How Much Empathy?

by Spunkykitty

How much empathy is empathy? How much tact is tact? How much right is right, and how much wrong is wrong?

Is the social conundrum for people with Asperger’s really all that complicated because of our own inability to interpret and react to signals? And why is it assumed that the “other” is always a psychologically well-balanced person, free of neurological features that may also contribute to the difficulty in communication and reciprocal relation?

How does an Aspie communicate “rightly” with someone with PTSD issues? Bipolar issues? How about those who are in a state of clinical depression but do not openly admit it?

Have all those studies and experiments in this area of research ever taken into account the psychological profile and disposition of the “other” group? Or have they merely taken into consideration those with Asperger’s and just assumed the psychological “normality” (if there even is such a thing at all?) of the “other” (control group)?

And why this rant? I am no neurologist or psychologist. I am just a hypersensitive, hyper acutely aware Aspie with a slightly higher ability to logicise and verbalise my thoughts. I am trapped inside a maze of interlocking conundrums of the human psyche and processes of relating. And I’m wondering endlessly how to get out of this horrible nightmare of never-ending relational complications, the cause of which I just cannot comprehend. Available research does not provide any helpful resolution. It mostly serves to indicate, through a plethora of findings about what we “lack,” that the Autistic person is somehow or other “wrong,” and it is our fault when relations or communications fail.

Each time a discombobulating event occurs in the area of relating, I am set off on a roller coaster of emotional angst and intellectual processing, wondering over and over, examining the logical facts, trying to figure out whatever it was that went wrong. And nobody will explain it to me. I suspect that nobody understands themselves even half as much as some of us Aspies understand ourselves. Why? Because some of the “others” are not involved in an endless process of trying to figure out how and why there is so much “wrong” about their psyches.

This leads me to surmise logically, and concur with many other Aspies who muse upon this same tired, worn-out subject, that in practical reality, we are far more empathic, logical, in touch with self and reality, and hence far more emotionally and mentally “balanced” than the “others.”

Why is there no research being done from this angle? Is it because most of the research is being done by persons without much understanding of themselves, and who would never stop to engage in introspection upon this issue anyway?

I am reminded of a quote attributed to Jesus in Matthew 7:4: “How can you say to your brother, let me take the speck out of your eye, when all the time there is a plank in your own eye?” There are many variations of this question in different philosophical, religious, and literary writings, but these remain the voices in the wilderness as far as the majority of humanity is concerned.

About the Author: Spunkykitty is an artist with Asperger’s Syndrome. This piece first appeared on her blog, Spunkykitty: My Wonderful World, and is reprinted here by permission.


3 thoughts on “How Much Empathy?

  1. Well said. If there’s a perfect and 100% normal human, I don’t want to meet them. They sound boring.

  2. Nikki says:

    Brilliantly written Spunkykitty! It never ceases to amaze me the sheer amount of people who lack any insight into themselves at all and are so quick to pass judgement on others.

  3. […] by Rachel Cohen-Rottenberg in Autism & Empathy on January 12th, 2012, under the same title, “How Much Empathy?”. How much empathy is empathy? How much tact is tact? How much right is right, and how much wrong is […]

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