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    Intense World Syndrome

    Does anyone feel like social situations are too intense and raw and this is what makes you feel so anxious? For example; making eye contact, being the center of attention, dealing with groups of people / or fast paced conversations. There's a theory of the autism spectrum that came out several years ago called intense world syndrome. It's applicable to people with social anxiety / avoidant personality, because these conditions are often comorbid with autism spectrum conditions (though this may be undiagnosed in many).

    ''It is proposed that the autistic person may perceive his surroundings not only as overwhelmingly intense, but also as aversive and highly stressful. The autistic person may well try to cope with the intense and aversive world by avoidance.''

    ''The lack of social interaction in autism may be because a subset of cues are overly intense, compulsively attended to, excessively processed and remembered with frightening clarity and intensity. Autistic people may be hyper-aware of selected fragments of the mind, which may be so intense that they avoid eye contact, withdraw from social interactions and stop communicating.''

    ''We suggest that enhanced fear and anxiety levels, mediated by a hyper-reactive and hyper-plastic amygdala, might underlie a core symptom of autism-impaired social behavior. A person daunted by anxiety and fears will normally not tend to interact with other people and will not dare to explore new situations and environments in the way a normal person does. ''


    The researchers basically suggest that people on the autism spectrum perceive things more intensely due to an excessive amount of sensory processing in different parts of the brain, leading to hyper-perception, hyper-attention, hyper-memory, and difficulty shifting attention. Because of this they're at a greater risk of developing social anxiety and anxiety disorders in general compared to normals.

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    Equinox's Avatar
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    It's a very interesting theory, quite eye opening in my opinion, I think they are really onto something with this research.

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    My Mom said from the very beginning I seemed to be supersensitive to sound and people. I only liked her and my grandmother and her to hold me as a baby. Anyone else and I would scream for hours.

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    Hmm, makes sense. I sometimes wonder if I'm on the autistic spectrum somewhere or have Aspergers Syndrome or something, it's mild if I have it. I sometimes struggle with social situations though because I just get exhausted. I cope pretty fine socially now, minus the SA thing, but looking back at when I was younger, I do wonder. Maybe I am, maybe I'm not. I know I'm different to everyone else, and I don't care. Heck, I couldn't be like everyone else. I'd get absolutley exhausted if I tried to go to a party. To much social stimulation. Ugh. I'd rather sit and home and read my book, thanks. I guess that may be over-stimulation. I don't have a problem with eye contact though.

    I prefer to consider myself an introvert though, rather than deciding I'm autistic or have aspergers. And wouldn't change my introversion for the world, it's who I am. Don't care if I have aspergers or autism, and since it doesn't really bother me much, I'm not gonna get another diagnosis on a list the diagnosis's already on file.

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    pam's Avatar needs more cowbell
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    As far as I knew, autism and aspberger's has a physical/biological cause. But I can still relate to a lot of those general feelings. I learned to feel like that tho, and some of this could be explained by Borderline Personality where the interpersonal boundaries are just not there so someone saying hello in a fairly loud voice is kind of like blowing the person over. "Normal" things affect you stronger. As I've improved my boundaries, this kind of stuff doesn't bother me nearly as much, but i do still have a problem with eye contact....it almost hurts, like bright light--I just have to look away. It''s hard to explain.

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    Antidote's Avatar Rude & Shouty
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    Quote pam View Post
    As far as I knew, autism and aspberger's has a physical/biological cause. But I can still relate to a lot of those general feelings. I learned to feel like that tho, and some of this could be explained by Borderline Personality where the interpersonal boundaries are just not there so someone saying hello in a fairly loud voice is kind of like blowing the person over. "Normal" things affect you stronger. As I've improved my boundaries, this kind of stuff doesn't bother me nearly as much, but i do still have a problem with eye contact....it almost hurts, like bright light--I just have to look away. It''s hard to explain.
    Yes, autism spectrum disorders (ASD) have clear neurobiological / genetic underpinnings. But environment also interacts with genes as early as in utero so how the condition is triggered and manifests is quite complicated and variable. It's interesting how you bring up the distortions in boundary perceptions in borderline PD, because this is also a problem in ASD. Children on the spectrum often show difficulties understanding the meaning of pronouns and how to use them, like they may say ''you'' or ''he/she'' when referring to themselves. This boundary problem probably persists into adulthood but in a more complex and subtle form. Personality disorders are also more common among those on the spectrum.

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    I do have a hard time keeping up with fast conversations sometimes, with multiple people banter and such, I feel like there is just something that I'm not picking up and I don't know how to respond or participate in some situations. My nephew was diagnosed with Aspergers --though his father is a tyrannical alcoholic...maybe the kid is just traumatized you know? I've never been diagnosed with autism though.

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    Quote pam View Post
    As far as I knew, autism and aspberger's has a physical/biological cause. But I can still relate to a lot of those general feelings. I learned to feel like that tho, and some of this could be explained by Borderline Personality where the interpersonal boundaries are just not there so someone saying hello in a fairly loud voice is kind of like blowing the person over. "Normal" things affect you stronger. As I've improved my boundaries, this kind of stuff doesn't bother me nearly as much, but i do still have a problem with eye contact....it almost hurts, like bright light--I just have to look away. It''s hard to explain.
    I think a lot of people with Autism/Aspergers have something called "Sensory Processing Disorder". They're either over-sensitized or under-sensitized to sensory signals. That said, "neurotypical" (people who aren't on the autistic spectrum) can have it too. It's not diagnosable on it's own, but I get the feeling it can exist on it's on, without another co-morbid illness. People with ADD, ADHD, Fibromyalgia, mania/hypomania in bipolar. It's even existant with anxiety. It doesn't have to be because of a condition you've had your whole life, because your brain is "wired" slightly different to neurotypicals.

    I get the eye contact thing. It doesn't hurt me, just makes my head spin slightly. Not because of an ASD though. I just get "sensory overload" from the anxiety and from hypomania.
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