Aspies & Empathy

It’s time that I put out another post about Asperger’s Syndrome and why I say I have Aspie traits. It is often said that Aspies don’t have empathy. With this post, I want to try to convince you that is not true using some things I have learned and with some personal examples. That is what this post is about.

It has been generally believed that Aspies lack emotions like empathy, compassion, sadness, or happiness. That could be true for some on the spectrum as it is a very wide spectrum but recently it has been shown that many are very much in the opposite category. It’s just that they don’t show their emotions like NT’s do. If you don’t know what an NT is, see the graphic to the right. I can tell you from a personal level I am sometimes almost overwhelmed by empathy.

My difficulty expressing emotions doesn’t mean that I don’t feel them.

The phrase above just about sums it up for me. I probably don’t express these emotions that are expected of me, but I have them. I am finding it hard to put this in words but I think I feel these emotions more at a personal level than NT’s. I also think that the emotion that I am supposed to feel on the spot often happens much further down the road so to speak. I tend to overthink almost everything and that includes when I encounter happy, sad, or emphatic circumstances. I see the situation from a hundred different angles before I feel I thoroughly understand it or allow it to affect my behavior.

Logic is also part of the analysis of emotional situations. I tend to be emotionally detached from many of life’s circumstances. My logic side mutes the emotional side. And then there are times when I just don’t understand how a situation should be treated at an emotional level.

On a side note, I admit that I don’t really understand the emotional side of death. To me, death is just a natural thing that happens to all of us. There is nothing to be sad about. Instead, when death occurs I tend to look back and celebrate the good times in life instead of grieving about a personal loss. I know none of this probably makes much sense to you. Before this post is finally put out I will have gone over these words again and again to try to give you a logical explanation of my emotional side, but I will never feel that my explanation is adequate. Expressions of feeling are second nature to most people, but they remain somewhat of a mystery to me.

That is enough for now except to tell you that yes, after seventy years on the earth I got a pretty good idea how I am “supposed” to react to emotional situations but I just don’t do a very good job of acting it out.

What brought all this to the surface was a Psychology Today article from 2008 entitled “Asperger Emotions and Adult Relationships” Click here if you want to look it over yourself. I hope I have given you at least a semi-coherent explanation for how I feel emotions.