Authenticity and Autism: When being true to oneself means revealing differences

Erin Bulluss, Abby Sesterka

Research output: Other contribution


It is widely acknowledged that authenticity is an important part of mental health and overall well-being.1,2 This message can be seen in everything from cultural tropes to empirical research.

But what is authenticity? The term is used to describe a number of constructs in scholarly literature, from sincerity, to truthfulness, to originality. However, a succinct and simple definition of authenticity is “being true to one’s self.”

Online, there are memes galore that suggest that authenticity is indeed trending, with hashtags such as #Authenticity and #AuthenticSelf on Instagram giving rise to over a million posts. There is a wealth of resources on living authentically. Notably, Brene Brown has written books, including her bestseller, The Gifts of Imperfection,4 which implore the reader to embrace one’s own quirks, flaws, and foibles in the interest of authenticity.

Living authentically can mean shedding outdated coping behaviors and refraining from shaping ourselves to fit in with others, and that part of this process may involve saying goodbye to people who do not accept us as we are. This can be a painful process; intense vulnerability and grief may emerge as we unravel our lives, disconnect bonds, and weave all that remains back together in colours and patterns that better represent who we really are.
Original languageEnglish
TypeInsights about autism
Media of outputBlog post
PublisherPsychology Today
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jan 2020


  • autism
  • authenticity
  • mental health

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