I recently finished the half-joking, half-serious (audio)book Assholes: A Theory by Aaron James.
It’s a rather funny book, and I listened to it at x2 speed via OverdriveMedia recently at work. If you don’t have access to a library with OverdriveMedia, you’ll have to access it via Audible.com if you want to hear the audiobook version.I listened with interest not least because there are many times where I get very self-conscious and berate myself for being an asshole, or rather, acting like one, as this book would more likely diagnose my circumstances. The main differences between what I do sometimes and what this book describes as a “Total” asshole is that my thoughtlessness and self-centeredness and failure to consider others is naive, even innocent, and stems mostly from a lack of awareness, whereas a “genuine” asshole is thoughtless, self-centered, and disregards others willfully and feels (self-)justified in doing so. So while my behavior can sometimes come off as “asshole-ISH” (and yes, sometimes it is), I’m not the genuine article, i.e. not a “true” asshole. Which was something of a relief. The book does not take into consideration the experience of ASD people and its perspective is NT normative, but I couldn’t help but think about how ASD people relate socially (or fail to) in the context of this book’s main discourse. I think a fair number of ASD people give up sometimes, at least temporarily, and resign themselves to accepting the label “Asshole” when they shouldn’t. They wallow in self-loathing and just want to disappear. A book like Aaron James’s is instructive and useful to ASD people in showing how as much as we may “feel like such an asshole” at times, in a very self-reproachful way, the fact is those of us who have such attacks of conscience are logically ruled out of actually being “true” assholes. We still have to expend the cognitive effort to improve our weak & naive Theory of Mind in favor of a more sophisticated one. We still have to consciously consider the needs of others as this doesn’t come to us “naturally” but must rather be cultivated and weighed fairly against our own needs and desires.