Have you ever recognised someone but not been quite sure who they are? That sense of knowing but not knowing at the same time. The person looks familiar but you aren’t sure how or if you know them.
These impressions are like the way we experience our emotions. Especially the softer ones. Strong emotions are easier to detect but there are times when it’s hard to put your finger on what you are actually feeling.
This isn’t surprising when you consider the nature of emotions. Like our thoughts, they are neural messages which are not easily defined or understood. They can linger or be fleeting. They can layer or combine with each other to create different nuances.
Most of us can read internal physical states, like pain, hunger or thirst without difficulty. We don’t easily confuse these signals unless they are very mild.
Autistic children, do however, have more difficulty recognising their internal physical states1. This tends to disappear in...