Since I began exploring psychopathy as it looks and is defined by non-psychopaths, one of the things that were new to me was how often some people seem to confuse Psychopathy with Asperger Syndrome. It happened so frequently that I thought it natural to see if I could find out what Asperger Syndrome really is and what, if any, comparison there is between the two conditions.
I have to say that I still do not quite understand what Autism is. But I know that Asperger Syndrome is a form of what is called High Functioning Autism. I also learned that the name Asperger’s Syndrome was given this condition by the Austrian psychiatrist who first wrote and published a report on the phenomenon, Hans Asperger. What I found most interesting at first was his definition of Asperger Syndrome, which he called Psychopathic Autism – or Autistic Psychopathy.
This suggests there may indeed be some things the two conditions have in common, but which?… I have found a few things that psychopaths and Aspies (the nick used by people with Asperger Syndrome about themselves) share, but there are also quite a few things that seem to be even more different for each of our groups than they are for the majority of people.
I have made this tentative list…
- Aspies present a certain lack of empathy, or what is called a limited range of shallow emotions.
- Aspies have a normal capacity to feel Remorse.
- Aspies will usually have one or a few persons they do have strong empathy for. With the same persons they can also have other common emotions such as a strong sense of loyalty.
- Aspies can be utterly selfless, either to another person or group of people, or to an idea or ideology.
- Aspies have an inward directed attention and typically are unskilled with observing and reading social behavior, mannerism, and psychological dynamics in people around them.
- Some Aspies ‘adopt’ certain mannerisms that they see in others, but with lack of skill and have great difficulty with making it work within social settings.
- Aspies can have an astonishing ability to focus and will often develop great expertise within a certain field of knowledge, usually one that centers around precision and plentiful detail.
- Aspies will specialize in a ‘special interest’ that to others seem ‘narrow’ (f.x. British steam trains of the years between 1850 and 1920).
- Aspies excell with things that have to do with scientific and mathematical data.
- Aspies do very typically feel strongly about justice and truth.
- Aspies thrive with predictability, dislike change and prefer to live a structured, well organized life.
- Aspies often struggle with Anxiety, and sometimes with Anger.
- Psychopaths present a certain lack of empathy, or what is called a limited range of shallow emotions.
- Psychopaths lack emotional capacity to feel Remorse.
- Psychopaths either have very limited empathy or no empathy, the lack of emotion does not have exceptions and extend to friends and family members.
- Loyalty is too superficial in psychopaths to qualify as real loyalty because it will always be based in self-serving motives. Deep commitment to an ideology will never precede selfishness.
- Psychopaths have an outward directed attention and have an adept ability to observe and read social behavior, mannerism, and the psychological dynamics in people around them.
- Psychopaths adopt mannerisms that we observe in others, and we switch with ease between an arsenal of styles according to social circumstances.
- Psychopaths can have an astonishing ability to focus and will often develop limited expertise in several fields of knowledge, but interest tends to be short lived, and the expertise suffers from lack of precision and detail.
- Psychopaths often have numerous interests which develop over night and disappear as quickly.
- Psychopaths typically excel with things to do with inter-personal mechanics and communication.
- Psychopaths are very typically unusually adept liars and do not have an emotional attachment to any principle of truth or justice.
- Psychopaths thrive with change, excitement and “living on the edge” or “living in the fast lane”.
- Psychopaths have very low or absent Anxiety, but do sometimes struggle with Anger.
The conclusion seems to be that whereas people with Asperger’s Syndrome no doubt can present with Antisocial Personality Disorder (AsPD), it is not possible to be an Aspie and also a Psychopath.