Oh God how I hate eye contact.
It feels like people can read my thoughts. I KNOW they can't, but it feels like they can. It's very intrusive and threatening. Like they can know everything about me, like I'm made of glass.
I've noticed a similar behavior regarding my own eyes. When I go to the doctor and have to have an invasive or embarrassing procedure done--for example, involving nudity--I have to turn my head away and physically cover my eyes with my hand in order to tolerate it. It's almost like, if I can't see them, then they can't see me. I think this is part of what the deal is with eye contact. If I don't meet people's eyes, then they can't "see" me, i. e., I'm not exposed to them.
I'm diagnosed with SA, but not with Asperger's. However, Asperger's has been suggested to me more than once, including by my former therapist, and I suspect my issues with eye contact are a big part of why. My eye contact problems are so weird and pervasive that I just can't explain them away as mere social anxiety--they don't tend to diminish much with familiarity, for example. I had such trouble trying to explain this issue that they put me on an antipsychotic at first (Risperdal) and gave me the potential diagnosis of schizotypal personality disorder, but I really don't
believe people are reading my mind or that I can become invisible if I avoid eye contact, it just feels
like it. Or at least, that's the best way I can describe how it feels. :/ The bolded part of this post is really the best way I can put it.
Looking at any other part of the face is not an option, it's still too close to the eyes. If I can make out a person's face then I still feel exposed. When talking to people I'm not that familiar with, I'll usually stare off into space somewhere below their shoulder and to their side; the more anxious I become, the lower my stare goes until I'm looking at my feet. (This happened in therapy a lot.)
It's so bad it extends to my parents--whom I live with and always have (I occasionally make eye contact with them, but always feel awkward when doing so), and to people I know well (my former therapist, whom I saw for years?--I couldn't tell you what she looked like
), and even to inanimate objects (I used to feel like my posters and stuffed animals were staring at me, and had to cover them or turn them away--and I cannot bear to have my picture taken or especially to see recent pictures of myself, my eyes, ugh, it's horrible to stare back at myself!). I really hate dolls largely for this reason. And don't get me started on children and babies.
I'm okay looking at myself in mirrors, but only in private. Public bathroom mirrors are okay if nobody else is around. I avoid dressing rooms like the plague. That horrible wall-length mirror, and the gaping spaces above and below the doors!
One weird thing...this dread of eye contact doesn't
extend to animals. Making eye contact with animals doesn't bother me at all.
Though I'm aware that eye contact with an animal can be perceived as a threat so I'm careful about it. I'm also okay with looking at childhood photos of myself (maybe because they're from before I had SA, or because I look so different that I don't associate that person with the person I am now); just not recent ones.
Originally Posted by DiscardYourFear
When I was in my teens, it was so bad I felt like the posters of musicians on my walls were staring at me and I could never look at them.
Oh goodness, I'm not the only one??