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Adult Aspergers and Lack of Empathy

Question

I would really like to encourage you to keep writing for adults... I bet there are a ton of us out there, not diagnosed but living a hellish life trying to fit in... Having someone who understands me is refreshing to say the least...

I used to be a Pastor but I gave it up because I had no empathy for people... No feelings of sympathy or love... I have no feelings of love at all, so if you were to ask me if I love God, or love my mom, or my wife... I have no feeling so I would manufacture a response, so I have felt like a fraud and very uncaring and ashamed... I have admitted this to my wife, which had to be recanted because of her shock and pain: "You mean you don't love me??" And my response is: "Oh, no, I did not mean that... of course I have feelings of love for you!"

It’s a real problem because, how can I be truthful and at the same time not offend... Love is somewhat of a decision, not a feeling, for me... I no longer go to church because it’s a problem for me...

I also have a very tough time with sadness... when I approach crying, it is physically painful... I can't get the pain out... I feel sad, but it gets too intense and painful... Is this Normal for one with Aspergers?? Is there any way around it??

I would REALLY like to encourage and challenge you to keep writing for us adults... You truly have a gift... Trying to figure out my maleness, issues AND Aspergers is really really confusing, and painful...


Answer

Re: “I have no feeling so I would manufacture a response, so I have felt like a fraud and very uncaring and ashamed...”

I regularly recommend to men with Aspergers to pick prudent times to (a) tell white lies and (b) fake emotions when there are none.

Why would I recommend this for crying out loud?

Let’s use an example regarding white lies: Your wife asks, “Does my butt look big in this dress.” Your honest response might be, “No more than usual.”

BAM!!! You might as well just smack your wife in the face. Your “I have to be honest because I don’t want to be a fraud” philosophy just got you into big trouble.

Now, let’s try it again from the beginning: Your wife asks, “Does my butt look big in this dress.” Better to say, “No, not at all. I like your cute little butt.” Was that a line of bullshit? You better know it! And you just made your wife’s day.

Let’s use an example regarding “faking” emotions: Your mother-in-law has stayed with you and your wife for a 3-day visit. She has just left to catch her flight back to Arizona, and your wife states, “It sure was good to see mom. I wish we lived closer. I’m not going to see her again until Christmas …I’m going to miss her.” You say nothing! Right?

Poor choice on your part. Your silence just sent the message: “I don’t really care if I see her again or not.” Instead, you should assert, “Yes it was good to see her. I’m going to miss her sense of humor.” Do you really feel a sense of loss or sadness with your mother-in-law’s departure? I doubt it. But you just cheered-up your wife. And that’s a good thing.

Re: “Love is somewhat of a decision, not a feeling, for me...”

The same is true for the rest of us! Love is not a feeling. “Falling in love” and “love” are two different things.

Falling in love:
  • can be a first step towards genuine love
  • can be a flash of emotions
  • if it is mutual and both people work at their relationship, can one day grow into genuine love
  • is a strong instinctive attraction to a person
  • is the call of one's longing to belong
  • usually means falling in love with the person's appearance, with the way she walks, the way she talks; sometimes we impute to our object of love some ideal qualities, and the more we get to know the person, the less we “fall” for her (that's when the feeling of love disappears even faster than it appeared)

Genuine love on the other hand:
  • implies commitment and the exercise of wisdom
  • is a decision
  • is a state of awareness
  • is a way of being in the world
  • is a way of seeing oneself and others
  • is misunderstood to be an emotion
  • is volitional rather than euphorically emotional

The concern and commitment to another's spiritual and emotional growth is the purest form of love. It is for this reason that commitment is the cornerstone of any healthy relationship. The person who truly loves does so because of a “decision to love.” This person has made a commitment to “being a loving individual” – whether or not the “loving feelings” are present. It can be difficult and painful to search for evidence of love in one's actions, but because true love is an “act of will” that transcends transient feelings of love, it can be said, "Love is as love does." Love and non-love, as good and evil, are objective and not purely subjective phenomena.

Re: “I can't get the pain out... I feel sad, but it gets too intense and painful... Is this Normal for one with Aspergers?? Is there any way around it??”

It is normal, but I would never recommend going “around it” – rather you should go “through it.” Without pain, there is no learning – no growth. It is this pain that is helping you develop emotional muscles and wisdom that you would never develop otherwise.

What did your mother tell you when you were young? She may have said something like, “If it doesn’t kill you, it’ll make you stronger.” You should listen to your mother.

Living with an Aspergers Partner: Relationship Skills for Couples Affected by Aspergers

1 comment:

Katy McPherson said...

Being neourologically typical and married to a man with Aspergers, this man's struggle hits close to home. Clearly, people with Aspergers really struggle with the politics of emotions in their relationships, and understanding the emotions of others. Equally difficult is processing their own emotions, and regulating them when they flood the nerve system. In my 18 years of marriage to my husband, I have learned to accept the fact that he is truly disabled, and that this isn't going to change. If an Aspergers man can find a woman who understands that his disability is real, even though most of the time he seems perfectly typical, then he is more likely to enjoy marital harmony than if she thinks that "a little counseling" will fix him right up. I know it's harder for husband to process his emotions than it is for me. I give him time and space to cope with his feelings, and resist the temptation to "move things along" and get to a resolution quickly. Truly, the problem of emotions in Aspergers people is real. I hope that the Aspergers man who wrote this letter is able to be patient with himself on his journey to understanding himself in light of his disability, and to not lose hope that he can indeed enjoy rewarding relationships with others as he comes to a deeper acceptance of and understanding of himself.

My child has been rejected by his peers, ridiculed and bullied !!!

Social rejection has devastating effects in many areas of functioning. Because the Aspergers child tends to internalize how others treat him, rejection damages self-esteem and often causes anxiety and depression. As the child feels worse about himself and becomes more anxious and depressed – he performs worse, socially and intellectually.

Click here to read the full article…

How to Prevent Meltdowns in Aspergers Children

Meltdowns are not a pretty sight. They are somewhat like overblown temper tantrums, but unlike tantrums, meltdowns can last anywhere from ten minutes to over an hour. When it starts, the Asperger's child is totally out-of-control. When it ends, both you and the Asperger’s child are totally exhausted. But... don’t breathe a sigh of relief yet. At the least provocation, for the remainder of that day -- and sometimes into the next - the meltdown can return in full force.

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Parenting Defiant Aspergers Teens

Although Aspergers is at the milder end of the autism spectrum, the challenges parents face when disciplining a teenager with Aspergers are more difficult than they would be with an average teen. Complicated by defiant behavior, the Aspergers teen is at risk for even greater difficulties on multiple levels – unless the parents’ disciplinary techniques are tailored to their child's special needs.

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Aspergers Children “Block-Out” Their Emotions

Parenting children with Aspergers and HFA can be a daunting task. In layman’s terms, Aspergers is a developmental disability that affects the way children develop and understand the world around them, and is directly linked to their senses and sensory processing. This means they often use certain behaviors to block out their emotions or response to pain.

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Older Teens and Young Adult Children With Aspergers Still Living At Home

Your older teenager or young “adult child” isn’t sure what to do, and he is asking you for money every few days. How do you cut the purse strings and teach him to be independent? Parents of teens with Aspergers face many problems that other parents do not. Time is running out for teaching their adolescent how to become an independent adult. As one mother put it, "There's so little time, yet so much left to do."

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Living with an Aspergers Spouse/Partner

Research reveals that the divorce rate for people with Aspergers is around 80%. Why so high!? The answer may be found in how the symptoms of Aspergers affect intimate relationships. People with Aspergers often find it difficult to understand others and express themselves. They may seem to lose interest in people over time, appear aloof, and are often mistaken as self-centered, vain individuals.

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Online Parent Coaching for Parents of Asperger's Children

If you’re the parent of a child with Aspergers or High-Functioning Autism, you know it can be a struggle from time to time. Your child may be experiencing: obsessive routines; problems coping in social situations; intense tantrums and meltdowns; over-sensitivity to sounds, tastes, smells and sights; preoccupation with one subject of interest; and being overwhelmed by even the smallest of changes.

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Unraveling The Mystery Behind Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism

Parents, teachers, and the general public have a lot of misconceptions of Asperger's and High-Functioning Autism. Many myths abound, and the lack of knowledge is both disturbing and harmful to kids and teens who struggle with the disorder.

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Parenting Children and Teens with High-Functioning Autism

Two traits often found in kids with High-Functioning Autism are “mind-blindness” (i.e., the inability to predict the beliefs and intentions of others) and “alexithymia” (i.e., the inability to identify and interpret emotional signals in others). These two traits reduce the youngster’s ability to empathize with peers. As a result, he or she may be perceived by adults and other children as selfish, insensitive and uncaring.

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