Thursday, September 20, 2007


When I'm active in communities centered around personality typing, I find myself wanting to really be whatever type I think fits best at the moment, so I can play the social role of an example of that type and, as such, critique anything that's said about the type and talk about it "from the inside." It gets to the point where I actually kind of take pride in the negative aspects of the type because, if I see them in myself, they're confirmation that I am who I say I am. But if I can't seem to exemplify my supposed type, seeing evidence that I might be another one, I get cranky and restless and uneasy. My social role is gone.

From what I've read, people with ASCs and other neuro-psychological or disability labels go through the same kind of thing sometimes. They're expected to live up to their label, and in order to confirm the label for themselves and for others, they might display and even take pride or comfort in the "negative" aspects.

In fact, in order to get help with the things they need, they may have to play up negatives they don't even have, because disability services are only available oftentimes to those who fit a global disability stereotype. In that sense, it's a lot worse than what I've put myself through with personality typecasting: at least with personality, it's only a game and I can stop playing at any time (were it not for addiction/habit and not wanting to part with the internet friendships I made through it). People with disabilities and neuroquirks, though, have to play their game as a trade-off for survival and well-being.

It can also be a matter of survival for those who make a career out of speaking "from the inside" about their condition. In that case, people have pre-conceived notions that they want parroted back, and if those notions are not parroted back, there are probably going to be a lot of people saying, "Well, then, you must not be what you say you are." At least if the label is neuropsychological. Physical disability such as paralysis or amputation of a major limb should be pretty obvious, and blindness too...but even then, there will probably be radical opponents who will try to accuse the person of faking it.

Being aware of the neurotypical tendency to be good at false empathy but not necessarily as good at real empathy, I won't have the hubris to claim that I can imagine the pain and frustration people go through as a result of typecasting themselves according to social stereotypes of "disability." I don't WANT to imagine it, to be honest. But I know from my own experience that even in the sphere of an unnecessary social "game," if you attach a significant portion of your identity to that game (and attaching one's identity to social games is not unheard of among, e.g., Halo or Warcraft players), typecasting oneself can be a source of lots of negative self-fulfilling prophesies and anxiety over losing a valued social role. If little things like that can get to me, I wouldn't blame neuroquirky and disabled people from getting frustrated, upset, or even crazy about the pressure to typecast themselves and the prevalence of others typecasting themselves.


Chuck said...

You are projecting a “theory of mind” application that may or may not be present in ASD individual.

Formula for social pressure of “conformity”:

I see X doing this, I see Y doing the same, so I must do the same as X and Y

ASD interpretation of same situation:

I see X and Y doing this. Either I do not understand the social context of what X and Y are doing, or I feel that what X and Y are doing is not as important to me as it is to X and Y.

reform_normal said...

I don't entirely buy into the "theory of mind" theory of autism - they may vary in TOM as much as anybody, but have some trouble applying it because they think differently from the average individual in too many ways, or because they get confused by certain tasks regarding verbal or nonverbal language due to their different ways of processing such material. A lot of neurotypical people have different theories of mind too; I've known many fellow NTs who don't understand my views in social situations.

Chuck said...

Do they think differently or do they sense and re-act differently? These are two very different concepts.

Chuck said...

Is it a matter of understanding your perspective or agreeing with your perspective in social situations that your associates can't do?

reform_normal said...

It's probably a mixture of thinking, sensing, and reacting differently, and the significance of each of those components will depend on the individual.

I don't know if my associates can understand my perspective or not, as I can't crawl inside their heads to compare their idea of my perspective with my perspective itself. On some level they can understand that some people would have such a perspective, but on another level they may find it incomprehensible to imagine such a perspective. They know THAT I think that way, but not WHY.

Chuck said...

So it is your belief the ASD will not effect ToM?

reform_normal said...

It's my belief that if ASD affects theory of mind, it does so in a way that's qualitatively no different than how theory of mind differs among people in general.

Measuring theory of mind is subjective, and the definition of theory of mind is subjective too. And I don't see blogs of ASDers as being full of thinking of people as objects.

Chuck said...

Measuring theory of mind is subjective
Definition of theory of mind is subjective
Defining criteria of ASD is subjective
Diagnosing ASD is subjective
Measuring the quanity of ASD individuals is subjective
The pseudoscience of psychology is subjective

ToM does not see anyone as objects

There are very few objective subjects when it comes to ASD