Autism and Lying

By Mette Harrison: For Complete Post, Click Here…

I find it excruciating to lie. But let me clarify a bit here. To me, lying is not what most other people would call lying. I say other people are lying a lot of the time because they say things that I consider “contrary to fact.” Most people, when I point these out, give me a funny look and say something like, “that’s not a lie.” They think of these things as “white lies” or something don’t think of them as lies at all. This is largely because their brains are not as literal as mine is. But if you tell me something that is an exaggeration or a social nicety, I will call that a lie. And you will be confused. This is often a subject of argument between me and people who are neurotypical who have no idea what I think of as a lie.

There are two kinds of lies that I see most often in the world.

1. Lying to make someone else feel better

2. Lying to make yourself look better

Most people only consider the second one a lie, and only in extreme circumstances. If you lie to make someone else feel better (“flattery” perhaps you might be able to call this), then you don’t think of it as a lie because that is what normal social interaction is. This is exactly why autistic people struggle so much with learning how to interact normally in the social world of neurotypicals. We don’t understand why flattery is necessary or good. We don’t understand how other people want to be seen (as smarter than they are, as thinner than they are, as prettier or stronger or taller than they are or whatever), so we really struggle with compliments.

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