Asperger Profiles: Emotions and Empathy

By AANE Staff

People with Asperger profiles absolutely do have feelings, although they may have difficulty identifying and discussing them. In fact, many feelings – such as fear, anger and joy – seem to be experienced more intensely by those with Asperger profiles than by average people. In addition, some individuals with Asperger profiles report that they deeply internalize others’ feelings, so that if someone else is upset, they themselves will quickly become upset as well. This appears to happen more in those with Asperger profiles than with the general population. People with Asperger profiles may not show their feelings in the same way, or to the same extent, as those without. They may manifest feelings less outwardly, or their facial expression might not match what the individual is feeling inside.

People with Asperger profiles do have empathy, despite an unfortunate stigma that suggests otherwise. In fact, in a recent study published in Nature’s Scientific Reports, social neuroscience researcher Dr. Indrajeet Patil said, “We found that autistic individuals did not in any way differ from healthy controls in terms of their moral decision. Indeed, they made moral decisions which indicated that they were on average more averse to causing harm to others, even if this produced better outcomes.” Those with Asperger profiles might not be recognized for their empathetic qualities, due to variation in the ways empathy is felt and expressed. Some people feel deep empathy, but do not outwardly communicate these sentiments through facial expressions or language. Some people come to empathy through intellectual processes, using logic and reasoning to arrive at the feelings. It is also important to keep in mind that many people with Asperger profiles have been bullied or excluded by peers in the past and might therefore be guarded around people, which could appear as lack of empathy. People with Asperger profiles can be and are extremely caring individuals; in fact, it is particularly common for those with the profile to feel and exhibit deep concern for human welfare, animal rights, environmental protection, and other global and humanitarian causes.