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The virtue of temperance and Asperger’s/autism

Leo Zed

Well-Known Member
One thing that I find common among us with Asperger’s/autism is that we have a tendency to be obsessive. That probably explains the sub forum on obsessions. Now that I am returning to my Catholic faith, I have been reading about Christian virtues. The one virtue that has caught my attention is the virtue of temperance (mentioned in Galatians 5:22-24). The virtue of temperance seems to be in direct contrast obsessiveness. I am quite obsessive. I love my obsessions. My obsession in chemistry has driven me to become one of the top students in my class.

There seems to be a conflict between my living with Asperger’s and my living a virtuous life. How do I reconcile that? Is it possible for people with Asperger’s to overcome obsessiveness? Or is it an innate part of who we are? I am very curious to hear what you have to say.
 
One thing that I find common among us with Asperger’s/autism is that we have a tendency to be obsessive. That probably explains the sub forum on obsessions. No that I am returning to my Catholic faith, I have been reading about Christian virtues. The one virtue that has caught my attention is the virtue of temperance (mentioned in Galatians 5:22-24). The virtue of temperance seems to be in direct contrast obsessiveness. I am quite obsessive. I love my obsessions. My obsession in chemistry has driven me to become one of the top students in my class. There seems to be a conflict between my living with Asperger’s and my living a virtuous life. How do I reconcile that? Is it possible for people with Asperger’s to overcome obsessiveness? Or is it an innate part of who we are? I am very curious to hear what you have to say.

I don't know I'd say I can shut it off per se but my wife and daughter help me redirect and reframe my thinking deliberately because I ask them too. They're more important to me than my obsession but when I'm in the middle of doing my special interests, out of sight out of mind. Them entering my field of view and touching me redirects my attention to my duties rather than desires
 
I don't think being obsessed with a special interest conflicts with temperance. Not all obsessions are unhealthy, if you are not harming yourself or anyone else why stop?
I think temperance is more in line with not going to excesses and being fair and balanced.
 
For me there is definitely a downside - especially when I spend too much time and money. In fact, I began therapy, but my therapist is not familiar with Asperger’s. I’m just wondering if it’s even worth pursuing therapy.
 
Consider it this way: if you say you're returning to your Catholic faith, a classical Catholic way to look at this sort of thing would be in the context of integration of your personality. Make yourself whole, basically.

Do your obsessions (chemistry I'm guessing) help you become a better person? Probably! Go for it. You were given by God a good knack for science. It's probably going to be part of who you are for life; roll with it.
 
@Alaric593 I thought someone would ask that question. I’m in a situation where therapist are limited at the clinic I go to. It’s almost impossible for me to find another therapist. That’s one reason why I posted this topic.
 
Maybe I was over thinking it. Like I said earlier, being obsessive has caused me some grief. I guess it’s just a matter of recognizing my limits and not going overboard.

I don't think being obsessed with a special interest conflicts with temperance. Not all obsessions are unhealthy, if you are not harming yourself or anyone else why stop?
I think temperance is more in line with not going to excesses and being fair and balanced.

That was very helpful. Thank you.
 
There are excellent thrapists online that may line up better with your needs.

Obsessive and virtuous, it seems like they could live in harmony, unless you become obsessive about not being virtuous.
 
One thing that I find common among us with Asperger’s/autism is that we have a tendency to be obsessive. That probably explains the sub forum on obsessions. Now that I am returning to my Catholic faith, I have been reading about Christian virtues. The one virtue that has caught my attention is the virtue of temperance (mentioned in Galatians 5:22-24). The virtue of temperance seems to be in direct contrast obsessiveness. I am quite obsessive. I love my obsessions. My obsession in chemistry has driven me to become one of the top students in my class.

There seems to be a conflict between my living with Asperger’s and my living a virtuous life. How do I reconcile that? Is it possible for people with Asperger’s to overcome obsessiveness? Or is it an innate part of who we are? I am very curious to hear what you have to say.

Jesus itself was quite obsessed with the human salvation thing, to the point of sacrificing his own life. I also think that the 10 Commandments and the Catholic faith are quite Autistics:
  • One only God in times of polytheism
  • No NT would have put a commandment about not being able to lie, they lie all the time...
  • Also the not having sex not wifes for clerics seems to have been designed for Aspies... we actually find very hard both things, so Its not that of a problem.
  • Following clear rules, prayers and rituals...
The faith itself seems quite similar to black and white thinking. So I see no conflict in your Catholic Faith and being on the spectrum.

Just my 2 cents. :)
 
...my therapist is not familiar with Asperger’s.
@Alaric593 I thought someone would ask that question. I’m in a situation where therapist are limited at the clinic I go to. It’s almost impossible for me to find another therapist. That’s one reason why I posted this topic.
Don't settle. Incompetent counselors do more harm than good, particularly with ASD1.

Autlanders, Thriving Outside of the Box: Finding Support Resources in the USA...
 
The faith itself seems quite similar to black and white thinking. So I see no conflict in your Catholic Faith and being on the spectrum.

Just my 2 cents. :)

To say the Catholic faith is black and white thinking is not true at all. After all, Georges Lemaitre, the cosmologist who proposed the Big Bang Theory, was a Catholic priest. And so was Gregor Mendel, the biologist who proposed the concept of genetic inheritance. The Catholic Church has had its rough moments, but it is constantly growing as time advances. Try reading the works of St. Thomas Aquinas. You will find Catholicism is deeply rooted in thought. It’s not as black and white as you may believe!
 
To say the Catholic faith is black and white thinking is not true at all. After all, Georges Lemaitre, the cosmologist who proposed the Big Bang Theory, was a Catholic priest. And so was Gregor Mendel, the biologist who proposed the concept of genetic inheritance. The Catholic Church has had its rough moments, but it is constantly growing as time advances. Try reading the works of St. Thomas Aquinas. You will find Catholicism is deeply rooted in thought. It’s not as black and white as you may believe!

Yeah, yeah. Catholic church was actually helping science and the knowledge revolution. Yeah.

And they were actually secretly figthing for women rigths... sure, yeah.

And never wanted to destroy other religions people or countries either... what happened in America when religious europeans arrived was just a... How to say it... Mmmm ... Was just a rough moment...

I will read more religious texts or books so I can free my mind from historical data and science. Yeah, sounds nice, and as a bonus feature I will life in the heavens after I die. Guaranteed. :)

Thank you.
 
Heads up: While I am not christian I am confident in the universality and importance of virtue.

However there is virtue only in observation of negative experience and its causes. This means two things:
Know yourself, know others. Then you shall know how to be virtuous. From this comes two more important things: Never think you know yourself, never think you know others. So that you shall never know how to be virtuous. Only through caution and consistent doubt can you remain objective and not give yourself leeway towards unsavory behavior for your own convenience under the shield of confidence in your own goodness.
So:
Is your tendency towards obsession hurting you in a way you can't abide by? Is your tendency towards obsession hurting others in a way they can't abide by?
These are difficult and deep questions that will never truly be answered negatively, it is only important that you remember to ask and think and learn.
I find it easy to imagine reasons and scenarios where this tendency will hurt you and others. If you are ever to be placed in those situations, it will be the lack of self-control, i.e. lack of temperance that will be the direct cause.

The written virtues in this way work preventatively to maintain personal health and social good, they are like a digestible one-size-fits-all ethics system. It makes sense for something that originates in very old popular scripture to not be able to touch on the indivual-based complexity of actual ethics. They are a simplification, not virtue itself (only in name). They are more like politics. If you are never placed in circumstance where the lack of temperance in regards to your tendency towards obsession causes harm, then there can be no moral issue. Without moral issues, virtue cannot exist. Any possibility of this situation occuring disproves the universality of temperance as a virtue, meaning it isn't an actual virtue, it just carries the name of an old religious system also referred to as virtue. The religion it originates from was after all acting partially as a government, this is important for context I believe. Therefore the virtue you are lacking is not necessarily making you not live virtuously. But it is making you not follow an old social health system, if that is an issue for you, good luck with the reconciliation. Real virtue would in that moment identify your attachment to that old system to be the problem instead.
 
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