(I wrote this in about 2007 or 2008)
(Since I wrote this I have found that this condition resembles other conditions such as excessive introversion and the highly sensitive person. Asperger’s syndrome was the first condition that I found that resembled it.)
After reviewing my life I’ve found I have traits of what’s called Asperger’s Syndrome. As to if I actually have it I don’t know. It seems that, if I do, it’s very mild. In fact, it’s so mild noone noticed it, not even I, but it was strong enough to influence and determine the course of my life. This seems to be very common for many of us. We “sort of” have it. Because of this, I tended to look at myself as having more of a “sub-Asperger’s Syndrome”, so to speak, which I kept calling THE RIFT ILLNESS.
This name comes from a term I often used to describe a problem I have, that there is this ‘rift’ between my and the world. It’s particularly pronounced with people. In fact, the first time I used it I called it the ‘social rift’. I use the term ‘rift’ in the sense of a big gap or crevice or fissure between me and the world.
With this discovery of Asperger’s Syndrome I looked at my situation in a new light. Previously, being brought up with psychoanalysis and psychology, I tended to look at it as a psychological problem. Now, with Apserger’s Syndrome, I looked at it from an angle of an impairment, one which I have no control over and has no psychological meaning. It opened up a new world of looking at these things. It’s not a psychological problem but an impairment I have (perhaps compared to a very mild retardation).
Looking at things in this new light I reflected on things I said in the past about it and things as if fit right together. It’s like this idea of an ‘impairment’ was the last piece in a puzzle.
For years I have said that one of the problems I have is that I have a problem FOCUSING ON THINGS. What I mean by this is that I tended to OVERFOCUS on things, which led me to EXCLUDE OTHER THINGS. I believe this started early in me.
As a child, I seem to be very involved with play, a lot more than most boys. Play was often like a religious experience for me. I can recall the times I would be so involved with play that when I had to stop and turn away it was like I was turning into a new world. How many times was I downstairs playing then had to go upstairs and outside and it was like I was being reborn into some new world. I GOT SO INVOLVED WITH PLAY THE WORLD DISAPPEARED. Then there’s the hours playing and it would be like a mystical experience. I could feel a ‘presence’ and a closeness to ‘something’. This was very pronounced in my later play years. I’d begin to play on my own more often to experience this ‘closeness’ to the ‘something’. It was then, as I think back on it, that I began my solitariness and my time spent alone. It was then that I became ‘mystical’ in some sense. Play was like a revelation for me.
There are two dreams in my life that have always stood out in my mind and emotionally. In one I had a friend who I used to play with often. We lived in the backwoods, away from the populace, and we were the only friends we had (besides, everyone else was so far away). We loved to play together and we had so much fun. Then, one day, they had to move. I found myself alone in the backwoods. There was no one. Even reflecting on that dream now makes me sad and depressed. Even years later that dream has brought me to tears. I have always interpreted it this way: My friend was ‘play’ and his leaving is when I left the ‘play years’. The fact is that the loss of play is the biggest loss of my life.
More than once have I said that MY WHOLE LIFE SEEMS TO BE TRYING TO REGAIN THE PLAY I HAD WHEN I WAS A KID. Looking back on it now, I could see that after the play years ended I became ‘Mr. Scholar’ studying this and that to no end. In effect, STUDYING REPLACED PLAY. Just like play I got very involved with it. I concentrated on it at the expense of everything else. The whole world would end and I wouldn’t of known.
In fact, THIS INTENSE CONCENTRATION AND FOCUSING WAS SO STRONG THAT EVERTHING ELSE DISAPPEARED. All around me people were doing things, having friendships, doing things, dating, marrying, having kids and families. All that went right on past me. I hardly noticed.
This intense concentration and focusing is of a unique quality. To me it’s like the mind has a certain ‘vision’ when it looks at the world. Normally people have an ‘all-encompassing vision’ of the world. That is, the mind looks out at it all and is aware of a lot of it. I, on the other hand, have a ‘limited vision’ only focus on a part of it. Because of this, the rest of it is left out and missing. It’s like a tunnel vision of the mind. I’ve looked at it another way too. It’s like the mind has only so much energy. Most people put the minds energy out to all parts of perception. This means it’s sort of ‘spread out’ over life. I focus that energy on a small segment of perception. The rest receives little or no energy at all and so it is left out. It’s not an absent-mindedness or laziness. THERE IS JUST THIS TENDENCY OF MY MIND TO FOCUS. In fact, some odd years ago I could feel this tendency, as if I could feel my mind trying to focus on things. I complained about it a lot.
It makes me neglect a lot of life. I literally don’t notice things. Life literally passes me by. Because of this I don’t “participate” in life, at least not like other people. It makes it hard to associate with life because I can only relate to what I’m concentrating on. This is the beginning of the ‘rift’. You see, THE ‘RIFT’ IS A RESULT OF A “MISMATCH” BETWEEN MY INTENSE CONCENTRATION AND LIFE. There is a tendency to mistaken what I concentrate on with life as a whole. IT’S AS IF MY MIND IS IMPAIRED IN SUCH A WAY THAT IT ASSUMES WHAT I CONCENTRATE ON IS LIFE BUT IT’S ONLY A SMALL PART OF IT. It naturally assumes it in the same way as my mind assumes something that’s hot is hot and something that’s cold is cold. But it’s not. That’s the impairment. WHAT IT ASSUMES IT IS IS NOT WHAT IT IS.
Because my mind is so focused I don’t do the normal ‘human’ things. As I said above, I could see myself moving in my late play years into a solitude, concentrating on that ‘closeness’ with ‘something’. This would dominate my life and world view. This brings up the point that THIS CONCENTRATION ISN’T JUST AN ACT, IT’S HOW YOU LIVE YOUR LIFE AND BECOMES PART OF YOUR WORLD VIEW. IT DOMINATES HOW YOU LIVE. With most people, concentrating and focusing is a temporary occasional act. It doesn’t dominate their lives. In many ways, my moving into solitude was an abandonment of humanity, a turning away. I lived in my own world, devoid of people, and participating in the human life. But this is not my conscious decision. I didn’t just come up and say, “this is what I am going to do.” It just happened. MY MIND SET ME ON THIS PATH AND I HAD NO CHOICE BUT TO FOLLOW.
After about 30 years I can see the effects it’s done on me. It took me that long just to realize something was wrong, though I suspected it earlier.
One of the things it did is make me alienated. Because I was so focused I was not really participating in the world and life. It made me detached from life. In that sense it impaired me as a person and a human being. One of my biggest complaints since my late 20’s is that of being alienated, lost, abandoned, and uprooted. In fact, for years this reached crisis proportions. I battled with this for over 10 years. It’s still a problem.
It’s particularly created problems associating with people. Naturally, it made me solitary, so I seldom associated with people and still prefer to be alone. Later, though, I would become more and more social. Now I enjoy to do socializing and ‘shooting the bull’ with people. But while I was doing this a weird thing happened that baffled me for years. I went to go around talking and joking to people. I thought I was nice and all that. But yet no friendships developed. For many years at one job, for example, I’d go and say hello to everyone in the office and ask them how their day was. How many people did that to me? But yet I saw them do it to everyone else. In 16 years no one asked me to lunch or to do anything, but yet I saw it happening with everyone else around me. The point is that NOTHING CHANGED EVEN AFTER I SOCIALIZED, I WAS STILL DETACHED FROM EVERYONE. My socializing, joking, being kind, etc. didn’t do a thing. I thought it would, I really did. This mystified me for years.
It was so weird that if I went in a room no one would speak to me, though they’d speak with others. I couldn’t figure it out. It’s like people avoided me in a way. The best example is where I work now. I often go to lunch which requires me to walk hundreds of yards on the sidewalk. I’ve been doing this for over 4 years. But yet seldom does anyone speak to me. While I’ve been here there have been people who have been here only a couple of months and all they do is walk from the parking lot to the door and get confronted by people wanting money, whores, etc. more than I have in the 4 years I’ve been here. Why?
The theory is that it is an aura or way about me. You see, THIS INTENSE CONCENTRATION IS SO BAD THAT PEOPLE CAN SENSE IT. They can sense I am ‘to myself’, closed, and shut off from the world and so do not associate with me. I once saw some footage of me when I was in my early 20’s. As I looked at myself I could see that I had what I called an ‘intense preoccupied’ look. I don’t think I’d go talk with me then. It is sort of like when you notice someone who seems distracted or preoccupied, there’s a tendency to leave them alone. It’s no different. Apparently, my aura or way about me had not changed, as I was still getting the same reaction. Intellectually, I was trying to be social and made the effort. But my aura or way about me was unchanged. People still wouldn’t associate with me. Hence, my socializing came to no use.
How a person is supposed to change the aura or way about them I don’t know.
One of the things it did is greatly impaired my ability to associate with females. In fact, it stopped me in my tracks. Again, my aura or way about me didn’t work for me. But, I feel, there’s more to it when dealing with females. The fact is that females are very sensitive, emotional, and over reactive. You got to handle them with gloves. You got to know how to read them, respond to them, and read their ‘messages’. Unfortunately, I can’t do that. Those of us with the ‘Rift Illness’ have a hard enough time associating with people. Females, with their oversensitivity are the worst. Now we’re dealing with people where everything must be done a certain way, where they are depending on us to do certain things, where they are expecting us to treat them a certain way. We just can’t do it.