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zzax27

Empathy, Or The Lack Of It

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zzax27

So as I mentioned, I might come across as offensive or not too friendly(more than anything else, i can be excessively blunt) but there is no such intention at all.. if/whenever i have crossed the line, please feel free to call me out on it and i shall try to rectify it.. 

 

Now that my paranoia has been fed, onto the real deal.. 

 

On these forums, why does everyone talk and reply like normal(granted the topics are often with regards to the syndrome) people... according to whatever i've read up so far.. aspies are not extremely empathetic, can rant about themselves for ages but are not interested in holding an average exchange of stories/facts/opinions..

 

Now i know we're all different even in what we have... but I was quite surprised that everyone's replying to all posts and being oh so sweet... I cant bring myself to do the same(taking away the influence of social norms) often unless I'm interested in the topic and have good a bit to say. 

Edited by zzax27

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Peridot

So as I mentioned, I might come across as offensive or not too friendly(more than anything else, i can be excessively blunt) but there is no such intention at all.. if/whenever i have crossed the line, please feel free to call me out on it and i shall try to rectify it.. 

 

Now that my paranoia has been fed, onto the real deal.. 

 

On these forums, why does everyone talk and reply like normal(granted the topics are often with regards to the syndrome) people... according to whatever i've read up so far.. aspies are not extremely empathetic, can rant about themselves for ages but are not interested in holding an average exchange of stories/facts/opinions..

 

Now i know we're all different even in what we have... but I was quite surprised that everyone's replying to all posts and being oh so sweet... I cant bring myself to do the same(taking away the influence of social norms) often unless I'm interested in the topic and have good a bit to say. 

 

So keeping aside the aspies, am I just a bitch then? :( :(

 

I don't think empathy is the right word to use here. In this context a different one should be used. Not quite sure which one.

 

Anyway, officially they say people with Asperger's have less empathy but it's quite a thing to say. If you have no empathy it's more like you're someone with what's now known as an anti-social personality disorder. These people were formally known as psychopaths. So I don't really get the whole "Aspies have no empathy" thing.

 

Just for clarity: I didn't say you were a psychopath in this post.

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Sofi

I believe it is kind of a myth that people on the spectrum all completely lack empathy. I actually think we share a lot of empathy, particularly when it comes to things to do with ASD because we understand how it is to feel a certain way (frustrated, misunderstood, overloaded etc.) I can have a lot of empathy for my friends on the spectrum, and I can for others too if I understand their problem. Maybe I'll struggle to relate to other peoples' problems if I have not experienced it personally, maybe that's where the possible lack of empathy is, but I think it is so important for us to learn the social rules of what is the best thing to say in those situations. We still need to learn how to say polite things, just like everyone else. I've learnt a lot of appropriate phrases in response to common issues, even if I don't understand what I should be feeling about it, I know what I should say. Maybe you could do something like that too? However, I do genuinely feel empathy, particularly if someone is my friend, I feel a lot for them. 

I think, what you are seeing here on these forums, is realistic of ASD. Also, there's quite a community here so a lot of people genuinely feel care for each other. We aren't all bitchy, heartless people... far from it. I don't like this myth! 

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Pooya

I scored 8, 70 on the EQSQ (Empathy Quotient - Systemizing Quotient).

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zzax27

I don't think empathy is the right word to use here. In this context a different one should be used. Not quite sure which one.

 

Anyway, officially they say people with Asperger's have less empathy but it's quite a thing to say. If you have no empathy it's more like you're someone with what's now known as an anti-social personality disorder. These people were formally known as psychopaths. So I don't really get the whole "Aspies have no empathy" thing.

 

Just for clarity: I didn't say you were a psychopath in this post.

 

@ Peridot, 

 

I believe you're right on that one... i'm really new to the syndrome, it's symptoms etc. Pretty much all of my info has come from reading up articles online whenever I have time.  In pretty much all of them, lack of empathy is one of the primary and chief symptoms they mention with relation to Asperger's. I do have empathy, and quite a bit of it... but more often than not, i'm in a situation where my brain's goading my tongue to say something but I just have no clue what to say, I go blank. I'm scared i might say something a little too wrong and in some sensitive situations, i'd rather not offend anyone, you know?

 

For instance, I've been pretty sick and had to visit the hospital again last night. In the ER waiting room, I witnessed this mother tightly holding onto her wailing 4 year old daughter whose forehead was cracked open slightly. I opened with "is she going to be ok?" and the mother looked up at me and tearfully said "i donno".. From observing the wound, I knew the girl was going to be ok but seeing the mother's anxious tears made we wanna console her, tell her her little girl's going to be just fine...

but i couldnt bring myself to. we were sitting in a hospital, there were medical experts who were going to examine her, dress the wound and tell the mom the truth, which she'd believe ofcourse and finally, mother and child'd relax, leave the hospital and move on...

Meanwhile Im still sitting there stuck..... i donno how to get over such obstacles

I believe it is kind of a myth that people on the spectrum all completely lack empathy. I actually think we share a lot of empathy, particularly when it comes to things to do with ASD because we understand how it is to feel a certain way (frustrated, misunderstood, overloaded etc.) I can have a lot of empathy for my friends on the spectrum, and I can for others too if I understand their problem. Maybe I'll struggle to relate to other peoples' problems if I have not experienced it personally, maybe that's where the possible lack of empathy is, but I think it is so important for us to learn the social rules of what is the best thing to say in those situations. We still need to learn how to say polite things, just like everyone else. I've learnt a lot of appropriate phrases in response to common issues, even if I don't understand what I should be feeling about it, I know what I should say. Maybe you could do something like that too? However, I do genuinely feel empathy, particularly if someone is my friend, I feel a lot for them. 

I think, what you are seeing here on these forums, is realistic of ASD. Also, there's quite a community here so a lot of people genuinely feel care for each other. We aren't all bitchy, heartless people... far from it. I don't like this myth! 

hi sofi, 

i agree with you completely, i didnt know i had asperger's until quite recently and hence learnt the social norms of being polite and nice like everyone else. however, when it goes beyond just average interactions... i realize i just... that it's all running in my head but i donno if i should even bother saying. like it maybe a joke but people wont laugh. or it maybe a fact but what if i take too long to explain it and then ppl would find it boring... hence at large gatherings... i tend to just sit with the crowd, think of a myriad things i wanna say... but end up quipping in with w word or two a couple of times at most.

 

i did not intend to say that aspies are bitchy, heartless people at all!!! woah, sorry if that's how it came across...

but this is exactly my point... i mean one thing and i have to put it all out there so my doubt is cleared... but i guess i dont say it right and then im misunderstood and people may get offended. and when that happens, i just retreat into my shell and shut up altogether.

 

i donno how to get past that

Edited by zzax27

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CherryCola

Sofi made some really good points! I also think we all are able to be empathetic. Maybe whats hard is to look at something from someone else's perspective. If someone is talking about it something that's happened to them, good or bad, I can't really relate to it unless I've been in a similar situation myself. A lot of us here have had similar experiences, so therefore we are able to comfort each other because we understand each other.

 

I have in the past been called a cold person because I answered "I don't know" when a friend asked me what she should do about her boyfriend troubles. I was only 14 and it really hurt my feelings because I have always seen myself as a caring and kind person. I have just showed it in different ways, like giving people gifts for example and I have always been an optimistic happy person, so how could I be cold? I'm not, I just show that i care in different ways.

 

I've also gotten the impression that aspies try to give more constructive advice to try solving peoples problems instead of patting someone on the shoulder saying "don't worry, everything will be alright". I wouldn't say that to someone unless I truly believe that things will be alright. Instead I will say "hope things will work out" to show that I care without giving false hope.

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Guest Chris

Just to throw something else out there - a lot of aspies (myself included) find it a lot easier to express themselves online. When you have time to think and plan your reply, and can then communicate that with letters on a page, it's much easier than having to do it on-the-fly with the flow of a conversation, making sure your body language and tone of voice (the delivery) is correct.

 

So for that reason, being empathetic or social online comes a lot easier to many of us.

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Nesf

I agree with Sofi and CherryCola. I can empathise, or sypathise, with people who are going through similar problems to me, and a lot of us here share similar problems, and can give practical advice based on my own experiences, but if something is outside my experience I often don't have any particular opinion or feelings so don't comment.

 

Expressing emotions such as empathy is different online, as you aren't on the spot, and have the time to think about what you are saying, where you may be caught out in a real time conversation. Most ASD people know rationally how another person may be feeling, can think about it and respond in an appropiate way. NTs do this instinctively without thinking about it, whereas we need time to think it through. Real life is a lot different and a lot harder than online life, that's why many cope better and prefer to interact with people online. The gap between NT and ASD is reduced in some respects online. Chris has just said this too and posted as I was typing)

 

Many of us here are older adults, many diagnosed later in life, who have developed many social skills needed to cope in society. Many have jobs, relationships, etc, and have had to get by without the benefit of a diagnosis, and we have learnt from our experiences. Not that we don't still have problems in thse areas and need support, otherwise why would we be here?

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Mike_GX101

The route to empathy can be learned to a certain extent as I have found out.  And I agree with Chris too that replies on forums can be prepared in advanced and checked before sending whereas in real life there is no such preparation time and often the response is a split-second one; get it wrong and it could have terrible consequences.  Like walking into a bar and meeting eyes with the wrong person and ending up in A&E. 

 

I don't say much to people when I go out shopping etc and yet there are always people chatting all around me.  People often don't get that.  I will say please and thank you but as for small-talk forget it!  To some people therefore this might seem rude as they may see small-talk as paying them a compliment or tip.  No tip = bad feeling.  No small-talk = bad feeling.

 

I am aware therefore that I may come across as aloof and distant and perhaps cold to a lot of people.  I hate it myself but I can't change it.  I guess I'll always be that way although I'm constantly picking up tricks to hide my difficulties wherever I can.  I still remember family 'outings' though to the hair dressers and they'd all be like really chatty and I'd be sat there bored rigid and not saying a word as my hair was being cut.  Back then the contrast was clear and used to bother me big time.  But now I don't care.  Now I just think the hair dresser has had a bad day and is happy for the peace and quiet.  There - there's my tip.  No small-talk required. :P

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Sofi

Yeah, the online thing. I can appear a lot more empathetic online, for planning what to type. I think, in person, I appear less empathetic. I don't really know what to do with myself in a situation where empathy is needed in person! I probably appear emotionless then. I can be very one sided.

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