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Can Asperger's look like emotional abuse?

(327 Posts)
NotThemCrows Wed 25-Jan-12 09:20:13

I posted on here last week, concerned about my DHs behaviour. I have read the Lundy book (fantastic- huge thanks to all those who pointed me in that direction) and recognised some of the stuff in there.

Last night I had a 1 to 1 session with our Relate counsellor for the first time (had about 4 sessions together and DH had one by himself 2 weeks ago) and she thinks that my DH may have Aspergers.

This does make a lot of sense to me, he is socially awkward, no empathy, no emotional awareness etc.

Could his major problem be Aspergers?

I was just wondering if any else has difficulties with an Aspergers DH that feels like EA.

Either way he still has anger issues, has demonstrated unacceptable behaviour and I have totally had enough of his bs and want a separation.

I am just trying to make sense of it all (or am I making excuses?)

Thoughts please

VeryLittleGravitas Wed 25-Jan-12 09:37:56

Your counsellor is not qualified to give a diagnosis of Aspergers, and IMO it's highly unprofessional for her to do so.

My DP, father and two of my children are on the spectrum...they're socially inept, blunt to the point of rudeness, and do tend to ride roughshod over the feelings of others; but they are all caring, loving, non-abusive individuals. They can sustain loving relationships, and are surrounded by friends and family who value and care for them.

Your DH might just be an emotionally stunted, selfish individual...my money's on that, not ASD.

CailinDana Wed 25-Jan-12 09:49:16

I agree with Gravitas that your counsellor shouldn't be offering opinions like that. It has obviously confused you and made you doubt yourself which isn't a good result. It doesn't really matter whether your H is on the spectrum or not, the fact of the matter is you find his behaviour hurtful and you're not willing to put up with it.

VeryLittleGravitas Wed 25-Jan-12 09:51:19

Baron-Cohen writes about affective empathy vs cognitive empathy. Cognitive empathy is being able to put yourself in another's shoes, emotionally speaking. Affective empathy is being able to form an appropriate response to another's emotional state.

People with ASD have affective empathy (will see another persons distress and want to comfort them,or feel distressed themselves) but have limited cognitive empathy.

Psychopaths and Borderline personalities can display effective cognitive empathy (can correctly identify the others emotional state)but lack affective empathy, so are unable to respond to it

Catsdontcare Wed 25-Jan-12 09:55:21

Wonderfull another MN thread perpetuating the myth that aspergers/asd = emotional abuse.

CailinDana Wed 25-Jan-12 09:57:04

I don't think that's fair Cats. The counsellor was the one implying that and so far none of the posters have said that's the case.

PostBellumBugsy Wed 25-Jan-12 09:59:22

Bit of a red herring in my opinion. Has your DH always been socially awkward, with no empathy and no emotional awareness. When you first fell in love with him, did you think those things about him?
If his behaviour is unnacceptable, why does it need to be blamed on Aspergers? If he hasn't always behaved badly, why would it now suddenly be Aspergers?
My DS is ASD & I would say it is alot more complex than the 3 traits you have described. Over the years I have met quite a few people on the spectrum and my experience would be that most of them are loving & want to be loved.

toddlerama Wed 25-Jan-12 09:59:25

I'm not sure it matters either way. If you are being emotionally abused, finding a 'reason' will not make it more tolerable.

Catsdontcare Wed 25-Jan-12 10:00:29

Sorry but it IS a recurring theme on MN these days. "My husband, mother, brother, whoever is an arsehole" "Oh maybe he/she has aspergers"

VeryLittleGravitas Wed 25-Jan-12 10:13:36

OP, even if your husband did have Aspergers Syndrome, that wouldn't preclude him from being a selfish, abusive arse as well.

My partner is on the spectrum...living with him drives me up the wall at times (obsessive rituals and communication issues) , but he's a loving, caring man, a devoted father and he does not have anger issues.

My previous bf was a NPD/BPD sufferer. He was emotionally stunted, monumentally selfish and would fly into spectacularly violent rages if his wishes were thwarted. He knew exactly what my emotional state and responses would be, and took great delight in manipulating them.

Autistic men are not abusive. Abusive men are.

singingprincess Wed 25-Jan-12 10:17:10

Many abusive people are pd. Not all, but many are on the spectrum. But they can only be accurately diagnosed by an expert who interacts with them

Relate do not seem to understand the dynamics of abuse at all. Lots of counsellors don't. You need to speak to someone who is actually specialised in this.
Relate actually really frighten me...they just don't seem to know what they are talking about, an awful lot of the time.

VeryLittleGravitas Wed 25-Jan-12 10:20:43

Agree with cats that (usually self-diagnosed) ASD is increasingly being used to excuse abusive behaviour. It's fucking depressing, and perpetuates so many bad myths and prejudice about the condition.

VeryLittleGravitas Wed 25-Jan-12 10:23:37

princess what fucking proof do you have for this statement...

"Many abusive people are pd. Not all, but many are on the spectrum"

Let's just carry on perpetuating the myths, shall we?

Punkatheart Wed 25-Jan-12 10:24:24

I would be very annoyed that a counsellor, having not even seen your husband, giving a diagnosis like that.....

PostBellumBugsy Wed 25-Jan-12 10:26:07

VeryLittleGravitas Autistic men are not abusive. Abusive men are says it all for me. Spot on.

CailinDana Wed 25-Jan-12 10:27:01

No condition ever excuses abusive behaviour, ever. I think the reason people mention ASD is because they think that the partner might be abusive without knowing it. I think that reflects a very poor understanding of ASD as it implies that someone with ASD won't be able to see that another person is upset or that they won't understand that you can't say things in certain circumstances. Abusive behaviour is very different to genuinely naive or awkward behaviour. Abusers deliberately set out to hurt their victims. People with ASD can sometimes hurt other people's feelings with bluntness but IME it's very rarely deliberate and if you know a person with ASD well then you know when they're trying to be mean or not, just like you would with anyone else.

Catsdontcare Wed 25-Jan-12 10:35:51

There is so much info on asd/aspergers and I've read ALOT and it's funny among all the likely traits you read about being an abusive cunt isn't one of them.

I have yet to find ANY professional statement that suggests abusive behaviour is more likely to manifest itself in a person with asd.

Catsdontcare Wed 25-Jan-12 10:39:10

But cailin plenty of people who are abusive do not think they are abusive and that isn't because they have asd.

There is a difference between hurting someones feelings through bluntness and abusing them emotionally

RumourOfAHurricane Wed 25-Jan-12 10:41:17

Message withdrawn

RumourOfAHurricane Wed 25-Jan-12 10:42:03

Message withdrawn

CailinDana Wed 25-Jan-12 10:42:44

I used to research ASD when I worked as a research psychologist and you're right Cats, there is no link between ASD and abusive behaviour.

CailinDana Wed 25-Jan-12 10:43:59

Cats "There is a difference between hurting someones feelings through bluntness and abusing them emotionally" - that's pretty much what I was saying in my post.

Catsdontcare Wed 25-Jan-12 10:51:33

Sorry I think I have misinterpreted your last post a little.

ThePinkPussycat Wed 25-Jan-12 10:53:35

What is wrong with a counsellor suggesting a possibility, that possibiliity being that someone is NOT emotionally abusive, but may be wired differently and have no intention of hurting their partner?

I'm sure this is true of my dear kind F, didn't stop it bloody feeling like EA through my childhood, for me and DM.

crazygracieuk Wed 25-Jan-12 10:55:17

I think that you have had some excellent advice.

I think that I am almost certainly on the spectrum and was very interested in VeryLittleGravitas' post about cognitive vs affective empathy which explains a lot about my relationships.

I have frustrated my husband/boyfriends by appearing cold or insensitive to their feelings (does that count as EA?) so have needed them to explain things to me so that I can make things up to them and not repeat the behaviour. The point I am trying to make is that I know that I have problems but I do not want to hurt anyone so am constantly working on myself and might need help/patience from my partner so that I can understand what the problem is. I have never been inappropriately angry or abusive and believe that being on the spectrum is not an excuse- it means that I have to try harder so that the ones I love are not hurt.

I agree with previous posters that a counsellor can't diagnose your husband.

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