Self-identity.... how to balance self-belief with external perception?

Hi.... I am not sure if this will make much sense but.. 

I am currently pursuing an autism diagnosis, as part of the pre-assessment my partner was asked to complete a questionnaire about my presentation which I had to complete too. When we had completed the questionnaires we shared our answers with each other. A lot we had responded in the same way (focused interest, need for routines, difficulties with physical touch, difficulty with eye contact, solution focused, black or white thinking etc) which I had expected because over the years I have invested time into developing a pretty strong sense of self and self awareness (both the positive and negative attributes).

However there were a number of inconsistencies that really bothered me. Like that I can appear rude, and uncaring because I don't take an interest in other people. That I can be direct and at times seem insensitive to others  views opinions and experiences. That I can appear disconnected from most people and I can often talk to people like it is the first time that we have met or as if I don't know them or as if I am addressing a colleague at work. 

I believe that I care very deeply about people, that I am sensitive to others needs and will always try and help people that need my support and that I can and do make deep connections with people (although I can count the number of people on one hand). I would say that I am sensitive and a gentle person. I struggle to do and be all of these things if it is not on a 1:1 basis or if my anxiety/stress level is high and I think that is where the contradiction might be. 

My question is therefore who am I? Am I the person that most people perceive me to be, or am I the person that I believe I am? Is it people's perception that define us or our own internal sense of self? If the two are so contradictory how can you form a solid sense of who you are? I am wondering if anyone else struggles with the seeming contradictions and how you have worked your way through the self-identity maze. 

Would appreciate any response even if it is just to say you understand my predicament. 


  • My question is therefore who am I?

    From a metaphysical perspective; you could possibly be the conscious internal self that has an experiential sense of your embodying sensibilities that in being as such vitalized ~ produces what you could otherwise be in terms of your developing sense of external self awareness. You could perhaps also be or are becoming more the intermediate self now that you are doubting / questioning the character of your external awareness.  


    If the two are so contradictory how can you form a solid sense of who you are?

    By comparison and evaluation of the characteristic contradictions ~ whilst keeping in mind that differences of perspective involve different states of awareness from different locations, such as by analogy we could imagine that one person can only see one side of an oblong as being a square, whilst person can look at another side of that same oblong and see only a rectangle.     


    I am wondering if anyone else struggles with the seeming contradictions and how you have worked your way through the self-identity maze. 

    The difference between the true personality or self and the false personae or mask selves as being social camouflage (whether knowingly or unknowing employed or not) is an often considered and discussed topic by those on or suspicious or curious about being on the spectrum. Perhaps in light of your post's theme on differences of perception consider the following papers and or the discussions we have had here about them:


    On The Ontological Status Of Autism And Double Empathy

    The double empathy/cross-neurological hypotheses of Milton and Beardon can be summarised as follows:
    .
    (1) non-autistic people appear to have as much difficulty in understanding autistic minds as vice versa;
    .
    (2) autistic people often develop a greater understanding of society than non-autistic people develop of autism; and
    .
    (3) autistic people have a similar ability to empathise with other autistic people as non-autistic people have with their peers.
    .
    Milton does not suggest that non-autistic people are less capable of developing an understanding of autism than vice versa; as he points out, it is simply that autistic people have no choice but to try to develop an understanding of society if they are to ‘survive and potentially thrive’ whereas no such imperative applies in the opposite direction (Milton 2012).
    .
    .
    And here on the forum,
    .

    Along with:

    COMPENSATORY STRATEGIES BELOW THE BEHAVIOURAL SURFACE IN AUTISM: A QUALITATIVE STUDY
    .
    Background
    Little is known about the compensatory profile in autism; that is, people with autism spectrum disorder who show few symptoms in their behavioural presentation, despite continuing to report autism-related cognitive difficulties or differences. Even less is known about the specific compensatory strategies that these individuals use to disguise autism at the behavioural surface, both in the clinic and everyday life. It is also currently unclear whether individuals without a formal autism diagnosis, but experiencing autistic-like difficulties, use similar compensatory strategies, potentially enabling them to sit below the diagnostic threshold. This study aimed to investigate social compensatory strategies, and their effect on diagnosis and clinical outcome, in adults with and without autism.
    .
    Methods
    In this study, individuals aged 18 years or older who responded to a study advert that was distributed worldwide via social media and the UK National Autistic Society formed a convenience sample. Participants self-reported their use and experiences of compensatory strategies using an online platform. Novel analyses, including a qualitative thematic approach, were used to interpret their responses and gain insight into compensatory strategies in autism.

  • Thankyou for the care you have taken to respond to each of the questions I posed. The suggestions have been helpful in leading me further along the journey and I have read with interest all the links you kindly pointed out. Your responses have been really comprehensive. Most people who I have tried to have these conversations with become uncomfortable or have not wanted to pursue the lines of enquiry that would help me get a better understanding.

    keeping in mind that differences of perspective involve different states of awareness from different locations, such as by analogy we could imagine that one person can only see one side of an oblong as being a square, whilst person can look at another side of that same oblong and see only a rectangle.     

    This was particularly helpful. I am not sure I have interpreted it right but took this to mean that basically other people's perception of me will be influenced by their own self awareness and experience of being with me. So those that take the time to see me from all angles will have a better understanding of who I actually am as opposed to those that see me briefly from only one angle.

    In 1:1 situations it is easier for me to expose more sides and allow people to see me more fully (and with a few such as my partner actually let the lid come off so they can see inside) whereas in social situations I am generally the one that stands in the corner and only exposes one side (the side that has been carefully constructed to mask the difficulties that I experience, but also if scratched or starting to peel off reveals the fear that I experience underneath the surface, and a layer of defense created incase anyone should rip the surface layer off) so people will only see that side.

    I guess for now I can conclude from this that I should have the courage to believe in my present internal sense of self, with the understanding that this is flexible and not fixed and can and will be influenced by further understanding, knowledge and experience. Develop further understanding of how to realise this experientially and reflect on an external sense of self being through being open to the perceptions of others whilst reflecting on how their perception is dirived.

    Thanks again your response is really appreciated. 

  • Yes this can be hard to work through. I relate to what you say about appearing rude, but feeling that you actually care deeply about people. I would say the same about me, but I know that I often fail to come across as caring when I mean to, and I can't pretend (very well) to care when I really don't. Have you heard about the Johari window? It might help explain this a bit.

    I think Deepthought has given lots of pointers, I just wanted to say that I get where you're coming from & experience it too.


  • Thankyou for the care you have taken to respond to each of the questions I posed.

    I am very glad to have been of some useful service.


    The suggestions have been helpful in leading me further along the journey and I have read with interest all the links you kindly pointed out. Your responses have been really comprehensive. Most people who I have tried to have these conversations with become uncomfortable or have not wanted to pursue the lines of enquiry that would help me get a better understanding.

    The reason most people find the issue of identity troubling is that their socially fostered and personally adopted re-characterization of themselves, is in fact a defense mechanism ~ so examining it does rather risk involving some deep seated historical trauma at least to a minimal degree.

    Basically though the first or original wound for which a personae mask or behavior set is adopted, derives from parental separation anxiety in many cases involving playschool / kindergarten, and primary and secondary schooling, and so on and so forth involving further education and working environments where hazing practices are carried out ~ i.e., new students or employees are humiliated by old students or employees as induces Stockholm Syndrome and behavioral compliance and authoritarian adoration and or anxiety.


    This was particularly helpful. I am not sure I have interpreted it right but took this to mean that basically other people's perception of me will be influenced by their own self awareness and experience of being with me. So those that take the time to see me from all angles will have a better understanding of who I actually am as opposed to those that see me briefly from only one angle.


    Yes ~ that is very much the case, and also everyone interprets things according to their personal bias ~ which may not actually be their bias or belief wholly either, but rather more that of their familial, social and cultural heritages ~ in traditional terms.

    There are also the 'lost in translation' and 'assumption of meaning' problems that occur in both the linguistic and the behavioral senses too, so they are worth keeping in mind if they are not so already.

    For example, autistic people tend more to be concrete or literal in their comprehension of words and sentences, and non-autistic people are more abstract or subjective ~ so that direct and concise descriptions and instructions are on occasion displaced or replaced with indirect and vague ones such as involving more personal / private exchanges of information and meaning. The 'nudge-nudge-wink-wink' comedy sketch with Eric Idle and Terry Jones from the Monty Python team portrays both these problems rather well: