Conversations with Aspergers

Koanic Soul:

Let’s take a common Aspie complaint – inability to follow conversations.

Social conversations can be challenging. Multiple levels of subtext, meaning, intention, and expicit content are streaming at high volume in real time. These must be processed, interpreted, and reacted to according to your internal personality and objectives. You must also process your own feelings and thoughts simultaneously. It’s easy to see how logical and literal- minded Aspies would get overwhelmed.

The interesting thing is that these same Aspies may not have any trouble watching TV and understanding the situation.

So what’s the difference?

Well, TV is passive, so that cuts the complexity in half immediately, since the Aspie doesn’t have to worry about himself. But I think there’s more to it than that.

The “freeze-up” is due to two things:
1. Anxiety
2. Performance pressure

The anxiety builds as a result of repeated negative social experiences over a lifetime. The performance pressure comes from the Aspie’s logical goals for a conversation, and is of course related to this anxiety.

Take one stressful example: being introduced to strangers. The Aspie will have all kinds of anxiety and goals going during these exchanges of initial impressions and key bio info.

Not good. The Aspie becomes so engaged with his overmind functioning that he shuts out his undermind’s ability to process and react to the conversation and emotional cues. And of course this generates even more anxiety, further muting his undermind as the overmind scrambles.

If the Aspie were able to maintain a Zen “mind like water” state, silence his overmind, and allow the undermind to handle the situation, he could probably be as competent a receiver as he is when watching television. This is easier said than done, but it’s what Koanic Soul aims to achieve.

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