Do people with Aspergers empathize too much?

AspergerSyndromeI just read an article which suggests that persons with Asperger Syndrome (like me) don’t lack empathy, but instead empathize too much and become overwhelmed by it.

This theory, if accepted, would prove to be a help for people with Aspergers. The media, once it discovered that an empathy deficit was a part of Asperger Syndrome, seems to have decided we are junior league sociopaths. NOT a good way for people to understand Aspies!

I know that in my own early life I experienced empathy for others. Even imaginary others. I could not bear to watch sitcoms where the humor came from the fact that one character lacked important information or had false information, and then proceeded to act based on that. I couldn’t laugh at a character in a situation like that. I thought it was just mean. When my parents were watching a sitcom with that kind of plot I could not stay in the room because I identified with the character that we were all supposed to be laughing at.

Here is the article, in case you are interested:

Seventh Voice: Theory finds that individuals with Asperger Syndrome don’t lack empathy

One thought on “Do people with Aspergers empathize too much?

  1. It wasn’t until I understood the difference between empathy and sympathy that I could understand I am low on the empathy meter. When people make stupid decisions and then reap the consequences of those decisions, I am cold or filled with rage when the stupid person demands I feel sorry for them or even that I should bail them out. Other people display empathy and sympathy and seem to understand why the person did the stupid thing, and somehow that seems to make it okay the person did the stupid thing.
    I have empathy for people who act with motivations that mirror mine. For people who did not ask for the world to squash them, I have lots of sympathy and generosity, but I often don’t understand how they feel. I know how I would feel. Other people are still fairly opaque to me. That does not remove sympathy, but it does demonstrate my lack of empathy.
    What I do notice is that a large percentage of people with Asperger’s spend a lot of time trying to understand other people and do have a lower tolerance for mockery of people who don’t know what the elite think they should know or who behave outside the norm. People who easily absorb the social norms we can’t even see seem to more easily turn to bullying the people who make them uneasy by being outside the norm. For the people being bullied, most of us Aspies have overwhelming amounts of empathy.

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