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This is something I struggle with, I used to make eye contact for a short time but as far back as I can remember I've never really liked to do it, I'd look for a few seconds and then look away, I also find it's easier not to do it whilst talking; if I'm not visually stimulated then it's easier to focus on what I'm trying to say. However since going psychotic I've found myself almost incapable of making eye contact. I've been trying to understand why this is and just other people's experiences with it in general. Someone told me they don't have a problem with say, a video, looking into someone's eyes there because it's not personal, there's no weight there which I guess makes sense and would explain why I don't have problems with say, a dog's eyes. It's the idea of someone staring into their eyes that's the problem. I've also heard other people saying it's "like staring into their soul", which I can understand but I don't really believe in souls. Can anyone give me their explanation to eye contact and what's the "problem" there? Are you like me and you can't make or sustain good eye contact or are you one of the seemingly rare ones who just stares?

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I struggle to make eye contact.  For years I thought it was just social anxiety, as that is what I was diagnosed with at the time.  But now I realise I don't even make eye contact often with people I'm comfortable with, like family.   It has been that way my whole life.   If I try to make more eye contact it becomes forced, can seem like staring and just makes me more anxious and self-conscious. 

I can look into human eyes in photographs or videos... I can look into animal eyes...... but not a real life living person in a conversation.  It almost feels painful and I find it quite overwhelming, I actually converse more fluidly if I do NOT look at the person.  I often find myself watching their hands or other body movements rather than the face and eyes.    

Eye contact makes me feel quite vulnerable and like people can see through me and hear what I'm thinking [(even though logically I know this isn't the case).   Also just the over stimulation. 

 

 

Edited by crazyguy
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I was not diagnosed until my mid/late 20s, and my father and stepmother learned a whole lot about so-called "attachment therapy" -- this bullshit is where the 'rebirthing' and subsequent deaths came from -- and I was subsequently trained with forced prolonged eye contact from a young age.  I tend toward the "stare too much" now as a result.

Eye contact is overloading for me, and such phenomena is extremely common to autistic people regardless of why we may find it overloading.  I have experimented a lot lately with purposefully avoiding eye contact, and I find it helps greatly with reducing overload and improving my language comprehension.  Things like mania (which I get,) or psychosis, especially when linked with anxiety, can intensify the experience of eye contact.  This is normal.

Eye contact is a pervasive aspect of many western English-speaking cultures, but it is not such a necessary component to all human cultures.  It is a social skill useful for many things, job interviews come to mind, but there is not something inherantly broken or wrong about a human not liking or tolerating or working well with eye contact.  It becomes a problem in our eye-contact-obsessed society, and like I said it is a useful skill for certain things.  But I believe pressuring ourselves (and being pressured by others) to do more of this stressful and draining thing than is actually necessary, I believe it harmful.  The need to "appear neurotypical" and "appear allistic (non-autistic)" is personal, individual, and dependant on the situation and our own needs/abilities at the time.

If eye contact hurts, is hard, whatever -- try to do less of it, if the situation allows.  Try to remind yourself that it's okay to be autistic and/or crazy in public.  Try to remind yourself that eye contact is not a necessity everywhere even in our society, and that it's perfectly normal for people like us to struggle with it and to even do better without it.

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If I know someone a bit, or have met them a couple of times my eye contact is better.  My general strategy is to ask them about themself...... people love to talk about their job/life/hobbies/etc.   Just have to remember to pretend to be interested, which is quite hard.  

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That's my same strategy, it's a tried and tested method, it works. I usually don't like talking about myself, one of the first questions someone asks is where do I work and then I have to go on about why I don't, outside of a volunteer job, it's just quite uncomfortable for me. It's the conversations in a particular area, take your meeting with the guy and his dog, I'd soon run out of things to say there too. I've often thought about writing a list on what to talk about but it's those kind of situational instances which would completely throw me off. I don't know why people find conversations so easy.

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On 08/08/2015 at 1:26 PM, Southern Discomfort said:

That's my same strategy, it's a tried and tested method, it works. I usually don't like talking about myself, one of the first questions someone asks is where do I work and then I have to go on about why I don't, outside of a volunteer job, it's just quite uncomfortable for me. It's the conversations in a particular area, take your meeting with the guy and his dog, I'd soon run out of things to say there too. I've often thought about writing a list on what to talk about but it's those kind of situational instances which would completely throw me off. I don't know why people find conversations so easy.

I have often wondered how people have fluent chit chat about nonsense with virtual strangers.   Unless the situation is structured (i.e. a task involved or a meeting for a purpose) my mind draws a blank.  Then that causes anxiety which makes things more difficult.  Also I just feel disinterested as well; I don't know if I'm anti social as well as having ASD or if it is just a self-defense mechanism I have developed.... pretend not to be interested and hurts less when failure occurs maybe? 

I also hate the questions about "what do you do..."  because like you I don't work...

If it is a stranger and someone I likely wont meet again I have actually taken to lying sometimes when I get asked what work I do - the problem is if they ask follow up questions then you have to tell more and more lies.

I notice you are on risperidone - do you find it helpful?  

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I'd have a really hard time trying to lying about myself; I'm hardwired to tell the truth, and I don't like the idea of making things up there on the spot to more questions.

Risperidone's been great, thanks. It's treated my depression completely, taken away a good chunk of the anxiety I used to get, and lessened the intensity anxiety attacks. And of course it's treated the vast majority of my psychosis which was probably associated with depression. I also no longer want to kill myself. As for any asperger's traits I might have, I no longer spend upwards of 8-10 hours gaming everyday which I guess is a good thing, it just means I'm bored a lot of the time. I'm a little bit more sociable now and I don't get as irritated although I'm a pretty mellow person anyway. And in terms of side effects, I don't get many now. Used to get food cravings in the early days but that soon went. It's been like the missing piece to a jigsaw puzzle.

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  • 4 months later...

i can't look at my face, in the mirror, on film, in photos. Was being shown a photo of a baby, as soon as told it was me had to look at the margin. I look at the zit i'm squeezing, the teeth i'm cleaning, etc. Also can't bear to be filmed, photo or audio is fine. Can't bear to look at own aged fat body as repulsive, feel sick, but this is common among women, who are convinced they are uniquely repulsive and unloveable (i worked in a clothes shop, i'd say 80% of women feel that way)

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  • 9 months later...

I feel very over loaded when I look at someone's face... after I while  I catch myself staring and no longer hear them talking to me. I tried to look into my girl friends eyes and I and caught myself spacing out...I rather liked looking at her. Tried to hide it... knowing her she probibly figured it out but did not say anything.

 

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