Friday, October 22, 2004

Why People Lie

Some friends and I were recently having a conversation about a mutual acquaintance who makes outrageous and outlandish claims about his work history. For thirty years he has insisted that he once worked at a certain high-profile radio station when we all know that he never did. He even claimed to be the radio announcer who introduced The Beatles at Shea Stadium back in the 1960s. All lies. It seems that some people will make up a lie when the truth is in their favor. What gives with these people anyway?

The point I wish to make is that he may not even know he has a problem. A lady patient in a recent Scientific American article, "Freud Revisited", had a very real and obvious physical problem with one of her arms which she refused to acknowledge or even believe, even when the therapist showed her the withered arm in a mirror. Under treatment, which involved temporarily blocking the lady's dopamine receptors in her brain, the lady was able to recognize her problem and discuss it openly and intelligently. But when they cut off the dopamine-blocking medication the lady reverted to her old self, not understanding what people were talking about concerning her arm. Not only was she again unable to accept the reality of her condition, she couldn't even remember the parts of the therapy session in which, under medication, she openly discussed it, although she remembered all else about the session.

If this is our friend's scenario, we now understand that he may tell lies; big HUGE lies, but he truly believes they are the truth.

At least he comes by his lies honestly.

Apparently it is one of the most difficult things in the world to say 'no' to your dopamine.

-- Dalton Hammond

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