(Mis)perceptions of reality: Autism, psychosis, and my quest for objective truth
For as long as I can remember, I have been preoccupied with the difference between truth, and mistruth. Long before my psychosis began, I wanted to know how the things we held to be true could be proven as objectively true; it seemed to me that truth was in the eye of the beholder.
Six months after my 18th birthday, I discovered that my reality was a shifting and changing experience.
The problem with psychosis is that you don’t know it is happening. You literally experience an alternative reality. What this taught me was that things I held to be true were entirely subjective, which brought me to the realisation that everyone’s interpretation of truth was subjective.
Consider the boundary between truth and mistruth. It is abstract, a non-entity. Said boundary is entirely built from the collective experience of humanity, an experience which is in itself subjective.
Where those experiences intersect and agree, we label it objective truth. How then can we construct truth from a mind such as mine? One in which reality is a malleable and fluid thing. My Autistic Self has been preoccupied with this for many years, and truthfully I am still searching for answers.
Perhaps, then, it is reasonable to argue objective truth in terms of Descartes? “I think, therefore I am”. Of course this is made more complicated by the after-the-fact functioning of consciousness; and yet, I have often found myself drawn to a sort of solipsism during times of crisis.
Thus, we are left with the only thing I can hold to be objectively true from moment to moment. That my sense of identity, my experience of Self, at any given moment, is the only thing I can hold to be true. An identity that itself is constructed from interactions with my (mis)perceived reality.
So, when I argue the importance of community-connectedness, I am going beyond minority stress models, and beyond social reciprocity. For me, the communities I interact with, and the individuals that I speak with, are directly constructing my truth.
That is why the Autistic community is so vital to me. They have built the only thing that I know to be true.
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