Monday, November 3, 2008

Pretending to be normal

I'm sorry to keep harping on this (and this), but aspies get all the breaks for some reason. This article is about bit torrent programmer Bram Cohen who learns late in life that he has Asperger's. Under the heading, "Learning Empathy:"
One afternoon in the summer of 2003 he was eating at a Mexican restaurant in Berkeley with his girlfriend, Jenna, and her young daughter. They were talking about empathy, a notion that baffled Cohen. "Then a baby cried, and my daughter turned and made a sad face," Jenna recalls. "He said, 'You mean like that?' I said, 'Yes, it's automatic.' " Not for Cohen, though, who told her that emotions seemed mysterious. Jenna, who had worked with autistic kids, suggested he might have Asperger's.

Cohen never sought a formal diagnosis but turned his considerable attention to the matter. He learned how to detect and mimic human expressions, follow social cues, maintain eye contact, flirt. He began pretending to be normal. "Then I realized how out of it I had been my entire life," he says. Jenna likens Bram to the android Data on Star Trek: "He'd add information to his social algorithm and practice until it became natural. He's graduated to being an eccentric nerd."
After that comes more "bla bla bla, aspies are great, look what this aspie was able to accomplish" lovefest. And then the ridiculous comments:
"What a well written article on a seemingly great guy. You've got to admire anyone who acknowledges inherent 'differences' and actively works to improve themselves and their relationships. And to his wife, you must be a true saint to put the time and effort into such a complex situation. Thank you for sharing your story."
And even more naive:
"Profoundly uplifting story. Mr. Cohen shows the world what it's like to see with the eyes of a genius"
I'm seriously disgusted. I think I just threw up a little in my mouth. I'll never understand empaths. What is the difference between this guy's crazy lack of empathy and a sociopath's? Is it really just because he seems sort of harmless? ("Little kids would be frightening psychopaths if not for the fact that they're relatively weak and dumb compared to adults.") But he can't be that harmless if he created a program that is used to share pirated movies and games with millions of users.

As I have said before, I am all for rights for the empathy challenged, but have a little consistency! How is that everyone hates sociopaths for having no conscience, but aspies can do no wrong? People are utterly creeped out by sociopaths learning and mimicking emotions, but with aspies it is "acknowledg[ing] inherent 'differences' and actively work[ing] to improve themselves"? I feel like I am taking crazy pills.

82 comments:

  1. Aspies are like Sociopaths, only without skills. To call them "geniuses" is going a bit far, imo.
    They merely suppress their emotions. They're there, they're merely projected out upon others, who embody the opposite of their ego ideal.
    If Aspies really were "geniuses," then they would become Sociopaths.
    -Vigilius

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    1. If sociopaths were geniuses they would be talented scientists like Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Isaac. Or they would become rich as %^&*(% through the pursuit of special interests such as Warren Buffet who was obsessed with the idea of buying undervalued stocks, or Bill Gates who was obsessed with computer software. By the way the Warren Buffet and Bill Gates have been passing the title of the richest man in the world back and forth for a long time.Believe dat.

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    2. The sociopaths who are rich and successful are not in the limelight, and unless they over-reach, like Bernie Madoff, you won't ever know what they are.

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    3. I love this blog!! I have lived my whole life with a brother who is either sociopath or aspie - I'm not sure which yet. He is so mean and insensitive to me in the most profound ways. I am a 34 year old man, and he's still the only person who can make me cry out of emotional torment.

      This blog is wonderful, in that it gives me insight into how Aspies and Sociopaths think.... It is helping me to understand my brother better... although it still hurts.

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    4. Let me begin by giving a bit of background; I was diagnosed with Asperger's in 2006 and through public school and (to a lesser extent) services like wrongplanet have befriended a number of other people with the same diagnosis. A couple years ago, I met two sociopaths. That's about my level of experience with the subject.

      My inability to identify or appropriately respond to nonverbal cues has lead to a number of extremely unpleasant experiences that almost always involve police and some organization calling for me to get another psychological evaluation. Little things like politely informing my humanities class that a SWAT team was coming and what their avenues of approach would be, often get pretty bad reactions (it may be worth noting that they didn't actually come until weeks later).

      In the third grade I was put in a special class for kids in need of "behavioral intervention". Most of the other students threw desks, bit people and things of the like. I'd be lying if I told you I didn't have a chair swung at me periodically. I on the other hand just said things that apparently were quite shocking without realizing it.

      In middle school it was derermined that the behavior intervention program "wasn't working for me" and I got put in a program called OASIS which was primarily for the middle school and highschool students that were too violent for BIP. There I met a large skinhead named Joseph who once showed up to school on PCP (unfortunately, I was there that day) a fairly good natured skater who would physically attack whoever he happened to be sitting closest to for no discernable reason and a number of other people that apparently people thought I belonged with.

      Fast foreward to my freshman year of highschool, the staff at OASIS decided that I didn't belong there and I was put back in BIP. The new BIP staff were also quite comfortable with me so I was allowed to take a few normal classes. In all of them, there was another boy who I won't name. We had a couple common interests that we'd enguage in conversations pertaining to periodically.

      One day in our English class, he explained to me that he was a sociopath. I didn't really know what to think of it at first. On TV, whenever you hear the word "sociopath" it's accompanied be something absolutely terrible like "triple homocide", but I'd known him for some time and he didn't seem threatening at all. In fact, it quickly became apparent that he was much more normal than I was. I continued speaking with him for the entire time I went to school there and found him to be one of the most pleasant people to be around that I'd met in highschool.

      I didn't realize it until the following year, but at the same time I met another sociopath. This one initially seemed like a kind, somewhat shy person, but as soon as I agreed to start spending time with this person outside of school, they started doing things that dramatically conflicted with my initial impression. I won't go into too great of detail, but over the course of a little more than a year, this person convinced me that there was an immediate threat to my life which lead me to do some things that a number of people found to be alarming.

      If I have met any other sociopaths, I probably just assumed that they were neurotypical. However, I find it interesting that despite the (generally) popular media coverage, most of the aspies I've met have been lumped in with the excessively violent and other threats to society while the only sociopaths I've ever met (at least knowingly) were kept with the general population.

      Now, the first one I described was a really good person and I believe that he was where he should have been, but I was later informed by district employees that the second one I described had a history of doing things like what was done with me. The district autism specialist used the phrase "emotional terrorist" to describe the individual.

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    5. Late to the discussion. Christopher Mislan: I am a "talented scientist." Sociopathy is perfectly suited to scientific pursuits, and also amassing wealth. But do not make the mistake of thinking that 'genius' is required in either case. It helps, certainly, but perception is often far more powerful than reality. And, as you noted, single-mindedness in any endeavor is likely to achieve the same results as genius.

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  2. Not all sociopaths are 'geniuses'. If they were they wouldn't need to target 'suckers' (or rather those who have a tendency towards compassion and kindness). A truly 'genius' sociopath would probably want a challenge rather than an ego boost. Quite frankly I find it difficult to 'empathise' with sociopaths given they show so little of it themselves.

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    1. We do seek challenges that is why the most fun we can have is to challenge another of our own kind. this is why Banking, property, the military and Politics are such a big draw to us. This is because of the ability to track and keep score against one and other.

      It is a shame in my opinion that so many people freak out about us trying to feign empathy given how intolerant most empathizes are when we don't bother trying to fake it.
      If there was truly a better understanding in the wider public of our issues they would be able to learn to deal with their emotions better when interacting with us, rather than freaking out about us attempting to fit in.

      I am from a family of people who all lack empathy to some extent, thus I have a less than fully developed moral compass and can fully relate to the idea of a moral/social algorithm as this is the tactic I use to blend in, it seems to work reasonably well.

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    2. Being on the opposite end of the scale is no picnic either. Imagine caring about every living being more than you care about yourself. I wish it were just humans, but no, I even feel for worms and mice. I take care of every living being that comes into contact with me. People like me when I go out of my way to help them with their mess, but then they hate me when I stop in the middle of the road to pick up a worm so it won't get run over, or if I read them the riot act for hurting someone else when they didn't have to. Or if I actually manage for five seconds of my life to put myself first, it's like I did something bad because I wasn't there to help them that very second. If you have the right to not be a monster, do I have the right not to be a saint?

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  3. This article amuses me and seems to hit on an important oversight, bravo.

    It's kind of amusing to me that you should become almost angry over a little thing like this. The media's only in on it for the money anyway.

    The media's similar to the kid that always picked on the mentally hadicapped kids in school.

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  4. It's quite funny this ego boost charade going on here.

    Honestly, I don't know of any actual "sociopathic" geniuses, and I'm surrounded by leading scientists every day.

    Narcissistic, yes, Asperger's, definitely.

    I would bet on the intelligence of a (what you coin .. lol @ abreviated form of Asperger's) Aspie over a Sociopath anyday

    In the end, it's all defining something somewhat intangible and therefore isn't a strict science, even if you are "diagnosed" by a so-called professional.

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    1. I'm a Narcissist and you just provided me with great joy :)

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    2. There are conflicting studies regarding intelligence and sociopathy, and the studies that do show a positive correlation show weak correlations. It doesn't take a lot of intelligence to manipulate people without feeling remorse.

      And leading scientists have to behave like narcissists. How else are they going to get funding? Results alone will not get their studies published in journals.

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  5. The author of this blog is a master at self delusion.

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    1. I bet there are sociopaths that are smarter than Aspies, and vice versa. It still Congress down to life experience in the end, and natural brain power, something you seem to lack

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  6. hahah Asperger's, makes me giggle

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  7. I don't see what "genius" has to do with the subject of this article? There're geniuses in all groups and sub-groups of people.

    To be honest, I found this article a bit funny too, it made me chuckle. - The author has a point, I guess. Having Asperger's is fashionable ... in some areas of the world. In others it's being seen as the same as being labeled a psychopath, and in other areas again it differs from case to case, situation to situation, and not least, it depends upon each diagnoser and how they see it.

    No doubt you're right about people having a tendency to "like" the harmless. But in some areas it only takes that single person with Asperger's who created a piracy program for the rest to be treated as if they all represent such an act - just as Psychopaths are considered criminal per definition. The one exception, as far as I can think of at the moment, is the child (children can commit heinous acts as well); maybe it's because most families have one, they hold them dear, and - more to the point - they "know" THEIR child would never do something "like that".

    When it all comes down to it, it's a question of normalcy and fear (=dislike of that which can't be commonly predicted and expected to do what is accepted as "not too hurtful" ... degrees of normalcy).

    People with Asperger's are "in" for the time being ... though most definitely not everywhere. - And judging from the overall tendency around the world a new label might be made to describe some variety of Psychopaths or Sociopaths, and then they would "get all the breaks" for a couple of years ... in some areas.


    When we're talking about Sociopathy ... as according to the commonly understood meaning of this term as being someone who hurts by being abusive - though not necessarily physically so (that's more the psychopath who's expected to be thus) and who gains by taking from others using unaccepted means and behavior ... it seems less likely that a person with Asperger's will become one (a Sociopath), because one of the things that usually defines people with Asperger's is their lack of ability to adopt social skills.
    A successful life - for as far as it relates specifically upon being socially adept - depends on how well we follow social rules for interaction (not just those that are put into print, but all the so called "un-written" ones as well). This is true for the Sociopath just as much as for anyone else. But the person who has Asperger's will generally not have a chance in this regard, be he empathically inclined or not (most people with Asperger's are not overly empathic, I have to give you that. But in my opinion empathy alone can't define something that involves a wide range of behavioral traits).


    You have created an informative and entertaining blog, it's a pleasurable read!

    Zhawq.

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  8. I don't see what "genius" has to do with the subject of this article? There're geniuses in all groups and sub-groups of people.

    To be honest, I found this article a bit funny too, it made me chuckle. - The author has a point, I guess. Having Asperger's is fashionable ... in some areas of the world. In others it's being seen as the same as being labeled a psychopath, and in other areas again it differs from case to case, situation to situation, and not least, it depends upon each diagnoser and how they see it.

    No doubt you're right about people having a tendency to "like" the harmless. But in some areas it only takes that single person with Asperger's who created a piracy program for the rest to be treated as if they all represent such an act - just as Psychopaths are considered criminal per definition. The one exception, as far as I can think of at the moment, is the child (children can commit heinous acts as well); maybe it's because most families have one, they hold them dear, and - more to the point - they "know" THEIR child would never do something "like that".

    When it all comes down to it, it's a question of normalcy and fear (=dislike of that which can't be commonly predicted and expected to do what is accepted as "not too hurtful" ... degrees of normalcy).

    People with Asperger's are "in" for the time being ... though most definitely not everywhere. - And judging from the overall tendency around the world a new label might be made to describe some variety of Psychopaths or Sociopaths, and then they would "get all the breaks" for a couple of years ... in some areas.


    When we're talking about Sociopathy ... as according to the commonly understood meaning of this term as being someone who hurts by being abusive - though not necessarily physically so (that's more the psychopath who's expected to be thus) and who gains by taking from others using unaccepted means and behavior ... it seems less likely that a person with Asperger's will become one (a Sociopath), because one of the things that usually defines people with Asperger's is their lack of ability to adopt social skills.
    A successful life - for as far as it relates specifically upon being socially adept - depends on how well we follow social rules for interaction (not just those that are put into print, but all the so called "un-written" ones as well). This is true for the Sociopath just as much as for anyone else. But the person who has Asperger's will generally not have a chance in this regard, be he empathically inclined or not (most people with Asperger's are not overly empathic, I have to give you that. But in my opinion empathy alone can't define something that involves a wide range of behavioral traits).


    You have created an informative and entertaining blog, it's a pleasurable read!

    Zhawq.

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    1. it seems less likely that a person with Asperger's will become one (a Sociopath), because one of the things that usually defines people with Asperger's is their lack of ability to adopt social skills.

      Some of the differences people claim are mandatory between AS and Sociopaths are exaggerated. In children this exaggeration is mostly true.
      But it's not always like that.

      Many AS adults can learn to be socially adept through rule-learning and can learn to be somewhat of a chameleon because emotional responses to social cues are not mandatory.

      Yes, a deficit in Cognitive empathy growing up, but Affective empathy (feeling others emotions without understanding) is not a requirement. It's just more often there than not. Not all of them are childishly hyper-sensitive & neurotic. The reverse (little or no sensitivity) exists. Sometimes with high pain tolerance.
      P

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    2. oops. that first paragraph was a paste of above to keep me focused.
      forgot to delete.

      Delete
  9. To be honest, I found this article a bit funny too, it made me chuckle. - The author has a point, I guess. Having Asperger's is fashionable ... in some areas of the world. In others it's being seen as the same as being labeled a psychopath, and in other areas again it differs from case to case, situation to situation, and not least, it depends upon each diagnoser and how they see it.

    No doubt you're right about people having a tendency to "like" the harmless. But in some areas it only takes that single person with Asperger's who created a piracy program for the rest to be treated as if they all represent such an act - just as Psychopaths are considered criminal per definition. The one exception, as far as I can think of at the moment, is the child (children can commit heinous acts as well); maybe it's because most families have one, they hold them dear, and - more to the point - they "know" THEIR child would never do something "like that".

    When it all comes down to it, it's a question of normalcy and fear (=dislike of that which can't be commonly predicted and expected to do what is accepted as "not too hurtful" ... degrees of normalcy).

    People with Asperger's are "in" for the time being ... though most definitely not everywhere. - And judging from the overall tendency around the world a new label might be made to describe some variety of Psychopaths or Sociopaths, and then they would "get all the breaks" for a couple of years ... in some areas.


    When we're talking about Sociopathy ... as according to the commonly understood meaning of this term as being someone who hurts by being abusive - though not necessarily physically so (that's more the psychopath who's expected to be thus) and who gains by taking from others using unaccepted means and behavior ... it seems less likely that a person with Asperger's will become one (a Sociopath), because one of the things that usually defines people with Asperger's is their lack of ability to adopt social skills.
    A successful life - for as far as it relates specifically upon being socially adept - depends on how well we follow social rules for interaction (not just those that are put into print, but all the so called "un-written" ones as well). This is true for the Sociopath just as much as for anyone else. But the person who has Asperger's will generally not have a chance in this regard, be he empathically inclined or not (most people with Asperger's are not overly empathic, I have to give you that. But in my opinion empathy alone can't define something that involves a wide range of behavioral traits).

    Zhawq.

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  10. Whoa... Some mistake with all the repetitions.

    Zhawq.

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  11. Aspies naturally want a relationship and have difficulty developing one. Sociopaths do not feel the need for one and have pleasure in manipulating one for their own egos. These are the inherent differences of the two.

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  12. You seriously don't get this?

    Aspie="victim"
    Sociopath="aggressor"

    You're talking about people who judge their humanity based on how sorry they feel for others. One condition is characterised as mysterious, socially reinforced and incurable, while the other is generally represented by photos of sad-eyed round-faced kids who need our help.

    Not to mention that people who put their emotions before their rationality are naturally going to cling to a flight or "Awwwwww" response rather than try to reason their way through it.

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  13. The more emotionally-driven a person is, the more likely they are to engage in this kind of "doublethink" where two different presentations of what is essentially the same thing elicits two wildly different reactions.

    (sorry for the double post, this was supposed to be the last line of the other one)

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  14. People with aspgergs do not lack empathy they only have a difficult time showing it.
    In fact they tend to be characterized by their conscientiousness and strong desire to help others they simply have a had time socially communicating and form intense interests and hobbies revolving around technical subjects- airplanes, maps, computers, et cetra.
    The area of the brain is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from the area of the brain that effects sociopaths. So there is no physiological similarities, no similarity in childhood behavior nor the only mistaken similarity you mentioned.
    Anyways it is obvious you did no research whatsoever and have basically no understanding of aspergers at all. The last thing we need is people believing that ASD and murderous psychopaths are the same.

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  15. Don't know about Cohen, he may be right about himself, but he was self-diagnosed.
    In short, aspies have all the feelings but they can't instinctively decode them when in others(as neurotypicals do). Many of them have lots of emotional problems because of that, the simplest social interactions bring them loads of social anxiety because of their difficulty in figuring out what's going on.

    Sociopaths aren't bothered by feelings. They can't have most of them.

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  16. I am fucking tired of people constantly bagging on sociopaths and treating people with autism or Asperger's like they are helpless. Sociopaths are everywhere and they aren't like in the movies, people need to learn that.

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  17. "The more emotionally-driven a person is, the more likely they are to engage in this kind of "doublethink" where two different presentations of what is essentially the same thing elicits two wildly different reactions."

    Bullshit.

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  18. "People with aspgergs do not lack empathy they only have a difficult time showing it.
    In fact they tend to be characterized by their conscientiousness and strong desire to help others they simply have a had time socially communicating and form intense interests and hobbies revolving around technical subjects- airplanes, maps, computers, et cetra.
    The area of the brain is COMPLETELY DIFFERENT from the area of the brain that effects sociopaths. So there is no physiological similarities, no similarity in childhood behavior nor the only mistaken similarity you mentioned."

    This seems more like it.

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  19. Genius clearly has nothing to do with it (though you clearly aren't one). You are a hollow shell of a person who manipulates others for pleasure. People with Asperger's actually have a moral code, actually do feel things for other people (they just have a hard time expressing it and to some extent reading it in others), and tend to find the idea of manipulating others for personal gain abhorent. That's why Aspies get sympathy and scum bags like you get tossed aside.

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  20. Do you want to know why Aspies despise sociopaths and NTs side with Aspies?

    Because we Aspies don't set out to exploit everyone around them. You sociopaths however, are parasites, vapid shells with nothing to offer. We despise you because we are better than you - morally and, usually (i.e. with a statistically significant level of confidence), cognitively. To us, your attempts at manipulation are sickeningly obvious. You exist without feelings, conscience, or moral code - yet expect people to sympathize with your cries of 'hurt feelings'? Only a vulnerable NT could fall for such nonsense.

    We stand or fall on our own merit, you exist as leeches on the innocent.

    Do you understand now?

    Normally I'd apologize for being 'harsh' but let's face it, there are no feelings to be hurt here.

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    1. Bravo, Ben. Finally, a true Aspie to set the record straight!

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    2. I'm an Aspie and my Flatmate is a Sociopath. My very first reaction was that I would be able to learn first hand what a sociopath is, regardless of the press and the internet. Make my own opinion.
      What I saw was, sadly, not good. He made his own case. Maybe everyone of you aren't like him but from what I see every day manipulation and lies abound (and frankly, your article is full of misinformation and tries at manipulation). I'm with Ben on this.

      It is totally your right not to like a certain group of people if you don't, but at least get all the informations before you do. 1- We are not alike (as I can attest by looking at my Flatmate) 2- we do not "get all the breaks".

      It's not that sociopath gets blame for the same thing we do and we don't get the blame for it. I get blamed for "lack of empathy" a lot (heck, I lost a job over it), simply because I don't show it the way NTs do and you get blame for your lack of empathy because you lack it.

      It's not your fault either, but don't point fingers. And check your facts.

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  21. I suggest you stop talking out of your arse. Aspies have plenty of empathy, it’s noticing distress that’s tricky for us. I’m an aspie and I have more empathy than some NTs I know.

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    1. Yes! How often I have said: "and they call us unempathetic," I couldn't count it with the sand on any given beach.

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  22. As someone who's brother is an aspie, I think the misunderstanding here is the result of an accidental equivocation between the two meanings of empathy. The first, of course, is the common usage: The ability to feel what another person is feeling. Aspies have this. Sociopaths typically don't. The second meaning refers, as others have stated, to the ability to decode emotions from body language, vocal cues, and overall context. Arguably, sociopaths excel at this even more so than us "nomrals". This is where Aspie's often fail, and this is where the key difference lies. When a sociopath is callous, it's because he/she genuinely does not experience the emotions the other person does. At times (often?), the pain caused is intentional. When an aspie is callous, they usually don't realize initially that they have done something wrong. They didn't mean to hurt anyone, but they didn't understand why the response followed. (Note: Sociopaths often do and with a startling degree of precision.) Once the Aspie understand why what they did cause the reaction, they will avoid doing it again for the same reason a "normal" would: to avoid causing pain to another person.

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  23. I know of an 8-year-old who's a diagnosed Aspie, but he also displays many Sociopathic symptoms. I've witnessed his abuse to animals; know of repeated episodes of shoplifting; compulsively lies about the smallest of things--seemingly just for the sport of it; admits he feels no remorse--just sorry when he's caught doing something he knows is considered wrong? I could go on and on... I'd like to understand if having Asperger's precludes one from being a Sociopath?

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    1. Well, if it's true that aspergers and sociopathy are both neurological conditions, but with different parts of brain involved, then I can't see why not.

      Also, I know someone who claims to have an aspergers diagnosis, but behaves like a cluster B disordered person, and has good as admitted (and apparently forgotten, the careless fool) that he is diagnosed not with aspergers but with something else, most likely ASPD (since he's a felon) and yet I'm sure he is an aspie underneath his cluster B disorder, based on his extreme social clumsiness and the autistic look in his eyes in photos of him as an adult and as a little kid.

      My working armchair psychology theory is that narcissist = sociopath + aspergers. So you have four quadrants defined by cognitive versus affective empathy. Neurotypicals have normal levels of both, sociopaths lack affective empathy, aspergers lack cognitive empathy, and narcissists lack both, i.e. the narcissist is either a clumsy sociopath or a heartless aspergers.

      The guy I'm talking about, he seems to be a narcissist rather than a sociopath. Clinically speaking, I think he could fit into any of the four cluster B boxes, including HPD, but NPD probably fits him best, even though I suspect it is ASPD he is diagnosed with due to being a felon... and drop the P, hey presto, he can tell people he has ASD. But I think he is actually an aspie too. As I said, aspergers + sociopath = narcissist.

      - aspie croc (if that name isn't taken)

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  24. I have lived with both an aspie and a sociopath at different times in my life, there is no comparision whatsoever. Every waking moment the sociopath was trying to figure out how they could , torture and destroy my life. It was absolutely mind-boggling.

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    1. You do realize that the socio wasn't trying to torture or destroy your life, just make his better. He didn't do it TO YOU, he did it FOR HIM.

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  25. I think it's because Aspies are recognized to have a disability, an excuse. Like how a child breaks your favourite vase.. You get angry, but they're just a child.. You're more lenient than if an adult did it.

    Yet with sociopaths, it seems like the world takes that word (which sounds horribly like Psychopath) and automatically thinks horrible things. They don't want to recognize the 'monsters' in their movies, and down the street as human.

    As soon as something or someone becomes human, they/it becomes harder to hate, to want to eradicate. They would rather live in blissful unawareness.

    Since there are 'cures' for Aspies, they accept it.. But sociopaths, there's no way to deal with that for them. Like most people, it gets scraped under a mat.

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  26. "Cures for Aspies." Since when?

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    1. That's what I was wondering.

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    2. http://www.disabled-world.com/artman/publish/article_1302.shtml

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    3. That's not a cure. They give meds to help control the OCD and the depression, they give tricks to help adapt to new situations, problems and social situations. A cure would make the person an NT. Which this doesn't.

      And, Faze: the reason "Sociopath" sounds like "psychopath" is: it's pretty much the same condition. One comes from the brain, at birth ("Psy"chopath) and the other comes from social events in the child's life ("socio"path). It's true it's derogative because people automatically think "murderer", which is only vary rarely the case, but they are the same disorder.

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  27. They are very different things. Being a sociopath is not debilitating. In fact, my life would have been a hell of a lot more boring if I wasn't one. Some of my friends envy my general recklessness, mistaking it for bravery - really I just want something to happen, even if it is bad, just so I'm not bored all the time, so I take crazy risks. That makes for an interesting time. I am not socially awkward, I have no trouble recognizing social cues and reacting how I am supposed to, but I don't feel the way other people do. I think art is pointless because I don't feel anything when I see a picture or read a story, but I'm a successful professional writer. I just think, well, if people will buy it...

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    1. You have to see the beauty inside yourself - to see the beauty in a picture. :)

      Delete
    2. What do you write, if you don't mind me asking? I'd be very interested to look it up!

      Delete
  28. I have aspergers and I can explain why empathy treat us with less hostility. It's quite simple, they understand that we are not a threat, unfortunately I lack the ability to manipulate people. Sociopaths and Psychopaths on the other hand are lucky enough to have this talent.

    I would give almost anything to be able to manipulate people the way psychopaths can.

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  29. I'm an aspie sociopath. The only thing I've ever felt an emotion about is my cat. Not my husband, my family, or my friends--my cat. But even then it feels...well...metallic is the best way to describe my "feelings". Whatever.

    I'm excellent at manipulating people to do as I wish and get what I want...but I had to study and learn these things very hard when I was young. Things like this feel unnatural to me even though I'm very good at it. The world is little more than a bunch of patterns and systems. Dots on a graph. Break the code and there's nothing to stop you. And let me tell you--there is no greater codebreaker than an Aspie. You find us all over government agencies because of it.

    Lol at the whole genius thing. I have a 155 IQ, 3 bachelors degrees and a PhD. Which diagnosis gave it to me, sociopath or Aspie? Ha. Who the fuck cares?

    I at least find some amusement for myself as a sadistic Domme. Win/win for anybody who comes to play.

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  30. I'm an Aspie and I can say I don't lack empathy. In fact, for many Aspies, the problem is we have too much empathy, so much so it can short circuit our brains. If I see someone crying, I'll feel like crying, but I won't have a goddamn clue what to do to comfort them, as much as I would like to help.

    The same overload goes for sensory input in general. Loud music, intense smells, bright lights--these things set off our intense sensitivity. Then we might react in ways that aren't acceptable because our brain is too distracted to react the "right way." This is opposite of a sociopath, who actually craves this intensity due to their perpetual boredom.

    As a reaction to this inability to deal with other people, an Aspie will often form barriers between us and the rest of the world, turning to our internal worlds for amusement and fulfillment. Many people on the autism spectrum learn to cope better and can gain social skills, but we still find our greatest solace within instead of without.

    I think that's another big difference between an Aspie and a sociopath. Sociopaths are usually empty inside and fill themselves with the outside world. Aspies invent our own worlds to give ourselves an identity and purpose. We channel this into our work, and take great satisfaction that our industriousness can benefit and please others in ways our lacking social skills never could.

    And honestly that's why the media finds Aspies to be darlings. We're bastards with hearts of gold. We'll treat someone with quirky aloofness, but then we'll compose a stirring song, write a heartfelt novel, draw amazing pictures, create the next great invention... whatever our specialty, we'll give it our all just to try to connect with humanity on some level.

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    Replies
    1. That was described so beautifully - thank you. I am always trying to better understand my daughter. You have really nailed it, and have gone in depth to enlighten me further more.

      Delete
  31. Some important differences between sociopaths and aspies is that aspies usually either lack the ability or the interest to be deceptive or dishonest, and that aspies do not lack a conscience.

    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
  34. It is entirely possible to be both.

    I know this because I am this.

    I function just fine, and I have known this and remain curious about it to this day.

    Being both on the spectrum in both worlds has it's challenges, and I haven't really sweated much, except being "outted"...
    it would not benefit me to admit this to folks, and I prefer to operate unhindered.
    BOTH aspies and sociopaths are great pretenders.

    ReplyDelete
  35. What is the difference between this guy's crazy lack of empathy and a sociopath's?

    "I use people when I can"

    I think that says it all.

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  36. Go on the website of Dr. Daniel Amen,of Amenclinics,and read up on SPECT scans of autistics,Aspergers Syndrome,and Sociopathic Personality.Some people should get their hand writing analysed by a graphologist.

    ReplyDelete
  37. -Shane Milam, Baltimore, MD
    Admittedly, this preface will be lengthy. But if you all could feign some empathy and share your emminent expertise in deciphering these two, in my shallow opinion, "gifts." I want to add, for the sake of my prose being disected, I'm a tad drunk and nearing one of my imsomniadic episodes. I also may be making up words. I recently came out of a year long depressive state after finishing my third year at penn with no declared major and no desire to pursue direction. I plan on returning in the fall and pursuing English with hopes to branch out into some form of artistic expressive niche. This is a very exciting time for me because I've recently been introduced to both "gifts" and Im exuding this passion for self-diagnosing myself after a number of friends and family, who'd not communicated with me for three years,
    insisted that I was "sick" and needed "help." I knew i had a bout with depression but i was over that. My close friends convinced everyone that i was a mind controlling psychopath. Obviously they were ignorant but i was also at fault for letting my alcohol verbally, quite eloquently might i add, bare their exact thoughts at any given time. The fact that they thought i needed help when they were the ones being "mentally controlled" is a whole separate issue. But i remember my mother mentioning sociopath. I know now she doesnt really understand what it is, but when i found this sight, i felt not so alone; not so misunderstood. I thought i was a sociopath and it gave me more confidence in my ability to gauge any social interaction and predict, to completion, every plausible senario. but it begged a deeper question: how havent i seen that my empathy was "acquired" and not "real?" Inexplicable to me at the time, i just went with the probable notion that i was sociopathic to a parasitic extent and that was why i had no true relationships. I had been through so much in my 22 years, slums of baltimore, private school with the 1%, cross country for national wrestling competitions,local jail, philadelphia with more elitists.. I always could, based on first impressions,tell all motives, likely background, ensuing speeches... But up until just about now, i had no idea what an aspie was. And i think that i just might be even atypical even for an aspie. You see, i was blessed with great physical genes. but i never had any friends until HS where i clung to my teammates who adored me even if only for my success on the wrestling mat. I forged false relationships as a result of my life-long desire to fit in and acquired social intelligence. Ive learned that aspies are rarely passionate/interested in anything, but I think that because of the inherent vocabulary, and above average intellect that comes with aspergers, along with my good looks, and sole desire to fit in, my narrow tracked mindset as an aspie had me downloading social cues of every girl at school turning me into a selfmade casanova. im fading out of consciousness but id like to know if anyone could make an effort to decipher my incoherent blabber and help me to self diagnose myself with either of these gifts as its been made clear that one is never both.
    -Shane Milam
    milam.shane0@gmail.com
    id leave a number but ive been sufficiently obnoxious. but if anyone would like a texting buddy just email me ;)

    ReplyDelete
  38. Aspies do feel empathy, often very, very deeply. The problem is with communication of empathy. They may be extremely upset on the inside, but all you will see is a blank face on the outside. They may see someone in a lot of pain and feel it as though it is happening to them, but not know that they are supposed to do something about it. This has led to the common misunderstanding that Aspies lack empathy, and I'm sure that many Sociopaths have been misdiagnosed as Aspies for this reason.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This definitely reinforces what I write in a comment below this one I am making the reply to. It feels good to have correlative data. To help expand on this, I wish to mention that some of the complication for aspies is sensory overload. It isn't exactly, but seems similar to, synesthesia, where sensory input commingles into a singular sensation. Colors have sound, sounds have tastes, letters have sensual connotation, and so forth. Asperger's seems to entwine sensations in unmitigated proportions, almost independent of the wishes of the one enduring it. It's like trying to handle a stereo equalizer without any numerical sense of what each slide is doing. It takes a little more effort in some situations for an aspie to tune into whatever everyone else is listening to even if it's the same song. I am not sure if this is true for all with Asperger's, but memory is much the same. I don't vaguely remember. Either I have a memory of most of the sensory experience along with my emotional and intellectual experience of it, or else I don't remember. I have better memory as sensory-led searches than I do just trying to dredge up raw data. It's a weird database system that I have to learn to use, despite being its operator and developer. I can remember a number of key moments when I was three years old or younger, simply as the entire experience, and I feel it as though it were now. This is why some things I wish not to remember, because it is not possible for me to sort out certain content from it when bringing it back to active consciousness.

      Delete
    2. Lastly, I wish to add that I do indeed envy the sociopath their skill and ability. I long for the distance available to their thinking between emotion and logic. I don't find sociopaths as monsters at all. That part of my brain that deals with everything logically sees absolutely nothing aberrant with the logic of sociopaths and their behavior. I am glad they have been able to find their strengths and are able to operate productively, which is all any human being should worry about doing. I find my mind and its vagaries as debilitating instead of some so-called gift. If I could think this way without the anxiety, concern, or uncertainty, I would likely pounce on it. Many probably react in fear of sociopathy out of warped jealousy, at the heart of it. Someone not playing by the rules is always a worry, especially when it proves the rules are all made up, right?

      Delete
  39. I have Asperger's Syndrome and hate to be mollycoddled like that. A few of my acquaintances seem to be in a constant state of freaky admiration similar to the one people get when watching 'A Beautiful Mind'. Like I'm a sweet idiot.

    I do have trouble understanding my emotions and those of others, but the thought that 'we' have something special going on compared to, say, sociopaths, and therefore deserve special attention bothers me.

    Every year there's some friend of a friend who thinks she can save my life by giving me library books on autism, and it drives me... Insane.

    ReplyDelete
  40. This is an old post, but I have to comment. I have Asperger's syndrome, and like the Anon above me, *hate* things like the article quoted for the original post.

    The reason we get the breaks is because of a generations' worth of work by autistic advocates to change the PR surrounding the autistic spectrum. In theory, at least, there's no reason why sociopaths couldn't do the same.

    ReplyDelete
  41. I have a question, please give me honest opinions on whether it is a valid supposition. I have read an interesting distinction between empathy and sympathy, which bears some truth to my own experience. I believe I may have Asperger's. The trouble I undergo in understanding and dealing with emotions is not that I don't have them, but I am hampered by not being able to separate my own from another's sometimes. Either I feel absolutely no connection, or I end up having their emotion as my own. In the latter situation, it is like I adopt the emotion, but then my intellect, experience, and personality react to it in the manner it would, were it mine. When others act differently than I would in that situation causes an almost impenetrable mystery to me. With this in mind, I think those with Asperger's instinctively erect defense and coping mechanisms which others may interpret as lack of empathy, but is more a reaction to untanglable sympathy.

    One comment here made a distinction between aspies and sociopaths that bears truth in light of what I think above. Sociopaths are skilled and accomplished in dealing with this than an aspie. It is two different motivations and causes that appears to have the same effect to those on the outside of this. There may be neurophysiology to support this and there may always be too many striations to this to render these notions as concrete. Sometimes I feel intellectually sociopathic, but those wires have been tangled in too much emotional wiring. I have the capacity to look at just about anything in pure objectivity, as well as my own mind and emotions, as though they are all separate parts to a processor that do not know how to work in the same organism together. Sorry for the rant.

    ReplyDelete
  42. Chris Pearson, lovely, brilliant. Thank you.
    I have been diagnosed with bipolar disorder, but I can relate to your discription.
    I know for sure sensory processing disorder makes sense... anyway, thank you for eloquently and accurately describing my own sensory processing struggles

    ReplyDelete
  43. "When some people see things as beautiful other things become ugly.
    When some people see some things as good other become bad."

    This quote could be used to put sociopaths in perspective, as closely as possible. By reading the quote you began to realize not very closely at all. Funny how sociopath world is about sociopaths but most of the humans that have something to say have a very narrow sketch of how a sociopath is. Not only is it rare that you will encounter someone that is and owns up to it. Most will never get a from row seat, most will never understand just how complex our minds are. For those that do, see what so many will never see. There is no way to defend yourself, it is the ultimate "power" I guess you could say. There is no way to stop it and when you catch it you're so easily manipulated to believe otherwise. No one wins but the sociopath, humans care too much. That's why they are such an easy target. But sociopaths are humans, just a better version. On the subject of love, sociopaths can love deeper than humanly possible. Everyone that says otherwise is fixated on the idea that love is red roses, cards and teddy bears. Snap out of it for a second, stop being human for a second and put it into perspective. The kind of love most people will never feel, true love. Humans just corrupted the idea of love; the world makes too many rules for love. You just have to let it do what it does. With that being said, all this breakdown of a sociopath is very general. It's not this simple(not like it's simple at all) but each sociopath is different. It's very easy to filter out the real sociopaths and the people giving their two cents. Let me write this now because I might never take the time to do so detailed. Most comments are a waste of time, much like mine. Because real sociopaths won't take much time to explain ourselves. Sites like this and other breakdowns are only to keep hope alive among humans, the vulnerables... That there is a way to prevent it. To avoid being played, that's just it. You are like a piece in a game of chess. There's no way out but through. For the people that will argue about how I am wrong, just remember: you are not in my head. You will never be, you will always be where I want you. Silly vulnerables.. Therefore the puzzle cannot be solved. Only by a true sociopath, which many will never encounter. Have fun trying though! Best of luck, you'll need it.

    P.S I find it hilarious that before commenting it says, please prove you are not a robot. Hahahaha. What?! Most humans are, that's what make them so predictable. Easily manipulated. HA! Hashtag sociopath humor? Haha, anyone.....? No.... Okay. :b At least I found it funny.

    B.W.

    ReplyDelete
  44. Sociopaths are just as good as anyone with aspergers... Sociopaths aren't bad people, you deal with is on a daily basis you just don't know it. In a way we are selfless because we go out of our way to put a mask on to fit you. Yes our intentions may be selfish but then we both win. Because sociopaths can make you feel very uncomfortable very fast, be glad we take the time to comfort you. It's constant energy on our part. Sociopaths are smooth, perfect, out of the way yet the center of attention. The perfect mix, funny how people refer to us as monsters... You people are so funny. You're the monsters. The ignorance.. Agh. Haha. Sociopaths are very smart, if they wanted to they could be f*%*# rich... (Responding to an earlier comment) that's the thing in a useless world like this the time and effort to do so doesn't outweigh anything. So most stay average or live with the essentials because we have what we need and want because we go get it. But no matter how many times I try to break it down you won't understand. You will always feel like we are I'm the wrong and monsters because we are unbeatable, the superior humans. Haha. Stop being such easy targets... Wait that's impossible.. If you saw me on the street you'd never think of me as a sociopath because I don't look the part... What would an ideal sociopath even look like... Then you'd describe someone that wouldn't be a sociopath because sociopaths are very strategic so we tend to make our appearance blend in because drawing attention like that makes the game a little more challenging. A true sociopath does is right. Just think of the quote keep your friends close and your enemies closer. So then are your enemies your friends? Only in their reality. There no way to win this game because you don't even know you are playing. Or when you are playing, with who, etc. humans hate defeat, it's in our nature. Very competitive, that's why there's the negative light on sociopaths. The only thing you can do is make people think we are terrible monsters but what no one is telling them is that we are their close friend, sister, aunt, cousin, etc. and most people will never know what we are. No harm done in that sense. Haha, but go on... We are terrible monsters.. Hear us roar.. Hahahaha.

    B.W.

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  45. You're a validation seeking tool.

    ReplyDelete
  46. Sociopaths manipulate people for their own ends and, in large part, are parasitic in nature (financially, emotionally, energetically, sexually). People on the spectrum, however, and again in large part, have a disinterest in others when compared to typically functioning people. This is clearly a huge difference between these two "empathy challenged" groups. You're being dishonest to suggest they are similar, but I'm sure you know this.

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  47. While it's true that sociopaths and aspies both have issues with empathy, I've found that they have very different problems with it. The average sociopath has an intellectual understanding of people's emotions. They may not get sad or excited because someone else is, but they recognize what the other person is feeling.

    The average aspie however, does feel for others, but lacks the understanding of how emotions are commonly conveyed. If an aspie knows that they've upset someone, they will feel upset, but since they don't pick up on social cues that a sociopath or neurotypical would probably recognize, they don't usually have the "right" response.

    This may make people with Asperger's especially easy to manipulate since they often have to have social situations explained to them by a neurotypical or other person capable of recognizing the things they don't.

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  48. Most people with AS can form attachments. They just don't pick up on emotional cues very well and come as emotionless when in fact they are quite the opposite, most that is. Sociopaths, being very manipulative, are very much aware of emotions and how to pretend.

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  49. "How is that everyone hates sociopaths for having no conscience, but aspies can do no wrong?"

    1) Most aspies have a conscience. Most sociopaths don't, and I'm using 'most' only to avoid making an absolute statement.

    2) No one said aspies can do no wrong. Not an implication of the sort. If anything, many people antagonize those with AS, confusing them with sociopaths. No quite the view of "can do no wrong", is it?

    Apparently such nuances missed you.

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  50. The source of the resentment would likely be one of perceived threat. Someone with Asperger's is in plain sight, with the symptoms often very apparently odd, whilst a sociopath can blend in quite effectively. Also the fact that sociopaths have the known inclination to be intentionally manipulative, and quite capable in that regard, as opposed to the person with Asperger's simply being poorly equipped in that domain full stop.

    So the sociopath is seen as a hidden and capable threat (dangerous), whereas the aspy is an overt and incapable threat (harmless).

    I actually think there's some sense to the distinction for this reason.

    I'm curious about M.E's moral indignation at it though??

    ReplyDelete

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