Today, I found that I do not automatically attribute thoughts to other people. But maybe no one does that?
My father asked me, if I intended on getting my driver’s license some day, I answered the question and about half an hour later I noticed that I did not ask myself why he asked that in this specific point of time and what he thought about my reply. Retrospectively it was as if I did not attribute any thoughts, other than those he voiced, to him. I suppose that is how I usually think since it wasn’t any special situation; I might have noticed now because I spent more time than usual with observing my thinking processes lately.
Maybe that is the difference between a true Theory of Mind and an intellectual compensation? But then, I’d have to know how other people function in such a situation… I have to study how I attribute thought to others in a social interaction where I actually have to make use of my planning and analysing skills to follow a conversation. Maybe I just compare the current conversation to similar ones I’ve had before?
A computer might be a good analogy; I see what is on the screen and I know – most of the times – which buttons I have to click to get the results I want to get without understanding how a computer functions. Sometimes, however, I click a button and get a totally different result and then I have to guess how to proceed from there. But the more I click on buttons, the more experience I get about which button does what. However, I still don’t know anything about programming and the underlying structures.
To extend the computer analogy to myself: whenever there are people around me, I’m running on battery and I can only charge it, when I’m alone – or with one of a handful of special people. If it runs low I have to change my energy plan to reduce performance and save power but if I can’t escape to solitude after a while I shut down. How someone can recharge batteries with social interactions is a total mystery to me.