Originally published on July 16, 2010, edited on January 6, 2018
Written by Mineko Takada-Dill
I think if we don’t know how we feel, it is almost impossible to understand how other people feel (empathy). Helping people to recognize how they feel is a big part of my psychotherapy and art therapy practices. This exercise helps people to improve relationships with their family members.
This morning, I was reading a blog about how social cognitive neuroscientist think about empathy http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/our-social-brains/201007/empathy-101and tried to understand the Theory of Mind.
According to Wikipedia, Theory of mind is the ability to attribute mental states—beliefs, intents, desires, pretending, knowledge, etc.—to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires and intentions that are different from one’s own.
Some scientists think that people with Autism Spectrum Disorders lack Theory of Mind. I observed many children with Autism have limited abilities to grasp how other people feel different from themselves. One Autistic boy who was very sad said I must be sad because he was sad. I told him that I am sorry that he feels sad but I am not sad like him.
I found a wonderful web site made by Eric Chen from Singapore. He is a 24 year old who was diagnosed with Asperger’s less than 10 years ago. He describes his experience very well and how he was ” succeeded in connecting with his emotions and making contact with humanity.” http://iautistic.com/