Wayne's Reviews > Why We Lie

Why We Lie by Dorothy Rowe
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's review
Apr 12, 2011

bookshelves: to-read, australian-stuff, buddhism-self-help

I heard a saying last year that I thought was so clever and insightful:
"If we never lie, we never have to remember anything."

Today in the introduction to some stories of one of my very favourites, Guy de Maupassant
I read of his summation of society as being nothing but sham, betrayal and exploitation.
Alas,recently, in regard to a close friend of 40 years,I have found this to be horribly true.
Things that have bothered me over the years concerning this friend, I finally put together,like pieces of a jigsaw,spoke to a couple of other friends and when I felt calm confronted this person, only to hear them say "I can't remember." To me this was yet another lie in a whole tissue of lies, betrayals and exploitation.I felt I had let a monster into my house who has consistently used and abused my generosity, friends and family and done his utmost to either destroy my other relationships or compete with me for them in a most insidious and destructive way.

I recently heard Dorothy Rowe being interviewed in Australia about her new book.
At 80, she is like an unpretentious little old housewife, down to earth and straight from the shoulder in her talk, which contains no jargon or weasel words so beloved of the phoneys abundant today, but is lucid and simple and has rarely a word of more than 3/4 syllables.
I hope to learn about myself and a world I have come to suspect and mistrust to some degree.
Happily there have been only a couple of casualties or losses among friends and family,
women who revert to some monstrous sentimentality when faced with the facts.
I am curious about why people lie to themselves and lie to others.
I hope Dorothy may have some healing words for a problem that has caused much personal grief and to which I have devoted a couple of years in fear of a rush to judgement.

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message 1: by Al (new)

Al Bità Yes... a fascinating question...

For what it's worth, the following is an extract from my 'Faith' (still working on it!):

Sullivan [Sullivan, Evelin. The Concise Book of Lying. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. 2001.] provides a list of ego-defense mechanisms used as part of our natural tendency to deceive and/or lie. It includes the following mechanisms:

• denial — by which the ego protects itself from unpleasant reality by refusing to perceive it;

• displacement — which discharges pent-up feelings onto objects less dangerous than those that actually aroused the emotion;

• dissociation — which moves memories or experiences that may elicit intolerable feelings out of conscious awareness and ideas;

• distortion — which grossly reshapes external reality to meet the inner needs of the one doing the distorting;

• fantasy — which gratifies frustrated desires in imaginary achievements, most commonly through daydreaming;

• hyperchondriasis — which transforms anger towards another person into anger towards oneself and then into the perception of pain and other physical symptoms;

• introjection — which incorporates external values and standards into the ego structure so the self is not at the mercy of them as external threats;

• isolation/compartmentalisation — which cuts off emotional charge from hurtful situations or separates incompatible attitudes into compartments impervious to logic, by never allowing connected thoughts about conflicting attitudes or about their relation to each other to arise;

• passive-agressive behaviour — which involves hurting or defeating oneself in order to make others feel guilty or to thwart their wishes;

• projection — which places blame for one’s difficulties onto others, or attributes one’s own desires to others;

• rationalisation — which attempts to prove to oneself that one’s behaviour is rational and justifiable and thus worthy both of one’s own approval and of the approval of others;

• reaction formation — which prevents dangerous desires from being expressed by exaggerating opposite attitudes and types of behaviour, and using them as barriers;

• repression — which prevents painful or dangerous thoughts from entering consciousness;

• sublimation — which gratifies or works off frustrated sexual desires by substituting for them non-sexual activities which are socially accepted by one’s culture; and

• suppression — which excludes thought or feelings from the conscious, but differs from repression in allowing retrieval of memories at a more appropriate time.

It's all probably much more than one needs to know (!) but it's an impressive list nonetheless... All part of being human?

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