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Autists Lack Empathy, Empaths Deceive, Manipulate

Uploaded 8/14/2023, approx. 34 minute read

What better way to open the week than with Sam Vaknin?

Glorious Monday to all of you, Shoshanim and Shoshanimot.

And today I'm going to embark on a mission impossible to make myself even a bigger hate figure than I already am. And I'm going to do this by referring to scientific studies that prove repeatedly over at least 10 years that, number one, people on the autism spectrum disorder lack empathy exactly like narcissists and psychopaths.

And yes, of course, I've been saying it for many years.

Number two, so-called empaths are actually narcissists and psychopaths who engage in deceptive virtue signaling. And yes, of course, I've been saying this also for many years.

But now I'm adding to a corpus of videos that I've already made with two new additional studies. There are dozens by now, but two new additional studies.

I do recommend that you watch my recent video about victimhood. Competitive victimhood. And my previous videos about autism spectrum disorder compared to cluster B personality disorders, especially high-functioning autism spectrum disorders.


OK, got the picture. I wish you a bumpy ride and let us delve right into what I have to tell you.

OK, there's this new study. It's authored by Van Trigt, Colonesse, Jorgensen, Nikolić and others. It is titled Autistic Traits and Self-Conscious Emotions in Early Childhood. It was published in Childhood Development recently, a few weeks ago.

I'm going to read to you from the abstract.

Self-conscious emotions arise from evaluating the self through the eyes of other people.

Given that children with autistic traits may experience difficulties with understanding other people's minds, they might show less attuned self-conscious emotions.

So self-conscious emotions include guilt, embarrassment and shame and so on and so forth.

Shame leads sometimes to avoidance and sometimes to other reactions.

So there was this experiment and in the experiment, the experimenter pretended that the kids broke his toy. The experimenter was playing with the toy and then he said to the kids, "Oh my God, you broke my toy." He shamed them and named them.

And so there was data.

The experiment lasted almost a year and a half and was repeated very often.

Here are the conclusions in the abstract.

Children with more autistic traits showed less theory of mind. Theory of mind is the long phrase for mentalization, the ability to perceive or conceive of other people's minds and what makes them tick.

Okay, so children with more autistic traits showed less theory of mind and more shame-like avoidance.

But associations were not mediated by theory of mind.

In other words, the children's tendency to avoid shame were not the outcome of their inability to perceive other people's minds.

This provides, say the authors, this provides initial evidence that children with more autistic traits may show disturbances in some, but not all, self-conscious emotions, which could hinder their social functioning.

Nothing new here. This has been established in numerous studies in the past, but never with young, young, young children, like two years old, three years old, four years old.

All the previous studies were conducted on adolescents and adults, not on children, but like nine-year-old children, eight-year-old children, not two and three and four-year-old children.

So what the researchers in this particular experiment have done, they wanted to find out whether autistic traits are associated with a deficit in theory of mind, whether autistic traits make, render the child incapable of understanding other people's mental states and predicting their behaviors. And whether deficits in the theory of mind, deficits in mentalization, are related to the experience of self-conscious emotions with emphasis on shame-like avoidance.

Remember, self-conscious emotions include guilt, include many elements of empathy. Actually, one could say that self-conscious emotions are the foundation of empathy.

Empathy is predicated on self-conscious emotions, like guilt and shame and embarrassment and so on and so forth.

If you lack these emotions, you're extremely unlikely to have emotional empathy.

You may be able to have what I call "cold empathy", which includes reflexive or instinctual empathy and cognitive empathy, but you will never have full-fledged empathy, because you must have, in order for you to have a full-fledged empathy, you must have an emotional component.

Autistic children seem to be unable to conceive of other people and their emotions and so on and so forth.

The results of this study show that children with higher level of autistic traits did demonstrate a clear deficit in their ability to perceive other people's mental states.

In other words, in their ability to empathize, in their ability to construct a theory of mind.

Additionally, autistic traits were positively associated in the study with verbal shame-like avoidance.

I will explain this in a minute.


Now, there is definitely a need.

There was a lacuna, there was a need to understand or conceptualize the relationship between autistic traits and self-conscious emotions in very, very young children, because that's where it all starts, the formative years.

Astoundingly, no one studied the formative years in autism spectrum disorders when it comes to guilt and shame and empathy and avoidance and so on.

Critical features of the formative years.

Self-conscious emotions such as guilt, embarrassment and shame play a crucial role in social interactions. They motivate pro-social behaviors or when they are absent, they inhibit pro-social behavior.

When people transgress, when they misbehave, when they act out or when they break mores and rules of conduct and conventions and norms, when they act normatively. When people transgress, self-conscious emotions are automatically triggered and they are known colloquially as conscience, actually.

So when you do something bad, when you do something you shouldn't have done and then you feel shame, you're not likely to repeat it.

You feel guilty, you're likely to offer some amends or try to make amends or somehow recompense.

So these emotions, self-conscious emotions are the ones that regulate and maintain social relationships and minimize transgression, transgressions, misconduct, misbehavior via a form of disinhibition and negative reinforcement.

So previous research has conclusively demonstrated disturbances in self-conscious emotions in older children and in adults with autism spectrum disorders.

This is beyond debate.

I'm sorry to tell you this.

Older children above the age of six and adults with autism spectrum disorder lack empathy. They have extreme deficits or deficiencies in empathy. They are comparable to some types of borderline personality disorder and even narcissistic style or narcissism. This is known. This is not debatable anymore. It may not be palatable. It's not politically correct and everyone online present themselves as victims and perfect and beyond reproach and empathic and loving and caring. That's online hype and BS.

Psychology is merciless because it pursues the truth. The truth is often inconvenient to quote Al Gore.


Okay, but what we didn't know is whether these disturbances present in early childhood and whether they are related to autistic traits in early childhood.

And the answer is now.

Yes, they are.

Autism spectrum disorder is a neurodevelopmental condition. It is characterized by significant deficits in social interaction reduced social awareness and communication inability to decipher social social social and much later sexual cues, restricted emotional engagement, reduced affect display stereotype behavior patterns and concrete thinking and communication speech acts.

Children with autism spectrum disorder display severe impairments in their capacity to consider the thoughts and emotions of other people. They are unable to construct as theory as to how other people think what other people feel, what makes other people think what are the dynamics and motivations of other people and how other people fit into the environment, social or otherwise.

This is known as theory of mind in the process, it's known as mentalization and it's absent, literally absent in autism spectrum disorders.

And of course this leads to severe disturbances in self-conscious emotions, post tran transgressive behavior.


So the people, someone with autism spectrum disorder misbehaves egregiously, and then is unable to experience shame or guilt.

And when he does experience shame, he avoids it verbally or otherwise. He shuns the self-conscious emotions in Israeli fashion.

If a child fails to comprehend that they have broken a norm, they transgressed, they transgress against the conventions of society. If they fail to understand that they have hurt someone, someone else's feelings, someone else's interests, someone else's property.

This kind of children cannot feel guilty or embarrassed. They may experience shame and they experience shame because of the reactions of other people.

And then when they experience shame, they display withdrawal or avoidant behaviors, gradually over the years.

Many of these people, many of these children develop narcissistic defenses to the point of narcissistic personality disorder in a small minority of narcissistic defenses, simply our form of alloplastic defenses, narcissistic defense means other people are the problem.

They are deficient, something's wrong with them.

I'm okay. I'm all right. I'm perfect. I've done nothing wrong.

It's a form of shame avoidance or shame withdrawal.


Studies investigating the association between autistic traits and self-conscious emotions.

Now prove conclusively in all age groups that there are fewer signs of guilt and more signs of shame.

Mind you it is still unclear when these disturbances develop exactly. What are the underlying mechanisms? Are they neurological, are the environmental, are the genetic? We don't know enough. We know very little about autism.

Missed strangely. Autism has been first described 90 years ago. That's like nine zero years ago and we know very little about autism.

Same with narcissism first described a hundred and ten years ago. We still know very little about narcissism.

It's the disgrace of the profession in the new study.

Shannon went to eat and her colleagues investigated these relationships between autistic traits, if self-conscious emotions, and remember, there's not empathy without a theory of mind. There's not empathy without self-conscious emotions period.

So if autistic children lack a theory of mind, and the lack most self-conscious emotions at the best in the best case, they have extremely impaired empathy.

And really in reality, they lack empathy exactly like narcissist.

It also raises interesting questions about narcissist, someone should study children who are exposed to abuse and trauma between the ages of two and four and see whether they are, whether they traverse the same developmental trajectory as children with autistic spectrum disorder.

So it could be that children, at these ages, children failed to develop a theory of mind, failed to understand or to read appropriately other people failed to experience shame and guilt, shame because they avoided guilt, because they simply don't experience it.

They don't have such a thing.

It's possible that children, what I call idiosyncratic, children with problems, mental health problems, neurodevelopmental problems, problems in the environment.

They're being abused, traumatized, and so it's possible that this is the typical reaction to idiosyncrasy.

It is as if the child says I'm special. I'm special because I am not, I'm rejected. I'm ostracized by society, by my peers, by my parents and so on.

Only special children are rejected by society.

And so they develop narcissistic defenses.

The children, the child says my mother rejects me. She's a dead mother.

Yes, she rejects me or she breaches my boundaries or she won't let me separate or she hates me or she loves me too much or whatever.

All these are forms of abuse and the child says, what it must mean that I'm special.

I think autistic children undergo this disorder. I think autistic children undergo this exact same process.

Even though they feel to some extent inferior, damaged and broken. They convert this into uniqueness.

They say yeah, I'm a special child.

You know, we have this special needs special needs children. This special element.

So I think narcissistic defenses are provoked very early on in children who are idiosyncratic and when I say idiosyncratic, it doesn't have to be autistic doesn't have to be an abused child. It could be an immigrant child. It could be a child who is exposed to racism, systemic racism or peer racism. It could be a child who is obese. It could be a child who is gifted, a child who stands out, child who never fits in.

A child who cannot conform, for whatever reason.

Neurodevelopmental reason, environmental reason, you name it, intellectual reason, intellectually challenged children as well.

I mean this kind of children would tend to develop a theory of themselves in internal working mode which renders them special.

And so this needs this hypothesis of mine needs to be tested.

We need to see whether children who are about to become narcissists in adulthood are indistinguishable from children with autism spectrum disorder.

I believe you can't tell the difference at age 2 or age 4.


Now the researchers were faced with a dilemma.

They needed to separate what we call confounding factors, factors that affect each other and contaminate the picture.

There's no pure situation.

So for example higher levels of autistic traits correlate with reduced guilt and embarrassment. They also correlate with increased shame, avoid shame, based avoidance and withdrawal.

But do these deficits do these problems? Are they associated with the inability to form a theory of mind because both are present and it's very difficult to say whether there's causation, correlation or whether these two phenomena are related somehow to a higher level third phenomenon.

So they found that children with more autistic traits showed more verbal shame like avoidance.

I mean what I mean is that they tended this kind of children tended to verbally withdraw or avoid social interactions or situations after they have committed a transgression.

They did something wrong and then they just ran away. They avoided other people. They didn't want to talk to anyone.

Because they didn't want to feel shame. They didn't feel guilty. They didn't feel even embarrassed.

But they did not want to be shamed by other people. They wanted to avoid the consequences of their actions.

Sounds familiar.

Yes, narcissists and psychopaths.

There was also some evidence of nonverbal shame like avoidance, but it was not statistically significant.

So we're going to ignore it.


The study, it's important to emphasize that the study did not support the idea or the hypothesis that children with more autistic traits experience less guilt and embarrassment after doing something wrong than normally.

In other words, it seems that the level of guilt and embarrassment in people with autism spectrum disorder is stable.

It's not reactive to having done something wrong.

Let me tell you what it means in plain English politically incorrect as I can make it.

These children have no conscience. That's why they don't feel guilty. They don't feel guilty when they do something wrong. They don't feel guilty when they don't do something wrong. They just don't feel guilty.

Period.

The researchers also found that children with more autistic traits had reduced theory of mind abilities as I told you, but the disturbances in self-conscious emotions, as I said in the beginning, they were not directly related to this.

So it looks like the inability to experience guilt and shame are constitutional.

They are not the outcome of the inability to empathize with other people. They are not the outcome of the inability to make to create a theory about other people to put yourself in other people's shoes.

No, it's just a built-in hardwired inability to experience guilt and embarrassment.

Here again, I propose a study.

Psychopaths are like this.

The developmental trajectory of psychopathy between the ages of two and four, the developmental trajectory of narcissism between the age of two and four, and the developmental trajectory of children with autism spectrum disorders between the ages of two and four, they all strike me as identical.

So there must be a common denominator here.

What is it?

Neurological, brain, abnormality, genetic, environmental.

What exactly creates the same psychological, psychopathological outcomes when theoretically the patho-etiology is different?

Autism is not psychopathy. Psychopathy is not narcissism.

Yes, psychopathy is not narcissism.

Don't listen to self-styled experts online. They are blabbering nonsense.

So these are three different conditioners and yet they have so many commonalities in early childhood that it's shocking.

They're almost indistinguishable, developmentally.

Overall, the findings of these studies suggest that children with more autistic traits may experience difficulties in some self-conscious emotions, particularly shame-like avoidance, but not necessarily in guilt and embarrassment.

This wouldn't bother them because they don't experience it.

And these disturbances in self-conscious emotions may be related to autistic traits, but they are not solely explained by a deficit in theory of mind.

There's something else at work and the same mysterious X-factor is at work in the development of narcissism and the development of psychopathy and possibly borderline as well.

These are amazingly important findings.

I think even the authors themselves don't fully grasp what it is that they've stumbled across.

There's all social interactions.

These disorders are relational.

Narcissism, psychopathy, these are relational disorders.

They reflect social deficits and deficiencies in social interactions.

And this is the core problem in autism spectrum disorders.

Understanding other people's perspectives, needs, emotions, cognitions, intentions, motivations.

There's a failure here in all three conditions which ostensibly are not related, but here they are phenomenologically, definitely related.

There's a positive association between autistic traits and verbal shame- like avoidance and lack of guilt and embarrassment. There's an identically positive correlation or association between narcissistic traits and verbal shame- like avoidance and lack of guilt and embarrassment.

Same goes for psychopaths.

And all three experience harsh, overriding, overpowering difficulties in social interactions and social functioning.

Something to look into one should think.


Okay, so people with autism spectrum disorders lack empathy, exactly like narcissists and psychopaths. Let the hate fest begin.

All the haters, this is your cue.

Next, I'm going to make an even bigger group of enemies.

Empaths, so-called empaths.

The self-aggrandizing, self-infatuated group of wannabe victims have been victims online.

There's a new study which tends to support what have been saying for six years.

And yes, to the best of my knowledge, I've been the first to say it.

Empaths are in all likelihood covert narcissists.

Failed covert narcissists, collapse covert narcissists, covert narcissists who have been abused by covert, grandiose narcissists and by psychopaths.

I'm not taking away the facts of the abuse or these people have been victimized probably.

But the way they react to having been victimized is narcissistic and psychopathic because they are narcissists.

And according to the most recent study, they are also psychopaths.

I repeat this.

Empaths are self-styled victims and they leverage their victimhood to coerce people, to manipulate people, to deceive people.

The entire empath community is exactly this.

Supergalactic supernova empaths included.

And there's a recent study that tends to support this and the study is titled one minute.

Give me a minute.

The study is titled signaling high sensitivity to influence others.

Initial evidence for the roles of reinforcement sensitivity, sensory processing sensitivity and the dark triad.

Study was authored by Montana Kaijic and Mauschen Moron, although he's there not Moron.

So the study simply says that what we call empaths are actually narcissists and psychopaths who engage in deceptive virtually, virtual signaling.

Yes, Vaknin vindicated and others now in my footsteps.

So the study suggests that high sensitivity label is used by narcissists and psychopaths is a manipulative tactic.

The study was published in psychological reports and it says that labeling oneself as highly sensitive person, which is not a clinical label, by the way, it's not a clinical entity, highly sensitive person.

It's a suggested construct, popular hype, more or less.

Okay, a bit like the inner child or emotional flashbacks and so on.

So or quiet borderline.

Okay, so this label self-applied self-imputed label.

I'm a highly sensitive person.

Is often a manipulative tactic used by individuals with dark personality traits, particularly narcissism and psychopathy.

And I quote to sway others' behavior and to gain advantages.

The researchers conducted this study to better understand the construct known as sensory processing sensitivity.

That's the clinical term sensory processing sensitivity.

It refers to individual differences in sensitivity to external stimuli.

So emotional dysregulation in borderline personality disorder is a form of sensory processing sensitivity in this sense.

Borderlines can say that they are empaths and yet empaths claim to have been victimized by borderlines.

So and this trait of sensory processing sensitivity is popularly popularly relabeled, was popularly relabeled online as highly sensitive person in public discourses, even a book about highly sensitive people and it erroneously, of course, claims to 20% of the population are highly sensitive.

That's nonsense. That's absolute nonsense. It's not anywhere close to 20%.

And such individuals identify as highly sensitive online forums, expressing a need and may I add a coercive demand to be treated specially, special care, special understanding and concessions.

Does it strike a chord? It should because narcissists are entitled. Narcissists demand special care. They narcissists have special needs and narcissists require special concessions and understanding.

This study aimed to investigate the associations between sensitivity to external stimuli and the tendency to signal high sensitivity to other people and it took into account and it's not the first study which does this by the way, I recommend that you watch my video on competitive victimhood where I cite 10 other studies who actually reached the same conclusions.

So this particular study took into account dark triad personality traits.

Now, mind you dark triad is not the same as narcissism and psychopathy dark triad personality includes subclinical narcissism, narcissistic traits and style that cannot do not amount to full-fledged narcissistic personality disorder subclinical psychopathy, psychopathic behaviors and traits that do not amount to psychopathy and Machiavellianism, Machiavellianism the ability and tendency to manipulate other people in order to obtain favorable outcomes, a form of self-efficacy.

So these scholars these researchers studied highly sensitive people.

I'm using the media high online label.

So they studied highly sensitive HSPs and then they delve deeper and ask themselves are these people narcissists and psychopaths and they correlated narcissism and psychopathy with signaling highly sensitive people who keep signaling.

I'm a victim. I'm super sensitive and amazingly delicate.

You should treat me with the kid gloves, should respect me. You should make concessions because I'm brittle and I'm broken and I'm damaged and I'm amazing and I'm fantastic and I'm supernova and all other disgusting, manipulative, virtual signaling, deceptive practices which narcissists and psychopaths do on a daily basis online. And offline, the researchers hypothesize two possibilities, assertive signaling of specific needs, where individuals genuinely expressed their sensitivity in order to alert others to their unique situational needs.

These are people who say, broadcast. I'm sensitive. Please take this into account when you interact with me.

So this is called assertive signaling of specific needs and it is contrasted with deceptive signaling with the expression of high sensitivity is used to manipulate other people. It's a manipulative strategy.

And I'm going to quote from the study due to the advantages that could be achieved as a result of signaling victimhood.

The public displays of one's weakness and oppression by personal limitations might be considered as a two-sided social strategy.

On the one hand, it could help individuals with particular sensitivities, neurotics. That's in the study not my word, neuroticism, to better satisfy their needs in everyday social interactions.

On the other hand, listen.

Well, a number of studies showed that victimhood signaling was also used as a deception strategy by individuals high in the dark triad, namely narcissism, Machiavellianism, psychopathy traits. It's pretty unequivocal.

And so the researchers found a weak association between sensory processing sensitivity and signaling high sensitivity to influence other people. It means that there are people out there who are sensitive.

They have high they score high on sensory processing sensitivity.

But this kind of people are actually less likely to signal their sensitivity. They're likely to be loners, schizoids, avoid other people, withdraw, protect themselves against overstimulation. They're not likely to go online and seek additional stimulation. They're not likely to troll. They're not likely to have fights with other people online. They're not likely to make a public display of themselves. They're not extroverted. They're introverted. They're terrified. They're overstimulated. They're in pain constantly.

The last thing they want is to interact with thousands of other people. No way.

The very fact that someone is online rules out, almost rules out the possibility that it's a truly highly sensitive person.

Individuals who score high on sensory processing sensitivity. It reflects heightened depth of stimulus processing and awareness of subtleties in the environment. These people are like constantly traumatized, like death by a thousand cuts. It's like they have no skin. Their nerve endings are exposed to the environment without any isolation or firewall. And they don't signal their sensitivity to others. No way.

Definitely not more frequently and online.

It's nonsense. There was a statistically significant association between signaling high sensitivity to influence other people and behavioral inhibition system sensitivity, BIS sensitivity.

BIS sensitivity is related to the tendency to respond to aversive or threatening stimuli with caution and inhibition.

And so it seems that there is a correlation between the wish to signal victimhood in order to manipulate other people and affect them somehow, make them do your bidding, coerce them into satisfying your entanglement.

So there's a correlation between this and the tendency to respond to threats and aversive situations with caution and inhibition.

But the correlation is very weak. The association is weak. It's statistically significant, but it's weak.

It seems that many of the empaths, for lack of a better word, online are at the same time also aversive to threats and risks. They're cautious.

This is not a typical psychopathic trait, but it is a typical trait of narcissists.

I have breaking news for you. Narcissists are cowards, total cowards, the craven. Everyone knows that bullies are cowards and it's true. It's just not just a platitude or a cliche. It's absolutely true. Bullies are cowards and the vast majority of bullies are narcissists. Narcissists are cowards. So they're likely to try to manipulate other people via deceptive signaling, lie to them that they are victims or even self-perceive as victims.

Narcissists believe their own BS. They believe their own confabulations and their own fantasies and constructs.

So there could be narcissists online who firmly believe that they have been victimized and therefore they are victims. The world's biggest victims ever, of course, because they are narcissists, but when they do so, they are aware of threats and risks in the environment and are trying to avoid them.

And this is even further proof of narcissism to my mind among empaths.

There is a positive association, a much stronger positive association between signaling high sensitivity to influence others and the behavioral approach system, BAS. BAS is related to reward responsiveness. It reflects an individual's motivation to seek positive outcomes, positive reinforcements and rewards. It's a dopamine thing kind of, dopaminergic thing.

And so this kind of person would use victimhood signaling, signaling of high sensitivity in order to secure rewards, to secure pleasure, narcissistic supply, positive outcomes, sex, power over a group of people in a forum, for example, as a moderator or whatever.

These individuals with high reward responsiveness are more likely to engage in self-presentational strategies, such as signaling high sensitivity in order to gain positive reactions and outcomes from others, to finagle benefits from others.

Individuals with higher scores on dark personality.

So I want to quote to you something.

Individuals with higher scores on dark personality traits, especially narcissism and psychopathy, were more likely to engage in signaling high sensitivity to influence others.

These findings supports the deceptive signaling hypothesis, indicating that the expression of high sensitivity can be a manipulative interpersonal strategy employed by grandiose and callous individuals to gain advantage in social interactions.

I couldn't have said it better myself.

I continue.

It suggests, I'm quoting, it suggests that individuals with dark personality traits may use the perception of high sensitivity as a means of garnering sympathy or obtaining special treatment from other people.

These results showed that signaling high sensitivity is also a deceptive interpersonal strategy used by grandiose and callous manipulators.

And this is a quote from the study, not my words, I swear.

The study suggests that signaling high sensitivity to influence other people is a complex phenomenon.

Not everyone there is a full-fledged narcissist and psychopath, but I dare to venture, I go on a limb here and say that the vast majority of them, if not all of them, have narcissistic traits and psychopathic traits. And definitely they display narcissistic behaviors, if not psychopathic behaviors.

And so some highly sensitive individuals may seek help online. I would find it very shocking, very much against type, but maybe maybe there are a few, three percent, five percent.

But the majority, and I'm quoting again, particularly those with high reward responsiveness and dark personality traits. May use it as a calculated tactic to elicit specific responses from others.

And now I have become definitely the number one hate figure on the Internet. I'll drink to that.

And yes, I've read all your comments that I'm encouraging alcoholism. Cheers.

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