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Lack of Empathy: Trait of Autism?

VintageKitty

Raging Autist
So, I've been told I tend to lack empathy for others, which yes, I find to be an accurate assessment. There are times where I cannot find myself to give a damn about others or hurting their feelings and whatnot. There have been times where I have done seriously harmful things such as break things around me during my rage-fuelled outbursts - where I am blinded by it and cannot think rationally as a result - and not care about the broken thing afterwards, not care about scaring other people during the aftermath of my outbursts, or I am being lectured about how my actions can and will affect other people and I cannot find myself caring about it all. I'll literally be thinking things like "Okay, who cares?" the entire time.

I was thinking it was potentially a side effect of my autism symptoms, but I'm afraid to look into it because I'm worried I'll get a bunch of ableist search results from scrupulous places like autism mommy forums - if such a thing exists - and KiwiFarms if I do. I'm also afraid to mention this in more mental health oriented places because I don't want to perpetuate stereotypes about autistic people and also I'll get crucified by the toxic positivity types who lurk in those spaces if I do suggest such a thing.

I also don't think it's a result of something else like undiagnosed ASPD, because I don't fit the other symptoms of that condition.

Maybe I'm just an asshole, regardless of disorder, who knows. Either way, it's something I want to work on, because it's causing me a lot of issues.
 

Neonatal RRT

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
Most of the time, it is cognitive empathy that is more the issue when it comes to autism,...the ability to "read" people, the ability to "understand" another's perspective without specifically asking.

There are different types of empathy. Emotional empathy,...the ability to cry or laugh with someone is generally not affected in autistics.


Having said that, what you are describing is more of an emotional state,...anxiety, frustration, anger, etc.,...and when emotions are involved, it tends to inhibit the "logic" centers, irrational thinking ensues, and communication centers are also inhibited. That's why people are often relagated to cursing, not being able to complete a thought, nor a
sentence, and turn into "blubbering idiots". All of that,...is not "an autism thing",...that's a normal human thing.

The better question is to understand the underlying reasons for the emotions.
 
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Kalinychta

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
It sounds like maybe you are too angry and defensive to acknowledge anyone else’s hurt feelings when you’re being chastised for your outbursts. Everyone is like that sometimes, not just autistic people, although we do tend to have poor impulse control and difficulty controlling our emotions, so I’d probably point to that as the reason for your not caring rather than an antisocial explanation (i.e. sociopathic).

I also agree with Neonatal RRT re: cognitive empathy. Autistic people have trouble with cognitive empathy but usually not with affective/emotional empathy. An autistic person may hurt someone unintentionally (poor cognitive empathy), but once it’s explained to him that he caused harm, he will feel bad. So I’m thinking you may just have a lot of anger in you and be very frustrated and simply can’t handle caring about anyone else, particularly when you’re being criticized.
 

Thinx

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
What sorts of problems is this causing you? What have you tried so far, or what do you think may be helpful? You sound like you have good insights into yourself over this, what's causing your outbursts when you are getting overwhelmed? Is your living situation comfortable? Sounds like there are often people around you, is that part of the problem?
 

VintageKitty

Raging Autist
What sorts of problems is this causing you? What have you tried so far, or what do you think may be helpful? You sound like you have good insights into yourself over this, what's causing your outbursts when you are getting overwhelmed? Is your living situation comfortable? Sounds like there are often people around you, is that part of the problem?
What sorts of problems is this causing you?

I'd say it often causes people to avoid me as a result, or for people to not like me.
For example, I was not empathetic towards someone who was having a mental breakdown on a public forum over something that's technically both toxic and insignificant in the long run. (If you are wondering what it was over, it was over closed species, something that 99.99% of the human population has never heard of, nor should they ever hear of.) I tried addressing those points and called what they were doing was "cringe-worthy" and "lolcow behavior", which according to the definition of what a lolcow is, it technically fit the bill, so I saw no issue with using the word. This caused someone to vaguepost about me, saying that I was "cringe" for using the word and that my opinion should be ignored as a result. This set me off, and put me in a bad mood for the rest of the late afternoon.
More importantly, my outbursts and lack of affective empathy also caused relationship issues with my ex-boyfriend, and was a primary reason we broke up.

What have you tried so far, or what do you think may be helpful?

I've tried pretty much every anger management tool you can think of over the years. None of them have worked for me, likely 'cause I never put much effort into trying to make it work.

What's causing your outbursts when you are getting overwhelmed?

It's a variety of things - in fact it's anything, really - but I think overstimulation is the number one factor that tends to send me over the edge.

Is your living situation comfortable?

I'd say so. I live with my parents, and we live a comfortable life style.
 

VintageKitty

Raging Autist
It sounds like maybe you are too angry and defensive to acknowledge anyone else’s hurt feelings when you’re being chastised for your outbursts. Everyone is like that sometimes, not just autistic people, although we do tend to have poor impulse control and difficulty controlling our emotions, so I’d probably point to that as the reason for your not caring rather than an antisocial explanation (i.e. sociopathic).

I also agree with Neonatal RRT re: cognitive empathy. Autistic people have trouble with cognitive empathy but usually not with affective/emotional empathy. An autistic person may hurt someone unintentionally (poor cognitive empathy), but once it’s explained to him that he caused harm, he will feel bad. So I’m thinking you may just have a lot of anger in you and be very frustrated and simply can’t handle caring about anyone else, particularly when you’re being criticized.
So I’m thinking you may just have a lot of anger in you and be very frustrated and simply can’t handle caring about anyone else, particularly when you’re being criticized.

That sounds about right, actually. I have a tendency to pathologize my issues, likely a remnant of my Tumblr days.
 

Stuttermabolur

A psychologist said so
V.I.P Member
You might just be a less empathetic person than most people. I don't think that is specific to autistic individuals, but I have noticed that those on the spectrum tend to have more varied brain functioning than others. In this instance for instance, plenty of autistic individuals have a comparable level of empathy to the general population, but it is also more common to have less empathy (as in your case and plenty of others I have observed) or more empathy (me, and a lot of people on this forum). In this way, autism can have an effect on your level of empathy (simply because it's a part of you), but I doubt autistic people are less empathetic than the general population overall (though this is difficult to quantify). It could also be that reduced empathy is more visible in people with autism as they don't hide it as much as others.

In conclusion, I agree with @Kalinychta that you are probably pathologizing and need to look elsewhere for a reason behind your diminished empathy. I wish you luck in managing it so it has less of an effect on your social life.
 

Jonn

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member

Lack of Empathy: Trait of Autism?​


I think so.
But it is possible to develop "Cognitive Empathy".
It just takes time and experience.
 

Silhouette Mirage

[None]
V.I.P Member
I think it's dependent on the person. For example, I've always suffered from having too much empathy, but since I'm bad at communicating with NTs and brutally honest, this comes across as being the opposite. It's also not uncommon for somebody with ASD to have less empathy, or even less of a sensitivity to pain and other things.

From what I understand, usually this isn't coming from a plotting, conniving type of place that you'd normally see with people with disorders like NPD, where they can fake the empathy they don't have in order to get their way and things of that nature; ASD is a much more naive version of that, usually like being 'emotionally clumsy' or something.
 

Atrapa Almas

70% INTJ + 30% ASPIE = 100% HUMAN
V.I.P Member
Just want to add that even if we do have empathy, then we need to know how to socially behave to show others that empathy in a socially aceptable way.
 

Jonn

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
It is not uncommon for those on the spectrum to wonder if they are psychopaths because of their lack on feelings in some instances.
I did.
The "litmus test" is whether or not people have a conscience.
I do.
 

Suzanne

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
More like a lack of sympathy, because that is short term. Neurotypicals are excellent at sympathy, but really bad at empathy, because that actually envolves our whole emotions. So, one can go: there, there, to someone crying, but then, just get on with what ever they are doing. And to be truthful, some who cry, it does not enlist any positive emotions. If they cry very loud it sounds to me like bad music and that they are doing it to foster attention.

I am accused by my husband for a lack of feeling, due to my late response to bad news.
 

Alexej

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I am accused by my husband for a lack of feeling, due to my late response to bad news.
For me it is as much a lack of immediate response to most situations where feelings are involved, but the response does come albeit a bit later. How much later varies from 1/2 hour to a couple of hours
 

Sarah S

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
I would say NO im Severely ASD etc... and i actually have high Empathy (genuine serios empathy test) So i would say as in those without ASD etc... there is both those with lack or lower empathy as well as those like me with higher. and as this below statement i agree.

Revealing the Double Empathy Problem​

It’s not that autistic* people lack empathy. Rather, their different neurotypes and experiences may make it harder for non-autistic people to understand them—and vice versa.
Laura S. DeThorne
, PhD, CCC-SLP

 

Matthias

Well-Known Member
I would say NO im Severely ASD etc... and i actually have high Empathy (genuine serios empathy test) So i would say as in those without ASD etc... there is both those with lack or lower empathy as well as those like me with higher. and as this below statement i agree.

Revealing the Double Empathy Problem​

It’s not that autistic* people lack empathy. Rather, their different neurotypes and experiences may make it harder for non-autistic people to understand them—and vice versa.
Laura S. DeThorne
, PhD, CCC-SLP


According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, what the article you referred to calls "affective empathy" is what the dictionary defines as sympathy.

Sympathy vs. Empathy Difference​

The difference in meaning is usually explained with some variation of the following: sympathy is when you share the feelings of another; empathy is when you understand the feelings of another but do not necessarily share them.
Source: What's the difference between 'sympathy' and 'empathy'?

When you say you have "high empathy", are you referring to sympathy or true cognitive empathy? I'm curious because I don't think I've ever met an autistic person with average or above-average empathy.
 

Sarah S

Well-Known Member
V.I.P Member
According to Merriam-Webster dictionary, what the article you referred to calls "affective empathy" is what the dictionary defines as sympathy.


When you say you have "high empathy", are you referring to sympathy or true cognitive empathy? I'm curious because I don't think I've ever met an autistic person with average or above-average empathy.

I have no idea on that one Matthias. to me Empathy is as simple as the ability to understand and interpent other people's feelings properly.

As all my cognitive abilities are significantly below average i would presume im on the sympathy Matthias. Well now you have (wink) and i have met and talked to many Autistic persons with very good sympathy. (Including in here)

The test im referring to is this empathy test Empathy Test - Determine Your Level of Empathy for Free

And as Matthias just questioned my statement (with all rights and i have no problems in this ) i just redid said test and im forced to admit that i seem to be a mix in all the different sorts in some im average and in some im higher

so in all farines heres my results

CUMULATIVE EMPATHY SCORE: 72 % out of 100

RATIONAL CHANNEL OF EMPATHY 66% out of 100


EMOTIONAL CHANNEL OF EMPATHY 66 % out of 100

INTUITIVE CHANNEL OF EMPATHY 50 % out of 100

ATTITUDES THAT PROMOTE EMPATHY 100 % out of 100

PENETRABILITY IN EMPATHY 66% out of 100

IDENTIFICATION IN EMPATHY 83 % out of 100


I humbly leave it to you with higher Iq than me to make some since of all this as im at a lost on this one apparently (rolling head )
 

Matthias

Well-Known Member
I have no idea on that one Matthias. to me Empathy is as simple as the ability to understand and interpent other people's feelings properly.

As all my cognitive abilities are significantly below average i would presume im on the sympathy Matthias. Well now you have (wink) and i have met and talked to many Autistic persons with very good sympathy. (Including in here)

The test im referring to is this empathy test Empathy Test - Determine Your Level of Empathy for Free

And as Matthias just questioned my statement (with all rights and i have no problems in this ) i just redid said test and im forced to admit that i seem to be a mix in all the different sorts in some im average and in some im higher

so in all farines heres my results

CUMULATIVE EMPATHY SCORE: 72 % out of 100

RATIONAL CHANNEL OF EMPATHY 66% out of 100


EMOTIONAL CHANNEL OF EMPATHY 66 % out of 100

INTUITIVE CHANNEL OF EMPATHY 50 % out of 100

ATTITUDES THAT PROMOTE EMPATHY 100 % out of 100

PENETRABILITY IN EMPATHY 66% out of 100

IDENTIFICATION IN EMPATHY 83 % out of 100


I humbly leave it to you with higher Iq than me to make some since of all this as im at a lost on this one apparently (rolling head )

I actually don't know much about empathy other than reading something about sympathy versus empathy which I remember reading was low in autism.

I have trouble reading facial expressions and knowing what people are thinking or feeling which I thought was low empathy but I'm not really sure.
 

Matthias

Well-Known Member
So I’m thinking you may just have a lot of anger in you and be very frustrated and simply can’t handle caring about anyone else, particularly when you’re being criticized.

That sounds about right, actually. I have a tendency to pathologize my issues, likely a remnant of my Tumblr days.

I get the impression you don't care much about other people because you think other people don't care much about you or because you blame them for treating your poorly which would explain your anger. I think identifying the cause of your anger and addressing it would greatly help.
 

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