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What exactly is Cassandra Syndrome?


What exactly is Cassandra Syndrome?

The term Cassandra Syndrome is given to neurotypical spouses experiencing distress as a result of their emotional needs not being met by their autistic spouse. The effects include:

-- low self esteem
-- loss of self-identity
-- feelings of anger and guilt
-- anxiety
-- depression 

Cassandra Syndrome does not arise as a result of any intent by the autistic partner - but even without "intent," damage can be done.

Cassandra Syndrome depicts a state of confusion, self-doubt, and inner turmoil that is all too familiar among neurotypical spouses. They often feel discounted, ignored, and even rejected by friends and family members, who may have a hard time believing the severity of the emotional deprivation as described by the NT spouse.

Traits of ASD that can lead to the NT spouse's suffering:

1. Because emotions make them uncomfortable, spectrumites (i.e., people on the autism spectrum) tend to intellectualize subjects (e.g., refer to books and studies), which may make them come across as cold and unfeeling.

2. Having sexual intercourse can present challenges due to sensory sensitivities.

3. Many have difficulties in their transition into young adulthood and professional environments, because many jobs involve playing corporate politics and navigating social interactions.

4. Many spectrumites have often been accused of “not having a filter.”

5. Many will reject therapy as they find it conceptually difficult to leave behind their world of logic into unchartered emotional territory.

6. Most are hypersensitive to criticism because they are expending a lot of mental energy trying to act “normal”.

7. Since there is no internal dialogue helping them read social cues for answers, spectrumites rely on facts and prompts from others to make sure they have control of the situation. 

8. Spectrumites don’t have much patience for small talk - and may find marital bonding events (e.g., "date night" with their wife) torturous. 

9. They have a difficulty anticipating the needs of others because of something called “mind-blindness,” an inability to place oneself in the shoes of others and anticipate their emotional state.

10. Spectrumites have a tendency to go into long boring monologues on their special interests or opinions.

11. They love information (of non-social nature).

12. They prefer facts, numbers, and statistics instead of discussions structured around “emotion.” 

13. Spectrumites suffer from “alexithymia,” which is an inability to place, identify the source, and distinguish one’s feelings. 

14. They have sensory issues. Bright lights, loud noises, and even touch (especially light touch) can be hard to them to handle.

15. They love routines. 

16. They only have one or two interests that they are extremely passionate about.

17. Without an internal social meter to tell them they are not being well-received or are going on too long in their monologues – spectrumites have a tendency to come across as one-sided and holier-than-thou.

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