Aspergers or BPD? Pick up social cues but don't understand them!

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earthbound_misfit

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I posted the following on an aspergers forum, and thought it might be useful to get an opinion from the BPD board... and see if anyone can relate. :)

Ok... I am female, late 20's, thinking I might have aspergers.

It is complicted by the fact that I have depression and anxiety, which seems to be from various traumatic experiences and feeling like I didn't fit in/was fundamentally unworthy, which made smaller things traumatic for me. I have memories of feeling like people were cross with me, saw me as 'a diffcult child', yet I tried so hard to be good and felt frustrated and misunderstood. I've always been incredibly sensitive though have tried (fairly unsuccessfully) to hide it, as I was expected to by others ('difficult child', 'attention-seeking', 'making a fuss about nothing'). I feel I need to analyse others' behaviour so I can understand it/predict it and don't accidentally get hurt or make a 'mistake'. For this reason I find it deeply distressing and unsettling if people seem inconsistent in their values/actions.

I've been diganosed in the past with Borderline Personality Disorder, athough I don't fit any 'dramatic' traits like severe self-harm, repeted suicide attempts etc., and disputed the diagnosis. I have been accused of being manipulative (not that that's actually a BPD symptom, but people think it is!) even though I've not been, and always try to do the best for people. I've tended to be too much of a people pleaser, in fact. I've found my experiences of the psychiatric system to be traumatising due to feeling utterly misunderstood, blamed for struggling/feeling depressed/overwhelmed, just generally wound up with their (in my view) twisted, illogical and compassionless version of reality. And the untoward experiences that has brought (being verbally abused when suicidal, being held in police cells, etc). I'm seeing a therapist (privately, NHS say I'm too complex/won't engage [aka 'submit']) to deal with the trauma/anxiety/depression side of things.

So... yeh. Anyway, in various googlings over the last few years I keep running into ASD stuff. One thing was a description of a meltdown, the sensory overload and the shame when people think you're doing it on purpose. It sounded like me. Yesterday I found a list (connected to this forum!) of female aspergers traits and I fitted almost every one.

Thing is, I did the 'Mind In The Eyes' test and scored exceptionally highly. As I recall, I only got two wrong. The funny thing as, one of the answers was that the man was supposedly showing 'hostility', whereas I'd selected 'fear'. Now surely, people act hostile because they are frightened. So by this measure I am even less autistic than the person who made the test! Or alternatively, perhaps this shows I am processing something on an intellectual level (ie. I've reasoned it through to some degree) even though it feels like a split second judgement. Whereas NT's might be expected to instinctively just see 'hostility'. If that makes any sense?

I realise there are a lot of criticisms of this particular test, so it may be meaningless, however, I seem to be good at reading people in real life too. In fact, in therapy I've come to realise just how much I pick up on little cues from people, and tend to obey them automatically (less so now!) So I will notice instantly if I upset or offend someone, or something like that. The thing is, I generally wouldn't have expected them to be upset/offended/whatever, and need them to explain what I've done wrong. I mean, I'll apologise instantly and feel guilty, I just won't really know what I'm apologising for. (It bugs me so much that people think I'm oversensitive or illogical - but they are too! It's just that they're all illogical in the same way!) Sometimes I sort of know what I've done 'wrong', and can add it too my future 'how to act' knowledge, but I feel a massive sense of injustice and unfairness because I don't think it actually is wrong. Importantly, I don't think I could have predicted from the person's apparent behaviour and values that they'd think it was wrong, either.

I feel like I want to take people to task on this; but only dare with very good friends who don't mind explaining. I can explain some stuff in my own head too; it's just that it often comes down to the fact that humans have denial and cognitive dissonance to protect their egos and psyches, somehow (which I guess is why people would rather fling around blame and things than face understanding). To me, understanding, clarity, and truth are important, with compassion and cuddles helping the parts that are sensitive and difficult to face.

There's also an element that's to do with group behaviour, which I don't seem to relate to the same way as others. I actually had someone explain to me a few months ago that someone was being (imo) unfair and treating me in a way I wouldn't expect this person to, because they had a loyalty to someone else that affected how they related to me. To me, that wouldn't have made a difference. I have had friends who don't like each other, I've counselled both halves of split couples before... it just requires honesty to say "ok, I'm keeping what you both say in confidence, and not engaging in 'bitching' just understanding/ a listening ear". This is another thing - people tend to open up to me. I get the impression that scares them a little and they push me away after, slightly. It's difficult to explain. Anyway, with this thing that happened and another friend explaining the loyalty stuff, I felt frightened and wound up that it seemed to mean 'truth' is just the side with the most people on, or the people who have known each other longest, regardless of actual rights and wrongs of the situation! Ended up looking up studies of group behaviour - did you know that administering oxytocin (the 'bonding' hormone) means the in-group are more co-operative with each other, but still not with the outgroup? That annoys me bigtime - humans are irrational and lack compassion... I hate to think of lonely people left out.

Anyway, so, I guess I'm after thoughts on:
(1) Do you think this could be aspergers? Bearing in mind...
(2) Does what I describe sound like aspergers in a female who's 'learnt' social interaction? Or something else?
(3) Thoughts on the Baron-Cohen 'Mind In The Eyes' test also welcome - especially the hostility/fear thing I mentioned.
 
SomersetScorpio

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Once again, I really relate to your post. :hug1:

I haven't researched autistic spectrum disorders much at all, but I think it's something that is hugely misunderstood.
It seems that the average majority can't quite understand how the brain of someone with an ASD works, and because of that, it's classed as a disorder.
My personal belief is that actually, people with ASDs are possibly more advanced in some ways than the average majority.
This ties into what you were saying about "truth".. that the majorities truth is considered truer because more people think it. It doesn't necessarily mean though that they are right.

I think that Mind In The Eyes test is a funny one. The fact that it is criticised goes to show that it's not necessarily a be-all-and-end-all of measuring how well a person can read another person.
To be fair, it is pretty weird to look at faces and not have any context of what's going on. :rolleyes:
I know that people's faces don't always tell the whole story and when i'm with someone, I pick up on how they really feel in a more intuitive way - and because this test is just a random photo, you don't get a chance to really feel into what's going on.
I very much agree though that fear and hostility are two sides to the same coin. They're both a reaction to a threat and I think one can very easily switch to the other.

Out of curiosity, I did a bit of searching and came across a list of female ASD symptoms. And I identify will most of them.. in fact I got a flutter in my chest when I looked at some of the symptoms because I thought I was the only one. :eek:
I tell you what, that list described me far more accurately than the list of symptoms for BPD.

This is just my opinion, but I do think that BPD and ASDs cross over. There seems to be an inherent and deep sensitivity in both "disorders", but I suppose they manifest in different ways.

It's really interesting. I now think i'm in the same boat as you. :hug:
 
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earthbound_misfit

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Once again, I really relate to your post. :hug1:
It' a shame we live so far apart, can imagine endless tea-and-debate sessions on the following subjects:
(1) Why we probably don't have BPD/why it's completely misunderstood
(2) Stupid things said by professionals
(3) What's BPD reallly all about?
(4) Role of trauma in psych diagnoses
(5) What is wrong with the world/psychiatry & why "BPD's" are superior
;) :clap:

before moving on to activites:
* Customised stress-relief dartboard making session, using pics, inspired by (2) above
* Using the DSM + ignorant heresay to diagnose professionals :D
* Going through our entire back catalogue of CMHT letters and correcting all the mistakes with red pen and snide comments in the margin. Definitely don't post them back.
:whistle:


My personal belief is that actually, people with ASDs are possibly more advanced in some ways than the average majority.
This ties into what you were saying about "truth".. that the majorities truth is considered truer because more people think it. It doesn't necessarily mean though that they are right.
I'm sure I read somewhere/many places a link between BPD and a strong sense of justice. (Friends have observed that my main objection to things is often to do with fairness.) This often seems to get linked to 'revenge', although I don't know if that's actually common in reality - it isn't for me. I just want the person to understand.

I will side with whoever I think is right in a situation - even if I do temper it with "Well, much as I hate to agree with [person]", if they're someone I disagree with in most other things. I always thought that people agreed with their friends because they had only heard one side of the story, or knew their friend much better so could understand their reactions better. But it seems there is often a loyalty that transcends that. (Hmm - now I'm wondering if friends agree with me out of loyalty, cos obviously I assume they agree because I'm right!)

I think it's to do with group behaviour, and perhaps we don't understand cos we don't fit in well enough to automatically prioritise that over other things. Or perhaps we don't fit it because we don't prioritise that! I think maybe we prioritise 'humanity' or even 'sentient beings' as our 'ingroup'. The divisions aren't there. (Funny for us who are accused of black-and-white thinking, eh?) Although prioritising 'humanity' not 'the ingroup' could be seen as a more enlightened way of being, it could also be seen as dysfunctional, stemming from the human fear of being outcast (dying if alone in the wild) so willing to join any group. Then again that sounds pretty functional to me!
:scratcheshead:

I very much agree though that fear and hostility are two sides to the same coin. They're both a reaction to a threat and I think one can very easily switch to the other.
I've been thinking about this more. I can't imagine feeling hostile without feeling frightened. So to me, fear is the emotion, whereas hostility is the outward action (chosen or instinctive) in response to the fear (as oppose to running away or being submissive). So it really feels like someone who just goes "ah, hostility" is reading the other person in a shallow way. In fact it's a way that affects them - "this person is hostile, that's a potential threat to me", etc. Whereas I'd see fear, I'd see how the other person is affected and want to reduce their fear to diffuse the situation, rather than ramp it up by reacting to the outward signs (hostility).

I'm not quite sure what all this means though! Is it because I'm used to only being hostile when frightened, so I automatically think that when 'reading' others? Or am I 'trained' by life to be super-sensitive to others' emotions in order to placate them and avoid anger/pain? It sems like identity and self-worth tie in here - do you 'defend' yourself by putting up a fight, or by attempting to aviod the conflict in the first place by - oh goodness me - manipulating (!!!!!!!) the other's emotions? Although it's the most powerless 'manipulation' ever, trying to please someone so they don't hurt you!

(Ha! - It's just occurred to me that DBT teaches us to manipulate people! They can stick that in their pipe and regulate it!)

I tell you what, that list described me far more accurately than the list of symptoms for BPD.
...
This is just my opinion, but I do think that BPD and ASDs cross over.
Looking at those aspergers symptoms... a lot of them/most of them (in women) can be interpreted as stemming from distress, needing comfort, not fitting in etc. So these 'symptoms' are not innate, but a response to how the person is treated by others. Following this reasoning, pretty much anything that (a) sets someone apart from their peers, and (b) is not understood by others (leading to hostility, punishment, isolation) could actually lead to very similar 'symptoms' later down the line.

I suppose this is why psychiatry groups things by outward symptoms, not aetiology. But it also shows why that's a useless and irrelevant way of attempting to understand or help the person!

So... People diagnosed BPD might be 'different' in the first place because we feel more? Like there's a whole layer of stuff that we're dealing with that others aren't tuned into. Both with our own feelings and others, and the subtle nonverbal (psychic?) cues that might go unnoticed by others. We notice and feel these things but are not complicit, or at least not complicit automatically and unknowingly like others. So aspergers involves not picking up on social cues, whereas we are so hyper-alert to them they overwhelm (whether that's caused by trauma or an innate sensitiveity that leads to trauma more easily). Both cause problems socially.

Um... ??
 
Darkred

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I don't think anyone should ever read from a list of symptoms and try to recognize them within themselves. Even more so when it comes down to BPD and ASD. Everyone has traits of both of them.

I'm diagnosed with both BPD and ASD and the nurses/doctors/therapists have always said there is a cross over between them so its difficult to know for example which of them is causing my anxiety at a specific time.

I did so many tests before I was given the diagosis of ASD and one of them was recognizing the emotion in someones eyes and I had to go through loads of pictures of eyes and say the emotion I thought they were feeling. I did very well on that and had no problems what so ever.

I think instead of questioning it and analyzing it as much as you have you should go to the people who are qualified to diagnose it and do the tests and just find out!!
 
Toasted Crumpet

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I'm sure I read somewhere/many places a link between BPD and a strong sense of justice.
I've had it on school reports since primary school that I have a strong sense of justice and injustice. Then again I grew up as a problem child.

I read the list of female asperger's traits here

help4aspergers.com - List of Female Asperger traits

and have to say I identify with most of them.

But I don't think I have it, I think I must be looking for a way out of being BPD. I grew up in a classically BPD-inducing family so think it likely I have that even though I don't meet all the DSM criteria and think my diagnosis was the result of heuristic counter-transference.

I don't flap my hands when happy - but then I don't know what happy is really so how do I know?

Hmm, dunno.

Sorry this doesn't help you much just sharing.
 
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earthbound_misfit

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I think instead of questioning it and analyzing it as much as you have you should go to the people who are qualified to diagnose it and do the tests and just find out!!
I find this stuff interesing, so I enjoy questioning and analyzing. And I can't just saunter into the GP's and ask to be tested. They will want to know why; I need to present a convincing argument so they don't just fob me off. I initially thought difficulty reading facial expressions/subtle body language was a central factor - if that was the case I couldn't possibly have it. I'm already treated as a complete attention-seeking waste of time by the mental health team - they'd think I was being manipulative or something if I asked about aspergers without good cause.
I don't actually see anyone from the mental health team, and they've asked my GP not to refer me again, so they'll be angry if they have to do anything, I need to be very sure of my ground.
 
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earthbound_misfit

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I've had it on school reports since primary school that I have a strong sense of justice and injustice. Then again I grew up as a problem child.
Isn't it weird that a child with a strong sense of justice/injustice is regarded as a probem?

Time for the Indigo Children theory, methinks :) Not that I believe it, but hey...
 
SomersetScorpio

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Time for the Indigo Children theory, methinks :) Not that I believe it, but hey...
Ah yeah, it's an interesting one.
I am a bit cynical of the "indigo child" thing, but I am a believer that there are old souls who reincarnate. An indigo child is probably someone who has already lived many lives.
Err, I do realise the contradiction and wackiness of my own theory. :doh:

Mind you, a lot of what i've read about Indigo Children makes me think that even if it were a real phenomenon, i'm not one any way.
There's a lot of stuff about not following rules and having little regard for authority, which actually isn't like me now or like how I was as a child.
 
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glimmerofhope

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I can relate to you in so many ways. I was diagnosed almost 9 years ago with bipolar disorder but I too have spent a lot of time trying to convince professionals that I have asperger's (although Asperger's no longer exists since DMV V came out.) Regardless, I feel that I have trouble understanding social cues. It has been a struggle for me for years and I often find that I seem to be acting strange to others or show strange responses to others. I also have trouble with keeping eye contact. I recognize that the way I interact with others is a bit off. I also think that you are incredibly intelligent and you use this as a weapon against yourself. You drive yourself crazy trying to explain everything wrong with yourself with reason. You want to find the answers to everything. I am this way as well and being educated in psychology and PSR on a University level has driven me to question everything about myself and my mind. Sometimes ignorance is bliss.
 
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topcat7007

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Morning, a very interesting thread in which I can relate to. I have only recently been diagnosed with BPD & am currently waiting to start therapy. I have always wondered if I am on the autistic spectrum but have never received a diagnosis. After looking at the table of symptoms of a female with aspergers, I have got a number of symptoms. I don't want to necessarily be diagnosed with another illness but it's nice to have some understanding that my issues maybe down to having BPD & aspergers. I find that some people around me are having problems with my behaviours but I can't help it. This thread has provided me some comfort in knowing that I am not alone. One thing I would like to ask is does any one suffer with change? For example if plans change during the day are you able to handle it? I seem to suffer & can't help the feeling that I am loosing control. I'd be interested to hear your thoughts x
 
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earthbound_misfit

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I can find it quite hard if plans change. It depends on the plans and how tired/depressed I am already though. Sometimes the tiniest thing can confuse and panic me, if it changes everything else around it. This includes things like different plans requiring different clothes, or needing to eat within certain times. Not that I do any of these things at specific times, it's more like knowing "Well, if that's happenning later now, I should have eaten a bigger lunch/left time to cook before I go, because I'll be ravenous by the end".

Struggling with plans changing is an aspergers trait. I would suggest trying to have an assessment if at all possible. Having aspergers but being diagnosed BPD would be very unhelpful/potentially really damaging. This is because professionals can often blame those diagnosed BPD for their symptoms, and will potentially treat you very badly if their BPD treatments don't work.

Apsergers is not an illness, it is a way of being that differs from the majority.
 
bluemoon2

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I relate to this as well. I have just been told to expect a diagnosis of BPD but I identify with none of it's traits and found that I identify a lot with Aspergers. Maybe the two cross-over with simular symptoms/personality traits? I have been told to research BPD by my nurses but all I seem to find is the dramatic symptoms of BPD which I do not have - there doesn't seem to be very much information online on BPD.
 
SomersetScorpio

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I relate to this as well. I have just been told to expect a diagnosis of BPD but I identify with none of it's traits and found that I identify a lot with Aspergers. Maybe the two cross-over with simular symptoms/personality traits? I have been told to research BPD by my nurses but all I seem to find is the dramatic symptoms of BPD which I do not have - there doesn't seem to be very much information online on BPD.
I'm surprised that a nurse advised you to research BPD.. it doesn't seem very professional.
Surely she should give you any information you need.

The danger of researching BPD online is that you'll come across inaccurate information and it's not uncommon to come across some really upsetting material on the subject of BPD.

I very much relate to what you're saying in that I don't experience the more dramatic symptoms either and i'm yet to come across information on BPD that fits me at all.

I do think that there must be a cross-over between the two. I'm obviously not an expert and i'm sure an expert would tell you otherwise, but i'm convinced there's something in this.

Anyway, I hope you don't get a diagnosis of BPD Arctica.. it sounds like it's inaccurate and i'm not going to lie, it's not an easy diagnosis to have. :unsure:
 
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Helena1

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don't people usually learn how to interpret social cues when they are young. maybe you missed out on that and need to learn it now.
 
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