For every autistic person, there are a dozen who are just sort of nerdy. We naturally think of some people as more trusting than others, but maybe that isn’t the best frame.“Trusting” implies that we all receive the same information, and just choose how much risk we’re willing to tolerate. A recent theme here has been the ways that our sense-data is underdetermined.A boss calls her subordinate’s work “okay” – did she mean to compliment him, or imply it was mediocre?
If a friend leaves without saying goodbye, and you would normally think “Oh, I guess she had a train to catch”, instead you think “Hm, I wonder what she meant by that”. It’s marked by a sort of anti-paranoia; Williams patients are incapable of distrusting anyone.
User dgerard wrote about meeting me in 2011, saying: His superpower is that he projects a Niceness Field, where people talking to him face to face want to be more polite and civil. I should admit nobody else has mentioned anything like this, and that narcissism biases me toward believing anyone who says I have a superpower. And the more I examine this, the more I realize that my results are pretty atypical for psychiatrists.
The only person I’ve met with a similar Niceness Field is Jimmy Wales from Wikipedia…when people are around [Jimmy] talking to him they feel a sort of urge to be civil and polite in discourse 🙂 I’ve seen people visibly trying to be very precise and polite talking to him about stuff even when they’re quite upset about whatever it is. There’s something I’m doing – totally by accident – to produce those results. Paranoia is a common symptom of various psychiatric disorders – most famously schizophrenia, but also paranoid personality disorder, delusional disorder, sometimes bipolar disorder.
But apparently I was unconsciously projecting some kind of “I don’t like strong emotions, you’d better avoid those” field, and my patients were unconsciously complying.
I wish I could say my supervisor’s guidance fixed the problem and I learned to encourage emotional openness just as well as my colleague.