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The Lost SelfPathologies of the Brain and Identity$
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Todd E. Feinberg and Julian Paul Keenan

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9780195173413

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195173413.001.0001

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Autism—“Autos”: Literally, a Total Focus on the Self?

Autism—“Autos”: Literally, a Total Focus on the Self?

Chapter:
(p.166) 11 Autism—“Autos”: Literally, a Total Focus on the Self?
Source:
The Lost Self
Author(s):

SIMON BARON-COHEN

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195173413.003.0011

The idea that as a result of neurological factors one might lose aspects of the self is scientifically important, in that it offers the promise of teaching us more about what the self is. This chapter asks whether people with autism trapped—for neurological reasons—are totally self-focused. It argues that people on the autistic spectrum, even the high-functioning individuals, such as those with AS, are essentially wholly focused on their own concerns, through a neurologically based inability to empathize to normal levels. Some can empathize with others and in this way overcome their self-focus—by supreme effort and reminding themselves constantly—but most would wish just to relax and revert to their essentially self-centred world. That is not to say that they are inward-focused, as many enjoy hobbies and interests that are outside of themselves, but because they are self-chosen interests, they are essentially self-focused.

Keywords:   self-focus, autistic spectrum, empathy

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