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Syzygy

Ever try to imagine what it would be like to think like an NT?

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I asked my Nt husband about this. It's hard to explain how one thinks, but since we've been together for a number of years, he knows me pretty well. He said to imagine that the bored, antsy feeling in between interests or the need to daydream isn't there. That you can literally not be thinking anything. Obviously, it's a hell of a lot more complex, but still...Have any thoughts on the subject?

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I have a similar reaction to Hopelessly Broken's, except that I would add a touch of horror at the idea of moments when my brain might not be actively thinking. Maybe it's because that's the only thing I've ever known, but if that's the 'typical' for neurotypicals, they can keep it. Why would anyone want that? My brain is constantly pushing itself to learn, imagine, grow - of course that feels antsy, but I wouldn't trade it for the white noise the NTs apparently experience.

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Somehow I feel like my question has been misconstrued. I definitely would not exchange my aspie-ness for being an Nt. I am (in true aspie fashion) insanely curious as to how my mind works and how the nt mind works. Psychology and Neuroscience are both huge interests of mine.  

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Perhaps I should have asked this..What are your impressions on how the NT mind works? Explain as well as you can how your mind works etc. I was kind of hoping the conversation would organically flow in that direction..

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1 hour ago, Syzygy said:

I am (in true aspie fashion) insanely curious as to how my mind works and how the nt mind works. Psychology and Neuroscience are both huge interests of mine.  

I understand that. 

I wouldn’t wish not to be an Aspie, either, but I would love to be able to shut my mind up sometimes. I am also bipolar, and the constant thinkingthinkingthinkingthinking can turn into racing thoughts and feed mania, which is excruciating. 

 

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Syzygy -

Your question, I think, touches on the basic conundrum that faces all of us on the Spectrum. They do not understand us, and we do not understand them. There is a basic disconnect that we sense between ourselves and our fellow non-Spectrum humans that somehow we just can't seem to put a finger on, otherwise we would address it and more easily adapt to function within the broader social sphere. It is that disconnect that leaves me feeling that I am Not Entirely Human - I prefer to think of myself as not Homo sapien, but Homo sapien aspergensis, similar but different enough to require a separate taxonomical identification. Actually, it would be even easier in my mind to consider myself altogether alien, but I've got the blasted genes that say I'm close to human.

I have not formed a personal theory of how neurotypicals think. I tend not to speculate, but rather try to form hypotheses by observation, through scientific method. So far, my observations of human behavior have proven baffling. I find them arbitrary, capricious, and above all, irrational. It's like trying to tell the time of day on a clock that is built to record time in 13 hours instead of 12. The time will almost never be correct, and even if you figure out the system, it will never not seem confusing.

With regard to emotion specifically, I do think I grasp the difference at least in the abstract. Neurotypicals appear to possess an innate ability to process certain kinds of sensory input related to human expression - facial expression, vocal tonality, subtle body movement, and scent, that are signals of emotive communication. Similarly, they have an innate ability to produce those same signals in a coordinated fashion, without consciously thinking about it. Most of us on the Spectrum appear, depending on your point of view, to either lack these innate abilities, or to possess alternative mechanisms for communication - some have suggested mechanisms that are superior to the limbic-bound systems of the neurotypicals. Many of us have been able, with years of practice and close observation, to bridge the gap in communication by developing what I think of as a mental "database" of human emotions and their associated traits that we can cross-reference in our heads when dealing with neurotypicals. If an NT assumes an expression, I can mentally sort through my "database" of remembered instances of such expressions and cross-reference the way an NT in the past has turned out to react when showing a similar expression, or combination of expression, gesture, tone or scent. The more data I have accumulated over time, the more accurate my response. The difficulty with this method is that there will always be a microsecond's delay while I reference the database, a microsecond longer than it would take an NT to react naturally, and the NTs pick up on this delay, interpreting it negatively.

Conversely, NTs do not appear to have an equal ability to adapt artificially to our style of thinking. In my experience, NT efforts to understand autistics are usually based in attempts at empathy, which strikes me as entirely the wrong end of the stick. Naturally, because they are NTs, they would imagine that empathy would be the optimal way to reach out to us, but we are, by our nature, not strongly empathetic beings. To approach us as systematic thinkers often simply does not occur to them. As they are by far the majority, they assume that their thought pattern is the "correct" or "optimal" or "right" one, and presume that we are the ones who would be just like them if it weren't for our "problem". Indeed, it does not occur to them that our "problem" is them and we do not, after all, suffer from some sort of learning disability or developmental delay. We have developed as we were meant to develop, because this is what we are. We are not as they.

I think this is why I, and others, might tend to answer your question as we have. Our lifetime experience of trying not only to comprehend the minds of neurotypicals but also to live under the expectation that we must adapt to that mindset has left us feeling marginalized, segregated, misjudged, and angry (ironically, an emotional response - proving, contrary to some NT assumptions, that we do have emotions). I am not a neurotypical, and I do not want to be. Not only that, I increasingly do not see the need to adapt to their expectations in order to spare their feelings. Let them meet me in the middle. Let them figure out my mind, for I am as legitimate a person as any of them, just as I am. My mind is not deficient; if I lack some of their empathic ability, I surpass many of them in intellect. Fair trade, and I'll take that any day. So what if I'm in the minority? I'm uncommon in lots of ways.

The neurotypical mind will always be a matter of great curiosity to me, and I suspect always a great source of bewilderment as I do not possess the mental gear to process its input. But that's fine. I'm not one of them, and it's not going to bother me any more than it is that I can't speak to giraffes. Dolphins, on the other hand...

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21 hours ago, Gearhead said:

I understand that. 

I wouldn’t wish not to be an Aspie, either, but I would love to be able to shut my mind up sometimes. I am also bipolar, and the constant thinkingthinkingthinkingthinking can turn into racing thoughts and feed mania, which is excruciating. 

 

Sorry to hear that, I can relate though. In my case the thinking, analyzing can turn to paranoia on the rare occasion.

1 hour ago, Cerberus said:

Syzygy -

Your question, I think, touches on the basic conundrum that faces all of us on the Spectrum. They do not understand us, and we do not understand them. There is a basic disconnect that we sense between ourselves and our fellow non-Spectrum humans that somehow we just can't seem to put a finger on, otherwise we would address it and more easily adapt to function within the broader social sphere. It is that disconnect that leaves me feeling that I am Not Entirely Human - I prefer to think of myself as not Homo sapien, but Homo sapien aspergensis, similar but different enough to require a separate taxonomical identification. Actually, it would be even easier in my mind to consider myself altogether alien, but I've got the blasted genes that say I'm close to human.

I have not formed a personal theory of how neurotypicals think. I tend not to speculate, but rather try to form hypotheses by observation, through scientific method. So far, my observations of human behavior have proven baffling. I find them arbitrary, capricious, and above all, irrational. It's like trying to tell the time of day on a clock that is built to record time in 13 hours instead of 12. The time will almost never be correct, and even if you figure out the system, it will never not seem confusing.

With regard to emotion specifically, I do think I grasp the difference at least in the abstract. Neurotypicals appear to possess an innate ability to process certain kinds of sensory input related to human expression - facial expression, vocal tonality, subtle body movement, and scent, that are signals of emotive communication. Similarly, they have an innate ability to produce those same signals in a coordinated fashion, without consciously thinking about it. Most of us on the Spectrum appear, depending on your point of view, to either lack these innate abilities, or to possess alternative mechanisms for communication - some have suggested mechanisms that are superior to the limbic-bound systems of the neurotypicals. Many of us have been able, with years of practice and close observation, to bridge the gap in communication by developing what I think of as a mental "database" of human emotions and their associated traits that we can cross-reference in our heads when dealing with neurotypicals. If an NT assumes an expression, I can mentally sort through my "database" of remembered instances of such expressions and cross-reference the way an NT in the past has turned out to react when showing a similar expression, or combination of expression, gesture, tone or scent. The more data I have accumulated over time, the more accurate my response. The difficulty with this method is that there will always be a microsecond's delay while I reference the database, a microsecond longer than it would take an NT to react naturally, and the NTs pick up on this delay, interpreting it negatively.

Conversely, NTs do not appear to have an equal ability to adapt artificially to our style of thinking. In my experience, NT efforts to understand autistics are usually based in attempts at empathy, which strikes me as entirely the wrong end of the stick. Naturally, because they are NTs, they would imagine that empathy would be the optimal way to reach out to us, but we are, by our nature, not strongly empathetic beings. To approach us as systematic thinkers often simply does not occur to them. As they are by far the majority, they assume that their thought pattern is the "correct" or "optimal" or "right" one, and presume that we are the ones who would be just like them if it weren't for our "problem". Indeed, it does not occur to them that our "problem" is them and we do not, after all, suffer from some sort of learning disability or developmental delay. We have developed as we were meant to develop, because this is what we are. We are not as they.

I think this is why I, and others, might tend to answer your question as we have. Our lifetime experience of trying not only to comprehend the minds of neurotypicals but also to live under the expectation that we must adapt to that mindset has left us feeling marginalized, segregated, misjudged, and angry (ironically, an emotional response - proving, contrary to some NT assumptions, that we do have emotions). I am not a neurotypical, and I do not want to be. Not only that, I increasingly do not see the need to adapt to their expectations in order to spare their feelings. Let them meet me in the middle. Let them figure out my mind, for I am as legitimate a person as any of them, just as I am. My mind is not deficient; if I lack some of their empathic ability, I surpass many of them in intellect. Fair trade, and I'll take that any day. So what if I'm in the minority? I'm uncommon in lots of ways.

The neurotypical mind will always be a matter of great curiosity to me, and I suspect always a great source of bewilderment as I do not possess the mental gear to process its input. But that's fine. I'm not one of them, and it's not going to bother me any more than it is that I can't speak to giraffes. Dolphins, on the other hand...

Thanks for taking the time to write such a thoughtful reply. I'll have to reread and mull it over. Bit exhausted from trying to interact too much today.

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