No, autism and psychopathy are NOT the same!

So I’ve been reading Adam West’s serialised deconstruction of “Atlas Shrugged” on his Daylight Atheism blog.
One thing about Rand’s protagonists is abundantly clear – they are all psychopaths.
In the comments section, one misguided soul asked if Rand was maybe autistic. The short answer is no. Another example of this misguided but widely held belief is the Ben Affleck starrer “The Accountant“, where the lead character is an autistic who is an accountant working for organised criminals, and a stone cold murderer.
The association of autism with psychopathy is fractally wrong. It misunderstands autism, empathy, psychopathy, and empathy’s relationship to autism and psychopathy.
There are two broad types of empathy: affective and cognitive. Affective empathy is the capacity to respond with an appropriate emotion to another’s mental states, including the ability to feel what others feel. Cognitive empathy is the ability to understand what somebody else is thinking or feeling. Autistics score poorly on cognitive empathy but highly on affective empathy. They are bad at working out what other are thinking or feeling, but feel it intensely when they do. Psychopaths are literally the opposite: they score highly on cognitive empathy but minimally on affective empathy. They can easily work out what others are thinking or feeling, but hardly feel it themselves. And this is what makes them so dangerous.
Autistics are not psychopaths. Please stop making that mistake.


About autismjungle

I am a Software Test Analyst. Shortly before I turned 21 I was officially diagnosed, although I had long suspected I was autistic. Welcome to my blog
This entry was posted in Autism Awareness, Background Data and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.