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Pathology of Lying, Etc. by William and Mary Healy

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her. Distinct proof of hysteria was present; for instance, on
one occasion in the middle of a test Georgia apparently became
unconscious. Her head dropped to the table, but her lips were
red, her face did not change color, she resisted having her head
moved, and in a moment or two lifted it herself to a more
comfortable position. The diagnosis from such symptoms as these
and from her history was not difficult to make.

The ``Aussage'' test, for obvious reasons, was not given.

Georgia told her story with surprising coherency; in outline, it
was as follows: She ran away from home, and then was put under
protection of the police authorities by a man who caught her.
She said she was caught when standing by a drug store where she
had been to get medicine, just ten cents worth of peroxide. When
asked by us if it were not really carbolic acid she called for,
she said yes, it was and that she intended to take it. She
wanted to get rid of her life. What could she do in the way of
living? Her father and mother were both sick and they could not
live long and then how could she get along taking care of three
little children? When asked if her parents would not be terribly
affected by her suicide she said that it would not be the first
time they had buried a child. At this time she would go no
further into her history.

On the next day she talked straight to the point, but with a
remarkably dull expression on her face. She said that about five
weeks ago, she cannot tell the exact date, she went to a
neighbor's house. A man there wanted her to come and look at
some pictures. He finally got her to go to a bedroom and then
held her so she could not scream, and raped her. She is sure of
it. He later choked and beat her and kicked her out of the
house. At first she was afraid to tell her people. A couple of
weeks afterward she went back and asked why he did that, and he
swore at her and accused her of being bad, and she and he talked
back and forth for some time. ``He says, `I'll kill you. I did
not touch you at all.' I says, `You did. You're a liar and you
can kill me now if you want to. You have already killed me.
See, I grow large like this.' '' He then set upon her and beat
her again. She has not seen him since. After telling this
Georgia began to cry very hard and said that she really is killed
now and is done for. The whole story was told in a
straightforward way with a full show of emotion.

A complicating feature of this case, resultant upon lack of
understanding of the characteristic vagaries of this type, was
the action of a vigorous knight errant. He was the one who
rescued her. Hearing her ask in the drug store for the carbolic
acid, which she did not get, he thought she was desperate and
questioned her, but she tearfully refused to answer. He quietly
followed her until she got to the river, and then, when she had
her foot on the rail of the bridge and was about to jump off, he
seized her. She fought and kicked him so that she badly hurt one
of his legs. She told him she had reason to commit suicide. He
got her to some house and there she fainted. When she came to
she described her situation to him, naming a man who boarded with
a neighbor as having raped her. She told him this was the reason
she had tried to commit suicide.

This young man visited Georgia's family, found them strangely
indifferent and not inclined to believe the girl, so he set out
to see that justice was done. With his well-intended efforts he
succeeded in getting several agencies to work on the case, the
parents meanwhile partly resenting his interference. They said
they knew what kind of a girl she was.

We never felt thoroughly satisfied with the family history on
account of the comparative ignorance of the parents, our only
source of information, although they were honest enough people.
All points in heredity seemed negative, nor could we learn that
there had been anything significant in developmental conditions.
The girl had only recently menstruated. Her people felt that of
late her word was quite unreliable. She went as far as the 4th
grade. On account of the short time in school in this country
this was considered doing fairly well.

Ten months prior she had fallen off a street car; it was not
known she was damaged seriously. A jury had given a verdict of
several hundred dollars against the company, but on account of an
appeal having been taken the case was still unsettled. Since the
accident a number of fainting attacks had occurred and Georgia
had lost one position on account of them, a place where she had
worked for 2 years. She was said to have been quite healthy
before the accident. Some 5 weeks before we saw her, the girl
had become hysterical and announced that she had not menstruated
the week before and the cause was that she had been raped. Her
behavior was so peculiar in regard to this that her parents did
not believe her statements and did nothing about it. The girl
evidently was accustomed to telling falsehoods, although we could
get no specific account of them. The parents were very anxious
to avoid a scandal, for though they were poor they made much of
their respectability .

Georgia was examined after a later reiteration of her charges;
the physician said that she had not been raped. After we saw her
the parents thought it was best to go to another physician with
the young man who had become so interested. Once more the report
was that there had been no rape, but it now appeared that there
had been some manipulation of the parts. After this the case
quieted down, but Georgia had run away again just before this
second examination. When by our recommendation she was now
placed in a convalescent home she repeated the same stories and
announced that she was pregnant. Of course more trouble was
created by this and a third examination had to be made to
convince these good people who had been recently asked to
interest themselves in her.

After her stay in the convalescent home Georgia returned to her
parents, and, appearing to be recovered, went to work again. Her
record for two years was unexpectedly satisfactory. When the
above episode had blown over she regained control of herself,
adapted herself to family conditions, and worked steadily. On
one occasion her nervous symptoms have returned with much
depression and again an attempt at suicide. She was now
carefully studied in a hospital for signs of insanity, but again
it was determined that she was not of unsound mind. She made a
speedy recovery, adjusted herself once more to her surroundings,
and after a few months became married. During the last year or
so there has been no further trouble. A settlement of the law
suit for injuries was made before her more recent period of
depression. At the time of even her last attack we can learn of
no more false accusations having been made. The family attitude
about her has, all along, not been what it should have been to
have gained the proper results, but the problem of poverty was
always with them.

Mentality: Traumatic psychoneurosis. Case 24.
Girl, age 16 years.
Accident, with law suit following.
General physical conditions: Anemia, poor
nutrition, otitis media.
Delinquencies: Mentality:
Running away. Poor ability;
Attempted suicide. temporary
False accusations. aberration.


Summary: Case of a young man of 19, with already a long record
of criminalism, who created much trouble for a court where a
judge was keenly anxious to do justice. The fellow implicated
himself in a sensational murder, but investigation proved this to
be untrue. In other ways his word was found most unreliable.
The question concerning his sanity could only be answered by
stating that he was an aberrational type peculiarly inclined to
criminalism, and therefore needed segregation, and that he was
also given to pathological lying and self- accusation. From the
legal and social standpoints it is important to note that the
case represents a type, unquestionably abnormal, although the
mental pathology could not be subsumed under the head of any one
of the designated mental diseases.

The case of John B. was studied at the request of a judge who had
continued the trial because of the manifest mental peculiarities
of the defendant. We were told that his behavior varied much,
that one day he would cry and apologize, and on another would
show stupid bravado. As the judge stated, John had long been in
disciplinary institutions and this had failed to do any good.
The immediately peculiar features of the case were that while he
was being held for vagrancy and robbery, John made a strong
attempt to implicate himself in a murder case. In other words he
was a self-accuser.

We found a strong young man of 19 years; weight 157 lbs., height
5 ft. 5 in. Very broad shouldered and deep chested, but slouchy
attitude. Good color. Eyes bright. Varicocele. Somewhat
defective vision in one eye. Well-shaped head--circumference
56.5, length 18.5 and breadth 16 cm. Thick, heavy voice.
Appears dull and depressed, but energizes under encouragement.
Other physical examination negative. Complains merely of
headaches in left frontal region, but says he has had these only
since last year when he was struck there by a beer bottle.
Recently an excessive user of tobacco.

In the mental examination we found much of interest. When first
seen he gave every appearance of being a mental defective, but by
judicious stimulation he could be waked up to do comparatively
good work in several directions. On the Binet tests, 1911
series, he passed all but one of the 12 year set; in that he
followed the suggestion offered. On the 15 year old tests he did
three out of five. The failures were on the memory span of
figures and in the repetition of a sentence of 26 syllables.

By our other tests we also found him defective in verbal memory
processes, even when he read the passage to be remembered. In
working with our so-called construction tests, where his success
depended not only upon planning with concrete material, but even
more on the ability to profit by his failures, he did decidedly
poorly. In handling the puzzle box, where above everything is
required perception of the relationship of one step to another,
he succeeded very rapidly. With the cross-line tests, which
require mental representation of an easily remembered figure and
analysis of its parts, he did very poorly, succeeding only after
the third attempt in each of the two simple tests. This is a
type of work that is especially easy for the normal person.

In our ``Aussage'' or Testimony Test we got a decidedly poor
result. At first enumeration he gave only 8 items, and on cross
questioning gave only 6 more. He denied seeing other objects
plain in the picture, but contradicted himself somewhat on this.
It is interesting that he took only one out of four suggestions,
notwithstanding his suggestibility on the Binet test.

On school work he does altogether much better. He writes a good
hand, reads fairly well, and promptly does a sum in long
division. He claims to have reached the 6th grade. One
difficulty in testing him was his prevailing lethargy. We
constantly had to fight this by encouragement. Once he insisted
he must give up the work because he had not had a smoke for an
hour or so. Altogether, including his irregularities, we could
not call him lower than poor in ability, possibly subnormal. He
did not come within the limits of the feebleminded group. Just
where to place him would depend upon what he perhaps could do
under other more favorable conditions. So much for the tests of

In studying him for aberrational tendencies there were positive
indications. Most significant it was when, in the Binet tests,
he came to the word ``justice'' and turned to the examiner,
saying feelingly, ``I don't know what that is,'' and then burst
into tears. Yet this was from a fellow who had offered to get
himself into even worse trouble with the courts. He made much of
his worrying about not having any home and not being the child of
his so-called parents. His attitude was of sorrow and
hopelessness about his whole situation in life. As seen again
about two weeks later, still more evidences of aberration were
found. He contradicted himself then in regard to his previous
stories, in regard to his home life, denied he had made
self-accusations, and very clearly did not remember at all
accurately what he had previously told me. In fact, he evidently
was not quite clear just who I was, although he had before been
brought across town under the charge of a couple of officers to
see me--an important break in his incarceration. He also told a
different story from one he had told before to a certain official
who now was present. He seemed rather mixed on a number of
points, and this is all the more significant because he had been
heartily afraid of being adjudged insane. Our diagnosis at this
time was purely tentative as far as exact diagnosis was
concerned. We stated that in our opinion he was an aberrational
type and the practical point was that he should neither be
allowed to go out in the community, nor be sent to a
penitentiary, but rather to an institution for observation and
perhaps for long detention. The jury found it necessary, as
usual in such cases, to declare him insane.

The history of John runs as follows: From an evidently
conscientious parent we learn of nothing significant in the
family history. At birth he was said to be bright and healthy.
He had diphtheria severely at 4 years. At 6 he started to
school. He always got along well in his classes, but was very
troublesome. At 11 years he began to run away from home. His
father spent much time and money in going to various parts of the
country for him, and at 13 years of age he was placed in an
industrial school. He is the only child. He came home after 2
years, remained there for 3 or 4 months and then ran away once
more to California. (His home was in the middle West.) He was
returned by the police, sent to the industrial school for another
year, and then again returned home. He stayed only 2 weeks
before running away to New York. Coming back he got into some
trouble and was sent for the third time to the industrial school.
There he stayed until 6 months before we saw him. He was
released once more on parole, stayed at home a week, and again
ran away. It is reported that during his early time at the
industrial school he was rather melancholy by spells, and at one
time tried to poison himself. His relatives say he has a bad
temper. He had typhoid fever at 14, but made a good recovery.

John has been known for years as a great liar, having told
miserable stories about his parents, all of which were quite
untrue. He has frequently mortified his father and mother by
denying his parentage. The last time John was on parole he wrote
more than one letter to police authorities in his home State,
informing them he had been implicated in a serious crime. An
officer at the reformatory institution had a letter from him
purporting to be written from a penitentiary, stating he was
sentenced there on a charge of robbery. When he was held in our
city on a minor charge, he informed the police officials that he
was connected with a certain notorious murder of which the papers
had been full just previously. He was sent out with a couple of
detectives who soon found he knew nothing about the actual facts,
and that his alleged accomplices were innocent men.

In jail it is reported that he seems childish. He has to be
locked up alone at times and then begs and teases to get out, but
in ten minutes or so will repeat the bad behavior. He has stolen
little things from others in custody and has attempted to dispose
of his own clothes for a few cents. It is definitely reported
that he has shown evidences of poor memory. From the institution
where he previously had been so long, word comes that he was
regarded there as not quite normal. John had been held in
another city on a charge of rape, but without much evidence, for
he was allowed to go. We could not find out whether he made
self-accusations in that case.

In his story to us he complains bitterly about his treatment at
the old institution, maintains he was head laundry man there,
tells about his excessive smoking of late, denies his parentage,
says the only friend he has is a certain church worker, maintains
he did not have any home to go to from the industrial school,
intimates he will commit suicide if there is any question of his
being declared insane, says that he had earlier stolen things
from home, tells of having spells when things get black in front
of his eyes and can't see for a little while, says he wants to be
sent to the penitentiary and wants to start right now serving his

All told, there was nothing so striking about this whole case as
the extravagant tendencies towards prevarication. For years he
has been lying to no purpose, although he has never been
previously regarded as insane. Now he appears as an extreme
self-accuser and as a fellow whose word can't be trusted from
hour to hour. The lying, regarded as an aberrational tendency,
is out of proportion to our findings of abnormality in any other
sphere of mental activity, except perhaps the evidences of
defective memory processes. One trouble in gauging his memory
is, of course, the boy's prevarications, but one might argue that
if his memory processes were as good as his other abilities he
would make equal use of them.

Following our study and recommendation in the case John was found
not guilty, but insane. Then being resident of another State,
and, indeed, being on parole from a reformatory institution
there, he was held over to the jurisdiction of that State, and
placed in a hospital for the criminal insane. We have a full
report from the latter place which is exceedingly illuminating.
It appears that despite his first terror of being sent to an
asylum he adapted himself to his new surroundings very readily.
It is stated that he assisted with the ward work and spent his
leisure time in reading and playing cards. He asked for work
outside on the grounds and was regarded as a very courteous and
genial patient. No evidence of delusional or hallucinatory
trends could be obtained. He always seemed to be well oriented
and conscious of everything going on about him. Emotionally he
appeared somewhat subnormal inasmuch as he did not worry about
his own condition, but said he was perfectly contented. (The
latter, of course, to a psychiatrist would be significant.) He
was a great talker and his stories were well listened to. John
said that when he was indicted for robbery his lawyer advised him
to feign insanity and as a result he had been sent to that
hospital. (It is to be remembered that with us he made great
effort to show off his mental powers at their best and evidently
did somewhat better work than when later in the hospital.) He
gave them a history of being somewhat of a cocainist and
morphinist, of being a slick ``pickpocket,'' and of associating
with prominent criminals, particularly ``auto'' bandits. He was
boastful of his experiences, but sometimes admitted that he
prevaricated. It is most interesting to note that he told a
story of having concealed in Chicago some plunder--jewels, money,
and so on--and was really taken to Chicago by one of theBoard of
Visitors of the hospital to find the booty. It is hardly
necessary to say it was not located. The last of the hospital
report states, ``Inasmuch as we were unable to prove that he had
any form of insanity he was discharged.''

It is of no small importance for discussion of the relation
between insanity and criminalism to know that there are such
cases as this where the individual is unquestionably aberrational
and yet does not conform in mental symptoms to any one of the
definitive ``forms of insanity.'' They may be lacking in normal
social control and in ability to reason, impulsively inclined to
anti-social deeds and therefore social menaces, but,
notwithstanding this, may not be classified under the head of any
of the ordinary text-book types of mental diseases.

It is clear that for the protection of society a different notion
of what constitutes mental aberration or insanity should prevail,
so that these unusually dangerous types might be permanently
segregated. It would really seem that just the findings which
the hospital statement enumerates would convince one of this
individual's marked abnormality from a social point of view and
that his being at large was a grave undesirability.

The latest information concerning this young man is that he was
being held in a Western city for burglary.

We should hesitate to make out a card of causative factors in
this case. It is clear that the major cause in his delinquency
was his aberrational mentality. What there was by way of
causation back of this, our history, although obtained from an
apparently conscientious parent, is too meagre for explanation.


Summary: Boy of 16 had for 6 years caused a great amount of
trouble by his general unreliability and excessive lying. He had
been tried away from his own people in private homes and in
institutions without success. His lying was excessive and often
showed no purpose and no foresight. His peculiar delinquencies
demonstrated weakness of will. Although in good general physical
condition he simulated illnesses. Mental and physical
characteristics rendered certain the diagnosis of constitutional

We saw William S. first when he was over 16 years of age, after
he had been arrested for stealing. He had already been in three
institutions for delinquents. From his father and others we
gained a long story of the case.

William was in fairly good physical condition. No sensory
defect. Weight 125 lbs.; height 5 ft. 3 in. Although well
enough developed in other ways he was a marked case of delayed
puberty; as yet no pubescence. Strength only fair; for his age,
muscles decidedly flabby. A high, broad forehead. Large nose.
Peculiar curl of the upper lip. Small, weak chin. These
features give him a peculiar appearance--readily interpretable as
showing weakness of character. Cranium notably large. With
small amount of hair measurements were: circumference 57.8;
length 19.6; breadth 15.5 cm. (Head same size as father's.)
Expression downcast. Voice high pitched. ``Under dog''
attitude. Slouchy. No analgesia or other signs of hysteria.

The performance on tests was peculiarly irregular. In this
monograph we have omitted discussion of the results of separate
tests, but the citation of the summary as dictated when the case
was first studied will prove instructive: The work done on our
tests was very irregular, peculiarly so. Perceptions good and
most phases of the memory processes fair, but in reasoning
ability and especially in tests which require the application of
some foresight the results are poor indeed. The failure is
remarkable in proportion to what he could do in school work and
to his abilities in some other ways. He reads fluently, writes a
very good hand, and in arithmetic is able to do long division,
but showed no grasp of good method. When at his best he sticks
at a job well enough, but does it with no intelligence and does
not save himself in the least by thoughtful procedures. We were
interested to note that in a game which he said he had played a
great deal, namely checkers, he made the most foolish and
shortsighted moves. It is only fair to say that this boy varied
in his performance from time to time; his emotional condition
largely controlled his performance.

On the ``Aussage'' or Testimony Test he gave a functional account
upon free recital, with 15 details. On questioning he gave 13
more items. Out of the entire number only 3 minor errors. Of 5
suggestions proffered none was accepted.

There was a great deal more to be said about this boy's mental
peculiarities than what was evidenced by the giving of tests.
Our observations of him made at intervals over a period of
several months corroborated entirely the statements of several
others, including members of his own family. The boy was
remarkably unstable in his ideas and purposes. What he
apparently sincerely wanted to do and be at one time was entirely
different at another. His changeableness was shown in many ways.
When he had been found apparently suitable employment or a new
home he often would stay only a few days. The father's first
statement that the boy was a craven was borne out by all that we
saw. He was too cowardly to be ``tough,'' but he was a
persistent runaway and vagrant. He sometimes used an assumed
name. In general demeanor he was good natured, but always
restless. Not the least of his peculiarities was his ready
weeping. It was amazing to see so large a fellow draw down his
chin and sob like a young child. He was easily frightened at
night. Under observation he had peculiar episodes of behavior.
Once in a school-room, without any known provocation, he suddenly
began to cry and scream, picked up a chair and soon had the
entire room cleared out. A moment afterwards he was found
sobbing and bewailing his lot because he ``never had a fair
chance.'' On another occasion his legs strangely gave out and he
had to be carried to bed by his fellows. The next morning a
physician found him with his legs drawn up and apparently very
sensitive over his back and other parts of his body, but with a
little encouragement all his symptoms soon disappeared. He gave
a history of having had convulsions, but this was found to be
untrue. He was a ``bluffer'' among boys; when met valiantly
showed always great cowardice.

We felt much inclined at first to denominate him a case of
abulia, but his stubbornness in recalcitrancy led us to change
our opinion. From the above physical signs and mental phenomena
he was clearly a constitutional inferior.

Some facts we obtained on the family history were most
significant. The mother of William suffered from attacks which
were undoubtedly epileptic. Her mother, in turn, had convulsions
at least during one pregnancy. We did not learn whether or not
she had them at other times. No other points of significance in
that family are known. The father himself was brought up, as he
says, strictly, but he was inclined to be wild, and he has
indulged for many years altogether too much in tobacco and
alcohol. He is distinctly a weak type and the poorest specimen
of his family. William is the only child. There was nothing
peculiar in developmental history until he was 2 1/2 years old
when he suffered from ``brain fever and spinal meningitis.''
This was said to have left him with a stiff right arm and to
account for his being left handed. (We could discover no
difference in the reflexes.) Then at another period he was sick
in bed for 6 months with some unknown, but not very serious
illness. The mother has been dead for years and so we were
unable to get accurate details about this. At a very early age
William sought the pleasures of tobacco, even when a child of 6
or 7 he used his pennies for that purpose. He was brought up in
an environment defective on account of his father being a poor
earner and weak in discipline. But still his parent took for
years a great deal of interest in him and it was not until the
boy had proven himself most difficult that his father proclaimed
himself unable to manage his son.

At about 10 years of age William began running away from home and
manufacturing untrue stories. One of his favorite statements was
that his father had been killed in an accident. It is notable
that all these years he has been attempting to gain sympathy for
this or that assumed condition, whether it be his own alleged
physical ailments, or fictitious family difficulties. As a
matter of fact, during this time he has been in some good homes,
failing each time to comport himself so that he could be retained
there. It was typical that he reiterated, ``I have no friends;
there is no one to stick up for me.'' Besides being in three
institutions before he was 16 years old, William had been in
homes which he had found when he had run away, or in which he had
been placed by his father or by social agencies, the services of
which had been evoked. His stealing was often done with an
extraordinary lack of foresight. For instance, in one good
position that had been found for him he took a box of cigars,
when, of course, as the newcomer he would have been suspected,
and even after his employers made it clear to him that they knew
of the theft he took another box the next day. His lying under
all occasions was nothing short of astonishing. To even his best
friends he offered all sorts of fabulous tales which one iota of
forethought would have made him realize would redound to his
disadvantage. Almost his only show of common sense in this was
when he gave an assumed name while getting a new position, and
even this performance could hardly be considered deeply rational.
It is hardly necessary to give lengthy specimens of his
falsifications; they always pervaded his stories about himself,
but strangely enough he acknowledged many of his delinquencies.
A good example of the latter was when he collected a little money
for a new employer and on the way back, looking in a shop window,
saw an electrical toy and immediately bought it. He then went
home, not even returning to the office to get the wages which
were due him. An example of his lying is his responses to
questions about his schooling. He maintained that he only
reached the third grade. (In reality he could do sixth grade
work at least.) He said, ``I know long division by about 13 and
about 5 figures. I don't know it by any other numbers.'' William
maintained these same characteristics over the 6 years during
which we have good data about him. We know he continued the same
kind of a career for a year or so afterwards.

Three years later we have direct information from his family
concerning William. His habits of prevarication have been kept
up steadily, so it is stated. He has been in and out of
institutions and at present is serving a sentence for larceny.
He all along has been unwilling to face realities and has lied
against his own interests continually. For instance, we are told
that if he lost a place, instead of obtaining the help his family
would have been willing to give him in gaining another, he would
steadily pretend to be holding the former position. He is still
considered utterly unreliable and a thoroughly weak character
with a tendency to meet a situation as readily by a lie as
another person would tend to react by speaking the truth. People
who have known him of late speak of him as being at 21 ``just the
same fellow,'' which probably indicates that he is thoroughly a
victim of habit formation as well as of innate tendencies.

Mentality. (Typical constitutional inferior.) Case 26.
Boy, age 16 years.
Heredity: Mother epileptic. Maternal grandmother
had convulsions. Father alcoholic and
tobacco in excess--weak type.
Developmental conditions: Early disease of the
central nervous system.
Delinquencies: Mentality:
Running away. Abilities irregular,
Stealing. psychic episodes.


Summary: Case of a boy, age 16 years, who told the most
extraordinary stories of his vagrant life and the character of
his family to officers of several organizations who tried to help
him. He understood well that evidences of his unreliability
would count against him. His stories, although often repeated,
were not credited, and later, after a home had been found for
him, he began a new series of lies that seemed almost delusional
and somewhat paranoidal. After months during which much had been
done for him it was suddenly discovered that he was an epileptic.

John F. appealed to an agency for assistance. He told a story of
having wandered with his brother since he was a young boy. ``My
father was insane from what my uncle did to my mother. He
drowned her. The house caught on fire and he blamed her for it.
She said she didn't. She was too sick to get up and he took her
out of the house and his big son pumped water on her. She was
pretty near dead anyhow. We was too little to do anything. I
seen it. I remember that all right. I can see that yet Brother
and sister died about 3 years ago. Brother took sick from
sleeping out. We slept around in barns for 2 years. Father was
in an insane hospital in Kansas. I think my uncle was hanged at
N. Junction. We did not stay there. I remember yet when they
went to put my mother in the grave. I jumped in with her. We
put right out and after awhile folks wrote that father was

So much attention would not have been paid to this gruesome tale
had it not been repeated to various people during the course of
several months. The boy wrote letters reiterating these
incidents. His stories always went on to include the most
surprising amount of abuse. It seemed that everywhere he had
been illtreated. Farmers had whipped him, or clothed him badly,
or defrauded him of his wages.

Physically, we found John to be in good general condition. A
strong active country boy. No serious defect of any kind was

On mental tests he did better than we expected. To be sure he
was very backward in arithmetic, but then his story was that he
had hardly ever been to school at all. He certainly did well in
many of our tests with concrete material, but the results as a
whole were curiously irregular, even if we allowed for his
deficient schooling. At that time we were disinclined to pass
ultimate judgment on his mentality without knowing more about his

On the ``Aussage'' Test he gave only 11 bare items on free
recital. On questioning 19 more details were added. Of the
entire number only 3 were incorrect, and these were not serious
mistakes. Of 6 suggestions offered he accepted 3.

The history of this boy and his family has never been
forthcoming. The authorities in his alleged home State have not
been able to trace his family, which they could have done had his
stories been true. Their report made it clear that the boy's
reiterated family history was a fabrication--the raison d'etre of
which is still in doubt. In spite of his lying the boy was found
a desirable home in the country at the work for which he was
suited. After staying for a few weeks he returned to the city
and got lodgings for himself. We next heard of him because he
was induced by a ``hold-up'' man to secrete a revolver on his
person while the police were in the neighborhood. Upon looking
up his landlady, it was found that while with her he had suffered
from epileptic attacks. These had not been observed during the
several months we had previously known him, and he had strongly
denied them to us. In our court work we constantly inquire for
evidences of epilepsy; in this case we received nothing but
negation. After he served his sentence this young man was lost
sight of. Even in the institution to which he had been sent he
continued his fanciful and often hideous stories, still largely
centered about the idea that he had suffered unjustly wherever he
had been.

No complete summary of causative factors is possible in this
case. The major cause for his lying as well as other
delinquencies, particularly his vagrancy, is, of course, the
mental traits peculiar to epilepsy.





Our 19 mentally normal cases (18 females, 1 male) showed:

Good general condition. . . . . . . . . . . . . 14
Fair general condition. . . . . . . . . . . . . .2
Poor general condition. . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
Poor development. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2
Poor development, undersized for age. . . . . . .2
Defective vision. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
Headaches . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4
Mild nervous symptoms . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2
Tonsils and adenoids. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .3
Fainting attacks. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
Gynecological ailments. . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
Abdominal tumor, etc. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
Hutchinsonian teeth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2
``Stigmata of degeneracy''. . . . . . . . . . . .3
Premature sex development . . . . . . . . . . . .2

Comparing the above with the findings by previous writers we see
little chance to draw safe deductions. So many of the foreign
cases have been insane; they can be more nearly compared with our
7 border-line types where all sorts of physical conditions may be
found. It is notable that a large percentage of our mentally
normal cases are in good general condition. Defective vision in
6 cases may be only a coincidence, but perhaps resulting nervous
irritation was sometimes a factor in producing misconduct.
Headaches, which Stemmermann makes so much of, appear as an
incident in only a small number of our cases; her emphasis on
periodicity also we cannot corroborate, there are hints of it in
only one or two instances, but then her cases for the most part
are not comparable to ours. That 6 out of 18 females should have
had severe gynecological ailments is not to be wondered at,
considering the trend of their lives, but, in turn, there can be
little doubt that, as in Cases 16, 18, and 21, the local
irritation tended to bring about moral disabilities.


Considering first the question of mental capabilities we can
classify our 19 normal cases as follows:

Supernormal in ability. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Precocious; later, still considered bright. . . . . . . . 1
Good ability. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Fair ability, perhaps not quite up to the former classes. 6
Poor ability. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Poor ability, hysterical type . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Poor in general, but with artistic and literary ability . 1
Dull from physical causes, but later normal . . . . . . . 1

Over and beyond the above enumeration there were some intensely
interesting facts which came out during the intimate study of
these cases. We are at once forced to agree with previous
writers that an unusual number of the pathological liar group
show great aptitude for language. This is shown by their general
conversational ability and by the fact that many of them have
found out themselves that they had capacity, for instance, for
writing compositions. Taking our group of pathological liars in
the strict sense, as given in Chapter III, we find that no less
than 7 of these 12 have been given to writing compositions and
stories. Three of them had definitely commenced long stories or
novels. It is most unusual among other offenders to find
evidence of any such tendencies. A considerable number of our
group were characterized as great talkers, and several as
romantic, dramatic, fantastic, etc., even by ordinary observers.
All this goes to show clearly that the native traits making for
verbal fluency are strongly correlated with pathological lying.
When it comes to consideration of such an instance as Case 11 we
have the point more strongly brought out. Here the individual is
fairly swung down his life's course as the irregularity of his
capacities direct. His language ability carries him along as
nothing else will. In corroboration of this interesting point
the conclusions of other authors should be noted.

The aberrational types which show pathological lying are, several
of them, depicted in our Chapter VI. But little in summary of
them needs to be said. The general mental and moral weakness of
the constitutional inferior very naturally leads him to become a
pathological liar; he follows, by virtue of his make-up, the path
of immediate least resistance--lying. The episodic lying or
aimless false accusations of the choreic psychosis needs no
comment--the confusional mental state sometimes accompanying that
disease readily predisposes toward fantastic treatment of
realities. The relationship of constitutional excitement to
pathological lying is less well recognized, but fully explicable
when we recollect the rate at which ideas present themselves in
the mental content of such individuals, who have little time, as
it were, to discriminate the true from the false. The mental
conditions leading to purposeless prevarication which supervene
in the real hysterical mental states, or during the course of
traumatic psychoneurosis are well known. The individual is to be
surely regarded, at least temporarily, as suffering from a
psychosis in many of these instances, and falsification, while it
may be difficult to distinguish between delusion and lying, is a
well recognized phenomenon. The very deliberate lying of
psychopathic individuals, such as Case 25, who, though so
strongly aberrational, do not fit under the head of any of the
classic insanities, is a matter for earnest consideration by all
who have to deal with delinquents. There is altogether too
little general knowledge of this type of fact. The correlation
of the various epileptic mental states with pathological lying is
well recognized. In many of the cases cited by foreign writers
it has turned out that the individual was subject to epileptic
seizures. It is another illustration of the great variety of
epileptic phenomena. Something of a point has been made in the
literature heretofore that abnormalities of sexual life are
unduly correlated with the inclination to pathological lying, and
the conclusion is sometimes drawn, as by Stemmermann (loc. cit.
p. 90), that the two prove a degenerative tendency. Our material
would not tend to show this nearly as much as it would prove that
the psychical peculiarities follow on a profound upset caused by
unfortunate sex experiences.

A characteristic of pathological liars is undoubtedly a deep-set
egocentrism, as Risch states. If one goes over our cases it may
be seen that there is exhibited frequently in the individual an
undue amount of self-assertion. There is very little sympathy
for the concern of others, and, indeed, remarkably little
apperception of the opinions of others. How frequently the
imagery of the heroic role of the self recurs, and how frequently
it occupies a central stronghold is seen by the fact that nearly
all of our cases indubitably demonstrate the phenomenon.

Most of our cases have been studied by the application of a wide
range of tests. Indeed many of the individuals have been studied
over and over. It is beyond our point at present to go over the
separate findings because there is no evidence of a strong
correlation of any type of peculiarity, except the ones mentioned
here, with the pathological lying. Memory processes, for
instance, as ordinarily tested seem to be normally acute.

We have naturally been much interested in the result of the
``Aussage'' or Testimony Test work with this present group, on
account of the possibility of demonstrating correlations between
laboratory work and the individual's reactions in social
intercourse, particularly when there has been falsification upon
the witness stand. In general we may say that while we have seen
normal individuals who are not falsifiers do just as badly as a
number of these individuals, yet for the group the findings are
exceedingly bad. Perhaps the better way of stating it would be
to say that not one case shows the sturdily honest type of
response which is frequently met with during the course of
testing other delinquents, even as young as the youngest of the
cases cited here. Our findings stand in great contrast, we note,
to the results on other test work. When looking at the table
given above we see that a large share of our 19 normal cases are
up to the average in general ability, and yet as a group they
fall far below the average on this Testimony Test. Take Cases 8
and 9, for instance-- both of them bright girls with, indeed,
considerable ability in many directions, and yet both of them
give a large number of extremely incorrect items in reporting
what they saw in the ``Aussage'' picture, and also both accept a
very large proportion of the suggestions offered. It seems as if
frequently in these cases there is no real attempt to
discriminate what was actually seen in the picture from what
might have been in a butcher shop. In most cases the fictitious
items were given upon questioning, but without the offering of
suggestions. When the individual was allowed to give merely free
recital the result was better. This, however, follows the
general rule.

A general survey of work on other tests has not shown anything
immediately significant in correlations, and this makes the
result upon the ``Aussage'' much more notable. Perhaps it may be
urged that if these individuals had been told to key themselves
up to do this test well, being forewarned that otherwise it would
reveal their weaknesses, they could have done better. Some hint
of this may be seen in our story of the results of tests in Case
3. But of course the same might be argued about the other test
work where no such tendency to poor results was discernible.

The following table, with a word of explanation, will serve to
bring out results on this test clearly to even the reader
unfamiliar with the specific details of this subject. A general
description of the test is found in our introduction.

CASE Denominator=number offered
Free On Number Percent
Recital Questioning Numerator = number accepted

16 16<2> 12<1> 3 10% 2/7
15 10 14<3> 3 12% 2/5
4 12 28<6> 6 15% 3/4
19 15<2> 8<2> 4 17% 4/6
3 17<2> 20<5> 7 19% 0/6
7 11<2> 17<4> 6 21% 2/5
6 17<1> 12<6> 7 24% 1/7
13 8 21<7> 7 24% 4/4
8 16 28<12> 12 27% 5/7
9 12 32<12> 12 27% 6/7
14 7 21<8> 8 28% 4/7
2 10 12<7> 7 32% 1/5
20 6 9<8> 8 53% 2/5

Only 13 of our 19 mentally normal cases were found to have had
the ``Aussage'' Test done so uniformly that results could be
fairly compared, as in the above table. The reader will find it
easy to refer back to the case for noting other correlations with
behavior. In the first double column the items which were given
in free recital come first, and in the second part the number of
positive responses to questions by the examiner. The
coefficients attached to these represent the number of egregious
errors or entirely fictitious items given. It should be clearly
understood that slight deviations from facts, for instance in
color, are not counted as errors for our present purposes. In a
later study on this whole topic of the psychology of testimony
there will be much more complete itemizing. The errors in which
we are particularly interested can perhaps best be called pure
inventions. In the next double column is given, first, the total
number of incorrect items and, then, the percentage of these to
the total number of items reported. In the last column
suggestibility is dealt with. We have been accustomed to offer 7
suggestions, asking the individual whether such and such things
which might well be in a butcher shop really appeared in the
picture. For several reasons not all of the 7 suggestions were
asked in every case, therefore the result is best viewed as a
statement in fractions-- the numerator being the number of
suggestions accepted and the denominator the number of
suggestions offered.

As a last statement on this question which we put to ourselves,
namely, whether pathological liars show the same traits in the
laboratory as they do on the witness stand or in general social
life, we can answer in the affirmative. We may repeat that
others have made as bad records as some of this group, but taking
the group as a whole, it is unlike any random 13 cases which
might be picked out from our other classes of mentally normal
offenders. On the other hand, many a feebleminded testifier has
done vastly better than the median of this group. The errors
themselves are of the purely inventional type, such as your
ordinary report from a mentally normal person does not contain.
(There is perhaps one interesting exception to this; Case 3. The
report given by this subject included egregious denials of some
of the main objects in the picture, and so was fictitious to this
extent. She did not say that she did not know whether these
to-be-expected objects really were in the picture--she insisted
that they were not.) So far as suggestibility is concerned,
there are great differences among even normal people in all
classes. For comparison with the above group, we may take 63
cases of mentally normal delinquents, all of whom had been
offered the full 7 suggestions. The median error of this group
was two. Lower than the fraction thus obtained was the result on
only 4 of the present cases. We have been interested to see that
with some of the pathological liars there is no great
suggestibility. The person is willing to deal in his own
inventions, but not with false ideas which others attempt to put
in his mind.


The essentials for the diagnosis of pathological lying are
contained in the definition at the beginning of our book. The
above considerations of the physical and mental make-up of
pathological liars should leave little question as to what
belongs in this class. Of course here, as in the study of any
mental traits, borderline cases difficult to discriminate will
always be found. Sometimes one will not be able to determine
whether the individual is a true pathological liar or merely a
prevaricator for a normal purpose. We have already stated our
inability to determine this in some cases, and yet the nucleus of
the type stands out sharply and clearly, and there can be no
doubt as to what is practically meant by the definition.

The differential diagnosis involves consideration of the
characteristics of the insane, defective, and epileptic. We
repeat that we agree that the mentally abnormal person may engage
in pathological lying quite apart from any expression of
delusions, and that during the course of such lying the insanity
may not be recognized. This occurred in many of the cases cited
in the foreign literature, and if the prior histories of many
individuals now in insane hospitals were known undoubtedly such
lying would be frequently noted. But once the person is
recognized as insane he need not be classified as a pathological
liar. This term should be reserved, as we stated previously, for
normal individuals who engage in pathological lying. Of course
other observers have noted such lying in people who could not be
designated as being mentally abnormal, but our material is
peculiarly rich in examples of this kind.


Heredity. We come now to a very interesting group of
facts--showing at once complete corroboration of previous
observers' statements that pathological liars are extraordinarily
``erbliche belastet.'' Taking our 19 mentally normal cases we
find the following:

Insanity in the direct family (four of these being a parent). .6
One or both parents severely alcoholic. . . . . . . . . . . . .6
Criminal or very dissolute parent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4
Suicide of parent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
Extremely neuropathic parent. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
Syphilitic parent . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2
Epileptic parent. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1
Unsatisfactory data . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2
Reliable data showing normal family stock . . . . . . . . . . .2

Thus, out of the 19 cases there are only three or four which do
not come of stock showing striking defects. Now, as we go on to
show later that unfortunate conditions or experiences were often
causal factors, the total findings seem to show clearly that
these latter influences generally bore their unfortunate fruition
upon inherited instability.

The heredity in the border-line cases is, as might be expected,
even worse. These facts are easily discerned in their respective
case histories.

The question of inheritance of similar mental traits is, of
course, important. We have found absolutely no proof of the
trait of pathological lying, as such, being inherited. The
reader will note with interest particularly the facts in Cases 2
and 4, where we at first thought we had to deal with inheritance,
but later found there was no blood relationship between the
supposed parent and child. In those instances the lying of the
younger individual was much more likely to be the result of
psychic contagion, and this also may be largely the explanation
of Cases 6 and 8, where an older relative was well known to be a
prevaricator. The bad inheritance in these cases then turns out
to be, corroborating what we found in studying the general
problem of criminality,[25] a matter of coming from stock that
shows defects in various ways-all making, however, in the
offspring for moral instability.

[25]``Inheritance as a Factor in Criminality. A Study of a
Thousand Cases of Young Repeated Offenders.'' Edith R. Spaulding
and William Healy. pp. 24. Bulletin of the American Academy of
Medicine, Vol. XV. February 1914.

Developmental Physical Conditions. Inquiry into our 19 mentally
normal cases gave the following findings: Antenatal conditions
were defective in 2 cases on account of syphilis and in one case
from advanced age of the mother. The accident during pregnancy
to the mother in one case, the severe mental shock in another,
and the effect of illegitimacy in still another we can not
evaluate. In 2 cases there were operative births with, however,
no bad results known. One was a twin. Early severe disease of
the nervous system was experienced by one, and convulsions during
infancy by two others. Another suffered from some unknown very
severe early illness, and one from prolonged digestive
disturbance in infancy. Three had in early childhood several
severe illnesses, one had a long attack of ``chorea.'' Two
suffered from general nervousness, incited in one case by the
excessive use of tea and in the other by a similar use of coffee.
One was an habitual masturbator from childhood. Difficult
menstruation was reported in only one case. In 5 cases there was
a quite normal early developmental period, according to reliable
accounts. In 3 cases the early developmental histories are
completely unknown, and in 3 others uncertain. The data of
developmental history in the border-line types may be easily
noted in the case histories.

Previous Ailments. Ailments suffered from in our 19 cases after
the early developmental period amount to very little. The
several gynecological troubles have been mentioned above under
the head of Physical Conditions. In one other case there had
been urethritis previously. Head injuries, which play such a
significant part in the study of criminalistics, find no place in
our mentally normal series, but should always be kept in mind in
considering the border-line types. Epilepsy as a possible factor
in criminalistic problem cases is to be remembered.

Habits. We have already mentioned the effect upon nervous
conditions of excessive tea and coffee in two of our cases.
Masturbation, including its indirect effect, particularly upon
the psyche, appears to be a very important feature of these
cases. We should be far from considering that we have full data
on all of our cases and yet this stands out most strongly. We
have had positive reports from relatives or from the individual
showing this certainly to be a factor in 7 out of the 19 cases.
This is a very large finding, when it is considered that the data
are frequently unobtainable. Of course we are not speaking here
of masturbation per se, but only of the fact of its ascertained
relationship to the pathological lying. This is only part of the
whole matter of sex experience which, we find upon gathering our
material together, plays such an enormous role.

Age of Onset. It is very easy to see that the tendency to
pathological lying begins in the early formative years.
Common-sense observation of general character building would tend
to make us readily believe that if an individual got through the
formative years of life with a normal hold upon veracity he would
never become a pathological liar. We can see definite beginnings
at certain critically formative periods, as in Case 6 and perhaps
in Case 3, but our material shows that most cases demonstrate
more gradually insidious beginnings. (Case 21 is in this respect
in a class by itself.) As we stated in our introduction, it is
clear from the previous studies of older individuals that the
nature of the beginnings were not learned because it was too
late. Our material offers unusual opportunities in this
direction and shows the fact of genesis in childhood most
clearly. For specific and often most interesting details we
refer the reader to our various case histories.

Sex. Our findings show only 1 male out of 19 mentally normal
cases. A general observation by practical students of conduct,
namely, that females tend to deviate from the truth more readily
than males, is more than thoroughly borne out here. There are
certainly several social and psychological reasons for this, but
they need not be gone into here. If our figures seem not to be
corroborated by the findings of previous students it is only
because the figures are not comparable-- the latter have mixed
the mentally abnormal with the pathological liars proper. It
will be noted that in our examples of border-line cases 5 out of
the 8 are males. Cases of pathological swindling by mentally
abnormal individuals, such as we have avoided, make up much of
the foreign literature. We can easily see that the social
opportunities for swindling are vastly greater for males than
those offered to the opposite sex. Sex differences, as in many
instances, must not be taken here too seriously because social
environment, differing so greatly for the sexes, is largely
responsible for the behavior which we superficially judge to be
entirely the expression of innate characteristics.

Environment. We are far from feeling that a mere enumeration of
material environmental conditions tells the story of
environmental influences important for our present subject. The
psyche is frequently most profoundly affected by environmental
conditions which even a trained observer would not detect. But
conditions in the total number of unselected cases show
something, and, for whatever it is worth, we offer the following
enumeration of environment in our 19 normal cases, who with much
more reason might be expected to be largely influenced by
surroundings than our group of border-line cases.

Reasonably good home from birth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5
Defective home conditions through poverty . . . . . . . . . . .2
Very ignorant parents . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2
Immoralities in home life . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
Marked defect in parental control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6
Very erratic home conditions-parent abnormal. . . . . . . . . .1

Early Mental Experiences. As will have been observed by the
reader in going over the case histories, the early mental
experiences of many of our group of mentally normal pathological
liars have been shockingly bad. Full appreciation of this can
only be gained through perusal of the text, but here we may call
attention to the fact that no less than 8 of the 19 have had very
early untoward sex experiences, that 5 were markedly under the
influence of bad companions, including even the influence in one
or two cases of vicious grown people. The sex experiences we
have just enumerated were received through others--we are not
here speaking of masturbation, which is discussed above.

Psychic Contagion. Direct contagion of the tendency to lie seems
more than likely to take place, at least during the more plastic
periods of life. It may be that this only develops when there is
some sort of predisposition to instability; our related findings
on defective heredity would seem to indicate the fact. It should
be noted that in 5 instances out of our 19 mentally normal (Cases
2, 4, 6, 8, 20) some other member of the household, we learned
from reliable sources, was known as a chronic prevaricator.

Mental Conflicts. The fact that several of our cases started
lying from the time when there occurred some experience
accompanied by a deep emotional context, and that this experience
and the emotion was repressed, seems to point clearly to the part
which repressed mental life may play in the genesis. That as
children they kept to themselves secrets of grave import and
dwelled long on them, shows in a large number of our cases.
Anything deeply upsetting, such as the discovery of the facts of
sex life or questions about family relationships, are the
incidents which cause the trouble. For students of modern
psychology nothing more need be said on this point--the concrete
issues are perceivable in the case histories.

Adolescence. Quite apart from the age of onset, we may consider
the physical and psychical instabilities of adolescence as
effective causes of pathological lying. Of course it is equally
true that many other tendencies to peculiarity are accentuated at
this period. It has been suggested that cases which have their
origin largely in the unstable reactions of adolescence have much
the better prognosis, but it seems that not enough evidence has
been accumulated as yet to justify us in this conclusion, which,
we acknowledge, may prove to be true.

Irritative Conditions. In the same way the various types of
irritative conditions, physical and mental, may be considered as
exciting moments. Individuals with a tendency to pathological
lying will no doubt show aggravation of the phenomenon at periods
of particular stress. We have heard it suggested in several
cases by relatives that the menstrual period, for instance,
brings about an access of tendency to prevarication. We would
grant the point without conceding this exciting factor to be a
fundamental cause. (Case 21, we may say again, illustrates a
special fact.) The periodicity which Stemmermann makes much of
may merely mean succumbing during a period of physiologic stress.
Social stress also may be met by pathological lying, in the same
way that the individual who finds himself in a tight place may
attempt to get out of it by running away. We have already spoken
of the likeness of social and physical stress as showing when the
weak individual is brought to bay. That pathological lying does
not run an even course, but shows remarkable fluctuations with
powerful exacerbations, is undoubtedly to be explained by changes
of inner and outer stress.

Habit Formation. The influence of habit in causing chronicity
must always be definitely reckoned with. It is hardly necessary
to say more than a word on this subject. Even the individual, as
in Cases 8, 9, and 10, comes to strongly realize it.
Particularly is this point to be estimated in considering the
possibilities of a rapid cure.

Special Mental Abilities. Once more, for the sake of
completeness in giving a category of causes, we should call
attention to the fact acknowledged by all thorough students of
this subject, namely, that, other things being equal, it is
particularly the individual who has linguistic abilities, who is
especially good at verbal composition, that seems to have most
incentive to dally with the truth. But beyond this we would
insist that a combination of verbal ability with proportionate
mental defects in other fields gives a make-up which finds the
paths of least resistance directly along the lines of


The role played in society by the pathological liar is very
striking. The characteristic behavior in its unreasonableness is
quite beyond the ken of the ordinary observer. The fact that
here is a type of conduct regularly indulged in without seeming
pleasurable results, and frequently militating obviously against
the direct interests of the individual, makes a situation
inexplicable by the usual canons of inference. To a certain
extent the tendencies of each separate case must be viewed in
their environmental context to be well understood. For example,
the lying and swindling which center about the assumption of a
noble name and a corresponding station or affecting the life of a
cloister brother, such as we find in the cases cited by Longard,
show great differences from any material obtainable in our
country. In interpretation of this, one has to consider the
glamour thrown about the socially exalted or the life of the
recluse--a glamour which obtains readily among the simple-minded
people of rural Europe. Then, too, this very simple-mindedness,
with the great differences which exist between peasant and noble,
leads in itself to much opportunity for cheating.

With us, especially in the newer work of courts, which are
rapidly becoming in their various social endeavors more and more
intimately connected with many phases of life, the pathological
liar becomes of main interest in the role of accuser of others,
self-accuser, witness, and general social disturber.

Here again, we may call attention to the fact, which is of great
social importance, namely, that the person who is seemingly
normal in all other respects may be a pathological liar. It
might be naturally expected that the feebleminded, who frequently
have poor discernment of the relation of cause and effect,
including the phenomena of conduct, would often lie without
normal cause. As a matter of fact there is surprisingly little
of this among them, and one can find numerous mental defectives
who are faithful tellers of the truth, while even, as we have
found by other studies, some are good testifiers. Exaggerated
instances of the type represented by Case 12, where the
individual by the virtue of language ability endeavors to
maintain a place in the world which his abilities do not
otherwise justify, and where the very contradiction between
abilities and disabilities leads to the development of an
excessive habit of lying, are known in considerable number by us.
Many of these mentally defective verbalists do not even grade
high enough to come in our border-line cases, and yet frequently,
by virtue of their gift of language, the world in general
considers them fairly normal. They are really on a constant
social strain by virtue of this, and while they are not purely
pathological liars they often indulge in pathological lying, a
distinction we have endeavored to make clear in our introduction.

It stands out very clearly, both in previous studies of this
subject and in viewing our own material, that pathological lying
is very rarely the single offense of the pathological liar. The
characteristics of this lying show that it arises from a tendency
which might easily express itself in other forms of
misrepresentation. Swindling, sometimes stealing, sometimes
running away from home (assuming another character and perhaps
another name) may be the results of the same general causes in
the individual. The extent to which these other delinquencies
are carried on by a pathological liar depends again largely upon
environmental conditions--for instance, truancy is very difficult
in German cities; a long career of thieving, under the better
police surveillance of some European countries, is less possible
than with us; while swindling, for the reason given above, seems
easier there.

Running away from home and itineracy show in a wonderfully strong
correlation with pathological lying, both in previous studies and
in our own material. Several authors, particularly Stemmermann
in her survey of the subject, comment on this. This phenomenon,
not only on account of the numerical findings, but also from a
logical standpoint, is easily seen to be the expression, in
another form of conduct, of the essential tendencies of the
pathological liar. It is part of the general character
instability, the unwillingness to meet the realities of life, the
inclination to escape consequences. As a matter of fact,
frequently the pathological liar gets himself in a tight place by
lying, and then the easiest escape is by running away from the
scene. The delinquencies of our present group as given below can
with profit be compared with our previous statistics[26] on a
large group of offenders. We gathered the facts concerning a
series of 1000 carefully studied youthful repeated offenders. Of
694 male offenders, 261 were guilty of running away to the extent
that it made a more or less serious offense. Of 306 female
offenders, 76 committed the same type of offense. For comparison
with the present group it is to be remembered that 18 out of the
19 mentally normal pathological liars were females.

Running away . . . . . . . . . 12 6
Stealing. . . . . . . . . . . 7 6
Swindling . . . . . . . . . . 7 2
Vagrancy. . . . . . . . . . . 0 4
Attempt at suicide . . . . . . . 0 2
Sex offenses . . . . . . . . . 8 1
False accusations. . . . . . . . 10 4
Self-accusations . . . . . . . . 3 2
Abortion. . . . . . . . . . . 1 0

[26] P. 140 ff. William Healy. ``The Individual Delinquent.''
Pp. 830. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co. 1915.

We have given figures on false accusations here, including other
cases than were enumerated in our special chapter on the subject.
In that chapter the center of interest was on the false
accusations, but it is true that in certain other cases of
pathological lying false accusations were indulged in as a
somewhat minor offense. The 9 cases enumerated as swindlers
showed this offense in varying degrees, as might naturally be
expected by the differences in ages, which, if nothing else,
makes for variations in the evolution of social and character
tendencies. Perusal of the cases shows the small beginnings as
well as the flagrant offenses on this order. As we previously
have stated, we have avoided dealing with the older careers of
notorious swindlers. The nature of the sex offenses can be
learned from the case histories by those who wish to make special
inquiry. Masturbation we have regarded more as a causative
factor, and have spoken of it in a previous section. Truancy we
have not enumerated. It goes without saying that it had been
indulged in by practically all of the males and by a considerable
number of the females in our cases.

The observer of delinquents cannot help being constantly
impressed by the fact that the offense of lying seems to the
usual offender small in proportion to the commission of other
criminalistic deeds. Particularly does this come out when one
observes the chronic liar growing up in a household where grave
sex and other delinquencies are habitual occurrences. Should his
lying be compared with these major anti-social transactions?
Indeed, it might be a field for speculation as to whether, given
certain qualities of mind, imaginative powers, etc., pathological
lying may not play the part of a vicarious delinquency--being to
the delinquent apparently less pernicious than more objective
offenses. In our case histories may be seen some indications of


In discussing prognosis and treatment we can eliminate at once
consideration of pathological lying by the insane. The outcome
there depends upon what can be done for the underlying psychosis.
We have avoided intimate discussion of these cases, but many
suggestions of the unalterableness of the full-fledged tendencies
among the insane are found in the European literature cited by
us. Even discussion of the outcome of the border-line cases,
such as we have given examples of, needs but short shrift.
Everyone knows the extreme difficulties of dealing with
constitutional inferiors; marked cases are socially fit only for
proper colonization. The epileptic, in default of cure of his
disease, is ever going to be prone to many peculiar mental states
which may involve pathological lying. The slight mental
confusion of chorea, which may lead to false accusation, as we
have seen in Case 23, is one of the most curable of all abnormal
mental states. With proper attention to diagnosis and treatment,
favorable outcome of cases of hysteria, such as that in Case 24,
is frequently seen. Another type which cannot be handled except
by permanent segregation is the thoroughly aberrational and
socially dangerous class represented by Case 25, however one
designates the type. Much more, undoubtedly, can be done for
such a border-line individual as Case 12, if there is sufficient
cooperation among educational and reformatory institutions and
the courts. It has seemed to us that the chief cause of failure
in this interesting case has been the fact that this young man
could go on ever entering new social situations and finding new
worlds for exploitation because no one had the means at hand for
securing facts concerning his past or for ascertaining what any
good diagnostician could easily perceive to be his limitations
and tendencies.

Very much more to the point is consideration of the actual and
possible outcome in cases of pathological lying by normal
individuals. Here, as in other matters where bodily, mental, and
social issues are blended, no prognosis or outlook can be
rationally offered without consideration of possible changes in
the circumstances peculiar to the given case. First and foremost
stands out the fact that cure of the tendency sometimes happens
even after long giving way to it. In this statement we are not
contradictory to some previous writers.

As Stemmermann says, out of the general literature there is not
much from which one can deduce any principles of prognosis. But,
again, we would insist that one of the great weaknesses has been
that earlier studies have not carefully distinguished between the
mentally normal and the abnormal cases of pseudologia
phantastica. When, for instance, Forel speaks of pathological
liars as being constitutionally abnormal individuals who are not
curable, he fails to differentiate where profitable
differentiation can be made. If our own work is of any practical
value it is in offering safer grounds for prognosis and
treatment. Stemmermann summarizes well her follow-up work done
upon cases seen years previously by other observers. Some of
these are still in institutions. After a period of well- doing
several of these have become backsliders and reverted again to
lying and swindling. Very few appear to have been cured, but yet
some of the facts of betterment are most convincing. This author
states that, at the most, one dares to ponder over the point as
to whether there are not cases which recover, particularly when
the pathological lying is a phenomenon of adolescence.

Our own material is, in part, too recently studied to form
anything like a generalization concerning prognosis. Many years
have to elapse before one can be sure there is not going to be a
recurrence. But one is not altogether certain that prognostic
generalizations are of practical worth for this group of mentally
normal pathological liars. So many incidental factors of
physical, mental, and social life, with all of the complicated
background of the same, come in to make the total result, that
experiment and trial with the individual case, while hesitating
to give an exact prognosis, is perhaps the only sane procedure.
What we do know definitely is the immensely favorable outcome in
Cases 1, 4, 7, 19, and the promising betterment in several other
instances--all in direct contradiction to what we had expected
from survey of previous literature. In several of these cases
the years have gone by with nothing but steady improvement. The
difficulty in getting adequate treatment, either in home life or
by the necessary individual attention elsewhere, makes it
impossible to say that many of the others also could not have
been favorably influenced. Frequently a total alteration of
environmental conditions is necessary, and this, of course, is
often very difficult to obtain. Also it is extremely rare that
one can get the whole matter, and its sure social consequences,
fairly and squarely met by anybody with influence over the
individual. Until this can be done, little in the way of good
results may ever be expected. The splendid attack made by
relatives or others upon the situation in Cases 1, 4, 7, possibly
14, and 19 tells the story of the prime necessity for adequate
handling of pathological lying.

Specific treatment of physical conditions should always be
undertaken when necessary. It should go without saying that any
individual who is open to the temptations of inner stress should
be strengthened at all points possible and relieved from all
sources of irritation. But, lest anyone should become too much
persuaded of the efficacy of surgical or other treatment, it
should be remembered that the psychical reactions, even where
there is physical irritation, involve the definite wearing of
neural paths, with habit formations, which bodily treatment can
only slightly alter. An enticing problem to the gynecologist is
always the relationship of pelvic, particularly sexual
irritations, to conduct. We cannot confirm the idea of a prime
causal connection in this particular, although we have evidence
that betterment of the physical ailment may lead to less
inclination towards the unfortunate behavior. In Case 1 the
lying came long before pelvic disease was acquired, but very
likely the irritation of the latter led to an accentuation of the
psychical phenomena. In Case 6 the typical conduct was persisted
in after remedy of the pelvic disorder; so also in Case 3 after
relief of abdominal conditions, and in Case 21 after cessation of
pregnancy. Other points bearing upon this may be read in our
case histories. On the general problem of the possibility of
physical treatment it will be noted that a considerable share of
all our cases were in good general condition.

In discussing treatment great emphasis should be placed upon the
primary necessity for directly meeting the pathological liar upon
the level of the moral failures and making it plain that these
are known and understood. It is very certain that frequently
this type of prevaricator has very little conception of the
social antagonism which his habit arouses. There is faulty
apperception of how others feel towards the lying, and to what
depths the practice of this habit leads. Appreciation of these
facts may be the first step towards betterment. In several of
the improved cases we have mentioned that it was largely the
acquirement of social foresight which made the first step in a
moral advance which finally won the day. In this whole matter
the first ethical instruction may well be based upon the idea of
self-preservation--after all the backbone of much of our morals.
When it comes to specific details of treatment these must be
educational, alterative, and constructive. In Cases 1 and 3
under treatment we know that when the lying was discovered or
suspected the individual was at once checked up and made to go
over the ground and state the real facts. The pathological liar
ordinarily reacts to the accusation of lying by prevaricating
again in self-defense, but when with the therapeutist there has
been the understanding that the tendency to lying is a habit
which it is necessary to break, the barricade of self- defense
may not be thrown up. An alterative measure of great value,
then, is directly to meet the specific lie on the spot, as it
were, when it is told.

Next, accuracy of report may well be practiced as a special
discipline. In these normal cases we have seen that there could
be little doubt about the individual having self-control enough
to stick to the truth, if the will was properly directed.
Indeed, many of our cases were exceptionally bright individuals
with many good powers of observation and memory. Had one the
opportunity, there can be little doubt but that training in the
power to do well on such a test as that afforded by the
``Aussage'' picture would have yielded good results. Indeed,
there is some suggestion of this in our table of findings on this
test, where we note that pathological liars, when left merely to
themselves and their first often comparatively meagre report on
the picture, give few incorrect details. The difference in their
report as compared with other observers of the picture was found
when they answered questions. Since this is the case, there can
be little question that training in the power to respond
accurately might be gained.

It may be of value in considering therapeutics of pathological
lying to enumerate the general run of treatment which was carried
out in those instances where we know that betterment took place.
Nearly always only a part of what we advised could be carried
out, but, even so, a brief statement of the conditions under
which betterment was accomplished seems worth much.

Case 1 was treated first in an institution for delinquents where
every effort was made to cure her disease and where she was
taught to employ herself in constructive work. It was found she
had ability to design, and this was used to the utmost. Then her
lying tendencies were checked by social disapprobation as much as
possible. A special effort was made toward this. The girl was
undoubtedly made more serious-minded by the after-effects of her
experience and perhaps by her disease. She was later
successfully handled at home by her sensible mother. Leaving the
years of adolescent instability behind her was also undoubtedly a
factor in betterment.

Case 4 was taken in hand by a sterling character who restrained
very carefully the tendency to lying, and by firm methods showed
her the social advantages of self-control in this respect. At
the same time she was given a vastly better environment,
particularly in the matter of her friends. However, there is
little doubt that nothing would have been accomplished in this
case without first a deep understanding of the girl's troubles
and of her mental conflicts.

Case 7 was treated for her sex difficulties under the constant
care of a vigorous mother, who first, naturally, had to gain an
understanding of the case. With her bettered physical and mental
conditions, the girl was able steadily to hold a position for
which earlier she had no capacity.

Betterment in Case 14 came about mainly as the result of an
understanding of the child's mental conflicts and somewhat
through partially bettered environmental conditions. We learned
lately that the severe visual defect had been neglected.

In Case 15 the false accusations were made upon the basis of
mental conflict. Investigation of the case, followed by the
personal services of a probation officer and by the legal
proceedings, served to clear up conditions, including those of
the family in general, so that the girl was given a greater
chance for success.

Case 19 seems to have been largely cured through the girl herself
being able to work out her mental conflicts. Adolescence was a
factor and she was tided over this period in a good environment
and with friends who understood her type of case and who were
willing to put up with her aberrancies for this time. Although
we would not minimize the efforts of stalwart friends, we may say
that there were more evidences of cure by self-help in this case
than in any other we have seen.

Lest we should seem to be placing too much emphasis upon
adolescence, with the idea that the mere passing of that period
will lead to change in behavior, we cite Cases 3, 5, and 6, where
the addition of years has brought no betterment. In neither of
these was the essential nature of the difficulty explored during
earlier troublous periods.

An interesting consideration for treatment is embodied in the
rational idea of utilizing the special powers, so that there may
be ample gratification in self-expression, and in use of the
imagination. Through this new satisfaction there may be a mental
swerving from the previous paths strewn with pitfalls. The
inclination to verbal composition, already spoken of as existing
in so many cases, may be utilized, and imagination be given full
sway in harmless directions. It seems likely that just this
deliberate practice may serve to more clearly demarcate truth
from falsehood in the individual's mind. Unfortunately we have
had too little actual proof of the value of this method, some
cases being worked on now are too recent for report, but there is
plenty of indication of the possibilities. Had we been able to
control environment better, much more of this type of work would
have been carried out.

A favorable outcome through this constructive treatment based
upon utilizing the characteristic linguistic powers of the
pathological liar, is witnessed to by Stemmermann in her story of
Delbruck's G. N. In the history of this case a delightful note
of comedy is struck. G. N. was found to be a man of considerable
literary ability. He had been observed over the period of 13
years. After he was first studied he twice managed to go 3 years
without succumbing to his falsifying tendencies, and then found
his chance for leading a blameless life by becoming a newspaper
man. In fact, he reached an honored place as an editor.
Stemmermann suggests, naively, that perhaps this calling is
especially calculated to give the talents correlated with
pseudologia phantastica space for free play, so that the
individual's special abilities may not come in conflict with the
law, or with social customs, and, on the other hand, may be
utilized in fruitful pursuits.

All together, one would certainly advise every effort being made
towards specifically stabilizing the pathological liar in the
matter of truth-telling--by checking the springs of misconduct,
and by diverting energies and talents into their most suitable
channels. The problem must ever be one for individual therapy.
Failures of treatment there may be, but from our study we are
much inclined to believe that well-calculated, constructive
efforts will achieve goodly success among those who are mentally



Bresler, Johannes

Crothers, T. D.

Delbruck, A.
Duprat, G.-L.

Ferriani, Ifino

Gross, Hans

Hall, G. Stanley
Healy, William
Healy, William, and Fernald, Grace M.


Koelle, Th.



Risch, Bernard

Spaulding, Edith R., and Healy, Willlam
Stemmermann, Anna


Wulffen, E.


Aberrational cases not definitively insane
Accessory to murder, false self-accusation of
Accusations, pathological, Bresler's classification of
Adolf von X., case of
Age of onset of pathological lying
Amanda R.
Annie F.
Apperception, lack of, in certain cases
Attitude, strong, of pathological liars, see POISE
``Aussage,'' psychology of
``Aussage'' Test, see TESTIMONY TEST

Bessie M.
Betterment, conditions of in special cases
Betterment, possibilities of
Beula D
Birdie M.

Chorea, psychosis of
Choreic psychosis
Constitutional excitement
Constitutional inferior, The
Constitutional inferiority

Day dreaming in special cases
Delinquency, lying considered relatively a minor
Delinquency, relation of, to lying
"Der grune Heinrich''
Developmental conditions
Diagnosis of pathological lying
Drug habitues, lying of

Edna F.
Egocentrism in certain cases
Emma X.
Emotions, abnormality of, in certain cases
Environmental causes
Epilepsy, case of
Epileptic mental states
Episodic pathological lying

False accusations of illtreatment; of incest; of murder; of
poisoning attempt; of sex assault; of sex immorality; of sex
perversions; of thieving
False self-accusations of accessory to murder; of sex immorality
Feeblemindedness, relation of, to pathological lying

Georgia B.

Habit, formation of lying
Habits in our eases
Hazel M.
Headaches of pathological liars, Stemmermann on
Hypomania, case of
Hysteria, case of

Illtreatment, false accusations of
Incest, false accusation of
Inez B., case of
Insane, fabrications of
Insanity and criminalism, relation of
Itinerancy, correlated with pathological lying

Janet B.
John B.
John F.
John S.

Language ability, cases of special
Language aptitude related to lying
Libby S.
Lies mixed with delusions
Literary composition in certain cases, see Language ability
Lying, relation of, to delinquency

Marie M.
Memory, special features of, in certain cases
Mental abnormality not typically insane, case of
Mental conflicts
Mental conflicts and repressions,case material bearing on
Mental discipline in treatment
Mental experiences, early
Mental findings
Murder, false accusation of

Nellie M.

Pathological accusations, Bresler's classification of
Pathological accusation, definition of
Pathological liars, analysis of qualities of, by Risch
Pathological lying a symptom of various disorders, Wendt on
Pathological lying, characteristics of, Delbruck on, Koppen on,
Stemmermann on, Vogt on, Wendt on,
Pathological lying, definition of
Pathological swindling
Pelvic irritations, related to pathological lying
Physical conditions, treatment of
Physical findings
Physiologic stress, periods of
Poetic creation, relation of pathological lying to
Poise, remarkable in cases of pathological lying
Poisoning attempt, false accusation of
Pregnancy, case of, false accusations beginning during
Prognosis, favorable in some cases
Prognosis of pathological lying
Prognosis, Stemmermann on
Prognosis varies with age
Pseudologia phantastica
Psychic contagion
Psychopathic individuals
Purpose of pathological liars, Koppen on

Report, psychology of,
Robert R., case of
Running away from home

Self-mutilation, details of, in one case
Sex assault, false accusations of
Sex habits in special cases, bad
Sex immorality, false accusations of
Sex immorality, false self-accusation of
Sex life related to pathological lying, physical side of
Sex of pathological liars
Sex perversions, false accusations of
Simulation of ailments in special cases
Simulation vs. hysteria in one case
Social correlations
Specialized abilities
Statistics on lying among delinquents
Subnormal verbalist, case of
Swindling arising from pathological lying
Swindling in Europe, cases of,
Swindling, relation of, to pathological lying

Testimony, Psychology of
Testimony Test
Testimony Test, results on in individual cases
Testimony Test, summary of results of
Thieving, etc., false accusation of
Treatment, direct, of the lying itself
Treatment given in special cases

Verbal fluency related to pathological lying
Verbalists, mentally defective

Williams, S.
Wish, the morbid and fantastic, Wendt on

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