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playful aggression
  • Lixina
    Posts: 289
    Tonight in the car my family and I got to talking about ourselves and who we are deep down, and I told my parents that sometimes I feel like deep down I'm a bad person. The reason why is because of something I've only recently found out is a PDA trait - Elizabeth Newson calls it 'switching between love and hate or both at once' but I call it playful aggression, because there's no hate in it.

    For an example, I have always hugged hard (though this has lessened over time). Part of this is poor motor control, but part of it was that when I got to hugging someone, I'd feel this desire to squeeze them as hard as I could to see if I could hurt them. And sometimes I'd deliberately hug around the neck instead of the body and try to choke them. And it's weird, because I felt no malice towards them. It's as if on some level I didn't even realize they could feel pain - it was just getting an interesting reaction from them.

    And I don't know why I did that. I feel so guilty about it, and scared that maybe this means I'm a bad person deep down. I don't think I'm explaining this right, and I'm worried that I'll scare you parents or make you think your kids are evil. But I'm thinking maybe some of the other PDA people here might be able to help me understand this part of myself.
  • I definitely feel the same way.
    I bite. All the time. I think part of me is wanting to get a reaction - not necessarily a bad reaction, and not in an attention-seeking way. I just like to have an effect. And yeah hugging too hard and just all those quoted things I've read in Newson's stuff like hugging whilst kicking, holding hands then biting... They have that effect. I'm different with it now that I'm older and it's odd that I still act similarly now but these days feel the need to examine why.
    I've taken to thinking that for me either it's too complex, or there's simply no real reason for it :P

    I'm sure you're not a bad person though.
    For flashes I think I'm a bad person because of this and because I think the way I go about my life must seem so selfish that I wonder if it really, really is.
    But I just know I'm not a bad person and I don't think you are either - especially since I don't know if inherently bad people question themselves like that lol.

    (Edit: some of these sentances don't really make sense/fully explain what I mean but I can't speak lately and evidently my typing suffers for it.)
  • Hi Lixina

    A bad person does not invest time and effort in trying to help others which is what you do. Your insight has helped me enormously in understanding my daughter. When i go off the rails it is because i am exhausted mentally and physically but when i feel stronger the insight that you give helps me to start afresh with her.

    Mollie does not seem to realise the impact of her actions on others and perhaps that is why you hugged hard for a reaction because you didn't fully understand the consequences on the other person involved. This does not make you bad. A bad person is one who knows the consequences of those actions and the fear that their action may have on others but carries on regardless because they don't give a dam. You do and the fact that you feel remorse at what you have innocently done in the past shows that you are a very caring, thoughtful person.

    As a neurotypical person i have done loads of things in my past that may have hurt or upset people but that is my past, it is part of growing up and i don't beat myself up over it. Perhaps you could view your past hiccups in the same light. We all make mistakes none of us are perfect and if we were what a boring world it would be.

    Speaking as a parent you have not freaked me out but have yet again added valuable insight into this complicated condition. Please don't feel bad it is people like you that give us hope for our kids not to mention wonderful insight into their thought process from one who knows.

    We need you and so do our kids so keep on posting and enlightning us from a PDA perspective. I am sure that i speak for many when i say that you will not be judged because if that were the case we would all be judging each other and surely the purpose of this forum is to learn and accept and not to judge.

    I say the same to you as well Vannah and the next time Mollie sinks her teeth into me, thanks to you, i shall have a whole new perspective on it.

  • Moose
    Posts: 1,843
    It is often said that there is a thin divide between love and hate at the best of times. many emotional opposites do have a lot in common, especially in intensity.
    I know fear that can make me shake and I know excitement that can do the same. I love my brothers and sisters with a passion and when I greet them it is never with a half-hearted hug. I show something of the strength of my love in the force of my hug.
    You could argue that this was a playful aggression, but is just a display of the intensity of the emotion and feelings I have.
    Now if this kind of thing happens in a neurotypical, with fairly well moderated emotions, is it any wonder that the person with PDA displays this to a greater degree.
    My own PDA son shares the full gamut of all the emotions I have ever experienced, in this sense he is no different to me. He knows love and hate, sadness and happiness and all the other too. The difference is that he experiences these to an intensity and extreme that I can never understand.
    I would then reason that if my son experiences emotions at an intensity far greater than 'normal', is it any wonder that the overlap or blurring seems to be even greater than we would usually anticipate.
    My parents had some Italian friends and the lady, Ida, was a person filled with Latin passion and Mediterranean intensity. I still occasionally see her. When she greets me I have my life blood squeezed out and she will often slap or hit me in her exuberance. It would not be the first time that I have received a bruise. Does she have a problem, is she emotionally unstable? No she is just a person who is very full on and unable to hide what she feels. I respect her for that, accept her and love her for all that she is and all that she isn't.
    Much that I see in my son is little different to this.

  • Lixina
    Posts: 289
    Actually, I just thought of something. Have any of you seen Malice And Asperger Syndrome? I heard someone claim that it was about PDA, and I didn't think so at first but maybe he's talking about this kind of stuff.
  • Moose
    Posts: 1,843
    I don't think prof Digby Tantam knows a whole lot about PDA or certainly misunderstands the reality of demand avoidance as a condition rather than a symptom another asd.

    I have no room to question his expertise on Aspergers, but I do find the notion of a malicious other type of Aspergers uncomfortable territory. My own layman's perspective would be that this is actually Aspergers plus another co-morbid problem that produces Aspergers with malice.
    But then what do I know?

  • mango69
    Posts: 967

    Elizabeth Newson's description of pathological demand avoidance syndrome has drawn attention to the existence of people with a
    pervasive developmental disorder who meet criteria for Asperger syndrome, but who are not currently recognized by professionals.
    They tend to be amongst the children diagnosed with conduct disorders or adults with antisocial or borderline personality
    disorders. They present problems because of their apparently malicious behaviour, but they do not strike others as having
    deficits in non-verbal communication or unusual patterns of interest.
    Digby Tantum

    I have been angered by this paper time and time again because he is a supposedly eminent Professor at the University of Sheffield at the Autism Research Centre and I just think he did not get the type of person that Elizabeth Newson was describing at all. Not least because he describes people with PDA as meeting the criteria for Asperger's syndrome which Elizabeth was at pains to describe as being very different from. I also think he uses the word malice where Elizabeth uses manipulative and I'm sure he knows the difference but I cannot understand why he has likened his TFAS to PDA as I feel he is completely barking up the wrong tree here. He doesn't even credit her in his references so I guess that means he didn't read the paper she wrote!! It is quite an old paper but it used to bother me that when I googled Pathological demand avoidance I used to get this crap coming up! Fortunately we have better info now and it comes up pretty low on the list but it rears its ugly head every now and again.

  • Moose
    Posts: 1,843
    I am glad you put it so bluntly Margo. When I first saw the article I knew nothing about digby tantam and his reputation or connection with the ARC.
    I read through the document and assumed it had been written by some 'numpty' so called science correspondent from a tabloid newspaper. You know the type, 1 science GCSE, 'A' level in media studies and a degree in Dance and Drama!!!! I was gobsmacked when I found out who he was. Out of deference to his position, I was reluctant to be too critical, but is struck me as p*** poor science and little better in journalistic terms. In a few short sentences he has peddled a misguided opinion and perpetrated a myth that undermines a serious area of research.
    In our struggle to get J away from a BESD school, Digby was quoted at us on a number of occasions by the LEA ( and the school) as evidence that PDA was more akin to an emotional behavioural problem ( ie just a fancy name for ODD) rather than having much in common with other ASD's

  • You know the type, 1 science GCSE, 'A' level in media studies and a degree in Dance and Drama!!!!

    Steady Moose... on the evidence we have so far that would be one of our own achieving fantastically well.
  • Moose
    Posts: 1,843
    To be honest, I would be quite happy if my son leaves school with a smile, anything else will be a bonus!

    I'm sure you realise that my point was that too often the public are informed through newspaper articles written by those without even a basic grounding in the subject.
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