Why We Lie by Dorothy Rowe is a psychologist’s book that does not seek to take the moral high ground on the subject of lying neither does it compare the vice of lying with the virtue of telling the truth. It does not examine the views or tenets that any religion may have about the common problem, or rather practice, of fibbing.
None of us likes being lied to. The only time we do is when we do not want to be told a particular truth that we already know or at least suspect. We do not like to acknowledge that we lie, and do so frequently. We try to avoid using the words ‘lie’ and ‘lying’ in relation to ourselves. The only lies we willingly admit to are those we call white lies. We see these as being virtuous. We want to spare another person’s feelings, but the feelings we actually want to spare are our own. We do not want to be upset when another person becomes upset, or have that person reject us for being unkind.
On a different level, we all have our share of unpleasant experiences, dangerous situations that have threatened us, and which we have had to wriggle out of by speaking only what was expedient. Sometimes, when we set about assessing our lives, we discover that the future is far from what we planned it to be, or the past has been regrettable, or the present is very shaky indeed. We consciously or unconsciously are on the look out, hoping such situations do not recur, or that we are spared the consequences of our past errors. We develop many different skills aimed at deflecting or thwarting such possibilities or for insulating ourselves from the consequences. The simplest and easiest skill to employ is lying.
Rowe examines how we learn and respond from the time we are infants and how we will do anything to avoid a sense of desolation, even lying. Sets you thinking about where lying ends and belief begins.
Why We Lie
By Dorothy Rowe