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Cognitive empathy/theory of mind

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by Gift2humanity, Feb 18, 2021.

  1. Major Tom

    Major Tom Searching for ground control... V.I.P Member

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    I think empathy is a highly overused word. I do not believe in it at all. Sympathy, yes, empathy no. If you look up the meaning of empathy in a dictionary, it says it's the ability to feel other's pain and understand what they are thinking without them telling you. Sure, body language can speak volumes, but that's different than my understanding of empathy.

    Definition of empathy
    1: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner
    also : the capacity for this
    2: the imaginative projection of a subjective state into an object so that the object appears to be infused with it
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2021
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  2. SusanLR

    SusanLR Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Empathy has always been a highly misunderstood word it seems, due to the three different types
    that simple tests will show.

    Emotional empathy and if you have it can be answered mostly by one question.
    When you see someone hurting, hear about crimes, see people mourn over loss of a loved one,
    watching mass hurt in general, does it make you feel sad, hurt, and emotionally bad inside?
    If yes, then you have a lot of emotional empathy.
    If no, and you feel nothing when you see others hurt or something happen that could be called gory,
    then you are lacking in emotional empathy.

    Akin to this is compassionate empathy. Same as above, only does it move you to feel you want to
    help the person or situation? If yes, you have compassionate empathy also.

    You don't have to feel anything to have cognitive empathy.
    It is more an understanding of how others feel and the intellect to know how to use emotions
    to achieve something or just a mental state of knowing. Like seeing someone hurt physically or emotionally over loss of someone. It doesn't create any feelings in you, but, you understand what they are feeling.

    I like to use the example of those ads for the hurt, hungry animals since that creates the emotional
    empathy in me more than anything I can think of.
    You know what I mean. Pictures of dogs shaking, looks like they are crying, starved and bony or even
    physically hurt from abuse. Cats also.
    So there is emotional empathy. Makes me feel like crying to see it.

    Now is that empathy strong enough to make you want to give the donations they are asking for?
    If so, that is compassionate empathy.

    And the last is if seeing such a heart breaking sight, you feel nothing, but, you mentally know
    the animals are suffering, that is cognitive.

    Best way I learned to understand the types of empathy.
     
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  3. SimonSays

    SimonSays Time is an illusion I seem to have a lot of V.I.P Member

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    Some people used to say I was unemotional. I seemed to be in a detached state, little outward expression of emotion, yet I knew I was still capable of compassion, but without feeling compelled to act. I would just see it, observe it, witness it, rather than feel any desire to do something. That what was taking place was what needed to and it wasn't something I needed to interfere with.

    That detachment gave me a sense of clarity and peace, but the appearance of not caring, when if anything it was the reverse. I could say something that might help the situation (still can) and somehow, without the emotional aspect had a better understanding of it. I didn't get involved emotionally, but was still being creative, artistic, writing.

    I am a lot more emotional now (autism issues near the surface for sure) and I wonder if this was the highly functional mask that allowed me to go to and live in other lands? The result was a very capable detachment, which felt like awareness and peace to me, but estranged and alienated me from people whose empathic nature did not receive the usual signs they would be familiar with.
     
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  4. SimonSays

    SimonSays Time is an illusion I seem to have a lot of V.I.P Member

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    My mum was an empathic narcissist. Now there's an oxymoron if ever I've heard one.
    She was an emotional and intelligent person, who could be very caring and supportive, but whatever she did it still had to make a difference to her, be about her, bring attention to her. That was very confusing to a sensitive boy on the spectrum growing up, and yet so many times I could see what everyone else could not. Her underlying manipulative ways, perhaps not even fully aware she was doing it, were invisible to others and produced the result she needed. The conversation had to revolve around her. She wasn't good at listening without making sure everyone knew how she felt. She would dismiss my thoughts and feelings instantly if they seemed to conflict with hers, and when I would do something that would naturally bring attention to me, she would take it back to her quickly, as if she was losing something, usually making me feel small and inadequate.

    It took years to really understand all this and recognise the damage it caused. She had no idea of the effect it had on me. It was only in the last months of her life, when I lived with her and helped her deal with her approaching death, that she was finally able to listen, and I was finally able to reveal it in a way that she could. It released a lot. It took until the end for her to finally recognise it was not meant to be all about her.
     
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  5. Gift2humanity

    Gift2humanity Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I see, I took it literally. what age did you start reading Sherlock Holmes fiction
     
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  6. Wolfsage

    Wolfsage In training to be Wolf King.

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    Teenage years.
     
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  7. SDRSpark

    SDRSpark Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I have a difficult time understanding what empathy actually is and how it's supposed to function (so I'm not sure if I have it right or not). The entire concept just baffles me.

    I suspect that I have strong emotional (affective?) empathy and very poor cognitive empathy/theory of mind. (I actually scored 15 on the EQ LOL and I'm pretty sure what that actually measures is ToM. But I'll be upset for days or weeks or longer if I inadvertently upset someone.)

    I have a very difficult time figuring out what someone's intentions are if they're not like my intentions. If I wouldn't do something, I assume others wouldn't either.

    I loved fiction as a kid. I was an avid reader and would devour entire novels in one night. Always with my nose in a book. At some point during my teenage years, I stopped being able to read fiction. I would get so emotionally wrapped up in the characters that I would be a nervous wreck about how things were going to turn out, it actually caused me a lot of distress. At one point I started reading the ending of books first (so I could prepare myself) but then I just stopped reading fiction all together.
     
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  8. SimonSays

    SimonSays Time is an illusion I seem to have a lot of V.I.P Member

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    I think that is the best way to be. After all, if you can't figure it out, and you keep trying to, you just feel like something is wrong.

    Their intentions are their intentions, all you can be is responsible for knowing your own.
    If you wouldn't do something, I think you are right to feel they wouldn't either. That attracts that very experience to you. However, if you should ever experience a future where somebody does something you wouldn't do and you never saw their intention, you would know something about that person, and eventually yourself, and be able to make a choice to do something about it.
     
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  9. Auriga

    Auriga New Member

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    I got the same struggle, and here are what I tried to handle it.;
    It does help a lot to read fictions depicting relationship between people. But read rather trendy and casual ones than esoteric and sophisticated ones. Trendy books/movies/TV shows are trendy because many ppl can relate.
    Watch carefully how people backbite/insult celebrities, and try to read their intention and how they try to manipulate the situation. You can observe the dynamics in rather objective pov when you step back and see what's going on.
     
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  10. Gift2humanity

    Gift2humanity Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Thank you.
    Did you read fiction?It is supposed to help develop business acumen.
     
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  11. LadyS

    LadyS Work in Progess

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    For me, like others here, I would assume I developed it from observing and learning patterns in behaviors. Also from reading and TV/movies. But I will also say that one of my Aspie obsessions is fascination with psychology and the human condition. I like watching a lot of documentaries especially ones about crimes. I've been like this since I was a teenager. And like others it also helped to have such a large family and be apart of a huge cultural community. I guess chalk it up to both nature and nurture I guess?
     
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  12. BobbyTheEmperor

    BobbyTheEmperor New Member

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    Cognitive empathy is something I am learning because I got out of a destructive/manipulative relationship. I have healed a bit but have more work to do. As I have gotten better I have asked myself questions on how I couldn't se the manipulation all along. Like the red flags were there from the very beginning and I didn't se them.
    So, since about a year back I am learning cognitive empathy because I have come to the conclusion that
    1.I might have a difficulty reading people as a result of manipulation, gaslighting and abuse (I have PTSD) or
    2.I didn't understand cognitive empathy from the beginning witch made med vulnerable to begin with (I have always been gullible as I believe the best in people). And I have never understood when guys have liked me in the past or how to approach them. I believed in what you see in Hollywood movies (yes, that was my view of love).

    So, to answer your question, because I am still trying to figure out if I showed signs of being on the spectrum as a child (so far my father has mentioned that I learned the alphabet when I was two, which he found unusual, I wanted to be home alone from school and learn to take care of myself when I was 7, like Mathilda from the book by Roald Dahl, and my mum was often annoyed that I was so easy to...well manipulate. Even as a child with other children I apparently always did what other people wanted, even if it resulted in me getting into trouble. My mum mentioned that I often "rather" hung out with other families than my own, I don't remember that and I don't remember disliking my own family so...I don't know). Anyway, if it is a result of the abusive relationship, PTSD or a sign of being on the spectrum, I still need to learn cognitive empathy.

    I started to learn from this guy on Youtube a year ago, the channel is called Asperger from the Inside. That guy has some really good ways of communicating cognitive empathy and explain things in ways I understand.
    But the best way for me to communicate is honesty and verbal communication.
    As far as cognitive empathy goes I know that crying can be out of happiness, because one is sad or angry (here facial expressions is key).
    I know that something that looks like anger can be the result of fear or anger (here I always have to ask, I think an angry person prefers to be left alone and a scared person might need comfort).
    I know that being sad can make people feel vulnerable and that might want to be something you want to hide (the vulnerability I mean). So a sad person might say: "I'm ok!" but the tone of voice can be "flat" and the gestures are not the gestures of a happy person (like a sad person, I think someone who is sad can look down to the ground more etc.).
    A happy person...my god. More difficult. Because I know people use happiness to hide difficult things.
    But cognitive emotion is difficult and it is different from one person to another I guess.

    Since I work as a teacher with children, I teach these things and it is difficult. I don't understand my own reactions at times.

    What helped me with cognitive empathy is that Youtube channel I mentioned but I also have a small group of people who I trust and I ask. I can ask: "The words you are saying are positive (I am interested in languages and words) but you look somewhat angry", are you happy or angry or something else? And those close people have helped me understand a lot. I have a couple of people I can ask at work, a close group of friends, my boyfriend and my parents and sister. My sister and I can read each other. :p

    So this is what I've got, I hope you can find something useful in my answer.
     
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  13. John M

    John M Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I read an incredible amount of fiction. I was part of a book club and everything. The Dune series was my favorite. I think I read the original book about twenty times as a teenager.
     
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  14. Gift2humanity

    Gift2humanity Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I knew you read fiction. You can discern Which manipulators I worth bothering about and which ones aren’t.
     
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  15. Gift2humanity

    Gift2humanity Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Hello again did you find that suppressing your emotions has a negative effect on your mental health thank you I hope you don’t mind the question.
     
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  16. Gift2humanity

    Gift2humanity Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Sorry you were in such a bad relationship.
    Not listening to our intuition is to blame for ignoring red flags but do not beat yourself up.
    You sound like a very nice person.
    I know I keep talking about reading fiction but I am autistic and I am fixated on it and want to know did you read fiction is a child?
    Good luck with finding true love and identifying the red flags and most importantly listening to your intuition.
     
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  17. John M

    John M Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Yes, I would say it did in some ways. On the other hand, not being unable to suppress them made it very difficult to function in society. There are some very simple things I really miss from before I closed off. For example, I used to be able to listen to the wind pass through the leaves of a tree and feel incredibley relaxed and at peace. I lost that when I started suppressing my emotions. There are some things you may take for granted now that you may loose if you go the route I did. If it's a matter of survival however then do whatever you have to do.

    I have made efforts to try and open up more in the past but everytime I've done that the exact opposite happens, I just close off more. Those times were all before I realized I was autistic however. If I decide to try again I'll be a little more careful in who I choose to confide.
     
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  18. Gift2humanity

    Gift2humanity Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Sorry to hear that.
    It’s striking a happy medium.
    At least you learnt to be careful with who you confide in.
     
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  19. BobbyTheEmperor

    BobbyTheEmperor New Member

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    Thank you. I am Swedish so when you say Fiction I think of books like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter etc?

    I read a lot of fiction as a child. Especially (almost exclusively) everything in the fantasy/Sci fi genre. Oh and everything animal and dinosaur related :p And the Lion King!!! Ok, getting of topic here. Yes, read a lot of Fiction and want to read again, I stopped but I think going into the fantasy genre is key for me :).

    Thank you, I try to be nice but I can get annoyed and such of course :).

    I am going to read the ficition part of your thread again and se If I answered in a good way.

    Kind Regards (Sorry on a tram and try to write, trams are not good for writing).

    what Fiction do you like btw? Any tips om good books?
     
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  20. Gift2humanity

    Gift2humanity Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Unfortunately I didn’t need fiction.
    Do you feel that you have cognitive empathy as well as affective empathy thank you.
     
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