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Dr-David-Banner

Are Emotions The AS Flaw?

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Dr-David-Banner

What I find is that the source of the, problem related to personality disorders is surprisingly emotional. I call it "emotional thinking". Partly, I am lucky as I seem to have Alexithymia which very much subdues emotions. Even so, I still get misled by emotions. Emotional thought, though, is I think a poor second to logic and analytical thought. The latter solves problems. Emotions do not. Most depression too is emotional based and feeds on negative value judgements, derived, from the opinions of others. It's amazing how moods can be neutralised by the use of logic. Not that it's a cure but emotion I learned cannot be trusted. Emotion is our primary but most low level form of intelligence and serves merely to connect us to the environment. It allows us to interact by sensing what others require from us. Whereas logic and maths will solve real problems with real solutions. We can't eliminate the impact of emotions as it relates to other people but we can rank it accordingly.

 

 

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Dr-David-Banner

This is best seen in context by taking a look at Mr Spock - the Vulcan crew member of the Starship Enterprise. Spock has often been linked to Asperger's and autism (even by Tony Atwood who wrote a book called "Understanding Mr Spock"). Typical description of Spock here:

"However, his persistence to logic was accompanied by emotional detachment, as emotions cannot be predicted in a logical way. His lack of interest for the feelings of others frequently annoyed dr. McCoy,."

I recall reading once that the producers of Star Trek had based Mr Spock on an Asperger personality stereotype, presumably because A.S. has been linked to lack of empathy.

I don't know why but as I came to meet a lot more people with A.S. as well as families affected by A.S., it became very clear that the Mr Spock comparison (or stereotype of A.S.) is far removed from reality. Emotions in fact I believe are very dominant in A.S. Of course, it was the same for me many years ago when I struggled to concentrate due to the various phobias, fears and anxieties that drained my mental energy. I guess if you compare your mental energy to, say, a light bulb, you only have so much energy to consume each day. In cases where we get dominated by depression, you can bet your bottom dollar the thoughts that dominate at the time will be emotionally based. For example, "feeling" rejected, "feeling" isolated. Also, a lot of these negative emotions have been pushed upon us by bad experiences with other people. I take a hard-line view that emotions are plain unreliable. In short, the concept of Asperger's or HFA being embodied by the Mr Spock stereotype is way off the mark, unless we include those on the spectrum who have alexithymia:

"Although individuals on the autism spectrum experience alexithymia at much higher rates than the general population, autism and alexithymia appear to be distinct, unrelated, and overlapping conditions in which alexithymia seems to influence affective empathy. Therefore, the empathy deficits typically observed in autism may be due to the large comorbidity between alexithymic traits and autism, rather than representing an essential feature of the social impairments in autism."

I know a few people who would point out to me that A.S. is a spectrum disorder with extremes at each end of each spectrum. So, at one end, you have highly emotional people and, at the opposite end- very unemotional, un-expressive individuals. I don't have any objection to that observation but think the Mr Spock stereotype is not typical with A.S.

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Miss Chief
On 27/03/2018 at 12:57 AM, Dr-David-Banner said:

Most depression too is emotional based and feeds on negative value judgements, derived, from the opinions of others.

This is not true. Depression is caused by chemical imbalances in the brain, you should not be diagnosed with depression if you are sad because of 'something external that happened'. It is normal to feel sad or bad if something sad or bad happens to you. While you may need help if you can't shake the depression caused by an external issue this is not clinical depression and shouldn't be diagnosed as such, antidepressants are not usually prescribed for this (therapy is) it is a normal response to something happening. Depression is when you feel sad, bad or numb for no external reason.

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Dr-David-Banner

It's worth thinking what emotions do. Sure, they have to exist because they sort of lock us into society. Normal people place huge emphasis on emotion. I also think when we accept the value judgements of society as gospel we run a very real risk of negative emotional impact. I have tried to shift focus away from judgements based on feeling because so many times I notice mass opinion is so often wrong. Depression effects everyone but it is domimated by emotions all the same. I find I can get depressed once I start to believe negative opinion might be correct and thereby lose self confidence. Yet if I get rid of the emotion, all that remains is to logically seek solutions.  For autistics this is crucial. Many autistics don't get support and approval from groups, even family. They may have been told many times they are slow, clumsy or "a loser". Yet these are value judgements all based on pack and pecking order. What really matters is cold, hard logic to solve all problems the best way possible. Unfortunately society hugely values emotional intelligence above analytical so we get judged a heck of a lot on how we communicate. 

 

 

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Miss Chief
4 hours ago, Dr-David-Banner said:

They may have been told many times they are slow, clumsy or "a loser".

This isn't true either, autism has nothing to do with mental capabilities or dexterity, of course you might have other conditions like dyslexia, dyscalculia or dyspraxia for example that lead to people making those comments but autism itself does not cause slowness or clumsiness. Being called a loser is a matter of perspective, it just means whoever says it doesn't have the same values as you, perhaps they value popularity and extroversion where as you are more content being in your own company.

To be honest I have never been called any of those things. I have been called other things because of my autism (rude, cold, etc.) but I have to assume if the person knew I had autism they would have made allowances for that and they called me those things because they weren't aware there was a reason I am perceived that way.

What is more I don't particularly care what other's opinions of me are and I never have, as long I am happy with who I am and how I behave I don't care what other people think, if they are friends it is because they know and like me so I don't need to worry about their opinion and if they aren't friends why worry about it.

What you describe is not depression it is a reaction to a situation. Perhaps it would be better to use the word sad/saddened rather than depression since the latter is a diagnosed condition with a defined meaning and what you are talking about is emotions not chemical imbalances.

I don't think emotions are a flaw but I am also not a slave to my emotions, I always use logic to analyse a situation before I decide how I feel about something and if something happens to results in me feeling a strong negative emotion I tend to analyse it logically until I understand and can deal with it appropriately. This is not an option for my clinical depression though, it has no trigger, no cause, it is not a reaction to something, there is nothing that can be addressed or overcome, sometimes I just feel bad, sad or even numb... for NO REASON. This is a chemical issue and not simply a matter or changing my mind about how I feel.

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Dr-David-Banner

"This isn't true either, autism has nothing to do with mental capabilities or dexterity, of course you might have other conditions like dyslexia, dyscalculia or dyspraxia for example that lead to people making those comments but autism itself does not cause slowness or clumsiness."

Not all people with autism are typically clumsy and, sure, dyspraxia is the term used for clumsiness these days. Anyway, I'd agree with you that "slowness" isn't related to A.S. as a factor of diagnosis. "Clumsiness", however, is mentioned along with poor spatial awareness (catching balls and so forth).

The slowness I refer to had me puzzled for some time as I am very slow moving. I'm also slow to learn simple information which makes me not very employable. For example, if I'm flung into a job and stuck on a till, or behind a bar, the consequences are very unpleasant. I just can't do as I'm instructed and start to panic. I also move quite slowly and I seem to need much more sleep than most people. The slowness I describe I now feel I can explain and relate to disassociation but I won't dwell on that.

"To be honest I have never been called any of those things. I have been called other things because of my autism (rude, cold, etc.) but I have to assume if the person knew I had autism they would have made allowances for that and they called me those things because they weren't aware there was a reason I am perceived that way."

I was definitely often treated very badly due to autism characteristics. I never worked anywhere where anyone was informed I had these issues. I am glad that finally I seem to have made a start defusing all the anger and bitterness that had built up over time. Hans Asperger referred to this very specifically as "bottled up anger" and even "grim sadism". The children he was studying in Austria often suffered from explosions of anger and resentment (that may have been caused by rejections at school and so on). Fortunately I've come to see in a lot more detail how people tick and how emotions exist to bond together families, communities and groups. People generally can't help but exclude those of us who are different. Sometimes, those who are more tolerant will be exclusive in a very non-confrontational way but will somehow feel uneasy where there is someone around who doesn't seem to correspond to the group mentality. So, here I will add I don't think bottled up anger is not good to hold onto and I also think knowledge is a great way to address it. People don't particularly exclude others out of spite but effectively due to evolutionary processes and maybe at a subconscious level -" Is this person part of our group or pack?"

I ought to clarify I do feel emotions with respect to animals. With regard to people, if I see someone being bullied or rejected or upset, I can often show compassion and even be a lot kinder and understanding than most NTs. However, I wonder if the way I started to reject my emotions is somehow to do with my efforts to "manage" autism. To put it very bluntly, there came a time when I realised I had to effectively stop listening to negative feedback and focus on my own inner resources. The bottom line is anyone can accomplish whatever goal they choose to have, even if the goal is attained at different speeds. For example, I know I always tended to learn new skills more slowly than NTs but what matters is the final result, not the speed of the process. Also, I tend to accept the hand I was dealt. I cannot cure autism - it's a deeply ingrained neurological condition. I can understand it, analyse it and work around it. I suspect too I do have Alexithymia but I also think I somehow made a deliberate effort to cut off my emotions even more. I see emotions as very misleading because many of them are a result of interaction with other people.

Mr Spock, of course, is a fictional character based apparently on Asperger's Syndrome. He is supposed to have no concept of emotion although I suppose if we were actually born with no understanding of emotion we'd be effectively cut-off from family, community and environment. It would actually stop our development altogether and our learning processes. The odd thing is this does actually happen with AS but only at a very small percentage level in as much as we struggle to interact but can still, all the same, interact to a given extent.


 

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Dr-David-Banner
On Tuesday, April 03, 2018 at 5:08 AM, Miss Chief said:

This isn't true either, autism has nothing to do with mental capabilities or dexterity, of course you might have other conditions like dyslexia, dyscalculia or dyspraxia for example that lead to people making those comments but autism itself does not cause slowness or clumsiness. Being called a loser is a matter of perspective, it just means whoever says it doesn't have the same values as you, perhaps they value popularity and extroversion where as you are more content being in your own company.

To be honest I have never been called any of those things. I have been called other things because of my autism (rude, cold, etc.) but I have to assume if the person knew I had autism they would have made allowances for that and they called me those things because they weren't aware there was a reason I am perceived that way.

What is more I don't particularly care what other's opinions of me are and I never have, as long I am happy with who I am and how I behave I don't care what other people think, if they are friends it is because they know and like me so I don't need to worry about their opinion and if they aren't friends why worry about it.

What you describe is not depression it is a reaction to a situation. Perhaps it would be better to use the word sad/saddened rather than depression since the latter is a diagnosed condition with a defined meaning and what you are talking about is emotions not chemical imbalances.

I don't think emotions are a flaw but I am also not a slave to my emotions, I always use logic to analyse a situation before I decide how I feel about something and if something happens to results in me feeling a strong negative emotion I tend to analyse it logically until I understand and can deal with it appropriately. This is not an option for my clinical depression though, it has no trigger, no cause, it is not a reaction to something, there is nothing that can be addressed or overcome, sometimes I just feel bad, sad or even numb... for NO REASON. This is a chemical issue and not simply a matter or changing my mind about how I feel.II

If it's clinical depression that is hard for me to say where the source is. Let me say though, the other day I was soldering and accidentally touched the iron. I drew back my hand in pain and then realised without the pain I would have held the iron long enough to have been hurt. So aren't emotions the same? When someone calls us stupid or useless, the emotional anger or hurt we feel is warning us of danger. Without any emotion at all we wouldn't know we needed to avoid the said situation (of a predator). Neither did we evolve in such a way as to react to insults via logic. What I'm saying though is emotions can get very dominant so we get locked into how others feel about us. We run a risk of losing perspective. When I get strong feelings of depression the first thing I do is acknowledge the feeling. Then I will just keep busy and will have to wait it out. My emotions are very weak but they may build up. Lately I ask myself if I really could do the same as Spock and get rid of emotions. I see them as highly problematic and I have had my fill of being judged through emotional, status orientated group trivia. 

  

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