Cognitive empathy is KNOWING how the other person feels and what they might be thinking. Emotional empathy is FEELING physically along with the other person, as though their emotions were contagious. Aspies are said to have more than normal levels of emotional empathy and less than normal levels of cognitive empathy. But if we can FEEL other people's feelings, doesn't this mean that we also KNOW how they are feeling? That's true for me, at least. What others are thinking is often a mystery to me. So maybe thoughts and emotions should not be clubbed under "cognitive empathy"?
Theory of mind is the ability to infer the full range of mental states (beliefs, desires, intenions, imagination, emotions, etc.) that causes action, or the ability to reflect on the contents of one's own and others' minds. Aspies are said to be lacking in this ability, or suffering from mindblindness. We are believed to think that if we feel/ perceive something, probably others do too and if we don't feel/ perceive something, probably others don't either. Eg. When playing hide and seek, thinking that if I can't see them, they can't see me. It has been speculated that mindblindness could simply be attributed to the differences between autistic and non-autistic thought processes, i.e. aspies could be less mind-blind with others like themselves.
I think the term "theory of mind" is problematic. I think it is too broad and encompass too many separate ideas. Aspies are said to have a reduced ability to read other people's social cues such as facial expressions or body language. I personally am highly perceptive about this. So either I was misdiagnosed as an aspie or at least some aspies are great at perceiving other people's body language/expressions, which may reflect on their emotions and intentions. But I still often do not know how to respond to them even if I understand what they're feeling. Are there other aspies here who can't relate to the idea that we can't perceive body language/expressions? What I fail to pick up on to be precise, are the ways other people think or process their emotions and the beliefs that they may hold.
Is it just me or does anyone else feel that there are contradictions and inaccuracies in these ideas about us currently held by the mainstream scientific community on us? Please correct me if I'm wrong. Your thoughts are much appreciated. Thank you all.
I’ve read it described as, higher functional individuals are able to hack into the understanding of other minds using their powers of intellect and observation, whereas for NTs it develops naturally. Atypical understanding of emotions does not necessarily mean a lack of emotional experiences. To deduce what someone else is thinking or feeling is cognitive memory, this is the empathic component individuals with ASD are to be deficient in. The impulse to respond appropriately on an emotional level to someone else’s mental states is affective empathy, ASD individuals have the same level of affective empathy as NTs. This is why watching sad movies or similar can affect us, but if someone acts distressed for an ulterior motive we can empathise with the distress but not read the deception. Life experience gives us experiential knowledge of the possibility of deception. The bonus is the ineffectiveness of various advertising and political propaganda techniques.
I can read intentions and motives exceptionally well, likely more than many NTs. I still don't know how to respond to them other than a straight "I see you! Don't even try!", which gives them an opportunity to play the hurt victim who never had such intentions. They're just too good at this game. I can never with being honest and straightforward. Before my diagnosis, I thought my schooling ruined me.