Theory of mind deficits

I was just reading about this. Apparently they are shared by people who have either schizophrenia or autism.

Theory of mind is a social-cognitive skill that allows people to think about the mental states of others, including being able to recognize that they can possess different knowledge, beliefs, emotions, and desires than your own. It’s a skill that is supposed to help you explain and predict people’s behavior.

I think this might be what causes my paranoia.


Ravens and crows have theory of mind. Rare for birds

Was interesting cuz it was an owl that allowed me to understand my own “theory of mind”. From 2013-16 all I could think of was that owl. Now theory of mind comes naturally to me. I don’t have to think about it anymore. However past me can totally relate to this!!

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Good article. The one thing I noticed it said one of the first things to develop in theory of minds is children’s ability to recognize beliefs and desires of others. It later goes on to state that people with schizophrenia may have theory of mind deficits, not recognizing others beliefs and desires. I think this may be what leads to solipsism in schizophrenics. Good things.


That’s great that it comes easier to you now. I’m hoping that I can strengthen my own theory of mind too! When I was first diagnosed with Aspergers I couldn’t relate to any of this but then I started to really see it. Now I want to learn whatever I can in order to gain insight.

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I wrote about it in my book. Lemme find the passage that helped me. It may help you.

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Warning I wrote this in 2015

"But back to the nature hike. Not meaning to kill the vibe of the magical night. The moon had appeared from behind the clouds and the sky had suddenly cleared up. An owl was hooting in the distance and the stars were more evident than any other night he had ever seen. Jeff Garrison had must have had 3 or 4 drinks tonight on this Friday Eve because he was a tad bit talkative. Or he just wanted to get some points across to John James. “You hear that owl” “Yes sir.” And Jeff Garrison paused for a moment and asked again “Do you hear that owl? I don’t think you understand.” John thought for a second and said “What do you mean?” “Do you hear the pain in it’s hoot. It’s want. It’s desire. How much it wants that rat. How much it wants to survive. He wants it too.” John was confused at first but then said he never really thought about it that way. “Now think about humans too. They’re just like that owl. Every single one of them. Every single human wants that rat.” “So you’re saying we want to eat rats…” “No! You’re missing the point. We all want ‘it’, equally. We all are equally conscious.” John had chills run down his spine. He was never too self centered and always thought things should be more equal among humans . That everyone had the right to live and be completely happy. But all of a sudden he began to put himself in the shoes of others. Then he stared at the moon, and the stars. “The Universe is so…” both Jeff and John began to say. Then they stopped each other and John whispered “vast.” “It’s sooo big!” Jeff began to say. “And we’re so little. We’re nothing. With all the people in our little planet. Me and you, we’re nothing compared to all of them. Nothing! Then you look at the stars and how many of them there are. Each star is an entire solar system. And that’s only what we can see! In our infinite expanding Universe. There has to be life out there beyond us. But that’s besides the point.” John continued to get chills down his spine. He thought about the Universe and the stars and the moon and the owl and the rat in the field. He thought about how life is just life. It just is. And there must be something greater than ourselves. He thought there must be creatures out there in the vast universe who are smarter than us, just as smart as us and less smart than us. We know nothing in the grand scheme of things. We’re just highly evolved primates in the grand scheme of things. And some of us have the nerve to claim we’re greater than others…
John began to think about all the shame he had. “I used to think I was the chosen one.” “Don’t worry you were simply psychotic. It’s a worthy excuse.” But John was in shame that he put himself worth more than anybody else when everybody wants, thinks, desires, is conscious, just as much as he is. Everybody is wanting that rat in that field, like Garrison had said. “Why me? Why should I be the chosen one if anybody?” “You’re not. But it’s okay!” It’s amazing he had gone twenty-three years without truly contemplating the meaning of life and the point of it all. There was no point. “Well in the grand scheme of things there was no point, so you best damn make a point to live!” And that point is to live, but the question is how? John had been so depressed from his lack of clarity that he was searching for a reason to live, but searching in the wrong places. Whether it was beer or weed or cigarettes, girls, or some image he was trying to maintain. He was searching for a reason to live but it lies elsewhere. “You must have many reasons to live. Cigarettes are okay for you for now, but I don’t recommend it to be your main reason to live. And certainly not weed or beer, those are even worse for you. But whether it be animals or writing or nature or understanding stuff like I’ve been trying to the last 50 years of my life. You have to find a reason to live. And you can never give up! Never give up! Even when you’re old and gray and it seems you should give up because you’ve done it all! Never give up! That’s why I am as wise and resourceful as I am today. Because I never gave up! I keep on striving. I keep on going and try to find reason and know I don’t know everything. So I try to find more. That’s one of the reasons I like you so much. You teach me things. I learn from you. I find more and more reason to live…from you. I may not be schizophrenic, or bi-polar, or even depressed or anxious, but life is still a struggle. It’s a struggle for everybody! Even us normies. And I’m far from normal. I got the spotlight on me everywhere I go. People worry about me for hanging around with you. They look down on me for it.” “I’m sorry I don’t mean to…” “Don’t apologize for anything! You are worth it to me. It is worth it to see you happy. I’m happy if you’re happy.”


I read a study that suggests that this deficit is responsible for delusions of reference when it comes to other people and the feeling of being watched.


That was a good read @Jonnybegood. Thanks for posting it!

I do feel some shame that I am so bad at perspective taking and didn’t realize it at all until my psychosis and my autism diagnosis. I look back at some things in my life and just cringe. :grimacing: But some of the things are a little funny too. :grinning_face_with_smiling_eyes:

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It’s kind of weird to think about, but it’s like people become “realer” when you work on this skill. The world really does seem to open up.

I suppose the people who struggle to believe other people are real at all might have a very weak theory of mind. I think there are a few people on the forum who talk about this. @Zwaynopolous is that what solipsism is?


I think so……………


I have solipsism as one of my delusions. Im not sure what happens when Im psychotic but i think another theory takes over my understanding of other people.

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I knew I read this in my Autism report. It says this about theory of mind

Social Communication: Social communication relates to the skills and abilities we use in communication with others. It involves speech and the way we express ourselves, but also includes how we understand the language we receive by the manner in which it is expressed to us. It involves an instinctive understanding of tone of voice, body language, understanding of abstract and metaphorical speech in others and the ability to generalise our past experiences to understand a new situation.

It also involves ‘theory of mind’, or the extent to which we are able to understand or appreciate the world from another person’s point of view to inform a social situation; ‘to step in to their shoes’ as it is sometimes put.

Edit: This bit made me laugh…

You told me “I understand gestures but do not factor them in at all. If someone gives me the middle finger, I know they are being rude, but I don’t notice anything subtle. I don’t use people’s facial expressions as a primary way of dealing with people, but I do notice if someone is red in the face crying or is angry or smiling. Body language I do not pay attention to. I am more interested in the content of the subjects rather than other people’s posture”.

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@Joker did you suspect you had autism before you were diagnosed?

I’m the same way with body language.

I know the big ones, like smiling and crying, but apparently there’s a whole lot more lol. I’m 100% focused on the words being said.

And it’s hard for me to wrap my mind around the fact that people don’t always say what they mean or feel any other way than they appear when I’m talking to them.

I scored highly on an internet test years ago, and obsessed over that for a time, but I got over it and saw little point in pursuing.

It was the ■■■■■■■ ■■■■ ■■■■■ ■■■■ of a therapist employed by the NHS that decided to make a big thing out of it

The aftermath of being diagnosed was hard, as I had a lot of historical issues to go through in order to reconcile this new information

In the assessment, they dealt with my mother more than me, as they were more interested in my life from 0-5 years old

They said

Rating Scales: You completed the RAADS-R (Rivto Autism Asperger’s Diagnostic Scale) assessment. This is an 80 question rating scale which looks at language, social relatedness, sensory/motor features and circumscribed interests. You scored 187/240 on the scale. The mean average score for a male with ASC is 149. This indicates that you have significant traits of autism, and supports your diagnosis.

You also completed an Adult Short Sensory Profile assessment, scoring 98/190, which confirms a difference compared to your neurotypical peers, and also supports your diagnosis.

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This part was/is hard for me too. So hard that I initially rejected my diagnosis. But now I accept it and am still working through old issues with this new information. It can still be quite painful at times, but I’m finding that some things can be “resolved” now that I understand them in this different way.

The thing I find most frustrating is the lack of support

If you get a diagnosis as a child, you get a lot of help.

As an adult, you’re left to sort through these things alone

My therapist lied to me. She said ‘take the assessment and it will inform my treatment of you’.

When I got the diagnosis, she said ‘sorry, you’re Autistic and my techniques won’t work for you’

I just thought great, thanks for that!

She just throws a grenade in and then disappears … convenient


Oof, I’m sorry that happened. I would be mad too.

The psychologist who diagnosed me didn’t offer me any other special support or resources. There’s just so little for adults. I’m trying to find just a support group for adult women on the spectrum but not having any luck.

Sometimes I listen to this podcast called Them Aspergers, and one of the hosts talks about getting some kind of autism support through the NHS. I’m not sure what it entails exactly, but he frequently mentions someone advocating on his behalf in his employment, getting special accommodations, maybe even helping to resolve conflicts.

That really sucks.

They gave me a massive list of charities and groups, but all the ones I got through to were too busy to help me

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