Part 3 out of 5
was remarried. The existence of feeblemindedness, epilepsy, or
insanity on either side was denied.
We quickly observed by the physical conditions of this girl that
something was the matter. Expression sad and dull. Long thin
face and compressed lips. Vision almost nil in one eye, but
normal in the other. Hearing normal. Color only fair. Weight
115 lbs.; height 5 ft. 4 in. Most notable was her general
listlessness. ``I feel draggy and tired. I'm yawning all the
On the mental tests we found much irregularity. Tasks that were
done without effort were done fairly well. The girl was a good
reader and wrote a good hand. A long task in arithmetic was with
difficulty done correctly. When she was able to get hold of
herself she could do even our harder tests with accuracy. Her
failures were apparently from lack of concentration and
attention. Although she did some things well we felt obliged to
call her dull from physical causes, feeling that if she were in
better condition she might give a much better performance.
On the ``Aussage,'' or Testimony Test, 11 items were given on
free recital and 2 of these were wrong. Upon questioning, 17
more details were added and 4 of these were incorrect. 2 out of
5 suggestions definitely accepted.
Under observation it was just as the mother said. The girl was
an extreme falsifier. As one observer puts it, ``she is not
malicious in her lies, but just lies all the time and seems to
try to make herself believe what she is saying.''
``I was in the 7th grade. Had a hundred jobs since then. Can't
keep them because I'm so draggy. They want their money's
worth--they want a more live girl. Sometimes I don't mind my
mother and I get spunky. I feel lonesome and get mad. I feel
tired. I can't please my mother no matter how hard I try. I'd
like to go in some little home where I could have a chance.''
After a few days we found this girl in a decidedly good mood,
wanting to be helped. She willingly entered into the analysis of
her case with us and said she thought most of her trouble came
because she was a day-dreamer. ``Sometimes I dream of things in
the day time. I'll sit and stare and stare and think of
different things. I'll think I'm doing them. I'll dream of
things what I do and if I read a good play I'll dream of that.
When I think of myself or somebody starts looking at me I'll stop
To another observer this girl gave a vivid description of how she
felt after seeing pictures in the nickel shows. She states that
love-making scenes lead her to practice self-abuse. This matter
was taken up with her mother who stated that when this child was
7 years old she and the father had caught her at this habit and
had severely reprimanded her and had thought she had stopped it.
We were particularly interested to hear this because it was
exactly the time the mother had specified as the beginning of her
lying and general bad behavior. Going farther into the case with
the mother and the girl we ascertained that her bad sex habits
had been continued more or less during all these years, and of
late, particularly under the influence of picture shows, and of
what some other girls were doing in the way of delinquency, the
habit had become worse than ever. It was closely connected
evidently with day-dreaming all these years and with the
development of the fabricating tendency.
The mother who had been apparently so negligent of causes proved
now to be a stalwart in this case and took the girl under her
immediate charge. There was steady betterment. The girl went
back and finished school and at the end of a year was reported as
tremendously improved. There was no further complaint about her
lying. We know that after this she long held a good position
which any hint of untrustworthiness or lack of capacity would
have lost her. Thus the cure of her sex habits brought about
cessation of her extreme untruthfulness.
Bad sex habits long continued. Case 7.
Heredity. (?) Father immoral Girl, age 16 yrs.
Lack of understanding and
Excessive lying. Dull from physical
Early truancy. causes. (Later
Running away. quite normal.)
Summary: A thoroughly illustrative case of long continued,
excessive pathological lying on the part of a very bright girl,
now 17 years old. As this young woman has well known, her
falsifications have many times militated against the fulfillment
of her own desires and interests. In the face of clear
apperception of her fault, the tendency to react to a situation
by lying sometimes appears to be fairly imperative. The only
ascertained bases of the tendency are her early reactions,
unthwarted by parental control, followed by habit formation; all
in an environment peculiarly favorable to deception. The lying
passed over into swindling.
Gertrude S., who immigrated from England with her parents ten
years previously, was seen by us when she was 17, after she had
been engaged for months in a career of misrepresentation which
had led her case into the hands of several social agencies. Much
difficulty was encountered because repeatedly when people had
tried to help her she had led them astray in their investigations
by telling ridiculously unnecessary falsehoods. Her parents came
to see us and gradually we obtained a detailed and probably quite
reliable family and developmental history. About the evolution
of the young woman's mental life we have unfortunately had to
rely much upon her own word. This has made our studies rather
more unsatisfactory than in other cases where corroboration from
parents was obtained. However, there is much that rings true and
is of interest even in the unverifiable part of the study.
There is not much to be said about the physical examination; it
was negative in most respects. She is of rather slight type;
weight 110 lbs., height 5 ft. 1 in. Delicate features of mature
type. Expression intelligent and decidedly refined for her
social class. Gynecological examination made by a specialist
revealed nothing abnormal and no evidence of immorality.
Menstruation said to have taken place at 13 years and to be
regular and not difficult.
In studying Gertrude's mental powers we gave a considerable range
of tests and found her to be well up to the ordinary in ability.
She showed no remarkable ability in any direction, but gave an
almost uniformly good performance on tests. Concerning her other
mental traits and especially her range of information and reading
more will be said later. No signs of aberration were discovered
by any one.
The record on the ``Aussage'' picture test is as follows: She
gave 16 items on free recital with considerable reference to
functional details and with side comments as to who the little
girl might be, and what the dog wanted, and so on. So far, this
was the performance of a rational, quick-minded person. On
questioning, 28 more items were added, but no less than 12 of
these were incorrect--she evidently supplied freely from her
imagination. Of the 7 suggestions which were offered she took 5.
Twice not only was the main suggestion accepted, but imaginary
details were added. Naturally, this is a very unusual record
from a normal person.
There is absolutely nothing of significance in the heredity,
according to the accounts received by us. All the grandparents
are still alive in the old country. They are small townspeople
of good reputation. Epilepsy, insanity, and feeblemindedness are
stoutly denied and are probably absent in near relatives. The
father is a staunch citizen who feels keenly the disgrace of the
present situation. He is a hard working clerk. We early learned
the mother was not to be relied upon. Our best evidence of this
came from Gertrude. She told us she had always been accustomed
to hearing lies in her own household. According to the father
his wife's falsifications are merely to shield the children and
she only shows the ordinary deceit of woman. We have no history
of this woman ever having indulged in elaborate fabrications and,
in general, she is of thoroughly good reputation. In delicacy of
feature the girl is her mother over again.
Gertrude's birth was comparatively easy after a normal pregnancy.
After a healthy first infancy she had an illness at 2 years which
lasted for three or four months. The exact nature of this is not
plain, but it was probably bronchitis with complications. There
were no evidences of any involvement of the nervous system. She
walked and talked early, at about 1 year of age. She has had no
other serious illness in all her life and has had no convulsions.
None of the children has suffered from convulsions. Gertrude is
one of five, all of whom are alive and well. In the last couple
of years she has complained a little of headaches and some other
minor troubles. It was typical of the family situation that
after Gertrude had told us of a series of fainting spells a year
previously, the mother corroborated her and, indeed, made them
out even worse. But when the reliable father was consulted on
the matter it turned out there had been no such fainting attacks,
nor could they be verified by communication with a doctor who is
said to have attended Gertrude. Unquestionably they never
occurred. Gertrude went to school at the usual age, but on
account of poverty and immigration missed many long periods.
However, at 14 she had gone through the 6th grade.
About Gertrude's moral evolution we got very little aid from the
parents or indeed from any others. It was very evident that from
earliest childhood the girl had led a mental life of which her
relatives knew nothing. Naturally, the mother gave us no account
of the development of the tendency to lying; she merely glossed
over her daughter's deceptions. The father, who had been obliged
to work away from home much during Gertrude's early years, merely
knew that at about the time she left school, namely 14 years, she
began to lie excessively.
Anything like a complete account of Gertrude's prevarications,
even as we know them, would require much space. Some idea of
their quantity and quality may be gained from the facts which we
have gleaned from several sources. As might be supposed,
Gertrude has established a reputation for falsification among
many of her acquaintances. One friend tells how she represented
herself as a half orphan, living with a hard-hearted step-mother.
Demanding promises of secrecy, Gertrude told this girl about a
sum which she had with much difficulty gradually saved from her
earnings in order to buy needed clothes. She asked the friend to
come and help her make a selection. (Now the $20 or so that was
spent Gertrude had stolen. By following her strange impulse she,
with danger to herself, related a complicated story to this other
girl who needed to know nothing of any part of the affair.) We
have knowledge of scores of other fabrications which were
detected. They include her alleged attendance at a course of
lectures, her possession of a certain library card, and her
working in various places. For many of these stories not a
shadow of a reason appeared--especially during the time we have
known her she has had every incentive to tell the truth about
When by virtue of our court work we first knew the case, her
lying centered about her other delinquencies, but even so its
peculiar characteristics stood out sharply.
Gertrude was held to the adult court in the matter of the forgery
of a check, which had been presented in an envelope to a bank
teller by her and cashed as in the regular line of business
between the bank and the firm for which she worked. Finding the
girl had lied about her age, she was held, after the preliminary
hearing, to the proper court. There, in turn, she did not appear
at the right time, it being stated that she was sick in a
hospital. One officer knew better and further investigation
showed that Gertrude herself had come to the court, represented
herself as her sister, and made the false statement about the
illness. A telephone call the same afternoon to her house
Months of difficulty with the case began now. Her employer and
all concerned experienced much difficulty in getting at the truth
of the forgery, particularly through her clever implication of a
man who had no easy task in freeing himself. Even after the girl
confessed herself a confirmed liar she told more untruths which
were peculiarly hard to unravel. Gertrude's firm bearing, her
comparative refinement and her ability made every one unusually
anxious to do her justice, and to save her from her own
During the continuance of the case, when all her interests
demanded her good behavior, Gertrude could not refrain from what
were almost orgies of lying and deceit. She well realized how
this would count against her and, indeed, wrote letters of
apology repeatedly for her misconduct.
``Let me come and tell you all. The time has come when things
must stop, therefore I feel that I must talk to someone. I have
lived a lie from the day I was born until now.''
After these letters she went on making false statements which
could readily be checked up. Nothing is any more curious in
Gertrude's case than the anomaly of her telling several of us who
tried to help her that up to the time of the given interview she
had not thoroughly realized how bad it was to lie, and how she
now felt keenly that she must cease, while perhaps at the end of
the very same interview a reaction to a new situation would
produce more fabrications. Personally I have seen nothing any
more suggestive of the typical toper's good resolutions and
sudden falling from grace.
The story of the forged check was fancifully embellished and ever
more details were supplied at pleasure. While this matter was
under investigation Gertrude stayed away from home several
nights, two of which have never been accounted for. She told
fairly plausible stories about going out of town, but she first
should have studied time tables to make them wholly convincing.
The mother, too, told that the girl had been out of town, but in
this she was caught, for it was found that Gertrude had been part
of the time with other relatives.
The main story of the check involved a man who worked in the same
office. She stated that he made an immoral proposal to her on
the basis of immunity from prosecution. After a couple of months
Gertrude got round to confessing that she alone was responsible
for the entire forgery and that her previous quite clever stories
were not true. Her main confession was made in the form of a
long letter written entirely aside from the influence of any one.
In this she also stated that she had stolen money and jewelry,
which was known to have been taken. There was no untrue self-
accusation, except that she may have exaggerated her own tendency
to falsify at a very early age. Naturally, in such a case as
this, even the latest confession must always be taken cum grano
Passing from the above probably sufficient account of Gertrude's
falsifications as we knew them, we can take up her mental life
and traits. We have had to rely on the girl herself, as we
stated above, for many of these facts. She was brought up in
poor circumstances in a manufacturing town in England where there
had been many labor troubles. On two occasions when she was a
child she had seen encounters on the street, and during one riot
in their neighborhood her uncle was injured. She was
considerably frightened, but, so far as we could learn, this was
the only time in her life that she experienced any fear. Very
early she found that stories told to frighten her were untrue,
and what was said about the undesirability of certain children as
playmates proved false when she came to know them. She early
discovered that for self-satisfaction she would have to live a
mental life of her own. There were many things which she could
not discuss with her mother. In early childhood she was a great
reader of novels and spent many hours lying on the bed living an
imaginary life. She never discussed her ideas with any one.
Later she took to more serious reading, and of recent years she
has assailed many of the world's greatest problems. Particularly
she tells of the influence of Tolstoi's ``Kreutzer Sonata'' upon
her. During two years she has read it four times and it has
convinced her of the shams of character and that people lead dual
When she was about 9 or 10 years old she began talking with other
girls about sex problems and up to the present time has never
consulted any grown person about them. Her first information of
this kind was obtained from a crowd of girls who used
successfully to lie to their teachers and mothers to get out of
school work. Going further into the question of this hidden
knowledge of sex things, she tells us she has never worried much
about the things she has heard, but she has wondered a great deal
and they have often come up in her mind. She pursued the course
of asking many girls what they knew about this subject and then,
getting unsatisfactory answers, picked up what she could from
ordinary literature. Gertrude maintains that all her dwelling
upon sex affairs never aroused within her any specific desires.
(Gertrude is anything but a sensuous type and it may be that her
statement in this respect is true.) When she went to work she
fell in with girls who talked excessively about boys and sex
affairs, but at this time she had a mental world of her own and
so did not pay much attention to them. Gertrude talked much to
us of the possibility of her studying civil law, history,
economics, and so on--it is very clear that she has really dwelt
on the possibility of being a student of serious subjects.
Very willingly this young woman entered into the problem of
solving the genesis of her own tendencies. She repeatedly said
that she, of all things, wanted to break herself of this. She
maintains she can perceive no beginnings. It seems to her as if
she has always been that way. She spoke at first of this crowd
of girls who successfully lied to their parents and talked to her
about sex things, and we are inclined to believe that this really
may have been the beginning, but later she affirms this was not
the beginning and that her lying began in earlier childhood. All
that she knows is that it has grown to be a habit and now ``when
I speak it comes right out.'' After she has told a lie she never
thinks about it again one way or another. Her conscience does
not trouble her in the matter. She does not tell lies for what
she gets out of it, nor does it give her any particular pleasure
to fool people. She does not invent her stories, but at the time
of talking to people she simply says untrue things without any
thought beforehand and without any consideration afterward. To
one officer she flung the challenge, ``Oh, I'm clever, you'll
find that out.'' After months of effort and when it was clear
that the girl for her own good must be given a course of training
in an institution she quite acquiesced in the wisdom of such
procedure, after a few hours' rebellion.
It has been noted by many that one of Gertrude's outstanding
traits is her lack of emotion. She never cries and only rarely
does the semblance of a blush tinge her cheeks. She neither
loves nor hates strongly. She seems remarkably calm under
conditions where others storm. She says she never is frightened,
that she never worries, or is sorry. She is well aware of her
own ego; that she may be trespassing upon the rights of others
never seems to enter her head. Certain simulations of physical
ailments, which at times she showed, we could only interpret as
part of her general tendency to misrepresent.
Our summary of the causative factors in this case, made,
unfortunately, partly on the basis of this unreliable girl's
testimony, offers the following explanation of her remarkable
(a) There was early development of an inner life which dealt
vividly in imaginary situations. This grew into a mental
existence hidden entirely from the members of her family.
(b) There was early experience with successful lying on the part
of others, and this as a main episode probably occurred at the
time when the emotion natural to first knowledge of sex life was
(e) There was frequent experience with the falsifications which
were her mother's frailty.
(d) For her lying there were no parental disciplines or
corrections at any time, so far as we have been able to learn.
(e) The young woman shows unusually little emotion, and only
sporadically demonstrates conscience.
(f) There is unquestionably marked habit formation in the case.
Habit formation: Very strong. Case 8.
Lack of parental correction. Girl, age 17 years.
Early experience with lying.
Development of inner life: Imaginative and
Excessive lying and misrepresentation.
Stealing. Good ability.
Summary: A girl of 14 had been notoriously untruthful for years.
She had created much trouble by her petty false accusations, and
her lying stood often in the way of her own satisfactions and
advantages. Analysis of the case shows the girl's dual moral and
social experiences and tendencies, her inner conflicts about the
same, and her remarkably vivid mental imagery-- all of which
leads her to doubt sometimes concerning what is true and what is
A strange admixture of races, of religion, and of social and
moral tendencies was brought out in the study of Amanda R. and of
her family conditions. We were much helped in the study of this
case, which has long been a source of many social difficulties,
by the intelligence of certain relatives who knew well the family
facts, and also by the good mental capacities of the girl
Amanda is an orphan and has been living for years with relatives.
She has caused them and others, even those who have tried to help
her, extreme annoyance on account of her quite unnecessary lies,
her accusations, and some other delinquent tendencies. The main
trouble all concede to be her falsifications, which vary from
direct denials to elaborate stories invented without any seeming
reason whatever. Reports on her conduct have come from a number
of different sources. Neighbors have complained that she has
come to them and borrowed money with the statement that her
family was hard up. At school she stated for a time that she had
come unprovided with lunch because her people were so poor, but
it was ascertained that she had thrown away her lunch each day.
The lies which she told to the other school children were
extraordinarily numerous and fertile; unfortunately they
sometimes involved details about improper sex experiences. A
long story was made up about one of her relatives having
committed suicide and was told to the school teachers and others.
She defamed the character of one of her aunts. To her pastor she
told some outrageous falsehoods. A home for delinquent girls,
where she was once placed on account of her general bad behavior,
would not put up with her, so much trouble arose from her
prevarications. She accused the very good people there of not
treating her well because she was not of their race. All of the
above is quite apart from the girl's own romantic stories which
have been told in her family circle and have done no especial
harm. Of these we had the best account from the girl herself.
An intelligent relative gave an account of the facts. Amanda has
been tried in a number of households, but has been given up by
everyone after a short period of trial. Her word is found so
unreliable that in general she is regarded as thoroughly
untrustworthy. This particular relative, who is most interested
in her, tells us she thinks the girl is mentally peculiar. She
states that in general her mind is both romantic and rambling.
She constantly has the idea that her beauty will bring her a
wealthy husband. She lies about other people to these relatives
and about them to others. They have a comfortable home and are
very anxious for Amanda to do well, and many times have had
serious talks with her, all to no purpose. They themselves have
attempted to analyze the nature of the girl's characteristics,
and say it is quite evident that the telling of untruths with
this girl is the result of quick reaction on her part. Fictions
of all kinds come up in her mind constantly and are uttered
quickly. It is doubtful whether she premeditates her stories.
She has threatened suicide. They think she is the biggest liar
that ever lived and can't understand how she can engage in such
unforesighted behavior unless she is somewhat abnormal. Only
once did they ever notice anything suggestive of a mental
peculiarity other than her lying. Then she did talk quite
incoherently and at random for a time (she is a great talker
anyhow), but later she said she realized what she had done, and
said not to mind her--she had just let her tongue rattle on and
did not mean anything by it.
On two or three occasions Amanda has started to school in the
morning and wandered off and kept going all day. She had been
immoral with boys, but not to any great extent. She undertook to
be religious for a time, but her sincerity was always in
question. She knows the character of her own mother and
threatens at times to follow in her tracks.
The racial heredity of this girl is a strange mixture. Her
father was a Scandinavian and her mother colored. The maternal
grandfather was colored, and the maternal grandmother was an
alcoholic Irish woman and died in an insane hospital. It is
possible, also, that there is Indian blood in the family. The
mother kept an immoral resort and drank at times. The father is
said, even by his wife's relative, to have died some years ago of
a broken heart about her career. She died of tuberculosis a few
years after him. Amanda was the only child. About the early
developmental history we have no reliable information. The girl
was taken by relatives before her mother died, but was allowed to
visit her, and there was evidently real affection between mother
and daughter. Long contention over religious affairs in the
family led to some bickering about placing the girl.
We found Amanda to be rather a good looking girl with very slight
evidences of colored blood. Quiet and normal in her attitude and
expression. Slightly built--weight 93 lbs.; height 4 ft. 10 in.
Vision R. 20/80, L. 20/25. Coarse tremor of outstretched hands.
No evidence of specific disease. All other examination negative.
The girl complains of occasional sick headaches with photophobia.
Pelvic examination by a specialist negative.
On the mental side we quickly found we had to deal with a girl of
decidedly good general ability. Tests were almost uniformly done
well. Memory processes decidedly good-- span for eight numbers
auditorily and for seven numbers visually. No evidence whatever
Results on the ``Aussage'' test: Amanda on free recital gave 12
details of the picture; on questioning she mentioned 32 more
items, but a dozen of these were incorrect. Of 7 suggestions
offered she accepted 6. This was an exceptionally inaccurate
In the course of our study of this case we obtained from Amanda a
very good account of her own life, deeply tragic in its details,
and a probably correct analysis of her beginnings in lying. It
seems that she remembers well her mother, particularly in the
later visits which the relatives allowed. These must have been
when she was about 5 or 6 years old. ``I know a lot. There
isn't anything bad that I have not seen and heard. I try to
forget it, but I can't. What's the use anyhow? When I think of
my mother it all comes up again. When I was very little I would
sit in a room with my mother and a crowd of her friends and they
would say everything in front of me. I would see men and women
go into rooms and I kept wondering what they did in there. I
think I was quicker and sharper then than I am now. I think I
was about 3 when I used to see them smoking and drinking. Then I
used to think it was all right. I thought it was swell and that
I would like to do it too. I thought about it a lot. Mother,
you see, would tell me to be good one minute and the next would
teach me how to swear. I remember once when I was about 7 they
brought her home drunk. She looked terrible. I can close my
eyes and see her just as plainly as if it is there before me. A
protective society once found me and took me to their place.
Then I lived with my grandfather. Mother stole me from them and
then my uncle took me. I lived around in lots of places. I have
done lots of bad things. . . . .
``I picture these things too--I can't help it. The pictures come
up in my mind as plain as can be--not just at night, but in the
daytime too. The only thing I have ever been really afraid of is
the dark. Then I imagine I hear people talking. I see things
too. I see whole shows that I have been to. But then, as I have
said, I see them when I'm awake and in the daytime. I dream
about them also. Sometimes they are so real I don't know whether
I'm asleep or awake. For instance, a long time ago I read Peck's
Bad Boy and I can see those pictures now just as plain as when I
read the book. It is always that way about what I read. The
things I read I always see in pictures. It's that way with the
love stories too. I used to read lots and lots of them. I like
to read about murders. I can see those too. When I read about
the R. murder in the papers lately I just felt like I was there.
I could see everything he did. I don't know why I like to read
such things so much. It was the same way last winter. I read a
story with suicide in it and someway I just wanted to commit
suicide myself. I did go to the railroad tracks and stood around
until the train came and then walked away. . . . .
``My aunt says that I am too attractive and that I stare at the
men. Well, when she was with me a man did stare at me and I
stared back at him. I could have turned my head away, but I'm
not that kind of a girl. I'm a bad girl. Everyone believes me
so and I might just as well be. When I was little in my mother's
place I used to smoke and drink. I dream every night--often
about men doing bad things. I wake up and sit up to see if men
are there or if they are gone. My dreams are always just that
plain. If I read a book I can sit down and imagine all the
people are right before me. I can get it just by reading. If
anybody speaks to me I jump, and it is all gone. When I go to
the theatre or the nickel show I can come home and see the whole
show over again. I have been that way ever since I could
understand things. When I was small and people would tell me
things I could imagine them right in front of me. Even now I
will be sitting still and I will imagine I see my mother taking
me up in the way she used to. When I came to see her she would
rock me to sleep, and I can plainly see her lying in the coffin.
Often I think I see my mother brought home drunk.
``If I have anything to recite in school I just think of it all
the time. I dream a good deal about what that boy did and about
these other things. I can sit and think of everything he did to
me. I go to bed and I lie awake and think all these things and I
can't get them off my mind and then I start to dreaming about
``There is always this trouble--my mother wasn't good and I can't
be good. That's what people say, but, of course, that's not so.
I know I start talking to girls about these things when they are
talking to me. I sometimes think that things will come
back--that the Chicago fire is coming back, and that slavery is
``About my lying? I don't know why I tell things like that about
my aunt committing suicide--it just came into my head. Oh, I've
got lots of things in my head. I never had any chance to forget.
I can't forget at school. School does not interest me any more.
That's why I want to go to work. Perhaps then I should be
interested in something new.
``I used to tell lots of things that were not so out there at P.
Sometimes I did it as a joke and sometimes I meant it. It is
hard sometimes to tell just what is the truth, I imagine things
so hard. I can remember lots that I've read.''
Amanda in several interviews went on at great length in a very
rational way, but altogether the gist of her view of her case is
to be found in the above. She told that she was a masturbator,
as might be supposed. She feels she can't help this and never
felt it was so particularly bad. Apparently it is a part of her
life of imagination at night. She insisted frequently on the
vividness of her mental content, and indeed was anxious to talk
about her peculiarities in this respect. It was very apparent
that she showed real understanding of the forces which had
influenced her. It should be noted that we felt sure that it is
not only the strength of imagery, namely, of actually recollected
material, but also of imagination which is characteristic of this
girl's mental make-up. This was noticeable, as we have shown
above, in the ``Aussage'' Test. In our notes on psychological
findings we stated that the girl has both strong emotions and
strong convictions, together with her other qualities. She
expressed herself with considerable vehemence, and under
observation we noted changes from pleasantness to extremely ugly
looks when her relatives were mentioned. It was true that she
had seen immorality in other households than that of her mother,
and this, of course, rendered her even more skeptical about true
values in life.
It seemed clear that this bright girl had experienced so many
contradictions in life that she was much mixed about it all. We
might venture to suggest that the delinquency involved in lying
could seem very little compared to the actual deeds with which
she had come in contact. No idea that falsification was wrong
was expressed by her. She had used double sets of standards in
behavior all through her life. What she was urged to be and to
do seemed impossible in the light of her past and its
connections. Even her apparent decency belied the reality
underlying her career, she thought. With all this and her vivid
imagery it is little wonder that her magnificent powers of
imagination had full sway and that she said and half believed all
sorts of things which were not true. Then, probably,
habit-formation of indulging in day-dreams accentuated the
It is too early to report on further progress of this case. For
some months she has been in a school for girls where discipline
and education are both emphasized.
Mental traits: special powers of imagery Case 9.
and imagination. Girl, age 14 years.
Early immoral experiences: much later conflict
Home conditions: unstable for many years.
Heredity (?): mother immoral,
alcoholic and insane.
Excessive lying. Good general ability,
Sex. special capacities.
Summary: A boy of 14, supernormal in ability, coming from family
circumstances which form a remarkable antithesis to his
intellectual interests, is found to be a wonderful fabricator.
His continuous lying proves to be directly inimical to his own
interests and, indeed, his own satisfactions are thwarted by the
curious unreliability of his word. The case unfortunately was
not followed far, but study of it clearly shows beginnings in the
early obtaining of advantages by lying, and brings out the
wonderful dramatic and imaginative traits of the boy and his
formation of a habit of falsification.
This case in its showing of intrinsic characteristics and
incidental facts is of great interest. Robert R. for about a
year when he was 14 years old we knew intimately, but after that
on account of the removal of the family we have no further
history of him. Intellectually and in his family and home
background he presented a remarkable phenomenon. His parents
were old-country peasants who just before Robert was born came to
the United States. The father had never been to school in his
life and could not read or write. Here he was a laborer; before
immigration he had been a goose-herd. The mother was said to
have had a little schooling at home and could read and write a
little in her native language. In 15 years in the United States
she had failed to learn to speak English. It is needless to say
that our knowledge of the forebears is almost nil. Inquiry about
mental peculiarities in the family brought negative answers.
These parents had had nine children, seven of whom had died in
early infancy. Robert was the older of the two living. We did
not learn that the other child displayed any abnormalities. The
mother helped towards the support of the family by doing coarse
About the developmental history we had the assurance that it was
entirely negative as regards serious diseases. Pregnancy and
birth were said to have been normal. For long, Robert had been
very nervous and frequently slept an unusually small number of
hours. Sometimes he would go to bed very late and get up early.
Although he was a very small boy he was accustomed to drinking
six or seven cups of coffee a day. No suspicion from any source
of other bad habits or of improper sex experiences. The boy's
home was clean and decent. The father was accustomed to
celebrate once a month or so by getting intoxicated, but
otherwise was a well behaved man.
On physical examination we found the boy in fair general
condition, although very small for his age. Weight 80 lbs.;
height 4 ft. 7 in. Well shaped, normally sized head. No
prematurity or other physical abnormality. Somewhat defective
vision. No complaint of headaches. All other examination
negative. Regular sharp features. Much vivacity of expression.
A nervous, alert, responsive, apparently frank and humorous type.
Speech notably rapid.
Our acquaintance with this boy on the intellectual side proved to
be a great treat. He was only in the 4th grade. His retardation
was the result of having been changed back and forth from
foreign-speaking to English schools and having been sent away to
an institution for truancy. In spite of his backwardness Robert
had a fund of remarkably accurate scientific and other
information which a mature person might envy. We found our
regular series of tests were all done unusually well, except
those which called for foresight and planfulness. It was
interesting to note that when a problem in concrete material was
given that required continuous thoughtful effort he proceeded by
a rapid trial and error method and without the application of the
foresight that many a slower individual would show. He
consequently did not always make a good record.
It seems an important fact that on the ``Aussage'' Test this
exceedingly bright lad gave a fairly good detailed narrative
account of the picture and proved himself not in the least
suggestible, but he added a number of items which were not seen.
It was in the field of general information, obtained from a
really wide range of reading, that this young boy shone. We
found that he remembered an unusual amount of history he had
read, that he had a lot of knowledge picked up from the
newspapers, and that he had digested considerable portions of
scientific works. He described correctly the main principles
involved in the use of telescopic and other lenses, he knew well
the first principles of electricity, and he could draw correctly
diagrams of dynamos, locomotives, switchboards, etc. We noted he
had read books on physiology, astronomy, physics, mechanics, etc.
It seems that neither his school nor his home offering him much
intellectual satisfaction, he had frequented the public library,
sometimes being there when he was truant from school, and staying
there in the evening when his mother supposed he was out in a
street gang. In regard to his selection of reading: he had
perused novels and books on adventure, but ``I wanted to read
something that tells something so that when I got through I would
know something.'' He copied plans and directions, and with a
hatchet, hammer and saw attempted at home to make little things,
some of which were said to have been broken up by the parents.
The boy had much in mind the career of great men who had
succeeded from small beginnings, and he spoke often of Benjamin
Franklin, Morse, and Bell, all of whom had started in the small
way he had read of in their biographies. Robert had not been
content with book knowledge alone, but had sought power-houses
and other places where he could see machinery in actual
Our acquaintance with Robert began and continued on account of
delinquencies other than lying. He had run away from home at one
time, he had stolen some electrical apparatus from a barn and was
found in the middle of the night with it flashing a light on the
street. He also had taken money from his parents and had
threatened his mother with a hatchet. After much encouragement
and help he yet stole from people who were trying to give him a
chance to use his special abilities, and he began various minor
swindling operations which culminated in his attempt to arrest a
man at night, showing a star and a small revolver. Before we
lost sight of him Robert had gained the general reputation of
being the most unreliable of individuals.
Given splendid chances to use his special capacities, his other
qualities made it impossible for him to take advantage of them.
His wonderful ability was demonstrated in the school to which he
was sent; there the teacher said that if she had the opportunity
she really believed she could put him through one grade a month.
His mental grasp on all subjects was astonishing and he wrote
most admirable essays, one of the best being on patriotism. But
even under the stable conditions of this school for six or seven
months the boy did not refrain from an extreme amount of
falsification and was much disliked by the other boys on account
Robert had continued his lying for years. At the time when we
were studying his case his prevaricating tendencies were shown in
the manufacture of long and complicated stories, in the center of
which he himself posed as the chief actor. These phantasies were
told to people, such as ourselves, who could easily ascertain
their falsehood, and they were told after there had been a
distinct understanding that anything which showed unreliability
on his part would militate against his own strongly avowed
desires and interests. After special chances had been given this
boy with the understanding that all that was necessary for him to
do was to alter his behavior in respect to lying, on more than
one occasion new fabrications were evolved in the same interview
that Robert had begged in fairly tragic fashion to be helped to
cure himself of his inclination to falsify.
A great love of the dramatic was always displayed by this boy,
which may largely account for the evolution of his lying into
long and complicated stories. When truant one day he boldly
visited the school for truants, and when under probation, after
having fallen into the hands of the police two or three times, he
impersonated a policeman. The latter was such a remarkable
occurrence and led to such a peculiar situation that much notice
of it was taken in the newspapers. The incongruity between
apperception of his own faults and his continued lying,
considering his good mental endowment, seemed very strange. One
day he sobbed and clung to my arm and begged me to be a friend to
him and help him from telling such lies. ``I don't know what
makes me do it. I can't help it.'' Over and over he asserted
his desire to be a good man and a great man. This was at the
same time when some of his most complicated fabrications were
No help was to be had from his parents in getting at the genesis
of this boy's troubles; we had to rely on what seemed to be the
probable truth as told by the boy himself. It is only fair to
say that in response to many inquiries we did receive reliable
facts from the lad. My assistant also went into the question of
beginnings and was told at an entirely different time the same
story. Robert always maintained that his lying began when he was
a very little boy, when he found out that by telling his
grandmother that his mother was mean to him he could get things
done for him which he wanted. Later it seems he used to lie
because he was afraid of being punished or because he did not
like to be scolded. We found there was no question about the
fact that his parents never were in sympathy with his library
reading and his attempts to learn and be somebody in the world.
At first, then, there seemed to be a definite purpose in his
lying. At one time he pretended to be hurt when taken in custody
and thought because of this he would be allowed to go home.
On many occasions this boy made voluntary appeal to us,
describing his lying as a habit which it was impossible for him
to stop, and implored aid in the breaking of it. Up to the last
that we knew of him he occasionally made the complaint to
strangers of mistreatment by his family, which in the sense in
which he put it was not true at all. The dramatic nature of his
later stories seemed to fulfill the need which the boy felt of
his being something which he was not, and very likely belonged to
the same category of behavior he displayed when he attempted to
impersonate a policeman in the middle of the night, and to pose
as an amateur detective by telling stories of alleged exploits to
newspaper reporters. A long story which he related even to us,
involving his discovery of a suspicious man with a satchel and
his use of a taxicab in search for him, was made up on the basis
of his playing the part of a great man, a hero. When we ran down
this untruth (it was long after he had told us what a liar he
was) it seemed quite improbable that he had suddenly improvised
this story. It was too elaborate and well sustained. Later,
when the boy again tragically begged to be helped from making
such falsifications, he said the incident had been thought out
some days previously and it seemed an awful nice story about the
things that he might do. Daydreaming thus masked as the truth.
Environmental maladjustment: Case 10.
incongruity between Boy, age 14 yrs.
supernormal ability and home
Innate characteristics: nervous, active,
Stimulants: excessive use of coffee.
Lying excessive. Supernormal in ability.
Summary: An orphan girl of 10 had been in several institutions
and households, but was found everywhere impossible on account of
her incorrigibility. The greatest difficulty was on account of
her extreme lying which for years had included extensive
fabrications and rapid self-contradictions, as well as defensive
denials of delinquency.
We were asked to decide about this girl's mentality and to give
recommendations for her treatment. We need take little space for
describing the case because the facts of development and heredity
and of earliest mental experiences are not known by us. The case
is worthy of short description as exemplifying a type and as
showing once more the frequent correlation of lying with other
delinquency, and especially with sex immorality.
We found a girl in good physical condition, small for her age,
but without sensory defect or important organic trouble.
Hutchinsonian teeth. High forehead and well formed features.
Expression old for her years and rather shrewd, and notably
unabashed. No evidence of pelvic trouble. Clitoris large. All
the other examination negative.
Mentally we found her rather precocious. Tests well done. Reads
and does arithmetic well for her age, in spite of much changing
about and other school disadvantages. No evidence whatever of
aberration. The examiner noted that she seemed a queer,
sophisticated child, laughing easily and talking fast and freely.
Evidently tries to put her best foot forward. Cooperates well on
On the ``Aussage'' test this little girl did remarkably well both
as to the details and general ideas expressed in the picture.
Absolutely no suggestibility shown. The examination was made
before our later methods of scoring this test, and the
inaccuracies were not counted, but even so the positive features
are of interest, namely, the good memory and non-suggestibility .
We found this youngster all along to be evasive, shifting and
self-contradictory, even on vital points. She glibly stated
anything that came into her mind, and ideas came very rapidly.
She told us stories that with a moment's thought she must have
known we could discover were false.
This child was a foundling, and was adopted by people whose
family was broken up by death when she was about 6 years old. By
the time she was 8 years old she was expelled from school and was
generally known as an habitual liar and a child who showed most
premature sex tendencies. She then went much with little boys
and was constantly in trouble for stealing as well. Occasionally
good reports were made of her, but sometimes she was stated to
have a perfect mania for taking things. A number of people who
have tried to help her have spoken of the elaborateness of her
verbal inventions. At one place she destroyed letters and took a
check from the mail and tore it up. She talked freely of sex
affairs to many people, particularly to women, and showed
evidence of intense local feelings. At one time she expressed
great desire to be spanked, probably from a sex impulse. One
intelligent person reported her as being simply animal-like in
her desires. In a country home a thoroughly intelligent woman
was unable to cope with her and she was finally delivered into
the hands of an institution.
Through dearth of reliable information about the antecedents in
this case we were unable to make a card of causative factors. It
is sure, however, that the pathological lying and other
delinquencies sprang from a background of congenital defect,
probably syphilitic in nature, of lack of early parental care, of
precocious sex desires, and sex experiences.
In the school for girls, where this unfortunate child remained
for four years, it is stated that her tendencies to prevarication
were mitigated, but never entirely checked. Her school record
was decidedly good; she was regarded as a bright girl, and
advanced rapidly to the eighth grade. She was tried again in the
world midway in her adolescent period with the most untoward
results. She found temptations offered by the opposite sex
irresistible and began a career of misrepresentation concerning
her own conduct. Through her lies, proper oversight was not
given in the home which received her once more. Pregnancy ensued
and again she had to receive institutional care.
Summary: An extremely interesting case showing strong
development of a tendency to swindling on the part of a young man
of curiously unequal mental abilities, a subnormal verbalist.
Pathological lying in this case quite logically developed into
swindling. The main behavior-tendencies of this individual
closely follow the lines of least resistance, the paths of
greatest success. As a matter of fact, the use merely of his
general subnormal abilities would never have led to as much
advancement as he has enjoyed. His special capabilities with
language have brought him much satisfaction at times, even if
they have also led him into trouble. An astonishingly long list
of legal proceedings centers about this case, illustrating very
well the urgent need for cooperation between courts.
Adolf von X., now just 21 years old, we, through most unusual
circumstances, have had more or less under observation for a
number of years. Correspondence with several public and social
agencies has given us close acquaintance with his record during
this time, and earlier. Our attention was first called to Adolf
in New York, when he was a boy under arrest in the Tombs. A fine
young lawyer, a casual acquaintance of Adolf's through court
work, asked us to study the case because he felt that perhaps
grave injustice was being done. Before his arrest the boy, who
seemed to be most ambitious, had been about the court rooms
looking into the details of cases as a student of practical law.
He had attracted attention by his energy and push; he earned
money at various odd jobs and studied law at night. At this time
the boy was under arrest charged with disorderly conduct; he had
beaten his sister in their home.
We found a nice looking and well spoken young fellow who said he
was 17. Although he had been in this country only three years
from Germany, he spoke English almost without an accent and did
quite well with French also. He had been brought up in Hamburg.
His statement added to that previously given by the lawyer
aroused in us great interest concerning the constructive
possibilities of the case. It seemed as if here was an immigrant
boy for whom much should be done.
``I was taking up law suits, little law suits. There was a case
on before Judge O. and I wanted a new suit of clothes to wear to
go to court in. My sister said I could not take my brother's
suit. He told me to take it and bring it home in good condition
at night. My sister is supposed to be the plaintiff, but she did
not make the complaint. The landlady came in and hit me three
times in the head with a broom. My sister called her in and then
she threw a piece of wood after me. Sister started crying, but
she did not get hit. The landlady got hit. When I fell down I
striked her with my head and hurt my head bad. I think I hit her
with the left side of my head. The landlady made complaint in
German to an Irish policeman. He could not understand. The
officer did not do what the law tells because he took a complaint
from a boy of the age of 6 years. He translated for her.
``The trouble started because I wanted to get my brother's suit
because I wanted to appear before Judge O. to protect a party in
the hearing of a case. I took a few lessons over in the Y.M.C.A.
class and in a law office I read books through. I have books at
home, rulings of every court. I know I got a good chance to work
up because I know I have a good head for the law. My father he
wont believe it, that's the trouble. I know I could stand my own
expenses. I said, `Officer, wait here a minute. I'll explain
how this is.' He began stepping on me. He threw me on the
floor. I wanted to go out the back way so nobody would see me.
He kicked me down the front way. There was a big crowd there.
Another rough officer pinched my arm. At the station when the
officer said this boy hit his sister, my sister said, `No, he did
not hit me,' but she said it in German.
``I was in court awhile ago because father thought I would not
work. I was paroled. I was trying to find a position. This man
that had the rehearing said, `You wont lose anything.' He made
as much as a contract with me. He said to another person in my
hearing, if that fellow wins my case I will pay him $10 for it.
The first case I had was in X court. I was interpreter there. I
want to make something out of myself. Labor is all right, but I
like office work or law work better. I tell you, doctor, if I
come up before the judge I will tell him just the same story I
tell you. I can remember it just that way.''
This young man told us he had graduated from intermediate school
in Hamburg; in this country he had attended for about a year and
a half and, in spite of the language handicap, he was in sixth
grade. There is a brother a little older and an older sister.
Mother has been dead for 5 years. His father is an artisan and
makes a fair living.
We soon found means of getting more facts concerning this case.
The first point of importance was concerning his age. It
appeared that he at present was lying about this, probably for
the purpose of concealing his previous record in the Juvenile
Court and in other connections. There had been previously much
trouble with him. He had been long complained of by his father
because of the bickering and quarreling which he caused in the
household and on account of his not working steadily. He had
shown himself tremendously able in getting employment, having had
at least twenty places in the last year and a half. He was known
to lie and misrepresent; on one occasion when he was trying to
get certain advantages for himself he falsely stated that he was
employed by a certain legal concern, and once he tried to pass
himself off for an officer of a court.
The father willingly came to see us and proved to be a somewhat
excitable, but intelligent man of good reputation. We obtained a
very good history before studying the boy himself. Mr. von X.
began by informing us that we had a pretty difficult case on our
hands, and when we spoke of the boy's ambition he became very
sarcastic. He stated that up to the time when the boy left
school in Hamburg he had only been able to get to the equivalent
of our third grade. To be sure, it is true that Adolf had
learned English quickly and much more readily than any one else
in the family, and in the old country had picked up French, but
``he hasn't got sense enough to be a lawyer.''
Both the older children did very well in school, and the father
and mother came from intelligent families. All the children are
somewhat nervous, but the two older ones are altogether different
from this boy. They are quiet and saving. A grandfather was
said to have been a learned man and another member of the family
very well-to-do. The mother has one cousin insane and the father
one cousin who is feebleminded. All the other family history
from this apparently reliable source was negative. Both the
father and mother were still young at the birth of this child.
The mother died of pneumonia, but prior to this sickness had been
The developmental history of Adolf runs as follows: His birth
was preceded by two miscarriages. The pregnancy was quite
normal; confinement easy. When he was a few days old he had some
inflammation of the eyes which soon subsided. Never any
convulsions. His infancy was normal. He walked and talked
early. At three years he had diphtheria badly with delirium for
a couple of weeks and paralysis of the palate for some months.
After this his parents thought the boy not quite normal. He had
slight fevers occasionally. At 9 years he was very ill with
scarlet fever. Following that he had some trouble with the bones
in his legs. Before he left Hamburg he had an operation on one
leg for this trouble which had persisted. (It was quite
significant that in our first interview Adolf had told us his leg
had been injured by a rock falling on it, necessitating the
operation.) Up to the age of 14 this boy, although apparently in
good physical condition, used to wet the bed always at night, and
sometimes during the day lost control of his bladder. Also lost
control of his bowels occasionally after he was 10 years old. He
sleeps well, is moderate in the use of tea and coffee, and does
When young he played much by himself. After coming to this
country his chief recreation was going to nickel shows. He was
fond of music as a child. He had been a truant in Hamburg. As a
young child he was regarded as destructive. The general
statement concerning delinquency is that Adolf is the only one of
the family who has given trouble and that the father was the
first to complain of the boy to the authorities. Before he
reported it there had long been trouble on account of frequent
changing of employment and misrepresentations. The boy had
forged letters to his family and others. In the office of a
certain newspaper he once represented himself to be an orphan,
and there a fund was raised for him and he was outfitted. The
father insists that the boy, in general, is an excessive liar.
Further inquiry brought out that other people, too, regarded
Adolf as an extreme falsifier. The principal of a school thought
the boy made such queer statements that he could not be right in
his head. In the office of a clerk of a court he represented
himself to be employed by a certain legal institution and
demanded file after file for reference. Everybody there was
friendly to him at first, but later they all changed their
attitude on account of his unscrupulous and constant lying.
Physically we found a very well nourished boy, rather short for
his age. Weight 121 lbs.; height 5 ft. 1 in. Musculature
decidedly flabby; this was especially noticeable in his
handshake. Attitude heavy and slouchy for a boy. Expression
quite pleasant; features regular; complexion decidedly good. A
North European type. Eyes differ slightly in the color of the
irides. Noticeable enlargement of breasts. Well shaped head of
quite normal measurements; circumference 54.5, length 18, breadth
15 cm. No sensory defect, nor was anything else of particular
interest found upon examination.
The mental study, particularly the testing for special abilities,
has been of very great interest. Fortunately for the scientific
understandings of the problems involved we have been able to see
Adolf many times at intervals and to check up previous findings.
Our first statement will be of the results obtained at the
earliest study of the case.
When we first saw Adolf, although he talked so intelligently, we
asked him to give us some evidence of his educational ability,
and to our tremendous surprise he failed to be able to multiply
simple numbers or even to do addition correctly. There was no
evidence of emotional upset, but we waited for further testing
until we had seen the father, that we might be sure of the school
history. As mentioned above, we found that the boy had entirely
We then entered upon a systematic study of the boy's abilities
and found some strange contrasts. Perceptions of form and color
were normal. Given a very simple test which required some
apperceptive ability, he did fairly well. Given simple
``Construction Tests'' which required the planful handling of
concrete material, Adolf proceeded unintelligently. He showed no
foresight, was rather slow, but by following out a trial and
error procedure and with some repetition of irrational placing of
the pieces he finally succeeded. Moderate ability to profit by
trial and error was shown, but for his age the performance on
this type of test was poor. On our ``Puzzle-Box,'' which calls
for the analysis of a concrete situation, a test that is done by
boys of his age nearly always in four minutes or less, Adolf
failed in ten minutes. He began in his typically aggressive
fashion, but kept trying to solve the difficulty by the
repetition of obviously futile movements. On a ``Learning
Test,'' where numerals are associated in meaningless relation
with symbols, Adolf did the work promptly and with much
self-confidence, but made a thoroughly irrational error, inasmuch
as he associated the same numeral with two different symbols--and
did not see his error. His ability to mentally represent and
analyze a simple situation visually presented in our ``Cross Line
Tests'' was very poor. In this he failed to analyze out the
simple parts of a figure which he could well draw from memory.
This seemed significant, for the test is practically always done
correctly by normal individuals, at least on the second trial, by
the time they are 10 or 12 years of age. A simple test for
visual memory of form also brought poor results.
As an extreme contrast to the above results, the tests that had
to do with language were remarkably well done. A visual verbal
memory passage was given with unusual accuracy, also an auditory
verbal passage was rendered almost perfectly. Considering that
the former has 20 items and the latter 12 details, this
performance was exceptionally good. Also, the so-called Antonym
Test, where one is asked to give as quickly as possible the
opposite to a word, the result, considering his foreign
education, was decidedly good. Three out of twenty opposites
were not given, apparently on account of the lack of knowledge.
The average time was 2.3 seconds. If two of the other
time-reactions were left out, which were probably slow from lack
of knowledge, the average time would be 1.6 seconds for 15
opposites. This shows evidence of some good mental control on
the language side. Motor control was fair. He was able to tap
75 of our squares with 2 errors in 30 seconds, just a medium
performance. A letter written on this date contains quite a few
mis-spelled short words: ``My father Send me to This Court for
The troubels I had with my sister,'' etc.
While awaiting trial Adolf, stating that he was desirous of doing
so, was given ample opportunity to study arithmetic. After a few
days he told us unhesitatingly that he now could do long
division, but he utterly failed, and, indeed, made many errors in
a sum in addition. He had acquired part of the multiplication
Study of his range of information brought out some curious
points. He told of some comparative merits of law schools, had
some books on home-taught law, and was a great reader of the
newspapers. In the latter he chiefly perused reports of court
cases. He was quite familiar with the names of various attorneys
and judges. He could give the names in contemporary politics,
and knew about sporting items. His knowledge of the history of
this country was absolutely deficient, but he does not hesitate
to give such statements as the following: ``The Fourth of July
is to remember a great battle between President Lincoln and the
English country.'' Again he makes a bluff to give scientific
items, although he has the shallowest information. When it comes
to athletics, much to our surprise, we hear that our flabby boy
is a champion. Of course, he knows some of the rulers in Europe
and by what route he came to New York, but he informs us that
Paris is the largest country in Europe.
Adolf says he plays a very good game of checkers, that he had
played much, but on trial he shows a very poor game, once moving
backwards. When purposely given chances to take men he did not
perceive the opportunities.
We asked him to analyze out for us a couple of moral situations,
one being about a man who stole to give to a starving family. He
tells us in one way the man did right and in another way wrong.
It never is right to steal, because if caught he would be sent to
the penitentiary and would have to pay more than the things are
worth, and, then, if he was not caught, a thief would never get
along in the world. The other was the story of Indians
surrounding a settlement who asked the captain of a village to
give up a man. Adolf thought if he were a chief he would say to
give battle if the man had done no wrong, but on further
consideration states that he would rather give up one man than
risk the lives of many, and if he were a captain he would surely
rather give this man up than put his own life in it. He thinks
certainly this is the way the question should be answered.
On our ``Aussage'' or Testimony Test Adolf gave volubly many
details, dramatically expressing himself and putting in
interpretations that were not warranted by the picture. Indeed,
he made the characters actually say things. On the other hand,
he did not recall at all one of the three persons present in the
picture. He accepted three out of six suggestions and was quite
willing to fill in imaginary details, besides perverting some of
the facts. This was unusually unreliable testimony.
Our impressions as dictated at this time state that we had to do
with a young man in good general physical condition, of unusually
flabby musculature, who showed a couple of signs that might
possibly be regarded as stigmata of inferiority. Mentally, the
main showing was irregularity of abilities; in some things he was
distinctly subnormal, in others mediocre, but in language ability
he was surprisingly good. No evidence of mental aberration was
discovered. The diagnosis could be made, in short, that the boy
was a subnormal verbalist. His character traits might be
enumerated in part by saying that he was aggressive,
unscrupulous, boastful, ambitious, and a continual and excessive
liar. In the exercise of these he was strikingly lacking in
foresight. This latter characteristic also was shown in his test
work. The abilities in which he was overbalanced gave him
special feelings of the possibility of his being a success and
led him to become a pathological liar. From the family history
the main suggestion of the causation of the mental abnormality is
in illness during developmental life, but neither ante-natal nor
hereditary conditions are quite free from suspicion.
At the time of this first trial Adolf maintained a very smart
attitude and tried to show off. He had succeeded in having two
witnesses subpoenaed in order to prove that he did not hit his
sister, but on the stand it came out that one of them was not
there at all, and the other, who was a little girl, stated that
she saw Adolf hit some one. Just why the boy had these witnesses
brought in was difficult to explain. Perhaps he had the idea
that some one ought to be called in every case, or perhaps he
thought they would be willing to tell an untruth for him. His
statement in court did not agree with what he had told us and was
utterly different from what his sister stated. It came out that
he had struck her on a number of previous occasions. It was
shown clearly that the boy was a tremendous liar. The case was
transferred to the Juvenile Court and from there the boy was sent
away to an institution for a few months. After the trial his
father said in broken English, ``To me he never told the truth.''
Just after his release the family moved to Chicago and Adolf soon
put himself in touch with certain social agencies. He found out
where I was and came to see me, bright, smiling, and well. He
had gained eight pounds during his incarceration. He wanted to
tell all about his life in the institution and because we were
busy said he would come the next day. He did not do this, but a
few months later came running up to me on the street with a
package in his hands, saying he was already at work in a downtown
office and was doing well and going to night school. Five years
more would see him quite through his law course. A few months
after this he applied at a certain agency for work as an
interpreter and there, strangely enough, some one who knew him in
New York recognized him. He, however, denied ever having been in
court and produced a list of twenty or twenty-five places where
he worked and gave them as references. It is to be remembered
that at this time he had already been brought up in court at
least three times, that he had been on probation, and been sent
away to an institution.
During the last four years we have received much information
concerning the career of Adolf, although his activities have
carried him to Milwaukee, Cleveland, St. Louis, and other towns,
in several of which he has been in trouble. He has very
repeatedly been to see us and we have had many opportunities of
gauging his mental as well as his social development.
His family continued to live in one of the most populous suburbs
of Chicago and Adolf maintains that his residence is there, an
important point for his political activities which are mentioned
What we discovered in our further studies of Adolf's mental
condition can be told in short. We have retested him over and
over. (When he has been hard up we have given him money to
induce him to do his very best.) There are no contradictions in
our findings at different times. Once, in another city, in
connection with his appearance in court, Adolf was seen by a
psychiatrist who suggested that he was a case of dementia precox,
but nothing in our long observation of him warrants us in such an
opinion. His mental conditions and qualities seem quite
unchanged in type during all the time we have known him, and
instead of any deterioration there has been gradual betterment in
capacities, certainly along the line of adjustment to
environment. His wonderful ability to get out of trouble is
evidence of these powers of adjustment, as is also, perhaps, his
keen sensing of the utility of the shadier sides of politics and
In work with numbers Adolf is still very poor. He is unable to
do long division or multiplication, and cannot add together
simple fractions. Addition he does much better, but even at his
best he makes errors in columns where he has to add five
numerals. He now can do simple subtraction such as is required
in making change, but fails on such a problem as how much change
he should get from $20 after buying goods costing $11.37. His
memory span is only six numerals, and these he cannot get
correctly every time.
After numerous attempts to mentally analyze our simple ``Cross
Line Test,'' with much urging and extreme slowness he finally
succeeded at one time in getting it correctly. As stated above,
this is a test that is done with ease usually by normal
individuals 12 years of age. On our ``Code Test,'' requiring
much the same order of ability, but more effort, he entirely
failed. For one thing, he has never known the order of the
alphabet either in English, German, or French. Our ``Pictorial
Completion Test,'' which gauges simple apperceptive abilities, he
failed to do correctly, making three illogical errors.
The result on the Binet tests are most interesting. From years
of experience with them we ourselves have no faith in their
offering sound criteria for age levels above 10 years. Adolf
goes up through all of the 12-year tests (1911 series) except the
first, where he shows suggestibility in his judgment of the
lengths of lines. In the 15-year tests he fails on the first,
but does the three following ones correctly. Two out of the
adult series are done well--those where the definition of a word
is required and the statement of political ideas. Two or three
of his specific answers are worth noting: ``Honor is when a
person is very honest. It means he will never do what is wrong
even if he can make money by it.'' ``Pleasure is when everything
is pleasant, when you are enjoying yourself.'' Adolf tells us
that the king is head of a monarchy, he has not the power to
veto, and he acquires his position by royal birth. In contrast
to this he says the president is the presiding executive of a
republic, he has the power to veto, and he gains his position by
election. It is perfectly clear in this case, as in many others,
that the Binet tests show very little wherein lies the nature of
a special defect or ability. Adolf's capacity for handling
language has grown steadily. He has been reading law and knows
by heart a great deal of its terminology. In a short
conversation he talks well and is coherent. The aggressiveness
which is ever with him leads him to stick to the point. He has
had very little instruction, his pronunciation is often defective
and he does not know the meaning of many of the longer terms with
which any lawyer should be acquainted. He speaks fluently and
has now long posed, among other things, as an interpreter.
Our final diagnosis after all these mental tests is, that while
he could by no means be called a feebleminded person, still Adolf
is essentially subnormal in many abilities--we still regard him
as a subnormal verbalist. Probably what he lacks in powers of
mental analysis has much relation to the lack of foresight which
he continually shows in his social career. His lying and
swindling have led him almost nowhere except into difficulties.
Adolf has been steadily gaining weight, although he has grown
only an inch and a half in these years. He is stout and
sleek-looking and as flabby as ever. He has not been seriously
ill during this time. Whereas before he used to be untidy in
dress he now gets himself up more carefully.
The following are examples of Adolf's conversation and show many
of his characteristics: (Soon after he came to Chicago we spoke
to him of his progress.)
``The other day I met a fellow and he says, `How long have you
been in this country?' and when I says four years he says,
`You're a liar. There never was a fellow I ever heard of who got
hold of the language and was doing as well as you are in four
years.' '' A few months later he tells us he is selling goods on
commission and descants on how much he can make: ``That's
`Get-rich-quick-Wallingford' for you. There's Mr. A. and
Congressman X., they started out from little beginnings just the
same as me. I'm going along their line.
``Do you know I got sued by the Evening Star for libbel. That's
what I got for testifying in that case. I tell you what I would
like and that's vice investigation work.''
At another time: ``Well, doctor, I am general manager for my
brother's business now. He's got a bottle business. There's
money in that, ain't there? I was down in court to-day. I tell
you, there was a fellow who got what was coming to him. It was a
case before Judge H.--assault and battery. He was fined $10 and
costs--all amounted to about $30. Well, I had a little dog and I
tell you I have a heart for animals just the same as persons. He
kicked the dog and I told him not to do it and he says, `You're a
liar,' and then he ran down stairs and pushed me along the stones
over there. I called the police and they did not come for about
three quarters of an hour.
``I'm studying law. Taking a correspondence course. They give
you an L.L.B. It's a two years work and you get all the volumes
separately,'' etc. ``Then we have a slander suit. A neighbor
called my sister dirty names. I am going to file a $5000 slander
suit. I would not let that man call names like that, and then
he's got about $5000 in property.
``Some people are down on me, but I tell you I have been a leader
of boys. We got the Illinois championship--you know, the boy
scout examinations. There was an examination on leaves. I was
their leader. I had 9 boys up and there were 117 leaves and
every boy knew every leaf. Of course I told them or they would
not have known. Some people are down on me for what I do for the
boys, but I tell you I've been in court and I've made up my mind
I will help other kids. Sometimes kids can be helped by talking
to. Then there is me. I won the boxing championship this
year.'' (At this period I enquire about his prowess and the
recent encounter with the young boy who dragged him over the
stones. With a blush he says he never was any good at real
boxing or real fighting.) ``I'm this kind of a fellow. If they
let me alone I'm all right, but if they start monkeying with me
something is going to happen. When you start a thing don't start
it until you can carry it through. These people that started
with me were not able to do that.''
Later it came out that the alleged fighting with the boy is all
in Adolf's mind. He tells us, without noticing any discrepancy,
that no complaint against this boy, who he said had been already
tried and fined, would be received by the police authorities, nor
will they issue a warrant.
Within the last year or two there has been almost complete
cessation of Adolf's attempt to become a lawyer. At an earlier
time he came to us with a speech written out in a book. He was
going to recite it when a certain case came up in the Municipal
Court. As a matter of fact we heard that the boy said nothing on
the occasion. At various times we have heard of his getting
mixed up in different ways in a number of cases. Once he
succeeded in giving testimony in a notorious trial. His own
account of his interest in the case is shown in the following:
``Doctor, you remember that X. boy and that Y. boy. Judge B. is
going to try them. They are down in the S Station and they are
going to stay there unless they sign a jury waiver and they can't
do that. They are only 15 years old--I got their ages--it cost
me $1 to get their ages and I am going to be there when they are
being tried.'' (The statement of the ages is untrue.) ``It
ain't right to keep these boys down there. They look pale. They
don't give them anything but black coffee. I'm going to
represent them boys. You know, doctor, I'm working in three
places now--holding three jobs. Two days in the week I work for
the A's, two for Mr. B.--he ain't exactly my boss--and then for
myself. The A's pay me $6, Mr. B. pays $3, and then I make $7 or
$8 myself interpreting. I'm saving it up to go to law school.
In three years I graduate. They are going to hold it up against
them boys, their records, and I am going to deny it. It ain't
right. I was talking to the detective that arrested X. and I
says to him, `Look here, you took the knife. What right have
they got to take in one fellow without the little fellow?' I
want to represent this case myself.''
Adolf has worked for law firms and aided at times as an
investigator of criminal and vice situations. Occasionally he
has been much worried about his own court record. He did not
want it to stand against him. He thought he could get his sister
to swear that he never quarreled at home. Shortly afterwards he
served a short sentence for stealing from a law firm. Later he
came in and said he had a job in the legal department of a large
concern and that he had changed his name because he believed his
old name was ruined. ``I'm determined to be a lawyer. Ever
since a little fellow I have wanted to be--ever since I have had
an understanding of what the law means. I used to play court
with the other little ones and talk about law.'' At this time he
wanted a little loan. He had become particularly interested in
philanthropic work and thought he could do something on the side
about that--perhaps become a leader of boys, or help the
unprotected in some way. Adolf was really employed now to
investigate cases by some lawyer. About this time he had been
wearing a badge, impersonating an officer of a certain
For long this young man was concocting all sorts of schemes how
he might work in at the edge of legal affairs, as an interpreter,
a ``next friend,'' an investigator, etc. More recent activities
have taken Adolf away from the field of his first ambitions and
he has tried to use his talents in all sorts of adventuresome
ways. The accounts of his lying and impostures belong logically
together, as follows.
During all our acquaintance with Adolf we have known his word to
be absolutely untrustworthy. Many times he has descended upon
his friends with quite unnecessary stories, leading to nothing
but a lowering of their opinion of him. Repeatedly his
concoctions have been without ascertainable purpose. His
prevaricating nearly always centers about himself as some sort of
a hero and represents him to be a particularly good-hearted and
even definitely philanthropic person--one who loves all creatures
and does much for others. Pages might be taken in recounting his
falsehoods. Most of them, even when long drawn out, were fairly
coherent. I remember one instance as showing how particularly
uncalled for his prevarications were. After hearing one of his
tales, we started downtown together, but missed a car. Adolf
walked to the middle of the street and said he could see one
coming just a few blocks away. Being doubtful, I a minute later
went to look and no car even yet was in sight. Adolf sheepishly
stared in a shop window. He never took any pleasure in his
record of misdeeds. He was never boastful about them and indeed
seemed to have quite normal moral feeling. But so far, none of
his perceptions or apperceptions has led him to see the
astonishing futility of his own lying and other
Already this young man's court experiences we know to be very
numerous and possibly we are not acquainted with all of them.
Early we knew of his forging letters and telegrams and engaging
in minor misrepresentations which were really swindling
operations. Later his transactions have been spread about in
different cities, as we have already stated. The young man
borrowed small sums frequently on false pretenses. He has found
the outskirts of legal practice a fruitful field for
misrepresentations galore. For instance, at one time he stood
outside the door of a concern which deals with small legal
business and represented to the prospective patrons that he as a
student of the law could transact their business with more
individual care and for a less sum. He really succeeded in
getting hold of the beginnings of a number of legal actions in
this way. In one city he posed as the officer of a certain
protective agency and posted himself where he would be likely to
meet people who knew of this organization, in order to obtain
petty business from them. We have heard that he has been a
witness in a number of legal cases and has earned fees thereby.
In Cleveland Adolf succeeded in starting a secret service agency
and obtained contracts, among them the detective work for a newly
started store of considerable size. This was a great tribute to
his push and energy, but his agency soon failed. In St. Louis,
where he stayed long enough to become acquainted with not a few
members of the legal fraternity, he forged a legal document. A
great deal was made of the case by the papers because of its
flagrancy and amusing details. It seems Adolf had become
enamored of a certain woman who was not living with her husband.
The account runs that he urged his suit, but she refused because
she was not legally free. Adolf replied that he would make that
all right and in a week or two produced papers of divorce. These
were made out in legal form, but it seems that he over-stepped
the mark. The alleged decree stated that the fair divorcee must
be remarried inside of a week. This seems to have aroused her
suspicion, as had also some violence which Adolf had prematurely
displayed. The young man was duly sentenced for the fraud.
Concerning punishments we can say that in the five years since he
left New York he has served at least four terms in penal
institutions and has been held to trial on one other occasion.
This latter event concerned itself with Adolf's impersonating a
federal officer. He made his way into a home under these
conditions, just why we do not know. The case was difficult to
adjust and was dismissed because no statute exactly covered it.
Perhaps nothing in his remarkable history shows Adolf's
aggressiveness and peculiar tendencies any more than his
political career. He had been voting long before he was of age
and had even succeeded in getting a nomination for a certain
party position during his minority, polling a considerable vote
at the primaries. Following his defeat at election, which was at
the time when the new party showed marked weakness, Adolf told us
that he, after all, was only in the Progressive Party to wreck
it. He felt that the leaders belonged back in the Republican
ranks, and he thought he could help to get them there.
Mentality: Subnormal verbalist type. Case 12.
Man, 21 years.
Developmental: Early illness with
involvement of nervous
CASES OF PATHOLOGICAL ACCUSATION
We include in this chapter pathological self-accusation as well
as incrimination of others. In court work one sees many cases of
false accusation, but few belong to the pathological variety. We
have not considered those based upon vindictiveness, or
self-defense, or where any other even slight, recognizable,
normal gratification was at the bottom. We have tried to hold
strictly to our definition. Selection of the cases for this
chapter has been easier than discriminating those who are merely
pathological liars in general. It is simpler to distinguish
those who accuse others for the purpose of injury or
self-protection, or those who make self-accusation under the
influence of delusional conditions, than it is to decide upon
similar distinctions in cases of mere pathological lying.
Several authors, such as Gross, have noted false accusations made
during a short period of early adolescence, or in connection with
menstrual disturbance. Our cases corroborate these facts, but
show also that extreme false accusations may be made by girls
BEFORE puberty. Satisfactory knowledge of such cases is not
gained by learning merely that the accuser is under temporary
physical stress--it is to be noted that our material clearly
shows that there is always more in the background.
The many cases observed by us of false accusations made, rarely,
by the feebleminded and, more often, by those suffering from a
psychosis, need not be mentioned here--they are obvious in their
abnormality and have little bearing upon our immediate problem.
For the sake of illustration of the fact of pathological
accusation Case 17 is given in this chapter, but in its mental
aspects it belongs more properly under the head of border-line
cases. In our final deductions this has not been counted as a
mentally normal case.
Summary: An exceedingly important case from a legal standpoint.
A girl of 16 years persistently, but falsely accused her own
mother and her step-father of the murder of the youngest child of
the family. Some apparent physical corroboration was found. The
woman and her spouse were held from the inquest to the grand jury
and later were indicted. They were in jail for four months until
the case was finally tried, when they were discharged.
We studied Libby S. as a delinquent some eight months after her
mother and step-father had been acquitted of murder. These
unfortunate people had been held and tried almost entirely upon
the testimony given by this girl. It goes without saying that
they were very poor and not ordinarily self-assertive, and so did
not obtain competent legal advice. We were naturally interested
in this remarkable affair and were glad to be able to get at the
truth of the matter and bring about forgiveness and
reconciliation within the family circle.
Libby was now under arrest for stealing and for prostitution.
Her statement to us was that she had been immoral and wanted to
be sent away to an institution where she would be kept out of
trouble. She had been working in a factory. Her mother and
step-father were temperate and the latter was always good to her
and to her brother. She told about being extremely nervous when
she got to thinking about different things, and maintained that
she worried so much at times that she did not know what she was
doing. Later we learned from her of her little sister's death,
of the fact that the child was not really her sister, and that
her mother had not been married to her present husband until the
time of the trial, although for long they had been living
together. She added that she had been a witness five times in
court against her mother and step-father. A younger brother had
also testified against them to some minor extent. ``We had to
tell what we saw--we told enough lies as it was.''
Following the latter remark as a clew we went as thoroughly as we
could into the details of the whole case. No report of the court
proceedings being available we obtained what we could from the
newspaper accounts. Obviously, however, much of these was
impressionistic and unreliable. The coroner's physician
testified to many bruises being on the body, and to the bottom of
the feet being blistered. The report of what the police said at
the inquest made anything but conclusive testimony. Even from
that, the murder seemed highly improbable. It was shown that a
physician was called to the child before she died, but did not
respond. Libby testified at the inquest and later against her
mother, stating that the child had been beaten and tortured in
various ways. We also learned from other than newspaper sources
that when Libby was waiting to testify, with her mother suffering
imprisonment in the same building, the girl was nonchalantly
singing ragtime songs in the court-house corridors.
The facts about the alleged murder of the five year old child as
we could finally summarize them from various accounts, and after
hearing the confession of Libby, are as follows. This child was
an epileptic and had frequent attacks of falling, when she
injured herself, once having fallen in this way against a hot
stove. The little child engaged in extremely bad sex habits.
Indeed, Libby herself had been somewhat involved with her in
these. Once when she was ill hot bricks had been placed in the
bed, and, while unconscious, her feet had been blistered. The
child had also suffered from various other ailments, including a
skin disease which left sore places and scars. When she died
Libby first told a neighbor that the parents were responsible and
this person referred her to the police. The false testimony
began there and continued at the inquest, before the grand jury,
and at the trial. Upon thorough final sifting of the evidence in
court nothing was found in the least indicating that the child
had died from mistreatment. The younger brother had been told by
Libby to testify against the mother. There was no question but
that Libby started and continued the whole trouble, but the
unnatural fact that she was willing to make sworn statements
jeopardizing her mother made her testimony have all the earmarks
of antecedent probability.
The mother herself, in whom we gradually came to have full
confidence, informed us that the dead child had an epileptic
attack and was unconscious for several hours before she died.
They lived on the outskirts of the city and it was bad weather,
and although they sent twice for doctors, no one appeared. The
child had been mildly whipped at times in an attempt to cure her
of her bad sex habits. She had many sores from her skin trouble
and these were by some interpreted as caused by beatings.
When under our observation, and during our attempt to analyze her
career, Libby underwent a change of attitude and confessed
thoroughly and definitely that the story about the murder was
lies all the way through. For the sake of the poor little mother
we had the girl make a sworn statement to this effect. It was of
some little interest to us to note that the police account given
in the newspapers about the little child being beaten with a
rubber hose was derived from the story told by Libby. It was a
wonderfully dramatic and pathetic scene when this woman met her
daughter and the latter confessed to her lies and asked
forgiveness. All the mother could say was, ``Oh, the suffering
she has caused me! But I do want her to be a good girl.''
From the girl's long stories to us we may derive the following
points of interest. Before her confession she was very emotional
on the subject of her little sister. She dwelled much upon her
dreams of the child, but proved self-contradictory about the
matter of her death, as well as about her own history. Even then
she began telling us what a bad girl she herself was in various
ways. She said, ``I did not see Laura die, but I guess they did
burn her up because her finger tips were all gone and her hands
were all swollen up. Ma said she would burn her up if she did
not quit wetting the bed. Yes, I used to worry about Laura
awful. She always had been the trouble. I would have been a
good girl if it had not been for her. I used to worry so fierce
that I could not help from stealing and then when I stole I was
scared to go back to my jobs. I had to have money and so I made
good money by going with these fellows. I used to feel fierce
about the money I took from my mother and used to put it back and
then would say, `No, I just must have it.' ''
This girl had been working at different factories and homes since
her mother's trial. She confessed to thieving from stores. The
stealing she had done at home was, it seems, long before the
death of the little child. Libby made much of her mental states
and of her dream-life in talking to us. ``I like to go to nickel
shows. I saw a sad piece once and if I feel sad now I think
about it and it makes me want to go to my mother. I have a funny
feeling about going home. I don't know what it is. At night I
dream about it and something keeps telling me to go home. I want
to go to an institution now and learn to do fancy work and to be
good, and then I want to go home.''
Libby told us enough about her first father for us to know he had
had a terrifically bad influence upon her. She also long
associated with bad companions who instructed her thoroughly in
the ways of immorality. She described attacks in which she felt
weak and thought she was going to fall, but never did. (The
young child in the family who had epilepsy was no relation
whatever to her.) She knew that her mother had long been living
with her step-father in common-law relationship, but insisted on
what was undoubtedly the truth, namely, that they were temperate
and very respectable people. Libby never gave us any explanation
for her testimony against her mother, but acknowledged that she
herself had been delinquent earlier.
The physical examination showed a normally developed girl: weight
108 lbs.; height 5 ft. 3 in. Well shaped head and rather
delicate features. Her teeth showed a defective line in the
enamel near the gums on the incisors and the cuspids. Bites her
finger nails. Slight irregularity of the left pupil. Careful
examination of the eyes in other ways entirely negative. Prompt
reaction of pupils to light. No sensory defect of importance.
Knee jerks active. Heart sounds normal, and all other
examination failed to show defect. Complained of frequent
headaches, but these were not of great severity. After
information from the mother we felt that Libby's feelings of
weakness and tremblings were probably of the hysterical variety.
During the period in which we had Libby under observation she
showed more or less emotional disturbance, but even so we were
able to assure ourselves that her mental ability was fair. We
did not expect good results from formal education because in her
case it had been very irregular. Many of our ability tests,
however, were done well, but she failed where she was asked to
demonstrate good powers of concentration and attention. We noted
that she showed a very eager attitude toward her work, but was
nervous about it. Always pleasant demeanor.
Most significant results were obtained on the ``Aussage'' or
testimony test. After viewing our standard picture she
volunteered only 8 details in free recital. On cross-examination
she gave 21 more, but no less than 7 of these were incorrectly
stated. Then she accepted the 4 suggestions which were given
her. This result from a girl of her age and ability was
We never found any evidence whatever of aberrational mental
conditions. Our final diagnosis was ``fair in mental ability
with poor educational advantages.''
It should be definitely understood in considering this case that
even to the time of our last interview with Libby, after she had
acknowledged her own extensive prevarications, we had evidences
of the unreliability of her word. In giving details she never
made any special effort to tell the truth, whether it was in
regard to the date of her father's death or any other immaterial
detail. We were inclined to classify her as a pathological liar,
as well as a case of pathological false accusation. Her traits
as a liar and a generally difficult case have, we learn, been
maintained during her stay up to the present time in an
institution for delinquent girls.
From the fairly intelligent mother, who cooperated well with us,
we obtained a carefully stated developmental history. During
pregnancy with Libby the mother was run over by a bicycle, but
was not much injured. The child was born at full term and was of
normal size and vitality. Instruments were used, but no damage
was known to have been done. Libby walked and talked early. A
couple of times when she was an infant she had convulsions, but
never after that. From 7 weeks until she was 3 years old there
was constant trouble on account of some form of indigestion. For
a time at that age she was in the hospital, but the mother was
never told exactly what the trouble was. Her stomach was large.
As an older child she was subject to fits of anger when she could
not have her way. She never had anything that was suggestive of
epilepsy. Twice she fainted, but once was when she came home
half frozen one winter's day. At 11 years she had pneumonia.
She menstruated at 14 years.
The heredity and family history in this case is of great
interest. Libby's mother went to work for her first husband's
family in the old country. At about that time this man's first
wife died, but he had previously left her. He came of a good
family, he was himself, however, a hard-drinking man. He left
two children by his first wife with his parents and came to this
country with Libby's mother. Here they lived in a common-law
marriage relationship for many years, and two children (one of
them Libby) were born to them. The man continued to be a
terrible drunkard and was probably insane at times. He once
bought a rifle to kill his family. He was notorious for his
great changeableness of disposition. Sometimes he would be very
pleasant, and then quickly be seized by some impulse when he
would grind his teeth, become very angry, and use vile language.
Even when sober he would go along talking to himself and people
would follow him on the street to hear what he was saying. He
threatened often to kill his wife. He deserted her at times for
months together. He only partially supported his family and his
wife worked as a washerwoman. She left him once, but later went
back to him.
In evidence of the character of this man and his wife we have
seen several statements from reliable people. The man's son by
his first wife came to this country and lived with them. He
found his own father impossible--a terribly bad man who was
continually fighting at home. He himself urged his step-mother
to break up the home on account of the way in which she was
abused. He made a statement of this fact under oath. (It is
only fair to say in this whole connection that these people all
came from a part of Europe where what we call a common-law
marriage is an ordinary relationship.) It was from the language
of her father that Libby first gained acquaintance with bad sex
ideas, we are assured by the mother. After a terrific time of
stress Libby's mother was rescued from her miserable conditions
by the man who later lived with her and finally married her, and
who has supported her and been true to her ever since. He is a
sympathetic man of good reputation.
Libby's maternal grandparents died early and her mother had to
begin very young to support herself. All that we know of the
mother's developmental history is that she had some sort of
illness with convulsions once as a child and is said to have been
laid away for dead. She has brothers and sisters who are said to
be quite normal. She knows her own relatives and her first
husband's, also, and feels very sure there has been no case of
insanity, feeblemindedness, or epilepsy among them.
Libby's moral history is of great import. She became definitely
delinquent very early in life. At 13 years she had already been
in an institution for delinquent girls in an eastern State and
the superintendent writes that she was notorious for
disobedience, lying, and stealing. She was placed there twice,
besides having been returned once after an escape. When she was
6 or 7 years of age she began thieving. She took things from her
mother's trunk and pawned them. The child stole from the
people's rooms where her mother worked as janitress. Later she
was truant and associated with immoral girls. In Chicago she
stole a bracelet and a ring from a down-town store, wearing the
bracelet later. She took $15 from a neighbor's house. She went
to saloons in company with an immoral woman, and at least on one
occasion she had been drinking. At 12 or 13 she was known to be
``crazy about boys,'' but probably was not immoral then. The
mother insists that the girl, resembling her father in this, is
most changeable in disposition. Long before the trial for murder
her pastor had urged the mother to put the girl away in an
institution, but the mother's heart was too soft. (It seems
strange that all this evidence of the girl's own bad character
and unreliability, which was readily obtained by us, was not
utilized at the time when she first made the charges of murder.)
The mother's explanation of Libby's behavior is that it was spite
work. However, that is, of course, unsatisfactory. The mother
not long previously earnestly had warned the girl against
pursuing her downward path and had stated she must be sent away
again if she did not do better. Libby then was doing pretty much
as she pleased, for the mother, who was all along a frail woman,
sick much of the time, had really no control over her daughter.
Another feature of the case that is interesting came out in the
fact that Libby herself had neglected the little epileptic girl
who died. When the mother was ill in bed Libby had refused to
properly care for the child. To some extent she also engaged in
bad sex practices with the little girl. Libby never gave us the
slightest indication that her false testimony was incited by
spite. Anyhow, she involved the step-father, who she always
insisted had been very good to her. The motive undoubtedly is
not so simply explained. A really deep analysis of the behavior
could not be undertaken.
Mental conflicts: About sex experiences Case 13.
and own Girl, 16 yrs.
Bad companions: Including father.
Home conditions: Notoriously bad in early life.
Heredity: Father alcoholic, brutal, and
False accusations. (Extreme case.) Fair ability.
Sex immorality, etc.