Mindreading by any other name?

grit

Not Active
I am finding that mindreading is a normal human communication that often gets really a bad name or confused with esotericis. In therapy talks, there are many times that the word mentalization or empathy is used to gauge what another human or even animal may be thinking. I came from an environment where often people talk more directly about what they may think your intention is and you correct or disagree depending the context and what they said or how it was said.

I guess I am just confused. I even think the whole transference is fancy word for reading others' mind or body language to help them. I think it is crazy making to say we do not have capacity to make real assessment of others' state of mind by relating to them and listening to them.

I guess my question is what are the serious consequences in relationship when people pretend not read others' mind or nonverbal ticks to make sense of a situation. I often said I cannot read that person's mind but I can very much take a good jab what they want or think based on my interaction. I do not shy away from it but I also do not think this is gospel written on a rock. But a friend of mine thinks it is a problem and even if I do, I should not admit outloud! what I am utterly confused.

I am interested if others have similar or interestingly divergent way of looking at this.
 
There's a big difference among empathy, reading someone's cues, and mind reading.

Empathy is just being able to put yourself in someone else's shoes and to imagine what you'd be feeling in the same situation.

Reading someone's cues - body language, facial expressions, or tone of voice, to name a few - can be done with better or worse degrees of accuracy, but it's still just picking up on specific actions in the environment. It's not mind reading in the slightest.

Mind reading is assuming you know what someone else is thinking. Sometimes you might be right. Sometimes you might be wrong. But at no time can mind reading can be counted on as a real form of communication, because you cannot ever really know what another person is thinking. Even if you think you do.

Also, those of us with PTSD can really be spectacularly bad at it. For example, I used to assume every woman I encountered saw me as a direct threat to her. While perhaps some women did, the real story is that very few women I assumed I could read the minds of even noticed me at all. That is mind reading, and there's a good reason why it's gotten a bad reputation - because it isn't real.
 

enough

MyPTSD Pro
there is a lot of work on the reading of peoples faces looking for flashes of what are sometimes called "micro emotions" that most of us are incapable of hiding. We all have similar facial expressions in a state of stress, some of us may only show it for a spilt second. People that are tuned to it like yourself may have a high degree of accuracy in reading these subtle clues and not even realize that they are doing it. There was a study once upon a time in a long-forgotten article that put police officers, detectives, teachers, nurses and if I remember various members of the clergy including the dali lama himself through a series of tests and the more empathetic oriented career members scored highest. I think because over time they got more feedback on their daily dealing with people and their states of mind and their own impressions based on a 'gut' feel they had whether they knew it was from seeing micro emotions or not.

Lots of stuff on line, google it!

I have learned to trust my gut but deciding when it is safe to do so and when I am putting myself out on a limb by doing so has been hard. Like you, I have had to deal with a more literal world where supposition can be seen as bias, even masogeny or racism. It can be hard to explain that someones body language alerted you to their intentions when someone else can easily claim you were biased by something else more readily apparent like stature, race, gender, age, clothing etc.
 

LiVeNoW

New Here
I believe based upon my personal experience that we as humans, can and do pick up on other people's thoughts and or certain things. I think we have to be very close to the person. I've dated people whom I knew at certain times, were doing certain things when I was not in their presence. I of course, would not admit this openly. I only admitted it when I heard them say it. There is nothing within me that wishes to frighten or scare another. I'm by no means a know it all type of person. I'm actually great at doing this with my Dad or my Daughters. I've actually tested the theory with one of my Daughters and it was awesome. I was alienated as a parent and for four years, I saw my girls for two hours at a time, a month. During that time, I chose one hour per child. I found it interesting that one in paticular always chose my first choice on a menu, whether I chose to order it or not. This happened, several times at several different locations. I think this runs in my family. It kind of scarey to me in some ways though and unique in others. I also think if we pay attention we may find that's it's TRUE for many. As we awaken to our spiritual nature, I think we will find it's an unconscious thing, we all experience!
 

brat17

MyPTSD Pro
I have a friend who expects me to read her mind....she gets paranoid about things (which is another issue), gets mad and ghosts me. Then she will text and make up some story of how she got freaked out about something and I honestly don't believe her, but quit trying to figure out what she might be mad about. Once she left our cookout abruptly saying something freaked her out. She said my husband told her there was stuff in they cooler if she needed anything to drink. She said he was making her feel like a mooch. This is something I could have never guessed in a million years. We are adults, and if something bothers us, we can express it. I just refuse to deal with people who expect me to read their minds. I try to be honest and tell people what's on my mind....be it good or bad. If something makes me feel bad repeatedly, Im going to own it. It sure is a messed up thing.
Yet I read most people well. I am empathetic. If I see someone looks uncomfortable or like they are feeling left out, I make sure to try to include them or do what I can. Im just too old for games.
 

LiVeNoW

New Here
I have a friend who expects me to read her mind....she gets paranoid about things (which is another issue), gets mad and ghosts me. Then she will text and make up some story of how she got freaked out about something and I honestly don't believe her, but quit trying to figure out what she might be mad about. Once she left our cookout abruptly saying something freaked her out. She said my husband told her there was stuff in they cooler if she needed anything to drink. She said he was making her feel like a mooch. This is something I could have never guessed in a million years. We are adults, and if something bothers us, we can express it. I just refuse to deal with people who expect me to read their minds. I try to be honest and tell people what's on my mind....be it good or bad. If something makes me feel bad repeatedly, Im going to own it. It sure is a messed up thing.
Yet I read most people well. I am empathetic. If I see someone looks uncomfortable or like they are feeling left out, I make sure to try to include them or do what I can. Im just too old for games.
Now, I've never asked that other's be able to read my mind, but I find it interesting when others expect us too! I just got threw dating a guy who isolates and quite frankly may struggle with his own form of PTSD based upon his own trauma. He has made plans with me two different times and then cancelled them without any notification to me. I think that this is not only immature, but highly disrespectful of someone's time and their feelings.

I apologize I often write in a way that encapsulates all of us, because ultimately, I feel we are all affected by our choices to choose to disrespect our fellow man. In an effort to include you as my new acquaintance, I'm sure you would want that same respect.
In his defense he did explain that he struggled with managing anxiety. I still feel owning our choice to be rude gives us the power to choose differently.
 

grit

Not Active
It sounds to me from the responses, that mindreading is seen as sort of boundary crossing and we find it intrusive when others attempt to guess or act on what they may think we are thinking about and when we do it to others, we are probably stressed out, projecting or controlling etc etc.

I think we can agree many people attempt it to guess what we or them are thinking so automatically depending on the relationships too or situations too.

I did not mean to sound I 'can' do this...hahaha I do not have those type of powers but I do feel that sometimes a lot of non-verbal communication has elements of piecing things between the lines that were not stated concretely and I do not want to sound like 100% I am not engaging a person to get the full picture just as they are. I guess any ability we have as humans can be too much or too little or none at all and other times just right. Of course, making a mistake in guessing is part of life...and more likely than not in most cases if one does not confirm their perceptions of things.

I guess what made me think about this was something I recalled in therapy where I felt few times in my life (maybe felt was aka mindreading) of men with bad intention while traveling alone - one of them even a cop! I think my basic mammalian mind, sensed hostility and real threat by the way they looked at me, came close to me physically or even touched me, and their postures. Both times, my reading of their body language/mind saved me from making a grave decision cause the minute I changed my mind to go the other way, the aggression came out covertly but never the less no confusion!

I sort of remind myself now that I could have chosen to be friendly, do not make a fuss/scene, go with the flow sort of decision and would have been the hen in the lion's den. Interestingly enough too, I did meet many more men I trusted enough to sleep in the same room without even knowing them much again while traveling. What made the difference was my own sense of gauging some internal state of the other person...without making it into a political statement, I think most women are stripped this feeling of believing their senses/bodies when a real threat dressed as nice guy is in the horizon. It can be also said I could have been mistaken either way...such a life - always doubtful.

It is interesting from somerandomguy's comment that you felt that women saw you as a direct threat to them....and that made me think if mindreading is frightening to us because it is prototype of paranoid state of mind? frantic way of understanding the world when it goes amok, but can be also a way of being attuned to each other when in safe space.

I do not want to discount our full human senses but of course all in moderation and in respect to others' boundaries...
 

whiteraven

MyPTSD Pro
Sometimes you might be wrong. But at no time can mind reading can be counted on as a real form of communication, because you cannot ever really know what another person is thinking. Even if you think you do.
In your expeience. Actual "mind-reading" - telepathy - is a real thing. Whether you understand how it works or not.
 

scout86

MyPTSD Pro
What I think of as "mind reading" is a little different that just picking up on non-verbal cues. It's more picking up on non-verbal cues and then assuming you know what they mean. Best example I can think of. A few years ago, my T decided to move his practice. The new location is a fairly long drive from my house. Over a month went by with no appointment and what seemed like a bunch of excuses. I (of course?) assumed that what ever was wrong was somehow my fault and he wanted to fire me but was too nice to just do it and was looking for a way to make it easier. I finally decided I needed to know what I'd done "wrong", so I sent him what I thought of as one last email asking for an explanation.

I got an answer. (Also an appointment. LOL) What was wrong was he had a couple of family members who were seriously ill and he was really worried and understandably distracted. Also, he was concerned about the long drive I was looking at if I continued to see him and he was "trying not to influence my decision."

There was nothing wrong with me picking up on his distress. He thought he was hiding it from his clients and said I'm better than most at picking up the energy in the room. (I did kind of grow up feeling like I had to be really good at doing that.) Where things went wrong was when I assumed that I KNEW what the energy in the room actually meant. When I think about it, my T probably shouldn't have assumed that he could influence my decision that much, or chosen to handle it by acting "neutral". It would have been better all the way around if we'd had an actual conversation. (I guess we did have the conversation, but it would have been a lot less stressful to have had it sooner.)

I don't think it's the picking up on cues that's a problem, it's the assuming you know what they mean. People can be pretty different. The best way to know what someone thinks is to ask them.
 
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