2021, 1:35 pm

The way I see it, empathy is like intelligence; you can be good in some things but not so good with other things. So saying that all autistics have zero empathy is like saying all dyslexics have zero intelligence. See how much that can hurt if you're dyslexic (I'm not dyslexic but I still know how insensitive that sounds)?
I knew a boy at school who was dyslexic, but he was very skilled in art class. I suck at math but I'm very good at spelling and writing.
So same goes for empathy. A person (autistic or not) with generally high empathy score can still not show or feel much empathy in some situations.


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04 May 2021, 1:39 pm

Joe90 wrote:
The way I see it, empathy is like intelligence; you can be good in some things but not so good with other things. So saying that all autistics have zero empathy is like saying all dyslexics have zero intelligence. See how much that can hurt if you're dyslexic (I'm not dyslexic but I still know how insensitive that sounds)?
I knew a boy at school who was dyslexic, but he was very skilled in art class. I suck at math but I'm very good at spelling and writing.
So same goes for empathy. A person (autistic or not) with generally high empathy score can still not show or feel much empathy in some situations.


best definition of empathy ever


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04 May 2021, 1:51 pm

The problem the NTs have is that autistic people don't tend to express empathy very well which is stupid to be honest because if you know someone is autistic then obviously they are likely going to have a hard time expressing a multitude of things and should be shown kindness regardless instead of this awful judgy thing they do.

Empathy is the ability to feel another persons emotional pain, that's as simple as it gets explaining wise.

If someone robs your house and steals literally everything valuable to you, you would be devastated for example - now imagine that happening to the closest person to you, you would be very sad and upset for them because you could imagine that happening to you and how you would feel. That's all there is to it. You become annoyed or sad for them. Like when you watch a sad TV show and it makes you cry - that's empathy because you're upset for them.

Showing empathy is showing your sadness for them, if it happened to you - you would be annoyed, angry, really upset etc, so you have to show that person that you care and you feel for them because otherwise how will they know that you care? They can't read your mind, you have to communicate that to them.

Compassion is the feeling of wanting to then help them in their situation or try to make them feel better somehow because you have sympathy for them.

When someone dies for example - you go to a funeral to express your sadness for the person that they have passed on and cry etc to express this. That is the empathy part. The compassion part is then donating to the family, bringing food and flowers etc to help out.

Autistic people definitely have empathy, my youngest autistic niece who is 2 years old saw me upset one day and she gave me her blanket to make me feel better - so to say autistic people do not have empathy is the wrongest thing I've ever heard and I 100% can understand everyones anger at it in here.


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05 May 2021, 3:01 am

Jiheisho wrote:
Empathy is the ability to understand another's feelings. There are different types of empathy like cognitive empathy, what many with autism have difficulty with, and effective empathy, which we don't. But this is the ting about empathy: it does not mean you are a nice person or more caring. If you have a strong ability in empathy, you can use that to deceive and manipulate people. Actually, to be successful at deception and manipulation, having strong empathy is key.

Personally, I don't mind that NTs claim better empathy than me. I am actually kinder, which has nothing to do with empathy.


This is correct words like empathy get thrown around to mean multiple things.

When they mean lack of empathy with autism they are referring to theory of mind, the ability to see things from another human perspective in real-time.

Their emotions, thoughts and feelings which is why they give autistic kids those emoji pictures to help them learn the basics of identifying when someone is sad / happy etc..

This skill evolves in adulthood to understanding if someone is sexually attracted to you or bored of your company. Things autistic people in general struggle with.

Having said that one does lead to the other so if someone finds it hard to understand why someone may be sad it can come across as lack of empathy, not that it’s the autistic persons fault.

As Jiheisho says psychopaths are great at empathy and theory of mind, they use it to manipulate people.

Hitler knew how to work a crowd into a frenzy capitalizing on the frustrations of the German people at the time.



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05 May 2021, 10:16 am

I read an article by a person diagnosed as Narcissist (an actual diagnosis, not just someone saying it as an insult or put down or a personal uneducated opinion). He wrote that he could have empathy with people if he thought it would benefit him but he had no empathy for other people.

Sometimes my wife tells me what she did or something that happened to her. If I put myself in her situation I would feel very differently than she would. If I tell her this it really annoys her or even hurts. She says she feels alone. I could say that I feel what she feels but I really don't - in some cases I would feel precisely the opposite of what she feels in the same situation. The thing I had to come to is the idea of how I would feel in that situation IF I WERE HER. That is different than how I would feel in that situation IF I WERE ME. That is the real trick about being considerate. I have learned to say "If I were you I would feel exactly the same way you feel about that". Which, by definition, is always a true statement. In this way she feels validated and safe and understood. This works out much better for both of us. This is very different than agreeing or fixing or analyzing. It is about honoring her and who she is.

This is especially difficult in a conflict situation where "my way" may mean me getting my needs met, but her not getting her needs met and "her way" may mean her getting her needs met and me not getting my needs met. If I value the relationship than her getting her needs met is valuable to me because it builds up the relationship which is valuable to both of us - this can help to resolve the conflict. Sometimes I need to try to talk about my needs which can be risky - but there is no intimacy without risk of vulnerability.


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05 May 2021, 11:53 am

Empathy is actually one of my strongest abilities, which is why I get mad when people deny this without knowing me, just because I'm an Aspie.


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