Can someone explain the Theory of Mind?

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SammichEater
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07 Oct 2011, 5:04 pm

swbluto wrote:
So, from your post, you basically seem to think similarly to me there are two aspects of ToM. The ability to imagine what other people are thinking, and the accuracy of that ability.

Autistics are supposedly less able to imagine what other people are thinking, but on the other hand, there are those who are able to imagine what other people are thinking but could be quite inaccurate about it.

Why might someone be inaccurate but yet have a fully intact ToM?

Perhaps because they think very differently to everyone else. If you think similarly to another person, you'll be far more likely to accurately predict how they'll react to and think about what you say and do since you imagining being that person is essentially imagining you being in their position. The golden rule is built on this principle: Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself. If what you would have done unto yourself is very different from what others would want to have done on them, then even if you do have a fairly good ToM, you can still fail at being accurate because you're highly dissimilar to other people, which is effectively the same as not having a ToM.

So, this leads to the existence of two people who are functionally similar, but yet, fundamentally different.

-Those who have an impaired ability to imagine being another person:
-Those who have the ability to imagine but are highly inaccurate due to fundamental dissimilarities. Accuracy could also be affected by working memory and whether you've "learned" how other people think through socialization.

Now, supposedly, autism has the first characteristic. Every other not-autistic FREAK out there has the second characteristic, but yet is functionally similar to someone with autism in this regard.


That would put me in the intact but inaccurate ToM category.


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btbnnyr
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07 Oct 2011, 5:36 pm

I freely admit that I do not have intuitive ToM for NTs, but I am still awaiting NTs to admit that they do not have intuitive ToM for autistics. I also admit that I can only simulate another autistic person as much as any NT can simulate another NT, which is limited amongst both autistics and NTs. This may be more limited amongst autistics, because autistic people, being naturally autistic rather than naturally social, are not as synchronized with each other as NTs are with other NTs. Idiosyncracy vs. Synchronicity, but in either case, there are general patterns to follow. MyToM and YourToM may follow the same general pattern if we are both autistic, but each ToM is distinct. I do not claim to have intuitive NT ToM, nor do I subscribe to the theory that I am defective for not having intuitive NT ToM, or that NTs are defective for not having intuitive Autistic ToM.

To me, there are no value judgments to be passed on which ToM is superior or inferior to which. I actually do not understand autistic people who say that they do understand NT ToM or have empathy with NTs. I do not claim to have either. In my mind, the concept of empathy, knowing what others are thinking and feeling, does not include the other concepts of caring about people or being able to love people. I wonder if autistic people who claim to have NT ToM and empathy with NTs really do have them, or if they are making the value judgment that it is bad not to have them due to being told by NTs that it is bad not to have them, so they convince themselves that they do have them without actually having them. Perhaps some do have some level of NT ToM, but not at the level of NTs. Maybe like 75% Autistic ToM and 25% NT ToM for some autistics. But there is no reason for people who only have 1% NT ToM to be told that they are defective for not having more NT ToM.



Maje
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07 Oct 2011, 6:24 pm

btbnnyr wrote:
This may be more limited amongst autistics, because autistic people, being naturally autistic rather than naturally social, are not as synchronized with each other as NTs are with other NTs.


Im unsure about that, because I have moments with especially one other girl with AS, which can last -the whole day, where we are literally thinking together by exchanging ideas and thereby creating new ideas in an unusual close way. I would call that synchronized if anything.
We can forget to eat and drink because were so caught up in talking to each other.

btbnnyr wrote:
I actually do not understand autistic people who say that they do understand NT ToM or have empathy with NTs.


Yeah, I dont have empathy in all the moments where I should (from an NT viewpoint), but I understand when I "should" have it, and it can actually happen that I get a littlebit annoyed that its expected of me to have empathy.
I can recall moments of sharing empathy with NTs though, so it kind of varies, at least for me.
I have to think about what it is that makes it annoying in some cases, but I think it could have something to do with them being boring in the spesific moment about the spesific topic.



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08 Oct 2011, 12:42 am

Theory of mind is a social construct created by NTz to support their lockstep culture - it is the delusion that they can read other peoples mind (in reality NTz conform to the group/culture, giving the appearance of 'like-mindedness')

Outside the NT social belief web, in the Autistic world, we know that we can't read minds (and we see no reason to pretend otherwise)
- Our inability to perform this imaginary skill is then labelled an impaired 'theory of mind'


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peterd
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08 Oct 2011, 3:06 am

I agree - it isn't a theory and it has little to do with minds. I've been watching my grandson put his together - he's just turned two, starting to talk but not quite there yet but he sees everyone in the room, knows what they're up to and how to get them to do what he wants. Theory of Mind in action.

I figure it starts with that first recognised and replicated smile, and builds up from there. The Wikipedia article mentions pointing and expecting people to know what's being pointed at. We're stuck with thinking about it, and our thought-about facial expression and posture changes lag by a second or two most of the time.



TPE2
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08 Oct 2011, 5:18 pm

swbluto wrote:

So, this leads to the existence of two people who are functionally similar, but yet, fundamentally different.

-Those who have an impaired ability to imagine being another person:
-Those who have the ability to imagine but are highly inaccurate due to fundamental dissimilarities. Accuracy could also be affected by working memory and whether you've "learned" how other people think through socialization.

Now, supposedly, autism has the first characteristic. Every other not-autistic FREAK out there has the second characteristic, but yet is functionally similar to someone with autism in this regard.


Avoidant and Paranoid Personality Disorders could be good examples of the second type - in some sense, they have extreme ToM, in the sense that they are always thinking about what others are thinking (the avoidant thinking that others are thinking bad about him, and the paranoid thinking that the others are conspiring against him); but in other sense they have bad ToM, because usually their opinions about what others are thinking is wrong (or at least exaggerated)