What I Know About Autism And NPD Families And You Should Too by Rick London

I really didn’t want to post another article about the dysfunctional Trump family today, but I just finished reading this and I think it’s too important to pass by. The writer of this post has autism and was raised by NPD parents who kept him isolated and alone. Here he discusses Barron Trump and how being isolated alone on his own floor of the Trump tower is very toxic for his emotional development, especially if he in fact suffers from autism, as many people have speculated.

Rick makes a case here that such isolation is a form of scapegoating or abusing a child, and if Barron is autistic, it would make sense that his father would target and punish him for being less than perfect.

Rick London Syndication

This blog story is not only a follow-up for those interested in the horrors of the NPD and/or malignant narcissist family and hiding away the “different” child in an attic or entire floor alone”, it is for those who want a layman’s experience with the topic. Barron Trump lives on the entire top floor of Trump Towers alone. Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it? Wouldn’t you just love to have such an amazing childhood?  Please keep reading.

barron-1

To make it clear, this is not an attack of Barron, anything but.  It is a wake-up call to
bring awareness to the “NPD Family Model” and how the IP (Identified Patient) or
scapegoat is tortured (for life usually unless proper psychiatric intervention who recognizes it treats it).

I am told the majority of NPD scapegoats do not make it into adulthood and those who do, unless they get a maximum amount of very good…

View original post 872 more words

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The Narcautism spectrum!

So. Why not take the idea described in my last article to even more absurd extremes. Yes, it’s the Narcautism Spectrum!

This invaluable tool for study was tweeted to me by a blogger, Don “Dr.” Depresso, who was inspired to send it to me because of the article I posted earlier tonight.

All kidding aside, the chart does make sense, but I’m trying to figure out how “malignant narcissism” is where it is on the chart. I think it refers to the fact that MN’s have a high level of cognitive (“cold”) empathy–they KNOW how you feel, and use it against you. It looks like the “intersection” would be where non-narcissistic neurotypicals (most people) would be. The Schizoid is a complete droid–no empathy (either warm or cold) and no social skills.

Narcissism and autism–they go together, like rama lamma lamma ka dinga da dinga dong.

grease

Manic Chart: Narcautism Spectrum
Narcautism Spectrum = intersection of narcissism and autism spectra, shown across two dimensions of empathy. Low affective empathy (not caring how people feel) is related to narcissism, while low cognitive empathy (not knowing how people feel) is related to autism. Chart not drawn to scale.

The idea to draw this chart came from reading the article “Do You Think of Narcissism as an Autistic Spectrum Disorder?” in Psychology Today.

Thx 4 reading,
Dr. Depresso

narcautism_spectrum
http://dondepresso.rujic.net/post/116940034025/manic-chart-narcautism-spectrum

Don Depresso, you rock my world!

musician54

What’s up with this crazy idea that narcissism and Aspergers are the same thing?

aspie_narcissist

As a person with Aspergers who has been a victim of narcissists all my life, the difference seems pretty clear to me, but to some people, including mental health professionals, high-functioning autism (Aspergers) and narcissism are seen as the same disorder!

A thread on Wrong Planet, a forum for people with autism and Aspergers (a high functioning form of autism) discusses the confusion, with people on both sides of the Aspergers=Narcissism fence. Cited there is an article from Psychology Today, which quotes Sam Vaknin who believes narcissism is an autism spectrum disorder! The British psychiatrist Dr. Khalid A. Mansour concurs.

Clearly, some people don’t understand much about high functioning autism/Aspergers. Yes, I believe it’s possible for a person to be both a narcissist AND on the autism spectrum (an example might be Mark Zuckerberg, creator of Facebook, especially as he was portrayed in the movie “The Social Network“), but they are two vastly different disorders.

Appearances are only skin deep.

aspergers_narcissism

I understand where the confusion comes from. On the surface, the two disorders can appear similar. People on the autism spectrum may seem as if they lack empathy because they do not express their emotions well, which of course includes showing empathy. They also sometimes blurt out inappropriate or hurtful things, not because they mean to, but because they honestly don’t know any better: they have great difficulty reading social cues. They can appear selfish and sometimes get angry or upset when their routines are interrupted or they are forced to pull themselves away from their solitary pursuits to engage with others. They can also violate the boundaries of others. All of these surface behaviors may look a lot like narcissism.

But appearances are only skin deep, and this is where any similarity ends. Lack of empathy seems to be the most commonly mentioned “characteristic” of both Aspies and narcissists. But in actuality, as far as empathy is concerned, a person with autism/Aspergers is the polar opposite of a narcissist. A narcissist cannot feel empathy, but can act as if they do. They are good actors and can fake emotion they do not feel. They can lie well; Aspies cannot lie or lie very badly. People with Aspergers and high functioning autism are great at picking up the emotions of others around them and are even sometimes overwhelmed by other people’s emotions (which sometimes makes them withdraw and that can make them seem like they lack empathy). They can be bad at expressing empathy because of their inability to read social cues or know what to say and do. Therefore, Aspies can feel empathy but often act as if they do not.

autism

Narcissists can say hurtful or damaging things because (a) they don’t care how you feel; or (b) because they want to hurt you. People with autism/Aspergers say hurtful things too sometimes, but it’s never intentional and they do care how you feel. If they are told they said something hurtful, most autists/Aspies are consumed with guilt and will sincerely apologize. They blurt things out because they sometimes do not know it’s not appropriate to do so.

Aspies and autists hate to have their comforting routines interrupted because repetition is something that grounds and relaxes them. A low functioning person with autism will sometimes perform repetitive movements or repeat a phrase over and over. This is how they cope with too much stimuli coming in. If they are interrupted, a low-functioning autist may fly into a rage or have a temper tantrum. Disengaging and switching gears is impossible for them.

At the higher end of the spectrum, an Aspie or high functioning autist may not repeat the same word or action over and over, but they have their hobbies and obsessions which they pursue with a single-minded intensity. They tend to hyper-focus on whatever interests them. If they are interrupted from whatever their mind is focused on, they may snap at you or become very annoyed. They can switch gears if they must but they hate doing it.

A narcissist may also snap or become annoyed, but not because they have difficulty switching gears but because they are just plain selfish and don’t want to do something that might please someone else besides themselves. Think of the narcissistic husband playing a video game. His wife comes into the room and asks for some help opening a stuck window. The husband flies into a rage and tells her he’s busy and to do it herself. It’s not because he’s that engrossed in the game or even cares about it that much, it’s because he doesn’t want to put himself out for his wife. For an Aspie or autist, the game engages all of their senses and their mind is extremely focused. They simply can’t pull away from it.

aspie_misdiagnosis

A person with autism or Aspergers can and do violate the boundaries of others. Again, this is because they can’t read social cues well enough to know when they are violating someone else’s boundaries. A narcissist knows full well when they are violating boundaries, but they simply do not care.

A forum member on Wrong Planet sums up the confusion this way:

To me it’s as absurd as comparing the small narcissistic child recklessly driving a car, to a person trying to cross the street in a wheelchair, and saying they have a lot in common because they both have a set of wheels.

I think mental health professionals and others who believe narcissism and Aspergers are on the same spectrum need to dig a lot deeper before they make such sweeping generalizations. They are not the same disorder at all and are certainly not on the same spectrum. Aspergers/high functioning autism is a neurodevelopmental deficit and really a type of learning disability; narcissism is a moral deficit.

For further reading, please see my article, People with Autism Do Not Lack Empathy!
Also see The Spectrums of Autism and Narcissism.

Narcissists with Aspergers?

lonely_guy

There’s been much written about the relationship between Aspergers syndrome and narcissism, mostly about the way they are often confused with each other (or misdiagnosed as the other disorder) due to the belief that people with Aspergers lack empathy (which is not true). I wrote about this false belief in my article, “People with Autism Do Not Lack Empathy!”

People with Aspergers may SEEM unempathic, because they are not always very good at expressing emotions or knowing how to react when other people share their emotions with them. But an Aspie’s lack of appropriate social reaction to the emotions of others doesn’t mean they can’t FEEL the emotions around them. In fact, some may feel other’s emotions MORE keenly than neurotypicals, and they can be easily overwhelmed, which may cause them to withdraw from the situation and partly account for why they may seem less engaged emotionally or uncaring about the feelings of others.

aspie_misdiagnosis

Narcissism as an Autism Spectrum Disorder?

question2

Psychology Today had an interesting article comparing narcissism to high functioning autism (Aspergers) and at least one psychologist thinks they may be the same disorder!:

Khalid A. Mansour (the British Arab psychiatrist), has proposed in an article in the Pan Arab Journal of Psychiatry (link is external) that narcissistic personality may merit classification as an autistic spectrum disorder.

Dr. Mansour writes, “There is now significant level of agreement that emotional processing problems like: lack of empathy, poor self-awareness, self-centredness, poor reciprocation of emotion, poor ability to maintain emotional relationships, anxiety and anger outbursts are more or less central features of autism (10, 50,51).”

Interesting. When I first read the above paragraph, I though Dr. Mansour was writing about severe narcissism. His description fits both narcissism and autistic spectrum disorders. Hmmm.

Dr. Mansour similarly quotes from the ICM-10 listing these features of autism:

–Self-centeredness; inappropriate to developmental level and cultural expectations
–Poor self-awareness, poor ability to develop remorse or learn from mistakes
–Poor empathy or appreciation of others feelings
–Poor ability to reciprocate emotions.
–Hostile dependency on safe relations.
–Failure to develop emotional relationships appropriate to developmental level and social norms
–Treating people as objects or preferring objects over them
Again, this list certainly sounds a lot like narcissism.

Dr. Monsour concludes: “… it is noticeable that people with NPD, do not show a major degree of functioning problems in stress free environment or when they are supported (except that they are perceived as “not pleasant characters” to deal with). However under stress and without support they can become quite dysfunctional in a way not far from what we usually see in Asperger’s syndrome. “

I don’t buy it. This is the opinion of one psychiatrist. While it’s true that on the surface these two disorders may appear similar, the mechanism behind the behaviors are vastly different–in fact, almost the opposite. For the narcissist, their lack of empathy and failure to engage the emotions of others is due to their inability to feel the emotions of those around them, but they can FAKE empathy fairly well, even if they choose not to. If they are trying to obtain supply, they can be pretty good at it. Their social skills are not the problem–their inability to feel other’s emotions are. They are like actors in a play. In contrast, a person with Aspergers or high functioning autism DOES feel the emotions of others around them strongly, but lacks the social skills necessary to be able to convey this to others effectively. Unlike the narcissist, people with Aspergers are very bad actors.

But the question was, can Aspergers and narcissism occur together?

aspie_narcissist

But we’re talking here about comorbidity. The question I’ve raised is whether Aspergers and Narcissism can be comorbid with each other–that is, can someone have BOTH disorders?

The answer appears to be yes. I found this on Yahoo Answers, from a man who claims to be both a high functioning autistic AND a sociopath:

[…] people with Asperger’s can be sociopaths and or narcissists as well. “CO-MORBID” is the medical term used to describe a disability or group of disabilities that exist another disability in a single individual at the same time. It is possible to be autistic and have cerebral palsy or have aspergers and diabetes. Likewise it is also possible to have both Aspergers and mental disorders including sociopath and narcissism. Asperger’s does not exist in a bubble that protects it from co-morbid disabilities and mental defects.

I have High Functioning Autism and I also have antisocial tendencies I must always keep properly managed. I see my psychiatrist regularly. I take my medications as needed and I have trained myself to always be mindful of my darker instincts to insure they do not express themselves in disastrous ways. I have high functioniong autism but; thanks to early intervention by family, doctors and others I was made keenly aware of my antisocial ways and taught how to manage them in ways that kept everyone safe. It is the single most difficult thing I do in life to keep my antisocial ways well managed but; having seen the monster I become when enraged is motivation enough to keep me always vigilant.

There’s no reason why the disorders couldn’t exist together. Personally, I’ve never known anyone with both disorders, but that doesn’t mean they don’t exist. Using a fictional example, I’m going to speculate here what the behavior of a narcissist with Aspergers might be like.

The Case of Mark F.

Depressed Forty Year Old Man Drinking Alone

Mark F. always had trouble making friends. In grammar school he was bullied due to his inability to fit in with others or show empathy. He was socially awkward and never seemed to know the right thing to do or say. Mark not only was unable to show appropriate reactions in social situations, but rather than suffer in silence and wonder why others didn’t understand or like him (as most Aspies do), he didn’t care about the feelings of those around him. He was easily hurt by the bullying, but reacted in rage due to these narcissistic injuries to himself. He’d lash out at those who injured him and didn’t care if he hurt someone else.

As Mark grew older, he had difficulty keeping a job, not only because of his inappropriate, almost schizoid affect that was very offputting to those around him, but also because he deliberately caused pain to others with his frequent insensitive insults. Due to his Aspergers, Mark lacked the social skills to be able to effectively use the more subtle narcissistic “tools” such as gaslighting or triangulation against others, but he was very good at blame-shifting and projecting his character defects onto those around him. Lacking the social skills to know what behaviors were appropriate, he’d “go off” on those in authority, and was frequently fired from his jobs for insubordination, gossiping openly about his coworkers, missing work due to debilitating hangovers (more about this in the next paragraph), and starting fights.

Mark never married. Though good looking, due to his poor social skills and openly hostile attitude (he was unable to mask his anger, resentment and envy of others), his dates never developed into relationships. No woman would stay with him longer than a few weeks. He had no friends and resorted to frequent drinking to cope with his loneliness.

As you might imagine, Mark was miserable. He constantly felt victimized. He was frequently depressed and wondered why he couldn’t get others to cooperate with his need to use them for supply. In his frustration and envy of all those around him for their “better social skills,” Mark tried to self-medicate by drinking heavily and his frequent drunkenness only served to exacerbate his rages and cause his work attendance to be poor.

Having both disorders would be a recipe for extreme misery. Mark’s behavior is just one way narcissism comorbid with Aspergers could manifest itself. An effective narcissist must possess good social skills to be able to charm others into trusting them and to use their “bag of tricks” in an effective way, and therefore an Aspie with narcissism wouldn’t be particularly dangerous, just very unlikeable. Therefore, I don’t think it would be probable that an Aspie could be a “malignant narcissist” but they certainly could be suffering from NPD. A person with both disorders would have zero charm and therefore not have many opportunities to use others the way a narcissist with good social skills could. My feeling is substance abuse would be a huge problem for such a person, in their attempt to make life more bearable. For those not resorting to substance abuse or alcoholism, severe depression or even suicidal ideation could result.

How does Aspergers Syndrome differ from Non-Verbal Learning Disability (NVLD)?

aspergers_kid

I never heard of Non-Verbal Learning Disability (NVLD) until last night, when I was reading Nyssa’s Bio (on her blog Nyssa’s Hobbit Hole), where she said she suffered from NVLD, which is very similar to Aspergers Disorder but not quite the same thing. Some mental health professionals believe NVLD is actually part of the autism spectrum, higher functioning even than Aspergers. Aspergers itself could be thought of as a social learning disability.

autism-spectrum

I decided to find out more about what this disorder and what the differences are, and I came across this well written article, and decided it belonged here too.

Aspergers Disorder and Non-Verbal Learning Disabilities:
How Are These Two Disorders Related to Each Other?

http://www.aane.org/asperger_resources/articles/miscellaneous/asperger_nonverbal_learning.html

By Dr. David Dinklage

There is clearly a great deal of overlap between Aspergers Disorder (AD) and Nonverbal Learning Disabilities (NVLD), so much so that it is possible that the symptoms of each describe the same group of children from different perspectives—AD from either a psychiatric/behavioral perspective, and NVLDneuropsychological perspective. The specific conventions of these diagnoses may lead to a somewhat different group of children meeting diagnostic criteria, but it is not clear that this reflects something “true” in nature. That is, it may only be convention that separates these two groups.

One is reminded of the story of the six blind men who were asked to describe an elephant. Each man grabbed a different part of the creature (the snake-like trunk vs. the tree-like leg) and gave an accurate description from his own particular perspective—but each man thought the others were completely mistaken!

Studies conducted by the Yale Child-Study Group suggest that up to 80% of children who meet the criteria for AD also have NVLD. While there are no studies on overlap in the other direction, most likely children with the more severe forms of NVLD also have AD. Children from both groups are socially awkward and pay over-attention to detail and parts, while missing main themes or underlying principles. However, by convention, the two groups differ in the range of severity. Professionals reserve an AD diagnosis for children with more severe social impairment and behavioral rigidity; some symptoms may overlap with high functioning autism. There are degrees of severity within AD but not to the extent that is acceptable in diagnosing NVLD. These degrees can range from extreme autistic behavior to cases where the social difficulties are very subtle and the academic/cognitive difficulties are more prominent.

Here is a brief outline of the diagnostic criteria for AD and the pattern of neuropsychological finings in NVLD. While the overlap is apparent, the emphasis is different because criteria for NVLD focuses on academic issues as well as specific test findings and is not purely descriptive. This also results in different means of making the diagnosis (testing or observing).

Aspergers Disorder (AD) is characterized by:

A. Qualitative impairment in social interaction

–Failure to use non-verbal social skills (i.e. eye contact, gestures, body posture, facial expressions)
–Developmentally inappropriate peer relationships
–Lack of spontaneous sharing of enjoyment and interests with other people
–Lack of social and emotional reciprocity

B. Restricted, repetitive and stereotyped patterns of behavior, interests, and activities.

-Preoccupation that is overly intense and narrow
–Inflexible adherence to non-functional or peripheral routines
–Stereotyped or repetitive motor movements
–Persistent preoccupation with parts of objects

C. These problems taken together (A plus B) result in significant challenges in the lives of people with AD as they attempt to live in a neurotypical world and meet the expectations of others.

D. There is no general language delay.

E. There is no severe global cognitive impairment.

Non-Verbal Learning Disability (NVLD)

A. NVLD can be conceptualized as an imbalance in thinking skills—intact linear, detail oriented, automatic processing with impaired appreciation of the big picture, gestalt or underlying theme.

B. It is not nearly as common as language-based learning disabilities, but this may be a phenomenon created by environmental demands (i.e. our societal demands for precision skills in reading assure that even the most subtle language-based LD cases are identified)

C. Typically social/psychiatric concerns are raised before academic problems are identified.

D. While the overlap is not complete, NVLD children may meet the criteria for Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified (PDD NOS), Aspergers Disorder, or Schizotypal Personality.

Neuropsychological Profile (NVLD):

–Full range of IQ
–Visual spatial deficits are most pronounced: poor appreciation of gestalt, poor appreciation of body in space, sometimes left side inattention/neglect, may have highly developed but ritualized drawing skills that are extremely detail oriented.
–Rote linguistic skills are normal (i.e. repetition, naming, fluency, syntactic comprehension), but pragmatic use of language is impaired: weak grasp of inference, little content, disorganized narrative despite good vocabulary and grammar. Rote recall of a story may be good, but the main point missed. Rhythm, volume, and prosody of speech are often disturbed.
–Motor and sensory findings are common: usually poor fine and gross motor coordination, left side worse than right.
–Attention is usually reported to be impaired and testing supports this, but the affect is desultory as opposed to distractingly impulsive, as in ADHD. It is as if people with NVLD do not know what to attend to, but once focused, can sustain attention to detail. The distinction between figure and ground is disturbed, resulting in attention errors.

Academics:

–Difficulties are often picked up late because decoding and spelling may be quite strong.
–Inferential reading comprehension is weak relative to decoding and spelling skills.
–Math is often the first academic subject to be viewed as problematic. Spatial and conceptual aspects of mathematics are a problem; math facts may be readily mastered. I.e., a student may know the answer to a simple multiplication problem, but not understand what multiplication is.
–Due to spatial and fine motor problems, handwriting is usually poor.
–Organization skills are weak, particularly in written work.

Social/emotional issues:

–Peer relations are typically the greatest area of impairment; may play with much older or younger children than with same age peers where they must manage give and take.
–They often lack basic social skills; may stand too close, stare inappropriately or not make eye contact, have marked lack of concern over appearance, be oblivious to other’s reactions, change topics idiosyncratically.
–Children with NVLD are seen as “odd” children who “just don’t get it” socially They may do better with adults, where they act dependent and immature, but may not be seen as “odd.”
–They may show poorly modulated affect, not matched to verbal content.
–Lack of empathy and social judgment may shield them from fully experiencing the hurt of peer rejection, while the same factors increase the likelihood of being rejected.
–History of unusual thinking can often be obtained: rituals, stereotypic behaviors, rigid routines, and magical/bizarre beliefs.

pervasive_developmental_disorders

Assessment of NVLD Compared with Assessment of AD

NVLD should be diagnosed in the context of a comprehensive neuropsychological evaluation. It is not simply a matter of Performance IQ being less than Verbal IQ, since there may be many reasons for such a discrepancy besides NVLD. Furthermore, NVLD can be present even if no discrepancies between strong verbal ability and poor performance show up on the Weschler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC-III). One does not need to have every characteristic of NVLD in dramatic form for the diagnosis to be helpful in delineating the pattern of strength and weaknesses.

NVLD can be complicated by an array of psychiatric and social/familial problems, so it is important to assess the whole child-world system, not just the cognitive status.
AD is best diagnosed from a detailed history, school reports, and observing the child. As parents vary in how they report symptoms, one good marker is whether or not the child had engaged in symbolic play as a toddler. Children with AD tend not to play with toys as the “thing” they represent. For example, they may collect fire trucks but not play “fire.” Parents may also report that their children use language instrumentally, rather than using it to trade ideas. The children do not seem to consider that the “other” may have different ideas.

Because AD is diagnosed descriptively, one does not need neuropsychological testing to diagnose it. However, since there is so much overlap between AD and NVLD, neuropsychological testing is strongly recommended. Testing will identify any specific interference with academic functioning, and confirm imbalances in thinking skills that may have been observed.

In my practice I have seen a number of children with AD who would not meet the criteria for NVLD in any existing research studies. If these children had participated in the Yale study mentioned earlier in this article, they would probably have been in the 20% of the AD children who did not meet the NVLD criteria. It is possible that the AD children in that 20% may have had very high visual spatial scores, thus masking their over-attention to detail in problem solving. For example, they may have scored very high on the Block Design subtest of the IQ measure (using colored blocks to match a pattern given to them) with little or no appreciation of the gestalt. Their considerable skill and speed at analyzing detail would have allowed them to use this inefficient strategy effectively. With these very bright children, it may be that the tests are not sufficiently sensitive to discern a pattern of NVLD. On the other hand, some children with AD show diffuse difficulties in the language and attention domain, but may not exhibit the pronounced discrepancies associated with NVLD. Nonetheless, they may still struggle with the cognitive difficulties of NVLD. Conversely, a child meeting the criteria for NVLD, may not meet the criteria for AD, even though subtle characteristics of the disorder may be present.

A case example best illustrates how children who clearly have NVLD may not meet the criteria for AD as it is presently understood. I evaluated an eighth grade girl whose parents were concerned about her math performance. She had above average overall ability, but a 24-point discrepancy between her verbal and visual spatial skills on the IQ measure. On the neuropsychological measures, she clearly had the pattern of visual spatial deficits, left sided motor slowing, and poor math ability, while language skills were intact. She did not have any problems with inferential comprehension in reading. One would not even have considered Aspergers Disorder. She had had many good friends through elementary school and felt herself to be part of her peer group. Symbolic play development had been normal and she exhibited no repetitive behaviors. This is unusual in NVLD as well, but since much of the criteria for this neuropsychological diagnosis is cognitive and test-based, it was determined that she met enough of the criteria for a diagnosis of NVLD. I commented in the report that, unlike this girl, most children with NVLD have more social problems, tend to miss the point in social interactions, and have trouble in content areas in school because of inferential reading comprehension problems.

The parents came back to me when she was a senior. She was now isolated from her peers, who complained that she was too literal. Now she was struggling in literature and social studies; her papers tended to be more like lists and less integrated than those of her peers. I don’t believe she was developing a new disorder. She had a classic NVLD, but it was relatively subtle and it required more high-powered peer and academic demands to highlight her social perception and inferential reasoning weaknesses, much the same way that some mildly dyslexic individuals compensate reasonably well and go unnoticed until they flunk out of their first year of college. Given her history of good social adjustment, one would still never diagnose her with AD. One has to wonder whether her neurcognitive functioning indicated AD, but in a much milder form.

Asperger’s Disorder was not originally thought of as having a continuum of severity that included these subtle forms, whereas NVLD did not start with the assumption of more extreme difficulties. As information about AD becomes more widely circulated more and more subtle cases are being identified and the culture is, in some manner, changing the original “intention” of the category. While that may dilute the meaning of the diagnosis, it will more accurately reflect the variety of developmental presentations in nature. As humans, we naturally want to categorize. The complex relationship between NVLD and AD may be an example of categorizing how too rigidly can confuse, rather than clarify, our thinking.

Dr. David Dinklage is Director of Neuropsychology at Cambridge Hospital, and has a private practice in Belmont.

My brilliant friends also have Aspergers

Gale Molinari http://www.galesmind.com just wrote an amazing article about her Aspie friends, where she points out the ways Aspergers has made these two women even better friends to her than they might otherwise be.

It’s so wonderful to see someone write about the positive aspects of Aspergers and how this “mental disorder” gives its “victims” a depth and understanding and focus neurotypicals do not have.

There is a growing community of people with Aspergers who have started an “Aspie rights” movement who’s aim is to get Aspergers removed from the DSM and psychiatric and medical literature as a mental illness and also lobbies for it to stop being considered a handicap, disability, or even a form of mental retardation (which its more severe forms are often confused with). Aspies are not retarded. They also lobby for a more Aspie-friendly world, where for instance, instead of a face to face interview for a job, another kind of application system, such as a Instant Message interview or a written essay can better serve an Aspie applicant and show a potential employer their true talents.

Many if not most Aspies have brilliant minds and high intellectual capacity but can do little or even nothing with their minds because in order to get ahead in the western world (things apparently are easier for Aspies in places like Japan, which doesn’t rely on social gregariousness and aggression), a person must have great social skills and the ability to “think on their feet,” “network” and “schmooze” with higher ups–and always know the right thing to say at the right time.

Aspies have difficulty doing these things, and can come off as awkward, weird, lacking affect, painfully shy, lacking empathy (see my rant about THAT!), or even “slow,” so they are often overlooked for promotions or higher level work. Many people assume because they don’t communicate well verbally and sometimes seem lost in their own world, that they are stupid. But that is just one big fat lie.

Even low functioning people with autism –the ones who have to be institutionalized and cannot care for themselves (and are what most people still think of when they think of autism)–are probably extremely intelligent–but have focused ALL their attention and thinking on ONE OR TWO THINGS. They may be focusing so intensely on their topic of fascination and encyclopedic knowledge (the so-called “idiot savant” phenomenon) to the point they literally are not living in the physical world and must be cared for by others.

Higher functioning people with autism (Aspies) still tend to focus intensely on things and can become obsessed (to a point neurotypicals find weird or unhealthy) with whatever fascinates them. They hate to be interrupted by outside things or people when mentally engaged in their interests or hobbies. But since their autism is much less severe, they can still attend to the outside world if they must. But they aren’t very good at it and prefer not to.

Most Aspies were also bullied as children due to their differences and lack of ability to socialize the way others do (and their high sensitivity), and may have been bullied by their own families (especially if, as I did, they had one or more narcissistic parents or siblings) and frequent bullying can destroy any self esteem a child with Aspergers may have, making things even harder for them when they try to get a foothold in the professional world as adults. Studies have shown that high self confidence is a far better indicator of adult success in life than high intelligence is. Ever wonder why your boss is stupider than you are? Maybe he just likes himself more than you like yourself. This is why narcissists (except the needy type, who thrive on pity and handouts) usually do so well in the working world (though they fail miserably on the relationship/family front).

But I digress.

Some of the most brilliant people in history have had Aspergers (Einstein himself) and were thought to be unintelligent as children because of their slowness in learning social skills. Einstein didn’t talk until he was 3 and his teachers thought he was retarded. Anyway, my point is, because of the Internet (on which Aspies thrive–more so than in the physical world; see my article “Aspies Rule the Internet”), Aspergers is slowly losing its status as a mental illness and being recognized as a variation, much like LGBT was considered a mental illness as recently as 1973, but now hardly anyone thinks of it that way anymore, even people who are opposed to it.

Read on!

galesmind

Aspergers girl

Aspergers another form of autism is not well understood. Because people with Aspergers can have trouble communicating they can be assumed to be unintelligent and strange. The exact opposite is true. Because of social media I have had the pleasure of meeting two wonderfully talented women that also happen to have Aspergers. One on Word Press who has been a mentor and great supporter, the other a fabulously talented kind young lady on Facebook. Because of the nature of social media they can be more comfortable and are really able to portray themselves as they truly are without the shadow of preconceived ideas.
asperger bullies
Some of these ideas are hateful, harmful and untrue and also damaging to the psyche.

http://aspergerstest.net/aspergers-in-adults/

Here is a website among many explaining Aspergers syndrome. While Aspies (as they refer to themselves) may have challenges they also excel in other things that take intense concentration and dedication…

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Zero tolerance has gone too far.

bonethrat

Zero tolerance has gone way too far, when a 9 year old Georgia boy with autism writes “bone thrat” on the wall and is charged by police with making a felony terrorist threat. This actually happened a few days ago:

http://www.infowars.com/police-charge-9-year-old-autistic-boy-with-terroristic-bomb-threat/

I’m getting to the point of having zero tolerance for zero tolerance. Between this and “political correctness,” it seems people have no right to free speech anymore. Whatever happened to the first amendment?

Silencing is a major way narcissists gain control, and Americans are living in an increasingly narcissistic society. All this zero tolerance/political correctness BS is The Narcissistic Powers That Be showing its paranoia and exercising control over the rest of us peons.

Aspies rule the Internet!

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My fellow ACON blogger Fivehundredpoundpeep, posted this the other day.

From the girl with curly hair…
Aspies are knowledge junkies. We can become Internet addicts because the Internet is like crack for us. I study many things for the fun of it. You all see what I write on this blog but this week, I read about True Crimes in my state, Indian nations in America and Outsider Art.

There was never anything truer than this. In my many years of prowling and posting on the Internet, Aspies do seem more numerous than they do IRL. On a forum I used to be active on, Aspies seemed almost proud to say they were Aspie, as if it’s an advantage on the Internet instead of a liability. But guess what. It just may be!

We do tend to become obsessed with one or two topics at a time and focus intensely on them to the point others sometimes think we are weird (the extreme form of this is the idiot savant phenomenon seen in low functioning people with autism). That’s why I blog! Because if I just talked about the stuff I talk about here IRL as much as I do on my blog, people would be backing away slowly and locking their doors and windows against the crazy woman on the loose.

We read a lot and gain a very deep knowledge of what interests us. We read anything we can about our obsessions until we’re sated or the next obsession takes over. We have good memories and retain new information well. These traits can give us some credibility in whatever topic we focus on in our blogs. I think that’s a good thing. Our obsessing over topics and spending so much time researching and reading about the minutiae of that focused interest may seem strange to neurotypicals, but it’s hurting no one, so why is it a problem?

The Internet is the perfect modality for most people with Aspergers. It allows us to have a platform to talk about our obsessions instead of having to engage in shallow conversation or small talk (which I hate and am very bad at). It even allows us to start a conversation about our pet topic and the metaphysical, meaningful aspects of that topic. People can think we are weird or insane, but we don’t have to deal with those judgmental NT’s face to face. There are plenty more people online who actually like what we have to say and listen to us.

We also have time to think about and refine what we want to say. We’re not required to “think on our feet,” something which is very difficult for Aspies. We don’t have to have a witty comeback for a joke or know exactly the right or appropriate thing to say when confronted by something.

Because our problem isn’t really that we lack social skills. I think for most of us, the problem is that we need time to process an interaction, and you can’t do that in real life social situations. Writing is just as valid a form of social interaction as speaking, and it’s a modality most of us are much better at and even find we can excell at.

The Internet can make us feel more confident. It’s the one thing Aspies have going in their favor that we never had prior to the late 1990s. There’s also more general knowledge about Aspergers and it’s now acknowledged even adults can suffer from it. In the past, Aspergers wasn’t even recognized as a high functioning form of autism. We were just the geeks and dorks and socially awkward outcasts and obsessive crazies of the world. When people used to think of autism, they thought of people so impaired and disconnected from the world they had to live in institutions and have all their needs met by caregivers. They didn’t think of socially awkward geeks and obsessives like me.

Now they do, and it’s because the Internet has given us Aspies a place to talk, to meet others like ourselves, to make friends, to vent and rant, and to protest against the prejudices neurotypicals have against us. We are really more a minority group like LGBT than we are “mentally ill.” (Homosexuality used to be considered a mental illness too–it was finally removed from the DSM in 1973).

The Aspie rights movement thinks of Aspieness as a variation rather than a disorder. We’re only “disabled” because our society isn’t set up to be adaptive to our needs. We are forced to adapt to theirs, and it ain’t easy! The Internet gives us a voice.

Well, this is out of the box thinking…

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I just saw this comment under the Youtube comments for “I, Psychopath” (the documentary about Sam Vaknin). I don’t agree with most of it, but I think it does give us something to think about in terms of autism’s relationship to psychopathy. The writer of the comment may be onto something about autism being nature’s solution to psychopathy. There does seem to be some kind of correlation between psychopathic/narcissistic parents and children with Aspergers or autism. I don’t know if any study has ever been done on this.

I do not think Vaknin has Aspergers syndrome (which I was informed today is no longer called that–the updated DSM now identifies Aspergers as “autism spectrum disorder.” I prefer “Aspergers” so I will continue to use it) I think his schizoid traits make him seem like someone with Aspergers at times.

Vaknin is a very important figure in terms of how his introspection allows us to see what is really happening in our evolution. After a few years reading about narcissism and psychopathy, as well as Autism, and coming to the conclusion that Autism is nature’s solution for psychopathy (I am an autists born in a family that is experiencing this transition), to my eyes, Vaknin seems to embody the bridging that is occurring. One thing that seems to be a reality is that autists may be born into families where we also find psychopathy, most likely a generation or two back. The shift to the emotional awareness presenting in the burgeoning of the enteric brain, which incorporates genetic changes changing the heart itself into a motor for cognition is what informs Autism, but because many autists are so sick or dysfunctional, it is hard to get people to see that it could have any evolutionary logic behind it. Perhaps the dysfunction is nature’s way of keeping the tremendous emotional authenticity and power it brings under wraps.
. Vaknin has all the traits of Asperger’s. This is not to say that there are no vestiges of the narcissism or psychopathy that may run in his family, but his journey itself speaks of what is going on.

Can a narcissist also be on the autism spectrum?
The topic this commenter raised brings me to something I’ve been wanting to write about for awhile now: can a narcissist also be autistic or Aspie?

This is a tricky question, because the way I see it, autism (Aspergers) is like a mirror image of narcissism. Although people with Aspergers have been accused by many of lacking empathy (which I disputed in this blog post), they generally do not. The reason they may seem unempathic is because they don’t express their emotions very well, but most Aspies are very sensitive to the feelings of those around them and can be easily overwhelmed. Conversely, a narcissist can’t feel the emotions of others well, but is usually good at pretending they can. An Aspie is not capable of pretending to be something they are not. So a narcissist may seem more empathic than an Aspie, even though the opposite is the case.

So can someone be both?

I would say yes. However, an Aspie narcissist will not wear masks very well or know which ones would benefit them most since they will not be able to read social cues, which a “successful” narcissist must be able to do. So while an Aspie may be a narcissist, they will be very bad at hiding their true motives and therefore not very dangerous. A narcissistic Aspie is probably more likely to be a “needy” narcissist–the kind of narcissist who acts as pitiful as they can and feel entitled and demand to be taken care of and catered to due to their “helplessness.”

People treat me like I’m stupid

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I wonder if it’s common for people with Aspergers or high functioning autism to come across to others as lacking basic intelligence.

I get that from people all the time and I hate it. In social situations, such as at work, where I have to interact with neurotypicals (NTs) who I don’t know too well, I’ve noticed people patronize me, they repeat things to me as if I didn’t understand them the first time, or just respond to me in a condescending way, as if they’re talking to a two year old. I am paranoid but I don’t think it’s my paranoia because they don’t act that way to everyone

I think people’s behavior toward me is because as an Aspie, it’s so difficult for me to process the things people tell me in a normal way, especially when I’m forced to deal with people in a group setting. I am also almost silent due to my shyness and unwillingness to get involved in social conversation. That probably makes me seem a little dim too.

I don’t hear that well either (I have only 20% hearing in my left ear due to having severe ear infections as a child), so that makes it even harder for me to understand what people say. I often have to ask them to repeat what they just said, which irritates both me and others. I’ve told people I have bad hearing, because being asked to repeat something annoys people less if they know there is something wrong with my hearing.

I find social chatter and small talk overwhelming and it’s not fun for me at all. It’s a lot of work for me to process all that. Of course there are some people who just intimidate me anyway (probably narcs) and I totally clam up around them and act really stupid and inappropriate when I’m forced to talk to them or ask them a question. Socializing is just so difficult! NT’s love it. I don’t.

It makes me so angry that I’m treated as if I’m a mental lightweight by people who know very little about me. I so want to say this to people who talk down to me or ask me the infuriating, “Did you get that?” :

“Look, you don’t have to act so condescending toward me. I’m not an idiot. I understand what you say. I understand a lot. I may look stupid to you because I have Aspergers, and that makes it almost impossible for me to process verbal communication and body language very well or deal with people in a group, or know how to act when you’re yammering at me. I also have Avoidant Personality Disorder, which exacerbates my discomfort in social situations. I get very anxious. But I want you to know I’m actually very smart, probably smarter than you. My IQ is above 150 but I know you probably think I’m lying. If you could see the way I write, you would be shocked at how intelligent and insightful I am. I see a lot of what goes on, I notice everything, I know a lot about a lot of things. I just don’t know how to communicate that well except in writing, or react appropriately when you tell me something. So please stop thinking I’m borderline retarded, because I am not.”

Of course I’ll never say this. But I wish I could!

Having Aspergers and Avoidant personality disorder combined with only partial hearing really is a handicap to dealing with the NT (neurotypical) world.

People who love me and know me well, and people who read what I write know I am not stupid.

Besides, Einstein had Aspergers too, and all his teachers thought he was retarded! 😀