(Forwarded by a friend)
The power of hyper perception
The “beautiful minds” of the “autists” are the absolute forefront of a conflict to “reconstruct reality”, since collective perception of what is real has been deliberately subverted over a long period of time. Autists have the easiest perception of what is truly happening, and are the least susceptible to propaganda and emotional appeals. We are the most resistant to being “hived off”.
This is rooted in how we process information, as described in “When the world becomes ‘too real’: a Bayesian explanation of autistic perception” by Elizabeth Pellicano and David Burr: “We suggest specifically that attenuated Bayesian priors – ‘hypo-priors’ – may be responsible for the unique perceptual experience of autistic people, leading to a tendency to perceive the world more accurately rather than modulated by prior experience.“
The idea of a “hypo-prior” is that you only have a weak attachment to existing beliefs when filtering incoming data. I will explore this in more detail below. Philosophers like Jiddu Krishnamurti have referred to this sense of “suspending evaluation” (to see things how they really are) as the “freedom from the known”. It is both an innate capability, and a skill that can be developed.
Note that intelligence has many facets, and that there is nothing innately superior or inferior to having (or lacking) this specific perceptual bias. It comes with costs as well as benefits. My own sense is that non-autists are more adept at working “within paradigm” (filtering things fast that do not fit the expected reality), whereas autists seem better at going “cross paradigm” (deferring choices of relevance).
The price of attachment to objective reality
The autist gifts of hyper focus and hyper perception come with a VERY painful side effect in our present cultural and geopolitical situation: you are often isolated from the mainstream, and are forced to watch everyone else being psychologically abused by those in power, which itself is traumatising. Furthermore, the deliberate corruption of meaning by the media, religion, education turns an already difficult task of “fitting in” for high-functioning autists much harder, since the “baseline” social consensus has been moved so far away from any objective reality.
The enemy is conducting a form of attrition warfare on the information battlefield, and the press gaslighting, mask wearing, TV propaganda, etc is designed to break down their opposition. Whilst those of the light are winning against the darkness, it comes at a huge price: “Autists have a proverbial burnout from too much data, too much empathy, too much knowing the darkest things and many times, when we rest from that, we get the anxiety and the sorrow of losing the calming hyperfocus this journey provides. Too much stimulation and too much vicarious pain.”
Battle fatigue for autists during information war
The nature of being an “autist” is poorly understood not just by the mainstream, but by those “on the spectrum” themselves. Luckily I have encountered an autist whose obsession is to describe and define her own condition, to the benefit of us all. Here I share what I have learned from her:
“Autists” are “context blind”, and struggle to deal with multiple contexts and changes of context, especially in the social. So for me dealing with lots of consulting clients and customers at once is very hard work. Once something is in my head, I cannot stop thinking about it and trying to solve the client’s problem. Compartmentalisation of context is hard and everything is connected across contexts. (CD: Yep. And it’s impossible. So I don’t fight it – I try to figure out how to use it. It produces mindfulness instead of frustration.)
OCD for information congruence
Because of the struggle to manage ambiguity, conflicting data, and multiple variables and contexts, there is a basic need for “autists” to model the world in order to be able to make choices and function. Without this conceptual “scaffolding”, normal life becomes impossible. This can be seen in my essays; it is me trying to reconcile the data for my own sake, so I can proceed “logically” without inner chaos. As a collateral benefit, other people find the “maps” and “models” I make extremely useful. I am an accomplished systematiser because I have no alternative.? (CD: Correct: Systematizing is necessary. So again, I”m going to make the argument that evolution provided human groups with a division of not only labor, but sensory-perception and cognition and our role as autists is error detection on the edges.)
Inertia and monotropism
We find it hard to get into a task, but once in it are absolutely focused on it (monotropism), but then find it hard to move on. So I can’t just sit down and decide to write an essay; I will freeze with anxiety. I have to wait until I feel calm and ready, then I can blast out all my thoughts in flow. Sometimes I can be very productive, but a simple task like tax admin can take me all day as the inner resistance is so high, and I will procrastinate endlessly.? (CD: My technique is to keep a set of projects going so that I always have something to work on but never have to force myself to work on anything. This ends up like working a monumental painting where you keep five paintings going and work on what inspires you at the moment. Otherwise, i just get angry with myself if I can’t focus on what my brain doesn’t want to.)
Divergent preference for inputs
The “genius” aspect of high-functioning Aspie types comes from a wild associative memory and hyper perception of everything. This is because the usual filters that make people delay sense-making of most inputs are missing. My photography reflects this, as I notice tiny details other people would not perceive. Everything sparks off a train of thought, and there is no off switch. It is quite exhausting. (Yes. I tell people I have to protect myself from certain kinds of ideas and situations because there is no off switch and my brain will work on the problem until it’s solved even if I don’t want it to.)
?Inside/outside cognitive focus
We autists struggle to integrate the inner and outer worlds, but can consciously switch between the two [inner and outer worlds]. I noticed this around 2008, when my then partner (who was a business school professor) noted how I could disassociate at will when most could not. The downside is that this imposes a lot of draining cognitive cost to choose where to focus.?
The lack of sensemaking filters also applies in the emotional. We are “sponges” for the feelings of others. It can seem like being a little remote or cold at times, as there is a need to distance oneself from the distress of others for self-protection. I cannot watch horror movies, for example, as there’s no way for me to tell myself it is “only acting”. (CD: Omg this is so true.)
Window of tolerance
Autists have a “window” between “hyper stimulation” and “hypo stimulation” where we can function. This window can widen or narrow depending on circumstances. (My present circumstances with endless deplatforming are narrowing it.) If we go “hyper” we risk a “crash” and end up semi-catatonic. The resulting “duvet days” that are like depression, but from neurological overload.? (CD: Exactly)
Stimming and soothing
To maintain focus we “self-stimulate”; I wore out the left shift key and aluminium casing of my old laptop from the repeated tapping and rubbing. I am a visual self-stimulator more than physical, so I do photography walks as a mental health activity. This is also a form of self-soothing of my overstimulated nervous system. It is not just because I fancy doing “art”; it is basic and necessary self care.? (CD: I see this as getting control of auto association – in my behavior I seek to write because writing controls my context. If not I just try to sleep.)
Part of the condition is a wish to drive activity from inner self, and not from the outer world. So the torrent of correspondence I am receiving from being a public figure is particularly exhausting. Scheduled events are demands, too. The corporate world is hell for the autist, since it is demand-driven, which is why I’ve probably switched to being an artist. I like to have my days free from time constraints and specific commitments. I still work hard, just it has to be driven by interest to be “affordable” neurologically.? (CD: Completely agree.)
Autists have to put an unconscious effort into pretending to fit into the normal social world and how most people relate. This is called “masking”, and takes yet more energy. I was good at it in my 20s and 30s, and am getting less good with time… which brings us to… (CD; I get exhausted on stage but I got good at socialization and I love it. So again, this can be overcome, You just have to choose to bear the pain of training yourself, for the future benefits despite the present stress. )
As “autists” age we get “more autistic”. I used to be able to go to movies, but now it is totally overwhelming for my senses, for example. I am 50 next year, and I’m finding it harder to “mask”. I get better and better at the few things I am brilliant at, and less and less good at those aspects of life I rarely practise now. Don’t ask me to do DIY jobs, it will take forever to complete. (CD: My experience has been the opposite. I have mindfulness. As I get older I have developed more mindfulness. I think this is the problem. All people need a means of mindfulness, and autists especially. The problem is ‘intrusive thoughts and intense experience’ that occurs when I’m tired. It’s doubly exhausting.)
Sensory overload and torture
The bottom line of all this is that sensory overload becomes frequent. This is kind of torment — literally experienced as torture. Too many demands, contexts, inputs, distractions, incongruencies… leading to meltdown. It is exactly what they do in dungeons of “black site” prisons to break people. This is particularly excruciating in a world where you can perceive the perception failures of other people, due to having extended cognition they lack.? (Again this is the reason for learning mindfulness – by whatever method you can that’s not woo woo.)
There is a strong correlation between being an “autist” and PSTD. We are all super-sensitive people traumatised by our society, and forced into a variety of often unhelpful and unhealthy coping strategies. One medical study tried to recruit untraumatized autistic people, and they couldn’t find any. (CD: yes I have trauma symptoms. the fact is that the situations were traumatic for anyone. But I’m competitive and did them anyway. So I paid a higher traumatic price.)