Thoughts about schizophrenia, difficulties in understanding others, compassion and empathy, psychopathy and antisocial disorder.

I think that contrary to what we can imagine of schizophrenia, (who are people known to misunderstand others and who often have symptoms of high-level autism), schizophrenia does not decrease empathy, it increases it. You have to understand how empathy and compassion work to understand this and understand why I think empathy is increased in schizophrenia (contrary to popular belief).

Here is my point of view on the empathy that I have developed after many years and after confrontation with people who lack it: it is the mirror neurons that must manage this surely…

Their role is to understand what another person feels who is in a certain situation, and they also allow to have a certain introspection, to understand oneself or even, to understand why one had such emotions, such feelings, following what event (it is brain imaging studies that have determined this). In fact I tell myself that it works like this: with our experience (whether it is real experience or lived experience in scenarios that we imagine) we notice that when we are in this or that situation we feel, we think, we want this or that thing, for example when we bend down with our hand towards the ground, it is that we often want to catch something fallen on the ground, when we are naked in front of people we are ashamed (unless we are exhibitionist :))

In relation to this experience we will be able to operate our mirror neurons: If we see a person bending down with his hand towards the ground, we will automatically imagine that he wants to pick up something, if we see a naked person in front of a crowd, we can imagine and feel that he is ashamed, (unless one is a pervert :)) etc etc. We will feel what others feel, think or want according to what we would feel, think or want in the situation of the person we see or imagine (if we read a book for example).

So why do people with schizophrenia misunderstand what is felt by others (at least without treatment or that the treatment is not great)? I think that it is not only this mechanism that works badly, it is that the experience of schizophrenics is very different from the general experience, so they can not feel what others feel, since they themselves do not feel that.

une place à Lille bien remplie de monde
The population, the people frightened me, I wondered how the others managed to live there peacefully.

Me when I went to a party, I was afraid of people, I felt embarrassed, I was ashamed of not saying anything, not knowing what to say, I imagined that what I could say would pass for null, stupid or serious and shameful, I was half stunned, stuck in a corner of the room where there is the evening, being afraid to pass for the null, the twisted, the madman of the moment. So it was difficult for me to answer a person who told me that I was happy to go to a party, I could not conceive that it was possible so much my suffering in this situation was intense, I absolutely did not feel the happiness of this person when he told me that, and so I couldn't interact well with her, telling her, for example, that I was happy for her.

une vieille machine à traiter le blé dans le musée d'une ferme
The gas engine of my thoughts!

When I passed an exam, given that I was afraid of the future and ending up in a psychiatric hospital (because I believed that there was no treatment for my problem), success in this exam did not make me happy to succeed in life, it was just a burden, an inhuman effort that I had made to have this exam and that I had betrayed myself to make myself suffer like this.

As a result, it was difficult for me to conceive that others could really be happy by seeing the results of their exams, yet they seemed to be seeing their outpouring of joy at the results of the baccalaureate, I thought that I was seriously abnormal not to understand them.

Besides, it made me very strange to see happy people in situations where I would have been in distress. A feeling of guilt, that I should have been different.

I had heard that in borderline disorder there is a similar phenomenon: these people imagine that others feel what they feel, while often people feel something different, borderline have such a distorted vision of what others feel, because they too feel things a little differently from others.

I feel like for autism, it may be a bit like extreme shyness, or contact with others is only felt as a fear, yet it's possible that their mirror neurons work well. It seems to me that often autistic people feel the guilt and possible suffering of others (but I may be wrong on this point, it is not a subject that I know well)

photo d'un dessert fait de fraise avec de la chantilly sur une tableau au restaurant
Antisocial people don't think of others, especially when it comes to sharing dessert. Me too sometimes I don't want to share the dessert, but it's because I'm greedy.

how antisocials work

Antisocial people or those who behave badly such as paranoid personalities,

I feel it, they, on the contrary, have mirror neurons that work badly. They feel little suffering in others, and little the feelings, thoughts and wills of others.

This is what I understood by opposing people who were more or less bad with others in their word (they yelled at others, and given the subsequent situation of subordination of the people yelled at, they were afraid of the consequences if they responded, such as being fired, so they were tyrannized and stunned during these situations, it was quite obvious when we saw the scene), by making them understand that their behavior was intolerable and especially made others suffer for this or that reason, I realized that these people did not realize that they were making these people suffer, but saw these people as culprits who sought to spoil the situation,

these somewhat antisocial people fell from the clouds when they understood from my explanations that in reality the people they were yelling at were more terrorized victims than culprits.

… they understood and largely stopped this bad behavior. This obvious reaction of understanding that these people were terrorized victims did not exist in these somewhat antisocial people.

To draw a parallel, when you stumble on a stone in the forest, if you are a little angry, you can start insulting the stone. On the other hand, if we are in the same situation but it is another person who makes us stumble involuntarily, then we will hold back even if we may be a little angry, because we should avoid scaring him and accusing him of something of which he is innocent, which would be unfair. For an antisocial person whose mirror neurons work badly if he stumbles against a person he will insult him because for him the person who made him stumble is like a stone, it is just a thing that is painful to him and that opposes his path.

Apart from the fact that mirror neurons are used to understand others, the rest of the things I say here about empathy, schizophrenia and antisocial disorder remain hypotheses that I created, however it seems very coherent to me, in my opinion it is surely right.

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