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Featured Black and white thinking

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by Kalinychta, Nov 19, 2019.

  1. Kalinychta

    Kalinychta Well-Known Member

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    What exactly is black and white thinking? I read through a few past threads about it this morning, and a lot of people think it's synonymous with "holding strong opinions from which I will not budge." According to what I've read elsewhere, this isn't actually what it means. Kind of, sometimes...but not exactly. It's more immediate and impulsive and seems to me to be the result of logical thinking twisted in a strangely irrational and oftentimes emotional way.

    Examples:

    -You and a friend get into a disagreement, and you think it means that the friendship is over.
    -You get a 98% on a test, but you believe you failed because you either get 100% or you fail.
    -You abandon a hobby because of one perceived failure.
    -You stop reading a book because there is one thing you don't like about the main character, so you assume that you can't relate to her at all.

    So maybe black and white thinking is about attempting to apply logic to situations that can't be evaluated logically because they deal with complex behavior, situations, and/or emotions? In other words, black and white thinking may be logical (albeit in a weak, stitched-together way) but not rational. There seems to be an emotional element in there sometimes, too, i.e. a person has a negative emotional reaction to something but may not understand his own emotions (autism) and so attempts to interpret the emotion through a "yes or no, this or that" logical lense?

    What does everyone think? This stuff gets so confusing. One minute I think I understand it, and the next I'm back to "wait,...what?" again.
     
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  2. Aspychata

    Aspychata My Art Work

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    So l have heard this isn't black and white, there is a gray area. This is where you shove everything else. So police think black and white, you do this, off to jail you go. The gray area comes into play where the courts have to navigate areas of the law where the straight thinking doesn't apply.
     
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  3. Autistamatic

    Autistamatic He's just this guy, you know? V.I.P Member

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    Black & white thinking in the accepted sense is rather a misnomer when it comes to us.

    The stereotype is that we can only see binary solutions. Yes or no. Right or wrong. Good or bad. It presupposes that we are incapable of nuance, that we cannot perceive shades of grey.

    It's utter sloblocks where most of us are concerned and is born of a profound misunderstanding about autistic minds.

    See an awful lot of us do a shedload of thinking. We lie awake at night thinking the living daylights out of things - evaluating every point of view, every available morsel of data, the A to Z of it all. When we do that we come to conclusions we feel sure of. When people then challenge us we have already evaluated most of the available data they throw at us expecting it to change our minds. We've considered all the points of view they're thinking are new to us.

    The fact that we have done so much thinking and have a reasoned, considered point of view based on it is alien to the majority of people. Everyday folk don't often take the same time or effort to formulate their opinions so our certainty is something they cannot assimilate. They decide that we are unreasonable and inflexible. We must be black & white in our thinking.
     
    Last edited: Nov 19, 2019
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  4. Pats

    Pats Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I agree with @Aspychata . Black and white thinking means they don't have that gray area in their way of thinking. Like it's wrong to steal, but that gray area may be that if you are trying to feed your child, morally right or wrong?
     
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  5. Gracey

    Gracey Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I believe it has something to do with thinking in extremes.
    At one end of a scale or the other with nothing in between.
    (I believe largely judgement based on expectation)

    If something isn't perfectly correct, then it's completely wrong.

    If we're not a success, we're a failure.
    (not determined by degrees of success in specific areas, just a complete fail)

    In @Pats example of making sure a child gets to eat something,
    Black and White thinking would determine Stealing is stealing is stealing.
    circumstances and desperation wouldn't enter into it.

    In the realms of OCD,
    if something hasn't been cleaned (possibly to surgical standard)
    it may aswell be covered in dirt and no amount of CBT will convince the believer of anything different.

    If it isn't 'clean' (to extremes) it's a potential hazzard.
     
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  6. Aspychata

    Aspychata My Art Work

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    To me, black and white thinking is saying no gray area thinking allowed. Kinda of like dictatorship thinking, that there is only one possible outcome. To spectrum peers, there are a infinite amount of outcomes, we live in gray areas. Maybe you don't find Autistic policeman as the norm.
     
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  7. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    It has to do with what colors you think in. It might be affected by which colors you experienced/saw something in.

    Keystone-Kops (1).jpg
     
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  8. Fino

    Fino Alex V.I.P Member

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    I think of "black and white" thinking in the context of Borderline Personality Disorder, where it plays a major part, primarily in relationships.

    If your partner (or anyone) does something you don't like, that person becomes a bad, evil person and you want them out of your life. When that person is doing things you do like, they're perfect.

    I've experienced this countless times myself and countless times have astounded myself at how I can convince myself and feel wholly and honestly that each of those extremes is true at some point as a response to ridiculous things. And the feeling of each belief fading into the other is a very strange experience.
     
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  9. Kalinychta

    Kalinychta Well-Known Member

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    Smarty pants. Ha!
     
  10. Thinx

    Thinx Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Well to me what @Fino described is similar to the way insecure attachment works, especially on a bad day, where we project on to the other person a lot of negative motives, when we are feeling uncomfortable within ourselves, but without awareness. Working on our self awareness and self development can help with this, but I expect this is extremely difficult when up against BPD.

    I think what @Autistamatic says about how we are perceived as black and white thinkers rings true, and this type of misunderstanding of us is part of why we are negatively perceived, our strengths are discounted as weaknesses. Whereas my perception of neurotypical norms of thinking is that emotional expression comes ahead of careful deliberation. Or instead of.

    @Tom is on to something with the theory of colours we think in, neurotypical thinking is emotively highly coloured, where ours tends to be careful deliberation, monochrome.
     
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  11. Fino

    Fino Alex V.I.P Member

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    Another example of black and white thinking, one I've often struggled with, is that any sign of stupidity, or even simply error, makes the person an idiot. For example, I may be reading an argument someone is making in a book and they make a grammatical error. My first thought is that they are therefore unintelligent and their argument is false. Another example is when I was younger, I'd see anybody religious as automatically moronic.

    The difference between what you're describing and what I described is that what you're describing sounds as if it's entirely internal. What I described is triggered by the words or actions of another person.
     
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  12. Progster

    Progster Gone sideways to the sun V.I.P Member

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    I have been accused of having rigid thinking where I've had a different opinion to theirs and stick to it, or when they have suggested something and I rejected it. I think that a lot of it has to do with us not making the right social noises, meaning that if someone says something, one is supposed to soften one's opposition or meet in the middle to try to align it with theirs. Or even agree with them, even if you don't. That's something we often don't do, or don't feel the need to do, don't know how to or don't want to do, because after all, it is our opinion and why should we have to compromise it?

    Rigid thinking could also mean not wanting to accept a sudden change, or not wanting to try something new, or change the way we do things. That's different - that is born of anxiety or things being beyond our comfort zone and wanting to be in control of our environment, not accepting to be forced into something.
     
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  13. Aspychata

    Aspychata My Art Work

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    I tend to give people the benefit of doubt instead of immediately declaring them slobbering idiots. If l have held off this guy at work for the umpteeth time or guys including emoloyees and residents from coming on to me, only to jump in traffic and field with drivers that seem high on crack, then get home and maybe find something wrong, l do jump on the forum here scattered and discombobulated and do make stupid errors simply because the life of a female is difficult. So l am understanding when finding errors except for the bank. l just flew off the handle when the clerk was off in her counting of bills to me.
     
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  14. Kalinychta

    Kalinychta Well-Known Member

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    Haha! Your post made me laugh really hard. “Any sign of stupidity”—ha! I’m the same way. I can’t talk my way out of this type of behavior either. I recognize that it’s crazy and that I don’t need to get my proverbial panties in a twist every time someone or something gets on my nerves, but alas...
     
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  15. NothingToSeeHere

    NothingToSeeHere Asexuowl V.I.P Member

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    ^^ This is my understanding of black and white thinking. I don't think it's really all that common with ASD people. I guess an ASD stereotype of this would be lying. Lying is supposed to be bad, so all lying is bad, with none of the nuance most people understand. Even telling 'white lies' is bad even though the lie causes no harm and sometimes telling the truth can be unreasonably cruel.

    Interestingly I think back and white thinking is becoming far more common in the general population, as a result of the way the current media and social media especially tends to create echo chambers and focus on insiting outrage to generate clicks.
     
    Last edited: Nov 20, 2019
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  16. Kalinychta

    Kalinychta Well-Known Member

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    When my thinking is rigid and I refuse to budge on it, I look exactly like this willful young ungulate. Except my fur is darker.

    upload_2019-11-20_0-55-34.jpeg
     
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  17. the_tortoise

    the_tortoise Lost Soul V.I.P Member

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    Not liking change can also be born purely of slow processing and working memory problems. If you are really slow to process/organize information (or certain types of it) then having everything the same/on routine autopilot makes up for it quite a bit because you have to process so much less.
     
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  18. AHClemist

    AHClemist noble gas

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    I think @Autistamatic made a good point (not sure how this link thing works). Every single bit of data is analyzed with the intent to find the "right" answer. Everything else is "wrong". If one datapoint changes, there's a different right answer. The answer changes with the details, and every detail is considered. But once that answer is set, there is no grey.
     
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  19. SDRSpark

    SDRSpark Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I relate to this so freaking much. Especially the lying awake analyzing every facet, aspect, all the data that people don't realize we've collected, turning it over and over again, trying to fit the pieces together in different ways until something makes sense that I can live with.

    In another thread, I found a quote that I'm going to borrow (I wrote it down in my journal but not who said it, so I apologize for that): "I can't let go until order is restored (what I perceive to be order, that is.)" and I relate to it so much. When a situation (especially a social situation with those closest to me) goes bad, I feel like my life is not ordered, and I'm turning things over in my mind for days, weeks, or even months, trying to find some order in the chaos and uncertainty so that I can move on. I have a really hard time accepting that I'll never have that, so I obsessively try to create it. Trying to create order in a situation gone awry becomes a special interest.

    My current "project" is figuring out how to create order in a situation like that and accept that I will never know what happened...to put the situation in a proverbial box on a proverbial shelf and be OK with it existing there.
     
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  20. Bolletje

    Bolletje Potato chip wizard V.I.P Member

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    I think it’s a faulty generalization that all people with autism have binary thinking or think in extremes. I for one am very proud of my ability to think in grey areas.
    But I have to say my moral code is very strict. I can’t go against my alignment, so to speak.
     
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