Apr 26Liked by Athena Walker

The number of things that cause physical revulsion in people astonishes me. Take cleaning, I know people who will talk about things being 'filthy' and I see nothing but some dust. I reserve the term filth for stuff like the time the septic tank backed up while I was doing laundry and the toilet erupted. Now THAT was filthy and no amount of dust and clutter qualifies.

But then maybe I'm just strange.

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Apr 26·edited Apr 26Liked by Athena Walker

Good article! This is indeed a very useful skill.

Some of us can do too much of this decoupling for our long-term health, though. Autistics who "mask" are often decoupling underlying emotions from our behavior; unlike psychopaths, we generally can have very strong emotions that also have to be decoupled from behavior in many situations to behave like an NT (for instance, if we are in sensory pain in a situation that does not cause NTs pain and have to do that every day with no opportunity to get emotional support from those NTs either on it; if we are having to tolerate social uncertainty in situations that NTs just "get" but also we have to keep focusing upon acting NT; lots of other things). NT society does not let up on its requirements of NT-appropriate behavior, so we can feel we have to mask (honest) reponses to very aversive situations to us, for long long periods.

I think doing that too much is part of why I've had "burnout" periods; if there is not actual cheerfulness, actual positive feedback for us, underneath the "correct behavior", some deep part gets very drained for me. My inner motivation sort of rebels, and movement turns to glue - but it's not clinical depression. This may make no sense to many people.

There is just starting to be some research on "autistic burnout" but like most actually useful research on adult autistics, it only started a few years ago and is mostly NOT done by U.S. scientists. (With a handful of exceptions, and those exceptions are not known to most clinicians.)

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Apr 26Liked by Athena Walker

I don't think you're at all incorrect about revulsion, but there are indeed complexities the unraveling of which can add clarification. I believe revulsion can be interpreted correctly through the emerging paradigm of dopamine as the motivation (not reward) molecule.

When we don't want to do something, it's usually because we've associated that thing to negative stimuli, which hi-jacked our dopamine circuits in a counterproductive fashion, making us effectively not want to do that thing because it has been established by our neurological circuits as a source of unwell-being - which makes our instinctual areas of brain to class that thing as something to avoid.

This can be especially mind-bending when the association arises over something that one very much wants to do, but figuratively gets their heart broken over. The result is feeling like one's mental brakes and accelerators get pushed at the same time, and that's a recipe for frustration at best, or depression on average, or eventually traumatization at worst. I recently learned that full blown traumatization seems to imply a degree of losing touch with one's sense of revulsion, and that can be very problematic since it deprives oneself of one's inner compass, often pushing the person towards progressive traumatization aka train-wreck-type-life-mentality. Overcoming traumatic disorders seems to imply reconnecting with one's revulsion, which is why I don't think your instinctive hunch was incorrect.


It's also why I must say this "decouple emotion from behavior deal" is not as good advice as it may seem, because it encourages repression and potentially a host of other maladaptive routes. Feelings are messengers, and they have a reason for existing, one that indeed ties with one's survival mechanisms and intrapsychic balance.

I would therefore deem it wiser to instead fully acknowledge and carefully explore one's feelings and work with them by using logic, much like one would do as a well-rounded adult trying to influence a child one is in charge of education to learn manners and routines conducive to their well-being, as opposed to a tyrant parent who presumes they know better.

For former scenario I actually get the impression is indeed what you do. From what I gather in your writings - you don't ignore your emotions, nor do you seem to repress them. You seem to work with them in a way that yields the best possible results in alignment with your feelings. Which I feel is indeed a solid advice, one that I can wholeheartedly vouch for.


However, one must be mindful that doing so might prove near impossible to begin with, since there could be all sorts of mental blockages and traumatic experiences shaping up as invisiable walls that one first may need to sort through either in theraphy and/or with medication - the overarching task being one of rewiring maladaptive neural pathways that have shaped up, for whatever reason, in ways antagonic to one's best interests. You seem to also wisely realize this, judging from the later part of the article. Here's a bit that may not be obvious to you (or anyone else who hasn't been through it:)

In practice, this process of (actually) *reconnecting emotions to behavior* and learning to orchestrate both aspects effectively is subjectively experienced as the process of establishing a proper inner dialogue with one's emotional side, which may require a bit of self reparenting, which may require the assistance of a good therapist or counselor who can provide a healthy frame of reference. It's not impossible to do without external guidance, but it is far more challenging.

Simply decoupling emotional from behavior is the cornerstone of all dissociative disorders, and the result is usually not favorable in the long term. That is ableist advice, Mr. Dutton. Works well just as long as one is not dealing with major inner obstacles. Which one very well may happen to be, and it's no thing to be ashamed - just a thing to do, really. And it could sometimes turn out be the very best thing to be done.

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Apr 26Liked by Athena Walker

There is quite a bit of behavioural decision literature on emotions and decion-making that demonstrates the depth and power of emotions over rational processes. A good example (I will have to check this), is from a study where volunteers were induced into a negative emotional state, and then asked to bid on ebay. the outcome was that negative emotions equal paying more for the same/similar item. I'm sure you can imagine that there is spectrum to that phenomenon, where those least influenced by the stressor/ induction would be less likely to pay more.

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May 4Liked by Athena Walker

Hi Athena,

I can’t find anything titled “The Psychopath Manifesto” by Kevin Dutton. Please publish a link or reference to it.

While looking for it, I did find a review of his book on successful psychopaths by Martha Stout, another psychopath researcher. Here’s the link:


What are your thoughts on her criticisms ? Are they true in your case ?

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Apr 30Liked by Athena Walker

Athena: Hey. I'm slow on this sometimes. You mean that our actions (all of us) are often (many closer always) tied to emotions.

So even "procrastination" (a NoN-Action) is motivated by emotions generated from somewhere else inside the person.

Dammit: do I have this correct?

So if I plan to speak with a family member, about X, and I find myself bubbling with emotional turmoil, I can use my brain to decouple the emotion from the discussion?

If my goal is to talk about X, to solve it like a problem, for some reason, added to or overlaid upon, I added the emotional response or the like?

And you mean that even I likely have that coupling (in a limiting or non-productive way)?

Further, because we live in a relative "dark ages" and unenlightened times, your observations are largely unknown to the masses of people currently on the planet.

Pardon me, in advance. You know I often don't get these things quite right.

I hope I do have it right: Imagine the potential of millions of people cutting themselves loose from our own bullshit.

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Apr 27Liked by Athena Walker

Interesting. Stoic philosophy is very much aligned with the idea of disconnecting emotion from

action and he was the big stoic guy.

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Apr 27Liked by Athena Walker

This is very much in line with Stoic Philosophy. I’m starting to think that perhaps the leader of the Stoics, Marcus Auralious (I know I spelled that wrong) was a psychopath. Have you read any of his teachings?

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