One that I realized quite quickly, I have an uncomfortably strong level of empathy. Or more accurately, a strong discomfort towards emotional disharmony in others. The strongest is in strong arguments or social awkwardness. I can barely stand to watch those intentionally awkward scenes in sitcoms and movies.

I have a preternatural ability to see what others are trying to say. This comes out in two ways. One, if someone is talking to me, and they make an error, my brain will autotranslate. So if they said brother and meant father, I will hear what they meant... (read more)

Your first three paragraphs describe me to a bizarrely high degree of accuracy.

5thejash8yI also had an uncomfortably strong level of empathy specifically towards people doing something that would make me uncomfortable, in a social sense. When I watched someone talking and embarrassing themselves in class for example, it felt like my insides were trying to escape my skin. This actually went away after watching all of the seasons of The Office (the American version). However, I'm pretty sure I feel an abnormally low amount of empathy for other emotional states in other people (both positive and negative, this was unaffected by watching The Office)

How is your mind different from everyone else's?

by Kaj_Sotala 1 min read5th Dec 2011267 comments


Partially to help reduce the typical mind fallacy and partially because I'm curious, I'm thinking about writing either an essay or a book with plenty of examples about ways by which human minds differ. From commonly known and ordinary, like differences in sexual orientation, to the rare and seemingly impossible, like motion blindness.

To do this, I need to start collecting examples. In what ways does your mind differ from what you think is the norm for most people?

I'm particularly interested in differences - small or large - that you didn't realize for a long time, automatically assuming that everyone was like you in that regard. It can even be something as trivial as always having conceptualized the passing of years as a visual timeline, and then finding out that not everyone does so. I'm also interested in links to blog posts where people talk about their own mental peculiarities, even if you didn't write them yourself. Also books and academic articles that you might think could be relevant.

Some of the content that I'm thinking about including are cultural differences in various things as recounted in the WEIRD article, differences in sexual and romantic orientation (such as mono/poly), differences in the ability to recover from setbacks, extroversion vs. introversion in terms of gaining/losing energy from social activity, differences in visualization ability, various cognitive differences ranging from autism to synesthesia to an inability to hear music in particular, differences in moral intuitions, differences in the way people think (visual vs. verbal vs. conceptual vs. something that I'm not aware of yet), differences in thinking styles (social/rational, reflectivity vs. impulsiveness) and various odd brain damage cases.

If you find this project interesting, consider spreading the link to this post or resharing my Google Plus update about it. Also, if you don't want to reply in public, feel free to send me a private message.