Autistics vs. Socipaths

I want to make a bold proposition: the polar opposite of the autistic is the sociopath.

The autistic is internally chaotic and thus attempts to order the world–we seek order and seek to create order. That’s why young autistics in particular love to line things up (or make lists, as I did, which is really the same thing). It’s why we love structure in our lives and prefer for things to be predictable. Chaos added to chaos is just too much.

The sociopath is internally overly-ordered and thus attempts to bring chaos to the world–they seek chaos and seek to create chaos. They are extreme risk-takers and thrill-seekers. In its healthiest forms, they may climb mountains; in its unhealthiest forms, they may be serial killers. (Of course, not all thrill-seekers are sociopaths, though we do know that thrill-seekers do need more stimulation than does the average person.)

Each is seeking to balance order and disorder, as all of nature, from the level of quantum physics up through living things, human psychology, and human societies, does. When the internal world isn’t both ordered and disordered simultaneously, but is imbalanced in one direction or the other, balance in the external world is sought.

We do not have the sociopathic equivalent of the severe autistic because while too much chaos can make one unresponsive, too much order won’t have the same effect.

If my thesis is true, the sociopathic brain should be dominated by negative feedback (too much glutamine, too few synapses, etc.) and thus need stimulation (challenges). Challenges require strategies, so we should expect sociopathic people to be more strategic. We would also expect them to be more “social” and more outgoing and charming as a result. As a result, sociopaths both tend to be attracted to positions of power, and people tend to reward them by giving them power. You will find an extremely high percentage of politicians and CEOs to be sociopaths (though sociopathic CEOs also tend to be the least effective because of their tendency to take risks and not actually care about anyone else).

The autistic brain seems to be dominated by positive feedback (too much glutamate, too many synapses, etc.) and thus need a more calming atmosphere (which is why challenges can frustrate autistics). Autistics don’t seem to be particularly good at strategy, but tend to be creative problem solvers (mostly to try to order everything). They would then also be more likely to be introverts and anti-social, though this primarily comes about because we’re perceived as “socially awkward” by neurotypicals.

 

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6 thoughts on “Autistics vs. Socipaths

  1. This concept of negative vs. positive feedback systems, combined with the search for equilibrium in the environment is very compelling. It lines up very well with my experiences in life, particularly in business. I am autistic, and a very skilled problem solver in that context. I work as a consultant, and have worked with several business leaders who fit your other description quite well. It never really works out, because my inner drive is to bring order and create systems that produce a predictable result, according to plan. They tend to want to change direction willy-nilly and are always searching for the “magic bullet.” I hope you continue to explore this topic in future posts.

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    1. Thanks for sharing your experience. I’m not surprised at that. The scientist and scholar (such as myself) also seeks to “bring order to the world” in trying to understand it ,so I likely will continue this exploration.

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  2. I’m struggling a little bit with this post of yours.

    I’ve been married to someone with Narcissistic Personality Disorder (NPD,) which falls on the spectrum for sociopaths and psychopaths. I’m not sure I agree with your statement that a sociopath is internally overly ordered. But this is just based on my own exposure to and experience with a narcissist.

    The narc in my life was anything but organized. He could hardly keep track of tasks, responsibilities, commitments, etc. If he could keep track of any of those, it was because there was an added benefit for himself, like an event that would make him look good or where he could take advantage of others or use them. He was anything but a risk-taker or thrill-seeker. Yes, he pretended to be good at rock climbing, mountain biking, skiing, and other outdoorsy activities when, in fact, he was terrible at them. It was more of a show-off thing, part of his false persona, his charm, to get other people to think highly of him, how successful he was, something he was not at all. Moreover, his own image of himself couldn’t have been as far from reality. He was delusional about himself and his grandiose self.

    What I do agree with you about is when you say that their brain is dominated by negative feedback. It is the main reason why they do what they do, which is put down other people in order to raise themselves up. They feel and believe themselves to be superior, entitled. Their accomplishments, if they did accomplish anything, they are either a fantasy, or shallow at best, not real accomplishments. Their behaviour and treatment of others is fueled by an insatiable need to feel better and above all and everyone else. They are more of a Dr. Jekill and Mr. Hyde type of person. They are completely different when they are in a social setting in comparison to how they are behind closed doors and with those closer to them. They take their closest and more important relationships for granted and they only exist to feed on their own egocentric needs.

    That type of personality has a constant internal conflict that doesn’t allow them to accept the bad parts of themselves. They go from one extreme to the other one, from believing that they are the best of the best to “look at you, you rotten piece of poop, how could you do that?” This internal conflict can make many of them violent as they are not equipped with the maturity to deal with and accept their bad parts, like any normal person would do.

    They lie, they cheat, they are incapable of feeling empathy or compasion. While they radiate charm, their emotions are actually shallow. They are impulsive. They feel no remorse or guilt whatsover. In their mind, hurting others is justified because they think about themselves as victims and not at fault. They are irresponsible, manipulative. Nothing is ever their fault and they will not take responsibility for their misdeeds.

    In their quest to control the environment and the internal chaos they experience, many of them can suffer from OCD. Nothing in their lives can be less than perfect. Their standards are set so high that they are impossible to reach. And don’t you dare touch something or put it in a different way than what they believe to be the right way because they will lash at you. An extreme case of this trait was depicted in the film “Sleeping with the Enemy,” with Julia Roberts.

    But once again, this has been my personal experience with narcissistic people. I am not an expert in psychology. But I had to learn and I’m still trying to learn as much as I can about Narcissistic Personality Disorder as I share a child with a narc and I need to be equipped with information so as I can act accordingly to whichever twisted plot he may throw at me and our child.

    With all of that said, I still like your approach. It is always interesting to learn from other people’s experiences and points of view. Thank you for sharing!

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    1. Don’t mistake the internal for the external expressions. Also, these things can get expressed in different ways. Some may simply invent fantastic adventures while actually avoiding them. “Twisted plots” are how they create chaos in the world.

      Now, when I use “positive feedback” and “negative feedback,” I”m using it in the system sense. It’s not like “that was some nice positive feedback about my poem.” Negative feedback is like a house thermostat. When it gets off the set temperature, it either heats up or cools down to get back to that temperature. Positive feedback causes things to get chaotic. But these are internal states in the person.

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