Life as an Aspie: A Short Narration of how We Experience the World , pt 1
I want to start out by saying that I am not going to be basing this text on my theoretical and conceptual knowledge of psychology and behavior. Í want to simply explain, clarify and point out specific tendencies and actions that characterize my life experience as somebody with a (mild) case of Aspergers Syndrome (AS) and compare said experiences with how a Neurotypical individual would experience the world (NT). It’s a difficult subject to explain so shortly but here it goes.
Let’s talk about dimensions – or facets – for a moment
Why bring up dimensions? Because as an Aspie, I experience this lack of understanding of a certain dimension. Let me make it more visual:
The red line, dimension A, let’s say, is what we could call the dimension of Concepts, Analysis, Philosophy, Abstraction, Academia, airy stuff. The blue line, dimension B, is what we could call the dimension of Unwritten Social Queues, Implicit Norms, Subtle Body language. The black line, dimension C, is what we could call the dimension of Physical social queues, concrete, Obvious non-verbal communication and physical laws.
Why this diagram? Because as an Aspie, I feel as if I am blind in the realm of one of these lines. You guessed it, the middle one. The paradox is pretty interesting, too. In my case at least, I understand sarcasm, I understand humor in general, and I am very good at manipulating, or I can be if I have to (although I’m not proud of it). So why can I be fully articulate when it comes to the specific areas of humor and manipulation, on the blue line, but am not competent in the areas of flirting (non-verbally), “automatic empathy without prior analysis” or even the perception of certain hidden social codes and queues?
The answer is quite simple, actually. It’s mainly due to the fact that the manipulation I’m talking about and humor (especially intelligent humor) require highly (or average at the very least) competent analytical skills; which I “have”. The other components of the blue line that I mentioned earlier don’t require that analytical skill, but requires the opposite almost: feeling, pure experience, pure Being, pure perception, without any need to “set a tick on the list”. In other words, Aspies, usually look at the person pointing at the beautiful moon, instead of looking at the moon ourselves. I like that metaphor.
The fact that we experience reality with a weaker blue line, we often “compensate” for this “unbalance”. This happens (in my case at least) in different ways:
- Talking excessively in order to “flood out the silence”, because words is something we can play with easily, since silence requires non-verbal skills. Think about it: how do you behave, when you’re in silence with someone else?
- Over-analysis, since the only way we can (or think we can, wrongly so) reach this “pure experience, pure feeling” is to analyze and understand conceptually. This comes off often as being a nag, or being pedantic, and can also come off as unempathetic. But more than that, I’d say it’s applying too much of sympathy, so that it often overflows and overwhelms people: I remember my mom getting frustrated about how I used to criticize her for doing things that were mistakes that I thought were unacceptable and told me: “just because you know the theory behind my behavior by heart from a book, doesn’t mean you have to point it out and rub it in my face” . It’s not that we don’t have empathy, it’s that we analyze so much, that we think we’re helping by braining our way through the problem or situation at hand, instead of shutting up, and just listening to the person and offer a shoulder to cry on. I personally have gotten way better at this, but still.
- Since we know that we’re “deficient in blue line”, we know that we can be lied to successfully and cheated on successfully, very easily. What does that lead to? Well, in my case and in many other cases, apparently, it leads to being in a constant paradox: trusting everyone (the deficiency at work) and the opposite; trusting no one, because we’re like “well, if I can’t distinguish snakes from honest humans, then F*ck this *hit! Trust NO ONE”.
To be continued...