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Higher empathy for animals?

Hazel87

Active Member
Am I the only one?

I almost feel uncomfortable admitting it haha. I DO have empathy and care a lot for humans too, especially innocent ones like children. My empathy for animals though can be nearly unbearable. I would be full of crap if I tried to say that my empathy for animals is much, much stronger. I can logically understand why it should be higher for humans but it just isn't. Part of this could be desensitization? Although I've seen and known a lot of terrible things happening to animals and can barely handle it. I can see on a TV show a human being suffering and it's awful (although if it was a REAL human and not just fiction it would bother me A LOT more) but I can't even see fake depictions of animals hurt or sad. I struggled watching Temple Grandin's movie and watching the cows be stressed out. I definitely have a lot of empathy for humans too but my empathy for animals is a lot stronger and more intense. I have no idea why. It's always been this way. I've loved animals since I can even remember and grew up with animals around my whole life.

Can anyone else relate?
 

Ylva

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Humans aren't "innocent", though. Maybe we just feel more strongly that animals don't deserve to suffer.
 
I’ve always had higher empathy towards animals; dogs especially.

I was watching a rescue shelter for dogs on YouTube recently and one of the dogs was literally screaming and whining when a human went near him. Within time, it warmed up to the human and gradually walked over to her for a hug. I was bawling my eyes out so hard even though I had a good day and couldn’t stop for about an hour after watching it. Don’t think I can watch it again.

I’m crying again now even just talking about it, but not as much.
 
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WereBear

License to Weird
V.I.P Member
I am building a little business based on how well I understand, and empathize with, cats. I have a blog (see my signature) and do consultations, and I'm working on a book.

This is just an outgrowth of me being an animal lover as a child. But in my experience, most children are animal lovers... and they get "socialized" out of it.

Which is wrong.
 

garnetflower13

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I feel the same about people vs animals. I can't stand to watch animals get hurt on television either, even though I know it isn't real. I once had to go in the bedroom and cry after watching a scene in a television show about a horse being killed. Although people were being killed in the program as well, the animal being harmed scenes really got to me. I've been this way all my life, too.
 

Tom

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I just heard of a study that supports this. It had people empathizing most with (in order) human infants, animals and adult humans.

It was a study of all people, so largely NT I assume. I wouldn't be surprised if ASD folks came out: Animals, Human infants, human adults.
 

watersprite

inadvertent vagabond
V.I.P Member
I wrote something to put here and then changed my mind.
So here is a shorter version.
I empathize with animals and other critters automatically, cannot disconnect from it. My husband occasionally helps because points out that I need to let something go that really is none of my business. Like for example a dog tied outside a store on a cold day. I don't have to go find the owner and tell them how to take care of their animal. It feels like I have to but I can control it most of the time.

yeah. Stuff like that.
 

Gracey

Well-Known Member
Empathy ? ..perhaps?

I like my domesticated animals as company.

The way we interact is less stressful. A quiet acceptance, few expectations. We can just 'be'
We can just muddle along reacting to moments in time.

No emails, phonecalls, complicated sentence structure to convey precise meaning, no misunderstandings, no spite, judgement, competition, no getting thrown under a bus (so to speak) to advance their own desires, no social media, no materialism, no greed or desires to be rich and famous.

They know what it is to work together in a group/tribe/pack. (Specifically dogs)
There's no malice or lies or underhand game plan.
What you see is what you get.

I admire that.
 

Fitzo

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Yes I'm the same. I've always been far more upset about animals being hurt or mistreated than humans. I tried not to make it too obvious but I've always felt the same. I think it is because people have at least some element of self determination but animals are really at the mercy of people.
I too get very upset if I perceive an animal is not being looked after as well as they should be and struggle to keep it to myself.
I can't watch footage or read about animals being treated cruelly because I can't get the images out of my head and it deeply distresses me for days.
I've volunteered in animal welfare organizations for many years.
I think this is a very common thing amongst Aspie women according to Dr Tony Attwood.
 

garnetflower13

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I wrote something to put here and then changed my mind.
So here is a shorter version.
I empathize with animals and other critters automatically, cannot disconnect from it. My husband occasionally helps because points out that I need to let something go that really is none of my business. Like for example a dog tied outside a store on a cold day. I don't have to go find the owner and tell them how to take care of their animal. It feels like I have to but I can control it most of the time.

yeah. Stuff like that.
I struggle with this, too. I used to have a disabled neighbor and she had a cat. One day I noticed that the collar on the cat was too tight. I started bugging her about it and she insisted that it wasn't too tight and then I demonstrated that you have to be able to slip your fingers comfortably between the collar and the cat's neck. She got upset with me, alas.
 

DuckRabbit

Well-Known Member
My empathy for animals though can be nearly unbearable.
Although I've seen and known a lot of terrible things happening to animals and can barely handle it.
I definitely have a lot of empathy for humans too but my empathy for animals is a lot stronger and more intense
I can relate. I just to have to see a picture of an animal and I'm shot through with the most intense depth of feeling. Awareness of the precarious nature of their existence on this planet overrun by predators (aka humans) brings tears to my eyes in an instant. Then I dissolve into helplessness at ever being able to change the plight of animals on this planet - other than showing kindness to the ones that directly cross my path. But never enough. How I admire those people who can up and leave their lives to go and create a chimpanzee, kangaroo, crocodile or hyena sanctuary in some remote region or developing country. My hero is conservationist Lawrence Anthony:
Wild elephants gather inexplicably, mourn death of Elephant Whisperer

The Elephant Whisperer: Learning About Life, Loyalty and Freedom From a Remarkable Herd of Elephants
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B003U6YKSE/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

Babylon's Ark: The Incredible Wartime Rescue of the Baghdad Zoo
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B003JH86L6/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1
 

DuckRabbit

Well-Known Member
Unless I actively block it out of my mind, I'm aware all the time of animals in distress because of humans - fawns caught in fences (I saw a programme where their distraught mothers had to just leave them to die there); fish with hooks stuck in them (I saw a picture of one that had grown around a plastic bottle ring around its middle); lashed, overloaded donkeys; orangutans with their jungles being razed under their feet for palm oil; dogs yanked by leads around their necks by sadistic owners; dogs left chained up outside; clubbed seals; bears and buck with diminishing reserves to roam and migrate in; elephants having to walk for miles to find water cf.

And don't even get me started on the atrocities going on in places like China.
Simon Cowell heartbroken by South Korea's dog meat trade | Daily Mail Online
Although there is animal cruelty and neglect in every country and among every nationality, there seems to be a lot less empathy overall for animals in countries like China (just the fact that they can eat dogs - these exquisitely sensitive, intelligent, beautiful, loving beings!). I wonder if this is genetic?

Apparently Zimbabwe has sold its fishing rights to China. This is terrible news. Already penguins in South Africa were having to swim for days and days - longer than they are built for - to find food, because, I believe, Chinese and Japanese fishing vessels are scouring the oceans with vast nets, denuding everything in their wake. Absolutely no sensitivity to the fact that we are on a living planet with fragile ecosystems. As for dumping rubbish in the oceans, I saw a list online which put China as the Number 1 offender; the US is Number 20 on that list. Can anyone correct, verify or elaborate on these facts and statistics?

I was once reproached by a comfortable narcissist - in a very self-satisfactory socio-economic bracket in life replete with status and respect - for having a dark, depressing outlook on life. I was dumbfounded - "But there's so much unjustified suffering" I spluttered back, as awareness of all the animal suffering at the hands of humans flooded my brain, not to mention the unjustified suffering of babies, children, adults (cf autistic children in Africa who are often chained up and punished, due to the lack of education and understanding about autism). How does this even need explaining or pointing out to people? Apparently it does.
 
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DuckRabbit

Well-Known Member
I wrote something to put here and then changed my mind.
So here is a shorter version.
I empathize with animals and other critters automatically, cannot disconnect from it. My husband occasionally helps because points out that I need to let something go that really is none of my business. Like for example a dog tied outside a store on a cold day. I don't have to go find the owner and tell them how to take care of their animal. It feels like I have to but I can control it most of the time.

yeah. Stuff like that.
This really feels like autistics have come from some planet or dimension where animals are the priority, the highest value. We come to planet Earth where there are different priorities and we are baffled and appalled to find how low-ranking animals are here, whereas to many autistics they are divine beings who deserve the highest respect. Why should you have to control your impulse to be compassionate towards an animal and, with any luck, teach a human how to treat the animal properly? Because tragically NT values take precedence on this planet and we are treated as nut-cases if our values differ.
 
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DuckRabbit

Well-Known Member
I struggle with this, too. I used to have a disabled neighbor and she had a cat. One day I noticed that the collar on the cat was too tight. I started bugging her about it and she insisted that it wasn't too tight and then I demonstrated that you have to be able to slip your fingers comfortably between the collar and the cat's neck. She got upset with me, alas.
One wonders how conscious this is. Is she just ignorant or unconsciously sadistic? The fact that, when you pointed it out, and she didn't blanch with horror, blush with embarrassment, lie awake at night, and leap to rectify the situation, but in fact *blamed* you for disturbing the status quo, suggests the latter.

Carl Jung called such unconscious demonic tendencies our 'shadow side'. He claimed most people are oblivious to this aspect of themselves, and moreover don't want to know about it as it serves their psychic equilibrium of low-level enlightenment; any consciousness-raising entails great moral effort, self-confrontation and a huge amount of pain --- who wants any of that? Rather let the cat carry our shadow with its too-tight collar, and kill the messenger.

"It is a frightening thought that man also has a shadow side to him, consisting not just of little weaknesses- and foibles, but of a positively demonic dynamism. [...]. Having a dark suspicion of these grim possibilities, man turns a blind eye to the shadow-side of human nature. Blindly he strives against the salutary dogma of original sin, which is yet so prodigiously true. Yes, he even hesitates to admit the conflict of which he is so painfully aware."
“On the Psychology of the Unconscious” (1912). In CW 7: Two Essays on Analytical Psychology. P.35

"The shadow is a moral problem that challenges the whole ego-personality, for no one can become conscious of the shadow without considerable moral effort. To become conscious of it involves recognizing the dark aspects of the personality as present and real. This act is the essential condition for any kind of self-knowledge."
Aion (1951). CW 9, Part II: P.14

"For the primitive anything strange is hostile and evil. This line of division serves a purpose, which is why the normal person feels under no obligation to make these projections conscious, although they are dangerously illusory. War psychology has made this abundantly clear: everything my country does is good, everything the others do is bad. The centre of all iniquity is invariably found to lie a few miles behind the enemy lines. Because the individual has this same primitive psychology, every attempt to bring these age-old projections to consciousness is felt as irritating. Naturally one would like to have better relations with one’s fellows, but only on condition that they live up to our expectations – in other words, that they become willing carriers of our projections. Yet if we make ourselves conscious of these projections, it may easily act as an impediment to our relations with others, for there is then no bridge of illusion across which love and hate can stream off so relievingly, and no way of disposing so simply and satisfactorily of all those alleged virtues that are intended to edify and improve others."
~ From Carl Jung ‘Psychological Reflections’, p. 153.
~ C.G. Jung: Psychological Reflections: A new anthology to his writings 1905-1961 = selected and edited by Jolande Jacobi (1953/1971).
 

DuckRabbit

Well-Known Member
Not my comment but a comment I read online:

"Animals never let you down, even when people let them down. You know, when I see those pictures of the refugees covered in blood and dying, I really couldn't care less, sometimes it even cheers me up.... but when it comes to animals, I feel a really strong bond with them and don't understand how anyone could mistreat them. Nice story. Glad he got a good send off."

Source: Newquay man takes dog Walnut on final walk and is joined by hundreds | Daily Mail Online
 

DuckRabbit

Well-Known Member
P.S. I cry every time in 'Neverending Story' when Artax the horse gets stuck in the mud and succumbs:
If anything my heartbreak over this scene has intensified as I've aged.
 

DuckRabbit

Well-Known Member
Based on people's sentiments on this thread, it is tempting to assume that 'Aspergers have an affinity for animals; NTs are more unfeeling towards animals". Evidence for the theory that NTs are more unfeeling towards animals include: abattoirs; eating meat because "it's what we do"; their unswerving bias that a human's life is automatically worth more than an animal's; their caution to rate a child's death or 'going missing' as infinitely more tragic than an animal's death or 'going missing'; sometimes I can't even watch animal conservation programmes as I see thoughtless cruelties going on even there - albeit well-intended.

However, I want to be careful to take all the evidence into account. Therefore can anyone think of NTs who have outstanding affinity for animals? I can think of a few but I'd be grateful for more names (obviously I'm surmising that they are NT, based on what I've observed, but I could be wrong):

- Jeffrey Masson, author of many books empathising with animals Books by Jeffrey Masson - Animal Emotions, Veganism and Anti-Psychiatry
- Simon Cowell (apparently he's got involved trying to end the dog meat trade in the East Asia).
- Dr. Phil
- Joanna Lumley Joanna Lumley: Animals Are Just Like Us
- Brigitte Bardot Fondation Brigitte Bardot - Wikipedia
- Celia Hammond Celia Hammond Animal Trust - UK Animal Rescue Charity
- Ricky Gervais
- Ellen Degeneres
- Oprah
10 Famous People You Would Never Know Are Die-Hard Animal Lovers
20 Celebrities Who Are Animal Lovers

Conversely it needs to be asked: are there Aspergers who have no time or feeling for animals - don't understand them, don't like them, see them just as sources of meat, milk, leather, wool and dirt?
 
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tducey

Well-Known Member
I do. We have 2 dogs here at home and they mean a lot to me. I dog sit them from time to time. Always good to hear them running down the hall towards my room.
 

Adora

Well-Known Member
I have empathy for both humans and animals but I think my empathy is a bit stronger towards animals especially dogs,I actually cry when I watch a video of a dog that has been abused and is taken into care and while I still feel sad when I watch a human suffer in a movie I don’t cry but will still be upset,the exception is if it’s bullying because that triggers me due to what I went through but I always been close to animals more than people and I trust them more and they are great companions.
 

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