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Does solitude breed insanity?

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Does solitude breed insanity?

Posted by Autist on May 01, 2003 at 01:31:10:

I know this is a health forum and not a mental health forum, but I am here regardless. Maybe one of you has a pearl of wisdom.

At 18 I was diagnosed with Asperger's syndrome. I seemed to be fairly normal until age 7 or 8, when after a bout with strep throat I became nervous - I had a scrape on my nose for 4 years because I scratched at the spot, evening making new scrapes -, had frequent tantrums, and was a severe hypochondriac - my signature was to clutch my chest every few minutes to make sure my heart was beating. I had few to no friends until age 20. All my girlfriends have said that I am intelligent (my primary value to seemingly everyone), understanding, funny, but lacking in empathy and in any ability to socialize with more than one person at a time. I've been told I'm not human, and by another that in a world full of circles of people, I am a circle unto myself.
I don't like people, in general. More often than not they are wasting my time - time that would be spend pursuing my array of interests. Either that or I am overly critical of their loopholes and imperfections. I spend days, weeks, and sometimes months in front of my computer (that's my job, living at home working on my computer) without leaving the house except to buy food. Even then, I am grossly underweight as I either forget to eat, don't want to be interrupted to eat, or don't want to go outside to get food. I believe my family and friends think I am anorexic. I find their ridiculously transparent passive aggressive comments insulting, though I know it stems from care. As if I wasn't the least bit self aware. Ah yes, my therapist always said I was unusually self aware. Perhaps he meant to say narcissistic?
I cannot maintain small talk. I don't understand why it even exists. I often watch others shuffle their feet uncomfortably as I give them silence. Yet I love banter. My friends, the few relationships I haven't self destructed, all find me to be overly critical and controlling - insomuch as I am a control freak of the self, and when I become emotionally attached to someone I realize that I cannot control their feelings for me and become difficult. Oh, and I'm told I overanalyze everything.
What's going on? I'm 23, attractive, and I desperately want relationships, but I dislike spending time with most if not all people, and I'm terrified of the outside world or of making public mistakes. It has gotten to the point where I don't even bother getting out of bed for the better half of the day, and simply stay in and daydream.
Agoraphobic, depressed perfectionist with Asperger's syndrome? Hey, I hear Isaac Newton might have had Asperger's. Kind of takes the gravity out of my situation. But honestly, I am wondering if I simply am not wired for being social. I am completely and utterly uninterested in being a part of society. But I'd like to be a part of someone else, and likewise. At this point I have no love in my life. All interest is cerebral or hopeful in nature.
Also, I ramble a lot. Comes from never talking to anyone, so you are getting what I'm thinking.



Re: Does solitude breed insanity?

Posted by Sonja on May 01, 2003 at 03:24:31:

In Reply to: Does solitude breed insanity? posted by Autist on May 01, 2003 at 01:31:10:

Does solitude breed insanity? No, it doesn't. But social isolation does create communicative problems, and ultimately, relationship problems.

I don't know if you really have Asperger's. To me, you sound more like someone with Sensitive personality disorder. (Disorder being too strong a word, it is just a classification). In sensitive personality, there is a strong fear not so much of being ridiculed, but of not knowing what to say in a difficult situation. Also a strong desire to stay on the side.

The solution is as simple as it is difficult. It involves going out, getting genuinely interested in people, dating. It involves learning skills that you are not so good at, but for all I know, no one will ever notice but you. I don't think you have a disorder even. Let's say there is a side of you that is underdeveloped. Apply your learning potential to learning to socialise and watch in amazement what happens. I don't think you should practice small talk, nor force yourself to spend time with people you have nothing in common with, ever. But if you start socialising, sooner or later you will meet people you like. Now, how do I know? I am married to a guy who resembles you.

You seem to have a strong rational mind, but it is not the whole of you. Your emotional self also needs a chance. You can't isolate yourself forever. You'll get into a state that a young poet called "we're dying so slowly that we think we are living". You owe yourself better than that. I really hope you will come out of your shell.

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Re: Does solitude breed insanity?

Posted by Jon on May 01, 2003 at 06:54:50:

In Reply to: Does solitude breed insanity? posted by Autist on May 01, 2003 at 01:31:10:

Since when does mental health have nothing to do with health?

As far as having Aspergers, I have a friend with it and he has many of the same traits as you seem to. He to is very intelligent, see's no sense in small talk of any kind, overanalyze's everything, and get's VERY wraped up in great details over the very few things he is interested in. He also does not understand non verbal communication very well. He has struggled with the opposite sex to the point where he as basically given up (he's 41.)

You are not alone with this, and it's my understanding that this type of behaviour is very common among people with Aspergers. Maybe you need to just except who you are and don't beat yourself up about it. You should try to do a better job of taking care of yourself, eat well, get some regular exercise and you will feel better. Then, when you get a better handle on this, work on finding someone. Eventually, you may find someone who excepts you for who you are.

My friend has been where you are when he was younger but, he finally just excepted that this is who he is, and he is fairly happy with his life.

You also, might want to look at the brain chemistry archives on this site and see about practicing wellness, this could help with the depression ect.

You have to be proactive on this, sitting in the house all day every day is not the solution.

Hope it can work out for you.

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Re: Does solitude breed insanity?

Posted by
michele on May 01, 2003 at 07:12:12:

In Reply to: Does solitude breed insanity? posted by Autist on May 01, 2003 at 01:31:10:

Hi, you sound interesting to me. First of all, all of the things you mention - from hypochondriac behavior to feeling others are wasting your time (small talk) is a sign of you perhaps not wanting to get hurt AND a need for attention. Small talk is usually not small at all, and a perfect form of communication - though you would not be "centered" as someone special in small talk - just a person in the dance of communication.
I had bouts of feeling similar to you in the past - I felt that people had not much to offer - that I only wanted "deep talks" and so on... but then I learned to enjoy life more - and more importantly, enjoy myself. I learned also that EVERYONE has a story to share and EVERYONE is worthwhile. I learned that if one is truly "cerebral" you can learn from ANY and ALL experiences, not ones who on the surface are "deep".... you seem to be holding on to a lot of myths and illusions, and your coping technique is to use intelligence and substance of YOURSELF as a scapegoat. I highly doubt that anyone you speak to who you DEEM or PERCIEVE a "waste" is...and perhaps it is your way of distancing.
Your obvious imbalance of life is in fact, causing you some discomfort...perhaps even on a physical level... and I really think that if you begin to open up more - of yourself and others - you will see that there is much you are missing.
Your behaviors show more a insecurity - and many people who feel "higher" than others are really protecting themselves from insecurities they harbor. You need to understand that even if you make public mistakes, or mistakes at all - that they can almost always be remedied with an "I'm SOrry" ---and you may need to give yourself more credit for each time you do not make a mistake.
Do not stay in bed. Find something - even a tv show or book, that you can begin to feel passionate about - or at least enjoy. Research it. Begin this with something else in a day or so. Keep your mind active on things other than yourself or your own behavior. Visit a local library...begin to become a regular. Perhaps even volunteer to help someone learn to read while there (usually all library's have literacy programs)...slowly, you'll feel pride in helping others, have a cerebral outlet, meet more people, have pride in yourself. And please, keep writing to "us" on the board.
Do you work? What is your work? Do you have a support system?
Michele (American Psychologocial Association Member)
& personal trainer/business owner/tv spokesperson



Re: Does solitude breed insanity?

Posted by
Michele on May 01, 2003 at 07:15:52:

In Reply to: Re: Does solitude breed insanity? posted by michele on May 01, 2003 at 07:12:12:

Your communicated desire to be a part of someone and likewise tells me that you are in fact, "wired" to be social. You just seem to not have the TOOLS to do so at this point, which seems to be from isolation.
Many people who function in the daily grind of work and society (in their words) also have a hard time with communication.

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Re: Does solitude breed insanity?

Posted by Happygal on May 01, 2003 at 07:17:57:

In Reply to: Does solitude breed insanity? posted by Autist on May 01, 2003 at 01:31:10:

Hi Autist,

Have you ever read the book, "The Highly Sensitive Person" by Elaine Aaron? I think you would benefit from reading it. She talks a lot about accepting one's own traits, and for those of us who have had difficulty with socializing, gives some clues about how to develop the necessary social skills.

I agree that practicing Serious Wellness (read the article "How to be Healthy" on this website) would absolutely do you a lot of good and recommend that you do that, too.

What are your interests? The important thing in socializing is to find people with similar interests as you. If not, of course it seems like a waste of time!

It will take some time, study, and practice on your part if you wish to make this happen for yourself. It is learning a new way of life. It can be done. If your therapist is a good one, he can help guide you. If not, get a new therapist.

By the way, in a good relationship you do not become a part of another person. You become fully who you are, the other does the same, and you share.

Best wishes,
Happygal



Re: Does solitude breed insanity?

Posted by
Michele on May 01, 2003 at 07:22:29:

In Reply to: Re: Does solitude breed insanity? posted by Happygal on May 01, 2003 at 07:17:57:

Here here! Listen to Hap!

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I love your Isaac Newton joke. nmi

Posted by labrat on May 01, 2003 at 08:45:05:

In Reply to: Does solitude breed insanity? posted by Autist on May 01, 2003 at 01:31:10:

~~~8>

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Re: Does solitude breed insanity?

Posted by Autist on May 01, 2003 at 10:39:50:

In Reply to: Re: Does solitude breed insanity? posted by michele on May 01, 2003 at 07:12:12:

Thank you for your reply.

I do enjoy banter, which I think is a form of small talk, but not gossip - the prevelant kind in my experience. But seeing as my experience is limited, what do I really know? But I do not look for simply deep conversations - not since I was 18 at least. I do believe that everyone has something to share and I try to find a lesson in everything and everyone I encounter. I do not believe I am elitist to those who would waste my time, but that I am merely not suited for them and they me. Usually (in person) I put people above me. If anything, any elitism on my part is to combat my dire insecurities and self hatred. I still kick myself for mistakes I made 10 years ago.

I do base my existence on things of the mind, which is usually enough to get me by. But there are times where I'm waiting for sleep to take me and realize that there's this greater thing starving inside of me. Those are moments of quiet desperation.

I do have many hobbies. I read, I study physics, astronomy, math, Cantonese, cognitive science, and have projects creating videos, composing music, and creating algorithms for whatever hairbrained idea I've come up with. I have many book ideas going, and play the piano. Without these hobbies, and more importantly, without this computer to sustain them (as my primary reference material), I well up with dread of being alone, and realization of my fruitless existence.

My job is computer programming, graphics design, and game design. I can do this job from home. I have become practiced enough at what I do that I only have to work an hour or two a week to get a week's worth done, so I have much free time.

My support system consists of a grey and black striped, white bellied feline named Toby. She keeps me - or if you happen to hear me talking to her, in - sane. We are about as close as can be; she has utter trust in me and I treat her with the utmost respect. The most affection I have in a month consists of her licking my face.

I do not have a therapist, and have not in 3 years.



Re: Does solitude breed insanity?

Posted by Autist on May 01, 2003 at 10:44:15:

In Reply to: Re: Does solitude breed insanity? posted by Happygal on May 01, 2003 at 07:17:57:

I must comment that your reply was not only very helpful, but also pleasantly devoid of assumptions. Thank you.

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Re: Does solitude breed insanity? Maybe.

Posted by Gregory on May 01, 2003 at 13:36:33:

In Reply to: Does solitude breed insanity? posted by Autist on May 01, 2003 at 01:31:10:

Hi Autist,

A lot of this sounds familiar. Not only for myself but you could have been describing my late brother. The sad truth
of the matter is that if you put yourself out there, then you risk rejection, but if you don't then you never gain the
intimacy you crave. Your world remains small and populated with daydreams.
I totally agree with Happygal in that you should know your strengths and play to them, and also know you weaknessess
and strengthen them. This last part may be difficult to do as it is far easier to ignore them.
A lighthearted but accurate method of doing so is take the emode test. They have several, which can give you further insight to yourself.
They also have a match-making service based on the results of the tests you've taken. I cannot tell you about that
however as I've never used it, but it sounds intriguing and potentially a way to meet a significant other in an
environent (your own home) less fraught with rejection.

While I am not crazy about small talk, it serves a useful purpose of breaking the ice (or sometimes keeping it
frozen over), until you can find the courage or opening you need to get to the meat of the conversation. Not everyone
can jump right into deep topics, and many need a "warm up" round to feel comfortable talking about deep and intimate
subjects.

I am going to go out on a limb here, and suggest something a two things bit out of the ordinary.

First, talk to people. The people you meet in your travels. At the bookstore, at the supermarket. Not deep conversations or anything like that. Light, humourous. The idea is to get use to talking to strangers.
People are not going to see you as anything but unfriendly and cold, as long as um, you're unfriendly and cold, and I speak from experience here. There was this one time I went to visit my brother on his job. He was off attending to something that needed his attention. I chatted with several of the young ladies in his department, who thought I was my brother (we were wearing similar attire), and were pleasantly surprised that was so engaging. Several tried to angle for a date, which was ego-boosting, but let me know that if my brother had let down his wall even a bit, it would have been easy for him to get what he wanted.
However he was also of the opinion that most if not all women were golddiggers or stupid, so that sort of put the kibbosh on serious dating.

One thing I did find out, which surprised even me, is that there are women (I'm assuming you aren't gay) that like
brainy, intelligent guys. This was a difficult concept to hang my mind around, as lots of attention is given to the
physical form. However, beauty (or reasonable facimiles) is in the eyes of the believer. As long as you're going to
play to your strengths, why not that one.

OK, the second thing I am going to recommend is a book by Joy Gardner-Gordon A Pocket Guide to Chakras, not because you'd be particularly interested in that, but because of the pyschological factors that manifest from
damage to these energy centers to your body, and more importantly some really simple things you can do to correct
these imbalances.
These in turn will have an influence on those areas of your life you aren't happy with. I realize it is a stretch, but
perhaps less of one than things remaining the way they are.

Thanks for listening. I hope you find your way.

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Re: Does solitude breed insanity?

Posted by Terri-Lynn on May 01, 2003 at 14:50:53:

In Reply to: Does solitude breed insanity? posted by Autist on May 01, 2003 at 01:31:10:

You might really find this book to be a help; How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, it is an oldy but a goodie!

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Re: Does solitude breed insanity?

Posted by peterb on May 01, 2003 at 21:20:34:

In Reply to: Does solitude breed insanity? posted by Autist on May 01, 2003 at 01:31:10:

perhaps some team-building activities in a group focusing on non-competitive goals would help. that could mean volunteer work, but you might find something geared to that particular objective that also gives you an opportunity to interact with nature, and meet some new friends.

sooner or later, your emotional awareness is likely to come roaring in. don't fight it. as a strong mental type which thrives on mental activity, you need to balance that with emotional energy and give yourself some balance. cultivate a more feeling attitude by using either self-hypnosis or hypnotherapy, do a little reprogramming and change some mental patterns that are getting in the way.

one of the things that really helped me and brought me into greater touch with myself was the books of Carlos Castaneda. I started reading these when i was just a little older than you are now. if they're not your cup of tea, you'll know quickly; if they are, you'll get a lot of bang for your buck.

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Re: Does solitude breed insanity?

Posted by
Suzana on May 02, 2003 at 05:54:47:

In Reply to: Does solitude breed insanity? posted by Autist on May 01, 2003 at 01:31:10:

I was exactly like you, for a very long time! I saw a psychiatrist (once only, when I was about 22) and he said to me “when you are at a bus stop, talk to the person next to you.” I said “What do I say?”. He said “Say something about the weather!” My reply was “And then what?”. He said “From then on, the conversation will follow.” Easy for him to say, I thought! He is “normal”.

Anyway, I did what he told me. Next time I was at a bus stop I started talking to this a gentle looking old woman. It didn’t work. The conversation died after the “Isn’t it a beautiful day?” “Yes, isn’t it!”. (I never saw a therapis again.)

Further down the track I found that that is not the end. You CAN change, and that is what it is, CHANGE. I do not want to discourage you with my story because everyone is different, but I was the most awkward person you could meet, and still can be … if I don’t try not to be. That’s what it is! You have to try not to be the way you are!!!

I am now 37 and, in order to understand how far I have come, I have to tell you that I am now a lawyer. The only reason I am telling you what I do for a living is so that you grasp the “change” in me over the last few years. Now I do what I could not possibly imagine doing few years ago. I talk to people on a daily basis, I go to court, but, most importantly, I actually have relationships – with friends, with the people at work, with my secretary, with my boss (now, that’s always awkward), and people that I meet every day. I lead a normal life, which I didn’t for a long time.

I hope the following, meaning how I “changed” myself, helps you in some way. What I did was: forced my self to talk to my neighbours, forced my self to call people that I knew very well (relatives only at first) on a daily basis, read a lot of self help books (I think that did the trick), visualise myself doing what I wanted to do and be (I learned that that’s important from one of those books), got a door-to-door sales job (3 of them) because that forced me to talk to people and make presentations of the products in their homes (which, I hoped, they will not accept so I don’t have to do the presentation, but they did), and forced my self to make “small talk”, as wasteful as I thought (and still think) it was, and, finally, got myself into Law School, which was the aim of all the above.

I cannot describe the fear I felt while I was getting “used to people” but, I can tell you, the fear disappears with time, and you “become” normal, whatever that is. I still don’t have a lot of close friends (you know, the ones you call and tell them your troubles) but that is because I now choose not to, not because I cannot. But I do have two friends that I love very much and am very close to, which I was not before. I still prefer to spend time to myself and with myself but, the difference now is that I don’t think spending time with other people is that bad, when I need to. And it seems to me that you have a great need to do that.

It’s hard work but it pays off. All you have to do is realise that not all people are superficial and shallow (which I still cannot stand) and that there is always someone that will accept you just the way you are. I think what you need to do is get a job away from home. You will never have the chance to change while you are in isolation.

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Re: Does solitude breed insanity? (Archive in brain chem.)

Posted by Walt Stoll on May 02, 2003 at 07:49:49:

In Reply to: Does solitude breed insanity? posted by Autist on May 01, 2003 at 01:31:10:

Hi, Autist.

EVERY single contributor had very precious things to suggest. I am archiving this in brain chemistry because that is a part of this and is how you got the diagnosis of Asperger's in the first place. Because you have had this so long you have now developed certain psychological/social patterns that you will need to change to get past this--but changing the brain chemistry comes first!

Let us know what you learn and now you do.

Walt

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Re: Does solitude breed insanity?

Posted by ktj on May 03, 2003 at 10:43:06:

In Reply to: Re: Does solitude breed insanity? posted by Autist on May 01, 2003 at 10:39:50:

Hi Autist,
I am touched by your courage. I've been holding on to a book about the 12-strand Orion healing technique, knowing it was meant for someone. I think it might be for you.

If you're interested, please mail your address and I'll send it to you, free of charge.

MRS-W-BOOKS
P.o. Box 340237
Tampa, Fl 33694-00237

You've also taught me a valuable lesson about not judging people by appearances, not only physical appearances but the written word. Thanks for that.

Blessings,
ktj

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Re: Does solitude breed insanity?

Posted by bing on May 03, 2003 at 20:21:12:

In Reply to: Re: Does solitude breed insanity? posted by Autist on May 01, 2003 at 10:39:50:

Your writing reveals your remarkable intelligence, and some of your thoughts are a lot more mature than your biological age. My only advice is for you to take good care of your body (such as a healthy diet, daily exercise, and spending time in nature as much as possible).

Just curious about one thing: what do you study Cantonese for?



Re: Does solitude breed insanity?

Posted by Autist on May 04, 2003 at 11:27:50:

In Reply to: Re: Does solitude breed insanity? posted by bing on May 03, 2003 at 20:21:12:

For something to do, like everything else. But I've been to Hong Kong a couple times and have a dream of moving there for a time. It is a place where it was okay and even expected for me to be a.. well, a foreigner.



Does solitude breed humor?

Posted by But honestly.... on May 04, 2003 at 11:46:37:

In Reply to: Does solitude breed insanity? posted by Autist on May 01, 2003 at 01:31:10:

Do comedy; a self effacing shtick.

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Re: Does solitude breed insanity?

Posted by bing on May 04, 2003 at 15:36:28:

In Reply to: Re: Does solitude breed insanity? posted by Autist on May 04, 2003 at 11:27:50:

Heh heh well-said, foreigner. "Alien" is the term I use.

I think you are just looking for exoticism. Like an occasional change of flavor in dining. But exotic meals can hardly be anyone's constant diet. Likewise, you may find life in Hong Kong boring...

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Re: Does solitude breed insanity?

Posted by
michele on May 05, 2003 at 07:48:34:

In Reply to: Does solitude breed insanity? posted by Autist on May 01, 2003 at 01:31:10:

Well, Autist....you say you maybe are not social, but I find you very interesting, and I'm sure among us on your postings, very social with US...so that's a first step.
I enjoy your selection of hobbies...very interesting. Have you ever studied the Balonese?
Michele

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