Oh, does that sound mean? It’s not meant to be. Yes, you may feel guilty describing your Aspie loved one in this manner. But the truth is this is how our rollercoaster lives feel. We’re whipsawed about with their contradictory behavior. It hurts; it’s frustrating; and sometimes it’s frightening.Once again it all comes back to a lack of empathy. With no theory of mind it doesn’t register with our Aspies just how their conduct affects us. And because they don’t really intend to cause harm, they don’t readily accept responsibility for their misconduct. (I’ll be sharing more about Empathy Disorders in my upcoming book, including what you can do to protect yourself from people who can’t demonstrate empathy. To stay up-to-date on its release sign-up for my newsletter.)
It’s like they have a split personality. What the world sees and what you see are two radically different things. They cut you off after one phrase and finish your sentences with what they think you should do, completely missing your point. It leaves you fuming, “who is he or she to tell me how to feel.” Or maybe like you’re a bother for contradicting anything the Aspie believes.
Layer upon layer of misunderstanding leads to the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde phenomenon. No matter how much you try to reason with them, they’re convinced that you’re the problem.
It’s even more infuriating that others see them as lovable, smart, or just a little kooky, but basically harmless. Only we know how devastating it is to be in the crosshairs of an Aspie when they’re fired up.
At our next Asperger Syndrome: Partners & Family of Adults with ASD Meetup, we’ll talk about how to hold your own against Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. It’s important to know your own heart and not compromise. You’ll learn how to keep your channel clear and never allow boundary crossing. Let’s talk about the warning signs and methods to handle this better so you can prevent your own hurt.
If you’re a member, be sure to register for the November Video Conference, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on Thursday, November 9th at 9:00 AM PT. (Not a member? If you’re a NT dealing with life with an Aspie, all you have to do is request an invite. It’s free to join the group and it has a lot of perks, like this low-cost video conference and our free international teleconference.)
If you prefer one-on-one counseling and you live near Portland, OR/Vancouver, WA please contact my Jantzen Beach office and schedule an appointment. I also offer online therapy if that works best for your busy schedule.
If you’d like to understand more about the science behind Asperger’s Syndrome, grab a free chapter from my book, Out of Mind – Out of Sight: Parenting with a Partner with Asperger Syndrome (ASD) by clicking on the image below.
5 Replies to “Is Your Aspie Like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde?”
split personality or split emotion . It’s not my matter that NT partner switches from positive to negative and me experiencing effect of switch . The effect is behaviour . Who is responsible for switch cause or effect ? I am in situation to be responsible for effect or if there is switch in my case I am responsible for my unconscious cause . Comparing same things but judged in behaviour . Who is responsible in interaction ? Both . One initiates second follows . I want be aware and my partner as well .
I am going to criticize your words “lack of empathy” You should write “lack of particular empathy” otherwise you intent to emotional merge with people who are example upset and read the article and get dogmatism in order to order counseling. Which is what it is . Generally speaking about human being having lack of empathy ? No . That’s called Emotional Features of complainer to focus on and discover for own self .
Thank you for the article . It is helping us
Hello Tomas. The way I look at empathy is that you can’t really have partial empathy. As Simon Baron-Cohen says autistics have Zero Degrees of Empathy because partial empathy doesn’t work, so it is the same as zero. Autistics can be kind, compassionate, creative, loving Souls, but empathy is more. Empathy means the entire orchestra is tuned, all the musicians are in their chairs, the conductor is on stage, the composition is excellent, the concert hall is acoustically superb, and the audience is ready for the performance. If all of these variables are in synch, you have empathy.
I would like to criticize your claim that people with Asperger’s lack empathy. We do, most certainly, have it. Empathy is in the small things of life; it does not have to be some grandiose gesture or the likewise to be empathetic. We are empathetic when we cringe at someone who is messing up, for we wish for them to succeed. We are empathetic when a loved one passes away, or when we lose the friends we are close to. I feel emotions differently, of course, but I do not lack a theory of mind, at least not on an intellectual level. Sometimes aspies can be unfeeling in some regard, but this does not boggle us down to being incapable of empathy. Remember that Austism is also a spectrum, thus it is circumstantial basis for everyone who is on it. To say that all people with Asperger’s lack empathy is much too wide of an assumption. Chemically, all of our brains react differently to stimuli, and some of us experience symptoms that others don’t.
I think you are interpreting the logical mindset of an Aspie from the outside looking in to be determined as unempathetic. Someone who lacks empathy lacks morality and conscience. Trust me when I say to you, we defiantly have consciences. An understanding of right and wrong on an emotional level requires that one is able to regard the feelings of others, which, of course, many of us possess. My empathetic side developed over the course of my life. Of course, when I was younger, I was more self concerned, but I activated much of that part of my brain through social interaction. Perhaps we are just not letting people with Aspergers have enough of a chance to prove themselves as empathetic. To say people with aspergers are unempathetic is a self-fulfilling prophesy, as it makes those on the high functioning side feel guilty for their apparent incapability to be fundamentally human.
I agree with you that people on the Autism Spectrum are fully capable of sensitivity, compassion and kindness. However, empathy is quite different. I’m writing more about empathy is my latest book, “Empathy: It’s More Than Words.”
I believe Aspies can have empathy, it just shows up shallow or superficial albeit without the intent. My friend who is an Aspie would be right there to help an elderly load their car with their groceries or have concerns for dogs and cats kept in a kennel but…my friend does not have emotions that have depth and roots to be the foundation for a relationship. Instead, her shallowness allows her to be a tumbleweed blowing with the wind. And I do not say this with ill intent but it is my view on the outside looking in.