I know people with Autism can have empathy issues, and people with ASPD have low to no empathy. But do you know if they present differently? /gen
Thanks for the question, as you can tell I have been slow to reply to this one because... well, because I’m kinda stumped in how to answer this.
Yes, they do present differently, from what I know, but what I know is purely from what I have read and what friends have told me. I really don’t know enough to draw a definitive comparison. Obviously, as a spectrum disorder, it varies, and I’m unwilling to potentially insult someone by pushing my very limited knowledge as fact.
There is some overlap between ASPD and autism, from what I have read and understand. Autism spectrum disorders and antisocial personality disorder experience reduced levels of empathy. An article I read, which I’ll link you to, says that ASPD struggles with emotional empathy, so the ability to feel another’s feelings, whereas autism experiences problems with their cognitive empathy, so their ability to take another’s perspective.
So for example, if a friend is sad because her boyfriend dumped her, I can completely understand that this is why she is sad. There is a direct link, a cause for her current emotional state. However, I feel absolutely nothing in regard to her pain. I am totally unable to feel sad with or for her, I only understand why she is sad.
I am wary about offering an example for empathy in autism disorders, but I believe that the cause and effect is not as prevalent. I very well may be wrong here. A different article I just read claims that that cognitive empathy in autism is largely being unable to recognise or name emotions based on facial expressions. The article said “Eye scan studies found people with autism tend to look at the periphery of a face rather than pay attention to the eyes and mouth, where emotions are typically displayed.” (They might not be scholarly so, again, could be wrong).
It then goes on to say, “However, while cognitive empathy can be lower in people with autism, affective empathy—which is based on instincts and involuntary responses to the emotions of others—can be strong and overwhelming. In fact, newer research suggests that some people with autism may actually feel other people's emotions more intensely.”
So, I hope this helps somewhat. I cannot draw definitive comparisons given that I can only speak from one side.
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One thing with ASPD that deserves more attention is our terrible impulse control issues. This is due to how our brains are structured. Short-term actions release endorphins, and our brains over-emphasise the importance of endorphins. I think this is due to how prone to boredom we are.
This can result in us engaging in reckless or dangerous behaviour. Not always, though. These issues can, and do, manifest in other ways in our lives. Spending money on things we don’t need (which is something a lot of my friends with ASPD also experience) is a big one. I definitely struggle with my spending habits. It’s not that I can’t think long term, it’s just that spending money in the here and now feels good, even when it’s something I don’t need. For some with aspd, this could manifest in short term relationships. I’ve definitely gone for people that I shouldn’t have for that exact reason. Bosses, colleagues, friends, anything that’ll cause a level of interest that’ll keep me from being bored for some time.
It can be difficult for people with aspd to manage impulse control issues. In the moment there’s a complete need to do this thing that’ll release all these good feelings. Even if they’re so short lived, they can be pleasantly distracting. I know a lot of people with ASPD try hard to manage their impulse control issues in order to better their lives and this needs more attention because it’s actually really difficult.
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