Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Asperger's theory does about-face - An excess of empathy

Edwin Rutsch  - September 13, 2011

A groundbreaking study suggests people with autism-spectrum disorders such as Asperger's do not lack empathy – rather, they feel others' emotions too intensely to cope.

People with Asperger's syndrome, a high functioning form of autism, are often stereotyped as distant loners or robotic geeks. But what if what looks like coldness to the outside world is a response to being overwhelmed by emotion – an excess of empathy, not a lack of it?...

As posited by Henry and Kamila Markram of the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, the theory suggests that the fundamental problem in autism-spectrum disorders is not a social deficiency but, rather, a hypersensitivity to experience, which includes an overwhelming fear response.

by Maia Szalavitz

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