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"Person-permanence"? (as opposed to object permanence)

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by DogwoodTree, Dec 8, 2015.

  1. DogwoodTree

    DogwoodTree Still here...

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    The concept of object permanence is that you understand a thing exists even when you can't see it. This is a developmental task usually attained by 2 years old. And I get that. Things exist and move and change, even if I don't see them.

    But I think I have more of a problem with this when it comes to people. I know they exist, but I have a really, really hard time thinking of them as "other" when they're not around. It's like, if they continue to exist in my consciousness at all, they become avatars in my head, instead of independent persons "out there somewhere."

    When I haven't seen someone for a couple of weeks, and then I see that person again, it's a jolt to my system as I "remember": oh yes, this person is "out there", they're not just inside my head, this is someone other than me.

    Intellectually, I get it that other people aren't me. But it's kinda like (I'm having a hard time putting this into words)...kinda like they're only "people" when I'm having conversations with them in my mind...but when they're "out there", they're more like puzzles to be solved...like forever-changing and intensely-complex Rubik's cubes.

    Does this sound familiar to anyone at all?
     
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  2. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member

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    The longer I have no contact with much of anyone, the further removed they become to me in my own mind. So yes, the next time I see them in many cases I feel like having to socially acclimate to them from scratch. And it's the pits if they pick up on it, which sometimes happens to me. Certainly there's never been any way for me to explain it to them in real time if at all.
     
    Last edited: Dec 8, 2015
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  3. tree

    tree Blue/Green Staff Member V.I.P Member

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    DogwoodTree
    "Intellectually, I get it that other people aren't me. But it's kinda like (I'm having a hard time putting this into words)...kinda like they're only "people" when I'm having conversations with them in my mind...but when they're "out there", they're more like puzzles to be solved..."

    Yes.
    That is a good description.

    It seems very odd to me for people to be 'not me.'
    It is a continual source of surprise.

    I don't expect me to be them, though.
     
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  4. DogwoodTree

    DogwoodTree Still here...

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    Yes, this is a real problem for me, too. Even with my therapists...I'm afraid I'll hurt their feelings or disgust them or offend them if I tell them how much I struggle with this. I don't want them to think that I don't value them or that I don't respect them.


    OT--
    This is an apt example of why I believe I'm not designed for having social relationships. If someone is acting nice toward me, it's either because they don't yet know the real me, or because they're obligated in some way to be nice (such as when a receptionist is nice because that's part of her job).

    With most people, I don't reveal much of myself to them, such as this issue with not thinking of that person as having true personhood (not because I don't want to, but because apparently I can't, despite a great deal of effort over several years in trying to understand people as "persons"). If they knew this is the way I think, they would be offended, or even scared of me.

    As I've tried opening up to more people over the past few years, without exception, the people I've truly tried to open up to have either pulled away on some level, or simply maintained a certain emotional distance and even physical distance (or reacted angrily, or been deeply hurt, or tried to "fix" me). I don't want to do that to people, so seems it's better just to not open up.

    The people who think they like me, don't actually know me. I've not revealed my real thought processes to them...there are significant parts I've carefully kept hidden by logically calculating how I think they expect me to behave in a certain situation, and then trying to match that expectation as best I can so that their experience of me is as easy and straightforward and painless for them as possible. I deeply hate the idea of burdening people with the truth of who I am inside.


    Looking back over this post and my earlier one...they seem self-contradictory. If these people are just puzzles to me, then why do I care how I come across to them? But it's kind of like managing a well-thought-out routine. The routine is a puzzle to be solved: how can I tweak this system to make it work better? The routine is still just a thing, but I care about how well it functions, and I put a great deal of thought into helping it function better. If I was a car enthusiast, I might feel this way about a favorite car. If I was a bridge engineer, I might feel this way about a bridge design. But it doesn't make the car or the bridge a person just because I care about how well it functions.

    I'm not even sure what a "person" is. Maybe it's someone who gives and receives love. But what is love? It seems all these people experience some kind of mystical exchange of this fuel-like substance they call love. And they offer me some, but when I look in their hands, there's nothing there. It's kind of like when Peter sat down for his first meal with the Lost Boys in the movie Hook. He didn't see any of the food. They were all just pretending. But he wasn't willing to be satisfied by pretend sustenance.
     
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  5. Judge

    Judge Well-Known Member

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    Well, don't beat yourself up over that. After all, IMO self-contradiction strikes me as a major trait in being high-functioning. How we can so crave companionship and yet so easily despise it and within the same time frame. No, it doesn't make sense.

    However for many of us, it simply is a part of who we are- for better or worse. While others much further along the autistic spectrum may see no value or show any interest in socialization for any reason at all.
     
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  6. DogwoodTree

    DogwoodTree Still here...

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    I think I switch between both. Sometimes I'm surprised when I realize the person in front of me doesn't match the image I have of them in my head. And other times, I'm completely focused on trying to figure out who they want me to be and what they want from me so that I can try to meet those expectations, and then I'm deeply ashamed when I inevitably fail. It's one or the other, but not both at the same time. I can't seem to hold two persons (me and that-other-person) in my mind at the same time. Thus...there is no relationship between people when there can only be one person in existence at a time.

    Reading over the paragraph I just wrote, it occurs to me that this is a childish and selfish way to approach a relationship...it's healthier for you to be you and me to be me, and to have clear boundaries between our respective personhoods. But cognitively recognizing what is "right" is very different from being able to carry it out in a live interaction with someone. I can either be deep inside my head, or "on task" pretending as best I can to be interactive with someone. Can't really do both at the same time...
     
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  7. tree

    tree Blue/Green Staff Member V.I.P Member

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    DogwoodTree
    "I can either be deep inside my head, or "on task" pretending
    as best I can to be interactive with someone.
    Can't really do both at the same time..
    ."

    It isn't absolutely necessary to do them simultaneously.
    Rapid succession would be sufficient.

    That was sort of a joke.
    But not entirely.

    Your statement sounds like the expression of a person
    who is very self observant.
     
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  8. Ylva

    Ylva Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    A person is someone who experiences.

    It could be less a part of the condition and more a part of the conditioning, even for us. I wonder if a single one of us has no experience with being objectified and dehumanized by people who were proud to be neurotypical, who at least thought they were. Parents, teachers, aunts and uncles and grandparents… You learn how to view people from them.

    Which probably isn't the whole answer. For all we know, allistics may well view other people this way, too, but be unaware or unwilling to say so. From what little I've learned of Personhood Theory, everyone just has models of varying degrees of inaccuracy of other people in their heads, and it's better not to confuse those models with the actual people they represent. (That's what I tell me every time it becomes too obvious that my family doesn't really know me.)
     
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  9. Beverly

    Beverly Euthanasia Redux V.I.P Member

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    for the most part, people are tools to me, things to be used to further may career, my social standing, etc... I don't think about what they might do when I am not around them any more than I think about what the hammer in the tool box in my garage does when I'm not using it.

    Friends are different, they are people as much as I am to myself. I make every effort to learn about their lives and, keep myself relevant to them, same as they do for me. I do think about what they do when we are not together and, what of all of that I might ask them about when I do see them again because people do like to talk about their lives and, themselves, even if they deny it.
     
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  10. kestrel

    kestrel Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    DogwoodTree This thread is relevant and so timely it's remarkable to me. I think the struggle with this exact thing was responsible for me becoming scared and then shutdown.
    If I must say a temporary 'bye to someone very important, and they are far away fr a long time, I feel responsible, or, that it's vital I do not allow the person to become pretend, or an avatar as you put it.
    But I do not know if it is possible for me.
    Rhetorically speaking, (because I am in one); is it then irresponsible of me to be in a relationship. And what part if anything does the hand of logic have to play in this.
     
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  11. DogwoodTree

    DogwoodTree Still here...

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    I'm struggling with this specifically with my therapists right now. My DH and kids...I'm around them enough that it never really becomes an issue on this point. And other people...I don't have any other truly significant relationships. But my Ts...I'm working so hard to try and find ways to connect enough to work through some junk, and even seeing them once a week makes it tough to feel like they're "real" in between sessions.

    Seems like the only way to ever have a different experience is to get into relationships and work on it, right?

    Not sure. What are your thoughts on this question?
     
  12. kestrel

    kestrel Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    DogwoodTree The therapist relationship is based on trust, correct? So would it be possible (does it make sense) to give the abstract image of therapist-aspect of self your trust, simply due to the logical process of it benefiting you?
    Yes, as to being into a relationship. I am now, with a fellow aspie. It was unexpected. :)
    Hand of Logic would disregard emotion and accept the un-reality of an absent person. Emotion cannot stay still/disregarded and still be participating in the relationship. So decisions and thought must be based not on ego and but use logic to analyze and adjust thoughts, but base my decisions on love. All this is subjective and not necessarily what works for all situations.
     
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  13. DogwoodTree

    DogwoodTree Still here...

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    That's a very thoughtful question. I do experience this kind of trust and openness in internal/mental conversations with my T and others. But I can't seem to replicate that on the outside, despite trying for a very long time in many different types of relationships and situations. Not sure how to bridge that gap between inside and outside. When I write, it seems like I'm able to do some of that bridging. But that's not quite the same thing.

    I often bring my writing in to sessions with my Ts, and that helps. It's not a "live" experience, though. Even if I wrote something the night before the session, by the time I get to the office (or the stables...I also do equine therapy), I'm in a completely different place mentally and might not even be in touch with the inner part of me that did the writing. It's been a very frustrating roadblock.

    Yes, I've made a lot of progress this year on moving away from ego-centered mentalities toward a more mindfulness-based approach to life. It's helped a lot. Problem is, logic can only go so far. There are some issues I just can't seem to "logic" myself out of.

    So being with another aspie...does that make it easier to work through some of these issues of "out of sight, out of mind"? If the other person experiences much the same thing, then maybe it's less likely either of you would be offended by the way the other one's mind works in relationships?
     
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  14. Datura

    Datura Well-Known Member

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    I don't think I struggle so much with the perminance of other people's existence as the seperateness of our existence. I believe I understand theory of mind, and am even pretty good at it, but is seems strangely non-intuitive. That my experience is limited to the perspective of one specific sentient being is just bizare to me. I have never quite reconciled the notion that I am who I am and not my best friend, a Korean astophysicist, or a blue ringed octopus. Indeed, why aren't I all living things at once?

    I realize that this is an illogical notion. There are billions of organisms on the planet with complex neural networks that are (at least theoretically) capable of experiencing their own existence. Looking at myself from the outside, I am just an other one of these organisms. And of course I see things from my perspective because this creature (with the screen name Datura) is only capable of generating its own conciousness. One might as well ask, "Why is my spleen only my spleen and not the universal spleen shared by all people on the face of the earth?"

    Somehow that answere just doesn't satisfy. Perhaps the question is so reductive as to not have a clear answer, or maybe I'm just crazy.
     
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  15. Larisa

    Larisa Well-Known Member

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    DogwoodTree, I want to thank you for the topic (I hope I got the meaning right)

    I can't miss somebody.
    When I realised that I was shocked and disgusted with myself: do I only remember people when I need them for something or when I see them?
    But then I started to observe and I realized that I care for the people who are important for me - just in different way then 'longing/thinking/missing'. Like I will answer their call for help with whatever I can.
    But as I don't see them I know - just like by watching myself - they constantly change with every challenge of the real world and it may be that next time I will see them they will be different persons from how I knew them.
    My friend was shocked when I confessed to her that every time we part after a walk or a talk - I bid farewell to her like it's the last time we see each other.
    I always tell to a person everything I feel like saying (and I speak very careful to not hurt) - because I need to be calm if we don't ever see each other again.
    I noticed it correlates with my thinking that no day of life is garanteed, so I'm just honest with people around even if they avoid to think that death happens.

    I'm thinking about 'personality' as well - and can't really understand. I have very few established reactions - my response depends on my current interests, my nowadays opinion, my comfort, my energy level and so on - and people complain that I appear to be totally unpredictable from outside. I change constantly my opinion based on what information I received and I'm very conservative in other things - absolutely out of synch with the most people who change, say, their look and appearance often but they hold for the same opinion on some matters - during dozens of years!
     
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