A thought occurred to me when I was washing the dishes, a few minutes ago, or rather it was more of a question. I thought, I wonder if somebody can be so self-obsessed that they don’t even know it, even after they have been told they are, via a diagnosis of autism. Or are there really some autistic people who aren’t self-obsessed, and what would that look like?
Maybe this is the people who are on what is commonly referred to as the ‘mild’ end of the spectrum. But if so, what would bring that type of a person forward for an assessment in the first place or how would they have got picked up as kids? What types of difficulties or struggles do they have and what makes it autism and not something else, such as OCD or social anxiety or whatever?
This whole conversation about self-obsession has really piqued my curiosity and obviously, as an autistic person, I don’t see other people’s points of view easily, unless it is spelled out to me in a way I can understand. So, I’m just wondering, is there a whole other level of autism that I am unaware of?
This is for curiosity as much as to see if it’s my autistic brain blindsiding me again, because I know I fall into the basic understanding of autism, meaning selfism, and obviously, being autistic, I assumed all other autistic people are that way as well. I know we are all sooooooooooo different, of course we are, we are human beings, all human beings are different, but I thought as autistic people, the one identifying factor, that we all share, is the thing the condition (for want of a better word) is named after, which is, of course, self-ism.
You can be sure you’re self-obsessed by certain outward signs. The signs the psychiatrists use to diagnosis and identify us. Such as difficulties in school, not making friends as easily as most of the other kids, maybe getting picked on, a history of many different jobs, generally well below a person’s capability, difficulties in personal relationships including difficulties sometimes with family members, not achieving full protentional, all those kinds of things. Which all stem from the self-obsession. But you can also be self-obsessed without those outward signs, I don’t think I had or have that many of them and I think there are many of us who don’t show the ‘typical’ types of outward signs.
I’m just wondering what none self-obsessed autistic people struggle with and why they aren’t diagnosed with that instead of autism? Or have I just missed the point all together, lol, (which wouldn’t be for the first time) and autism is something else altogether?
I also learned yesterday that some people, apparently, at least one person anyway, has a negative connotation attached to the words self-obsession and selfish. I was unaware that those words could have any negative connotations so for those who do have those negative connotations, I’m not using these words in a negative way, whatever that could be. If anybody has got better words to use instead, where people don’t have negative connotations then tell us what they are. Autism literally means, self-ism, so I fail to see how anything to do with the self can be negative, but of course, that’s just me
Anyway, this is me, doing what I can to avoid doing my course work, lol, and now I’m going to avoid it some more and take my little self for a walk through the woods to rendezvous with the trees and nature for a couple of hours.
Hope you are all having a great day
The terms selfish and self obsessed seem generally to be used with very negative connotations. People seem to be implying that such people don’t care about anyone else and will do whatever it takes to get their own way. Unless I have totally misunderstood of course. I don’t know the word for ‘relating to other people by reference to ones own experience/thoughts/feelings’ but I think that’s what makes me reach out to others, and attempt to offer help/support/comfort. I can feel deeply for people in bad situations, even though I have not been through exactly the same ordeal. I have in the past been the listener, rather than the talker, and have a strong dislike of injustice and hate seeing anyone suffer. I can now communicate better, so can reach out to help others more effectively. I always wanted to, but that invisible barrier was in the way. I do need to remember to listen now, not just jump in. The world in general seems full of misunderstandings.
So I personally don’t consider myself entirely selfish. If someone else sees me as such, I have to remind myself that’s their problem if they see me that way. And it’s not a solely or universal autistic trait. Many of all sorts of people are selfish to extremes, but probably most are not like that all the time. I would be 100 per cent selfish if I was an addict that didn’t want to address the addiction, because I am the sort of personality that cannot take illegal drugs.
Blue Ray, if you seriously do want to help others, then you’re not selfish either. We have communication difficulties that often make many of us appear not to care about anyone or maybe anything. So I’d best say goodnight now and turn in. We’ll have to find the word that describes how we relate to others.... and maybe there’s as many different words as there are autistics.
Selfish is not caring about others.
Self-obsessed is different. It's being interested in one's happiness, motivations and interests to the exclusion of other things.
In Autism if there is self-obsession it's involuntary in my opinion. The brain is wired differently. Autistic people can't make as much eye contact, small talk, conversation or handle crowds, fluid multi-person conversations, noises and physical sensations as well. These force Autistic people to be more oriented to the self than to the crowd. That doesn't equate to selfishness. Some Autistic people are selfish but that's a matter of personality. On the whole Autistic people are simply more introverted and need more time alone and more control over their environment. Since many non-Autistic people don't need the same amount of control over their environment they can mistake our needs for selfishness, or it may feel like selfishness to them; this is perhaps the most sad part about Autism, that others can feel insulted or annoyed by us when we have no intention to offend them.
I like going for walks too.
Measure for Measure by Shakespeare is one to watch. It's all about judgement, how we judge one another, and the play turns everyone on their head and makes asses of us all, even the audience, as the bard cunningly strings us along before turning the eye of judgement upon us.
Thank you 0812. Self obsessed much of the time seems spot on. And the reasons and reactions. I do fight the tendency when able to connect.
I’m not talking about not caring about other people, I’m talking about an elevated pre occupation with the self, that gets in the way of so called ‘normal’ living. It has nothing to do with not caring about others and everything to do with the brain, not people, not value judgements, plain and simple neurological differences. But thanks for your response. I really appreciate it. It does help and I will read it several times and process and absorb it.
I don’t ‘want’ to help others though, I just do, I can’t not, because that’s the way I’m wired up as well, but I’m still autistic. I am still what autism described as self obsessed. I’ll get the link to the article I linked in another thread and post it here (when I get to my computer) and see if that makes it any clearer, if you get any time to read it. I don’t expect you too of course, but I would love some input from other autistic people on this to help me process and understand it. But thank you, for your input, it has really helped
It seems like people are more interested in the ‘connotations’ of the words where as I tend to take things literally and don’t add value judgements to words or people’s actions etc, so maybe that’s why I’m able to talk about such things without the seeming emotional attachment or whatever it is that people are having with these words. To me, it’s not a bad thing to be selfish, not in the least, so that’s maybe why I look at it differently. I don’t tend to add value judgements to words or people.
And why do you think an addict, getting his fix, is any more selfish than a man with no legs wanting a wheelchair?
Of course it’s involuntary. Autism isn’t a value judgement. They don’t pick out the people who they think are more selfish than most and say you’re autistic because you don’t seem to care as much about others. Most of us, at the higher end of the scale, barely know others exists, lol, let alone think about them.
Or, is it because the brains of autistic people are wired differently, making them more self obsessed which in turn, naturally, (as it logically would) cause difficulties in relationships etc?
I’m far from introverted, I think you can tell by my posts, and I’m not shy or quiet or afraid to speak my truth. But I am very much autistic in that my brain is very much wired towards the self.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t care about others. To me, I love a stranger at the other side of the world, that I’ve never met, just as much as I do my son, I love all people, dearly and equally, and I love them as much as I love myself, because to me, we’re all one. I would give my last penny away to help somebody and I’ve always been the same. I was always sticking up for kids at school and I still do. Only a coupe of weeks ago I was in the street, confronting a big gang of school kids who were all picking on one solitary girl. I can’t walk past things like that and not say anything. I get myself into very dangerous situations but I can’t see people getting hurt.
Why do autistic people need more time alone?
But autistic people get insulted by other autistic people as well. People on here often choose to get insulted by what I say (instead of taking it for what it is, simply something I say!) and they try to force me to not be myself, to pretend I’m somebody else, to keep my mouth shut, to not act like I’m autistic - blunt and honest, and instead of seeing that I’M AUTISTIC they instead, call me names (I’ve never done that to anybody on here), they tell me to get off the site (I’ve never done that to anybody), they tell me to stop being myself, aka autistic (I’ve never done that to anybody) and neither has an nt person done that to me, especially when they know I’m autistic.
Yeah, I love going for walks
Thank you for your comments. I really appreciate them and they’re helping this wild, obsessive autistic brain understand and process all this a little better. Thank you, I really do appreciate it
I think the difficulty stems from equating a formal diagnosis of autism with an informal one of self obsession, as in your original question
BlueRay said:I wonder if somebody can be so self-obsessed that they don’t even know it, even after they have been told they are, via a diagnosis of autism
The two are not eqivalent. Being identified as autistic is NOT the same as being told you're self obsessed and any autism specialist who erroneously told someone that would be being quite unprofessional to say the least. Many in my family are extremely kind and generous, leading to behaviours that would be considered selfless in anyone's eyes. And i think that's true of many autistics. A highly developed consience and strong sense of ethics are very often part of our make up, although, as others have suggested, selfish behaviours are not the sole preserve of NTs and feature across the population. More of a human thing, really.
BlueRay said:You can be sure you’re self-obsessed by certain outward signs. The signs the psychiatrists use to diagnosis and identify us. Such as difficulties in school, not making friends as easily as most of the other kids, maybe getting picked on, a history of many different jobs, generally well below a person’s capability, difficulties in personal relationships including difficulties sometimes with family members, not achieving full protentional, all those kinds of things. Which all stem from the self-obsession.
I disagree. These "outward signs" might indicate a problem, but not its origins. For example, difficulties at school and not making friends easily can occur for any number of reasons, some of which may well be more to do with the culture of the school than any supposed fault with the individual. In a culture of inclusion and acceptance, for example, such issues might not materialise at all. Plus in any case the diagnostic criteria used by psychiatrists are derived from the medical model, usually the DSM, which focuses exclusively on a few key areas (usually seen as deficits) rather than the whole person (which might show a very different picture). i don't think it can be assumed that difficulties "all stem from the self obbsession".
I do think that there can be certain problems relating to difference and how this is received which might lead a person towards increased self focus, but from my own experience this has tended to relate to increased sensitivity which in itself I see as a neutral quality. It can lead to heightened perception and awareness, but also more excuciating experience of setbacks. There might also be bullying or abuse, which I lay firmly at the door of the perpetrators and their own faults, including selfishness and inability to empathise with others.
Over and above that, words such as selfish or self obsessed clearly have negative connotations in our culture and by and large nobody will thank you for accusing them of these tendencies. Selfish and self obsessed behaviours are, however, commonplace irrespective of neurotype so the chances are that we will fall into them sometimes.
I also think it's hard to make generalisations anyway. Autistics are clearly not a homogenous group, to the extent that some would doubt the validity of the diagnosis anyway (see the work of Sami Timimi, for example). So I would advise taking as you find and steering clear of pronouncements that will probably be seen as derogatory. .
Yeah, it’s weird (to me) how people keep adding these value judgements (that I’m not even aware of) to these words, which just confuses me even more and cranks my blinking brain activity on this subject, up another gear when all I’m doing is trying to understand it better
I see it the other way around. I think it would be more compassionate and helpful, if the professional diagnosing autism, actually explained to the person diagnosed, what it actually meant. That the word itself means self-ism, the word autos/auto means self. I don’t understand why people think that you can’t be caring if your selfish and self obsessed. Look at Mother Teresa. She was one of the most selfish self obsessed people you could come across yet her good work towards others continues to this day. I don’t get the connection between self obsessed and selfish and not caring about other people or animals and the planet.
Isn’t everybody selfish? Why does anybody do anything? I just thought autistic people had an elevated sense of this, which is what distinguishes them from the rest of society and enables us to be the (mostly) unconditionally loving souls that we are. Clearly people at the milder end of the spectrum are not quite as unconditionally loving, as they seem to care more (than us at the higher end) about what other people say etc etc or how they will be judged by society instead of just being honest and speaking their truth. So maybe it’s just a difference between people at the milder end of the spectrum, so to speak and those of us at the higher end, who are often totally oblivious to the outside world and therefore we don’t learn all the judgements and values etc that people at the milder end seem to have, which seems to stop them from loving unconditionally.
I never said the outward signs were origin. That’s not even possible! Otherwise they would be the origin and not signs?!?!?
I don’t think it can be ‘assumed’ that all difficulties come from self obsession. I don’t think the medical profession are basing their findings on ‘assumptions’, I think they delve a little deeper than that. What have ‘qualities’ got to do with autism? Autism isn’t a value judgement or a choice, is a neurological brain developmental thing. Although people like to call me names and tell me to leave the autism site, for being autistic, I can’t help being autistic, I didn’t choose to be this way. I didn’t choose to be blunt and honest and to love all people, equally, without having the ability to judge them like they seem to judge me. I can’t censor my words like nt and some autistic people. I can, sometimes, to some degree, but it’s exhausting and makes me not want to live. If I can’t be myself, why bother being here? Maybe you all think I should just go and kill myself because I can’t say the right things at the right time and in a nice soft flowery way like you lot. Maybe I should just go and die?
Those words might have negative connotations in your culture, but I’m not part of your culture, I’m autistic, and I thought people here would understand that. I haven't accused anybody of anything, you don’t accuse somebody of being autistic, they’re born that way. I was simply speaking my truth about my understanding of autism, people do t have to agree with me, I’m not god, it’s simply the way my autistic brain sees the world.
I think with all this advice, telling me to not speak my truth, to keep quite, say something else that sounds nice instead, or to simply shut up and go away, is probably right. I think I should probably do that because it’s simply too hard, too exhausting and too soul destroying for me to simply try to second guess everything I say to try and make sure I don’t upset somebody. Thanks. I have learned a lot from being here but I can see that autistic people of my type, aren’t welcome here and no, I don’t take it personally, but there’s no fun in being somewhere where people don’t want you.
Like you said, the difference might be in the severity that one experiences autism and if they’re diagnosed or not. I’m not, by any stretch of the imagination ‘mildly’ autistic, I have 4 support workers and one that still supports me unofficially, and I’m still not able to even do the basics of every day living yet. Maybe I need to find a group that is more severe if I want to be accepted and supported. Thank you. That’s a good tip.
I apologise. My reply earlier on is based on a not broad enough understanding of Autism on my part. There are Autistic people who aren't introverts.