Can a person with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) have empathy for other people?
The short answer is yes.
But a longer answer to this question is necessary to explain why people who lack the ability to put themselves into someone else’s shoes, to imagine their thoughts and feelings, and to predict what they will do next could be said to have empathy.
The Empathy of Autism Spectrum Disorder
Why is a lack of empathy so frequently associated with Autism Spectrum Disorder? It has to do with the definition of empathy. Empathy is made up of two important parts: the first is the ability to see the world from the perspective of another. This is the thinking or cognitive part of empathy. It is about identifying what is going on in another person’s mind.
The second part of empathy is more emotional—the ability to imagine what another person is feeling and then to care about it.
These two aspects of empathy require different skills. In a nutshell, people with Autism Spectrum Disorder have more difficulty than the average person with the first part of empathy—seeing the world from someone else’s perspective. The second part, caring about what someone else feels is as developed and present as anyone else.
Appropriate Reactions in Autism Spectrum Disorder
While I say that caring about someone else’s feelings is the same for people with Autism, another distinction is necessary to make this statement completely accurate.
What is critical to understanding empathy in those with Autism Spectrum Disorder is the idea of having an appropriate emotional response to another person’s thoughts and feelings. A person may care that someone else feels hurt or pain, is confused and worried, has doubts and wants comfort, but at the same time not know how to respond in a way that fits that particular situation. This is what makes those with ASD different and where the idea that they lack empathy comes from.
Autism makes it hard to know what it takes to address someone else’s concerns. The desire to respond may be there, the wish to help, to reach out and comfort may be there, however understanding how to may not. The resulting effect is, as so often occurs, the stigma of having no empathy, of being callous or unfeeling.
Autism Spectrum Disorder and Too Much Empathy
Swiss researchers Henry and Kamila Markram argue that the fundamental problem in Autism Spectrum Disorder is a hypersensitivity to experience. Everything is overwhelming. Lights, sounds, smells, tastes, and emotional experiences are intensified. The person easily feels overpowered, anxious and fearful.
The Markrams believe that people with Autism Spectrum Disorder, rather than not feeling enough, feel too much. What looks like coldness and aloofness to the outside world is actually a response to being overwhelmed by emotion. It is an excess of empathy, not a lack of it, that plagues those with ASDs.
Furthermore, feeling so much intensity leads to intense fear, according to the Markrams, along with withdrawal and self-soothing behavior, exactly the sort of repetitive movements and failure to make eye contact that is typical of those with Autism Spectrum Disorder. Behavior like this interferes with normal social behavior. Other people begin to withdraw, thereby limiting the social contact that could help the person with ASD learn more effective social skills. The resulting cycle of mutual withdrawal leaves the person with ASD appearing uninterested, and unempathetic.
Clearly, understanding what another person is thinking and feeling is difficult for someone with ASD. But this is different from not having the capacity to care and be concerned about people’s feelings. Autism does not rob someone of empathy, it just makes it more difficult to experience and to express.
Crap. I think I have asperger’s. Honestly most people who knew me as a child would probably say that I did. I was withdrawn and awkward and was bullied severely. People thought I was clueless about the subtle mockery and inuindos about me (and sometimes this still happens) but I am painful aware but I let then think I am stupid as a way to protect myself and because I don’t know how to respond. My friend who is a doctor told me that I take everything so literally and was wondering why I don’t pick up on sarcasm. Actually I am very aware of it but just don’t know how to respond properly. I can see someone and immediately know how they feel and what kind of person they are. I was driving today and passed someone and just saw her out of my periphial vision but was immediately disturbed by the calous, angry energy she was radiating. This is my life all day long every day. I am bombarded by the emotions of others. The few friends I have are very kind people since I have a hard time being around people who aren’t kind. I have wondered my whole life what is wrong with me and my family calls me the “alien princess” since I don’t seem to fit it and I have never felt like I belong on this planet or in this society. It has always felt foreign to me. I spend a lot of time in the woods alone or painting. My parents always told me to make eye contact but it was just so painful and at first I just didn’t know you were supposed to. I can see too much when I make eye contact. Then when I got older and wanted to fit in I tried to make eye contact but I would just stare like a deer in the headlights at people feeling a sense of absolute terror but trying to act as I thought was normal. Now I don’t care as much. If I don’t feel like making eye contact I don’t and when I do I just kind of look through them and try to block off too much feeling. My parents and others constantly told me I was over sensitive too. I just felt everything so acutely and still do. The fighting in the house was torture to me. I used to just hide in my back yard in the wood pile with my rabbit sometimes well into the night. I didn’t like people and didn’t play with other kids unless forced to. I liked animals and I liked and still love art and nature. I read about àspies a few years ago but decided there was no way that was me even though I fit most symptoms, including selective mutism as a child, because I know that I am night empathic and highly imaginative which supposedly are impossible with asperger’s. I don’t watch TV or read novels much because if I need some downtime I just prefer to be alone and go into my own head which is car more interesting than anything on TV. I am also a published poet and artist. I dunno. Maybe I have asperger’s, maybe I’m just wierd but I guess I don’t like labels anyhow. I’m just a different kind of person and I’m ok with that. Anyhow thanks for letting me think “aloud”.
Hi , good to know there is someone else like me out there I’ve known I’m different for a while but have never been diagnosed (have no interest in it either) but have been curious yet everytime I take an online test for aspergers it comes back negative but like you I have loads of empathy and seem to be able to feel peoples mood very easily and deeply and can see and feel their mood change in relation to mine changing to thiers! Like a back-and-to effect as I guess like me your face is very honest and you find it hard to hide your mood and emotions so instead of feeling and seeing that change in people when you look at them it’s easier to not look at them and connect, it seems better for them and me. But then I do have anxiety and depression issues too which complicates things further, in fact it may have developed social anxiety in me as I didn’t have social anxiety when I was younger however was a mute when I saw very young.
My theory is everyone is on the spectrum and people like us are further up , if you get me? I’ve had that idea for a while that so called aspergers is a defense mechanism against sensory overload. I think sometimes how society has evolved so hectic and rushed and busy is not natural which is why it goes against our natural ‘default’ state and that it’s not us that has a disorder it’s society that has the disorder!
Good to know you’re comfortable with yourself. The older I get the more I realise that everyone is fucking weird in their own right, weird is the new cool nowadays anyway isn’t it!? ‘Normal’ looks so boring!
Hello, I’m a 25 year old female Aspie who has been diagnosed for right around 10 years (a little more, but I feel old enough, so I won’t count those extra few months).
I have never understood why Aspies are labeled as unempathetic. I’ve always been empathetic to the point of being nearly empathic. True, I am unable to “walk a mile in another person’s shoes,” however, when I see someone hurting, physically or emotionally (it doesn’t matter), it’s as if I can actually feel their pain. I don’t know why, I don’t know how. I always just figured it was a gift from God to help me know who needs me. Sometimes, when my own life is a mess and I’m nearing meltdown mode… Sometimes I wish I had no empathy at all. Shortly thereafter I come to my senses and realize how different (negatively different) I would be if I lost such a huge part of me. I’ve never hated anyone in my life, and I believe it is because of my empathetic blessings. Also, I don’t tend to judge others either. And i forgive very easily (but i dont forget… I think its a quality Aspies share with elephants)
My level of empathy has helped me develop the ability to hide, fake or even create different emotions inside myself. (Like if I am scared, I can turn that fear into hyperactively joyful by pretending g and then I just gotta fake it til I make it.
How do I get rid of or combat this label that people who have never met before try to place on me?
I am fairly certain I sound insane, or at least Bipolar, so telling them of my level of empathy as I have laid out for you (honestly and bluntly like only an Aspie has the guts to do), is sort of out of the question.
Oh, and I don’t get angry much either. If I do get angry, it’s gone in about 60 seconds. Any advice about how to battle the assumption that all Aspies are gonna a thrown *violent* tantrums if they have a meltdown ?
Nothing more than, if people assume all Aspies have tantrum they are wrong. Tell them that.
Thank you for pointing out that Aspies like myself do indeed have empathy. I fully agree with the intense world theory. Lack of empathy is not part of autism. What appears like lack of empathy is actually depression due to being overwhelmed.
Please see my post on Asperger’s and Empathy. I think it will clear a whole lot up for you (without the psycho-babble that screws all of us) http://happyaspergermarriage.com/what-about-empathy-aspie-vs-sociopath/ God help all of the confused people out there when the facts are so damn simple….
Thank you for your suggestion. I read your post on empathy and while I don’t agree with all of what you wrote I did found it overall very helpful. Please keep communicating your thoughts about Asperger’s.
Thank you so much for taking the time to read my unnecessarily long rant, I am about to launch into another and use your website as the platform; although this really is directed at you in the hopes of finding a mutually beneficial understanding that can accomplish the goal we both have… to help those with Asperger’s syndrome and their partners find happiness.
I admit I was a tad dramatic when I opted to say, “God help us all…” but I am a rather dramatic person. I am just so saddened by the negative depictions of those with Asperger’s syndrome that I want to passionately scream out how misunderstood this whole thing is. I am a self-proclaimed “highly empathetic neurotypical” and also an avid research-junkie who has spent years reading blogs, books, peer-reviewed articles and research studies. All of this has led me to the current (strong) beliefs I hold. I certainly appreciate why others would not agree with all of my sweeping conclusions.
Too often I find myself concerned that the majority of mental health professionals delivering information on the subject matter are only utilizing data and inferences obtained in their practice setting or from things they have read. The problem with this is that NOTHING I have ever read (written by a licensed professional) ever pays mention to their own experience that qualifies them to make such generalizations or deliver “practical” advice.
There is a “human-factor” that is lacking and it causes a (potentially) unnecessary pause in trusting the advice or opinions they have to share. As a society we trust the medical professionals out there to steer us in the right direction and “get it right.” I doubt if you could honestly confirm that history has gotten much of it “right” when talking about Asperger’s syndrome. In fact, I am going to boldly assume you would agree that the grip on identifying and helping those with AS in the past 30 years has fallen short in a profound way by the mental health professionals entrusted to do the opposite.
It was this lack of comprehension about AS across the board that justified the creators of the DSM-5 to group Asperger’s syndrome into Autism Spectrum Disorder. They claimed that in doing such, they would ease the misdiagnosis and misunderstanding within the mental health community; the community who found it impossible to tease out those with Aspergers from all of the other disorders that affected social communication challenges. To directly quote this admittance that history seriously screwed over those with AS by their own omission…. “Researchers found that these separate diagnoses were not consistently applied across different clinics and treatment centers.” This was the DSM-5 committee’s justification for lumping a bunch of previously separated mental health diagnoses (even if poorly understood) into a giant pool of confusion. This was their answer for the fix to the mental health professional’s failure to do this in the first place. All they really did is make sure Aspies no longer “slipped between the cracks” but rather… got lost in a sea of confusion where no identified cause or therapeutic intervention could ever be uncovered for that specific subgroup.
My point in bringing this up is that anyone who has the wherewithal to truly investigate the history of Asperger’s syndrome or what the diagnosis “means” is going to come up with far more questions than they had going in after researching the topic. They are going to develop a disturbing distrust (as I did) in the mental health community’s ability to diagnose them (or their loved one) appropriately or construct beneficial therapeutic interventions, cognitive behavioral therapies, or general assistance in navigating the confusing world they already find themselves in. I am speaking on behalf of those like myself who desperately tried to find assistance and came up short. One way or another, those people who stumble upon this website are going to be expecting answers. You are a licensed professional who has suggested you have the knowledge to help them. If those people have also exhausted themselves in searching for answers prior to reaching your site, they are going to need some transparency from you to buy into anything you have to say.
I do apologize if I seem crass in my words, but I have opted to be unfiltered and blunt in my advocacy for helping people like my husband, people like myself, and the children who do not have to suffer the way either of us have in their future. I had half a decade to build up enough animosity toward those who failed us in the past. Abolishing the fear that I feel for everyone’s future hinges on directly vocalizing what others do not know how or want to say. If you say you have the tools to heal us, please be open and make good on those claims. I promise that any educated neurotypical wife desperate to get real assistance for her husband and marriage, has likely already developed a distaste for the professionals entrusted to have helped her husband long ago. It will not take long for her to develop a resentment for those in the mental health community for indirectly causing the horrific pain and misery that she is now finding herself in.
I know that the discipline of mental health is lightyears behind every other practice. I know that the majority of people who go into this field are not doing it for financial gain. I know that the ultimate goal of the vast majority is to advocate for more research, more funding, and ultimately more assistance for all of those suffering from a mental health diagnosis.
I still have faith in people like yourself who have dedicated your life to those with Asperger’s syndrome. I believe you have done this for altruistic purposes and I am so thankful for your existence. I am just desperate for you to start vocally advocating for all of us with more than vague “advice.” We are so deflated by this. We are so desperate that a highly visited website like yours could serve as the final decision-maker for whether an Aspie-NT marriage ends or those involved keep fighting. If you have only vague information to offer, that sounds like the same regurgitated crap we have been reading every day since we began our quest for help… we are going to submit to the hostile, angry, depressed, and defeated neurotypical and Aspie individuals out there who tell us there is no hope and it is time to just cut our losses and run.
I highly doubt that was your intention in created this so I hope you will consider what I have to say so we can be a part of the efforts to truly make a difference.
So here is where I stand: I sit back day after day and wonder how many of the self-proclaimed “Asperger Experts” ever had an interpersonal relationship where they were emotionally invested in someone who warranted the diagnosis. I would like to believe that they have, and that is what motivated them to dedicate their lives to the subject… but I find myself doubting it more each day. I pay mention to this because I could read all day (every day) from outside the box about AS and still not comprehend what I do being in love with a man who was undiagnosed until he reached the age of 31. Those involved in an Aspie-NT relationship speak to our hearts and our pain… while those professionals who claim to have answers lack the emotionally empathetic words to enable our trust. Can you see why this may cause us to choose the ones who identify with our feelings more, even if they are giving us poor advice to run?
Having to navigate the journey first hand and have both of our happiness hinging on truly understanding this diagnosis… it changes a lot for a person.
Due to my assumption that most of these “experts” do not actually have first-hand experiences, I would like to find a way to link them up with those who do. Not those who are in the initial stages of the discovery, but those who have lived it long term, learned everything they can about it, and have significantly relevant observations to share. I would like to see those who comprehend the way the human mind works through education and clinical experience join forces with those who have the knowledge obtained from social accounts and personal experience. Both have equally meaningful information to exchange that combined can enable realistic interventions in the future.
I fear that those with a title behind their name may shun those who haven’t one. Regardless of how much a person observes in a clinical setting, or the extent of professional literature they review, there is going to be a significant gap in comprehension unless they have been personally exposed to it. We are not talking about a readily identifiable deficit in neurological function here, we are talking about empathy. This is a concept so abstract, even the most empathetic of mankind finds challenge in processing it. Despite all of the great strides in neurology, psychiatry, sociology, psychology, genetics, behavioral forensics, etc. none of these “scientists “are able to definitively identify the lobes of the brain, chemical composition, environmental, genetic, or social factors that determine a person’s individual capacity for utilizing empathy.
With that being said, I am fully aware that no one can discount the theories I currently have (and want to share) any more than they could validate them.
So here is what I have to offer:
Having a decent grasp of medicine in general and also being inexplicably in love with an adult who has Asperger’s syndrome, and without question suffering the ill-effects of the Cassandra Phenomena; I egotistically believe my conclusions make a little more sense than most of the literature available. I have utilized all of my research to come to the conclusion that the sole deficit in someone with Asperger’s syndrome (and I absolutely do not endorse or agree with the catch-all diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder) is an absence in cognitive empathy.
I do not deny all of the other comorbidities or observed behaviors that frequently exist in Aspies (ADHD, OCD, tics, focused special interests, tactile/audible/visual sensitivities, repetitive behaviors, etc.) as they are most certainly present in a vast majority of those who rightfully warrant the diagnosis. Though they are readily identified, they are NOT defining characteristic of ALL Aspies. The more logical explanation is that these other neurologic and behavioral traits are seen equally in the general population of neurotypical children as they are in those with Asperger’s syndrome. They just “appear” to be linked to those with Asperger’s syndrome because of how pronounced and severe they present themselves.
A neurotypical child who may have similar diagnoses or behaviors can often diminish the impact they have in their daily function by utilizing alternate coping mechanisms, cognitive behavioral therapies, and positive social interactions to offset them. Every mental health professional knows that stress both triggers and elevates the severity of all of those behaviors and neurologic anomalies. If they all agree on that common knowledge, they should also be able to easily realize that a child/adult with Asperger’s syndrome endures a far greater assault on their psyche that manifests into a stress-reaction. If that Aspie also has the genetic predisposition for ADHD or Tourette’s Syndrome (or any other named commonality) … it is certainly going to effect the severity and impact of those things in their daily life, right?
I do not think I have all of the answers, nor do I discount the possibility that there will be proven causes found that may conflict with my current beliefs. I am open to anyone who can challenge my theories. The problem is… I have yet to find any. I feel incredibly disheartened that the potential for anyone validating or disproving my theories with scientifically-significant data is now non-existent. The grouping of Asperger’s syndrome into Autism Spectrum Disorder has made the chance of any relevant progress in AS unlikely.
My theory: I took all of my compiled data from the last five years and did my best to negate or confirm previous information put out about Asperger’s syndrome. In the end I had only one commonality that served to explain EVERY OTHER “characteristic, trait, behavior, or comorbidity” responsible for everything that goes wrong in the life of an Aspie. Cognitive Empathy.
That is, it.
After years of trying to implement every piece of advice, altering every behavior I could, adapting every way I attempted to communicate, and exhausting every single thing the “professionals” suggested would help or at least salvage the failing marriage I had with the man I loved… they ALL FAILED. The only thing that every worked, the only thing that ever enacted immediate change… and the only thing that saved my marriage was when I chose to apply the concept that my husband DID NOT have cognitive empathy.
When I finally educated and disciplined myself enough to communicate with this concept in the back of my mind… my marriage immediately began to transform into everything I always wanted.
Everything that I was told was impossible or non-existent was becoming my reality.
The moment the transformation began, I began to reflect on everything I had been doing wrong all those years to prevent us from having an intimate and happy marriage.
My husband and I are both unique individuals. Neither of us are perfect and neither of us have mastered this new method of communicating. He has over 35 years of standing firm in his view of reality, and I have the same. But we love one another, we always have. Despite our daily lives having had an emotionally volatile and hostile foundation… despite the gallons of tears I have cried and the inexcusable and horrific things we have said to and about one another… we loved each other. When every single bit of sense in our brain told us to stop fighting for something that was impossible, and every rational observation concluded we were incompatible with one another… we still loved one another. Neither could make sense of it, and neither wanted to keep suffering in an attempt to try to.
But we did. We had no good reason for doing this that would make sense to others outside of saying we were self-deprecating and insecure humans (which neither believed was true of themselves).
We fought hard, and we fought with all of the physical and emotional energy we could muster for a marriage that most would have thrown away long ago. We didn’t know why.
Finding the love, emotional reciprocity, humor, intimacy, shared interests, desire to motivate one another, internal self-motivation, and general sense of fulfillment that both of us now share… THAT WAS WHY. We both inherently knew it was there waiting to be uncovered, just as the desperate NT wives who have spent 30 years clinging to a marriage that causes them pain also know there is a reason not to give up.
I am not bound to marriage by religious conviction. I divorced my first husband who I loved very much because I felt he was an emotional threat to my daughter and self. I am not financially dependent on my spouse (I am the source of income), I do not have children with my husband, I am not insecure in believing no one else would want me (I know I am still desirable). I had no reason to stay in an unhappy marriage with a man the literature and web-world said “could never love me.”
I could have left, and by all reasonable accounts… I should have left.
I didn’t leave because I KNEW who my husband was despite the inept communication we had that kept telling me otherwise.
This is the main reason that highly empathetic neurotypical women do not leave their Aspie husband. It is not about all the other excuses they make to try to find rational sense that coincides with society’s expectation of a strong woman’s behavior. These women are NOT WEAK.
I did not have validation for this underlying belief until I applied the theory that my husband had no cognitive empathy into the way I communicated with him…
Everything changed from that day forward, little by little, until I knew for a fact that everything I believed in my gut about the man I married perfectly mirrored the man I was now sharing a bed with.
My husband and I are so very in love with one another. My husband… the cold, selfish, and non-empathetic man I once thought he was… is the kindest, gentlest, and most empathetic individual I have ever met.
My husband has emotional empathy; he does not have cognitive empathy. I don’t NEED cognitive empathy to be happy, and nor does he. We just had to figure out a way around it when I only knew how to communicate by using it.
So in conclusion Dr. Roberson, (and thank you with all of my might for allowing this novel to be posted), I may not have the answers. I may be wrong in the conclusions I have drawn about Asperger’s syndrome. All I KNOW is that the only thing that ever made a difference for my husband and I was the silly theory I invented that everything was directly related to cognitive empathy and my husband having no capacity to comprehend it. Everything else failed. I have never found success otherwise, and we ARE very “successful” now.
If you can make sense of why this has worked for us when nothing else did… if you can combat anything I have to say with scientifically proven evidence or clinically proven success… please, I want to hear it. Everyone wants to hear it. Maybe this is a deficit that only my husband has and it will not work for everyone. Maybe you could give information that will make us even closer and happier. This is a process and not easy because I am learning to communicate in a whole different language that was once instinctual to me.
Please, tell us what made you go into this field… what firsthand experience you have. Please be transparent. You have said you have over 30 years of experience directly dedicated to those with Asperger’s syndrome. You even point out that when you do diagnostic testing you differentiate between the two (AS and ASD). This is why I trust in what you have to say.
I read everything you wrote, I respect you and I am beyond trusting that you can help fill a lot of voids I have in understanding my husband. I also think you may have the ability to prove or disprove my simple explanation for what the true defining characteristic of Asperger’s syndrome is.
I realize a lot of internet bloggers who are disclosing advice are being vague in order to generate profit, business, and a larger clientele. I give you my word… disclosing what you know is NOT going to drive away profit, it is going to do the opposite. We neurotypical wives have spent an embarrassing amount of money on books and tools to save our marriages. We are not going to stop reading what you have to say if you are giving us beneficial information and tools. We are only going to seek you out further for individualized assistance with our own unique relationships. We are desperate for honesty.
Please be the one professional who does not fail us.
HEAR HEAR Thank you Kenneth and Kara, thank you for saying this, spelling it out, expressing it clearly even if it’s longer than the average comment! (about the cognitive empathy being separate from caring). Kara I agree with every loving word you wrote and I wish you had the attention of every NT wife because these words are very helpful!
I’d like to add that Emotional NT wives do go through cyclic phases during which they see everything as much worse and panic, and then their hormones settle down and they see the same things differently. so there are like Moon-periods for each NT wife when she’s desperately researching Aspie-ness, and then she stops, because she was calmer for other reasons, or she got a job or hung out with friends, and he didn’t matter so much and things calmed down and then she naturally expressed things with more appropriateness for a cognitive-empathy-blind man and then he was nicer, and she never realized that her experience was so much part of the bigger picture.
Yup, I’ve long suspected that I’m an Aspie, although there are other childhood factors which may or may not be involved.
The emotional overload followed by withdrawal describes me very well, and causes tremendous difficulties. It’s nice to see it described like this, rather than promoting the idea that “aspies don’t have empathy” when, in fact, the opposite is true. In my case, it was always my inability to make sense of my feelings that caused a problem, rather than any lack of them.
However, where once people were an enigma to me, I’ve made a kind of personal study of them in later life. As a result, I find I can figure people out very quickly and shockingly well. It frightens me occasionally — I can feel like Ray Milland in the movie “The man with x-ray eyes”. Sometimes I wish I did not see.
I still have moments when I forget to think analytically in social situations (usually when I’m happy and excited) and the result is almost always misunderstanding by others which I find upsetting and sad. Nevertheless, I think I have certain insights and abilities not commonly shared. My outlook on life and people is positive overall, and I’d never change the way I am. I’m far more interested in finding better ways of dealing with any difficulties and getting the most out of life.
The increased sensitivity, including emotional, of ASpies does not equal heightened empathy. More often than not, they are acutely sensitive to, and overwhelmed by, their own feelings and nobody else’s.
I don’t agree with that at all. I know I have heightened empathy. Ask any of the people who turn to me when they need help or just someone to cry to. I am known for it. Some people are only my friends when they are in need, because they know I’m not so good in a light-hearted social setting.
Could you tell me what part of the article you don’t agree with? I would very much like to hear your opinion.
I suspect I am an Aspie.
I feel sad for others, but will avoid any fights, tense situations because I can’t handle them. My last relationship was pretty much ruined as I could never understand how to act properly when required, ie; if partner was upset, or upset over something, I could never see why. I couldn’t feel angry if someone wronged me or her, it’s like that part of my brain just wasn’t there.
Thank you for reaching out. I’m sorry to hear of your troubles. May I suggest, if you haven’t already, that you seek some professional help. Given your experiences, I think it would benefit you. Let me know if I can be of any assistance.