Why do people lie?

Charles J. Sophy, MD
Adolescent Medicine
People lie to cover up and to avoid conflicts, condemnation, reprimands, punishment, criticism, judgment, ridicules, rejection, shame and embarrassment. However, they forget that speaking the truth can set them free from the oppression, confusion and negative consequences of lies.
Erik Fisher
Psychology
The most basic motivation for a lie is to create an alternative truth or "shell" around ourselves that misdirects from our actual truth. We tell lies for some of the following reasons: to avoid pain, appear as greater than we are, create or feed fear, avoid our own fears and inadequacies, undermine or usurp others, create doubt, avoid responsibility… As you can see, many of these reasons overlap and are based in a lack of integrity.

I often tell people who come to see me that you can't grow up in France and not learn to speak some French. More times than not, kids are a mirror to the adults around them, within their family and their culture. They are like passive sponges and their actions are often just reflecting back what they see. I think we also have to consider that the act of lying is an aspect of the human condition, and while this may be the case, it does not mean that we cannot aspire to a higher standard and level of behavior, especially as adults.

Issues of lying, manipulation and lack of integrity in our culture are reflecting on us from all angles. In our families, our political culture, religious culture, sports culture, corporate culture, the media… The problem is that many people believe that this is just the way it is. We believe that this is acceptable behavior, and many people strive to see how well they can play the game, whether it is lying about doing homework, responsibility for manipulating political facts, abuse of steroids, cooking financial books… We all may have our justifications for why we lie and manipulate the truth, but what we all need to see is that the reasons are self-motivated first.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.