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Featured Sympathy or Empathy?

Discussion in 'General Autism Discussion' started by Shaun-Junior Bishop, Apr 23, 2019.

  1. Shaun-Junior Bishop

    Shaun-Junior Bishop Active Member

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    I've had long conversations with people explaining they do not think I have autism during to the fact I feel forms of empathy but I never know how to act upon the feelings.

    Just wondering if you guys agree that people with autism lack empathy or sympathy. See I thought empathy was the one someone with autism had difficulties with, such as putting yourself in that person's position to understand their feelings. Sympathy is just feeling sorry for someone or knowing they are having trouble is some form and just having the feeling their but not being able to Express it.

    How do you guys feel about this?
     
  2. Major Tom

    Major Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    Everyone is different. I think sympathy is more common than true empathy. I think true empathy is a myth tbh.
     
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  3. Tom

    Tom Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I don't know what to make of it in the broader sense, as in the general Aspies population. I have always experienced both the feelings you describe, but at the same time can be aloof in some situations. What I feel and what I express can be, or seem, different perhaps.
     
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  4. Progster

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

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    It is a myth that people with autism don't have empathy. We are percieved to be lacking in empathy, because we communicate in different way, a factual way with words, exchanging factual information, rather than a social way, with emotions and feelings. For us, the words are important, but for NTs, it's the emotions that matter most and this is what they pay attention to. When we fail to deliver the right emotion or don't respond to the cue to produce the ememe, when we don't make the 'right noises' or our body language does not match our words, they interpret that as being a lack of empathy. (An ememe is a popular short phrase or word whose purpose is to deliver an emotion. "How are you?" is an ememe. When a person uses this, they are not wanting to know how you are, but they are wanting to exchange feelgood emotions).
     
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  5. HidinginPlainSight

    HidinginPlainSight Well-Known Member

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    You are going to get a lot of varied answers here as everyone, it seems, has their own way of defining empathy.

    If you accept empathy as the ability to share in the emotions of those around you and provide the appropriate emotional response in accordance with those around you, then I think you will find most autistic people very lacking in his area.

    As for sympathy, most autistic people feel this very intensely in some circumstances, often well past the criteria of appropriate emotional response.

    This is my own take on the situation. I would say I that I don't have much of any empathy at all and this has been proven for me countless times in my life. I do, however, feel a great amount of sympathy for many things and even people.
     
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  6. Suzanne

    Suzanne Well-Known Member V.I.P Member

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    I find it almost impossible to feel sympathy and in truth, when I think I am, it is just trying, rather than a feeling.

    However, I am actually a very empathatic person and even more misplaced empathy, like when I know someone is doing something that frightens me, I feel pain for them and have to shake myself out of it, but can feel anxiety building up.
     
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  7. Fridgemagnetman

    Fridgemagnetman I only have one V.I.P Member

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    It's amazing how many situations fit - if you think of it in terms of ememes.

    The way we can interpret 'how are you?' and answer it fully. (before we learn)

    Not understanding why we get a negative reaction.

    But once there is a name for something it is easier to find a place for what happens.
    then use it as a foundation to learn and build up a frame of reference - to understand the different forms of communication. - Literal vs emotional and social.
     
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  8. Monachopia

    Monachopia ...spiral out... keep going. V.I.P Member

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    Everyone's different in regard to feeling either empathy or sympathy - we are all on the spectrum and some feel one more than the other or lack/have both. I don't think there's any clear cut answer to this. As Progster pointed out, because of our mode of communication we appear less feeling and emotional so the assumption is that there is neither thing present, but it's usually not true.

    Like my father, I appear to have a lot of empathy (I can imagine what someone might be feeling given any range of situations), but I don't have sympathy (I don't feel that thing WITH them) and therefore offer more logical and practical solutions to their dilemma which may make me seem cold. To give a recent example: a bereavement in my partner's family - I know and can imagine their grief, but I don't feel it with them or know how to react appropriately.
     
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  9. JDShredds

    JDShredds Well-Known Member

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    Its a misnomer that autistic people don't have empathy. We simply express/experience it differently than the norm. Anyone confusing autism with psychopathy should be smacked upside the head with a blunt club. :tearsofjoy: Okay that actually made me laugh. I'm not sure what that says about me.

    For me as an example, I score quite low on the EQ, and yet I'd never say I don't have empathy. I think I'm slower to empathy than typical, and I'm much more logical and critical of people... if you did something to lead to your suffering, why would I empathize when its partly your own fault? And how is empathy useful when solutions are practically going to improve the situation? Apparently NTs don't think that way - they just go straight to empathy (I also think THAT is a misnomer, though - I often find NTs amazingly lacking in empathy when I need it - or they lay it on way too thick when i don't want it, which just feels like useless pity to me). In a way, I just think there is a difference in biases between NTs and NDs on what does and does not deserve empathy. I'd like to see that extensively studied in clinical research, because I don't think that nut has yet to be cracked.

    As an aside, if the EQ language were changed from people oriented to pet oriented, I would score off the charts in empathy - far, far higher than most NTs. I empathize with pets instantly and strongly and find NT's callous and insensitive in that regard.
     
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  10. Fridgemagnetman

    Fridgemagnetman I only have one V.I.P Member

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    A lot.
     
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  11. Fridgemagnetman

    Fridgemagnetman I only have one V.I.P Member

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    Often the empathy that NT's don't pick up is 'social empathy' and that is the type that they are looking for.

    Perhaps we are taking empathy literally - looking for actual empathy when NT's are looking for social confirmation that we don't often pick up on that we need to give.
    Partly as we don't have the natural,subconscious reaction.

    The word progster and I use for this is an ememe.

    Which we want everyone to use so it eventually gets in the dictionary. :)
     
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  12. JDShredds

    JDShredds Well-Known Member

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    Right. But that's the thing (and yes I'm aware I'm a literal thinker): Empathy itself is an experience, not an expression. NT's are looking for an expression (which NDs don't tend to give) and then claim we don't have empathy. Making them incorrect in saying autistic people don't have empathy. I'm totally self aware I'm no good at expressing it, but that doesn't mean I don't experience it.

    So, really, they just want us to pat them on their little tushies when they feel icky. :cry:

    Okay, I'm starting to see their point about me. :tearsofjoy:
     
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  13. Fridgemagnetman

    Fridgemagnetman I only have one V.I.P Member

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    They want us to pretend a bit better.

    Just like they do :)
     
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  14. the_tortoise

    the_tortoise Lost Soul V.I.P Member

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    I don't think having empathy or sympathy means you don't have autism. It varies among autistics.

    Studies have shown that as a group we don't tend to pick up on the signals of emotion very well, and/or we don't understand as easily where the emotions comes from/why they are there, but once we are informed our empathy/sympathy is the same as that of non-autistic people, as a group.

    Expressing our feelings of empathy/sympathy and offering the social support that @Fridgemagnetman mentioned is another issue and I suspect all autistic have problems with this (even if some of us eventually learn how to do it quite well in many or even most situations)....but being unable to express a feeling or a thought doesn't mean you don't have it.

    It's more a social/communication issue that leads non-autistics to think that autistics don't have empathy/sympathy, I think. It's faulty logic (thinking that since expressions of empathy/sympathy require one to feel sympathy/empathy, that lack of expression of empathy/sympathy must mean the feeling isn't there....not separating the two and considering that the feeling/thought and the expression of it can be separate things.)

    Also I suspect that alexithymia complicates things for a lot of autistic people....how can you recognize/understand other people's emotions if you don't recognize/understand your own or don't understand emotions generally?
     
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  15. bbc-bananasplit

    bbc-bananasplit Well-Known Member

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    The concept of empathy is complicated, since it involves many parts of the brains with specific functions - like amygdala and prefrontal cortex, and mirror neurons and nobody understands this precisely - which may be impaired or developed differently in people with ASD, and since it also involves your personality. Therefore, there may be many different outcomes. Also, everything in empathy is in entangled in a hopeless way.

    So what is empathy:

    1st: One part has do to with understanding and reflecting on your own emotions with a bit of a distance, which means feeling a feeling or having an emotion, while viewing it from the side, from another personality part maybe. Before understanding other people's feelings, emotions and motivations you need to understand how you function yourself, since you yourself are the base for understanding others. You can understand others only so far as you understand yourself. So this part means modelling other's inside on the base of your own self-reflection. This is perspective-taking, sometimes called cognitive empathy. Strictly speaking this is a rational and neutral process, but the reality is, that you mix your own feelings, emotions and experiences with what you see in others automatically. Therapists need to be aware of this, so as that they don't missjudge their patient because of their own feelings...

    2nd: Emotion. Emotions are always directed at something, based on an Affect. Emotions go into people, animals and things, which all called "objects" in psychology. Usually such emotions are complicated and connected to many feelings (feelings are personal experiences of yourself as a whole, they aren't directed but expressed). The second part to this is receiving emotions.

    3rd: Sharing emotions and feelings, which is emotional contagion. In this case you have a part in your personality, that feels the same way another person feels. This a closely connected to very young experiences, when infant and mother are bonded symbiotically. So pain in others may cause you pain, too, and that may be followed by the emotion of pity, directed at the other person.

    4th: Identifying yourself in others. In this case you have a part, that you find in a similar way in other people, so you feel connected or related to them. This has to do with projection.

    - Reading other people's feelings and emotions is a process, which may be impaired.
    - Producing emotions and feelings may be impaired in such a way, that these are very flat or very simplified
    - Self-reflection and consequently perspective-taking may be impaired (mentalizing)
    - The capability of re-modelling or creating an inner self of others to relate to my be impaired
    - The capability of projecting yourself into others may be impaired, the same goes for identification, which both are higher processes, that need to be developed while growing up
    - your parts may not have the capability to feel connected (see themselves in others)
    - identifying emotions as emotions may be impaired.. they exist without exact understanding...

    Well... it is difficult to say where one thing begins and the other ends. And since everyone is different, its really a matter of observing others and yourself closely to see, in which way you differ... I myself, for example, relate only superficially to other people - they feel good or bad, but I don't really have the concept of complex layered emotions and feelings towards others. On the other hand, I really like objects and materials and I feel connected to them in a special way. Also I understand, that others have other viewpoints and feelings, and emotions (since I see them every day), but I have trouble actually imagining what they are like. I am very concrete, which means I'm socially-emotionally underdeveloped, while anything to do with actual objects, images, sounds, pattern and textures and so on is very interesting to me.

    Since autism is also a developmental delay it helps a little to compare the emotion-feeling-affect-empathy-complex to infants or little children. Children are very sensual, they explore everything with touching and putting it into their mouth, they react sensitively to their immediate sorroundings, especially on the sensory level. Their concept is only a concept of Me, the others remain distant "things", and relating to them other than in very simple ways infants and small children don't know. They have a bad sense of imagination, when it comes to imagining something they aren't actually holding or seeing or feeling, so they are very connected to concrete sensations. So autism may be a mind stuck socially and emotionally in childhood, but intellectually highly developed.
     
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  16. bbc-bananasplit

    bbc-bananasplit Well-Known Member

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    Then, another thing, that comes to my mind:

    I have a lot of friends - I mean: A lot. I know many people, and all of them think I am the normal guy, but they don't know I'm always distanced, confused and act along by imitating others (I even practiced my gait..) so I look socially competent... I admit I do that, because I want to be a bit like "them"... I notice, that over the years I learnt a lot, also by therapy and that this as greatly "smoothed the creases"

    I guess, the problem of imagining something like autism for many people is a problem of imagining something they don't know and experience. They only know their world and in their world everybody is the more or less the same as they are. They think, that's that - there isn't anything else. So that is why I like to call them stupid, but that's not (completely) true... We all have problems, imagining what it's like to grow up in a war zone, for example. Yet, most NTs are imaginative enough to build a little something of their inner experiences, they might not feel the intensity but they somewhat get the tragedy.

    So what to so called NTs care about, how do they think and feel - most of it is evolutionary; the complex part is at the end (edit: of course, my view only)

    - most of them never ever think about why they feel and act the way they do. They think its all natural.
    - they don't know, how they function. They take everything as given
    - because they feel they are the majority, they think there is nothing else but them
    - they care a lot what others think of them
    - they have a strong desire for social acceptance
    - they like to fit in, they care much about fitting in
    - they like to be liked
    - they like to be cool
    - they like to be admired (because of their deeds, their looks or wealth (status objects, brands...))
    - they all have secret fears
    - they are emotionally extremely entangled with everybody else, their feelings and emotions goe on super-mode in social situations
    - they spend a lot of time thinking about each other, they want to know other's feelings
    - they identify heavily with the people sorrounding them. This is why movies always feature hot chicks and a love story, and other manly actions etc. The same goes for women, of course, with other things.
    - they like to meet people like them, to feel connected, because they fear being alone and excluded
    - they are guided very much by emotions, such as pride, shame, guilt, anger, love, contempt, envy... they feel emotions for everything all the time
    - they are guided very much by feelings, and their feelings are complex like their emotions, many parts overlie each other
    - they have problems figuring out their relationships, and they spend a lot of time, checking that everything is right
    - that's why they are interested so much in each others lives
    - they lie a lot to others and to themselves to hide their bad motivations like envy, shame and guilt. They obsere others, if they have something they haven't,
    - they want to be better than others
    - they all have secret dreams of being popular and great
    - they want things all the time
    - they want to be loved (especially!). Express your love or favour or liking to someone, whatever they do, and they'll love you back (usually), if they aren't schizoid, autistic of antisocial..=)
    - as much as they envy and hate each other, they love and admire each other
    - they have a lot of inner conflicts, that make up who they are, but they usually hide these and pretend that their life is great. This is why on facebook and instagramm and alike everybody goes about showing how much fun they are having in their lives, so others can see how happy they are..
    - they are rarely saints, but most of them think they're exactly right the way they are

    Most of this make sense evolutionary - most of it is being social, because the group provides survival, and this imposes rules. Then this is contradicted by selfish interests. The meet somewhere in the middle, and that's why nothing is simple. Its always complicated.

    Every personality is unique, although they share traits. The personality of people, all people, is organized in parts - sometimes called ego states - which are specific responses to the environment, and all these parts hold all their life's experiences, which can be seen as "learning". That's why trauma is a very negative learning experience, and that's why traumatized people have a lot of problems. So you need to see them as bundles of parts: The parts aren't all the same, some may be good, others bad, some angry, some greedy, some narcissistic, some lovable, some envious. Some autistiv people have problems with seeing or doing more than one thing at a time, they thing in exact terms - but NTs thinkg in a bit of this, a bit of that, and some of that all at the same time and they rarely care, why this is the case and even less if it's exact.

    The personality of the ordinary human being is greatly influenced by their early bonding experiences and their growing up. You get the output according to the input. When something goes completely wrong in the personality development because of negative environments (like early bonding trauma, surgery, illness, hunger, war...or other threats, loss) it's possible that the personality forms an answer to cope. This is where the concept of the "trauma-parts" (if their is any), the survivor-parts (who compensate and defend), and the "healthy parts" comes in. Every person has some kind of small or big trauma, some issue - it's near to impossible to get through life without bad experiences... So for those who suffer from mind-blindness and inability of perspective taking it is helpful to imagine, that others have a lot of problems, too - they evolve around relationships, and all the above mentioned issues.

    The personality is a huge and complicated thing, as we humans can work with so many different types of information - sensory information, abstract information (letters, words, numbers, intellectual concepts and constructs, emotional information, feeling information, body information (heart beat, breathing, pain...), bonding information, social information (about other people, what they are..). All these things also serve as an outlet for any inner troubles, and a person is greatly defined by the way it deals with its personal life's troubles and tragedies.

    All in all, the NTs aren't SO different, they simply have other priorities, but as much as they might have social abilities, they lack others. A friend of mine is clearly not autistic, but he's incredibly smart, but socially anything but the cool guy - all they cool guys are dumb. Then I have a friend, who's also very smart and a little "unique", but he's big and muscular, but completely blunt in his movements and he's awkward about spitting while talking, so he covers his mouth with one hand while speaking.. and also not autistic. I guess, the Autism-Label is important to us, but we need to recognize, that there are thousands of similar burdening conditions in other people. Since we're not so good at imagining others and are a little stuck in our own heads, this is the central issue (now neglecting other issues) of experienced difference - it simply feels and looks different.
     
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  17. Fino

    Fino Alex V.I.P Member

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    On a scale of 1-10, my empathy is Life-Ruining. :)
     
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  18. Nervous Rex

    Nervous Rex High-functioning autistic V.I.P Member

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    This makes a lot of sense. I feel emotions deeply - so deeply that I try to keep a tight rein on them in public and professional situations. If I don’t, I risk reacting inappropriately or being overwhelmed by emotions.

    But I don’t always know how to adequately express them and I don’t do the expected social signaling (no one gave me the manual for that).
     
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  19. sidd851

    sidd851 If I'm not late, I'm not needed. V.I.P Member

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    So...
    Those that can pre-empt empathy at will,
    can act without it's oversight,
    can do this for as long as they see fit,
    then !blip!flip! it's back up and running,
    only slightly worse for the disuse,

    ...it's those people, they're the ones who are unhappy with me, me, who cannot turn off, set down, deflect, shunt, or otherwise disregard my empathy behemoth, that hulking, immutable law that causes me to do the right thing, every time,

    ... they're unhappy with me because
    I undo damage that they inflicted methodically and purposefully and coldly and calculatedly to extract whatever it is they wanted to extract.
    Further,
    I actually pre-empt, or negate, some of those attacks.
    Unacceptable.
    I must be attacked.

    Let's see, it's their empathy that's causing them to ruin my plans, sooo...
    Hey! I'll accuse them of not having empathy!
    Maybe someone will believe me and try to stop them (for me)!

    No.
    I'm afraid that I won't be falling for
    the 'ol "ASD lack of empathy" false flag attack today.

    Because I generally refuse to entertain the futility of holding someone's hand while the building burns down around them(inadvertently burning myself down too), hence do not fit the description of "neutral", or better, toward their objective, I *screw* *stuff* up for them.
    I'm not the only one.
    We're happy to provide this service, heavy though it is.


    You see, we're afraid of them because they can turn empathy off. Rightly so.
    Dangerous.

    They're afraid of us because we either refuse to, or cannot. Usually counterproductive to their end.
    Irritating.

    Now, what they do is an offensive move.

    What we do is defensive, remedial or damage limiting.

    Does it surprise anyone that the ones with no empathy who are usually on the offensive so that they can get more, are attacking those on the defensive, so that they can get more?

    We meddling do-gooders that ruin all their plans?
    By mediating and moderating the damage they willingly inflict for effect?

    So, yeah, I have a "lack of empathy".

    Rule 1: Accuse others of what you yourself are guilty of.
    (It'll muddy the waters, force the enemy to devise the defense, and ultimately make the accusation seem like a witch-hunt.)

    Hmmm.
    Sounds...
    familiar, somehow...

    sidd...
    *screwing* *stuff* up since before
    "*screwing* *stuff* up" was a thing.

    (No emotives were harmed during the production of this post.
    The Author of this post works in conjunction with the efforts of the
    A.S.P.C.E.)

    sidd
     
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  20. Fino

    Fino Alex V.I.P Member

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