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Hi, I umm and err over most topics I've created but this one especially; I'm really not to sure about this one but I've so desperately wanted to ask this for so long now. I hope it doesn't offend. First of all, I would like to say I haven't been diagnosed with an Autism spectrum disorder, at least not yet. I do have a blood relative on the spectrum and apparently I've made some people wonder if I too am on it somewhere, and I can draw parallel to a good few traits as well. However I do defy the blazing obvious "something isn't right here" traits like literal meanings and not understanding empathy. It might also be worth  mentioning I score a borderline score on the AQ test but I know that certain illnesses can mimic other conditions and there's the possibility to take things out of context in the test, but now I digress.

I wanted to talk about social chameleonism and mimicry for a little while now because regardless of if I am on the AS, this is something I do and I know that it's something that quite a few aspies do too, so hopefully I might get a little font of information here.

So a little bit of a backstory now, for the first seven years of school I didn't have all too many friends, I tried hard but nothing really click, in the early years I put this down to a speech problem I've had which might have made me sound different to the other children. As time went on and I went into secondary school, and I wasn't really any better off then and I was stuck in this huge place, I began to look at individual friendships objectively ask myself: "What are they looking for in a person?", "Who do people love the most? Themselves!" In this sort of eureka moment, I discovered this secret formula, so I began reflect back parts of people's personalities as casually as I could in order to win others over slowly and see me in a new light.  So for example, one of my later friends was a very serious and mature person so, of course, I changed my behaviour around him to suit his expectations.

Over the years this become like second nature to me but it's also got to a point where I can't recognise myself in these myriad of personalities I put on. This sounds extremely dramatic and maybe even worse than actually is but I do feel like I'm Adam, Frankenstein's monster, personified. I collected behaviours of other people to call my own. Is this an identity crisis? Hell if I know.

So that has been my experience with it in a nutshell. It's served me well and I don't think I could stop doing it now but it has seemed to have its flaws. Has anyone else used social mimicry as a way to get through their lives? When did you start doing it? Or maybe you've tried to do it but it just hasn't stuck? I'd loved to know more about it, read other people's experiences and perspectives with it.

Edited by Southern Discomfort
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Yes, I’ve done this before too, or at least something similar (I’m not sure if this is exactly the same; please correct me if I did misunderstand.) For me it is not so much acting falsely or pretending as finding or forming genuine parts of myself that “fit” well with or reflect the other person, so as to try and be on a similar sort of level with them. This is different with different people, and sometimes it means drawing out aspects of myself that I didn’t previously know even existed.

When did I start doing it? Probably partway through secondary school also. That I didn’t do it when I was younger caused problems in itself. I wasn’t aware enough of this and would get into confusing social situations because of it. I think that maybe to some extent it’s actually necessary to do this, but perhaps doing it too much or being overly aware of it are what cause problems with it.

I can relate to sometimes feeling like a patchwork of other people and being unsure where you are under there. Some people seem to have a very steady, firm personality, which they do not overly change for people. Perhaps the chamelionism is just another sort of personality in itself, less stably rooted but with its own advantages.

One problem I come across is when I start feeling like it’s become too complex and overwhelming, and sometimes I’m not entirely sure how I’m doing it or how I used to do it, and I can’t trust that I will be the person that someone else knows me as around them instead of act in other ways which are still aspects of myself but not complementary to theirs or to the situation – which would lead them to notice something off with me. Too often I end up avoiding people altogether as much as is possible, at least or especially those I don’t know very well.

Honestly, I’m not sure how related it is to ASD. I’ve been diagnosed as on the spectrum and from what I’ve read, it does seem to be a fairly common thing among people who are. I think some people who are not on the spectrum do this same thing also, though, to varying extents. Whichever way, I wish you luck in finding your answers.

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Can't say I do that, no. I have no interest in being around people, in fact it isn't an exaggeration to say that I hate most people and therefore have no need to collect their behaviours to fit in. I don't care for fitting in, either. I'd rather stay in my own little world. 

I do however observe how not to be in other people, which I guess is similar. 

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Thanks for the replies.

I can relate to sometimes feeling like a patchwork of other people and being unsure where you are under there. Some people seem to have a very steady, firm personality, which they do not overly change for people. Perhaps the chamelionism is just another sort of personality in itself, less stably rooted but with its own advantages.

One problem I come across is when I start feeling like it’s become too complex and overwhelming, and sometimes I’m not entirely sure how I’m doing it or how I used to do it, and I can’t trust that I will be the person that someone else knows me as around them instead of act in other ways which are still aspects of myself but not complementary to theirs or to the situation – which would lead them to notice something off with me. Too often I end up avoiding people altogether as much as is possible, at least or especially those I don’t know very well.

Honestly, I’m not sure how related it is to ASD. I’ve been diagnosed as on the spectrum and from what I’ve read, it does seem to be a fairly common thing among people who are. I think some people who are not on the spectrum do this same thing also, though, to varying extents. Whichever way, I wish you luck in finding your answers.

 

I have thought that maybe chameleonism is like some sort of meta personality sort of thing too, which does make sense although I'm not too sure if I like it. And I know that to a degree everyone does it because that's how we get local and national accents or just improve as human beings. Nothing is particularly unique, it's only the scale of things.

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