I just finished Simon Baron-Cohen's The Essential Difference: Male and Female Brains and the Truth about Autism
, an exploration of the general differences between the way men and women look at the world, and how much our genes and hormones go towards affecting those outlooks.
Baron-Cohen suggests that the typical male mind is dominated by a function he calls Systemizing, organizing the world into systems which it can understand and perhaps build upon, while female minds are typically Empathizers, spontaneously and naturally tuning into other people's feelings and responding appropriately. We all have these functions in our heads, however, with various degrees of emphasis.
Frequent readers of this journal and its associated feeds know that I've had a running theme that I claim to have a mild form of autism--namely Asperger Syndrome. Baron-Cohen's thesis is that autism is actually an extreme form of the male mind, where the ability to empathize is, unlike the average population, significantly lower than an average or even talented ability to systemize.
Well, based on self-tests included in the back of the book, I can now say that, while I scored above-average (31 out of 50) on the Autism Spectrum Quotient, I don't think I have Asperger Syndrome. According to the test, "most people with Asperger Syndrome or high functioning autism score about 35," and my ability to read emotions in faces (30 out of 36) and my Empathy Quotient (47 out of 80) were higher than the average male scores.
What's troubling to me, however, is that despite my high empathy scores, my ability to socialize is so low that I very much seem to have Asperger's. Why, despite a strength in being able to tune into people's feelings, do I tend to avoid those people?
Putting aside the sudden need to redefine myself through self-tests as a result of recent trauma, I have some hope that I'll find some answers in my next read, The Highly Sensitive Person
, by Elaine Aron. Based on that website self-test, I likely qualify as an HSP, who statistically make up 15 to 20 percent of people. That, coupled with previous tests indicating that I'm a Myers-Briggs INFP (about 1% of males), make me pretty much a consummate exception* to the general population.
* One of my friends had a talk with one of my high school teachers recently, who apparently told her that I was one of her most exceptional students.
Honestly? At this point, I think I'd just rather be mediocre.