Who says Asperger’s / autistic people lack empathy?

Trigger warning, for many, many reasons.  I’m just issuing a global trigger warning…

I wasn’t going to write during the day (my to-do list is nagging at me), but late last night, I received the news that my aunt is dying of pancreatic cancer.  I don’t yet know how long she has.  I do know that this is her last Christmas.

And, as I began to go through the daily motions of everyday life this morning, my brain being what it is, I got to thinking…

I ate breakfast, and began to feel guilty.  Guilty that here I am, alive and well, feeding my body, while the cells in my aunt’s body cannibalize hers.

And, my thoughts began to wander, as mine tend to do.  I really shouldn’t let them do that.  They venture into some very, very dark territory.

I realize that since I’ve become cognizant of the world, I’ve never been able to be truly happy.

(Again, Serious Global/General Trigger Warning for anything below the line.)

I realize that I’m extra-sensitive to so many phenomena…

Researching the definition of vivisection assaulted me with horrible images (both on the computer screen and conjured up by my own imagination).  Nothing but pure hell and torture.  I cried then.  I sank into a deep emotional abyss that plagued me for a year and a half.  Even though that was 10 years ago, I’m never truly out of the woods.  Not at all.

When Hurricane Katrina hit, I cried then, too.  I was thinking of the people and their “pets” (in quotes because I think of them as much more significant than that), stranded in toxic filmy water, struggling to survive.  And many did not.

When I moved into a particular house, felt something foreboding.  I immediately began to have nightmares, of being constrained by a nondescript male figure, and being raped.  A few years later, when I went to sell that house, I reviewed the deed with a fine-tooth comb.  The mystery solved itself; there had been a “rich” history of incest.  I had indeed felt something the moment I moved in.  Something dark and terrible.  I had assumed that given the age of the house, that it was simply haunted.  No; it turns out that it was much worse than that.  And that’s what I had been feeling; I had felt it on an extra-sensory level.

I can’t bear the thought of suffering animals, either.  I have to change the channel when one of those animal charity commercials comes on.  I’ve all but given up on watching the news; animal cruelty makes for too prominent of headlines.  For the record–if you’re a fellow animal empath, DO NOT read “Black Sunday” by Thomas Harris.  He’s otherwise an excellent writer, but there is graphic animal cruelty on page…111?  Something like that.  It fucked me up.  Really hard.  Twenty-four years later, I can’t get the imagery out of my head.

Those are just the “big” things; there are “little” things, too…

I feel bad for every butterfly lying on the side of the road, having collided with a passing car.

I feel bad for every lonely piece of furniture or box of books left by a trash dumpster.

I feel sorry for every acorn that never got to grow into a tree.

I avoid stepping on ants.  I avoid caterpillars, snails, and even worms.  They might gross me out, but they deserve to live.

I feel horrible about watching new housing developments spring up like weeds, knowing that all of the animals living on that land are going to perish.  I even feel bad watching farmers plow fields.

I feel violated for every guitar smashed at a rock concert.  I know that it’s an inanimate object, but all objects have some sort of life.  Their molecules may not vibrate at as high a frequency as a sentient being, but they vibrate all the same.

I cry whenever someone loses a “pet”, even if I didn’t know that person.

I’m almost afraid to ask people how they’re doing; I’m afraid of their potential answer and the effect it may have on me.  I know that’s selfish, but it’s true–which adds to the guilt.

I feel guilty that other things must die, so that I can live.  Plants have feelings, too.  They feel pain, and they express fear and stress.  They freak out when someone approaches a plant next to them with malicious intent.  There’s even research to show it.

So I feel bad about not just the meat, but also the fruits and vegetables that get pulverized in the blender to make my smoothie.  Or the broccoli that got sizzled in last night’s stir-fry.  What kind of pain must they feel?  Maybe they don’t, anymore?  Maybe the lion’s share of their pain occurred when they were plucked from the vine/tree/etc?

I am appalled at the lack of gentleness in this world.  It pains me.  I find it really hard to endure the general vibe of the world at large.  Hate crimes, violence, racism, illness, chronic disease, grief, sorrow, suffering… 

How could a world of such magnificent beauty and wonder also be so filled with such pain? 

How could people who are so capable of such miracles also be so cruel? 

How could a universe so filled with light also be so dark?

These, my pretties, are the riddles that baffle and plague me.

And the allistic world wants to slap us with a “lack of empathy” assumption?  How many of them actually think about things like those above every single day?  How many of them are tortured by horrific images every day that they can’t shake for a decade at a time?  How many of them are at permanent and pervasive risk of deep depression because of the cruelty and division and violence–not just in the world, but in nature itself?

“Lack of empathy” my ass.


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(Image Credit: Justin Harris)


  1. So much truth in everything you write. I think many of us have weak boundaries…it’s as though there’s a less clear divide where we stop and the outside world begins. It’s interesting to me that this is at odds with modern science and politics. We live in a very discrete, granular paradigm. Of course all the pain seeps in. I can’t imagine being ‘other’ though, truly separate. I’m grateful for the good things that also get in, the environment around me sometimes brings me peace or reverence or joy as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oooh, I love your comment, and I think you’re on to something! Maybe that explains the following…

      I experience an ironic bond with the world. I feel quite disconnected from the general public most of the time. Usually I can even stomach human suffering (as long as it doesn’t get “TOO bad”) (?). I probably sound like a jackhole right now, which isn’t my intent.

      But I do experience a very strong connection with the grand cosmos, if you will (New Age-y term, I know 😊). I feel the interconnectedness of all things. Especially animals. And plants, too.

      Omg I think there might be a future blog post lol 😊 You totally inspired me! Thank you for sharing your thoughts ❤️

      Liked by 1 person

    1. So sorry to hear, loved one. 💐 Yeah, the rest of the post covers other topics, but can be just as dark; I don’t blame you for skipping it ❤️

      Much agreed with what you said about only ignorant people 😊

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A very feeling post! If anything I could do with being less empathic. I have found my sponge like ways traumatising at various stages in my life. These days I have to practise Earthing, grounding and protecting myself from the World at large. Something I will share more about in a blog post. I hope your relative can transition as pain free and peacefully as possible🙏

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for your comment and kind words! It is indeed a curse at times. I totally get the “sponge” feeling; I’m a nerd (😊) so I’ve always called it an antenna (lol), but the two are the same 😊

      Liked by 1 person

      1. That’s interesting because I have also used the word “antenna” interchangeably with “sponge” when I had a particular hair cut lol😄

        Liked by 1 person

  3. It’s my understanding that civilizations that live close to nature give thanks for the service of the plants that are eaten or serve in other ways, just as those that we serve give thanks to us. Accept the gift with gratitude.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you for your perspective! You make a really good point, and I love how you see that concept 😊 It uplifted me just to read it and take it to heart ❤️


    2. I accept the gift of empathy now that I know and understand how to use and manage it, but until my late teens it was just very confusing and scary. Once upon a time there would have been elders in our lives/tribe to guide us through certain rites of passage. We seem to have lost this. It is something I feel very passionate about and will be exploring in future blog posts. With gratitude always🙌

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Thank you for your comment! Oh wow, that’s a really neat concept! It would indeed be extremely helpful. I’m looking very forward to reading your thoughts on this! 😊❤️

        Liked by 1 person

  4. My partner recently died from interstital lung disease caused by the immunotherapy used to treat his metastatic melanoma. I grieve every day, and every day I try to remember to be thankful for having been so loved.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh wow. I’m so sorry to hear about your loss. I can’t imagine. That had to be extremely painful to go through. My thoughts and support are with you always ❤️💐


  5. I feel sorry for abandoned furniture too, and all sorts of other things. I have a huge collection of mostly second-hand teddy bears – the worn and/or dirty ones from charity shops and collectors fairs that I’ve ‘rescued’. 😀 I cry over trees that have been cut down. I’m vegan because I can’t bear the thought of causing animals pain (never watch ‘Earthlings’ – there are images in that film which haunt me).

    I’m sorry to hear about your aunt. That is grim, and very sad indeed.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, dear! We are such feeling people; who ever thought we had no empathy needs a serious reality check 😊❤️


    1. Yep, I totally understand! ❤️ I would like to be vegan, but my body throws a serious hissy-fit. So opt for ways to at least support the organic and humane producers. I envy you 😊💪🏼💞


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