View Full Version : Theory of mind and intense world theory


Hermus
09-19-17, 06:24 PM
In science the last few years a debate has emerged around two theories that strongly contradict each other. One is theory of mind, the other intense world theory.

The idea that people on the spectrum lack theory of mind was first proposed by Simon Baron-Cohen and has a lot of followers in academic circles. The basic assumption is that people on the autistic spectrum aren't able to read the emotions of other people and therefore lack empathy and are socially impaired.

http://theautismblog.seattlechildrens.org/autism-theory-mind/

Intense world theory is developed by Kamila and Henry Markram. "The Intense World Theory states that autism is the consequence of a supercharged brain that makes the world painfully intense and that the symptoms are largely because autistics are forced to develop strategies to actively avoid the intensity and pain. Autistics see, hear, feel, think, and remember too much, too deep, and process information too completely. The theory predicts that the autistic child is retreating into a controllable and predictable bubble to protect themselves from the intensity and pain."

Interview: Henry and Kamila Markram About the Intense World Theory for Autism (https://www.printfriendly.com/print?source=homepage&url_s=uGGC_%7E_PdN_%7E_PcS_%7E_PcSJEBAtCynArGmArG_ %7E_PcSvAGrEIvrJ-urAEL-nAq-xnzvyn-znExEnz-noBHG-Gur-vAGrAFr-JBEyq-GurBEL-sBE-nHGvFz_%7E_PcS)

Personally I believe that the intense world theory is much more plausible. I have personal and logical reasons to believe so.

Personally I know that the lack of empathy that Baron-Cohen claims people on the spectrum suffer from, doesn't apply to me. I have the feeling I often care more about the suffering of others than many other people do, and perceive the emotions of other people quite strong. Others have told me they perceive me as a very empathetic person as well. I also know others on the spectrum that seem to care a lot about other people's suffering.

Logically I think theory of mind doesn't make sense at all. There is a scientific consensus that people on the spectrum are very susceptible to external stimuli, often even leading to sensory overload. Theory of mind would mean that that perceptiveness somehow suddenly stops when looking at other people. Unless the proponents of theory of mind can offer a theoretical explanation of why the sight of another person blocks the sensory perception, that is otherwise strongly present, that sounds very implausible to me.

I am wondering very much what others think of this.

Abi
09-19-17, 06:46 PM
Purely anecdotally, based on the small sample of ASD people I have known, I would be inclined to believe the 2nd interpretation is more accurate.

aeon
09-19-17, 07:13 PM
It's called a spectrum for a reason.

I tend to think both theories are onto something.

I've known people with autism (diagnosed) who seemed like the first, a few who seemed the latter, and one who seemed like both.

There's no reason to think they are mutually exclusive. To do so creates a false dichotomy.

Different regions and structures in the brain are involved in each case.


Cheers,
Ian

Hermus
09-19-17, 07:46 PM
It's called a spectrum for a reason.

I tend to think both theories are onto something.

I've known people with autism (diagnosed) who seemed like the first, a few who seemed the latter, and one who seemed like both.

There's no reason to think they are mutually exclusive. To do so creates a false dichotomy.

Different regions and structures in the brain are involved in each case.


Cheers,
Ian

That would suggest that the term autism spectrum disorder actually is a false label. That we are actually talking about multiple disorders that have been lumped together, but on a physiological level have little to do with each other.

Something I also often have considered. Especially because no scientists have conclusively shown what brain regions affect autism or how it functions in the brain. Maybe that is because they are looking at it in the wrong way.

Fuzzy12
09-19-17, 07:52 PM
I don't think lacking theory of mind means that you don't care about the suffering of others or don't feel for others. Theory of mind just refers to being able to understand that other people have thoughts, ideas, viewpoints and perceptions that might be different to your own.

I have a theory that all parents lack theory of mind. They don't understand that their children see, desire and think differently to how they do...but I don't doubt that parents care about their children immensely.

Hermus
09-19-17, 08:00 PM
I don't think lacking theory of mind means that you don't care about the suffering of others or don't feel for others. Theory of mind just refers to being able to understand that other people have thoughts, ideas, viewpoints and perceptions that might be different to your own.

I have a theory that all parents lack theory of mind. They don't understand that their children see, desire and think differently to how they do...but I don't doubt that parents care about their children immensely....

Definitely goes for my parents lol. And the other way around too.

I think it does mean that by the way. Simon Baron-Cohen, the inventor of ToM has written a book in which he explicitly claims that people with autism like people with antisocial personality disorder are devoid of empathy. He has angered a lot of people with that, and rightly so. People on the spectrum usually are not cruel monsters,often just the opposite.

aeon
09-19-17, 11:51 PM
That would suggest that the term autism spectrum disorder actually is a false label. That we are actually talking about multiple disorders that have been lumped together, but on a physiological level have little to do with each other.

Something I also often have considered. Especially because no scientists have conclusively shown what brain regions affect autism or how it functions in the brain. Maybe that is because they are looking at it in the wrong way.

Yes...just like ADHD. ;)


Cheers,
Ian

aeon
09-20-17, 12:19 AM
I have a theory that all parents lack theory of mind. They don't understand that their children see, desire and think differently to how they do...but I don't doubt that parents care about their children immensely.

In cases where the lack of understanding results from psychopathology exhibited as part of an all-consuming narcissism, the latter isn't possible inasmuch as there is no subject-object relationship to begin with, such is the degree of enmeshment.


Cheers,
Ian

Lisa_Mac
09-20-17, 05:49 AM
How often does a person with High Functioning Autism also have a personality disorder that results in a true lack of empathy?

Hermus
09-20-17, 07:49 AM
How often does a person with High Functioning Autism also have a personality disorder that results in a true lack of empathy?

This article about the comorbidity of neuropsychiatric disorders (ASD and ADHD) suggests that 17.2 percent of patients who participated suffered from antisocial personality disorder (lacking empathy). No patients with ASD only and ASPD have been found, but there are many with either ADHD only or ADHD and ASD who have antisocial personality disorder. The absence of people with ASD as only neuropsychiatric disorder and ASPD could be due to the limited number of participants (N for ASD only is 47).

https://s3.amazonaws.com/academia.edu.documents/42705082/The_Impact_of_ADHD_and_Autism_Spectrum_D20160215-31075-6rqxv6.pdf?AWSAccessKeyId=AKIAIWOWYYGZ2Y53UL3A&Expires=1505911049&Signature=SoJnrKxNkX9Ra38brGvk%2FRmyRhE%3D&response-content-disposition=inline%3B%20filename%3DThe_Impact_of_A DHD_and_Autism_Spectrum_D.pdf

Hermus
09-20-17, 09:23 AM
LOL. I just realize that I tried to use the Dutch abbreviation for Autism Spectrum Disorder (Autisme Spectrum Stoornis) and that this abbreviation is censored here. So where it reads *** it should say ASD (autism spectrum disorder).

peripatetic
09-20-17, 09:34 AM
LOL. I just realize that I tried to use the Dutch abbreviation for Autism Spectrum Disorder (Autisme Spectrum Stoornis) and that this abbreviation is censored here. So where it reads *** it should say ASD (autism spectrum disorder).

i updated it for you, hermus, just so there's no confusion on reading :) x

Fuzzy12
09-20-17, 10:30 AM
In cases where the lack of understanding results from psychopathology exhibited as part of an all-consuming narcissism, the latter isn't possible inasmuch as there is no subject-object relationship to begin with, such is the degree of enmeshment.


Cheers,
Ian

Yes sorry. I shouldn't have said all parents.

daveddd
09-20-17, 07:16 PM
That would suggest that the term autism spectrum disorder actually is a false label. That we are actually talking about multiple disorders that have been lumped together, but on a physiological level have little to do with each other.

Something I also often have considered. Especially because no scientists have conclusively shown what brain regions affect autism or how it functions in the brain. Maybe that is because they are looking at it in the wrong way.

that actually is why disorders are in the DSM, they're symptom clusters nothing more, nothing less

daveddd
09-20-17, 07:20 PM
Definitely goes for my parents lol. And the other way around too.

I think it does mean that by the way. Simon Baron-Cohen, the inventor of ToM has written a book in which he explicitly claims that people with autism like people with antisocial personality disorder are devoid of empathy. He has angered a lot of people with that, and rightly so. People on the spectrum usually are not cruel monsters,often just the opposite.

a lack of empathy doesnt indicate a monster, sadism does

a lack of empathy refers to the inability to take anothers perspective , which in autism and adhd may be common

though "physical empathy" or "emotional contagion" may be high in those disorders

sympathy can be there, often to the extreme, but the ability to step in another persons shoes can be extremely impaired or slightly impaired or not impaired?

Greyhound1
09-20-17, 11:10 PM
It seems similar in it's presentation to ADHD. I mean by 3 types of presentation.

1. Intense World
2. Theory of Mind
3. Combined

daveddd
09-21-17, 05:45 PM
so can it be both?

sensitivity to emotion can impair perspective taking?

daveddd
09-21-17, 06:36 PM
In science the last few years a debate has emerged around two theories that strongly contradict each other. One is theory of mind, the other intense world theory.

The idea that people on the spectrum lack theory of mind was first proposed by Simon Baron-Cohen and has a lot of followers in academic circles. The basic assumption is that people on the autistic spectrum aren't able to read the emotions of other people and therefore lack empathy and are socially impaired.

http://theautismblog.seattlechildrens.org/autism-theory-mind/

Intense world theory is developed by Kamila and Henry Markram. "The Intense World Theory states that autism is the consequence of a supercharged brain that makes the world painfully intense and that the symptoms are largely because autistics are forced to develop strategies to actively avoid the intensity and pain. Autistics see, hear, feel, think, and remember too much, too deep, and process information too completely. The theory predicts that the autistic child is retreating into a controllable and predictable bubble to protect themselves from the intensity and pain."

Interview: Henry and Kamila Markram About the Intense World Theory for Autism (https://www.printfriendly.com/print?source=homepage&url_s=uGGC_%7E_PdN_%7E_PcS_%7E_PcSJEBAtCynArGmArG_ %7E_PcSvAGrEIvrJ-urAEL-nAq-xnzvyn-znExEnz-noBHG-Gur-vAGrAFr-JBEyq-GurBEL-sBE-nHGvFz_%7E_PcS)

Personally I believe that the intense world theory is much more plausible. I have personal and logical reasons to believe so.

Personally I know that the lack of empathy that Baron-Cohen claims people on the spectrum suffer from, doesn't apply to me. I have the feeling I often care more about the suffering of others than many other people do, and perceive the emotions of other people quite strong. Others have told me they perceive me as a very empathetic person as well. I also know others on the spectrum that seem to care a lot about other people's suffering.

Logically I think theory of mind doesn't make sense at all. There is a scientific consensus that people on the spectrum are very susceptible to external stimuli, often even leading to sensory overload. Theory of mind would mean that that perceptiveness somehow suddenly stops when looking at other people. Unless the proponents of theory of mind can offer a theoretical explanation of why the sight of another person blocks the sensory perception, that is otherwise strongly present, that sounds very implausible to me.

I am wondering very much what others think of this.

i believe a psycopath is quite skilled at cognitive empathy, reading thoughts to manipulate, but lack the actually feelings (emotional empathy)

Unless the proponents of theory of mind can offer a theoretical explanation of why the sight of another person blocks the sensory perception, that is otherwise strongly present, that sounds very implausible to me.

im not sure but it might have to do with eye contact avoidance of some with autism ( some say sensory, but i dont think the human eyeball constitutes a sense, it does send emotion though)

so while autistic people and people ADHD (some) may be very sympathtic , the emotion may overwhelm cognitive (ToM)

dont a lot of us have trouble identifying our emotions? exclude obvious suffering

so it may relate to thin boundaries , separating the persons emotion from ours and overwhelming cognitive process or being confused of mixed emotions

Greyhound1
09-21-17, 06:38 PM
so can it be both?

sensitivity to emotion can impair perspective taking?

I wasn't thinking really about a cause and effect. I was thinking some probably can have a sensitivity to emotion and also have have an impaired perspective at times.

I think defining it as just Intense World or Theory of Mind seems too black and white and polarizing. Seems to me like there are probably some people that can have issues with both and be somewhere between the two polar ends. This is based on nothing more than a feeling I have.