I have rarely lied at all in my life. Of course, most people do tell the truth most of the time because most of us are more or less honest people with many of them uncomfortable with lying and I would definitely put myself in this category. But for me, my reasons to avoid lying go down deeper than this. I don’t avoid lying simply because I’m an honest person and that I believe that other people need an honest answer from me. I also avoid lying because telling about an event that didn’t occur, or telling about a thought that I’m actually not having, etc. somewhat scares me in and of itself. Don’t get me wrong, this scary feeling doesn’t come from not being able to lie convincingly or afraid the other person or people will look through me. It comes from the fact that I’m describing something at least partially if not totally imaginary, something not grounded in reality. And as soon as I start talking about something not grounded in reality, and there’s nothing to hold my world “in check” (for lack of a better phrase) anymore and I just feel the world turning into a mess.
Back when I was 16 years old, I read The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time by Mark Haddon, which is a story about an autistic boy named Christopher. There was a page in the book where I could very much relate to Christopher’s own attitude toward lying. He explains that he can’t tell lies and that writing things down that aren’t true makes him feel “shaky and scared”. Even though Christopher himself is a fictional character, I’m sure I can safely assume that Mark Haddon did his research correctly (I did hear he worked with individuals with autism, for example) and that are other people with autism in reality (even if it’s only a few) who feel this way. There was one sentence out of the book that I will quote here that really illustrates the point:
“This is another reason why I don’t like proper novels, because they are lies about things which didn’t happen and they make me feel shaky and scared.”
While Christopher’s problem with lying has reached so far as to make him unable to read fiction, it has made a less impact on me (if it didn’t, I wouldn’t have a driven passion of writing novels, for example). However, there have been moments in my life when my love of fiction has come into conflict with the lying problem. When I was very little, I remember hearing about books, but not knowing that they were about events that weren’t real. I incorrectly assumed, like the naive child I was, that some higher power made the events real in our world or that the world was so big that it could incorporate all the different possibilities so that whenever a new story came out, it was bound to be real. Also, in my late teens, I felt the strangeness of fiction not being real coming back to me, especially after reading that sentence about Christopher’s own attitude toward novels. As I recall, there were only a few down periods when I actually felt my attitude toward novels becoming more like Christopher’s and it would sometimes be scary reading or thinking about fiction sometimes and I sometimes felt it put my newly found passion of writing novels at risk. Thankfully, I haven’t experienced these feelings since they occurred when I was in my teens and I think I can safely assume that I can continue reading and writing fiction without worry about it having a deep impact on my life.
I would also like to add that this reason doesn’t affect my ability to lie by omission. Because when I’m in that situation, everything I say is still the truth, I’m just not saying all of it or not saying as much as what is implicitly required, but I do not explicitly say something that is not true. But being an honest person, I of course also try to avoid doing this as much as possible regardless.
I have also felt the issue of lying having a lesser and lesser impact on me over the years, although it still certainly contributes to my motivation of avoiding lying. So even though the impact of it on myself is certainly less than on Christopher, it still is there only in a more weak form. I’m also sure that there other individuals with autism out there who don’t experience this sensation at all.
After all, they call autism a spectrum disorder for a reason.