Asperger Through the Looking Glass: An Exploratory Study of Self-Understanding in People with Asperger’s Syndrome

  • Paul Jackson
  • Paul Skirrow
  • Dougal Julian Hare
Original Paper


Hobson (Autism and the development of mind. Lawrence Erlbaum, Hove, UK 1993) has proposed that the cognitive and linguistic disabilities that characterise autism result from abnormalities in inter-subjective engagement during infancy, which in turn results in impaired reflective self-awareness. The aim of the present study was to test Hobson’s hypothesis by examining self-understanding in Asperger’s syndrome (AS) using Damon and Hart’s (Self-understanding in childhood and adolescence. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1988) model of self-concept. Ten participants with Asperger’s syndrome were compared with ten non AS controls using the Self-understanding Interview (Damon and Hart in Self-understanding in Childhood and Adolescence. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1988). The study found that the Asperger’s group demonstrated impairment in the “self-as-object” and “self-as-subject” domains of the Self-understanding Interview, which supported Hobson’s concept of an impaired capacity for self-awareness and self-reflection in people with ASD. The results are discussed with reference to previous research regarding the development of self-understanding in people with ASD.


Asperger’s syndrome Self-concept Development Self-awareness 



The authors wish to acknowledge the support of the Liverpool Asperger Service in carrying out this study, which formed part of the first author’s doctoral thesis.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Jackson
    • 1
  • Paul Skirrow
    • 1
  • Dougal Julian Hare
    • 2
  1. 1.Merseycare NHS TrustLiverpoolUK
  2. 2.School of Psychological SciencesUniversity of ManchesterManchesterUK

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