When is harming others acceptable to Autistic people?

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davros1973
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20 Dec 2008, 8:53 pm

Hi - I think this subject might be a bit uncomfortable for some people but I'm genuinely interested in Autistic people's attitudes.

I'm not talking about impulsive behaviour or anything like that - I mean intentional or "routine" behaviour that is acceptable.

I'm prompted to post this based on the recent news article about those torturing-experiments (again) ... i.e. ... (I think I read the other day) 8 out of 10 people accept torturing people if it seems socially appropriate.

Personally - I'm not sure if I could deliberately and directly hurt a person. It would be difficult I think for I, to do so, even in self-defence; I might in the [clear and last resort] defence of others. But I wouldn't like it. I've read somewhere that sometimes [some] people with Asperger's [can] do well in the military? Of course ... just breathing and taking up space "hurts" others ... but I'll try not to be too extreme. I have actually personally gone to the aid of someone (a woman) being attacked on the street by a drunk - I required more stitches because of it and even then I couldn't fight - just protest ... but I think I could fight if I absolutely had to.

Generally speaking I would never ever deliberately hurt an animal - in fact I would go out of my way to help them. Yet I'm happy to eat meat. There's a disassociation going on there on some level I suspect ... and I also suspect ... that like the torturer experiment, I succumb to social acceptance of the practice of eating meat. I'm not sure how much being human (i.e. an omnivore by nature) might influence me. If cultured meat (I mean meat grown from cells rather than hacked off an animal) became available - even if it cost three times as much as the hacked-off meat then I think I would concede the additional expense.

I don't think I could ever come to agree to an expectation by society or authority figures to torture people though - I'd probably be one of the first protesters killed should I ever be directly involved in something like that for real. But I don't take part in protests against Guantanamo Bay or anything like that.

I don't even think it's right to drive cars as much as we do as I "see" the direct link between that and deaths [mostly children] and other suffering caused by it (referring to local air pollution for both deaths and other suffering). I think - like the torturing experiment, people succumb once again to the idea that's it's socially acceptable to drive so much and so therefore it's "ok". That's my opinion anyway. The cause and effect are a little offset in this case so as to make it easier maybe.

On the other hand, in contrast to some of my stated protestations, I have been quite happy to abet a cat in the killing of a mouse. I rationalised that the mouse was done-for anyway ... the cat had it covered and was just playing with it. I could have saved the mouse ... but I'm not sure I had the right to. It fascinated me and the cat seemed quite happy for me to join in with corralling the mouse: playing with it etc. I felt I shared an experience with the cat. Now I've done that once, I certainly have no interest in doing it again. I enjoyed the sharing of the experience ... but I took no pleasure in the death of the mouse. Is it possible for an Autistic person to abet in harming a person in the same way - if there was a clear expectation that it should happen - from a societal perspective?

I have heard of stories where occasionally an autistic person might inflict harm on another person - just out of curiosity: not fully aware of the import of their actions. Experiments etc.

I wonder ... I just wonder a lot. About people's attitudes ... and how much is said and how much (possibly sensibly) is left unsaid.

Is this a taboo subject? I don't know.

I know that exploring this sort of thing might conjure or propogate further negative views of autism from the NT population ... and so I'll just finish by saying that I'm partly interested in this subject because my belief is that NT people are far more likely to inflict harm on others than Autistic people regardless of intent or the lack of it. I am interested in how Autistic people think regarding this issue ... and what possible exceptions there might be. i.e. if eating meat and driving is acceptable to most people then what else might be? Am I a bad person for eating meat when, as an adult human, I could be a vegetarian or even a vegan? Am I a good person for deploring torture - even it were socially acceptable? Does "good" or "bad" even come into it if neurological wiring has such an influence? Is there choice?

Sorry - one of my problems is rambling and inconciseness. I've asked lots of questions bordering on the philosophical. I had better finish typing now. I was thinking about a poll - but I'm not sure what the question should be. Maybe something like: do autistic people accept pressure from society when it comes to harming others directly? I think we do - as driving combustion engine cars causes directly suffering in other people (i.e. me walking on the street) and even death (especially children). And there isn't really any need for it. Not for most people. It's just pressure from society. Isn't it? I mean - I've explained to people what they're doing by driving and they still do it ... so it's not like there's ignorance going on. Or is it ok to hurt people if we don't "really intend to"? Is it ok just not to care? (PS - my partner drives and I accept going in the car for a happy relationship ... I've had to curb my protestations with her ... pun intended).

Apologies if I've caused any offence or anger with this little ... err ... discursive essay I guess you might call it now ... again: I'm just really genuinely interested in how others ... and I myself think. Also I think generally that I'm just as "bad" as everybody else with regard to a lot of things I've said ... but I would like to be a better person. (In an areligious way). Maybe I'm asking "what is better". Right: I'm stopping typing NOW.


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20 Dec 2008, 9:11 pm

"When is harming others acceptable to Autistic people?"



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20 Dec 2008, 9:48 pm

davros1973 wrote:
Hi - I think this subject might be a bit uncomfortable for some people but I'm genuinely interested in Autistic people's attitudes.

I'm not talking about impulsive behaviour or anything like that - I mean intentional or "routine" behaviour that is acceptable.

I'm prompted to post this based on the recent news article about those torturing-experiments (again) ... i.e. ... (I think I read the other day) 8 out of 10 people accept torturing people if it seems socially appropriate.

Personally - I'm not sure if I could deliberately and directly hurt a person. It would be difficult I think for I, to do so, even in self-defence; I might in the [clear and last resort] defence of others. But I wouldn't like it. I've read somewhere that sometimes [some] people with Asperger's [can] do well in the military? Of course ... just breathing and taking up space "hurts" others ... but I'll try not to be too extreme. I have actually personally gone to the aid of someone (a woman) being attacked on the street by a drunk - I required more stitches because of it and even then I couldn't fight - just protest ... but I think I could fight if I absolutely had to.

Generally speaking I would never ever deliberately hurt an animal - in fact I would go out of my way to help them. Yet I'm happy to eat meat. There's a disassociation going on there on some level I suspect ... and I also suspect ... that like the torturer experiment, I succumb to social acceptance of the practice of eating meat. I'm not sure how much being human (i.e. an omnivore by nature) might influence me. If cultured meat (I mean meat grown from cells rather than hacked off an animal) became available - even if it cost three times as much as the hacked-off meat then I think I would concede the additional expense.

I don't think I could ever come to agree to an expectation by society or authority figures to torture people though - I'd probably be one of the first protesters killed should I ever be directly involved in something like that for real. But I don't take part in protests against Guantanamo Bay or anything like that.

I don't even think it's right to drive cars as much as we do as I "see" the direct link between that and deaths [mostly children] and other suffering caused by it (referring to local air pollution for both deaths and other suffering). I think - like the torturing experiment, people succumb once again to the idea that's it's socially acceptable to drive so much and so therefore it's "ok". That's my opinion anyway. The cause and effect are a little offset in this case so as to make it easier maybe.

On the other hand, in contrast to some of my stated protestations, I have been quite happy to abet a cat in the killing of a mouse. I rationalised that the mouse was done-for anyway ... the cat had it covered and was just playing with it. I could have saved the mouse ... but I'm not sure I had the right to. It fascinated me and the cat seemed quite happy for me to join in with corralling the mouse: playing with it etc. I felt I shared an experience with the cat. Now I've done that once, I certainly have no interest in doing it again. I enjoyed the sharing of the experience ... but I took no pleasure in the death of the mouse. Is it possible for an Autistic person to abet in harming a person in the same way - if there was a clear expectation that it should happen - from a societal perspective?

I have heard of stories where occasionally an autistic person might inflict harm on another person - just out of curiosity: not fully aware of the import of their actions. Experiments etc.

I wonder ... I just wonder a lot. About people's attitudes ... and how much is said and how much (possibly sensibly) is left unsaid.

Is this a taboo subject? I don't know.

I know that exploring this sort of thing might conjure or propogate further negative views of autism from the NT population ... and so I'll just finish by saying that I'm partly interested in this subject because my belief is that NT people are far more likely to inflict harm on others than Autistic people regardless of intent or the lack of it. I am interested in how Autistic people think regarding this issue ... and what possible exceptions there might be. i.e. if eating meat and driving is acceptable to most people then what else might be? Am I a bad person for eating meat when, as an adult human, I could be a vegetarian or even a vegan? Am I a good person for deploring torture - even it were socially acceptable? Does "good" or "bad" even come into it if neurological wiring has such an influence? Is there choice?

Sorry - one of my problems is rambling and inconciseness. I've asked lots of questions bordering on the philosophical. I had better finish typing now. I was thinking about a poll - but I'm not sure what the question should be. Maybe something like: do autistic people accept pressure from society when it comes to harming others directly? I think we do - as driving combustion engine cars causes directly suffering in other people (i.e. me walking on the street) and even death (especially children). And there isn't really any need for it. Not for most people. It's just pressure from society. Isn't it? I mean - I've explained to people what they're doing by driving and they still do it ... so it's not like there's ignorance going on. Or is it ok to hurt people if we don't "really intend to"? Is it ok just not to care? (PS - my partner drives and I accept going in the car for a happy relationship ... I've had to curb my protestations with her ... pun intended).

Apologies if I've caused any offence or anger with this little ... err ... discursive essay I guess you might call it now ... again: I'm just really genuinely interested in how others ... and I myself think. Also I think generally that I'm just as "bad" as everybody else with regard to a lot of things I've said ... but I would like to be a better person. (In an areligious way). Maybe I'm asking "what is better". Right: I'm stopping typing NOW.


i have had many similar thoughts that you have expressed here....i certainly don't feel the subject should be considered taboo (although, in general, there is very little that i personally consider taboo lol).....

i have always had an extremely difficult time comprehending the intentional infliction of discomfort on another creature, be it human or animal of any kind, and how some people behave this way regularly for whatever "reason" (ie. self-defense, traumatic childhood, callousness, blah blah etc etc) --not that i am a saint or don't have petty tendencies (when someone is really really rude to me, for example, i may be thinking that i'd really like to punch that person in the face at that moment)..... i just don't act on those tendencies and never really have, because i know in advance that responding in that way is NOT going to make me, or him, feel better about the situation. in fact, the times where i have responded out of spite instead of turning the other cheek, i have been plagued with guilt about it (and i am talking about things like being rude to someone at the grocery store--minor things).

i have seen innumerable examples of people taking actions that they are fully aware will hurt another person, and intentionally and willfully aiming for that....and then when they achieve that aim, and cause the discomfort....they seem to feed on it somehow. apparently, it accomplishes something for them, or gives them some sort of payoff that feels like a positive thing for them, or one must assume so since they seem to be seeking it out. i cannot conceptualise what it must be like to exist as a person who can feel POSITIVE things of any kind when consciously and maliciously harming another living creature...i think this is what makes it an interesting topic of thought for me, from an intellectual/philosophical/ethical point of view. i have tried to understand this one for many years and don't really feel i am any closer to understanding than when i started. all i can do is escape behind a clichéed phrase like "it's human nature". hence "wrong planet syndrome", i guess lol.



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20 Dec 2008, 9:50 pm

was it just me or is it impossible to follow that?? he kept on changing the subject and bringing random examples and my ADD kicked in along with my short term memory and the entire post went in one ear and out the other. i only remember the question.... lol. this happen to anyone else?



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20 Dec 2008, 9:50 pm

Never.

Well, maybe emotionally since some of us wouldn't really know if it is hurting.


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20 Dec 2008, 9:55 pm

bonez wrote:
was it just me or is it impossible to follow that?? he kept on changing the subject and bringing random examples and my ADD kicked in along with my short term memory and the entire post went in one ear and out the other. i only remember the question.... lol. this happen to anyone else?


it was a bit rambly.....but i ramble too so maybe that's why i didn't find it as bothersome?



davros1973
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20 Dec 2008, 9:58 pm

bonez wrote:
was it just me or is it impossible to follow that?? he kept on changing the subject and bringing random examples and my ADD kicked in along with my short term memory and the entire post went in one ear and out the other. i only remember the question.... lol. this happen to anyone else?


Sorry Bonez! I can't help it. Maybe I can but I find it difficult. I thought it might be an "autistic" thing but maybe it's just me. I've always rambled. Pervasively.


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20 Dec 2008, 10:01 pm

starvingartist wrote:
bonez wrote:
was it just me or is it impossible to follow that?? he kept on changing the subject and bringing random examples and my ADD kicked in along with my short term memory and the entire post went in one ear and out the other. i only remember the question.... lol. this happen to anyone else?


it was a bit rambly.....but i ramble too so maybe that's why i didn't find it as bothersome?

no not urs lol the question, the first post. i took a good 10 minutes to patiently read it but something with the way it was written....
sorry davros no offense :wink:



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20 Dec 2008, 10:03 pm

Just my humble point of view:

It is a pretty uncomfortable subject you're asking about; mainly because there is the whole stereotype that people with autism have problems empathizing with others - and people want to make the leap and say they don't feel anything. Which brings us to your question of that torture test, and would someone with autism blindly follow directions, even if it was hurting someone else...

I think it depends on where you are in the spectrum. People who are more severely afflicated have trouble maintaining a normal lifestyle - usually if it wasn't for the parents, they would be on their own. And because they rely so much on their parents for their survival, they may have adopted an attitude of compliance to authority figures in general. Those kinds of people are also very vulnerable to manipulation from NTs, and I can see a scenario where they would readily go along with whatever you told them. Especially with the torture test - I've seen it where the subject is reassured that the other person is not being harmed - and so they keep following orders. If you were to reassure someone who is already preconditioned to be submissive to you, just by their social handicap - then yeah, they would trust you.

However, I count myself as someone who is not severely afflicted. I live on my own, I can hold a job, I can get around town, make small talk and ask for help if I need it. I can function (if you wanna call it that LOL). I tend to be a logical thinker - and honestly I don't think I would just sit there and follow orders if it was hurting someone else. Just the thought of it makes me really angry and insulted if someone thought they could manipulate me to hurt someone else. I argue with people when I know I am right about something, even if it's authority, and ESPECIALLY when it's against a NT. I am naturally wary of authoritarian NTs - the big headed ones who think they know what's best for everybody LOL.

Now, IN THE REAL WORLD it's different LOL. If my boss is threatening me with my job for not following orders when it's obviously detrimental to someone else, that's tough. Unfortunately, if it was a situation where there was no time to think it over, I might go along with a hurtful scheme. But if was something I was being asked to do at a certain time and day in the future, I would have no qualms about picking up the phone, calling the district manager, and spilling the beans.. I've always been a tattler and I'm proud of it, too! Someone's gotta blow the whistle - and when everybody hates you anyway, then it's not that big a deal LOL.

Personally, I'm a vegetarian, I believe in Jesus (but I would say I follow Christian Mysticism - like gnosticism. I'm even starting to wonder if he was an aspie LOL). I am huge on civil rights and humanitarian rights and I don't see myself going along with knowingly harming another person, just because I'm told to.

I think that people with autism can't empathize with most because most people are happy-go-lucky NTs or at least act that way. I can only speak for myself, really, but I have never had a problem empathizing with people who are in pain or depressed, or just in a bad place in their lives, because I'm there a lot too - I just have a problem expressing it and making that connection with people.



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20 Dec 2008, 10:03 pm

davros1973 wrote:
When is harming others acceptable to Autistic people?

Self-defense, or to protect others from harm.


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20 Dec 2008, 10:04 pm

Self defense.

Standing up for someone else who is being bullied.



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20 Dec 2008, 10:08 pm

starvingartist wrote:
i have had many similar thoughts that you have expressed here....i certainly don't feel the subject should be considered taboo (although, in general, there is very little that i personally consider taboo lol).....

i have always had an extremely difficult time comprehending the intentional infliction of discomfort on another creature, be it human or animal of any kind, and how some people behave this way regularly for whatever "reason" (ie. self-defense, traumatic childhood, callousness, blah blah etc etc) --not that i am a saint or don't have petty tendencies (when someone is really really rude to me, for example, i may be thinking that i'd really like to punch that person in the face at that moment)..... i just don't act on those tendencies and never really have, because i know in advance that responding in that way is NOT going to make me, or him, feel better about the situation. in fact, the times where i have responded out of spite instead of turning the other cheek, i have been plagued with guilt about it (and i am talking about things like being rude to someone at the grocery store--minor things).

i have seen innumerable examples of people taking actions that they are fully aware will hurt another person, and intentionally and willfully aiming for that....and then when they achieve that aim, and cause the discomfort....they seem to feed on it somehow. apparently, it accomplishes something for them, or gives them some sort of payoff that feels like a positive thing for them, or one must assume so since they seem to be seeking it out. i cannot conceptualise what it must be like to exist as a person who can feel POSITIVE things of any kind when consciously and maliciously harming another living creature...i think this is what makes it an interesting topic of thought for me, from an intellectual/philosophical/ethical point of view. i have tried to understand this one for many years and don't really feel i am any closer to understanding than when i started. all i can do is escape behind a clichéed phrase like "it's human nature". hence "wrong planet syndrome", i guess lol.


Hey - you express some of the things I was thinking better than I could.

I'm still thinking about that torturing "experiment" thing. If I remembered correctly and it is 8 out 10 people that were compliant in torture ... I wonder if any or all got any sort of positive feedback - whatever it is ... from torturing? Or did any or all of them feel good out of complying with something that ... tut ... can't explain ... made them feel part of society?

And are Autistic people really that much different when it comes to complying with society? I think we do draw a line - when it is obvious that society is indulging in behaviour that appears pointless ... i.e. driven by malice or irrational hate or so on. But what about more subtle behaviour?

*Sorry* ... it's 3am here and my rambling and inability to express myself clearly is growing in proportion to the lateness of the hour.


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davros1973
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20 Dec 2008, 10:14 pm

Hey Aspetta - I really like what you said ... I think maybe that I'm still not clear in my own thoughts and perhaps I'm still seeking out a "group" to identify with (I'm only just diagnosed though I've strongly suspected for months since commencing research). Well - I've always know I'm different.

Anyway - I really identify with the things you said ... it has actually cleared up some of the thoughts in my own head. Thanks!


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20 Dec 2008, 11:05 pm

I suppose a severely Aspergers person who really lacks no empathy would be great at torturing people. Though I think many Aspies do honestly have empathy. Reminds me of something my phsychologist said "well Aspergers people aren't suppose to have empathy, but you do I can tell". Just like we are told we're not suppose to have a sense of humor. So yeah I think there are some Aspies that could be very mean and cruel. One of my doctors told me she thinks Hitler had Aspergers. But I think there is probably the same percentage of NT's that equally lack empathy as AS people. But an AS person who lacked empathy might be really, really good at torturing.



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20 Dec 2008, 11:29 pm

You mean to physically injure someone? Generally in self-defense or to the defense of others, or if someone is commiting a crime against you. I am assuming the use of reasonable force.


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20 Dec 2008, 11:30 pm

I desperately need sleep but I must reply to this:

Ticker wrote:
I suppose a severely Aspergers person who really lacks no empathy would be great at torturing people. Though I think many Aspies do honestly have empathy. Reminds me of something my phsychologist said "well Aspergers people aren't suppose to have empathy, but you do I can tell". Just like we are told we're not suppose to have a sense of humor. So yeah I think there are some Aspies that could be very mean and cruel. One of my doctors told me she thinks Hitler had Aspergers. But I think there is probably the same percentage of NT's that equally lack empathy as AS people. But an AS person who lacked empathy might be really, really good at torturing.


Now this really makes for uncomfortable reading! I agree that some autistic people might be manipulated into the role of [an effective] torturer - and some might torture without understanding empathically the consequence ... but I really don't want to think of Aspies being mean and cruel ... although I think I have read about such cases albeit a minority few.

I suppose I wish to identify with a group where such things are impossible and that might be clouding my mind to uglier possibilities. Maybe the diagnostic criteria could be changed to only accept "nice" Aspies.

I'm intrigued with the idea of Hitler being an Aspie though. I don't know enough about him to really analyse the possibility - though superficially at least I suppose it might be possible. I've tended to think of him as being more sociopathic than Aspie ... but maybe. He'd have to be a pretty twisted Aspie though. Maybe a dominator one also having Narcissistic Personality Disorder and schizophrenia and paronoid delusions and delusions of grandeur etc. Oh I really hope he wasn't. My self-esteem couldn't take it.


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