Paul Isaacs' Blog

Autism from the inside

Autism, Mirroring and The “Sense Of Self”

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Note- This is from a personal perspective

The mirror stage (French: stade du miroir) is a concept in the psychoanalytic theory of Jacques Lacan. The mirror stage is based on the belief that infants recognize themselves in a mirror (literal) or other symbolic contraption which induces apperception (the turning of oneself into an object that can be viewed by the child from outside themselves) from the age of about six months

The mirror stage is a phenomenon to which I assign a twofold value. In the first place, it has historical value as it marks a decisive turning-point in the mental development of the child. In the second place, it typifies an essential libidinal relationship with the body image. (Lacan, Some reflections on the Ego, 1953)

BubblesMirroring and “Sense Of Self”

What is it? – did I even understand that it was me? Or have conscious understanding of what my body was in space and time, in context of other objects and people – going through a pattern were my movements dictated the tone and the very nature of what I was doing in that moment – living in the moment going from one patterned place to another.

My Body, Movements & My Perceptual World

My body and face “alien” in its projection (and it’s projection back to me) movements from other didn’t connect that I had a body but when I was at pre-school my hyper-active movements around the little hut gave me a “sense of being” to some degree before I sat down again – sounds, jingles, colours, shapes and shine where the domineering force in a sense they were friends they gave me (at least in my world) a sense of connectivity and stimulation.

Friendships, Language & “Connecting”

My first “friends” where water and toilets – this was a sense of connecting with the outside but also a feeling it gave me on the inside I was aware of the love that my parents had for me that didn’t need to be extracted (it was a feeling of sensing) and that was a firm and positive basis of connectivity I had with others. So what helped?

  • Rough and tumble play with my Dad (helping me connect my own body and also perceive parts of my own and “recognise” my Dad by his facial features)
  • My allowing me to touch her hair (to “recognise” her)
  • Experience the world through touch – allowing me to touch, take my shoes and socks off in the back garden etc
  • Clipped telegraphic language

Mercurial Personality 

  1. Romantic attachment. Mercurial individuals must always be deeply involved in a romantic relationship with one person.
  2. Intensity. They experience a passionate, focused attachment in all their relationships. Nothing that goes on between them and other people is trivial, nothing taken lightly.
  3. Heart. They show what they feel. They are emotionally active and reactive. Mercurial types put their hearts into everything.
  4. Unconstraint. They are uninhibited, spontaneous, fun-loving, and undaunted by risk.
  5. Activity. Energy marks the Mercurial style. These individuals are lively, creative, busy, and engaging. They show initiative and can stir others to activity.
  6. Open mind. They are imaginative and curious, willing to experience and experiment with other cultures, roles, and value systems and to follow new paths.
  7. Alternate states. People with Mercurial style are skilled at distancing or distracting themselves from reality when it is painful or harsh.

Source: Oldham, John M., and Lois B. Morris. The New Personality Self-Portrait: Why You Think, Work, Love, and Act the Way You Do. Rev. ed. New York: Bantam, 1995.

How this “Personality Type” relates to me

Despite a lot of information processing and language issues with my autism profile I try to live life as a free spirit and appreciate others values and beliefs, sensitive to others realities and conscious of their thoughts and feelings and I like to help others to – this sound “odd” because what I have written above this but this is part of my personhood that was growing within me. I still have many of the developmental and processing issues stated management of both these aspects is key and of course very person-centred.

Negative Disordered Traits & Management of Them – Borderline Personality Disorder

In 2007 I had a nervous breakdown and BDP is the “extreme” and “disordered” variant of the mercurial personality

  • frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment

How I manage this 

Conceptualization of the subject – what is fact and what is assumption? What is real and what isn’t? What is my “gut” telling me? Being comfortable in your own skin is worthy and functional goal to achieve.

  • a pattern of unstable and intense interpersonal relationships characterized by alternating between extremes of idealization and devaluation

How I manage this

Everybody is a human being and things happen in their lives as well as yours and over intensity (which in my case I wasn’t conscious of doing this) will not be liked, feel “too much” or “overwhelming for the other person”. No person is “black” or “white” in perception it is far more diverse for that.

  • identity disturbance: markedly and persistently unstable self-image or sense of self;

How I manage this

The journey of what is is self? How this describes me? Understanding that I am a person has always helped me with this aspect (even if I struggle with a senses of self knowing I am a human being is a good start)

  • impulsivity in at least two areas that are potentially self-damaging (e.g., spending, sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, binge eating)

How I manage this

Why am I spending and over-eating? What is the core of the problem? Has something happened in my life? Is it a reaction to something in the past? Or does it have no root cause?

  • recurrent suicidal behavior, gestures, or threats, or self-mutilating behavior

How I manage this

What has causes me to feel this way? What situation? (and/or situations?)

  • affective instability due to a marked reactivity of mood (e.g., intense episodic dysphoria, irritability, or anxiety usually lasting a few hours and only rarely more than a few days)

How I manage this

Going with the flow this will end and dissolve, finding productive things to do with my time and don’t get “stuck” in this loop of anxiety

  • chronic feelings of emptiness

How I manage this

The feeling of lonesomeness is perceptual and could be to do with a lack of connectivity, lack of doing and being and also a need to be getting on with things in your life

  • inappropriate, intense anger or difficulty controlling anger (e.g., frequent displays of temper, constant anger, recurrent physical fights)

How I manage this

Don’t hold on to negative feeling like hate, anger, sadness they are a normal part of human life and one can move on from them with the right balance

How I manage this

Dissociation is on a spectrum, why has this happened? what are the root causes? How can you move on and manage this in the context of “now” and for the “future”?

Now In The Context Of My Autism (Processing Information)

Alexithymia

Emotions can be over-whelming and and “under” processing of emotions in time can cause a “plug” or “blockage” meaning a situation can happen for me which may require (in-real time) a emotional response but doesn’t happen because I am not “there yet”. It has taken me days, months or years to process an singular or multiple event this emotional wave of raw emotions felt like an attack which lead to self harm (hitting my legs, arms and head) what has helped me is understanding that when this wave hits I can cope be staying calm. 

Visual Agnosias (Visual Perceptual Disorders)

Not “seeing” with meaning meant there was no context to what was going on it was blobs, fragments, bits and pieces self and other where “alien” because there was “real” basis for it happening because I couldn’t home in what was what – what helped was my parents allowing me to explore my sensory world in way that gave it some sort of reality. Tinted lenses have greatly helped me in accessing visual information.

Meaning Deafness (Aphasia)

Strands of information that are too fast, long go into nothing-ness – I have no visual memory and cannot internalise words with a “visual picture” so elevated tone and gestures  to create a context that my mind is able to process with a high sense of clarity and meaning. Movement is very important to me.

Body Disconnection (Visual-Spatial Dysgnosia) 

My body is a “thing” that is around me it feels disjointed, awkward and clumsy so I have worked out ways of making it feel more real – I have pressure points so band and bracelets around my wrists, a tight jacket around the trunk of my body, a tie around my neck, and tight shoes for my fee. This gives me at least 4 points/areas of awareness and there can be more with my tinted glasses, headphones and tying my hair back.

Context From two angles – Personality & The “Pieces” of My Autism 

Healthy management of my personality to keep the volume “normal” and accessing the pieces of my autism that need addressing has helped with being a more happy and content person.

Friendships & Boundaries 

For many years this lack of management, processing confusion, context blindness and personality issues have created issues but recently through being introduced to more positive, productive friendships which are balanced, ordered and healthy this has given me a fresh new perspective of what “other” is.

  • Boundaries That Are Healthy – considering and empathising is a two way process 
  • When Problems Happen – take a step back, being there comes in many different forms
  • Sensing “Good” Vibes – your gut is important and is telling you a lot without any words at times

Self and Other – Pattern, Theme & Feel (D.Williams)

I live in world were logical and cognitive reasoning is not king (I have an autie way of processing not an aspie) it is through sensory based reasoning, feeling, experiencing through touch, movement, sound etc. This is the world I still live in and by relying on my system of sensing it has helped me understand things before I could/can verbalise them. I will hopefully create little bridges of connectivity for the future. 🙂

Paul Isaacs Adult With Autism 2014

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Author: Paul Isaacs

Paul was branded as a “naughty & difficult child” at school. He was classically autistic and non-verbal due to speech articulation difficulties. He had complex sensory issues and appeared both deaf and blind. He gained functional speech around the age of 7 or 8 years old. He went through the mainstream school system with no additional help or recognition of his autism. Consequently, he did not achieve his academic or his social potential and had very low self-esteem. At age 11, Paul was referred to the children’s mental health service with childhood depression where he was regarded as “developmentally underage” and having speech problems. As an adult, Paul had a string of unsuccessful jobs, and his mental health suffered. He developed both Borderline and Schizotypal Personality Disorders in early 2007. He was referred to mental health services and misdiagnosed with “Asperger traits with a complex personality”, which did not satisfy Paul or his family. A local autism organisation put Paul in touch with an experienced psychiatrist, who diagnosed him with Autism at 24 years old. In 2012 Paul was also diagnosed with Scotopic Sensitivity Syndrome by an Irlen Consultant who confirmed that he also had face, object and meaning blindness – conditions which Paul describes eloquently in his speeches and training sessions. He also has dyslexia, dyscalculia and also a dissociative disorder. Having started working as an local autism organisation as a public speaker in 2010, Paul joined their mission to promote autism awareness. His hope is that others will not have to suffer as he did. Now also a core member of our Training Team, Paul continues to enhance true understanding of autism at every opportunity. Paul has released and published 5 books on the subject of autism published by Chipmunka publishing and has contributed to other books too. Having overcome many challenges to achieve the success that he now enjoys, Paul’s message is that Autism is a complex mix of ability and disability. He firmly believes that every Autistic person should have the opportunity to reach their potential and be regarded as a valued member of society. Apart from autism related blogs Paul also write about movies, fashion, art and anything that is of interest. As of August 2015 Paul now works as a freelance speaker, training and consultant in and around the Oxfordshire & Buckinghamshire area. If you are interested please contact him via email at staypuft12@yahoo.co.uk

One thought on “Autism, Mirroring and The “Sense Of Self”

  1. Pingback: Not All People With Autism Are Logical Or Literal In Thought Or Presentation | Paul Isaacs' Blog

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