Oxytcin and Autism

A recent finding on oxytocin is of great interest to many with ASD.

It seems that “A pair of researchers, one in Israel the other in the Netherlands has found that volunteers given oxytocin tend to be more willing to lie if it benefits a group they belong to.” Now consider the fact that there seems to be less oxytocin in those with autism than in neurotypicals. This would suggest that those with autism are less willing to lie, even if it benefits the group to which they belong. This would of course be interpreted as “social awkwardness” by those for whom it is natural to lie to benefit their group (such as their family). The neurotypicals in the autistic person’s group are wondering, “Why wouldn’t you back me up on that?” while the autistic person is saying, “But I was only telling the truth.”

Oxytocin is an interesting molecule. It is the trust molecule. It is a love molecule. And it is a divisive molecule. Specifically, it seems to be a strongly in-group molecule. The kind of trust it fosters, for example, is among those within your group. Those with autism are trusting — but they/we are typically trusting of everyone. We don’t in-group, out-group (that is, unless we are specifically taught to be, we tend to be naturally non-racist, non-sexist, etc.). Which, for all the benefits lost with lower oxytocin, is something I would consider a significant gain.

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