The Curious Case of Lying

Lying emoticonLying is a strange concept to many people on the spectrum.  Because we tend to see things logically and have deficits in communication, we can’t understand why people lie… at least that’s how it is with myself.  If no-one lied, society would be a level playing field.  As it is, for someone with ASC, because we often don’t lie (and those that do often lie badly so people know they are lying) we don’t use those tactics neurotypicals use to achieve things.  Aspies are often bluntly honest, it doesn’t get you anywhere and can get you into trouble or make you unpopular.

Going for job interviews, even if you didn’t have to consider the chatting element, an Aspie struggles to sell themselves.  I was horrified when someone told me that most people lie on their CV’s for instance.  It would never occur to me to do that, and I would feel ashamed doing it, like a fraud.  I might be able to pleasantly state what my abilities are in an interview, but I couldn’t exaggerate them or invent things to sound interesting.  So someone like me, will automatically be hindered.  I recall reading somewhere that employers even expect people to lie on CV’s and at interview.  That confuses me even more, so they reward peoples’ dishonesty?!

It’s like complimenting, I compliment when I mean it, but others seem to do it to boost someone up or avoid hurting their feelings.  I will try to find a way of getting round it, like if someone asks me if I like their new hairstyle and I don’t, I might say “It’s not what I think that matters, if you are happy then that is the main thing.” or “I really loved that hairstyle you had [whenever], your hair is looking really healthy.”  So I will fish around in my head for alternatives.  If they said to me that they weren’t sure about their hair and they really wanted me to be honest even if I didn’t like it, then I would tell them politely as possible that I didn’t and why.  But it’s amazing the amount of people who say they want you to be honest and then don’t like it when you are!

Lying is a strange thing.  It probably has some roots in survival instinct (if that’s the case us Aspies would have been doomed!) or something.  I have read that learning to lie is an important life skill for children.  Even that shocked me.

Of course, there are some Aspies that lie, and I’ve read about some anecdotally, that lie compulsively.  Many of us have co-morbid conditions so there is nothing to say an Aspie can’t also have a personality disorder or something  giving additional traits, but some Aspies lie as a form of protection, having suffered negative interactions with others because of their ASC traits.  Some also live in an imaginative world that they talk of as real, which seems like lies.

Tony Attwood says that some Aspie children lie, because of having low empathy and not understanding the impact their lies could be having on others.  Then of course there is the issue of different perception.  What others think is lying in someone with ASC, may not actually be, they might believe what they are saying as that is their genuine take on the matter.  Atypical perception doesn’t necessarily equal incorrect perception, however.  I have read that lying comes later to children on the spectrum and often the lying is obvious and gauche, this was certainly true with one of my children, although the other started out early as a rampant liar, it was pretty easy to catch the lies out!

Lies confuse many people with ASC, having trouble understanding peoples’ motivations and not understanding they may not be telling you the truth, means we can get a huge shock when an outcome is something other than we expected, such as finding out we have been lied to.

If you want any scientific evidence that autistics are more honest than NTs, here it is: http://www.pnas.org/content/97/15/8734.full “increased discrimination of false memories in autism spectrum disorder” in other words, autistics have more accurate memory recall than neurotypicals (bang goes the myth of unreliable crime witnessing).

Also, autistics have the brain neurology for honesty:

http://www.news-medical.net/news/2005/10/18/13840.aspx …liars have decreased grey matter.

https://www.autismspeaks.org/science/science-news/cure-autism-now-science-summary-gray-matter-enlargement …autistics have increased grey matter

So, I will leave you with this quote:

Mark Twain

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
Mark Twain
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