Mind-Blindness, Theory of Mind, and Fiction

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GameCube
Raven
Raven

Joined: 1 Apr 2019
Age: 33
Gender: Female
Posts: 115

18 Mar 2021, 11:17 pm

I self-diagnosed myself with Aspergers before I got a formal diagnosis. This was just before the new criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder and I found the theory of mind criteria very confusing as well. I love reading fiction and watching fiction. I especially enjoy reading fantasy and science fiction books. But theory of mind is not really about disliking fiction. It's more about misunderstanding metaphors, tone changes in voices, reading the mood of a room, etc... I didn't think I struggled to badly in this area, but turns out according to theory of mind criteria, I'm a very logical thinker and I miss these things a lot.

The tests I took involved listening to recorded conversations and picking out certain terms of expressions, emotions, and predictions of how things were going to turn out. I also had to read life problems and try to piece them together. There was even a test where I had to guess what was inside a box based on what was in a room and what was in there before. I had a questionnaire regarding working imagination and problem solving. I did well with the task involving the box, but really struggled with the other tasks.

To further answer questions:

1. Where do you think the rumor that Aspies hate reading stems from: difficulties tolerating as much socialization as NTs, are Aspies simply incapable of understanding fiction books because of a lack of empathy, or is this rumor simply the end result of Aspies being more “male-brained”/”left brain” than the average neurotypical? Why?

-I think the rumor that Aspies hate reading stems from the misconception that they will only read texts based on their special interests or concrete concepts that are comfortable to them.

2. If you are a diagnosed Aspie, do you have difficulties understanding things like motivation in works of fiction? Where do you think this trouble stems from? What kind of things strike you as difficult or frustrating? (Note: A good example would NOT be something you read in your English class; those books are designed to be challenging reads. A good example would be something one of your friends/siblings/peers would pick up and read for fun.)

-I don't typically miss motivation in works of fiction, but it depends on its complexity. When I do have difficulty understanding motivation its usually because I have a hard time understanding the struggles of character I can't relate to or there are too many sub-plots and I lose track of what is happening. I think the trouble with understanding some characters stems from my limited knowledge of social cues and my trouble following too many plot lines probably stems from my ADHD and tendencies to be inattentive/distracted. I don't really find reading frustrating, but I dislike authors who use the word "that" too much. I learned it's useless and it doesn't allow sentences to flow as smoothly.

3. In general, what are your thoughts on empathy and Asperger’s? How would you define empathy? Do you think Aspies lack empathy? What do you think of the author’s opinion in the quote provided that NTs seem to lack empathy just as much as Aspies do, that we both have problems relating to one another, and that Aspies are only labeled empathetically challenged because we can’t relate to the majority of people (NTs)?

-For the longest time I thought I lacked empathy. I was called so many terrible things and I become scared of myself. It turns out I don't lack empathy, but I have a different way of sharing it and since I was treated poorly by my peers throughout my life I'm not willing to give it away to just anyone. I'm still healing and learning from my past experiences and working on my own self compassion and compassion for others.

I don't think Aspies lack empathy. It's actually been proven if you put multiple Aspies in a room together they will just "get" their way of communicating. I believe Aspies have a different way of communicating and expressing empathy from their neurotypical peers, making it difficult for them to always see eye-to-eye. I read Aspies can also be really open minded about other people's struggles, often reading about difficult human rights topics or human interest stories. I also think Aspies tend to have a strong sense of what they believe is right and wrong and aren't afraid to dive into difficult topics.

I hope I answered everything you needed. I read your post over briefly and tried to break everything down as best I could.



diagnosedafter50
Toucan
Toucan

Joined: 15 Dec 2020
Age: 54
Posts: 262
Location: United Kingdom

21 Mar 2021, 1:49 pm

GameCube wrote:
I self-diagnosed myself with Aspergers before I got a formal diagnosis. This was just before the new criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder and I found the theory of mind criteria very confusing as well. I love reading fiction and watching fiction. I especially enjoy reading fantasy and science fiction books. But theory of mind is not really about disliking fiction. It's more about misunderstanding metaphors, tone changes in voices, reading the mood of a room, etc... I didn't think I struggled to badly in this area, but turns out according to theory of mind criteria, I'm a very logical thinker and I miss these things a lot.

The tests I took involved listening to recorded conversations and picking out certain terms of expressions, emotions, and predictions of how things were going to turn out. I also had to read life problems and try to piece them together. There was even a test where I had to guess what was inside a box based on what was in a room and what was in there before. I had a questionnaire regarding working imagination and problem solving. I did well with the task involving the box, but really struggled with the other tasks.

To further answer questions:

1. Where do you think the rumor that Aspies hate reading stems from: difficulties tolerating as much socialization as NTs, are Aspies simply incapable of understanding fiction books because of a lack of empathy, or is this rumor simply the end result of Aspies being more “male-brained”/”left brain” than the average neurotypical? Why?

-I think the rumor that Aspies hate reading stems from the misconception that they will only read texts based on their special interests or concrete concepts that are comfortable to them.

2. If you are a diagnosed Aspie, do you have difficulties understanding things like motivation in works of fiction? Where do you think this trouble stems from? What kind of things strike you as difficult or frustrating? (Note: A good example would NOT be something you read in your English class; those books are designed to be challenging reads. A good example would be something one of your friends/siblings/peers would pick up and read for fun.)

-I don't typically miss motivation in works of fiction, but it depends on its complexity. When I do have difficulty understanding motivation its usually because I have a hard time understanding the struggles of character I can't relate to or there are too many sub-plots and I lose track of what is happening. I think the trouble with understanding some characters stems from my limited knowledge of social cues and my trouble following too many plot lines probably stems from my ADHD and tendencies to be inattentive/distracted. I don't really find reading frustrating, but I dislike authors who use the word "that" too much. I learned it's useless and it doesn't allow sentences to flow as smoothly.

3. In general, what are your thoughts on empathy and Asperger’s? How would you define empathy? Do you think Aspies lack empathy? What do you think of the author’s opinion in the quote provided that NTs seem to lack empathy just as much as Aspies do, that we both have problems relating to one another, and that Aspies are only labeled empathetically challenged because we can’t relate to the majority of people (NTs)?

-For the longest time I thought I lacked empathy. I was called so many terrible things and I become scared of myself. It turns out I don't lack empathy, but I have a different way of sharing it and since I was treated poorly by my peers throughout my life I'm not willing to give it away to just anyone. I'm still healing and learning from my past experiences and working on my own self compassion and compassion for others.

I don't think Aspies lack empathy. It's actually been proven if you put multiple Aspies in a room together they will just "get" their way of communicating. I believe Aspies have a different way of communicating and expressing empathy from their neurotypical peers, making it difficult for them to always see eye-to-eye. I read Aspies can also be really open minded about other people's struggles, often reading about difficult human rights topics or human interest stories. I also think Aspies tend to have a strong sense of what they believe is right and wrong and aren't afraid to dive into difficult topics.

I hope I answered everything you needed. I read your post over briefly and tried to break everything down as best I could.
.
Thank you for your thoughtful post and sorry for the late reply.
Thank you for explaining how you relate to theory of mind.
Thank you for explaining about the tests you took.

I do not think that Aspies hate reading fiction, in fact I was of the belief that those who did read fiction were better at socialising.
I was of the belief that they had better cognitive empathy through reading fiction. I’m Aspie and female.

I am sorry to hear that you were treated poorly by your peers.

Again thank you for this well thought out post.



autisticelders
Sea Gull
Sea Gull

Joined: 23 Feb 2020
Gender: Female
Posts: 206
Location: Alpena MI

22 Mar 2021, 6:19 am

wow, what a great thread and conversation!! ! "mind blindness" and "extreme male theories have been mostly debunked. The person responsible for both those things is a well meaning NT but his own blindness regarding how he analyzed his "studies" has been exposed. Look up "double empathy problem" for explanations.

I read fiction through high school, and still read selected fiction daily. (about a book a day, I read adult books by age 4) but I stopped randomly grazing fiction and got fixed preferences when I was about 20, due to so many fiction books having the dramas focused on emotional struggles.

I have CPTSD and was abused until about age 30, so I avoided reading emotion stirring and distressing interactions in books for years, preferring to seek facts as a way to keep my emotions safely locked away.

I have been back to reading fiction again for years now, but am still distressed by so much graphic description of violence, sex, emotional confrontations, etc etc. My processing has no place for all those horribly distressing emotions to rest.

I would have told anybody asking that my preference was for books about facts (and still is, I read facts 4 to 5 hours a day looking at studies and information about my interests) but that does not mean that I was not also reading fiction right along with the non fiction.

It has been shown that a study can be designed to "prove" almost any theory, depending on the design and those who interpret what the answers to the questions "really mean". Take what you can use and leave the rest. Something is out there for everybody.



NorthWind
Veteran
Veteran

User avatar

Joined: 23 Jun 2016
Gender: Female
Posts: 577

22 Mar 2021, 1:01 pm

Old thread and I didn't read through all of it, but...

Quote:
1. Where do you think the rumor that Aspies hate reading stems from: difficulties tolerating as much socialization as NTs, are Aspies simply incapable of understanding fiction books because of a lack of empathy, or is this rumor simply the end result of Aspies being more “male-brained”/”left brain” than the average neurotypical? Why?

I'm not sure for how many autistic people the rumor is true, but it was one of the many reasons why I didn't feel like I was even remotely similar to any of the autism stereotypes when I was diagnosed.
Until I looked up how autism manifests in women and there was a lot about enjoying fiction, making up stories, daydreaming, enjoying fantasies. Obviously it's not just (some) autistic women who enjoy fiction, but there are men on this forum who do too. It's probably rather that initially only one kind of autistic person was recognized as autistic and that's where the stereotypes come from.
However, I've come across autistic people who said about themselves that they've trouble understanding fictional stories or just don't enjoy them and in some cases it may be due to difficulties understanding character motivations and emotions. When it comes to movies it may also be comorbid prosopagnosia.

Quote:
2. If you are a diagnosed Aspie, do you have difficulties understanding things like motivation in works of fiction? Where do you think this trouble stems from? What kind of things strike you as difficult or frustrating? (Note: A good example would NOT be something you read in your English class; those books are designed to be challenging reads. A good example would be something one of your friends/siblings/peers would pick up and read for fun.)

I am officially diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome. No, I do not have difficulties understanding character motivations in fictional stories and I like reading fiction.

Quote:
3. In general, what are your thoughts on empathy and Asperger’s? How would you define empathy? Do you think Aspies lack empathy? What do you think of the author’s opinion in the quote provided that NTs seem to lack empathy just as much as Aspies do, that we both have problems relating to one another, and that Aspies are only labeled empathetically challenged because we can’t relate to the majority of people (NTs)?

Cognitive empathy is the ability to understand what other people are thinking and feeling. Emotional empathy is being able to sympathize.
Some autistic people, and that may include some diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome, may have an actual deficit in cognitive empathy. However, the most simple kind of empathy is to assume that others feel the way you feel when you are in a similar situation. And that works a lot better if you are part of the majority, as you'll be interacting with someone similar to yourself more often and the assumption that they feel how you'd feel will more often be true.



GameCube
Raven
Raven

Joined: 1 Apr 2019
Age: 33
Gender: Female
Posts: 115

28 Mar 2021, 10:57 pm

diagnosedafter50 wrote:
GameCube wrote:
I self-diagnosed myself with Aspergers before I got a formal diagnosis. This was just before the new criteria for Autism Spectrum Disorder and I found the theory of mind criteria very confusing as well. I love reading fiction and watching fiction. I especially enjoy reading fantasy and science fiction books. But theory of mind is not really about disliking fiction. It's more about misunderstanding metaphors, tone changes in voices, reading the mood of a room, etc... I didn't think I struggled to badly in this area, but turns out according to theory of mind criteria, I'm a very logical thinker and I miss these things a lot.

The tests I took involved listening to recorded conversations and picking out certain terms of expressions, emotions, and predictions of how things were going to turn out. I also had to read life problems and try to piece them together. There was even a test where I had to guess what was inside a box based on what was in a room and what was in there before. I had a questionnaire regarding working imagination and problem solving. I did well with the task involving the box, but really struggled with the other tasks.

To further answer questions:

1. Where do you think the rumor that Aspies hate reading stems from: difficulties tolerating as much socialization as NTs, are Aspies simply incapable of understanding fiction books because of a lack of empathy, or is this rumor simply the end result of Aspies being more “male-brained”/”left brain” than the average neurotypical? Why?

-I think the rumor that Aspies hate reading stems from the misconception that they will only read texts based on their special interests or concrete concepts that are comfortable to them.

2. If you are a diagnosed Aspie, do you have difficulties understanding things like motivation in works of fiction? Where do you think this trouble stems from? What kind of things strike you as difficult or frustrating? (Note: A good example would NOT be something you read in your English class; those books are designed to be challenging reads. A good example would be something one of your friends/siblings/peers would pick up and read for fun.)

-I don't typically miss motivation in works of fiction, but it depends on its complexity. When I do have difficulty understanding motivation its usually because I have a hard time understanding the struggles of character I can't relate to or there are too many sub-plots and I lose track of what is happening. I think the trouble with understanding some characters stems from my limited knowledge of social cues and my trouble following too many plot lines probably stems from my ADHD and tendencies to be inattentive/distracted. I don't really find reading frustrating, but I dislike authors who use the word "that" too much. I learned it's useless and it doesn't allow sentences to flow as smoothly.

3. In general, what are your thoughts on empathy and Asperger’s? How would you define empathy? Do you think Aspies lack empathy? What do you think of the author’s opinion in the quote provided that NTs seem to lack empathy just as much as Aspies do, that we both have problems relating to one another, and that Aspies are only labeled empathetically challenged because we can’t relate to the majority of people (NTs)?

-For the longest time I thought I lacked empathy. I was called so many terrible things and I become scared of myself. It turns out I don't lack empathy, but I have a different way of sharing it and since I was treated poorly by my peers throughout my life I'm not willing to give it away to just anyone. I'm still healing and learning from my past experiences and working on my own self compassion and compassion for others.

I don't think Aspies lack empathy. It's actually been proven if you put multiple Aspies in a room together they will just "get" their way of communicating. I believe Aspies have a different way of communicating and expressing empathy from their neurotypical peers, making it difficult for them to always see eye-to-eye. I read Aspies can also be really open minded about other people's struggles, often reading about difficult human rights topics or human interest stories. I also think Aspies tend to have a strong sense of what they believe is right and wrong and aren't afraid to dive into difficult topics.

I hope I answered everything you needed. I read your post over briefly and tried to break everything down as best I could.
.
Thank you for your thoughtful post and sorry for the late reply.
Thank you for explaining how you relate to theory of mind.
Thank you for explaining about the tests you took.

I do not think that Aspies hate reading fiction, in fact I was of the belief that those who did read fiction were better at socialising.
I was of the belief that they had better cognitive empathy through reading fiction. I’m Aspie and female.

I am sorry to hear that you were treated poorly by your peers.

Again thank you for this well thought out post.


You're welcome. I'm happy to help :)
Theory of Mind and empathy are complex topics to unpack and I'm always looking for insight on these topics myself. Thank you for the kind words regarding my post. I'm still getting used to sharing my personal insights and it helps me to know when people like what I write.