Learning “Emotion Words” / Socialization

February: no snow.

I react to nature with complex emotion. The word that best suits that emotion is curiosity.

Some characteristics attributed to Aspergers are true, at least in my case. One is that transitions can be extremely difficult to endure, even if one recognizes that making changes is a needed next step. Another is the “not knowing” what is going on in terms of internal states; roughly identified as emotions, but emotion is an inadequate word. (see posts on Alexithymia)

That is, emotions are not simple in Aspergers,  but are tied into a complex web of other functions: pain as a physical reaction to the environment, is what social people call emotion. My reactions to the environment are “null” (off) or a cessation of discomfort (anxiety) or undifferentiated pain. I’m sure this is very strange for social people and difficult to believe. I have dealt with this in other posts, but my general conclusion is that “emotion words” are SOCIAL: a crying child is taught to differentiate what they are feeling into “sharing” words. Children are asked “What’s wrong?” and are supplied over and over again with word choices. Are you hungry, tired, feeling sick, lonely, afraid? If the child is laughing or excited the questions change. Are you happy – feeling good? A parent wants to be able to “take care of” or strengthen whatever is going on in the child, and the children LEARNS to identify its inner states with those words.

This does not happen with Asperger children. We may be asked over and over, What is wrong, or how do you feel, but infinite repetition will never “work.” One example is obvious: if we are overwhelmed by sensory stimulus, the possible meltdown is NOT a state that can be described by emotion words. I can remember such events early in childhood when I was bombarded by requests to “explain myself.” Even if this was a well-intended attempt to help, the request had no meaning. It was as if someone had asked what an atom bomb exploding inside oneself “feels” like – are you hungry? Tired? Did something happen? Tell us.

My later experience leads me to believe that for whatever reason, Asperger “emotion” is tied into our intellectual system, which as a young child isn’t functioning yet. We eventually learn to analyze the “entire event” that surrounded us when the emotion occurred – this is difficult even for me to understand after decades of experiencing the phenomenon. We must understand the event before identifying the “result.” And, it takes time.

We live in world of social demands: instantaneous reporting of “inner states” is not an option, it’s a 24/7 requirement to be “accepted” in modern culture, which is obsessed with emotion and manipulation. It’s a cliché, but true, that women demand that men “answer immediately” emotion questions: have fits; nag, attack and press for “emotional connection” and then get upset if men lie. Men resist this interrogation and invasion of autonomy, and as an Asperger I sympathize. Undoubtedly many women don’t like this imposition either, but participate because that’s how society defines gender and relationships. I have also encountered many men who practice “emotional blackmail” so I don’t attribute this focus solely to women.

I honestly think that the NULL STATE is normal and healthy: why must EVERYTHING be tied to emotion?



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