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Old 09-06-2019, 01:57 PM
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Is there an equivalent of Asperger that tends toward abstract thought and novelty?


I've noticed a few people who at first seemed like they might have Asperger syndrome. I'll name a few eventually but for now, let's only look at the characteristics to avoid biasing the question by making it about this or that public figure.

They appear to have low empathizing skills, little eye contact, flat voice intonation and a poker face. They can also be highly intense and focused in their interests.

However, instead of having inflexible repetitive routines, they seek novelty and experimentation. Instead of a few narrow interests, they'll be interested in many unrelated topics. Instead of collecting and memorizing a high quantity of details, they'll seek insight into underlying general principles. Instead of stereotyped and repetitive motor behaviors like flapping or twisting, they'll tend to have military-like posture. Metaphors are usually not a problem for them and they joke a fair amount. People with Asperger often fail to suppress internal thoughts but they don't seem to have that problem.

Any ideas?
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Old 09-06-2019, 02:56 PM
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Aspergers is a spectrum, not a gradient. One person can have a completely different set of symptoms (or lack of) from another person. I don't know who you're talking about, and I wouldn't presume to diagnose anyone, especially if I didn't know them. But it is entirely possible to have Aspergers to have some common symptoms and not others. It's also entirely possible for a person without Aspergers, or with some other disorder to not be empathetic, show little eye contact, etc.

My son as Aspergers and is pretty much as you describe, FWIW. Hell, I'm pretty much as you describe.
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Old 09-06-2019, 03:18 PM
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My son has some characteristics on your first list, some on your second, and some that don't fit in either. He has a formal diagnosis of Aspergers.

Without knowing more about the people you've identified, it's very difficult to answer the question you've posed.
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Old 09-06-2019, 06:30 PM
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R. Buckminister Fuller was a noted thinker in various fields who speculated that his interest in overall patterns was related to the fact that he was very nearsighted as a child, and this wasn't recognized until he was 5 or 6 years of age. So it wasn't until then, when he first got glasses, that he realized that a tree canopy wasn't just a fuzzy green ball, but actually made up of branches & stems each with individual leaves. He felt that his poor vision for small objects as a child affected his thinking.

Also, the image of the absent-minded genius is common. And at least somewhat accurate. For example, Albert Einstein couldn't/didn't bother to remember his own phone number.
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Old 09-06-2019, 07:46 PM
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...Albert Einstein couldn't/didn't bother to remember his own phone number.
Well, that's two things I have in common with Einstein. The other is a fissured tongue. Neither has proved particularly useful.
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Old 09-06-2019, 06:51 PM
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They dont have the ability to empathize well *and* they are frequent joke tellers? Seems like an awful combination. ��

Last edited by Ambivalid; 09-06-2019 at 06:51 PM.
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Old 09-06-2019, 07:49 PM
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They dont have the ability to empathize well *and* they are frequent joke tellers? Seems like an awful combination. ��
Maybe, but it does accurately describe a number of comics I've met.
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Old 09-06-2019, 07:55 PM
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Maybe, but it does accurately describe a number of comics I've met.
Were they *good* comics?
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Old 09-07-2019, 12:26 AM
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Were they *good* comics?
Insult comics seem to fit that description and a number of them have been very successful. (See Don Rickles.)
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Old 09-06-2019, 06:52 PM
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This isn't quite what you're decribing, but I've always thought of Williams syndrome as kind of an opposite of Asperger's. They tend to have low IQ but are very verbal and gregarious, and their language is filled with colorful and bizarre ideas.

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Despite their physical and cognitive deficits, individuals with Williams syndrome exhibit impressive social and verbal abilities. Williams patients can be highly verbal relative to their IQ. When children with Williams syndrome are asked to name an array of animals, they may well list a wild assortment of creatures such as a koala, saber-toothed cat, vulture, unicorn, sea lion, yak, ibex and Brontosaurus, a far greater verbal array than would be expected of children with IQs in the 60s.[36] Some other strengths that have been associated with Williams syndrome are auditory short-term memory and facial recognition skills. The language used by individuals with Williams syndrome differs notably from unaffected populations, including individuals matched for IQ. People with Williams syndrome tend to use speech that is rich in emotional descriptors, high in prosody (exaggerated rhythm and emotional intensity), and features unusual terms and strange idioms.[35]

Among the hallmark traits of individuals with Williams syndrome is an apparent lack of social inhibition. Dykens and Rosner (1999) found that 100% of those with Williams syndrome were kind-spirited, 90% sought the company of others, 87% empathize with others' pain, 84% are caring, 83% are unselfish/forgiving, 75% never go unnoticed in a group, and 75% are happy when others do well.[37] Infants with Williams syndrome make normal and frequent eye contact, and young children with Williams will often approach and hug strangers. Individuals affected by Williams syndrome typically have high empathy, and are rarely observed displaying aggression. In regards to empathy, they show relative strength in reading people's eyes to gauge intentions, emotions, and mental states.[38] The level of friendliness observed in people with Williams is often inappropriate for the social setting, however, and teens and adults with Williams syndrome often experience social isolation, frustration, and loneliness despite their clear desire to connect to other people.[35]
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Old 09-06-2019, 06:57 PM
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This isn't quite what you're decribing, but I've always thought of Williams syndrome as kind of an opposite of Asperger's. They tend to have low IQ but are very verbal and gregarious, and their language is filled with colorful and bizarre ideas.
OP, is the person(s) you're thinking of musically inclined? A lot more people with Williams have perfect pitch than the general population does.
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Old 09-06-2019, 07:10 PM
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OP, is the person(s) you're thinking of musically inclined? A lot more people with Williams have perfect pitch than the general population does.
No. There seems to be a trade-off in brain networks between the ability to systemize and empathize. I'm referring to people who are heavily on the systemizing end but are abstract rather than concrete thinkers. Like a scientists vs an engineer, a screenwriter vs an actor or a choreographer vs a dancer.
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Old 09-06-2019, 11:28 PM
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The autism spectrum is really broad. Asperger's has been recognized as being on the autism spectrum for a number of years. My layman's understanding (and I have a child that's middle to high end part of the autism spectrum) is that broadly speaking the previous Aspergers were folks that had fairly normal verbal language skills vs Autism with poor to non verbal language skills. That may be a helpful way to look at the fundamental difference in these definitions.

To personalize it, my child basically couldn't speak at all until about 3. The only had about a 20 work vocabulary with echolalia. She would learn a new word and lose an existing word, and roughly a 20 word vocabulary until 5.5 when she started to expand from that 20. But even now at 14 years old, we cannot have a rich conversation. She can communicate general needs and wants, can simply explain some of it, but there are quite significant limitations.

My understanding of "Aspergers" on the other hand, is that they have fairly normal language acquisition, but have the other more general autism spectrum traits such as stimming, lack of eye contact, etc.

FWIW, those on the autism spectrum do NOT suffer from a lack of empathy. It is a lack of being able to communicate that empathy. My child, for example, definitely has empathy.
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Old 09-06-2019, 11:39 PM
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There's one issue I have with the commonly-used word "spectrum" with regard to ASD - although it does get right the fact that ASD presents in a myriad of different ways, it still implies a linear process from one bit of the spectrum to another.

I prefer to think of a hill. If you're on top of the hill, you're neurotypical. If you're off the hill, you're in ASD territory. It's easy to see that two people who are off the hill, are not necessarily anywhere near each other. Bonus points - it's an eleven-dimensional hill.

So while there are some things which are characteristic of ASD, like many things it doesn't really have an opposite
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Old 09-07-2019, 01:36 PM
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There's one issue I have with the commonly-used word "spectrum" with regard to ASD - although it does get right the fact that ASD presents in a myriad of different ways, it still implies a linear process from one bit of the spectrum to another.

I prefer to think of a hill. If you're on top of the hill, you're neurotypical. If you're off the hill, you're in ASD territory. It's easy to see that two people who are off the hill, are not necessarily anywhere near each other. Bonus points - it's an eleven-dimensional hill.

So while there are some things which are characteristic of ASD, like many things it doesn't really have an opposite
I like your hill. It is hard to explain the concept to people who are not familiar with it. I will be using this.
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Old 09-07-2019, 05:51 PM
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I like your hill. It is hard to explain the concept to people who are not familiar with it. I will be using this.
Be my guest! The good old "If you've met one ASD person you've met one person with ASD" still has legs to, just I personally got bored with it
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Old 09-07-2019, 03:09 PM
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The person in question is my stepsister. She was 6 and I was 12 when our parents got together and although they're split, we still keep in contact. She's somewhat unusual and I'm concerned that if I don't put it in the right way, she's going to think I'm saying she's just a weirdo. Since she's looked up to me since we were kids, I think that would hurt her.

You know how people at the lower end of the Dunning-Kruger effect tend to overestimate themselves? People at the higher end tend to underestimate themselves and I think that might apply to her. I want to know what I'm talking about and hopefully present her with actual research or some kind of term that isn't "smart weirdo". She's so used to being told she's smart that it's like a great looking woman being told she's pretty.

When she was in 1st grade, she made a painting in art class that I found striking. One side of the face she painted was highly lit while the other side was in dark shadow. Later, I found out that style is called chiaroscuro. In 3rd or 4th grade, I don't remember which, she mentioned that the teacher would line up the class in two rows and they'd have to ask each other math questions like "2+3=?". She asked something like "3-6=?" without being taught about negative numbers. In 5th grade, she said she was congratulated by the teacher in front of the whole class after they did a poetry writing exercise. She had a crush on a boy when she was a teenager and she wrote him an acrostic with a quality of his with every letter of his first name.

In 7th grade, she got a bad result on an ESL test and decided she'd learn on her own. A year later, she was two grades ahead. A year after that, high school ESL had pretty much nothing to teach her. She started reading The Economist magazine at 16. By age 19, she wrote better in English than most native speakers.

I asked her why she applied to medical school and she said that she had something to sort out at the registrar's office and that a clerk who looked at her file mentioned she should apply. It hadn't occurred to her and she got in at the one place she applied.

One time, someone complimented her that the dresses she wore were always nice and she matter-of-factly replied: "I made sure of it." Another time, she was embarrassed because she was the last to complete a test and the test givers were waiting after her. One of them said, presumably snarkily: "You gonna get 100%?" and she replied: "Almost." She thought it might sound arrogant even if, to her, that was just what she expected. Another time, a professor in medical school made a mistake in the phrasing of a question so she went to the teacher to point it out. He blew her off. She went to her seat, made double sure then went back to the teacher to insist that he'd made a mistake. He'd made a mistake. I pointed out that telling a medical school professor he made a mistake in writing a test question was unusual but that going back insist that he, not her, was making a mistake if she couldn't understand the question was even more unusual.

I work out from home and wanted to work my lats. She MacGyvered a rowing machine using a barbell, straps and a resistance band. I asked her for advice on her to dress and women do double takes on me with stuff we bought at Target, an army surplus store, $15 biking gloves and a $15 baseball cap.

She does things like get out the door at 4AM on a Saturday to run a half-marathon on her own.

As for her sense of humor, she sent me this link https://imgur.com/fuTeVTu and told me it looked like "angry Jesus on a windy day". She said this https://imgur.com/zZNYTqz looks like someone covering his eyes with his hands and saying "NOOO". She joked that these: https://www.amazon.ca/Dimples-Excel-...xpY2s9dHJ1ZQ== are feminist exercise equipment.

I know that if I come to her without something more informative than "smart", she's going to politely humor me and then dismiss it. If I come to her with something she can research, that will likely interest her and she might look into it further.
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Old 09-07-2019, 05:28 PM
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EDIT: Woops, thought I was in IMHO. Leaving this up but sorry it's not a GQ answer.

Everyone's unique. Diagnoses of mental issues are probably, in many cases, misleading. It would probably be more accurate to tell a person that their body produced serotonin at a 2% greater rate than most people and testosterone at a 4% reduced rate, than to tell them that they have some particular ailment. Aspergers, depression, bipolar, etc. aren't diseases that you caught, they're just the outcomes of the way that your DNA put you together. There is no "depression bacteria" that you can track down and eradicate. And, more importantly, there's nothing about how DNA works to say that if someone is a +2% serotonin then they will also be a -4% testosterone.

Lumping people together like the variations in how our bodies are constructed are going to get out of wack in a consistent way rather than on a bell curve is, probably, not a particularly great way of doing it. It is possible that, because of the basic outlines of how the human body is put together, some patterns of misconstruction might be more prevalent - but assuming not is probably the safer way to operate.

But in terms of your sister, she sounds like a cool lady. If she's happy and doing well in life, then she doesn't have anything, she's just a unique human being, the same as everyone else.

Last edited by Sage Rat; 09-07-2019 at 05:30 PM.
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Old 09-07-2019, 06:00 PM
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@MichaelEMouse you might want to look into the term "twice exceptional". Basically it refers to the phenomenon of people having stand-out skills in one area of life (usually academic) but severe problems in some other thing - often a non-academic one like social skills, but sometimes a different academic area.

(For some reason, it doesn't count as "twice exceptional" if you have awesome people skills and can't add 2+2 ... maybe because we don't have exams in the former)

I'm going to assume from your OP that your sister does have some areas in her life where she's struggling and can't really operate effectively, even though your actual post about her shows only a fully-awesome person who totally has her life together in every way

"Twice exceptional" basically says yes, it's possible to be way in front of the bell curve on something, and way behind on something else, and we make no assumptions about what exactly those things are
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Old 09-07-2019, 10:21 PM
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Shizoid Personality Disorder is marked by autistic thinking and abstract creativity. Though gregariousness is usually anathema.

My psychiatrist's working diagnosis of me is SzPD, but I'm currently scheduled for Asperger's assement on account of my regimented behavior and stubbornness, but I attribute those to trauma more than an innate desire; that is I purposefully narrow my interests for fear that my first experiences will be associated with stressors like they have been in the past.
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Old 09-07-2019, 10:34 PM
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To me the OP seems to be confused about two important aspects:

1) "repetitive behavior" of the kind associated with the autism spectrum can be stuff which is considered socially acceptable. Movies tend to pick the most obvious stuff as a shorthand; documentaries are trying to be helpful to those whose behaviours are on the unacceptable side. Both are likely to include many people who aren't conscious of how many people around them display socially acceptable repetitive behaviors. Toying with your pen or moving your hands sideways a few times just above the table are socially accepted, repetitive behaviors; flapping your hands at shoulder level is repetitive, socially unaccepted behavior. The media will always show the person who flaps their hands and make a big fuss out of how this shows that person to be "on the spectrum"; meanwhile, when a high-powered executive is shown toying with their pen it's because they're "high energy".

2) "repetitive behavior" and "need for structure" are two different parameters; "acceptance of change" is a third one. "Doesn't take changes well" depends a lot on who initiates the change and on how is the change presented: most people, ASD or not, are fine with changes that they initiate and prefer those which are offered to them to those which are thrust upon them. Nobody has said that being on the autistic spectrum involves a lack of creativity: ASD people are perfectly capable of initiating change and of being interested in changes that are offered to them; the label of "doesn't take change well" refers to changes which are forced on them or of which they haven't received enough warning.

I make a living by going to people's workplaces and changing the way they work. One of the most important early tasks is to take a change that's being forced upon these people and making them own it; making them feel like it's "their" change and not the change that TPTB forced down their throats. And this task is so important because of that 2: no matter what personality you have, no matter who you are, having things forced down your throat is something nobody likes.




FFS, back when Asperger's first became a popular term, the reaction of a lot of people was "but that's just 'being an engineer'!" Prefers not working with too much people, check. Is perfectly happy being with a lot of people so long as those fulfill certain conditions, check. Likes their stuff to stay exactly where they left it, check. Wants computer screen "just so" and will call the IT guys to "bring back my fucking monitor this minute! I HAVE YOUR MOTHER'S PHONE NUMBER, we went to school together! I don't care if this one is newer and bigger! I like mine! I've been in this company for twenty-five years young man and you're going to be bringing my monitor back or by God I'M CALLING YOUR MOTHER!", check.

Last edited by Nava; 09-07-2019 at 10:39 PM.
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Old 09-07-2019, 11:36 PM
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However, instead of having inflexible repetitive routines, they seek novelty and experimentation. Instead of a few narrow interests, they'll be interested in many unrelated topics. Instead of collecting and memorizing a high quantity of details, they'll seek insight into underlying general principles. Instead of stereotyped and repetitive motor behaviors like flapping or twisting, they'll tend to have military-like posture. Metaphors are usually not a problem for them and they joke a fair amount. People with Asperger often fail to suppress internal thoughts but they don't seem to have that problem.

Any ideas?
Minus the part about military style posture, that sounds like someone who scores high on openness to experience.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Openness_to_experience
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Old 09-08-2019, 07:35 AM
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Aspidistra, that's one of the two criticisms I have with the concept of an "autism spectrum" (aside: Is the 11 dimensions a literal count, or just figurative? It seems like it might be about right). The other is that a spectrum has two ends: If there's an "autism spectrum", then everyone is on it, and the people with excellent social skills are just on the equivalent of the far ultraviolet, X-ray, or gamma end.
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Old 09-08-2019, 09:54 AM
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Aspidistra, that's one of the two criticisms I have with the concept of an "autism spectrum" (aside: Is the 11 dimensions a literal count, or just figurative? It seems like it might be about right). The other is that a spectrum has two ends: If there's an "autism spectrum", then everyone is on it, and the people with excellent social skills are just on the equivalent of the far ultraviolet, X-ray, or gamma end.
Does that make me a superhero?

To add a refinement to the "Autism Terrain" as I'm going to call it, instead of 11 dimensions, I find it more useful to think of it as a fractal pattern. Nevvie who is somewhere on that map is really good at a lot of stuff and I had no idea until my sister told me. In contrast, I have a coworker who also has a son that is diagnosed as autistic and to me it was subtly apparent right away. They both have different strengths and weaknesses, so while my nephew may be down in a valley, when you look closely at the details of his terrain, it looks like a peak
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Old 09-08-2019, 12:59 PM
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Minus the part about military style posture, that sounds like someone who scores high on openness to experience.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Openness_to_experience
Very much, yes. The half marathons she runs are usually when she's on acid. She also meditates on ecstasy, pot edibles and nootropics. She does very little in terms of addiction-prone drugs. I found exercise, meditation and psychedelics through her. I won't go on much more than that because of the board rules.



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the term "twice exceptional". Basically it refers to the phenomenon of people having stand-out skills in one area of life (usually academic) but severe problems in some other thing - often a non-academic one like social skills, but sometimes a different academic area.

(For some reason, it doesn't count as "twice exceptional" if you have awesome people skills and can't add 2+2 ... maybe because we don't have exams in the former)
Thanks very much for that. I'll read up on it, maybe send her a lecture if it's up to her standards.

Twice exceptional works the other way too. IIRC, Naomi Watts and Keanu Reeves both didn't finish high school but you certainly couldn't call them inept and they went on to have extraordinary careers.


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I'm going to assume from your OP that your sister does have some areas in her life where she's struggling and can't really operate effectively, even though your actual post about her shows only a fully-awesome person who totally has her life together in every way
As you correctly guessed, there are other issues involved. Getting her to reveal what she thinks is easy; If you get her started, she'll give you a lecture-worthy explanation. Getting her to reveal what she feels is like pulling teeth off a T-Rex.

She's good with children and great with animals. We take walks together sometimes and she has an easy time getting cats to approach her. She's been told several times that dogs who are usually anxious around strangers are unusually friendly to her.

On the other hand, she tends to be oblivious or dismissive of signs of interest from men even though she realizes she has attractive qualities. She's finished her medical degree and residency but she's unemployed in a city with below 5% unemployment.

There was one time that struck me; I saw her watch a video of a mother with her son sitting in her lap a few times. The mother was being gentle and kind to the son like you would expect. I asked her why she rewatched it a few times. Normally, she would have clammed up at this point but she was a little high. She said that it was like the opposite of watching a movie. In a movie, you know it's fake intellectually but it feels real emotionally. When she saw a mother being gentle and kind to her son, she knew it was real intellectually but it felt fake to her. She hasn't had much contact with her mother or that side of the family since she turned 20. I've tried broaching the topic since them but she ices up pretty well. I know she's tried therapy and I saw some SSRI bottles in her bedroom but they don't seem to have done much for her.




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Shizoid Personality Disorder is marked by autistic thinking and abstract creativity. Though gregariousness is usually anathema.

My psychiatrist's working diagnosis of me is SzPD, but I'm currently scheduled for Asperger's assement on account of my regimented behavior and stubbornness, but I attribute those to trauma more than an innate desire; that is I purposefully narrow my interests for fear that my first experiences will be associated with stressors like they have been in the past.
She can be gregarious actually. She can be puppy-like when she interacts with me. She just seems to take a long time to warm up to people and I doubt she'll ever warm up to most people. It feels like she can smell the dysfunction off some of them and it creeps her out which the other person sometimes senses and reacts badly to.

What have you found to help? Maybe I can steer her in that direction.

Last edited by MichaelEmouse; 09-08-2019 at 01:02 PM.
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Old 09-08-2019, 04:07 PM
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SzPD can be very intimate with select few people, actually (I can make eye conact with people such as my mom). I meant gregarious in the sense that one can chat up strangers and such(message boards are often less stressful for me). SzPD usually don't reciprocate attraction with others either (mostly because I'm inclined to think everyone might be, it's difficult to know who's being genuine, so I play it safe and assume no one is. Plus, other more personal reasons I'd rather not publicize). I abstain from recreational drugs, but only because I've seen how it ruined lives close to me, but SzPD is prone to it.

And animals do tend to be at comparative ease with me, rescues particularly.

I'm no psychiatrist, however, and my just be biased towards what I (might) be. The doctor still wants to rule out Asperger's, so extra grain of salt.

As for my own coping, I'm in the process of establishing some sort of independence, and just beginning treatment. It's agonizingly slow to be honest; I'm just unable to tell what my responsibilities start, and what limits to expect of outside help reasonably are.
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Old 09-08-2019, 04:50 PM
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SzPD can be very intimate with select few people, actually (I can make eye conact with people such as my mom). I meant gregarious in the sense that one can chat up strangers and such(message boards are often less stressful for me). SzPD usually don't reciprocate attraction with others either (mostly because I'm inclined to think everyone might be, it's difficult to know who's being genuine, so I play it safe and assume no one is. Plus, other more personal reasons I'd rather not publicize). I abstain from recreational drugs, but only because I've seen how it ruined lives close to me, but SzPD is prone to it.

And animals do tend to be at comparative ease with me, rescues particularly.

I'm no psychiatrist, however, and my just be biased towards what I (might) be. The doctor still wants to rule out Asperger's, so extra grain of salt.

As for my own coping, I'm in the process of establishing some sort of independence, and just beginning treatment. It's agonizingly slow to be honest; I'm just unable to tell what my responsibilities start, and what limits to expect of outside help reasonably are.
For what reason(s) do you think animals, particularly rescues, tend to be at comparative ease with you?

Can you go on about establishing independence? What sort of responsibilities are you taking on? Will eventually take? What kind of limits of outside help are you realizing?
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Old 09-08-2019, 05:11 PM
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(aside: Is the 11 dimensions a literal count, or just figurative? It seems like it might be about right).
It's a fully rectally-derived statistic. But, y'know, eleven is the best number (it goes up to elevin!!)

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I'm currently scheduled for Asperger's assement on account of my regimented behavior and stubbornness, but I attribute those to trauma more than an innate desire; that is I purposefully narrow my interests for fear that my first experiences will be associated with stressors like they have been in the past.
May I hit you with another one of my pet theories ... that a lot of the repetitive behaviour of 'true' diagnosed ASD/Aspie people is also a response to trauma rather than innate - that is, the generalised long-running trauma of being in a society in which everyone else seems to think differently from you in strange non-understandable ways. Retreating to familiarity and routine is what most people do under stress of whatever sort - you can't step out of your comfort zone to learn new stuff if you're constantly uncomfortable (not saying that this means your psych should necessarily diagnose you with it tho)

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As you correctly guessed, there are other issues involved. Getting her to reveal what she thinks is easy; If you get her started, she'll give you a lecture-worthy explanation. Getting her to reveal what she feels is like pulling teeth off a T-Rex.
Relatable. I like her already.
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There was one time that struck me; I saw her watch a video of a mother with her son sitting in her lap a few times. The mother was being gentle and kind to the son like you would expect. I asked her why she rewatched it a few times. Normally, she would have clammed up at this point but she was a little high. She said that it was like the opposite of watching a movie. In a movie, you know it's fake intellectually but it feels real emotionally. When she saw a mother being gentle and kind to her son, she knew it was real intellectually but it felt fake to her. She hasn't had much contact with her mother or that side of the family since she turned 20. I've tried broaching the topic since them but she ices up pretty well. I know she's tried therapy and I saw some SSRI bottles in her bedroom but they don't seem to have done much for her.
It sounds like she was trying to learn something from that video - that she's aware that that sort of parent-child bonding is a good thing, she hasn't had experience of it actually working right, and she wants to really closely examine an instance of it working right so she can figure out the trick to how it's done. I often watch movies in the same spirit - that is, I like to watch movies about people who are very different from me, because it expands my possible range of responses to a situation beyond just the small set of things that come naturally (' oh ... a person could say that, huh? Maybe I'll try that someday...')

I'm a big believer in not worrying about labels and categories but just ... what are you having a problem with? Fix the thing that's actually causing you problems. For instance, not being able to get a job sounds like something that's causing a problem, and maybe something related to a specific deficit in her mental toolkit - not being able to quickly warm up to a new person, or at least fake it well for interview purposes. Or maybe fear of the unknown situation. Whatever it is, I'd recommend that as a potential area of approach - to to tell her there's something generally 'wrong' with her (however gentle you are in approach she's quite likely to leap to 'you think there's something wrong with me') but that there's a specific situation that she needs a particular cognitive skill for, and (for instance) psychologists can help people gain cognitive skills, and if she HAD this extra cognitive skill she'd be able to do something that would help her life - like get a job
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  #29  
Old 09-08-2019, 05:43 PM
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It sounds like she was trying to learn something from that video - that she's aware that that sort of parent-child bonding is a good thing, she hasn't had experience of it actually working right, and she wants to really closely examine an instance of it working right so she can figure out the trick to how it's done.
While that's a definite possibility, I think it's also probable that having that reaction made her realize there might be something broken or at least bent in her.


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I'm a big believer in not worrying about labels and categories but just ... what are you having a problem with? Fix the thing that's actually causing you problems. For instance, not being able to get a job sounds like something that's causing a problem, and maybe something related to a specific deficit in her mental toolkit - not being able to quickly warm up to a new person, or at least fake it well for interview purposes. Or maybe fear of the unknown situation. Whatever it is, I'd recommend that as a potential area of approach - to to tell her there's something generally 'wrong' with her (however gentle you are in approach she's quite likely to leap to 'you think there's something wrong with me') but that there's a specific situation that she needs a particular cognitive skill for, and (for instance) psychologists can help people gain cognitive skills, and if she HAD this extra cognitive skill she'd be able to do something that would help her life - like get a job
She can be quite blunt and is fine with the same bluntness if it's meant to help. She often requests feedback from others and is unsatisfied because others try to be ambiguously polite instead of straightforwardly clear. When she cooks something new, she specifically asks people if there's anything they like or dislike about it and if they look like they're holding back on what they dislike, she gets frustrated. She doesn't enjoy negative feedback but she still wants it. She wouldn't have a problem with me telling her there's something wrong with her, she'd have a problem with me not being informatively specific enough.

And yes, she doesn't do well in interviews. I think her gut instinct, subconscious or whatever you want to call it keeps expecting people to be as impredictably shitty as her mother. From what she told me, her mother may have had a mix of borderline personality, paranoid or narcissistic personality disorder, went through a depression and became an alcoholic and not the jolly drunk kind. My stepsister tried to get help from other family members but they didn't see what they didn't want to see and were no help to her. It's like someone who was repeatedly bitten by a dog over several years, developed a coping mechanism/gut instinct/worldview that a dog could bite at any moment for any reason and that no help will come and now has to live surrounded by dogs.

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  #30  
Old 09-08-2019, 08:15 PM
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For what reason(s) do you think animals, particularly rescues, tend to be at comparative ease with you?

Can you go on about establishing independence? What sort of responsibilities are you taking on? Will eventually take? What kind of limits of outside help are you realizing?
I don't have a working hypothesis for why some animals react the way they do. But a WAG is I don't conduct myself the way their abusers did, possibly it's my deliberateness. It's not like I intearct with them enough to know for sure, but their owners have remarked on it positively.

Independence is finding my own living space, and possibly getting set up with a work-from-home job. I don't know how to answer the rest of your question, but I think there's some form of consent I should be better communicating but am not. I'm accused of being stubborn more often than I care to admit; mostly for fear of sinking instead of swimming, either by my of devices or by the undue influence of others.


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May I hit you with another one of my pet theories ... that a lot of the repetitive behaviour of 'true' diagnosed ASD/Aspie people is also a response to trauma rather than innate - that is, the generalised long-running trauma of being in a society in which everyone else seems to think differently from you in strange non-understandable ways. Retreating to familiarity and routine is what most people do under stress of whatever sort - you can't step out of your comfort zone to learn new stuff if you're constantly uncomfortable (not saying that this means your psych should necessarily diagnose you with it tho)
My primary stressors are very specific people, those I'm unfortunately related to. Two have become somewhat less of a factor, but the other has become overwhelming on account of their increased presence.

For example, I'll hoard new music for such an occasion that they'll be absent so I can actually enjoy it. I haven't listened to new music all summer.

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  #31  
Old 09-08-2019, 06:20 PM
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A lot of what you describe just sounds like a brilliant mind to me. There is such a thing as too brilliant. Genius is useful up to a certain point and then it becomes a syndrome.

The human mind is largely wired for finding patterns and identifying faces. So all of the images you posted are perfect examples of what happens when that tendency is brought to a very high level. Intelligence is the ability to find abstract connections between things and ideas. Those connections are obvious to the brilliant, not at all clear to the merely smart. This is why brilliance looks like insanity to even very smart people.

It is also true that brilliant people tend to pick up a lot of trauma in childhood. The ability to understand and remember what is happening between adults, on TV shows, in books and movies, etc. comes looonnng before the emotional capacity to filter and remove oneself from it. Genius kids remember all that stuff that parents feel free to say in front of the baby, but would never say in front of the seven year-old. Genius kids aren't fooled when you spell things out, though they may also be smart enough to hide that from you. And there is a curiosity there that doesn't quit, so they tend to dig into stuff and then be badly hurt by things they just aren't ready to know.

The result of that can often be avoidance of social interaction. When one expects folks to either misunderstand or laugh at your thoughts, one avoids speaking, and avoids eye contact when driven to it. It's not neurological, so much as a sheer emotional defense. That's true of Autism too though. Autistic folks don't lack empathy, they tend to feel it more strongly than most people, so much so that it becomes overwhelming. Emotions in general are far stronger for autistic people than for neurotypicals. So what you are seeing in those cases too is not inability to empathize, but avoidance of it.

What is very late to bloom for most autistic children is "theory of mind." The ability to step into someone else's shoes and predict how they might react given the information available to them. If the autistic person has the information needed to make the correct choice, there is an assumption that everyone else has it too.

Flat affect can be symptomatic of quite a few things, most common of which is depression. Has she always been this way? Might it be bothering you now because it has gotten worse? If so, put some thought into other symptoms, might she be in need of help?

Here's an interesting site that might help you nail down what you are seeing and how to help. Just go in as if you were her teacher trying to help her and answer the questions. At the end of each series is a list of targeted references that might prove useful.
  #32  
Old 09-08-2019, 07:40 PM
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Flat affect can be symptomatic of quite a few things, most common of which is depression. Has she always been this way? Might it be bothering you now because it has gotten worse? If so, put some thought into other symptoms, might she be in need of help?
She's been like that ever since her mother became an alcoholic. I think she had to maintain a poker face because showing emotion to a messed up adult having a tantrum can cause them to get even worse so the best course is to show no emotion. She must have done that long enough when her brain was developing that now she's stuck. Sometimes I see her poker face leave. It's usually when she interacts with cats and dogs and really gets into something.


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A lot of what you describe just sounds like a brilliant mind to me. There is such a thing as too brilliant. Genius is useful up to a certain point and then it becomes a syndrome.

The human mind is largely wired for finding patterns and identifying faces. So all of the images you posted are perfect examples of what happens when that tendency is brought to a very high level. Intelligence is the ability to find abstract connections between things and ideas. Those connections are obvious to the brilliant, not at all clear to the merely smart. This is why brilliance looks like insanity to even very smart people.
How smart might we be talking? When is IQ so high that it counts as brilliant?

I think she doesn't want to be a doctor because she considers it a waste of her potential but she doesn't know what she could do instead. She's talked a little about making a video game that would express what she's learned, figured out and hypothesized about information warfare, emergent phenomena and the art of figuring things out. She has a book-length text file full of notes about it. Whenever she finds or thinks of something that has some info that seems like it could pertain to her game, she writes it down, not so much to refer to it later but more so that she retains it better and her subconscious processes in the background. She doesn't like other people looking at it though so I don't press.
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Old 09-08-2019, 06:33 PM
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I was still writing the above when you posted. Yes, it sounds more like a brilliant mind with emotional trauma, and everything you just said confirms that suspicion.
  #34  
Old 09-08-2019, 07:47 PM
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ETA: I think 2 standard deviations is something like 1 in 50, right? So, we'd be talking about 1 in about how many at least?
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Old 09-08-2019, 08:32 PM
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You might enjoy the book Shadow Syndromes.
  #36  
Old 09-08-2019, 10:49 PM
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Does anyone else agree with TruCelt's "brilliant mind & childhood trauma" diagnosis? I know that if I come to her with that, she's going to say something like: "Yeah, sure, I'm a stable genius, just like Trump! Seriously, 99 to 99.99% of the time, when someone says they're a extremely smart, they're delusional or overcompensating morons. What are the odds I'm the special snowflake? How presumptuous and narcissistic can one get? My character creator sure put a lot more points in the intelligence stat than the charisma stat but c'mon, if I'm brilliant, how come my life isn't better than this?"

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Old 09-09-2019, 01:37 AM
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Well, I think we're suggesting she might be an UNstable genius. Truly just kidding there; a person can be quite stable and still be suffering obvious results of emotional trauma.
Nobody can know for sure how smart she is without testing her, of course. But brilliant people generally have either very messy or very limited (minimalist) lives. It is especially common for a person who is above the genius level to have trouble settling on a career because they have potential in so many different areas.

For instance, a person who is studying medicine and also developing a complex video game. Why on earth isn't she studying game theory and development?
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Old 09-09-2019, 10:08 AM
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But brilliant people generally have either very messy or very limited (minimalist) lives.
How come? What governs whether they end up being messy or minimalist?


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Nobody can know for sure how smart she is without testing her, of course.
We don't know the upper limit without testing her but where does brilliant/genius start?


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For instance, a person who is studying medicine and also developing a complex video game. Why on earth isn't she studying game theory and development?
I've seen her read Game Feel: A Gamer Designer's Guide to Virtual Sensation and Flow by Csikszentmihalyi. She also watches a fair number of Youtube channels like Game Maker's Toolkit. She acquainted herself with Blender and UnrealEngine. She takes notes when she plays video games.

I think she's done most of the background learning and figuring out of what the game should be and now she's intimidated at the prospect of learning modeling, texturing, animation, sound, (visual) programming and whatever other specific skillsets are required on her own. She tends to be perfectionist. To make an analogy, if she wanted to build a house, she'd probably be a great architect but that doesn't mean she'd also be a good carpenter, roofer, welder, plumber and electrician. Tending towards the abstract means specific skills involving rote memorization tend to bore or overwhelm her.
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Old 09-09-2019, 12:05 PM
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Sounds like she's not just a perfectionist but also in need of a lot of control. An architect KNOWS that he's not going to be doing the plumbing, carpentry...
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Old 09-09-2019, 12:29 PM
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Sounds like she's not just a perfectionist but also in need of a lot of control. An architect KNOWS that he's not going to be doing the plumbing, carpentry...
Not so much need of control as much as lack of money to hire other people. I think she's hoping to make a decent prototype then use that to get specialists on board for a cut of potential revenue. She seems to have difficulty explaining exactly what kind of game it is to me. In the past, she's had difficulty explaining what she had in mind to me but when she actually made it and showed me, it was both unexpectedly novel and worked well. She's chosen a game that seems to have an abstract/surreal graphical style. But yes, when details enable her to comprehend underlying principles or apply them, she can pay a lot of attention to details.

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Old 09-09-2019, 10:01 PM
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The Geek Critique and Retropolis Zone are good too. (Couldn't edit those in when I remembered them)

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  #42  
Old 09-10-2019, 12:10 AM
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. . .
I did reject group therapy, which I think is throuh them. I just don't want to engage in a pity contest.
Why not go, and then leave if it becomes that? The vast majority of therapists will not allow it to happen.

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I'm not sure if "lack of empathy" is the correct term but let me give you two examples:

. . .
From that, she didn't learn that there was something wrong with her, she learned that people ask bullshit questions and expect bullshit answers.

. . .
Generally, adults and authority figures who told her that "you're supposed to do this because you're supposed to do this" resulted in her dismissing them as idiots.

. . .
CeltBro, is that you?!? LOL!

Seriously though, she doesn't suffer fools gladly. OK. So far you haven't given any examples that sound to me like there's something wrong with this person. She's just different. Is it possible that you/the family have developed a habit of pathologizing what are essentially healthy differences?

What is your hope for the outcome of this intervention? (little "i" not the formal type.) If it were successful, how would her life look different afterwards?
  #43  
Old 09-10-2019, 11:26 PM
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I've noticed a few people who at first seemed like they might have Asperger syndrome. I'll name a few eventually but for now, let's only look at the characteristics to avoid biasing the question by making it about this or that public figure.

They appear to have low empathizing skills, little eye contact, flat voice intonation and a poker face. They can also be highly intense and focused in their interests.

However, instead of having inflexible repetitive routines, they seek novelty and experimentation. Instead of a few narrow interests, they'll be interested in many unrelated topics. Instead of collecting and memorizing a high quantity of details, they'll seek insight into underlying general principles. Instead of stereotyped and repetitive motor behaviors like flapping or twisting, they'll tend to have military-like posture. Metaphors are usually not a problem for them and they joke a fair amount. People with Asperger often fail to suppress internal thoughts but they don't seem to have that problem.

Any ideas?
It really does sound like you're describing someone with Asperger's, or more likely a female with Asperger's.

People who are diagnosed with Asperger's or high-functioning autism sometimes learn social masking (usually before the diagnosis), by basically mimicking those around them, sometimes actually practising the traits they're trying to mimic. It is possible to learn about metaphors and understand them, because they follow a pattern; new ones might be a problem. Jokes are also something you can learn to tell, and even learn to tell quite well.

I'm not sure about "seeking novelty and experimentation," but there's a big crossover between ADD/ADHD and autism. Lots of people are diagnosed with both.

FWIW I appreciate that you said "they appear to have low empathizing skills." The word appear there is important. How much someone on the spectrum can empathise depends on many other factors; it's appearing not to empathise, especially in person (due to body language and facial expressions), that is the diagnostic criterion.
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Old 09-10-2019, 11:37 PM
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It is possible to learn about metaphors and understand them, because they follow a pattern; new ones might be a problem.
Metaphors have never been a problem for her. She comes up with new ones all the time. She's at least a notch better at it than most people even when speaking English which is her second language. Recently, she was telling me that anti-gay arguments are like broken glass; Many small, hard, sharp pieces but no coherent whole. She also said that the heads of homophobes are vermin-infested trashcans. I think that counts as metaphorical. Her linear thinking is above average but her lateral thinking is even more so.
  #45  
Old 09-11-2019, 12:35 AM
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Metaphors have never been a problem for her. She comes up with new ones all the time. She's at least a notch better at it than most people even when speaking English which is her second language. Recently, she was telling me that anti-gay arguments are like broken glass; Many small, hard, sharp pieces but no coherent whole. She also said that the heads of homophobes are vermin-infested trashcans. I think that counts as metaphorical. Her linear thinking is above average but her lateral thinking is even more so.
Has she ever had a diagnosis of anything? Because the stuff you've described so far is bi-polar disorder rather than asperger's or autism. I'm not an expert by any means and I'm only going on what you've said.
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Old 09-11-2019, 12:49 AM
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Has she ever had a diagnosis of anything? Because the stuff you've described so far is bi-polar disorder rather than asperger's or autism. I'm not an expert by any means and I'm only going on what you've said.
What?? OK, I can maybe see reading depression into the flat affect discussion. But where are you seeing a mania cycle in all this? What are you basing this on?
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Old 09-11-2019, 03:15 AM
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What?? OK, I can maybe see reading depression into the flat affect discussion. But where are you seeing a mania cycle in all this? What are you basing this on?
She seems to have significant up-cycles where she can achieve a lot and then suddenly she's an unemployed, yet qualified MD who seems to still be happy.

I don't know this woman, obviously, and I did say I wasn't trying to diagnose anything. But I've known three people very well who were diagnosed with BPD after they qualified, two as doctors, one as a lawyer/barrister. It sounded familiar.
  #48  
Old 09-11-2019, 03:52 AM
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OP, you sound like you're in love with her or something.
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  #49  
Old 09-11-2019, 04:27 PM
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OP, you sound like you're in love with her or something.
That would be fairly messed up. What makes you think that?
  #50  
Old 09-11-2019, 05:23 AM
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[Moderating]
Since this seems to be more about a specific person, it'll probably work better in MPSIMS. Moving.
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