Jump to content

"Extreme Female Mind" (Type E or Empathic). Is there such a disorder?


visceral
 Share

Recommended Posts

I know the idea that a high systemic/low empathic mind is a male one while the high empathic/low systemic end of the continuum is female domain, is a huge oversimplification, I just called it that so people would get the idea...

 

Is there such a disorder? Could there be such a thing as 'system blindness', where though someone would be extremely empathic and do very well at sensing people's emotions, they would have low to no ability to use reductive or systemic thinking?

 

Is this even a legitimate concept? Are "systemic" and "empathic" really opposites?

 

One theory is that the condition exists, but it isn't a problem because it's not maladaptive:

 

Taken from Simon Baron Cohen's The Essential Difference

 

All scientists know about the extreme female brain is that it is predicted to arise ... Scientists have never got up close to these individuals. It is a bit like positing the existence of a new animal on theoretical grounds, and then setting out to discover if it is really found in nature.

...

[W]hat would such people look like?

 

... Their empathizing ability would be average or significantly better than that of other people in the general population, but their systemizing would be impaired. So these would be people who have difficulty understanding math or physics or machines or chemistry, as systems. But they could be extremely accurate at tuning in to others' feelings and thoughts.

 

Would such a profile carry any necessary disability? Hyperempathizing could be a great asset, and poor systemizing may not be too crippling. It is possible that the extreme female brain is not seen in clinics because it is not maladaptive.

 

We saw that those with the extreme male brain do experience a disability, but only when the person is expected to be socially able. Remove this expectation, and the person can flourish. Unfortunately, in our society this social expectation is pervasive: at school, in the workplace and in the home. So it is hard to avoid.

 

But for those with the extreme female brain, the disability might only show up in circumstances where the person is expected to be systematic or technical. The person with the extreme female brain would be system-blind. Fortunately, in our society there is considerable tolerance for such individuals. For example, if you were a child who was systemblind, your teachers might simply allow you to drop mathematics and science at the earliest possible stage, and encourage you to pursue your stronger subjects. If you were a systemblind adult and your car didn't work, you could just call the mechanic (who is likely to be at least a Type S). If your computer needs putting together, and you can't work out which lead goes into which socket, there are phone numbers that you can ring for technical support. And in evolutionary terms, there were likely equivalent people that a systemblind person could turn to for help when that person's home was destroyed in strong winds, or when their spear broke.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Empathy is the ability to understand other's feelings, so I would think critical thinking is required for that to happen. You may be thinking that empathic people should feel sad when they see that others are sad, or angry when others are angry. However, empathy is not the ability to mirror other's emotion. But you're right in that people under intense emotional states can act and think irrationally.

 

Edit:

I looked up "Simon Baron Cohen," and apparently someone else has already debunked the guy's ideas:

http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~ssiegel/papers/baron-cohen.html

Edited by mrburns2012
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Is this even a legitimate concept? Are "systemic" and "empathic" really opposites?

 

I don't think so. I can't necessarily see a difference between these two situations:

 

a) A is crying, therefore I assume she feels sad. If I pat her hand and say "there, there" she will stop crying.

 

b) The petrol gauge in my car is pointing to zero and the car won't start, therefore I assume it is out of petrol. If I put petrol in the car it will start.

 

In both cases I have observed some phenomena, come to a sensible conclusion and postulated a plausible solution, which may or may not be effective.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Empathy is the ability to understand other's feelings, so I would think critical thinking is required for that to happen.

 

In a more removed and mechanistic context, it is, but when I said empathy, I meant the intuitive ability most people have to detect others' emotions without having to be told what someone is feeling.

 

ASD people lack the ability to detect others' emotions, but they don't tend to lack critical thinking. It's more that they cannot instinctively sense how someone is feeling, by unconsciously noticing nuances of facial expression, tone of voice, etc.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 months later...

I looked up "Simon Baron Cohen," and apparently someone else has already debunked the guy's ideas:

http://www.people.fas.harvard.edu/~ssiegel/papers/baron-cohen.html

 

I agree with this debunking.

 

But I do believe there is a human mindset spectrum that exists from psychopath to 'empathiopath' (my creation :D). Any extreme holds it's own special problems, and I think such a person would find it pretty hard to survive independantly without being surrounded by firm, fair, regular type people.

 

"A group of highly empathetic individuals with the condition mirror-touch synaesthesia is helping researchers understand how humans are able to put themselves in another's shoes."

 

http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn12084-extreme-empathy-leaves-people-really-touched.html

Link to comment
Share on other sites

  • 3 weeks later...

Wow! Interesting. I wonder how far their brains can recreate other people's sensations? Would they, for example, feel the sensation of touching a surface with complex patterns if they saw someone else do it...

 

I'd like to know more...I'm gonna do a few searches.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.