Ok promised explanation on what anti-social empathy is (re: my earlier thread).

1) David Schnarch defines empathy as simply the ability to interpret the thoughts and emotions of another person/creature. This is an inherent ability that everyone has, it is reptilian brain stuff- it's how you look at a snarling dog and know it's a good idea to back off.

· · Tusky · 2 · 8 · 7

2) (I have been unpacking this in regards to autism since many claim autism is about a lack of empathy yet I don't think this is the case, I think it has more to do with understanding and knowing unspoken social rules that are not logically consistent)

3) This understanding of empathy is distinct from what we commonly think of as empathy- what we commonly think of as empathy is actually compassion or what Schnarch calls pro-social empathy. Empathy itself is simply a neutral, universal ability to pick up on what someone is thinking/feeling.

4) Anti-social empathy in this case is using one's ability for harm or for self-serving purposes. Sometimes it's about literally getting pleasure from hurting someone or watching someone get hurt (schadenfreude is one example given). You do/witness something that's hurtful and since you are able to read someone else's response you get pleasure from that.

5) Sometimes it can be used narcissistically, to manipulate others to boost your ego. You might get a boost from harassing someone, making someone look or feel unintelligent so you feel smart and powerful. It can also be used for machiavellian purposes. You use your ability to manipulate to gain power and status and get ahead.

6) By the way these are all things that THRIVE under capitalism, white supremacy, patriarchy, etc. Look at any of these things and they directly translate to tools of dominance and exploitation.

You can go back to my other thread to see how it relates to what I was talking about there but hopefully that adds some context.

@wetpaper It's such a weird and difficult thing to navigate. I was recently trying to defend against biological determinism and ended up feeling a little too good about making myself look smart at someone's expense. It was unintentional and subtly done. I'm pretty sure they did not feel attacked, but it left me with with a strange mix of pride and guilt and wondering how I could have handled it more selflessly.

@Quare I've definitely been there! Before reading Brain Talk I don't think I really understood just how common this stuff is, let alone realized how much I personally do stuff like this. I have a friend who studied with David Schnarch and tells about how a few days into training everyone was looking pretty distressed and he said something along the lines of if by that point they hadn't begun to realize some unflattering things about themselves he'd be pretty worried.

@wetpaper Definitely going to look into getting a copy.

@wetpaper you've definitely piqued my interest in the Brain Talk book. Especially from the autistic perspective. Trying to learn more and more about how I relate to others in relationships, communities, and society. Many holes to fall into!

Does he specifically mention autism in it? Do you find parts that suffer from not having an autism-specific analysis?

@nicksellen he does mention autism but he is pretty ignorant on it I think. I think he's (rightly) skeptical of the notion that we lack empathy, and hasn't pressed much further in learning about autism and what it is so to me his comments about it came off pretty ignorant. That said I don't hold it against him because his work was in sex and marital therapy, trauma and neurobiology and not autism. Just good to go into reading it taking his comments about autism with a grain of salt.

@wetpaper thank you for adding an explanation! this is really interesting. i've been thinking and reading about call outs/cancelling for a while now, trying to understand the mechanisms of it and how we can find better ways to address harm.

@frogwatching this has been like a many years long struggle for me! I've been practicing and studying TJ for 8 years and until I read Schnarch's work, none of it ever really clicked together for me quite this cohesively. I finally understand how people can intervene and remain in touch with people's humanity and it's become my life goal to embody that in any way I can.

@wetpaper I will definitely check out the books you mentioned. what does TJ stand for?

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