Yet another note:
I am indebted for anything I know about ego and logismoi (which is, well, almost nothing) to Father Meletios Webber. For an explanation of ego and logismoi, check the first chapters of his book Bread&Water, Wine&Oil.
Ego and Logismoi
This is going to be unpopular – but ego is a major thing for us. Now, don’t immediately confuse ego with sin.
We on the autism spectrum are naturally more inclined to be egocentric. Our brains are less equipped to step outside our own ball of experiences and reactions, as our problems with empathy and tendency to get things connected in the wrong way shows. Our brains more easily get overwhelmed with stimuli and all sorts of input from the outside, and we protect ourselves by attempting, in any way we can, to limit the amount of ‘noise’ coming in. And if we don’t do that consciously, our brain will do it for us and just go haywire once the limit has been reached.
All of this combined means we often live more in our own world, with ego’s far more rigid than that of other people.
Now, a few paragraphs on ego and logismoi, as I’ve understood them. (I may have understood totally wrong!)
Ego is, basically, how we see ourselves and the world. A sort of story consisting of our views, our (sometimes paranoid) fears, our desires and expectations, all lumped together. And through it we see and react to the world around us.
Of course, in everyone, this ego is bound to be incorrect about a lot of things. It lashes out to defend from attack when there is no attack going on, likes to make its views known to everyone else (because obviously, we are right and others are wrong). Unfortunately others have their own ego, so this is unlikely to work. In fact, since every other ego will consider it an attack, the result can be nasty when none of the parties involved are capable of recognizing their ego and keeping it in check.
The ego seems to work in conjunction with logismoi, a constant stream of thoughts that, when left unchecked, is the starting point of almost every sin.
In all of this we have both an advantage and a disadvantage.
Because the minds of others are often closed to us, and we are already used to motivations being a complete mystery to us, we’re often also oblivious to the ego-boosting others indulge in. Stating a view, to us, is just that – stating a view, and an opportunity for an exchange. Yes, we may hold very rigidly to our views, more rigidly perhaps than others, but we do tend to react more factual than emotional. Many times, our own ego does not consider a challenge of our views an attack, although the challenge, especially an emotionally charged one, may puzzle us.
At the same time, the fact that others act in ways that confuse us and often cause very real pain – people not keeping appointments, changing views and instructions, or triggering one of our sensitivities by being loud, or touching, or any other way – may mean we consider ourselves under attack when the other person’s ego is not even involved at all and they are blissfully unaware of the problem they just caused. We may have difficulty relating to and rationalizing the other person’s motivations or ignorance of offense.
Ego is probably not actively involved in most meltdowns (the ones caused by an overload of incoming stimuli, at least) and even on the occasions where it is – because we listened to our logismoi and managed to get *ourselves* overloaded – our brain has already shut down and there isn’t anything we can do about it at that moment, until we get it reset and emptied.
There are only three things we can do, and they are not so very different from what every other christian, fighting ego and logismoi, will do:
- Try and prevent overstimulation that leads to meltdown. Try and close open files in your mind, plan activities and social interaction carefully. Closing files may be difficult to do on our own, it may be sensible to enlist the help of someone who knows how that works. Learn to see the early signs of overstimulation, and take steps to rest and recover.
- Dealing with other people, especially in situations where there is discord or discomfort, is difficult. Try and get things off your mind by talking to those persons about it, or unloading about it to a trusted friend, so that it won’t stay on your mind as a feeding ground for logismoi. We are known to get a hold of the wrong end of the stick, and are not particularly good, generally, in understanding the emotions of others. Some clarification from someone who knows us well might help.
- If that doesn’t work, when the meltdown is over and brain has reset, make a conscious effort to remind yourself that a) it is a meltdown. it happens. don’t feel guilty. b) it bloody well hurt. pay closer attention next time to prevent it. c) the person or persons causing the problem, if it was a person who provided the last straw, most likely did not do so intentionally. he or she was not out to get us. d) if the meltdown was a result of overloading yourself by giving in to logismoi, confess it and make a plan to prevent it in the future.
There seem to be several categories of logismoi. We are possibly more susceptible to some and less to others – ‘what if’ and ‘if only’ lines of thought require fantasy, predicting cause and effect in a hypothetical situation, and an understanding of how other people’s reactions may vary when our reaction changes. While some of us may excel in formulating scientific hypotheses, not all of us possess strong gifts in the things named above. Several of us, however, do, and combined with our tendency to obsess those logismoi might get a very strong hold of us indeed.
When it comes to rigid thinking, we may have a problem. Rules being broken is not something we like. Seeing other people break rules often has a detrimental effect on us. Part of it may be logismoi feeding ego or the other way around, and our brains, less equipped to fight against this sort of onslaught, may go with it. We, as humans in general, rarely have to struggle in areas where we are strong. We almost always struggle where we are weak, and in case of autism, there are some weaknesses we should try and be aware of.
Still, when we are aware of our strength and weaknesses, we may utilize that knowledge, and safeguard against logismoi and ego as best we can, as indeed everyone must. It is possible, again, that the ‘how’ of things can be a little different, since it is likewise difficult to *change* our way of thinking; we may have to find ways to simply cope and avoid.