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Autism And Me (III)

Theory of mind?  Never heard of it?  Neither had i until just a few years ago.  Its a simple idea, but i had a very hard time trying to understand it.  It is the idea that everyone has a mind of his or her own.

One reason for "parallel play" and for "not playing well with others" is that small children (aged 4?) do not seem to have a theory of mind.  I think that other people see what i see, know what i know, believe what i believe, and react as i react.  I will always predict that other people's reaction to a stimulus will be the same as mine.  (The first two sites on google (Wikipedia and Psychology Today are excellent.)

Autism is one of several conditions which prevent or retard the development of theory of mind.  It is not the autistic person's only problem; but if it were it would be problem enough.

If i insist that others do or should see the world as i see it will prevent me from seeing the world as others see it.  This leads to arrogance, pride and prejucice, bigotry and other problems that force me to live in my own little world without benefit of the input of others who are percieved as already agreeing with me if they are not stupid.

Contemporary fiction has aome good illustrations of the development of theory of mind.  In Larry McMurtry's novel, The Lare Child, Eddie, the precocious five year old (5 AND a half)! is opinionated and convinced that what he knows is what everyone should know.  He is especially opinionated about friendship.  Friends should maintain close physical contact and friendships should last for ever.  But when his  current best friend, Sheba (a homeless teenaged prostitute)  is unable to follow Eddie's family to Oklahoma, he is heartbroken but accepting.  It is beginning to dawn on him that other people have their own lives and their own agendas--and their own minds.

Maia, a "journalist" in Umberto Eco's  Numero Zero, is described as lacking theory of mind at 28 years    of age.  Her boyfriend tries to teach it to her;; but the novel ends before we find out how that went.  Maia is described as odd, immature, and "autistic,"

I could not understand theory of mind because i did/do not have it.  i knew i often came accross as domineering, arrogant, controlling and i could never understand why they saw me that  way,  I was only trying to explain how things really were.  I should have known, and at some level did know, that "how things are" is a matter of perspective; and there are potentially an almost infinite number of possible perspectives if everyone has a mind of her or his own.

Since i no longer have to explain "how things are," i am much happier.  I am much easier to get along with and i find others much easier to get along with.

(Next: People vs. Things)


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Jul. 19th, 2018 10:33 pm (UTC)
If I insist that others do or should see the world as I see it will prevent me from seeing the world as others see it.

This is one of the most mindful and intuitive concepts I have ever come across. And by that I mean more consciousness, than ego.

Thank you for sharing. I am very much enjoying this series regarding your experiences and knowledge of autism, and what I guess is now known as the "spectrum".
Jul. 20th, 2018 03:26 am (UTC)
Thank you. :) Namaste!
Jul. 21st, 2018 07:51 am (UTC)
Hey, hi - I got to your Lj by accidentally clicking the Friends Page for greatpoets instead of my own. I'm both autistic and an advocate for other autistics, so appreciate your posts on the topic. However, I'd like to point out that the notion that autistics lack 'Theory of Mind' is bunk, right up there with the notion that we lack empathy.
Jul. 21st, 2018 04:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your comment. I am glad that these posts were read by an autistic person, especially someone active in support off others.

After posted these four entries, i became worried that some aspie reading them might be hurt or even harmed by them. I am certainly no expect on autism. I only became aware of the condition eleven years ago when i began to suspect that i might be autistic. I can only share my own experience. I don't believe there is a "tyoucak" Aspie any more than there is a typical anybody else.

The idea of "theory of mind" opened a door for me thAt might otherwise have remained closed. There might have been better ways to open it.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )



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