“I’m not a psychopath, Anderson. I’m a high functioning sociopath,” Sherlock growled as if the particular strain of disease that Anderson had was “incurable moron.”
“My horse is hitched to a post that is closer to aspergers and autistics,” Will Graham replied as he looked down. The look on his face was telling, perhaps he was inwardly retching at the fact that Jack Crawford just had the audacity to move his glasses back up his nose, “Narcissists and sociopaths,” he added quickly.
“But, you can empathize with narcissists and sociopaths…” Crawford interjected.
“I can empathize with anybody,” Will replied shoving his books into his satchel.
“Excuse me, what you’re saying offends me, so I like… need you to stop talking about it in my earshot…”
It always amazes me how often someone says something like this to me. Usually it’s when they either A, haven’t met me or B, have known me for five minutes. I don’t recall growing up in a world like this, especially when dealing with strangers, but what the hell, we’ll play along.
They’re offended… now what? There’s nothing that I can do to make them “Un-offended”… so, on the one hand, why even announce it in the first place? More than likely, I’m going to walk out or away in five minutes and if I was an idiot… so what? How does it affect your life personally?
Let’s also be clear… being offended doesn’t make you right. Nor does it mean that you know what you’re talking about, nor does it mean that you know what I was attempting to say when you cut me off before I even finished my sentence.
I experienced this tonight when (after going to see How to Train Your Dragon Two) my husband and I popped into a cozy little clothing store that was going out of business. I picked up some amazing jewelry that I’ll definitely have to show off in photos later on.
In this store, my husband (who is naturally a talker) began to engage the three women who worked there in a conversation that lasted for nearly two hours. It was great fun!
One of them however (who had spent several minutes only speaking with my husband towards the beginning) did not engage and overheard us when we began talking about children with aspergers. Specifically, when a lot of them are antisocial and say things just because they want to say them even if they’re highly inappropriate or even murderous. I began to say that a lot of them were sociopaths… (gasps from the audience…)
Did you get offended just then… when I said that? Well, she ABSOLUTELY did, and before letting me finish my thought she stopped the entire conversation from several feet away to explain to us how offended she was that I had ever said such a thing. She prefaced this with “I have a degree in education”… I always find it amusing when people feel the need to preface what their saying with their credentials because it really doesn’t make you look any SMARTER… Especially since having a degree in education doesn’t mean that you know anything ABOUT aspergers.
“I have an autistic brother! He went to an autistic school!” she stated. She then stated, “I’ve been around these people” (so have I), “And they are NOT like that.”
“How long did you spend around them?” I asked.
“My whole life.”
Okay, I wasn’t going to ask her why she went to an autistic school “her whole life” when she doesn’t have autism, but what the hell, again, we’ll play along. Now she’s UBER offended, and I turned back to the other two letting her continue to rant and sort of tuning her out.
Unfortunately, my wording and the fact that she didn’t let me finish my thought gave her a misguided idea of what I was attempting to say.
I have realized in the autism community recently that people do not seem to know the difference between the words “SOCIOPATH” and “PSYCOPATH”… They have often put the word SOCIOPATH on the same level as the word “psychopath”… it’s not the case.
A sociopath is someone who doesn’t feel empathy, and is antisocial which are two of the defining characteristics of aspergers and autism syndromes. It can also be defined as someone without a conscience, but that is not notably what it means. A PSYCOPATH is someone who’s mental disturbances and misgivings lend them to extremely violent behavior. These are the people that you see gunning everyone down.
PLEASE, for the sake of having a conversation, understand the differences between these two words, AND the difference between someone who has high functioning apergers and a person with autism.
NOTE- Wikipedia has these words lumped together on the same page with one of the first notes on it being “ANTI-SOCIAL” – not murderous or evil, or malicious. The finer details come later on in the descriptions.
Recently, I have simply witnessed far too many people stab their own eyes out in a fit of “offense” or “terror” because the word SOCIOPATH was used, when I fully believe that their mind’s eye heard the word “PSYCOPATH”… The word does NOT imply that these people are evil, or that they can NOT have relationships. It implies that they are antisocial, lack empathy (or become good at mimicking empathy) and don’t always have a moral compass.
When you’ve spent an excessive amount of time with people who have aspergers (I have, as I am married to one), you realize fairly quickly, that people with aspergers DO NOT always or often feel empathy. They have a difficult time understanding when a person is hurting or sad, or in pain, or even caring. This makes them appear very self centered even to the point of “appearing” evil. Anyone who has watched the show “Alphas” (which was cut) for any period of time and witnessed the character that Ryan Cartwright portrayed (Gary Bell) will realize that without understanding the context of his condition he appears EXTREMELY self centered, uncaring, unfeeling and has an extreme lack of empathy and appears to have no moral compass in many situations. Or, Sheldon from Big Bang Theory.
The next problem was this; she said that her brother had autism, not aspergers. She explained to my husband that he (her brother) was about as far down on the aspergers scale for it to still be considered aspergers without strictly falling into autism.
Believe it or not, these are two VERY different categories of a similar condition. People with aspergers can appear very normal, however they may have tendencies that SEEM sociopathic, while people with autism will rarely if ever appear normal to the rest of us. The further down the spectrum of autism that one gets, the more they seem childlike, or incapable.
I have spent copious amounts of time around at least three people (all male) classified with aspergers syndrome (all falling under slightly different categories)… I am not speaking out of my butt, or making light of the fact that I have had to do tons of research on this condition in order to live with someone with aspergers and I will tell you, that they DEFINITELY display what are “seemingly” sociopathic tendencies.
NOW, if she had let me finish, she might have heard me explain this. It does not mean that people with aspergers are evil, or even malicious…. However, by this point she’d already laid her rant out (obviously stamping me as an ignorant evil person, and obviously refusing to change her mind about me even after my husband approached her in an attempt to apologize and announced that he HIMSELF has ASPERGERS!)…
I believe that the problem however has to do with the handling of these words. When I say that someone appears sociopathic, I am referring to them acting more closely to Will Graham in Hannibal, or Sherlock in the series of the same name.
It was pretty clear that she was not interested in my apology, or my side of the story when (at the end) I attempted to approach her and apologize. She said something to the affect of “You said that all people with autism were sociopaths” (again, this shows that her reaction was on an emotional level as I firstly did NOT say that ALL of them were, and I voiced as much when she said this to me, I said that a lot of them were, and that secondly, we were talking about a very specific group of this type… those with high functioning aspergers) – I said, “I believe that if you had let me continue, you would have understood what I was attempting to say,-” and she cut me off to say, “Well, I’d heard ENOUGH from you and right now I want to end the conversation as I have tons of work to do,” and entirely dismissed me after that with a giant Dorito on her shoulder and an inwardly justified morality that absolutely assured her that I was the Cruella Deville of the knowledgeable asperger kingdom and she was the queen of Pride rock.
I think the part that is the most difficult for me is that I have grown up in a world where firstly, I don’t always bark at someone who I will literally not know in fifteen minutes for saying something ignorant, and secondly, I have always taken someone’s apology and given them a second chance.
I really believe that we can learn from those experiences.
I know people are going to take my words above and twist them and say, “YOU SAID THAT EVERYONE WITH ASPERGERS IS A SOCIOPATH AND THAT OFFENDED HER BECAUSE HER BROTHER HAS IT, ETC!” … No, I said that some people with aspergers are sociopaths. The word a lot is not most, nor all.
So often when someone stops me from speaking because they are “offended” by my words, I want to just bark back at them, “Do you know how many times a day I come into contact with people who OFFEND me, but I don’t stop them from talking?… yeah…”
I donno… maybe I will say that next time.
I found most of this truly sad because I’m fairly certain (99 percent sure) that she believed in the first twenty minutes that my husband was actually flirting with her because she did not see me with him, and he continued to chat her up for a good fifteen – twenty while her tone obviously became more friendly and perhaps a tad flirtatious.
Oops… he’s married and to an abusive witch who has no soul when it comes to asperger people… *shrugs*
Oh well, my 70$ necklace that only cost 30ish was well worth it and hopefully next time I’ll choose my wording better. I’m sure it was a lesson to me as well.