Saturday, 29 November 2008

Aspergers Sydnrome

Listed below are traits relating to asperger’s syndrome, supplemented with a personal description as far as my memory will allow. My long term memory is commendable, allowing me to remember as far back as junior school. I have spent a substantial amount of time concluding how and why I believe Asperger’s Syndrome has affected me. It is an arduous process trying to compare it to anything else, as this is the way I am and unable to grasp any other way, despite trying. I have included a few selected examples, but please be aware these are only a fraction of the number.

It is as though sections of my neocortex are attempting in vain to compensate for missing or crossed wires, adopting a task which goes beyond their parameters, i.e. processing emotions. The result can be mental fatigue, and possibly portraying a hebetudinous posture, when infact my brain is just working harder than it should, affecting mood, short term memory and ability to multi task. The relief when I am not emotional or in contact with emotional people can be compared to taking mental amphetamines.

Being unable to understand other people's thoughts, motives and behaviours, and being accused of selfishness for failing to consider other people's feelings, is frustrating, as I am not aware of my unbecoming approach. Similarly I become impatient when others lack predictability.

I have had epilepsy ever since I was a few months old, although under control now. The seizures were quite severe when I was a toddler and doctors informed my mother the chances of developing a learning disability were high, which I guess is partially true emotionally and socially speaking, although at the moment I refrain from the possibility of this being the cause, as this cannot be proved.

• Are often bullied in school – Victim of name calling, and was taken advantage of recently. Seems mildly trivial compared to what others are exposed to, but I believe asperger’s syndrome increased my vulnerability, taking their comments too literally. I have memories of other children sniggering, querying what I was doing in the top classes when I appeared such a 'thicko', possibly due to poor executive function, hence being unable keep up with the rest of the class, possibly as a result of teaching style, despite comprehending everything. Many teachers were perplexed when receiving my high SAT exam results, especially when I was in the top 3 for the whole year in science and mathematics when I was 14. The same goes for GCSE mock exam results, which failed to coincide with under performance during the year.

• Have trouble making friends – Able to approach people when special interests are involved, with a slight sense of haughtiness, believing people who share them must think exactly the same way about anything. Otherwise I am hampered by limited social knowledge/initiative to interact any further, causing me to reluctantly resist the rudimentary steps, however undesirable that approach is. I never had a large circle of friends/associates at school (2-3 during a given time period, emotional interaction was scarce, and felt incredibly uncomfortable if the dialect was beyond a one to one exchange). Non-verbal interaction never arose as it mainly involved interests in cars, computers, and playing chess. Friendships/associations usually emerged through my mother introducing us as a result of her own social life involving their parents. I don’t believe it was the person inside drawing me in, more the hope that they might be knowledgeable about a particular area of interest. My brain prioritises lust for information over social intuition. I am either too distant or too intense, and altruism does not come naturally, even if I desire deep down to be more gregarious.

• A very quiet voice – People more than often request that I raise my voice, or ask me to repeat my recent peroration, despite hearing myself perfectly, causing frustration as my sensitive hearing means the internal volume is constantly inflated, which relates to my annoyance towards innumerable random noises. When I hear recordings of myself from childhood or adolescence, my intonation appears significantly different to others in terms of prosody and volume.

• May be sensitive to touch or random noises – Could never and still cannot tolerate loud chewing or breathing, random background noise for example several conversations or thumping music in background, I can be driven to distraction. My tolerance threshold within loud public places is low unless I am there to view a band with only a single sound source. I have a high detection of stimuli (especially aural) to steal my attention which is why I have found it difficult to concentrate in classes at school and at work and being unable to sleep or focus on tasks unless I wear ear plugs.

• May be clumsy – Was substandard during physical education at school, being the last to be picked for team games. I am always correctly being accused of clumsiness, with a reoccurring habit of knocking over cups of coffee at work. Have to be told that I have made a mess otherwise I am oblivious to it.

• Can take things too literally - During English class when I was about 12 or 13, the class was given the task of producing an essay regarding the differences between tabloid and broadsheet newspapers. For the majority of my essay I wrote address details regarding my paper round, the difficulty of pushing broad sheet news papers through a letter box, not to mention the broadsheet impact on trees for using excessive paper. This is the earliest I can remember, amongst others. A recent example was taking ambiguous text on an insurance document too literally, which resulted in a magistrate’s court appearance for driving without insurance despite having a comprehensive policy. This is on top of banter which I really struggle with.

• May have trouble understanding other people's emotions – Due to Alexithymia-esque characteristics I cannot forebode emotions, especially in an unfamiliar or unpredictable situation which requires at least basic intuition. I can understand intellectually if in black and white and given adequate time to work it out by comparing to situations I may have been in. Individual's moods/prosody can affect me maladroitly, which was an issue at school, and is a huge issue at home and at work. Failed to pick up cues in the past from women, presupposing the notion that they were acting weird, as I was oblivious to their hints. Limited adroitness when striving to understand my own emotions, requiring excessive cognitive effort to apprehend what emotion I am experiencing or have experienced in the past. This has often resulted in meltdown or shutdown when the emotion is not profound. My childhood/teenage years were spent initially oblivious to them and eventually internalising them.

I fail to believe that I have really made a true 'emotional' connection with anyone, or at the very least barely realising it. Regarding family, the concept 'emotional connection' hasn’t really emerged until recently; rather I believed that we do practical things for each other to show we care. It is obvious a smile could portray happiness, but I have recently learnt that there is a variation of smiles, resulting in a failed attempt to determine them. When I observe a face, a checklist procedure has to be carried out: are they happy? No. Are they sad? No. Are they bored? No. Are they angry, No. Going through the list can be more stressful than any benefit it would provide, especially when nothing is achieved. Having said that it is alot easier doing this whilst watching people on television due to the generous amount of time allowed for study and lack of distraction.

• Poor at multi tasking - I cannot easily comprehend anything else whilst performing a current task either at work or at home. For example being rude to someone who is attempting to communicate with me whilst I am watching a documentary, one example among many. When doing a task at work I get frustrated when asked to put it aside to do something else, which I internalise. I cannot join a conversation or help anyone if my mind is fixed on something else. I believe my executive functioning skills are mediocre.

• Do not like changes in school, work, and home life routines – I must turn up for work exactly at 9am and leave exactly at 5pm, to the second, and experience difficulties working in other offices when occasionally when requested by my boss, otherwise I feel very anxious. I consume exactly the same food daily, at virtually identical times. I can become agitated if disturbed when my mind is fixed on a task, ranging from watching a documentary, executing a task at work or absorbing information from a book. My mind has to know in advance what it will be exposed to regarding any potential situation, otherwise anxiety prevails. The words maybe and possibly are personal irritations.

• Have a strong interest – Interests dominate my thoughts, feelings, desirable conversations and behaviour. Anything else I am obliged to think about is a burden, the intensity of this increase in times of anxiety. See the ‘special interests’ article for further details.

• Have difficulty reading the sounds of people’s voices – Interlocution is bothersome and awkward with prolonged silences. My boss has told me about my phone manner. I find conversations with strangers and even people I know rather awkward and people with unpredictable or extreme tone of voice are difficult to converse with or reason with, as overwhelming confusion can influence my logical thought.

• Get confused if a person's body language and words don't say the same thing – Multiple and conflicting signs counteract my one tracked mind, providing my brain with excessive stimulus to process, mind blindness the net result. Conversations with less familiar people will dry up apparently due to a 'need' for an exchange of non verbal cues. Eye contact isn’t essential with familiar people because they are used to my mannerisms. Eye contact feels exactly like staring into the sun regardless of who it is, it can be my mother, dad, sister, boss, anyone. Even more so when I am preoccupied and cannot make a conscious effort towards studying a face.

• Feel lonely and unwanted – Not because I am alone but more the fact that believe I am ineffective in the art of giving and receiving expression and points of view from other people, like firing social blanks. Misunderstandings with family members and the few friends/associates I do have are frequent, even more so with the involvement of voice tone and facial expression. During secondary school 6th form and college I was usually left in the form room alone during lunchtimes, or alternatively I hid in the toilets. Everyone else had each other for company. I didn’t know how to explain my inner turmoil to my parents. It arrived during secondary school when the social world properly arrived, and things may have appeared quite normal to them. Their only knowledge regarding the extent of this was in May 2008, although it started roughly 15 years before that. I could attempt to copy what other kids did but was never fulfilled. I required solitude in order to recharge, and is probably why I spent many lunch times alone. I seemed to have more enemies than friends, for no apparent reason, a concept which appeared true until this point.

• Like doing or saying the same thing over and over again – Immense difficulty when obliged to converse, with reliance upon pre rehearsed phrases, facts and figures. The same film, piece of music, and factual conversation can be ritualised, over and over again, which has been commented on. The consequence is frustration when I am unable to understand why they see it as weird, I love to talk about my interests. A ritualistic game called the parking game used to be performed to excess at junior school. Weight training was carried out to excess with its incredibly repetitive philosophy being the main appeal.

• Not know that another person is upset or annoyed, until the other person shows it clearly – Limited emotional understanding requires black and white facts. Incompetence can overrule my understanding of, picking up on or acting upon other people's emotions unless they are verbally explained to me. A physical display would require an extreme and prolonged procedure for me to fully pick up on it because subtleties are frustrating.

• Not know if a person is joking or not. They have difficulty understanding if someone is using irony, sarcasm, or slang, or if they really mean it – A joke can be understood if clearly stated beforehand that a joke is about to occur, for example on a television show like the Simpson’s. Sarcasm provides an equivocal state of mind because I cannot tell if they are being sarcastic or if they are telling the truth despite understanding both sides, but I cannot make a decision. I can perform sarcasm myself, simply because I am the one carrying it out.

• Not understand the interests of other people or why other people do the things that they do - My mind is one tracked, believing everyone thinks like I do, hence making false assumptions at school, only recently I was told otherwise. That mindset promptly dissolved, as I can snap out of undesirable habits using brute force conscious thought once I am enlightened. I struggle to understand alternative opinions hence people implying that I am selfish and self centred, increasing my frustration as I take those comments personally, not understanding why. Conversations with strangers or people I don’t too well feel forced, unable to adequately read a face, process thoughts/emotions and implement my own facial expression within a corresponding time interval. Any of these must happen separately, so speaking involves looking away, causing an awkward scenario with people I attempt to interact with or vice versa. Even more so when I became more aware of the wider world. Arguments can arise with people who conflict my point of view which I believe is perfectly rational and logical, but they fail to realise. The same could possibly be said from an opposite angle when I attempt to understand people and I don’t 'get them'.

• Have or had nervous tics in the past – Used to twitch my head during junior school, moving onto screwing my face up which I still often do. I currently tap my fingers like playing the drums, tap my teeth together and subconsciously shake my leg or foot. I chew my finger nails and the inside of my mouth to the point of drawing blood, a habit since junior school. I tend to notice merely when it is pointed out, and only recently because my consciousness has been raised towards it. I can physically channel anxiety leading to a release, which provides a soothing ambience.

• Have ability to see and remember the details of things that other people miss – At work I constantly spell out to engineers certain methods of improvement, I remember facts and conversations from the past that people fail to remember. At Junior's school I correctly told other children, alas without malicious intent, they were failing to do their mathematics correctly which I got disciplined for. I still remember pin numbers given to me by associates several years ago. Thinking in pictures and applying the words accordingly supplements my long term memory giving the impression of daydreaming. I have detailed obsessions within my special interests i.e. the Russian T34 tank of WW2. My mind plays back images like a video recorder. I can produce a mental illustration of tank battles, rocket launches, playing the Cello note for note when I hear classical music.

• Be very good at remembering rules, laws, systems and important facts. This is useful in many types of work – We follow a standard procedure at work, if engineers break from this I must tell them otherwise, becoming angry if this is ignored. When I know for definite somebody is telling me something incorrect I have to bluntly make it clear. I can do that even if I am not originally involved in the discussion/scenario.

• Be better at writing than at talking to people, because they are careful to choose words that mean exactly what they want to say – I like taking my time over things that matter especially expressing my inner thoughts. I can perfect what I can say in the future, it gives a partial remedy to my poor short term memory when using given a base point of reference where conversational skills are not needed. I am not an articulate genius, but writing helps to guide visualisation which in itself is the ultimate way to grasp a concept. Despite that I have a habit of rushing through things whilst under pressure or exposed to external stimuli, like at work or school. The energy that goes into the give and take of verbal intercourse distracts me from saying what I intended to.

• Enjoy doing the same thing many times over, which most people find boring – I listen to one piece of music over and over again for extended periods of time, taking a completely different slant from every juncture. I used to continuously watch the same films during 6th form, and read the same space books at junior school in a ritualistic fashion.

• Many people with Asperger’s Syndrome are good at practicing scales on the piano, at adding up long sums, and at searching through books and papers to find information and mistakes – I become transfixed when researching interests and enjoy practicing invariable pieces of music on my bass guitar, especially blues scales. As mentioned previously I can read a book over and over again.

Arguments opposing a diagnosis of asperger’s syndrome, and counter arguments to reinforce my claim using a process called critical thinking (which involves the notion of considering both sides of an argument but the side with the most rational body of evidence reigns supreme).

• It could be just a personality disorder based on experiences at school – My mother has stated multiple situations that hint towards asperger’s-like behaviour for example running away on my first day at school, pointing out capital cities and countries from around the world before I could walk. What explains my lifelong fascinations? Why have I always opposed a lack of routine as far as my memory permits? School and my childhood were abundant with routine, so the issue never became apparent. It was during 6th form when weight training began, satisfying my needs during that particular time. The argument towards the case transpires because more questions crop up during the counter claim, which can be answered by the original claim. Also, a psychologist has explained with confidence after analysis that the chances of me having personality disorder are slim, partly because a rational attempt is being made to draw a valid conclusion, and partly due to her judgement based on experience. When emotions are not involved, rationality is virtue I can capitalise with ease. Avoidant personality disorder was suggested previous to this, although I do attempt to interact with people I know in the only way I know how, despite the awkwardness.

• Cannot recall enough of my childhood to be absolutely sure and why was nothing ever picked up? - Alot of my childhood within the family circle was quite normal, being relatively content. There was abundant routine, we went swimming every Saturday at half five, had certain meals on fixed days of the week at virtually the same time (half five) and obviously the school day did not have an ambiguous time structure. I even played on video games with my cousins, although that initial interaction is not needed with family, because you cannot choose them. Despite that, all I would ever do with my cousins would be to play video games, I was not overly aware of them as 'sentient beings' so to speak; I just wanted to reign supreme at super Mario kart. My awareness of sophisticated social activity remained secluded until sixth form. My substandard level of social recognition remained with me from Junior School in stasis until that point, progressing only a very small amount since due to my consciously driven perception. During that period I realised I was severely falling behind, being accustomed to providing my own entertainment inside school and college where introspection never became an issue. Only afterwards did I question why failing to look at people and ending on bad terms was developing a perpetual trend, even more so when I would fail to understand my error. An incident a couple of years ago arose when the frustration reached a climax, the consequence being a meltdown and a hostile situation.

• Did have a couple of friends at school, have a good friend at the moment - We were geeks and seldom on the popular end of the scale. I initially knew them through my mother's circle of friends, sharing interests being sierra cosworths, video games, science or computers. That world that differed to the mainstream as these interests provided the single reason for any kind of interaction, although to my parents I would have appeared content and normal. With hindsight, the priority was not social interaction but rather information exchange about our related interests and less reciprocal. The vast majority of more recent associates or friends were established through family members. An attempt was made to fit in with a group a couple of years ago, but through no apparent fault on my behalf they took advantage of me and it ended as frustration, a meltdown, impulsive behaviour, and a hostile reaction towards me.

A friendship I currently have originated from junior school, as our parents knew each other very well, hence why we knew each other in the first place, so not awkward small talk required, our conversation almost exclusively comprise of space, music, psychology and motorbikes. Seldom social demands during childhood, my portrayal of people was never appropriate for developmental level, as though I was 'always 8 years old' socially and emotionally until after college. My nature is to assume everyone is congeneric to me and would share my cogitation, especially people with similar interests. Frustration would germinate when I eventually become aware that reality conflicts this philosophy. During secondary school peers were interacting with new friends and forming relationships with the opposite sex and I along with the limited number of individuals I knew from junior school were still acting in our traditional way, where a sophisticated social level was imperceptible. The development of my social/emotional brain became indolent despite the above average ability of my academic brain, according to several teachers. I wasn’t inspired by the general peer group/stereotype; the limited number of kids I collaborated with shared a commensuration in terms of social/emotional development. I could only confer with to them individually (which still applies now) and were all into computers, science and machines. They eventually matured and I was belated.

• Lack of eye contact could be a lack of confidence - I am unable to consistently look at my friend or family members in the eye let alone strangers. When I do look at people in the eye at work, the situation is a formal exchange of information. It can be compared to looking at a bright light rather than just a paranoid fear of looking at somebody and being the target of a stare. I am able to cast my eyes at someone when that is all I have to focus on. The online autism 'eye test' is manageable due to it being an artificial situation lacking conversation so I am unhurried during my study of the eyes. In reality the practicality is reduced severely and may be accused of stalking. I can study eyes comfortably on television with partial success but it is a conscious effort.

• Can do conversations – Small talk can occur for limited periods at work. Fundamentals issues are them not being face to face conversations, The use of pre-rehearsed phrases will reign supreme, for example 'hi how are you, good weekend?'. I become soporific, and dread having the obligation to perform it every time I walk through the door or when someone communicates with me at random. I cannot maintain an eye to eye exchange, instead compensating by looking 'through' them. I feel compelled to join conversations which relate to special interests, attempting to manipulate it towards my interest with a blunt approach of dictating facts or figures. Conversations are usually based on my interests but can only maintain for so long, depending on the victim, before mind blindness and awkward silences emerge. I am exhausted and bored after a small period of seemingly 'informal' conversations. I have always related better to much older people but seldom with people of my own age, with the exception of my friend.

To conclude I can simply state that I have suffered over the years for my lack of natural social skills, not understanding why. Many issues have caused confusion leading to ultimate frustration in the form of self harm. No one had explained that the world is different for me because other people through no fault of their own were negligent towards my perception of the world, and the same can be said in reverse. I don't understand most people and generally it is vice versa, but my ultimate goal is to achieve conscious permutation. Some people call me an "old soul" and marvel at my wisdom and mature knack for knowledge, but the evidence towards me having the emotional and social capacity of someone in their early teens is pronounced.

I am more at ease now I have stopped trying to conform to the masses. I believe I possess an irresistible childlike curiosity of the world and the universe. I am constantly informed that I am in my 'own little world' by average people who just worry about what is on television, although I believe I am more enlightened by the physical world than the majority of the community. That is the trade off, the physical world and the social world, the question being which one does one hold more dear? I assume that the majority of humanity would compromise between the two, and the minority go either way like a spectrum. Enlightenment is one step, followed by an understanding and subsequently wisdom, but I now realise after all this time that they both depend on each other, being equally important when discovering the truth about humanity.

Thursday, 27 November 2008

Into the depths

This blog has been written in order to supplement my personal article about paranoia and empathy, it may contain some of the same information and descriptions, but it delves a little deeper, more of an attempt to understand my negative thought process and why it is present, it might bore you to tears, as it is almost an autobiography specifically about times in my life that have shaped my thoughts and beliefs. I think this is a good way to understand and realise things about myself, to become less self absorbed as a result.

I am a deep thinking person, as mentioned on a previous blog, my deepest thoughts occur in picture and musical form, with internal words offering a brief narration and description of these thoughts. To internalise words can result in a fragmented thought process, where this necessary but personally unnatural form of thinking occurs, which can lead to false and negative conclusions.

Beliefs about one’s self and other people can become imprinted, automated and stereotyped. To use words is a habit, a necessary evil; they can be repeated, slightly changed like Chinese whispers, and misinterpreted when they are kept, locked away in the memory banks, picture memories are always crystal clear, but the changing words change those memories subconsciously. This narration that supplements the recreation of painful experiences can be loud and clear. An event is played consciously and relived. This process has taken place so many times it becomes a subconscious habit.

Beliefs as a result of negative experience become hardwired, are difficult to shift, can lead to a self fulfilling prophecy if a new but similar situation occurs. A stubborn, impulsive and habitual act of defence can occur without thought, like a negative unwanted skill learnt through physical and/or mental experience.

I have a very good long term memory; this comes at the expense of my poor working memory, and my tendency to remember defining moments of emotion with ease, the unwanted words become louder, the pictures get clearer.

A few examples of those situations:

School & College

During junior school I had a few friends who were geeky like myself, we shared interests, and we were naïve about the real world we spent most of our time talking about our toy cars and computer games. There was no reason to be angry with the world or people, due to that childlike innocence even my ‘cool’ peers at the time probably showed as well. I was able to copy their behaviour, I could fit in with the fellow ‘geeks’ by repeating quotes id heard off the TV and video games, and I appeared to be quite content to those around me.

It all changed at my first day at secondary school, the first thing one of the others kids said when I first walk into the form room was that I looked like Frankenstein’s monster. Comments such as that kept on coming throughout that school year from many kids at school. I froze and internalised it, creating the belief I am completely ugly, believing everyone in the world thought that about me, not realising at the time that people have different opinions and thought that everyone thought the same thing about everything. I was so mad that I couldn't let out my anger. I was just like hiding it. I just didn't feel like being at school anymore.

Over the next few years I took defensive measures such as hiding in the toilets at lunch time, wearing a hat to cover as much of myself, and being in denial, I didn’t revise for any of my exams due to the continuing self doubt and chain reaction of negative beliefs that I wasn’t even good enough or smart enough to do my exams.

Unknown at the time, but fully aware now due to my discovery of Asperger’s syndrome, my lack of social intuition and inability to learn in the same way as the other kids at school resulted in my withdrawal. Although I was in the top classes, as per default from SAT exam results, the other kids kept asking the teacher why I was in their class when I appear to be so stupid, especially when asked a question by the teacher for example, which reinforced my lack of confidence in my abilities, let alone my physical appearance. I hated myself in more ways than one.

I managed to get good grades at GCSE regardless, but that still didn’t change my hardwired views. During 6th form, my next form of defence was to start weight training, make myself look big and strong, carry on wearing the hat, and wore several layers of t shirts under my jumper even in the summer to make myself look big and strong so nobody would ever dare say anything. This resulted in further social withdrawal due to even sincere people being afraid of me as well. I avoided classes, only turning up to around a third of them, I was told to give up physics because I failed to complete the course work. A lot of the time I stayed at home playing on computer games all day, avoiding even being in the same room as my parents, let alone talking to them.

My weight training became an obsession; it dictated my life at the time I loved the routine of being able to plan my workouts at exact times on exact days, eating the same foods for nutrition at certain times of the day. It was like a comfort zone, a real predictable way of living. And the release of my frustration during the exercise regime worked quite well too.

This carried on at college; I made a silly decision to go on a course for countryside management, purely because I had a special interest in trees at the time. This obsession came and went in months, and I felt depressed having paid for this course and having to see it to the end. I failed to connect with anyone on my course, again withdrawing. With hindsight I still have a HND to my name and should be proud of it, and the fact I passed without even really trying.


In reality I couldn’t ask for a more supportive family, they would never intentionally hurt me emotionally, and have provided me with everything I could ask for. Being a little bit old fashioned they were a little strict on discipline. For a NT child, discipline isn’t a bad thing in the traditional sense. Telling a child to stop being naughty is fine when the child is aware they are doing something wrong.

Seeing the world in a different way, being told off for something scared me, especially at the same time my beliefs were becoming more defined. I became scared of my parents in some ways, through no fault of their own. Sensitivity to abnormal tone of voice, made me become shocked at being told off, I would internalise everything said to me, and I still remember it today. To a neurotypical child with no issues, this would have been beneficial, but I believe it supplemented my negative process of self doubt. If kids tell me im stupid and ugly, and my mum and dad tell me off, then they must think that too. These thoughts stuck in my head like glue.

Asperger’s Syndrome was not well known when I was small, so in no way would I ever criticise my parents for bringing me up the way they did.

After college until May 2008

This was quite a turbulent time; I became more outgoing with my best friend (who I had known since infants school), yet at the same time still having those hard wired beliefs that had developed. I created a dividing line, based on my special interests. Due to the thought processes described in the first few paragraphs, I believed that anyone who shares at least one of my special interests would not see me as ugly and stupid. This was partly because since I was a child I do tend to latch onto people who share an interest (hence friendships I had at junior school), and partly because it gave me hope that there may be people out there who could see me in a positive way.

I could be scared of the general public yet go up to somebody who was in a band I liked, or had a vintage motorbike with ease, asking them questions about it. Looking back at it I realise it was more of an initial contact based on objects using the person as an exchange terminal, rather than actually having the desire to get to know them personally, which didn’t even occur to me at the time.

As the months and years rolled on, it hit home that my other peers had relationships with the opposite sex and even had kids or got married. I never questioned my sexuality, as I am definitely heterosexual (get your tits out etc etc!) But I never have the guts to speak to women, possibly hampered further by the fact I am bad at small talk and non verbal cues, something which women find more natural as far as I know. My friend introduced me to a woman who was 9 years older than me had two kids, we didn’t have anything in common apart being a fan of the type of music I was absolutely obsessed with at the time.

Something seemed to click and I thought I was in love with her, exclusively at the time because I couldn’t stop thinking about the fact that there is someone else who likes this type of music. I wrote her a letter telling her that. But then after a couple of weeks I started listening to another type of music, I wasn’t interested in her at all. Was it actually the obsession with that sort of music I was infatuated with?

After completing my CBT, I was outside a pub on my own when a group of bikers around my age asked me to join them, at the time this gave me a mental rush. Was my belief that people who share my interests are totally compatible actually true?

Of course this ended in tears, I was often the butt end of their jokes, often not even realising it. I was accused of not having any backbone, when they were sarcastic, it wasn’t as if I didn’t understand the sarcasm, more that I couldn’t tell if they were being sarcastic or not, I couldn’t make the choice. I couldn’t look them in the eye, when there were women present in the group it was even more difficult, I kept looking away, I was accused of being homosexual, was ridiculed because I had a friend who was homosexual as well, but I just half heartedly laughed it off.

When they turned up out of the blue asking if I wanted to come to a pub, I always declined, because my routine was being broken. When in a group conversation I hardly took part, all those eyes, faces and words bouncing around was too much for me to take in, but I was ok in conversation one to one. I had a nickname which I really resented because I felt degraded stimulating that belief that I was ugly and stupid, forcing me to rein act that first day at secondary school (both of them stayed together, if I ever thought someone believed I was ugly, the stupid part would be there as well and vice versa), and also because nobody had ever called me that before so I was confused as well. I couldn’t work out why we were all into bikes but they still thought I was stupid and ugly. I thought that surely if we are into bikes we should all be the same?!

In an attempt to fit in I told them jokes that people I knew from school thought were funny, they were bemused, I thought again if we are all into bikes and I find these jokes funny, then shouldn’t you? The frustration was building, but the severity still unknown. I was trying hard (maybe too hard) to latch onto them and feel part of them. When put on the spot I would be lost for words, and then they would laugh, further reinforcing the stupid and ugly view. But they seemed to still say hello and how’s it going so I still assumed they were good mates.

Then one day one of them called me a twat, the adrenaline kicked in I had a meltdown my views on people had turned to dust, I couldn’t figure out why, and I throw my pint of Guinness in his face. He went livid and started hitting me; the rest of the group told me if they ever saw me again they would kick my head in. I couldn’t understand why it had ended like this.

Some of the group weren’t present that day, they still gave me a chance, but eventually they turned their back on me as well. Telling to meet me somewhere at a certain time then never turning up. This happened several times without me taking the hint. I was naïve.

Afterwards, I have only had one real friend I have seen regularly. A lot of our conversations were similar to the ones we used to have when we were kids, lots of silly words, quotations from movies and immature comments! This was a nice feeling, made me feel like I was reliving more innocent times. It was ok to appear naïve in that respect. But eventually, this wore me down slightly; I knew I was capable of better, and so was he.

During this time I became aware that I wasn’t the same as most people, did some research and came across Asperger’s syndrome, it created a few more questions, but answered so many more. I was distressed when I mentioned it to my mum she thought I was being silly (reinforcing the stupid and ugly belief), made me more resentful of her at the time. Every time she used to raise her voice, and when my dad used to tell me off or just say home truths, I would have a defensive/offensive reaction. Scared im not being taken seriously enough, a belief that occurs with everyone I come into contact with, if I don’t have any acknowledgement telling me otherwise.

Now I realise, that people don’t know what I know and vice versa, I was oblivious to the fact that people won’t know what I am thinking and what I have experienced unless I tell them. Just coming up with Asperger’s syndrome out of the blue, of course it is going to sound silly with nothing to back it up, especially when the person is used to how I am.

The ‘stupid and ugly’ theme has become part of my subconscious, but I realise this now, it explains why I act and react how I do in such a habitual manner. The condition Asperger’s syndrome explains how I think and feel in its rawest form, mentally and physically. It explains how I see objects, people, how and why I have made assumptions and expectations about people. Thinking with pure logic, using intellectual integrity & humility, and facing up to my shortcomings will make me a better person. Realising I am not stupid, or inferior, just misunderstood and different and something I can admire. I admit I am grumpy, have a terrible short term memory, a complete geek, totally useless and awkward when talking to women, lacking theory of mind, and having hardly any friends. But even these alone don’t make me a bad person, and they certainly shouldn’t make me feel ashamed of myself.

Although realising and facing up to personal issues is a huge step, it is only one step. I have automatic responses to certain emotional and social stimuli, hired wired from beliefs and experiences, when lacking acknowledgement and feeling ignored they kick in again. This can be from not receiving a reply to a text message or someone not hearing me when I am not talking loud enough when I believe I am talking at a normal volume. Anger, frustration and self doubt surface again.

It came to a conclusion in May when after music was coming from next door, which was torturing me inside, I put a letter through their door informing them that they have neighbours. Their music didn’t seem to bother other people but it was driving me crazy. My dad told me off, I walked off, he told me to find another place to live on the phone, and I attempted suicide. Years of internal build up finally drew a conclusion there and then. I made the impulsive decision that I was just too unlikeable and not fit for this world and stabbed myself in the neck.

This gave me a sharp wake up call afterwards, as they say actions speak louder than words, my parents never even realised the extent of my problems,

I do often question the Asperger’s concept about myself, especially when I have good days, and when I can be talkative, often thinking I just have a personality problem. But then that question can be answered by the fact that using pure logic, I am able to realise things and face up to things about me without being in denial or hiding away from them. Painful eye contact might be fuelled partially by confidence issues, but the fact I cannot feel back or emotionally lock on or exchange anything from non verbal cues is the clincher. In my opinion confidence problems and a lack of intuition are two separate things, but when combined they create a powerful force that can become unstoppable unless emotions are worked on and understood.

Asperger’s alone didn’t trigger my beliefs, but I believe it made me more vulnerable and more susceptible in terms of adopting them. Only understanding my point of view, and believing one person’s view was everybody’s. The lack of intuition and taking what people say literally has made me feel left behind by my peers ever since my school days.

I may have narcissistic and borderline traits, and mild social phobia, but this can be understandable considering the circumstances and my general childlike emotions and view on the world. Pure intellectual procedure has allowed me to come to these conclusions, with no external guidance or help. The fact I am able to realise these things myself should in the future if I am successful enhance my qualities, and reduce my shortcomings (even if it may never totally exterminate them). I don’t want to fall into the trap of arrogantly convincing myself of things for short term comfort, as I know this is detrimental for my long term mental health.

I may experience depression and I may feel low again in the future, but having thoughts spelt out to me in pure black and white makes things all the more clear than having to keep them hovering around inside my mind, allowing them to crash into each other, like an out of control nuclear reaction, which may result in a full reactor meltdown or complete shutdown of the reactor core before things get out of control. Breaking things down, and logical analysis act like the rods, soaking up extra particles that may get out of hand, allowing the ones that do get through to become clearer and easier to handle.

Now things are clearer, I can work on creating personal rules to follow in social, personal, employment and family based situations, rather than struggling to make my own paranoid or self centred conclusions every day. I can write down facts about myself that I can refer to, to remind myself of how to act. Instead of concentrating future mental effort to the point of mental overload to try and understand myself, I will be able to channel these thoughts towards my interests and for more practical processes. My brain has been a slave to itself, being used for things that it should never have done.

One can only process so much at a given time, and if these processes are purely concentrated on your own self, the amount it has available for other things in life are severely limited, and possibly making me appear stupid for real, and creating a catch 22 situation.

To be true to one’s self, intellectual integrity, courage & humility are required, to do this strengths and weakness must be enhanced and reduced accordingly. When you are true to yourself, it will be easier to be true to others, and one’s process of thought can become ever more efficient. Being excessively self absorbed is a lack of these incredibly simple but difficult to master skills. I can’t guarantee they will be applied in every situation to come across, if I make the positive effort to apply them whenever I am able to, they will become the new habitual process, allow the real me to thrive.

A personal truth in the present should not be feared if it is a variable, as it doesn’t always have to be the truth of the future. The goal is to define the difference between a variable and an absolute. People are too afraid or maybe dont have the ability yet to look deeply into their actual problems, and this is something I am overcoming.

Wednesday, 26 November 2008

Metaphors and expression

Bit of an informal blog, I find it easier to describe my feelings using metaphors, a bit like a thought experiment that I can relate to, some are a bit weird, but they make sense to me, so here are a few:

Attempting eye contact is like a heat seeking missile that cannot lock onto its target.

One can only afford so much fuel to burn...

Being social feels like riding a motorbike at 100mph whilst trying to balance a pint of guinness on my head....

If society is an organism, each person is a cell, then money is the cancer.

Comparing my peers to myself is like comparing a cheap easy to eat mc donalds burger to a fillet steak. Yes it will be cheap, easier to chew, and quicker to eat, takes less effort, but what nutrients does it have? Will it fill your tummy so well? Will it taste as good?

Maintaining eye contact feels like looking directly into the sun with a telescope.

Social contact makes me behave like an air cooled engine stuck in a traffic jam.

100% freedom is no different to a virus invading a body. the planet is like an organism. humankind and the freedom to over breed and consume, is like a virus, if we carry on the way we do the earth as it currently is will die.

My brain is like a computer with a huge hard drive, fast processor but a tiny amount of RAM, and the wrong software!

I end up looking at the world through a pair of powerful binoculars rather than a crude, short sighted panoramic device that tries desperately to fix onto an object it cant even properly see.

Does one drink out of a social cup or a social jug?

I am like a 5 year old child and an 80 year old man trapped in a 25 year old man's body.

Lack of acknowledgement, logic and routine feels like a petrol engine trying to run on diesel.

I wonder how much grey matter the universe holds

My mind feels like a house plant that is too big for its pot.

My emotions can be compared to someone playing around with the volume switch and changing channels at random.

To compare a NT to someone with aspegers is like comparing a Sherman tank to a King Tiger!

To compare an aspie to neurotypical is like comparing a pine forest to a jungle, neither is superior, just different.

A coping measure can be compared to

Friends, relationships and people can be comapred to different types of stars:
Red dwarf - A little boring but steady but long lasting and totally reliable,
Brown dwarf - Tries hard to relate but will never quite understand, long term associate maybe
Average star like the sun - can take it or leave it
Blue giant - Intense, fun, but only healthy in short bursts
black hole - Mysterious, annoying, and they will eventually grind you down and ruin your self esteem, a bit like society in general
Red giant - Full of energy, personality very outgoing but it has to end at some point

Every day is like firing the afterburner and then running out of fuel. And we all know a jet engine doesnt work without any fuel, if you are unlucky the engines will cut out in mid flight and the result you fall back to the ground, but then you might be at 29,000 ft or just off the ground. If you are lucky all the fuel will run out before you have even taken off, but in the long run that situation isnt healthy as a plane that could never take off has no function.

Another problem is, the plane is so heavy that it needs that afterburner to take off, the fuel tanks have a limited capcity, but the pilot doesnt know how long it should be on for.....

Its a fine line. Does the plane need to be that loaded up? Can it do its duties with less baggage on board? Do the engines need to be more efficient? Can the plane fly somewhere else a bit nearer? Maybe the fuel was of the wrong type....its an ongoing battle especially when you being the pilot are not able to recieve the data he or she needs. All he or she wants to do is fly the plane to its destination drop off the goods and fly back home with a different set of goods.

Every flight out is to deliver something totally different to a different destination, without being aware of that destination. A journey into the unknown.

I run on unreliable rechargable batteries, which can lose their charge at random intervals. Bad days are when they have to be re charged. If there is too much sensory and emotional input during the recharging process, the mental energy will not be enough to sustain a response.

Impulsive behaviour can be compared to issac newton's third law of motion 'for every action there must be a reaction'

Monday, 17 November 2008

My Paranoia, Interaction And Empathy

Here are a few questions I often ask myself, and eventually torture myself over.

Do I say the wrong thing? Are people just caught up their own problems to care about other people's? Do I scare people off by appearing too intense? Does my painful lack of eye contact freak people out? Am I not taken serious enough? Are people talking about me behind my back? Do I just appear to talk shit? Is the person just busy at the moment? Are they in a hurry? Did they even understand what I tried to tell them? Do they even care? Am I just totally unlovable/unlikable? Is there any other way I can get through? Why cant I just get people? Am I actually inducing the Self-fulfilling prophecy? So many questions so little answers. I only have myself to give them.

Over analysing, although beneficial on many of my pursuits, is definately like a cancer when relating to interactions with other people. I cant help it, as it is the way my brain functions.

Being paranoid and low self esteem all the time is a disease, not desirable but something that cannot be switched off easily. Identifying the thought as a paranoid thought is the first step, (and took huge mental effort) but overcoming those automatic responses is a big hurdle. The cause is complex, and a secondary condition that is running parallel with aspergers syndrome. My inability to read someone's eyes leave me feeling like a scared animal in front of a car's headlights, I feel I am being attacked, judged, and as a result punished, the empty gap that is created by my poor non verbal social skills is filled by paranoid thoughts.

My long term memory is vivid when relating to the negative things that have happened in my life, no matter how trivial it may seem to other people. It has left a long lasting impression due to it being rooted from an essential time of social and emotional development (adolescence). My empathic skills are not exactly something I can boast about either which in turn, enhanced the impact, thought what those kids were saying was what everyone in the world thought about me, anyone who looked at me or talked to me.

If I feel I have been blanked by somebody, whether it is a friend, family member, colleague, or an associate the adrenaline rises, I feel resentful, I feel angry, I self loathe, I feel insignificant. Who or what has the power over my thoughts?

This blanking can be not invited to an event (not that I might go but, just being asked is enough for me), appearing to ignore something I say, not answering a text message for at least a day.

I was betrayed and blanked in recent years by so called friends that resulted in me loosing a lot, including my self dignity due to it ending in hostility. I tried my hardest to fit in, digging myself further and further into a hole, eventually being rejected.

I believe my problems have stemmed from bullying at school the cause of it had nothing to do with having AS, but it alienated me from who I authentically was. Looking back at it, the bullying was probably tame compared to what some children go through, but it still had a long lasting effect. For years those comments made to me by the other children will never leave my subconcious mind. I picked up survival habits by locking myself away from potential danger, or reacting to sudden potential threats with aggression, although I do internalise alot of this aggression and take it out on myself. I used to wear a hat 24/7 and very bulky clothing to conceal myself and to avoid extra sensory input, too scared to reveal the real me. I then took up weight training to make myself look big and powerful, so the bullies would never dare say anything to me again. This withdrew me even further.

It has shaped my personality. Being incapable of reading people through intuition, these responses will always awaken when I feel like a victim (even if I am not actually being made one). It is getting worse, and has spread to situations that are relatively mundane, like someone walking past me down the street or an unpredictable tone of voice by a stranger. Being shouted at by a family member after a misunderstanding fuels this concept with great ease, pushes me into freefall and the consequences on myself are not pretty.

I have an ambivalent view of myself, there are parts I admire, understand and cherish, there are parts I loathe. Aspergers Syndrome is a curse and a blessing mixed into one. I am worried I will end up lonely bitter and cold, due to this invisible barrier between myself and society.

As much as I loathe myself to say this, people who I believe to know, and people who appear to know me can appear cold and distant, and probably not even to fault of their own. I dont want to go down the path of Travis Bickle from Taxi Driver, but being left alone to ponder on my thoughts, without being able to naturally express myself in the way I desire deep down, I can see it going that way.

I may seem a bit melodramatic and I am not always in this state of mind, but it comes about too often and with greater intensity each time. The only thing I can try and do for now is tell myself I am a good person, deep down I dont want to do anything bad by anybody.

The worst thing about paranoia itself, and also energies associated with touch, noise, scent, light, (a side effect of aspergers), is that the very best friends and family I do care about deep down, I risk driving them away due to the way I am. Paranoia then comes in again with vengeance, making me think that I am going to lose a friend. I then worry non stop that this may be the case, and the worry does not stop until I see them, or speak to them, then my intelligence comes back to life again, it feels like a mental rush, like drinking 10 cups of black coffee.

Needless to say, that 'will call you on weekend' is no good either, as ambiguity and poor theory of mind do not mix! Paranoia leaves me needing to know NOW. There it is again.

I am attempting to challenge these thoughts, and sometimes, depending on the situation can work, but it is so hard wired into my psyche sometimes there is no escape. Using diversions is a good short term trick, but they have to end at some point, and either when im at work or getting ready for bed there is definately no escape.

To anyone reading this, no im not crazy, or schizophrenic, I am fully aware of my problems and partially aware of what caused them. Brute force brainpower helped me with this, my poor control of emotions is primitive and this is always at war with my grey matter, either can win depending on the situation. I just wish people close to me could be in my shoes for a day, because I feel I will never be able to convince them just using words, it is like an endless battle. The more I try to reach out the further away the goal is.

Sometimes I wonder if it worth the effort, I dont want to harden up even further into a total mindset of resentfulment but the more I try, the more resistance that appears before me. Friendships and families can be wonderful at times, but they can also be intensely frustrating and painful. I am struggling to figure out which one reigns supreme. The self-fulfilling prophecy can be potentially poisnous when it comes to ones thoughts, the harder the struggles to prevent it, the more inescapable my destiny seems. Fate, it seems to me, loves irony. Wanting and preventing, what is the difference?

It is a seesaw sort of pattern as there are longer and longer periods when resentment and anger are the predominant feeling punctuated by spurts of great fun, energy and togetherness. Do these glimpses of pleasure outweight the rumenating negativity? I am starting to doubt it. It is difficult to overcome because of the chemicals that are released into my brain and body. A brief sense of acknowledgement and a gesture of understanding is all I require regularly, but that doesnt happen alot of the time, so my self questioning kicks in to plug the gap. I can unintentionally carry out a preemptive strike that is an expectation of attack, betrayal, and the rationalization of a defensive counterattack, again rooted from past experiences, and the desire not to appear stupid.

Of course I for one would not need 24/7 attention as I need my cool-down space too after an overwhelming sensory or emotional experience.

Maybe I am just too bored at work, understimulated during the day. Maybe part of the resentment is because I could have achieved so much more academically in the fields of science and music instead of being dominated by emotions I never really understood at the time and cutting myself from everyone and everything for months. I wish I was a vulcan! Bah humbug I think I will just melt away into my music and forget about the world before I go bed....hmm how much is psycho-analysis I wonder...

The fact I am brutally aware of all this makes it all the more painful as I cant think of a way out. I dont think it is a personality disorder, as there are some times that it doesnt exist (although not too common I must admit), it is more a personality quirk that has got out of control due to being missed at an earlier stage. I could just shut myself off and totally block out all thoughts, but I know this is NOT the path to choose however easy it may seem short term. The solution is understand deeper into the problem, and practice new social skills, and learn more about the human mind so I can grasp other people a bit better. This is a long term objective, but to me it seems the only way.

That feeling that there is no way out resulted me in attempting suicide a few months ago, I am scared it will happen again, and self control will be lost. The paradox of who I am and who I appear to be are in conflict, it is my goal to change this.

Thursday, 13 November 2008

White flowing beard

The question is, what IS god? If god is just finding that essential Elysium in life, and the beauty that surrounds it as einstein described it then I agree with that. I would rather called it something different to a personal god though, as a matter of fact there is another word for it, it is called Pantheism. But if god is an intelligent being that designed and created life on earth with a purpose then I oppose that concept, on behalf of the whole scientific community and everything it has achieved so far.

I agree that you can’t beat wisdom or love for a satisfied mind, although infinity does have its boundaries for a mortal life form's ability to grasp, being analytical I will always want to know more, and the pleasure comes from trying, understanding and being in awe of the mystery.

In terms of sentience, it depends which way round you look at it, we are all sentient beings, as a result of billions of years of evolution and chemical reactions. This vast amount of time is beyond what most people can even begin to comprehend. If god is exactly that, then it does exist. But I don’t understand how all the planets, galaxies can be made by someone's bare hands (so to speak).

I think alot of the time religious theists just can’t deal with the fact we are here by chance, fear of the unknown, a desire for an authority figure that is as hard wired into human psyche as fight or flight, they lack humility and respect for who and what surrounds us and why it does. By chance includes, the formation of the sun due to hydrogen being squeezed together by gravity, resulting in nuclear fusion, a rogue asteroid hitting the earth, resulting in the dinosaurs dying off and warm blooded mammals dominating the earth, (and not because Noah denied them a place on his creaking wooden ship!) If god made this happen, I’m dying to know exactly how he did it! Because the answer of 'well he just did get over it you non believer' is insulting to my intelligence and analytical way of thinking. The phrase 'prove that god doesn’t exist' is just a shallow way to conveniently avoid the burden of truth.

I don’t doubt people have religious experiences, but I reckon these can be described scientifically quite easily. There is a reason behind our conscious and subconscious mind, and I am afraid it is due to those neurons and synapses working together! You feel a channel of love and warmth from god? Maybe the placebo effect, endorphins, oxytocinare, Vasopressin, dopamine and norepinephrine are the culprits? Yes the feeling is wonderful, and can be quite powerful, maybe to an intensity you have never experienced, and boy id love to experience that too, but there is a physical/chemical reason. The power of individual thought in a relaxed state of mind should never be underestimated. I have spiritual experiences myself, but I also understand the cause which itself gives me even more pleasure.

The ONLY creationist theory I could ever take remotely seriously is if aliens started the life that exists on earth, but this doesn’t really extend to the formation of the sun or the universe. From an agnostic point of view this will always be possible, but highly unlikely when considering the scientific alternative, because it would ask more questions than it solves, for example where did the aliens come from in the first place? Did other aliens make the aliens that made us? If so did another group of aliens make the aliens that made the aliens that made us? The questions leave an ongoing chain.

Some people like to ponder the unknown, and some people are either afraid of it or in denial of it and religion conveniently plugs that gap. If that makes them content with their life then fair enough, but I just cannot do that when my mind is racing towards the mysterious and awe inspiring vastness of space.

The concept of god is so ambiguous it can be interpreted in so many ways ranging from ancient scrolls to Einstein’s theory. To me the phrase 'do you believe in god?' means very little on its own.

Gravity defines our very existence on this tiny little planet, and the existence of the universe as we know it, it is that 'invisible force' which binds everything together, looking it from a spiritual perspective, it can be seen as *the* divine power or god. I for one can picture space-time in my head just from reading Einstein’s description. I can imagine myself inside a craft, obeying Newton's laws of motion. When my craft approaches a large dense object I can imagine in pictures how it would influence my trajectory. Maybe an equivalent mental image of god can be produced in a religious mind, after all, god is only a thought, but at least my images created from rationality.

I would rather connect with the environment and the universe using my senses and mind to perceive it, and from the scientific evidence rather than taking for granted something that has been written in an ancient book, by people who had less knowledge of the stars and science back then (when they thought the world was flat, and the sun literally fell into the sea at dusk etc)

I personally believe that if everyone on earth was agnostic, it would be an awe inspiring place to live, but of course I have to accept this will never happen. I would be proud to be a part of the human race if it did. Instead there are wars, out of control over population, extreme variations in living standards and health, instead of more development into energy from nuclear fusion, space travel, and other ways of having a sustainable population for the benefit of our descendants (idealistic I know but it would be possible).

Don’t get me wrong I am all for a free society, each to their own, but surely we should unite and think properly about what is real and what isn’t rather than just turning a blind eye, or even worse show signs of extreme myopia (so to speak) and not even consider the evidence for and against? From a logical point of view, (and I admit idealistic) what if every single human being had this vision? We would be on the way to the stars by now. Science is answering more and more questions as time goes on and as we learn more, the amount of room 'god' is able to fill gets smaller and smaller. Sadly, everyone is different, and (without intentionally sounding arrogant), some more intelligent and complex than others. I don’t mean to say that more simple minded people are inferior in terms of ability to be human, but my point is that I do accept that idealism and practicality seldom mix.

From science we learn as a species, from religion we stay still and go nowhere as a species. The self-reinforcing delusion is an ancient and as a result, quite powerful human trait, which points towards the theory that maybe we are not that advanced as we like to think we are as a species, from that I mean the subconscious and conscious mind are not yet talking to each other in the same recognisable language. It is only certain minded individuals who have the focus and the courage in themselves that make the steps towards the next advancement, whether it is artistic, technical or scientific. We underestimate the power of the subconscious mind; make false assumptions without proof, which to me is disheartening.

Factual wisdom never plays any part in that which people call their own (view/faith/belief), nor examination. The self reinforcing delusion of mankind's religions is not one based in truth or wisdom, but in comfort, or respect that it is their inheritance of their parents, or some other likewise reason. We will never make great strides inside a comfort zone. Why does a chick hatch out of an egg? Why does a baby leave its mother's womb? Global Secularism at the very least is the only way forward if we want to achieve unity. I don’t need religious guidance to have morals and integrity.

Karl Marx stated that religion is utilised by the ruling classes whereby the masses can shortly relieve their suffering via the act of experiencing positive religious emotions. It is in the interest of the ruling classes to install in the masses the religious conviction that their current suffering will lead to eventual happiness. Therefore as long as the public believes in religion, they will not attempt to make any genuine effort to understand and overcome the real source of their suffering.

From a logical viewpoint, that appears to be correct.

If our ruling emotions are the equivalent to those ruling classes (such as fear, anxiety, emptiness, depression) then it has the same effect. No wonder alot of people follow religion as though it has been ingrained into their psyche, as those apparently positive emotions become hardwired, just as any form of defensive mechanism one creates to stay safe in a given negative situation. Because a whole society/civilisation, generation after generation, has sustained this comfort zone, why change if you believe it is ideal? I think the brain is like a lump of plasticine which gets harder to shape as you get older, but can be manipulated in so many ways at a young age.

It is true we all need something to believe in, and we can. Ourselves and each other. Soul searching combined with intellectual rationality would mean the need for religion could cease to exist. That scares alot of people, hence alot of resistance towards science and the lack of self drive in alot of our society.

Each and every one of us are children on this planet, but we use the child-like traits many different ways. Some are overpowered by fear, others like me are overpowered by a wonder and urge to ask questions. But like children who have their parents to look up to and seek guidence from, what authority figure does the helpless child in an adult's body have to look to for guidence? I concentrate on my wonder of the physical world, and that satisfies me no end. In other words, I am a Pantheist.

Here is a view from Einstein, which I admire, (courtesy of wikipedia):

'Einstein distinguished three styles which are usually intermixed in actual religion. The first is motivated by fear and poor understanding of causality, and hence invents supernatural beings. The second is social and moral, motivated by desire for love and support. Einstein noted that both have an anthropomorphic concept of God. The third style, which Einstein deemed most mature, is motivated by a deep sense of awe and mystery. He said, "The individual feels ... the sublimity and marvellous order which reveal themselves in nature ... and he wants to experience the universe as a single significant whole." Einstein saw science as an antagonist of the first two styles of religion, but as a partner of the third style.'

The awe and mystery itself is a belief, is it any more valid than the first two? Maybe we will never know, and that scares people due to our relatively short life span of 100 years. Less than a blink of an eye on the cosmic calendar.

a few quotes from Carl Sagan which really hit the spot:

For small creatures such as we the vastness is bearable only through love.

Somewhere, something incredible is waiting to be known.

Science is a way of thinking much more than it is a body of knowledge.

Imagination will often carry us to worlds that never were. But without it we go nowhere.

Adolf Hitler: We Will Fight the Atheistic Movement
We were convinced that the people need and require this faith. We have therefore undertaken the fight against the atheistic movement, and that not merely with a few theoretical declarations: we have stamped it out.
- Adolf Hitler, Speech in Berlin, October 24, 1933

“The Bible is not my book nor Christianity my profession. I could never give assent to the long, complicated statements of Christian dogma.” - Abraham Lincoln

“The government of the United States is not in any sense founded on the Christian religion.” - John Adams

“Lighthouses are more helpful than churches.” - Benjamin Franklin

“Christianity is the most perverted system that ever shone on man.” - Thomas Jefferson

“The clergy, by getting themselves established by law and ingrafted into the machine of government, have been a very formidable engine against the civil and religious rights of man…” - Thomas Jefferson

A U.S. president who believes in an ancient book of Jewish fairy tales. How reassuring…

For me, it is far better to grasp the Universe as it really is than to persist in delusion, however satisfying and reassuring.

Who are we? We find that we live on an insignificant planet of a humdrum star lost in a galaxy tucked away in some forgotten corner of a universe in which there are far more galaxies than people.

At the end of the day, religion is a belief in a supernatural power recognized as the creator. Faith is a belief in the trustworthiness of a person or philosophy. You can have faith in a number of things, but not only to God, I have faith in string theory :-)

This blog was never meant to be an articulate masterpiece, and I do understand I will probably appear as a bemoaning idealist, but I just had to get my thoughts out in the open.

My way of thinking

Imagine constantly having music and images in your head, every thought, and every alacrity is based on those thought characteristics. I am not skilful at verbal communication, I tend to forget words, forget the meaning of elongated words when attempting to converse. That scarcely makes me slow minded and unintelligent.

I can mentally create melodies, have perfect pitch, and emotions are partially liberated when associating them with certain pieces of music, something I cannot do verbally. It can be incredibly uncomfortable just saying ‘I love you’ to a family member. It is highly conceivable that I don’t understand the concept of expressing love in terms of language or non verbal cues.

Every day I have incomparable but distinctive mental images, sometimes I delineate myself in the trenches of world war one, another moment I could tour the solar system, become marooned on a desert island, or maybe walking through a rich woodland with a continuous flow. Letters and numbers are associated with colours, and have been as far as I can remember, acting as a coping measure when remembering words or phone numbers. My expression of any thoughts and feelings when communicating using language is often carried out using metaphors, comparing myself to objects (usually machines) and describing how unique attributes affect their performance and ability to operate, but only when I have understood them. Noise and over thinking, can insinuate the effect of virtual amphetamines in my mind.

Dynamic objects and certain sounds can be described as visual poetry. When they are directly related to me in an ambiguous situation (for example faces, voices or body language, and the fact I desire aversion whilst at the centre of attention) I have to cast my gaze away to fix on something predictable because I am consciously overwhelmed, transfixed, or simply in awe of predictability corresponding with visual beauty, (like a moving snake, water, or a comet). Emotions can be vehement when relating to objects, in touch with the lines and the curves. I have to occlude my vision and clench my fists when listening to certain music so it channels into my psyche, with a tingling feeling that channels down my spine through to my fingers like a faculty.

I can understand the theory of evolution and the laws of motion not just from reading them in a book, but by visualising organisms, generation by generation modifying themselves to variable situations and habitats I can imagine them being in. To endeavour a description of my understanding, applying only words is a laboured task. I beg to ask why other individuals cannot just welcome the fact I can comprehend using this style?!

I can perceive the curvature of space-time dictating to an object how it should accelerate forwards; imagining the source of the force acting upon it using the influence from co-existing heavenly bodies. Whether solid or gaseous, being able to visualise the laws of motion acting upon them.

To communicate this by mere articulation is lightly skimming the surface. I have given information verbally that I perceive these particular things, but to characterise each visualisation is like illustrating a complex pattern to a blind man. I would be obliged to create a model of the pattern, like Braille, so the individual could attempt to feel the configuration using the sense of touch. But is he able perceive the varying colours and shades? He could possibly grasp the structure, but not the character.

Of course language is essential for communication, but I struggle to comprehend any further than to exchange information or to use it as a narration. But what is narration without being able to get a glimpse, curve for curve, colour for colour? Thinking in pictures is a rich and wonderfully amazing form of understanding things, but expressing the notion to others whilst doing it justice is a hurdle.

Eye contact, body language and prose are awkward due to the unpredictable nature. Attempting to consume a conversation whilst consciously trying to fathom their eyes is overwhelming. My senses in terms of just eyes and ears are nothing special, although my brain processing these inputs the way it does is definitely out of the ordinary. I can be attentive to a piece of music repeatedly making it a different experience with every occurrence.

I can attempt to compensate for my difficulties with prose, body language or eye contact by concentrating on one at a time. If I can force and maintain eye contact during a conversation which I have pre-rehearsed, I will speak in monotone. If my tone of voice is normal, I cannot look someone in the eye. I have a one tracked mind in every sense of the phrase, only able to process one sensory input at a time, at my own pace, one emotion at a time (whether it is my own or someone else’s) if someone appears to be annoyed, and there is a chance I have misjudged, I have to appear annoyed as well to avoid complexity. If someone is nice I can attempt to mimic.

I can only realise my true emotions in solitude, and attempting to express them afterwards is perplexing to the individual and me both. It makes relationships awkward even with my closest family members, although writing things down or drawing sketches to reflect on things does help, it creates a base point of reference, like an easy to access external hard drive, it frees my brain up from having to undertake more than a single conscious task at a time, although only realistically practical at home.

With no mental vision there is limited purpose. That may resemble arrogance, although being unable to pose in the shoes of another person, the only thinking style I can apprehend is my own. Communication in the traditional sense is a notion I am forced to exert excessive mental energy towards achieving. To type this article took a large proportion of my thought.

When someone is curious as to why I bear a certain opinion I cannot explain it there and then as it is saved as a mental video. The sound, colours and contrast are present and translate into words then to consequently translate their response into a mental image requires time and aspiration, but it is the only way I can achieve creative cognitive task. When I do have to think in words and be effective, I have to talk to myself.

I can reluctantly effect small talk to a point, where I utter pre rehearsed phrases, but this soon disappears, depending on my confidence and motivation at the time, I can either lecture monologue about my special interests (where the mental translation has already taken place previously) and disapprove when a word is spoken by the individual on the receiving end, or alternatively I freeze mentally, unaware of what to say or do.

My thinking method is superior and inferior, for conflicting reasons. The downside is the aftermath of my interaction with other people, which in turn has overwrought my state of mind. Anything negative that has ever been said to me was visualised and will be in a state of suspended animation. My long term memory is definitely superior to the average person (although I have a mediocre short term memory). This is not always positive due to my disagreements at school/early adulthood and the effect it has had have stemmed from teasing and ambiguous situations. Maybe these have been visualized excessively, consequentially stuck in my head as my own exaggerated version. An alternative method of describing it is simply, taking it personally.

The positive side is my aptitude to think deep. I can lose myself reading a factual book (language again) but I aid myself by creating a vivid mental image of what is being said which supplements my understanding. I have a tendency to close myself off from people because I need mental restoration, but I can still exchange information if required; I have to put into pictures everything people have said to me during a given day in order to understand. I can think more efficiently when remaining silent, having multiple layers of thought with immense precision.

I obtain many fine details, and bind them to form a concept, hence why I believe my mental imagery is quite special. Sections of my brain are equipped to place information into file folders like on a computer. It can be compared to a computer with a behemoth hard drive, a spirited CPU, but with a humble amount of random access memory and incorrect software. If I am to access files in haste or receive excessive complex sensory input in too much bulk I will crash. The software is not talking to the CPU; the random access memory is not supplementing my executive functioning.

The inputs I depend on are sensory, anything verbal has to be visualised in order to create that sensory input myself. It is why I have trouble with unpredictable situations, loss of routine and non verbal communication with individuals. Words become a necessary evil, like a signal being sent to my television set, and then projected into sounds and images. Having to deal with visual unpredictability slows my ability to visualise when I have too much input to project on the mental screen. Hard to explain here and now, but even more difficult to comprehend the time.

Ideally I could connect my brain into a computer which could in turn project my mental images onto a physical screen, the music I create in my head to a loudspeaker; I believe people would be in awe but obviously that won’t occur! I have to bumble around with conversation, stuttering, speaking too loudly or too quiet, butting into other people’s conversations, because of the fear that a unique image I have at a given time will be forgotten forever. This is on top of having to work out why a certain shape of mouth and why eyes shaped in a certain way apparently reflects their inner emotions and feelings.

I can have incredibly strong emotions, although during the event they are primitive, either intense or nonexistent. The emotions are basic sad, happy, or angry. At the time could believe deep down that I hate someone with a vengeance and wish they would perish. But during reflection, visualising the situation hours afterwards I would realise I was simply frustrated at the time due to something said to me which put me on the spot resulting in being overwhelmed. Frustration is a big factor of my life due to situations like this and misunderstandings occurring.

To visualise an emotion is difficult and probably impossible. The one way round it and it rarely successful is to choose a musical piece I believe reflects my state of mind and listen to it repeatedly. The emotions become more defined as I am filtering through my mental storage bank, I search through them one at a time, consciously creating an imaginary situation as to what each type of emotion would reflect, then with luck I may find it, I was feeling ‘embarrassed’. Because the music partially enhanced my emotional ability, I was able to create a clearer path as to pinpoint it. If I don’t have a music player to hand I would have to create the music myself in my head, although this has limitations.

To understand someone else’s emotions is a far more challenging, I would have to imagine myself in the situation they described, which is limiting because I barely in touch with my own, although at least I can partially understand, as inaccurate as it may be. The physical world makes eminently more sense, having a radiant beauty of its own, for example the Spitfire, Triumph Bonneville, T34 tank, and Jaguar E type. To realise what they were used for and their artistic appeal creates a sense of awe and attractiveness.

Despite the above, 'when I am in the zone' and free of anxiety or distraction, verbage can erupt and flow from my brain and mouth, as though the words and pictures just appear in perfect harmony, this is almost exclusively related to my special interests, attempting to narrate visual thoughts, it is why I can only liaise specific details regarding specific subjects, which can jump from one to the other because of the sheer volume of words required to describe every detail, the amount of time in the world to explain everything is limited.

It can be compared to peering world through a pair of powerful binoculars rather than a crude, short sighted panoramic device that tries desperately to fix onto an object it cant even see properly, it is the only way to seek out the understandable truth and to even be aware that the puzzle exists in the first place, hence my child-like wonder of all things around me and beyond.

In general society to me seems illogical, directionless, lacks creativity or a positive future, depressing yes, but why exist in delusion? If something doesn’t make sense I am urged to learn about it intellectually, the only alternative is to become restless. Without unique minority individuals society as we know it will devolve, into primitive, consuming beasts.

To put it crudely, I can take satisfaction from my naturally weird persona, but on other occasions I loathe it due to an ambivalent self perception, based on alternative mental priorities. I crave companionship and contact with people, but the amount of mental energy required for maintenance, let alone the lack of ability or knowledge to begin is colossal. A seemingly endless mental chain of random visual algorithms, destined to distract.

Like firing an afterburner and consequently running out of fuel. A jet engine fails to function without fuel, if the scenario is unlucky, the engines will cease to work in mid flight, resulting in freefall and eventually a messy impact with the ground. This could occur at 29,000 ft or just off the ground. With any luck, the fuel could run out before take off has occurred, but the long-term situation cannot be healthy, as a plane which never takes off has no real function.

Another downfall is that the plane could have so much weight where it needs the afterburner to take off, but the fuel tanks have a limited capacity, although the pilot has no knowledge of this weight or how long it should burn for.....

Does the plane require that much cargo? Can it perform its duties with a minimum amount of baggage on board? Do the engines need to increase their efficiency? Can the plane fly to a location which has a greater proximity? Possibly the fuel was of the wrong type? An ongoing battle especially when you have the responsibilities of the pilot, but not able to receive the required data. The single desire is to fly the plane to its destination unload the goods and travel back to the original destination with new cargo.

Every flight is to deliver something totally different to an alternative destination, with limited knowledge of its whereabouts like a journey into the unknown. This metaphor describes my state of mind when I meet someone, and attempt to look at the individual in the eye and interact. Asperger’s syndrome is a curse and blessing combined. Self discovery is an almost infinite journey, but potentially fulfilling once guided towards the correct path. Is it any wonder I am misunderstood? The more information I consume through life experiences, the greater the awareness of the differences in my methods of thinking and feeling. Ramification at its most stressful is the art of giving and receiving from other people.

If I continue to be perplexed regarding other people when I process emotions and non verbal cues then so be it. Processing emotions, body language, facial expressions and attempting to raise my consciousness to people and their psyche is a burden to me, as they lack predictable/logical form, but pondering the future of mankind, landscapes, music, machines, the natural world, and the cosmos is more fulfilling, and hugely stimulating, an expansion of the mind moving forward rather than standing still, but whether it is more stimulating than theory of mind I will never know. Evolution aside, the human mind will always be exactly that, we are a single species on a piece of space rock orbiting a gaseous ball fusing heavy hydrogen together to form helium, creating our life energy. I believe if it wasn’t for autistic traits we may possibly be sitting in a cave chatting about the latest fashionable topic.

I can force myself to become interested in what someone is attempting to convey. I may randomly phase in and out of my dreamlike state due to a conscious effort to maintain a coherent picture of what I am receiving, but it is almost impossible to also keep a reliable track of mind states and to create associations especially with the information I am absorbing in fragmented form, trying in vain to make use of and interpret body language, and remember a myriad of facts about the person. The only alternative is to try to pull everything together afterwards. When another person comes into play in addition to the first, the probability of maintaining that ability would be virtually zero due to the multiple lines of extra communication.

The human brain can consciously perform only one task at a time, but unconsciously can do a large number of things at any given time. When the brain modules or mechanisms which are responsible for the unconscious do not function conventionally, it is not possible to compensate by doing them all consciously in a limited time frame, resulting in an overwhelming scenario. One at a time is possible, but is a drawn out procedure.

On the flip side to this, and distractions aside, I have the ability to subconsciously process music without making an excessive conscious effort. I can mentally practice my bass guitar visualising the strings and frets, mentally picturing myself playing when I hear musical pieces, knowing exactly what pitch it is in. I used to do the same when I played the Cello as a child which is likely a result of my brain re-prioritising, at some point. I hope I don’t appear self-aggrandizing, but the concluding point is that I do not believe I am any more disabled or abled than the majority of human beings on this planet, just differently abled.

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