In rooting around the internet for information on autism and asperger's syndrome, I came across several references to something called "Theory of Mind".

Calling it a "theory" is a bit of a stretch.  It's basically the realization (or lack) that others do not have the same knowledge, thoughts, and feelings as we do. 

This is apparently a concept that a Cambridge researcher, Simon Baron-Cohen (absolutely not to be confused with the social comic Sasha Baron-Cohen!) claims that NTs have but that autistics and aspergians lack.


Although this is quite superficial, I would say that there's some truth to this for me.  I have often struggled with people who had different interests or viewpoints than me and have more than once been surprised to learn that a cohort disagreed with me on something.  For instance, I've never cared for sports, and I used to disparage professional athletes and those who watched them until I realized that that was a real conversation killer not just in social circles but in business networking as well.  Probably was one of the ways that I inadvertently caused people to dislike me without my understanding how that happened.


I've also been really messed up with the Golden Rule.  Sounds good on the surface, and I suppose most people try to follow it at some level, but I can tell you that bringing a pepperoni pizza (which I love) to a Green Party meeting illustrates a breakdown of that rule.


In fact, following many general codes of ethics has caused me grief.  It took me many years to realize that these rules are not and were never intended to be carried out to their logical conclusion, for instance, "always speak the truth" does not mean you tell your girlfriend that you find her outfit or haircut to be hideous, even if that's really what you think.   Yet another case where I'm finding personal pride in being true to my (and presumably my community's) values, yet laying the foundation for someone to plot my assassination.

Tags: aspergers, conclusion, ethics, identity, logical, mind, of, personal, sports, theory

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This paragraph also caught my eye:
"It is another focus of his research, though, that has made Baron-Cohen an occasionally controversial figure. In 1997, he and his colleagues looked for and found some evidence of a link between autism in children and a propensity for engineering in their parents. Further work with students at Cambridge has suggested that engineers, mathematicians, physicists, and computer scientists have a way of thinking that is quantifiably "more autistic" than that of their peers in the humanities, arts, and social sciences..."

My father is an engineer, and I have always been more comfortable talking with engineers or children of engineers than other people, they seemed "more logical" to me in their worldview. In fact, I can usually tell within five or ten minutes of meeting someone if they are or have a parent that is an engineer.
It's basically the realization (or lack) that others do not have the same knowledge, thoughts, and feelings as we do.

This is apparently a concept that a Cambridge researcher, Simon Baron-Cohen (absolutely not to be confused with the social comic Sasha Baron-Cohen!) claims that NTs have but that autistics and aspergians lack.

Without having looked it up yet, my experience has been quite the opposite. While I (and other Aspies, people with ADD, Dyslexics, etc) tend to have different-from-the-norm ways of inputing and outputing information, the problem with relating to NTs is that they often have little empathy or patience for this.

Also, I find that in customer service, I'm constantly thinking about "How do I disseminate this information to the customer in a way that universally makes sense?" While I watch coworkers botch direction-giving, instruction-sharing, and all sorts of communication. Largely from an apparent total inability to hear themselves and that what they're saying makes no sense whatsoever to a second party.

That said, the social rules do tend to be trickier for us. Good example with the "Do unto others as you would have others do unto you" rule. I too love pizza with a ton of meat. And I too have learned the hard way to consider my audience. "But will this particular group like the meat pizza as well?"

And part of the seeing-the-light that was my Asperger's DX was realizing that a lot of what I go through/have gone through is not normal for everyone. It's helped me not lose patience so fast with myself or with others. There's a great moment that illustrates this in the HBO Temple Grandin movie. She's in class and a teacher realizes she has a savant-level photographic memory. Temple exclaims, "Well yeah. Doesn't everyone?"
This lack of awareness that other people have different views, thoughts, feelings and knowledge to mine, has been a real impairment to me. I spent most of my life not being aware that other people have different perspectives.

I only started to understand that other people view things differently after I realized that I was autistic and understood what it meant.

I follow my local teams but beyond that do not care what other teams do except for a few special ones (Green Bay Packers, because I like their working-class history and close relationship to their community, etc; Naval Academy because I have a cousin who attended, and I was in NJROTC myself)...but I've learned to learn enough about sports to make smalltalk/casual, neutral conversation in order to steer clear of more controversial subjects like politics or religion....

Stuart writes:

Simon Baron-Cohen (absolutely not to be confused with the social comic Sasha Baron-Cohen!)

Two different individuals, yes, but they are actually blood relatives ;-)

Note to self: Bring vegetarian pizza to next Green Party makes sense and I understand it, given the political leanings of the crowd (which I agree with in the main) but let me give a personal ex post facto F*CK YOU to all the NT Greens at that meeting that gave Stuart sh*t about that...

Thanks I've seen those Theory of Mind articles on the Internet as well - Thanks for explaining it better for me.


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