I recently read a book by an autistic author who relates his experiences in professional life in IT. (He was diagnosed only in mid adulthood.) Colleagues see him as highly intelligent but also stubborn and egocentric. He explains that he cannot read people's faces and therefore misses out on the non-verbal part of human communication, which is 80%. Because he cannot remember faces, he often cannot greet acquaintances, which obviously causes consternations. One also gets the sense that neither would be inclined to do so because he abhors all situations with idle small talk.
Many outer markers of his biography reminded me of a friend of mine: also high IQ, also in IT, with his private life (perennial single) and professional life now somewhat in shambles. That friend also often irritates people and avoids small talk. But while he seems similar to an autist on the surface he may be very different on a deeper level.
Whereas the autistic author (at least by his own account) has very little empathy, this friend may have too much. He can (or "can") read the faces of other humans, but somehow he does not seem to be able to trust much of what he sees. Some of his intelligence seems to stem from being constantly on the guard, as if to form models in his head about what really is going on and where he can fit in, but never arriving at safe conclusions. I know that there were unspoken tensions between his parents when he grew up. He is not obviously constrained in public and dear to some who know him well, but struggles with the scale of human relationships in between at a severe price.
My question is this: Does this ring any bells? Is there a name for this condition? Any books that I might follow-up and/or recommend?