Williams syndrome: high empathy “disorder”

I never heard of Williams syndrome until I watched this video. People with Williams Syndrome are missing genes on the 7th chromosome. Characteristics include “elfin” facial features, slight cognitive delays, sensitivity to sound (and a love for music), and extreme friendliness, which includes high empathy for others.

I’m not sure this should be classified a disorder after watching this video. These kids just make you smile.

11 thoughts on “Williams syndrome: high empathy “disorder”

  1. I just watched the video. Fascinating.

    Back in the 1960s, when I was a young teenager locked in a state mental institution, there were a few patients like this. The vast majority of the patients there were miserable and rightfully so, as it was a horrible place to be. But there were a few who were always cheerful, friendly, loving, and empathetic. They were also mildly cognitively impaired and, as I recall, most of them had “elfin” facial features. They must have had Williams Syndrome.

    Those sweet patients were so pleasant and never any trouble at all. Their families probably put them there because they were embarrassed to have less than perfect children. 😦

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    • They probably did. 😦 It’s so sad because these children are really beautiful even if they’re “slow.” I was reading about Williams syndrome and while they do tend to have lower than average IQs, not all of them do. Besides their sociability, they also tend to be gifted in music. I hesitate to call it a disorder at all–maybe it’s really just a variation.
      I hate to think what would have happened if I had Williams syndrome. I bet I would have been instittionalized. I know my mother couldn’t have handled having a child with something like this.

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      • From what I know about your childhood, I agree, that’s probably what would have happened if you had had this disorder.

        There were many people in the institution who appeared to have nothing wrong with them other than being deaf, or having epilepsy, or having some kind of physical birth deformity, or a slightly below average IQ. Totally normal otherwise, but not “perfect.” Very sad.

        When I was 14 and I had my post-traumatic nervous breakdown, my mother told me: “You will be happier with your own kind.” Did she really believe that, I wonder? Knowing her supreme selfishness, I doubt that she believed it. It was just a handy excuse to “justify” getting rid of me.

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  2. I can’t help thinking about something I read on your “banned” blog. People who trip on DMT sometimes see elves coming through their doorway. These elves are benevolent and help the tripper evolve spiritually.


  3. Pingback: The Opposite of Psychopathy | kiasherosjourney

  4. Apparently, institutionalization was an acceptable way to save face for some American parents back in the day when they didn’t want anyone to know they had less than perfect (or “normal’) children. Our society has evolved since then, for various sundry and assorted reasons, and, I suggest, continues to do so. I think society as a whole (and science in particular) has benefited from this evolution but, based on personal observation, I know that the parents of these children have borne most of the associated “costs.”

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    • My parents used to threaten me all the time with institutionalization– usually a “reform school”–and I wasn’t a bad kid! I know if they had a disabled child, they would have institutionalized him or her. My mother abandoned her first two daughters (who were perfectly normal) in order to marry my father. I know she would have been embarrassed to have a disabled child and wouldn’t have wanted the “burden.” Frankly, I couldn’t have dealt with it either, but for different reasons. Anyway, it’s a good thing all 3 of my mother’s children were “normal” (well, normally cognitively and physically, anyway!)

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