Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Theory of mind is not all bad

I am going to respond -- in the gentle and understanding fashion befitting someone claiming to have overcome many Theory of Mind difficulties -- to an article written by an autist trying to reexplain Theory of Mind. The author believes that Theory of Mind is not an accurate explanation of autism. Read the article here first:  http://iautistic.com/autism-myths-theory-of-mind.php


I only partly agree with this rewriting of that passage, but maybe that has to do with subconsciously still having some difficulty grasping that not all experiences with autism are the same. I have struggled with theory of mind, and I have never seen someone as a clone of myself. I simply have had difficulty understanding that it was possible for someone to feel a certain way. As my experience grows, so does my understanding of other people. It doesn't mean that I never knew other people existed or that I did not have a unique sense of self. It simply means that I struggled to understand exactly what it meant to be not me. I fully understood the spatial limits of being an individual. Furthermore, I claimed to have an understanding of individuality, but that understanding was shallow. Many typically functioning Americans have the same challenge. It is simply a struggle to understand someone else's point of view. This could have to do with my having AS/HFA rather than Kanner's autism, which I believe differ only in presentation. What I struggle to understand with this passage is the author's thesis--or apparent thesis--that it should be called Theory of Self rather than Theory of Mind. I fail to see the difference. I'd like that explained. I also do not understand the concern about the conclusions drawn from Theory of Mind. Are they not the same conclusions drawn from Theory of Self, but subtly reworded? I'd like that explained as well. Is Theory of Self also considered to be a malignant theory?


I don't feel that Theory of mind is inaccurate. I simply believe that it needs to be examined more closely, as do any methods or theories pertaining to autism. It is a tool that can be expanded on in any way, and is useful in understanding the autistic mind. Anything that attempts to promote understanding of the autistic mind is worth looking at. I also don't believe that we are incapable of compassion. Since my theory of mind has developed, I have developed great empathy (for an autie) to complement my great compassion. It is much easier to express compassion when you have empathy, a product of Theory of Mind, to boost your understanding of another's situation. Developing theory of Mind has helped me to become a better human being and to better demonstrate my good intentions. Good intentions are difficult to demonstrate, though obviously not possible to demonstrate, when you don't fully understand all aspects of the situation. The whole point of Theory of Mind treatment is in helping the autist to understand Theory of Mind so that we can understand why we should do certain things for other people. rather than simply that we need to do them. This not only helps the autist to treat others kindly but, in fact, to be treated kindly in return. Autism is much more than simply Theory of Mind difficulties, but when we develop Theory of Mind, we are better able to see what else we struggle with. It's like taking your blinders off. Certainly an intriguing article.

1 comment:

  1. The NT mind does not tell the truth, it tells you what it wants you to believe and thinks it is telling you the truth. It is not lying, rather it is broadcasting an image.

    "How are you?" Do they really care? No. But they want to appear to care. Not appearing to care is rude. The NT mind has to constantly broadcast images of non-threat because they all know that the internal conversation is about threat awareness and monitoring the social environment for threat.

    AS types often do not broadcast and do not read the NT as they broadcast their "I am not a threat" message. AS types are internal and do not pose an outward threat. The AS type does not have the same assumptions in place that the NT mind does as a natural state of being.

    Obvious to NT is not obvious to AS; and vice versa.

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