Posted on March 20, 2023 · Posted in Blog, General, Memo Plus Gold, Personal

White Lies.

Even though we are taught that lying is wrong, we all tell lies every day; but lots of them are “white lies.” A co-worker asks you how you are and you say “fine” even though you have indigestion or your friend asks if she looks puffy and you look straight into her puffy eyes and say “No, you look great”. These are lies but they are pretty innocent. We use these kinds of lies as “social lubricants” without doing much damage.

Lying for Gain

Moving up to more consequential lies, people can use deception with “offensive motives” in order to obtain rewards, gain an advantage over others, win admiration or exercise power over others.  Lying with offensive motives could be as mild as padding your resume just a smidgen to score a new job or as toxic as a televangelist ripping off millions of dollars from his vulnerable flock.  “Defensive motives” for lying include avoiding punishment or embarrassment, protecting others, avoiding physical or emotional harm, maintaining privacy and steering clear of awkward social situations.

In general, research shows that men lie about themselves more than about others, often “to appear more interesting, powerful or successful than they are”. Women lie more often “to protect other people’s feelings or make others feel better about themselves”. Lying for gain includes identity theft, investment fraud, embezzlement and other business fraud. At one end of the spectrum, you have got a little fudging on your own tax return; at the other end, you have got the massive rip-off schemes of the unscrupulous manipulators.

Compulsive Liars

Compulsive or pathological lying is in a whole other league. There is much ambiguity about whether pathological lying exists as a disease in and of itself. It is often thought to be a secondary feature of some other condition.  A German physician, Anton Delbruck, was the first to identify the abnormal behaviour we now call pathological lying.

We all know about famous people – politicians, celebrities, business people – who have lied either offensively or defensively, these are examples of well-known people who lie without any discernable benefit, in other words, people who are compulsive liars, are actually rarer.

The cause of compulsive lying is unknown. Research has illuminated certain factors, though. One review of 72 cases found that the average onset of compulsive lying occurred at 16 years old. There was approximately the same number of males and females in the group and the median IQ was slightly below average, with better verbal intelligence than performance intelligence. Up to 40 percent of cases of compulsive liars have a history of central nervous system abnormalities” like head trauma, epilepsy or central nervous system infection. This indicates that there may be some physiological cause.

Sometimes, another disorder is primary and compulsive lying is just a symptom. Several psychiatric conditions provide fertile ground for pathological lying to occur, such as Borderline Personality Disorder and Narcissistic Personality Disorder. A particularly chilling manifestation of pathological lying is its presence as a symptom of sociopathy. Someone who lies as a result of sociopathy is more dangerous to others. Without a conscience, sociopaths focus on controlling and manipulating others. A sociopath will lie just for the game of tricking someone. Sociopaths are known for their callousness, lack of empathy and absence of remorse when they have hurt someone. They can be extremely charming and charismatic, more spontaneous or more intense, or somehow more ‘complex’ or sexier or more entertaining than everyone else.

Whether we are concerned about a person who may be sociopathic or we are dealing with dishonesty in some other manner, we can learn skills to identify a deceptive person. Knowledge is the power that may spare us from experiencing real losses; great and small.

How to Spot a Liar

Do you have confidence in your ability to recognize when someone is lying? How about the idea that a liar will avoid eye contact or look nervous? Neither of these behaviours are a primary indicator of lying. Facial clues include “micro-expressions,” like a split-second flash of anger when someone is saying friendly words or a smile where the lips are upturned but the eyes are not narrowed. The body also belies deception. A person who is lying may try to put “barrier objects” between herself and a questioner or she may shake her head ‘no’ when she is answering in the affirmative or shrug with only one side of her body, suggesting a “fake” emotion. Verbal clues can be in the form of “bolstering statements” like “I swear to God…” or “to be honest…”

As usual, we remind you to take your Memo Plus Gold daily. It will help to keep you alert and mentally sharp.Natural memory enhancer