BBC’s Sherlock, Asperger’s Syndrome, and Sociopathy & Empathy

As awareness of autism spectrum disorders, such as Asperger’s syndrome, in adults increases, characters with autistic traits are becoming increasingly common in television and other media. Temperance Brennan of Bones and Sheldon of Big Bang Theory exemplify this phenomenon, as does Sherlock from the BBC show of the same name….


Descriptions of both autistic and sociopathic people as “lacking empathy” also contribute to popular confusion between autism and sociopathy. Most discussion about empathy among laypeople, and some even among mental health professionals, fails to distinguish between emotional empathy and cognitive empathy. Emotional empathy, which is what most people mean by “empathy”, involves an emotional, sympathetic response to another’s feelings in which one feels some of the emotion the other person feels…


By Christine Hughes