Normally when I think about Aspies and being Aspie, I think of us as the ones with superpowers – being logical, being exact, being effortlessly quirky. However, this week I learned about a neurotypical (NT) superpower that made me green with envy – that of being able to literally sense other people’s emotions.
I knew I had heard that NTs were supposed to ‘know’ how other people felt without being told, but I’d never really thought about *how* they did it. Then when my counsellor was telling me that I seemed a lot brighter and more relaxed than the last few times she’d seen me, she went a bit further. She said that she feels my emotions – she *FEELS* them!
She can sense extra or different emotions that she knows aren’t hers, in something called counter-transference (which I had also heard of, but also not given much thought). I don’t think I am quite conveying how much that blew my mind, my eyes nearly went out on stalks. It was like she’d told me she had x-ray vision and could see through walls. I can barely detect my own emotions, so the concept of feeling someone else’s, knowing they’re someone else’s, and being able to explain them to the person concerned, seems amazing to me! It also made it much more real than just being told ‘NTs know how each other are feeling’.
I know counsellors have extensive training, but this is something I would be incapable of doing even after a lot of training. I might become a little better at not flying off the handle when my partner comes home irritable, and I become irritable because I have somehow ‘caught’ it off him and attributed it to myself (that’s the closest example I could find to think about what it might be like). However, I could not do what she does and I really wish I could! I need the step by step walk me through it – tell me, show me or make it obvious.
I spend a lot of time worrying about how other people are feeling, and whether they are ok, so it would really help me to understand and look after those I care about. If I seem to ignore others’ emotions, it is because I don’t know how they are feeling, not because I don’t care. This discovery has definitely put to bed anything wonderings I had about whether I should have trained in a clinical role, it would be like trying to teach dancing with no sense of rhythm – possible, but why would you?
Now I’m not saying that all NTs can necessarily perform this feat, well or at all – I’ve had plenty of well-meaning but completely clueless people tell me (incorrectly) how I am feeling (I’m also not saying that no Aspies can do this, because not all Aspies have alexithymia and they might have better spidey senses than me…). But I do hope that people who can feel others’ emotions (I am deliberately avoiding the word ‘empathy‘, you may have noticed) realise they have a superpower, and don’t assume everyone can do it. And that they use their powers for good.
Anyway, I know I haven’t written for a while (I’ve written drafts, but seem to have become afraid of pushing the ‘publish’ button), so I thought I would share that with you.
© Catastraspie, 2013.