Theory of own mind in autism: Evidence of a specific deficit in self-awareness?

by Williams, D

Assuming that self-awareness is not a unitary phenomenon, and that one can be aware of different aspects of self at any one time, it follows that selective impairments in self-awareness can occur. This article explores the idea that autism involves a particular deficit in awareness of the ‘psychological self’, or ‘theory of own mind’. This hypothesized deficit renders individuals with autism spectrum disorders (ASD) at least as impaired at recognizing their own mental states as at recognizing mental states in other people.  This deficit, it is argued, stands in contrast to an apparently typical awareness of the ‘physical self’ amongst people with autism.  Theoretical implications of the empirical evidence are discussed.