People who are diagnosed with Asperger’s, or who come to me because they have a certain personality type, will generally seek care primarily because those people have trouble making friends, or getting along with co-workers or teammates. The often harsh rejections hurt them, and they are confused as to why it happens.
To more emotional people, these folks can be seen as difficult, strange or even mean. In reality they’re simply two groups that are misreading each other, which is why each group generally has little trouble with being friends with other ‘mean people’ in their own group.
The people who tend to focus on a thought-based reality become skilled at the uses of ego. They can come across as nicer, or easier, because they’re knowledge of ego-based thought means they have a better idea of what’s going on inside others. That greater sense of thought-based empathy makes them more skilled at stroking other’s egos.
On the upside, this makes the emotional intelligent into successful people at roles that require that sort of intelligence. So they’ll often be attracted to things like media, marketing, PR, sales, medicine, nursing, the arts, or the teaching of certain subjects, as well as the care of others, like children or the elderly.
On the downside, the emotionally intelligent will use their abilities to manipulate others, or to conceal unappealing facts. They also tend to worry far more about what others think of them because they know they use their thoughts to create judgments of others, so they assume others do likewise with them. They can torture themselves with a lot of self-hating thoughts about other’s opinions.
Meanwhile, the more logically intelligent people are quite different. They might overlap in job attractions when it comes to things like medicine or psychology or teaching, because those subjects also include logic. But those folks can often be lost in more emotional jobs, or when they’re working with emotionally based people.
This means that the bookkeepers and accountants who place value on precision are seen as ‘anal’ by those who see things from a more emotional perspective, yet they are excellent by their work standards. Similarly precise programmers or engineers can be seen as rigid or inflexible. But their buildings don’t fall down and kill anyone. That is a caring act toward one’s fellow humans.
Of course, both personalities could become any profession. If they were doctors, one might be a surgeon with a cold manner and a sharp temper, while the other is a kindly, gentle pediatrician. Or vice versa. Certainly, by all accounts I’ve heard, a woman knows if she’s got a logically minded gynecologist vs. an emotionally sensitive one.
If it comes to interpreting science, a woman might be safer with the logically minded gynecologist. But her care might be better from the emotionally based one. So who got better healthcare in the end? How we weight that would depend on our own status as either emotionally or logically intelligent people.
In another example, a psychiatrist can behave more like an emotionally intelligent psychologist, or another could pass a test as a sociopath because they see behaviour as patterns in people’s ways of thinking. (There is an actual famous case of this happening.)
We all know that most forms of nursing involve emotional intelligence. Yet not all nurses will be of the emotionally intelligent type. So Florence Nightingale can be a nurse who cares, but her ‘care’ may have been shown less in her person-to-person responses, and more in her ability to invent the logic-based idea we now know as ‘epidemiology.’
This can mean that more emotional nurses can handle a crying child better, so they can see someone like Florence as potentially too cold or uncaring (think Dr. House from the TV show). But from someone on that other spectrum of understanding, it is a very loving act to find methods of care that save large numbers of people at once, rather than small numbers of people individually.
I have no idea of Florence Nightingale would have been diagnosed with Asperger’s. But I use her creation of epidemiology as an example of how someone in a caring profession can have that care appear in forms that look like cold mathematical systems, rather than immediate, in the moment emotional responses to a given individual.
This means that a more emotionally intelligent nurse can help a patient feel emotionally better, but they may not be able to help save the person’s life by logically figuring out the conflict that exists between a patient and their prescription.
Later, if things then go bad for the patient, an inability to help can lead the more emotional nurse to use their thoughts to torture themselves as a result. Meanwhile the more logically intelligent person could face that same unfortunately outcome and still feel okay as long as they felt they had done all they could, or that any mistake they made was logical.
The reason the logically minded person can leave second thoughts alone is because they know they’re never really trusting themselves, they were trusting their calculation. To them, if the calculation was solid, then they did all they could and guilt makes little sense.
Where the conflicts can arise is when pressure increases, because the logic group has issues around time. It’s a commodity to them more than others. So, as with the TV show House, what happens is that the Aspy personality gets frustrated by the time wasted on medically useless emotions, when the logic of something like a spreading virus, etc. continues on regardless.
Even if they’re right and time is of the essence, if an Aspy personality pulls a Dr. House and cuts through politeness to get to a rude but logically helpful answer, they can be seen as horrible people, even though their work saves the person’s life. To use another famous example, Alan Turing was difficult with people one on one, but cared about people by stopping a war and all the death that goes with it.
So the question becomes, is it better to be kind and potentially not save a life? Or is it better to save it even if we appear to be rude? The truth is, we want both things. But our struggle is, those qualities don’t come balanced in any one person.
What we really need is tolerance for both types, and the ability to recognize them so that we ensure we’re putting the right personality on the right job. Care comes in many forms. Love comes in many forms. Our job isn’t to change it’s form. It’s to get good at spotting whatever form someone’s love takes.
If a wife wishes her plane-designer husband was better at the gentle bits of marriage, she can remain happy and proud if she also keeps in mind that his same inflexible quality is what makes his airplanes so safe. Then, him cancelling date-night to do aircraft calculations can be seen not as a failure in his married life, but as an act of love shown toward every human being that will ride on that type of plane.
Likewise, for the logically minded person, life can be better if at least some space is given for others to flex their emotions –even if they feel chaotic and irrelevant to a solution. It’s a harder grace for the logical to give the emotional because they do not share the other group’s skill with empathy. But by staying conscious, their humanity can even manage to touch even emotional people in powerful ways.
In the end, neither of these groups are wrong in being the way they are. But each of these groups can benefit by learning more from the other. And if each of us figures out which group we’re in, and then we spend our lives growing toward the middle ground between these two personality types, we will have taken our strengths and then built upon them with lessons from those we are different from. And that can expand who we are, no matter which side of the equation we start on.
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.