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The sort of post-TMS emotional hypersensitivity he describes is "normal"? On one hand I wonder if I'm further on the spectrum than imagined and should seek help ... on the other, being overwhelmed by other folks' emotional state sounds crippling.



To me it sounds like he probably ended up on the far sensitive side of the spectrum, but well within normal. But, even if he was an adult, he didn't have the mental tools to handle the emotion - I read it as if he suddenly got the intense and open empathy children can have. You don't go to a six year old and describe the suffering of refugees in detail, because it'll give them nightmares. Just having a general idea of someone's suffering can be overwhelming for a child.

I know people that are very emotional, and can get overwhelmed by seeing others suffer -- but people that are absolutely "normal". I wouldn't call it "average" (for adults anyway) however.

I do think he's wrong about not having had a limited form of empathy: literally feeling other peoples pain is empathy. That doesn't mean he didn't care, or loved before - but it absolutely sounds like he had trouble: "understanding and entering into another's feelings" (from WordNet, my emphasis).

It's a fascinating story, like a real-life "The Speed of Dark", by Elizabeth Moon (in part inspired by her son):

http://www.amazon.com/Speed-Dark-Ballantine-Readers-Circle/d...


"I do think he's wrong about not having had a limited form of empathy: literally feeling other peoples pain is empathy. That doesn't mean he didn't care, or loved before - but it absolutely sounds like he had trouble: "understanding and entering into another's feelings"

Sort of.

Pre TMS Robison was unable to distinguish subtle facial expressions. What does this really mean? It means he could not decode other peoples facial expressions and more importantly fire the mirror neurons that allow recognition of emotion. The research mentioned is important in that it shows some linkage to mirror neurons and activation in specific sections of the brain (inferior frontal cortex, anterior cingulate cortex and superior parietal lobe) which is the machinery unavailable to Robison before the experiment.

What does this really mean? Well the post TMS Robison recognises facial expressions and the neuronal machinery now understands how that expression effects others and acts on it. There a relationshipt with mirror neurons and facial reading ability. If you test people for facial recognition who have botox, they loose that ability to decipher emotion much like Robison.

You can view the episode Dr. David Eagleman talks to Robison about this very article on The Human Mind, Ep 5, "Why Do I Need You?" ~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bDR_0Co4ycU

"Then, my first job was on the crew for a rock-and-roll tour. I worked in music and sound engineering into the early ‘80s."

Remember that exploding guitar Ace Frehley used in KISS? That was all Robisons' doing ~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sE0RmdkR9s0


I was thinking more about seeing someone skin their knee, and feel an almost physical pang of pain.


Agreed. Everything I read that he said I can relate to. They are feelings that if presented with the same situation I think I would probably feel.

I read this story thinking about how difficult it would be to go from not feeling it, to feeling it. I've spent decades learning and adapting, he had no time. That would certainly be very overwhelming.


No, I'd say the hyper part of it is not normal, at least from my perspective and AFAIK I'm "normal". I suspect it would be somewhat like seeing the world in black and white and then suddenly being able to see colors. At first it would be overwhelming but eventually it would just be normal and drown out into the background. White noise.

He talks about customers coming into his shop and then him worrying about their problems. "Normal" to me is to be able to empathize with them, much like the skinned knee example in the article, but then being able to quickly move on. I mean I see someone get a skinned knee, I think to myself "ow! I bet that hurt!", but I don't think about it for the next hour. It's just a quick thought. The same would go for empathetic emotions, and like the knee, they're at a muted level compared to the original person's feeling of it.

Hope that helps. It's hard to put into words.


It most certainly is, and the disarray caused by finding people to contain motivations that were hidden can radically alter relationships.

Stay in the dark maybe I don't know I wish the light bulbs we already found were legal, but me myself I'm signing up if this technology becomes so and a few other folks take the risk before me first ...


> I wish the light bulbs we already found were legal

Are you hinting at psychedelics? I'm familiar with their documented ability to open up different kinds of doors, but not this particular one. Colour me skeptical.


I've experienced it myself, felt identical to the author's experience, becoming aware. There's plenty of other untrustworthy anecdotal evidence[1] on the internet, but I'm not aware of any published research on the matter.

Skeptical seems a rational stance, and was mine prior to my experience.

[1] https://www.shroomery.org/forums/showflat.php/Number/1082819... (psychadelic forum posting asking about autism experience with psilocybin)

"I have aspergers syndrom myself. I feel that psychedelic drugs allow me to feel like a person without aspergers syndrom temporarily or atleast give me a feeling that mimics empathy."

"I have symptoms of aspergers, in the past they were much more prominent. I feel that psychedelics make us more aware. As we become aware corrections can be made"


Is there evidence that the feeling of being aware is because you are more aware, or just because you are high? I've heard people say that they have had incredibly meaningful experiences while on psychedelics, but I've also heard some dumb ideas from people who were smoking pot. So I'm curious if you think the reasons for feeling more like a person without aspergers were real at the time after you weren't high.


Very interesting - thanks. I hadn't sought to delve into the combination of ASD and trip reports, perhaps under the assumption that my experience was somehow typical (haha - that phrase seems familiar). It still strikes me as something very easy to mis-diagnose under the influence, but you've shown me that there may be something there.




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