The empathy imbalance hypothesis of autism: a theoretical approach to cognitive and emotional empathy in autistic development. - Free Online Library
Autism is a pervasive developmental disability resulting from a neurological disorder that affects the normal functioning of the brain. It is characterised by the abnormal development of communication skills, social skills, and reasoning.
Pervasive Developmental Disorder
Any of several disorders, such as autism and Asperger's syndrome, characterised by severe deficits in many areas of development, including social interaction and communication, or by the presence of repetitive, that continues to fascinate researchers, challenge clinicians, and distress affected families.
Empathy is a set of processes and outcomes at the heart of human social behaviour.
In biology, psychology and sociology social behaviour is behaviour directed towards, or taking place between, members of the same species. Behaviour such as predation which involves members of different species is not social. Fascination with autism is often with the study of empathy because the prevailing theory suggests that people with autism lack empathy.
For example, according to Decety and Jackson (2004), "Children with autism ... display a broad range of social communication deficits, and most scholars agree that a lack of empathy prominently figures amongst them" (p. 90).
The empathy imbalance hypothesis (EIH - External Interrupt Handler ) of autism, in keeping with the theory of mind hypothesis (Baron-Cohen, 1995), proposes that autism involves a significant cognitive empathy (CE) deficit.
However, the hypothesis also proposes, in contrast to prevailing theory, that people with autism actually have a heightened capacity for basic emotional empathy (EE). This combination of a CE deficit and an excess of EE can be termed EE-dominated empathic.
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