Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Free Classic E-books

Pathology of Lying, Etc. by William and Mary Healy

Part 2 out of 5

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.6 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

though it is unknown. Mrs. Smith was an elderly woman of wealth
who was very good to her, and by the time she was 14 she had
studied German and French, algebra and trigonometry. She had a
French tutor and took lessons on the piano. Always did well in
school and loved her work there. The Smith children, who were
much older, were very angry with their mother for all the money
she spent on Inez--they would have preferred its being expended
on their children. The son grew quite abusive and Mrs. S. was
made to suffer so much that the girl came to feel that she was
largely the cause of the old lady's unhappiness. After one
particularly deplorable scene she slipped away from their home in
New Orleans, traveled to St. Louis and went to an employment
agency where she found the B.'s. At the present time, above all
things, she does not want the Smiths to know about her when she
is temporarily a failure. She will never go back to them until
she can help the old lady who was so good to her.

Inez tells us she is now suffering from a wound still open as the
result of an operation for appendicitis performed two years
previously. She also suffered from tuberculosis a few years ago.
(She was found to be running a slight temperature, and some
slight hemorrhages in the sputum were observed.)

It may strengthen the portraiture so far sketched to give our
impressions as stated after our first study covering a week or
two; nor will it lessen the reader's interest to remark that it
was not for lack of acquaintance with the pathological liar type
that we failed to correctly size up this individual. Indeed, we
had already studied nearly all the other cases cited in this
monograph. Our statement ran as follows: ``This girl is very
frank and talkative with us. With her strong, but refined
features and cultivated voice she is a good deal of a
personality. She is sanguine and independent. Very likely she
does not exaggerate the hard times she has had in going from one
home to another. One cannot but respect this unusual young woman
for wanting to keep her early history secret. It would be
fortunate if some one would care for the girl and get her
ailments cured. With her very good ability she might easily then
be self-supporting.''

A woman of strength and judgment undertook to look after Inez.
The girl's personality commanded interest. In a few days she
complained more vigorously of her abdominal trouble; an operation
seemed imperative and was performed. (An account of this will be
given later.) Later the girl was taken to a convalescent home
and then to a beautiful lake resort. While here she suddenly was
stricken desperately ill. Her friend was telegraphed for, a
special boat was commissioned, and the girl was taken to a
neighboring sanitarium. The doctors readily agreed that the case
was one of simulation or hysteria. She was brought back to
Chicago and warned that this sort of performance would not pay.
After being given further opportunity to rest, although under
less favorable circumstances, in a few weeks she was offered work
in several homes, but in each instance the connection was soon
severed. Then without letting her guardian-friend know, Inez
suddenly left the city.

Inquiries had brought by this time responses telling something of
the career of Inez in the past two years, but nothing earlier.
She was the ``mystery girl'' in the Tennessee town, as she was in
Chicago. The B.'s kept a boarding-house and took Inez as a
waitress, knowing her first by still another alias. She worked
for them about a year and then went to Memphis, where she was
sick in a hospital. She had now taken the B.'s name. They were
regarded as her guardians (on the girl's authority) and they
finally sent for her again out of pity, although they felt she
had a questionable past, and they knew she had lied tremendously
while with them. Then the B.'s moved away and turned Inez over
to a respectable family. While with the B.'s Inez had been
regarded as a partial invalid; their physician diagnosed the case
as diabetes and found it incurable. In fact, the B.'s went into
debt for her prolonged treatment. Another physician, who was
called in after the B.'s left, said the trouble was Bright's
disease. At any rate, all regarded her as suffering from some
chronic disorder. Except for her extraordinary lying, of which
she made exhibitions to many, and some little tendencies to
dishonesty mixed with her lying, Inez was regarded as being quite
normal. The two other families with whom she lived for a time
found it impossible to tolerate the girl on account of her lying.
Finally, obtaining money by false representation, telling the
story of a rich uncle in Chicago to whom she was going, Inez
departed, taking with her a trunk containing valuables belonging
to the B.'s.

Dropping our chronological account of this case we may from this
time deal with it as a whole, putting together the facts as they
developed by further study of Inez herself and by the receipt of
information from many sources.

Since we have known her, Inez has been under the observation of
several skilled medical specialists. She all along has been in
good general physical condition. Having been treated previously
for diabetes, special examinations were repeatedly made, but
never a trace of this trouble was discernible. Her own story of
having had tuberculosis, and the traces of blood in the sputum,
which she presented on handkerchiefs, etc., led to repeated tests
for tuberculosis. These also proved absolutely negative. Before
all this, there was found on the left side of the abdomen a mass
which, from the history the girl gave, was surmised to be a
tubercular abscess. At this time she was running a little
temperature. An operation was performed and an encysted hairpin
was removed from the peritoneal cavity. This had undoubtedly
found entrance through the old appendicitis wound; the hairpin
had evidently been straightened for the purpose. Both wounds now
speedily closed. Gynecological examination showed no disease and
established the fact of virginity. Thorough neurological
examination showed that the girl was not of nervous type and that
there was no evidence whatever of organic disease. There was
complaint of frequent headaches, but no signs of acute suffering
from these were ever witnessed and by this time no reports of
subjective symptoms could be credited. No sensory defects of any
importance. It was always easy to get a little variation upon
visual tests and the like, however. Weight 130; height 5 ft. 1
in. Color good. Head notably well shaped with broad high
forehead. Strength good. Very normal development in all ways.

Most important to note as bearing on her social career was the
fact that Inez was possessed of markedly strong, regular,
pleasant features, including a good set of teeth well cared for,
and an unusually firm chin. In attitude and expression she
seemed to give complete proof of great strength of will and
character. Her face suggested both frankness and firmness. When
with quiet force and dignity asserting her desire for education
and a place in the world, Inez presented a most convincing
picture. Perhaps even more significant is the fact that Inez
possesses a speaking voice of power and charm, well modulated and
of general qualities which could belong apparently to no other
than a highly cultivated person.

During a year there has been no variation in the general
well-being of Inez, although she has been taken to hospitals in
at least two more towns and has figured again as a sufferer from
tuberculosis and appendicitis, and has written several times to
friends that she was about to be operated on.

The diagnoses of several competent medical men are that the girl
is a simulator or is an hysterical, and their findings show that
she has lied tremendously about her past. (There were never any
positive signs of hysteria, and our own opinion is that the case
is much better called one of extreme simulation and
misrepresentation, as in the diabetes and sputum affairs, etc.,
and of self-mutilation, as with the hairpin.)

We have had ample opportunity to become acquainted with Inez's
mental qualities. She has repeatedly been given tests for mental
ability. As judged by the average of those seen in our court
work we are forced to regard her as having ability clearly above
the normal. Her perceptions are keen and quick. She works
planfully and rapidly with our concrete problems and shows good
powers of mental representation. It is notable that she is very
keen to do her best on tests and takes much delight in a good
record. Her psychomotor control is astonishingly good. In a
certain tapping test, which we consider well done if the
individual has succeeded in tapping in 90 squares in 30 seconds,
she did 117 and 129 at two successive trials with only one error
in each. This is next to the best record we have ever seen. Our
puzzle box, which is seldom opened in less than 2 minutes, she
planfully attacked and conquered in 52 seconds. She also rapidly
put it together again, which is an unusual performance. Reaction
times on the antonym test, giving the opposites to words, were
very low; average 1.4 seconds. Her immediate memory for words
was normal, but nothing extraordinary. She gave correctly,
although not quite in logical order, 18 out of 20 items on a
passage which she read herself. On a passage read four times to
her she gave 11 out of 12 items in correct sequence. The
Kent-Rosanoff association test showed, to our surprise, nothing
peculiar. Notwithstanding her known social characteristics,
there were very few egocentric or subjective reactions.

Nor did the ``Aussage'' test show great peculiarity. On free
recital she gave 17 items, two of which were incorrect. They
were misinterpretations rather than inventions, however. On
questioning she added 15 items. She was incorrect on 5 more
details, but all of these were denials of objects actually to be
seen in the picture. Not one was a fictitious addition. She
rejected all the 6 suggestions proffered.

Our psychological observations were important beyond the giving
of formal tests. We found her to be a fluent and remarkably
logical and coherent conversationalist. Her choice of words was
unusually good. Questioned about this she said she had always
made it a point to cultivate a vocabulary and was particularly
fond of the use of correct English. (This was all the more
interesting because we later knew that she had been living
recently with somewhat illiterate people and that her original
home offered her very little in the way of educational
advantages.) Inez told us that she had earlier carried her
desire for self-expression in language to the point of writing
stories and plays, but we were never able to get her to do
anything of the kind for us. One of her constant pleas was that
she might get the chance to become a well-trained teacher of
English. Her letters never showed the same skill with English
that her conversation denoted, but her meagre education probably
accounted for this.

Characteristic of Inez, also, is her intense egoism and her
abundant self-assertion under all circumstances. It often seemed
to us as if for her the world revolved, with passing show, around
a pivot from which she regarded it as existing only for what it
meant for her career. These qualities have led to her
statements, and perhaps to the actual feelings, that she was the
aggrieved one, and had been badly treated on many occasions.
This seemed to reach almost paranoidal heights at times, and yet,
before passing judgment on this, one should be in position to
know, what probably will never be known, namely, the actual facts
of her earliest treatment. Occasionally Inez showed most
unreasonable bad temper and obstinacy. This only came out when
she was asked to do things which she considered occupationally
beneath her. In general she felt herself much above the ordinary
run of people. When she could be patronizing, as with children,
she acted quite the grand lady. Indeed, in asserting herself on
numerous occasions she has assumed just this attitude, which is
all the more strange because our further information shows that
it was not justified by any social station which her family ever

Going further with psychological considerations it is to be
asserted that Inez showed marked lack of normal apperceptive
ability in not appreciating the necessarily unfavorable results
of her own lying. For that matter, she also fails to learn by
experience, for very frequently she has suffered from her own
prevarications. It might, however, be argued that to Inez the
thought of a possible hum-drum future in which there was no
adventure, no roving, and no playing the part of a successful
personality, was a worse choice than that of lying, which might
and, indeed, often did serve the purpose of making friends with
people, who otherwise would not have entertained her. So one
could hardly judge her deficient even in this particular. (Of
the character of her lying and the special observations on that
point more later.)

We found Inez, then, neither mentally defective nor insane. To
even say that she was without moral sense would be beyond the
mark, for in many ways she showed great appreciation of the best
types of behavior. Her peculiarities verging on the abnormal
are, however, undoubted; they render her a socially pernicious
person. They are to be summed up in terms of what we have
discussed above, namely, her excessive egoism, her faulty
judgment or apperceptions, her astounding tendency to

Inez was next heard from in Iowa where she wrote that two doctors
had pronounced upon her case and said an operation was again
imperative. She asked her recently made friend for permission to
have this done, and also for $150 to cover expenses. Neither, of
course, was forthcoming, on the grounds of there being no
guardianship. (Her age was then unknown.) Inez wrote, ``I just
thought I was compelled by law to let you know of my whereabouts,
for I understood I could do nothing without your consent.'' In
the same letter, replete with other lies, Inez asks, ``Please
forgive me now for all my willfulness and wrongdoing. I will do
my best never to do it again, and Oh! I do so want to be good so
that you may feel proud of me some day in the near future.''

A month or so later this friend was called up by the director of
a religious home for girls in Chicago, who stated that Inez had
just come to them and had been taken seriously ill. Advice was
given to discount her symptoms, but she was sent once more to a
hospital. Here she produced more blood as if from a pulmonary
hemorrhage and more symptoms were recounted, but the doctors
decided after careful examination that she was falsifying. Her
illness ceased the minute she was told to leave the hospital.
Matters were serious, for Inez was now without home, money, or
relatives. She was once more taken under protection and greater
effort was made to trace her family. They were discovered
through letters containing remittances sent by Inez herself from
Iowa, after years of silence. Much of her career was soon
brought to light. By this time, we may note, several observers
had insisted that from a commonsense standpoint the girl
certainly was insane.

While affairs were being looked up, Inez conferred with us from
time to time. She started by telling a thoroughly good story,
the general import of which was the same as she told months
previously, but there were differences in many details. In the
first place she still insisted she was 17 years old and gave us
an exact date as her birthday-- this was in response to the mild
suggestion that she might be considerably older. Since her
letters, although showing very good choice of words, were
incorrectly punctuated, we inquired further about her education.
She said she had received 18 credits in a noted girls' seminary
in the south, but later reversed this and stated she had very
little education. She told us her experiences of the last few
months when she had been introducing literary works in the towns
of Iowa. She had done well for a beginner at this, we found from
other sources, but had made misrepresentations and had talked too
freely, against her employers' wishes and advice. Finally she
had sent in forged orders. This was quite unnecessary, for her
salary was assured and sufficient, and her employers had regarded
her as an extremely promising representative. In Iowa she was
receiving mail under two different names; she still found it
convenient to represent herself sometimes as Agnes W. In her
peregrinations she had again made close friends with some
substantial people, who found out, however, in short order that
she was untruthful, and her chances with them were at once

In the next weeks, when under observation, Inez varied her story
from time to time even with the same persons. She was now 17 and
now 19 years old. She had an operation first in one town and
then it was in another. Her antecedents in many particulars
varied from time to time. Inez seemed to have lost her desire or
ability to be consistent, and in particular appeared to have no
conception of the effect upon the adjustment of her own case
which her continual lying was likely to have. (At this time
again some non-professional observers insisted strenuously that
Inez was insane. They based their opinion upon the fact that she
showed so little apperceptive ability, so little judgment in
relating the results of her continual lying to its necessary
effect upon her career.) It requires too much space to go over
the complicated details of her many stories, but some of her
expressions and behavior are worth noting.

We always found Inez most friendly, sometimes voluble, and she
ever dealt with us in a lady-like manner. Again we noted that
many a society woman would give much for her well modulated voice
and powers of verbal expression. Without any suggestion of
melodrama she would rise to strong passages in giving vent to her
feelings of indignation and ambition. At this time we were still
wondering where she could have obtained her education; it was not
until later that we comprehended that her abilities represented
sheer native traits.

She first came to us much hurt because a certain official had
warned her, after one of her simulating episodes in a hospital,
never to deceive again. ``My trying to get sympathy! I don't
want any sympathy. I told her I was independent and always
wanted to make my own way in the world. If they thought I wasn't
sick in the hospital why didn't they say so. The doctor told me
to stay in bed.

``Doctor, yes, I did lie to you about my age before; why
shouldn't I? I have been deceived on all sides and have found
that people are against me. If they want to leave me alone, they
can get the truth, but when one is deceived one has to tell lies
sometimes. I've had many troubles. Oh, doctor, if you knew what
I've been through and what's in my heart you'd think I do pretty
well. I would rather starve than have it cast up to me that I
had asked for any body's help or sympathy. I want to make my own
way. I must have an education. In September I plan to go to the
M. Academy and work my way through. I am just past 18 now.

``The B.'s are ashamed of me I suppose. I ran away from them.
They are refined people. But I can't be treated in that way.
They adopted me. They said that I got some money dishonestly,
but, doctor, it is not in me to be bad. I feel that through and

``Well, I know that I'm a Yankee by birth, on both sides. My
people came from Mayflower stock. I will make my way in the
world, I will succeed, and you'll see, doctor. I will have an
education. As to going back to the Johnsons, I would commit
suicide rather than do that. It was not true that I had a good
education as I told you. They did not treat me well. They can
write as they please and talk about forgiveness for what I have
done, but it is they who were cruel and abusive. Suppose they do
say I'm their child. I know I am not because I was not treated
the same as the others. I was 12 or 13 when I ran away from
them. How could I belong to the family? They are all so much
older than I am.''

Inez now gave us, most curiously, some addresses which opened up
knowledge of her career over several years. But what she told us
about these new people was directly denied by return mail. At
one interview her first words were, ``Do you know now, doctor,
that I was in a State hospital?'' Having made this challenging
statement she went no further, merely involved herself in
contradictions as to the place, and would say nothing more than
that she had once suffered from an attack of nervous prostration.
She absolutely denied items of information about herself which we
had gradually accumulated, and this type of reaction obtained all
the way through our last period of acquaintance with Inez, even
after we had the detailed facts about her early life from her

Inez never lost an opportunity to impress upon people whom she
did not regard as her equals that she considered herself much of
a lady and quite above housework. On one occasion, when held as
a runaway girl, she had a terrible outbreak of temper simply
because she was asked to clear the dinner table. This was no
momentary affair. Her recalcitrancy was kept up the larger part
of one day, and she made the place almost unbearable that night
by screaming and moaning. Telling me about the incident, she
said it was because she would not allow herself to cater to such
people. ``If a person asks me, I may do things, but nobody can
tell me to. I would not give in. I would not do it.''

To some of us it has seemed highly significant that at moments
which would ordinarily be expected to bring out great emotion
Inez showed almost none. For instance, when going to an
important interview about the disposition of her case, she first
plaintively said she did not know what to say, and then
immediately began to dwell with evident pleasure upon the costume
of the person addressing her. Many normal emotions were seen
expressed, however, and many moral sentiments were undoubtedly
held, but there seemed to be curious displacements upon these
levels of her mental life; there was faulty mental
stratification. Probably the force which caused this is

In relating what we now know of the past history of this case we
shall put together that which we have heard from many different
sources. There is no question about all the important
facts--correspondents largely corroborate each other.

Inez came from a family of French extraction, apparently stable
and normal tradespeople. The old mother at 74 years wrote us an
unusually well-thought-out, detailed account of her daughter's
early life. The paternal grandfather was insane and an aunt had
epilepsy. Defective heredity in other respects is denied. We
get no history of convulsions in the immediate family, nor of any
other neurotic manifestation, except that one sister is ``very

Inez came when the mother was unusually advanced in life, and the
brothers and sisters, of whom there were five, had long since
been born. There was a difference of 10 years between Inez and
the next older. In telling the facts, the mother dwells much on
this and the bearing which her chagrin during pregnancy may have
had upon the girl's physical and mental development. She was
born, then, after a troubled pregnancy, a weak and sickly child,
``almost like a skeleton.''

Inez was rather slow at walking, but at one year spoke her first
words. We do not know with accuracy about the earliest factors
in the mental environment. (Inez has told various stories about
early family friction, and even about contracting an infection at
home, much of which seems highly conjectural.) Between the ages
of 7 and 10 several sicknesses, diphtheria, measles with some
cardiac complication, etc., kept her much out of school. Part of
the time she lived in New Orleans, and part of the time in a
country district. She only went to school until she was 14, and
was somewhat retarded on account of changing about and illnesses.
However, it is said she always liked her school and showed fair
aptitude for study. At 14 she returned to New Orleans and,
desiring to be a dressmaker, started in that trade. She worked
in several places, but finally went back to her home.

At the age of 18 Inez met with what, according to her family, was
a decisive event in her life. She was in a trolley car accident;
after being knocked down she was unconscious for some time. No
definite injury was recorded. Her family marked an entire change
of character from that time. They say she then began lying in
the minutest detail about people and seemed to believe in her own
falsifications. Besides this she started the roving tendency
which she has shown ever since.

The extensive information which we have received concerning the
later history of this remarkable case we can only take space to
give in summary. We know definitely that Inez has received
attention, during periods varying from a few days to six months,
in no less than 18 different hospitals. Besides this she has
been under the care of physicians at least a score of times. Her
swindling in this matter was so flagrant in one eastern city to
which she had journeyed that she was handled through the police
court and was sentenced to a state hospital for the insane for a
term of 6 months. The charge was that she was an idle person and
a beggar, and she was regarded as perhaps being unbalanced. The
report from this town is that she would be taken with ``spells of
apparent violent illness on the street, in the trolley cars, at
railroad stations, and so be carried to various hospitals and
doctors' homes.'' She has visited numerous cities, getting her
sustenance largely through hospitals and physicians.

After being admitted into one famous hospital and showing some of
her curious manifestations she was transferred to a state
institution in the vicinity to be studied for insanity.
Correspondence with one physician tells the story of how five
years ago he was called from a medical meeting to attend this
``girl'' who had been taken from a trolley car into his home.
She was apparently suffering great pain in the region of the old
appendicitis scar and she was conveyed in an ambulance to a
hospital. After investigation for a few days, it was decided she
was hysterical or a simulator.

On numerous occasions her feigned illness has been so apparently
overcoming that she has had to be transferred in an ambulance to
a hospital. One of her usual performances has been to get into
some home or institution and then keep others awake all night
with her signs of distress. It is interesting that she has used
the same methods over and over again, but has been adroit enough
to vary the illnesses which she has simulated. At one time
investigation in a hospital seemed to show that she was
neurasthenic. She has been given chances in homes for
convalescents, but has never maintained herself in such a place
for long. We note she was sent back from one of these to the
main hospital on account of having vomited the medicine she had
been given. In fact, she has repeatedly been found resisting the
treatment which had been prescribed.

The record of admission and treatment given in one hospital is of
peculiar interest. She was received there four years ago and
evidently had been unable just previously to take care of herself
properly on account of roaming. Her clothing was dirty and her
head unclean. She was found to have the old appendicitis scar,
which contained a small sinus. She remained in bed after
admission, complaining of much pain in her abdomen, not well
localized however, and would lie moaning, crying, and rolling
across the bed. She was then running a slight temperature.
After a time an operation was decided upon and a hairpin was
found in the abdominal wall, undoubtedly inserted through the
scar by the patient herself. (The findings of the surgeon in
Chicago, then, revealed a repeated performance.)

At another place the patient maintained she was unable to
urinate, but at the same time strongly resisted catheterization.
From the variability of her complaint it was found it could not
be caused by a local condition, and examination showed no reason
for the difficulty. Analysis of her symptoms undertaken at this
time led to several stories, one about urethritis, which Inez
claimed to have contracted from her brother at 3 years; an
episode when she had received a great fright during micturition;
an incident when she had seen a man exposed when she went to the
toilet. (Of course, our experience with this type of case leads
us to appreciate the difficulties of psychological analysis with
extreme liars.)

On one occasion she entered a hospital, claiming to have been
recently injured; she had been taken in a supposed fainting
condition from a car. Then it was she maintained that she had
been struck by an iron bar and that a spike had entered her back.
She also claimed at this time to have had her toes frozen. Study
of the case here, too, showed no signs of injury or frost bite.
On another occasion she told of having been dropped by a nurse
while being lifted from a bed. Altogether her stories and her
simulations have been convincing enough to get for her on many
occasions good attention during at least a few days.

We can get no account of true hysterical signs being discovered
by any one. There has been no showing of anything but that she
is a liar and a simulator. In the hospital records the portions
devoted to previous history are thoroughly vitiated by her
untruthfulness, and they contain statements which offer great
contradictions, one to the other.

Inez has been observed, then, for two long periods by
psychiatrists. While at the end of neither period were the
observers willing to state that the young woman was compos
mentis, still their verdict in this matter had to be made up from
considerations of her social behavior rather than from what they
were able to discern by direct observation of her mental
processes. From one case-record we read that ``The patient was
quiet, pleasant, and agreeable, replied promptly and
intelligently to questions, and talked spontaneously of her
affairs. She was quite clear as to the environment, had
apparently a satisfactory memory, with the exception of a recent
period preceding admission. Her statements, too, were probably
not altogether truthful, but frequently a reason for the
untruthfulness was made out. She thought that her mind was all
right, but complained of having occasional difficulty in

Another prolonged study of her mental status was made four years
ago. From the record we learn that there were no apparent
reactions to hallucinations. Consciousness was clear and the
patient was completely oriented for time, place, and persons.
The train of thought was coherent and relevant. Questions were
readily answered and attention easily held. Memory was fair for
most events. School knowledge was reasonably well retained.
Judgment, to this observer, seemed impaired, although no definite
delusions could be elicited. Emotionally she was found more or
less irritable, fault finding, and at times a trifle despondent.
(Certainly the latter would be a natural reaction under the
circumstances.) Often, however, she was found cheerful and
contented. No special volitional disturbances were noted. Was
found to act in an hysterical manner when she felt ill. She was
neat, tidy, and cleanly in her habits. Appetite was good and she
slept well. Such was the report from the institution where she
was held for six months. There was no material change in her
condition during this time; she showed herself very proficient
with the needle; she was discharged when her sentence expired.

We note a statement from one hospital that this ``girl'' gave no
evidence of having had any direct sexual experience, or that she
had ruminated much over these matters. Her story about frequent
fainting attacks given at this time was not corroborated by
observation. The diagnosis from one hospital was neurasthenia,
but investigation of her case in most places seems to have led
merely to the conclusion that she was a tremendous liar.

Notwithstanding our long record of this case and the accounts
which have been handed in to us of experiences with her in other
localities, we do not presume to know a tithe of the places Inez
has been to or lived in during the last eight years. It is more
than likely that she herself would find it difficult to give any
accurate account of her rovings. At the time we first saw Inez
her parents had not heard from her for about three years.
Shortly after this we found that she had renewed correspondence
with them and had sent them money as if she were now prosperous.
Her family have all along, in spite of her stories, been poor.
At one period she visited several cities in the southeastern
states and was at a hospital in one of them. In Charleston there
is a family by the name of B. (spelled the same as the name of
the people she was with in Tennessee). These were the people
Inez asked us to write to in an appeal, because they had long
known her and were wealthy, for a chance to get an education.
She stated they were immediate relatives of the B.'s in
Tennessee, and that she had visited them once at their fine home
in Charleston for three or four months. These people replied to
us that they had been receiving letters for years from
associations and organizations in regard to this girl whom they
had never seen. They were convinced she had assumed their name
because she had understood they were well-to-do and liberal.
``We know nothing about her education, but judge she has enough
to dupe people with; posing as poor at one time, sick at another,
and anxious for an education at another, as you inform us.''

From another correspondent with whom Inez had lived in Alabama
for a few weeks we had a marvelous tale which they heard from
her. She had told them she formerly lived in the most beautiful
part of New Orleans and when 5 years old was placed in a convent,
and then taken to a boarding-school, from which she was kidnapped
and taken to a small town in Georgia. She was later placed in
another boarding-school and there met the wealthy B.'s of
Charleston who took her home with them. While there she had to
go to a hospital on account of some infection. One day she was
thrust into a taxicab, taken on a boat, landed at another city,
etc. The B.'s of Charleston have thus figured long in her story,
and we learned from several correspondents that this kidnapping
has figured over and over as a big event in her life.

Once, years ago, Inez was taken into a private home accompanied
by a trunk, we hear, which was found to contain a considerable
amount of jewelry. This was pawned in the name of the people
with whom she then lived and was redeemed later by some one else.
Inez laid claim to the jewelry after a time, but apparently was
unable to produce anybody who could vouch that it was really
hers. Its ownership has remained unknown.

When she went to St. Louis at one time she had stated she was to
meet a relative there, but the person, we have come to know, was
a certain very decent young man who had become acquainted with
her through a correspondence bureau. He had thought well of her
and warned her not to come to that city, but when she did so he
met her and took her at once to his own home where the womenfolk
looked after her until she was found a place elsewhere. The
deliberate attempt to throw herself upon his protection was thus
frustrated by his relatives. Many other reports of the
misrepresentations of Inez have been given us. She has
discovered that borrowing money on the strength of invented
statements is sometimes possible, particularly for her with her
good presence and convincing manner. The B.'s complained that
when she left Tennessee there were in her trunk many dollars'
worth of articles that belonged to them.

Throughout our long experience with Inez we have never been able
to make up our mind whether or not she remembered all of her
past. Her lying always stood in the way of getting at anything
like the real facts. On no occasion has she truthfully dealt
with her career as we know it. She has professed absolute lack
of knowledge of her accident, and of the time and place of its
occurrence. It is interesting that none of her acquaintances
mention this. Although Inez has told long stories of her past to
many people, and with some inclusion of truth, she never seems to
have mentioned this important event of which we learned from her
family. We cannot, then, decide about possible amnesia for this

On occasion Inez has expressed the same desire for religious
experience as for education, and has written to friends that she
had become imbued with the Spirit. Her story of her religious
upbringing is altogether unreliable and contradictory, but while
in one hospital she professed belief, took communion, and was
baptized in a certain faith. Her behavior was not, however, in
the least modified by this.

One serious minded woman took Inez at her word when she said she
wanted to study algebra and offered her a good opportunity which
was never accepted. This demonstrated clearly that the desire
was a matter of words only. Inez' constant assertion of
independence has been one of her main sources of temporary
success. Kindly people have speedily taken up with her.
Sympathy is undoubtedly, in spite of her statements to the
contrary, one of the strongest needs of her nature. In one of
her letters we note her expression of satisfaction in a certain
situation where she found herself much ``mothered'' by kind
nurses. All her chances, however, have been spoiled by her
indulgence in lies.

Inez has remained adamant to every plea and suggestion made by
many well-wishing friends that she reform and begin again. After
her parents and other relatives were found and communicated with,
her career partly known, and her mother's need of sympathy shown
to her, she still refused to change her story in many
particulars--even when she knew that we had discovered about her
writing home within recent months. She steadily refused to
acknowledge her true age. When the evidence was complete,
showing that she could not be held as a runaway girl, but must be
treated under the law as a woman, she went forth to begin, as we
heard from many other sources, her old misrepresentations of
herself, which speedily got her into further trouble.

We were not astonished, even after we had accumulated almost the
entire knowledge of the career which we have outlined above, and
Inez knew that we had done so, to be visited by two fine
philanthropic women who wanted to consult with us about an
unfortunate girl who had won their sympathy, and who had been
placed by them in a leading hospital after having shown some
signs of acute bronchitis. In fact, she was in such a bad
condition that she had to be transferred in an ambulance. But
her illness had rapidly cleared up and now after ten days of
observation an eminent diagnostician had thoroughly scolded her
for simulation, and the girl was once more on their hands.
Indirectly they learned that we knew of the case of this ``girl
of 16.'' They realized that they had been taken in, but it had
been done so cleverly, and, as they expressed it, Inez showed
herself such a splendid actress, that they wondered if she had
not extraordinary histrionic abilities which could be utilized.
(It remains to be seen whether anything constructive can be done
by following this lead. We feel that previous psychiatrists who
gave earlier an unfavorable prognosis in this case were perhaps
quite right. But perhaps we should not let our opinions in this
be swayed by the fact that my associate, Dr. Bronner, who went to
this last hospital was met by an absolute denial on the part of
Inez of the essentials of the above career, by her insistence
that she was not the same person as the daughter of the Smiths,
and that she was only 17--all this in spite of her knowledge of
our correspondence with her family and others, and her own
previous acknowledgments of lying.)

Summary: In summarizing the characteristics of this woman we may
first insist that she has ambition, push, and energy in high
degree. Her personality as expressed in general bearing,
features, and facial action is remarkably strong and convincing.
Her ambition was shown in her work on our tests as well as in her
social behavior. (We have wondered if it was not her desire to
shine which prevented the typical performance of the pathological
liar on the ``Aussage'' test.) Her self-confidence as expressed
on numerous occasions is no less striking. ``I tell you, doctor,
that I have told lies, but you will see that I will come out on

Inez has been free from the overt problems of sex life. We have
repeatedly been informed that she has been a girl of good
character in this respect. ``I ran away from home for a good
cause. I'm not one of those girls who is crazy about the boys.''
Usually Inez shows a very even temper. It is only when her own
personality is trod upon that she grows angry, and obstinacy is
then her leading reaction. Some pathological liars may be weak
in character, but not Inez. She is the firmest of persons. On
occasions her attitude is entirely that of the grand lady. Her
type of lying is clearly pathological. It would often be very
hard to discern a purpose in it, and over and over again she has
defeated her own ends by further indulgence in prevarications.
To her the utterance of lies comes just as quickly and naturally
as speaking the truth comes to other people. Even in interviews
with us when she was voluntarily acknowledging her shortcomings
in this direction she went on in the same breath to further

The medical aspects of the case come under the same category as
the lying. The dysuria, the spitting of blood, the sugar in the
urine, the hairpins found twice in the abdomen, the simulated
pains, neurasthenia, and bronchial attacks, together with her
stories of accidents and fainting spells illustrate her general
tendency. This behavior, like her lying, serves to feed her
egocentrism, her craving for sympathy and for being the center of
action. As with the lying, repetition of this type of conduct
probably is largely a matter of habit.

The bearing of this case on the problems of testimony is
interesting. As shown in our account of tests done, when
objective concrete material was considered by this woman she
reported it well. It is only when her egocentrism is brought
into play that she becomes so definitely unreliable. This is a
line of demarcation that students of this subject would do well
to recognize.

Causative Factors: Our study of causation in this case, as we
intimated at first, is necessarily incomplete. But some things,
probably explanatory, stand out very clearly. Heredity is
moderately defective. Inez was the outcome of an unfortunate
pregnancy and was a poorly developed infant. She suffered early
from a number of illnesses, which, however, left no perceptible
physical defects. Her unusual relationship to the other
children, based on the difference in age, was perhaps a starting
point for the development of her inventional theories of her own
origin. She has given us many hints of this in speaking of her
earliest remembrances of hearing the Smiths whispering something
about adoption, and of her feeling that the other children were
too old for her to belong to their family.

Then we insist on the positive bearing which this woman's native
traits have had in the production of her career. Her facility
with language marks her as possessing one of the chief
characteristics of the pathological liar. Added to this she
showed the other personal traits which we have described in
detail, leading to her success in misrepresenting herself. Her
strongly developed physiognomy has caused many people to believe
her older than she stated, but still one has seen such lineaments
belonging to girls of 17.

The bearing which the accident at 18 had upon the case it is
impossible for us to estimate. Her family are very clear on this
point; they maintain that all her bad conduct has developed since
then. Through unwillingness, or barely possibly real amnesia for
the injury, Inez has not helped us to know the facts. Dr.
Augusta Bronner, who has studied this case with me, cleverly
suggests that just as anyone becomes confused in distinguishing
really remembered experiences from what has been told by others
was one's experience, so Inez gets confused between what has
really happened and what she herself has told as having happened.
This finally involves a pathological liar in a network which is
difficult to untangle. Part of the causation of the present
lying, then, is the extensive lying which has been done

Psychological analysis in such a case is most difficult because
of the unreliability of the individual's own statements about her
life, inner and outer. Psychoanalysts will be delighted, in the
light of what we long afterward found out, at the pregnant
opening sentence of an interview, recorded above, when Inez
blurted out that she was once in a State hospital. However, from
what we ascertained, we may see clearly that here is an
individual with a past that she desires to cover up. Much more
delinquency may be involved of which we know nothing. As the
result of circumstances and traits she finds herself, despite her
very good ability, inadequately meeting the world. Her forceful
personality carries her into situations which she is incompetent
to live up to. The immediate way out is by creating a new
complication, and this may be through lies or the simulation of
illness, at which she has become an adept. Altogether, Inez must
be thought of as one who is trying to satisfy certain wishes and
ambitions which are too much for her resources. Towards the goal
to which her nature urges her she follows the path of least
resistance. Being the personality that she is, the social world
offers her stimulation which does not come to others.

To discuss the problem of her responsibility would be to
introduce metaphysics--it is sure that in the ordinary sense she
is not insane. The cause of her career is not a psychosis,
although we readily grant that out of the materials of her mental
experience she may ultimately build up definite delusions.


Summary: A girl of 16 had been engaged in an extraordinary
amount of clever shoplifting under the influence of her
``mother.'' In the courts where the cases against her were heard
there was much sympathy with the girl, but it was difficult to
carry out any measures for her benefit because of the excessive
prevarications which had characterized her for a long period.
Under oath she falsely accused her ``father'' of sex immorality
with her. She was removed from her home, and with knowledge of
the mental conflicts which beset her, splendid efforts to
``cure'' this girl met with success. It is another case where
supposed inherited traits turn out to be the result of
environmental influences.

Through frequent communication with the highly intelligent woman
with whom Edna F. was placed in a small western city after she
was taken from her previous miserable environment, we have been
able to keep close check on the progress of the case for several
years. It was also very fortunate for our understanding that a
nurse who knew the girl's real mother in New York, where Edna was
born, appeared on the scene and gave us data upon which we could
base some opinions of the outcome. The case in its entirety had
proved very baffling to detectives because of the mass of
contradictory lies told by both the girl and her ``mother.''

Our attention was first called to this girl when a number of
court people were trying to solve the mystery. She had been
arrested for shoplifting and her curious attitude and statements
had made some believe she was not quite right mentally. Once
before she had been detected stealing things in a shop. One of
her remarkable statements this last time was that her parents
were implicated in the thieving and she named certain stolen
articles which might be found at their home. She went with the
detectives and accused her ``mother'' of wearing a dress which
she, Edna, had stolen. The woman was forced to give up the dress
and other articles, but it was found later that these goods had
been actually bought and paid for by the parents. Later it was
found that the woman was a party to the girl's stealing and this
made the girl's story seem all the more strange, for if she were
going to involve the people at all why did she not pick out the
actually stolen articles? However, long study of the case
brought out the fact that this type of statement was a
characteristic of Edna's. Her word on even important points was
absolutely unreliable and her own interests were frequently
thwarted by her prevarications.

The case in its different aspects came up in court again and
again until finally most of the truth was ascertained, enough to
justify radical measures being undertaken. During this period
the mother was discovered to be an atrocious liar; even with her
last bitter confession that all she had said about her motherhood
had been untrue, she manufactured more quite unnecessary
falsehoods. In the meantime the family physician and the family
lawyer had both informed me of the peculiar mysteries of the case
and of the perfect mass of lies into which the statements of both
mother and daughter led. This sort of thing had been going on
for years. It is of no small interest to note that the woman was
greatly over-dressed and made up. On numerous occasions she
appealed to us to study the girl and find out why she lied so
much and why she had such an inclination to steal, in the
meantime attempting to fill us up with many inventions about the
girl's antecedents.

Physical examination showed a perfectly normally developed girl.
No sensory defects. Pleasant features. Well shaped head.
Weight 101 lbs; height 5 ft. 1 in. We found no hysterical
stigmata. Menstruation had first occurred at 14. No trouble or
irregularity was reported. We learn the girl has never had any
serious illness. She herself told of fainting spells after being
whipped and so on, but these were undoubtedly falsifications.
The family physician informed us he had operated on the girl for
appendicitis about three months previous to the time we first saw
her. He had found some evidences of an old appendiceal
inflammation, but it is quite likely from the various accounts
which we heard that her symptoms recounted to him were largely
fabrication and that the signs which he found, at least in their
excessive phases, were partly deceptions. The most important
point for the court proceedings was his findings that the girl
had never been sexually tampered with and had no local disease.
At the time when we knew Edna she was being treated for a local
infection which must have been recent and superficial, for it
rapidly subsided.

We had ample opportunity to test Edna's ability and found it
quite normal. She had been out of school much and had been
careless in general about her education, but she had finally
finished the grammar school. A long list of tests was done
almost uniformly well. Where a prolonged task which required
concentration was asked, Edna was inclined to work carelessly,
but in general her capacities proved to be decidedly good. She
was accustomed to read nothing but the lightest literature and
fairy stories and her interests were of the superficial sort.
Neither in powers of imagery or imagination, nor by anything else
ascertained about her mental abilities did we come to know of any
point of special bearing upon her behavior.

On the ``Aussage'' picture test, she gave only 12 details, all
correct, on free recital. Upon questioning she gave 28 more
items and almost the only variation from accuracy was in respect
to the colors. Evidently she let her fancy run when she could
not remember correctly; through this she got 6 items incorrect.
She readily accepted 3 out of 4 suggestions.

Our earliest impressions of Edna state that she seemed much
confused in her stories and in her manner of telling them,
leaving sentences unfinished and trying to explain
inconsistencies by other inconsistencies. At this time she was
referring constantly to her doubts about her age, her family, and
her origin. She then seemed highly suspicious of every one and
talked of suicide. However, when she was showing these signs she
could be diverted, for she worked with much pleasure at the
tests, particularly certain memory tests on which she did well.

On account of the difficulties of the solution of this case under
the law considerable time and effort were spent in looking up her
record. It was found that some years ago Edna had run away from
home and there was a newspaper article published about her. Even
at that time an officer who went to the home was unable to
ascertain the truth in the case. The family had frequently moved
and the mother asserted it was because of the bad reputation
which the girl's actions had given them. The neighbors
complained of the cruelty of the parents to Edna, but this meant
only the whippings which the mother had given her. By all
accounts the father was a good man who insisted that affairs
between his wife and Edna were not his own. (Edna always
maintained that this man had been unusually good to her, although
she so strangely made in court the false accusations of prolonged
sex immorality on his part and reiterated these statements even
to us. It was not until many months afterward that she
acknowledged the falsity of her accusations, although we knew
from her physician that they were not true.)

The first time Edna was in court was when she was about 14 years
old. At that time she had been observed by a department store
detective stealing hosiery and a bracelet. She perceived she was
being shadowed and walked up to the counter and ordered some
children's garments, having them charged and sent to a fictitious
name and address. The detective thought this a masterpiece of
slyness, this endeavor to throw them off the track. Since the
family, who really kept an account at this store, appealed to the
manager to have Edna let off as it was an ordinary trick of a
growing girl, the charge was withdrawn. Detectives who had been
employed from a private agency made a very poor showing on
getting at the real facts. The husband was doing well in his
business and there never seemed to be any reason to suspect his
wife of being directly or indirectly connected with the
shoplifting. Earlier there was some intimation that Edna was not
the child of these people, but the persons who suggested this did
not know the true facts and were found to have a grudge against
the mother. In the meantime the latter had strongly maintained
her relationship.

It was months after this and just before we saw the case when a
detective, who had kept the case in mind, went to the house to
get the goods which Edna maintained had been stolen. There he
found the ``mother'' and another woman smoking and thought he
detected signs of their being drug habitues. Later, I myself
felt sure of this point, but we were never able to state to what
drug they were addicted. Edna frequently stated she had been
accustomed to buying morphine for these women, but her statements
about its appearance and its cost were so at variance with the
facts that though it is likely she had bought something of the
kind, yet no amount of inquiry brought out the definite facts.
The woman's appearance and her remarkable lack of veracity were
both highly suggestive of a drug habit.

In our several interviews with this woman we were amazed by her
strange self-contradictions. It was not only that she stated
something different from what she had said a week before, but
even at different times on the same day her statements would be
changed. Concerning her relationship to Edna she gave us the
facts of the girl's birth and laughed off the idea that she was
not the girl's mother. ``Why, I can remember every moment of my
pregnancy with her.'' It was anomalous that this woman had hired
a righteous man as a lawyer to represent her and the girl. This
attorney, consulting with me, soon came to the conclusion that
the only interest he would serve in the case was that of the
girl, and then only in the effort to save her from the miserable
influences of her mother.

Edna's school record was most peculiar. She had been frequently
changed on account of her dishonesty. In one sectarian school
she was said to steal all sorts of useless things--bits of
string, pieces of pencils, and articles no one else would want.
She also stole a two dollar bill from a grocery store; the
cashier followed her and recovered the money from her person
right there in the school. Edna always denied that she took
things. While in another school she had flowers sent to all the
teachers and the florist's bill was presented to her there. In
still another school she took a pair of shoes from a boy at
recess, wore these and left her old ones in the locker room. Her
word was everywhere recognized as being most unreliable.

After the case had long been in court and Edna still stoutly
maintained that she was not the child of these parents, but had
complicated her story by adding incidents which were known to be
untrue, such as her ``father's'' immorality with her, that there
had been another adopted child in the family, that even the
dishes the family used were stolen by her, and so on, the woman
came and suddenly blurted out that she herself had been lying all
along and that this was not her child. She then alleged the
parentage was so and so, but this matter was in turn looked up
and found to be false. It was adjudged that these people had
absolutely no parental rights, and then work was begun on
constructive measures of redeeming the girl if possible. It was
not long after this that the nurse came to us who had known the
girl's real mother in New York and who had taken charge of Edna
as an infant before her foster mother had taken her. It seems
that the mother was an American, that this child was
illegitimate. A few months after her birth the mother abandoned
her, became dissolute and is said to have since died.

Edna had run away from home on several occasions and slept in
hallways for a night or two at a time. She had not been sexually
immoral until just previous to our seeing her. Then while away
from home she had gone with a man to a hotel, and probably had
also been with boys. These were her first and last experiences
of the sort, but how much these affairs had been on her mind we
obtained some intimation of from herself.

``My mother took me to S's when I was 8 years old and told me to
take anything I could and I got into the habit of it. I can't
stop myself. I take anything I want. Mother said she would kill
me if I told the truth. I had to say lots of things that were
not so. I had to lie and say mother did not beat me, but she had
a horsewhip that was plaited, father burned it. Then they bought
a little one, but she beat me with a rubber hose and everything.
The first thing I think I stole was jewelry in a store down-town.
The woman I call `auntie' said if I would give her the goods she
would pay me for them.''

``My mother fixed it up that if she got the goods and got caught
she would get a clerk to make out receipts and get them stamped
paid. She has not done this yet, but I think she will in this
case.'' (This was a statement at the very first interview with
Edna and no doubt had reference to the fact that the mother could
produce receipted bills for the dress and other articles which
Edna had maintained to the detective she herself had stolen. Of
course the girl's story of this was untrue; the receipts were

``One of my sisters is adopted, but my father does not know it.
She ain't real. It was this way. When my pa was out west for a
year ma asked me to look in the papers for a baby and I looked
and found an advertisement about one. Ma said she must not be
redheaded because that ain't like the family. We went and got
her and ma went to bed for nine days and pretended it was her
baby. She took a shawl and gave the nurse $25 and made out
adoption papers. She took me with her. It was a month old. She
made me go and tell my aunt I had a little sister. My aunt said
it looked kind of big for 3 days old, but ma said she had been
keeping it in an incubator. She had padded herself out before,
and pretended it was her own child. Pa came home when it was six
months old and he loved the baby just like his own. I ain't
jealous, but it makes me sick to hear such lies.''

This alleged fact, reiterated to us and testified to in the
court, was in itself a source of the whole case being farther
followed up. The nurse was found who took care of Edna's
``mother'' during her confinement and it was found that Edna's
whole story was quite untrue. It was evidently an elaborate
fabrication representing the facts as they might have been about
Edna herself. The only part of it that was true was that one of
the younger children had been for a time in an incubator.

``Since I was 10 years old I have known about that. I have known
I was not her child. She said something that sounded queer to me
once when I ran away. It made me think she was not my mother.

``Why do I tell lies? I got started at it when I was small. She
used to make me tell lies to my father. I began to steal when I
was about 8 years old. My little sister has started to take
things already. She is only 4. I was trying to break her and
mother said, `Let her alone.'

``She's had about nine different servants. She never can keep
any. She used to make me forge letters. She made me sign a
girl's name to a receipt for wages which the girl never received.
The girl had no case against her because she had the receipts.
The poor girl lost it.

``I am going to tell the truth. There's going to be lots of
things come out. I am going to tell the judge I lied when I told
him I did not steal the things. Why did I lie? Well, she gave
me just one look and I knew what she would do to me when I got
home. Everything I told you about my father is the truth. Where
else would I get that disease? I was never allowed to go out
with boys.''

At another time when we inquired what bothered or worried her
more than anything else we obtained an account of her sex
repressions. Of course there would always be difficulty in
knowing just how true the details were but probably she gave us
the main factors in her mental life.

``I used to be out in the streets all the time. There were
hardly any houses around there then. I used to hear mother talk
about things. She would send me out of the room and say it was
not for me to hear. Then boys lived near me and they asked me to
do bad things. I first heard about those things from a boy on
the porch. I was 7 or 8. I was always thinking about it--what
my mother said at that time, I mean. She did not explain it
enough. I am always fidgety, always nervous. My hands and feet
are always going. Whenever I would see a boy it would always
come up in front of my eyes. It was mostly when I saw boys. If
she had explained it more it would not have come up that way. I
know a girl who does that thing. She's bad. She does it with
boys too. The people said so. When I was little I imagined
there were some bad girls. You can't tell, but you can guess a
little. That boy had lots of things. I don't know if he took
anything. It was when I was about 4 until I was 8 that I played
with him. These things never came up in my mind when I was
taking things. It was only when I was not busy. I was always
thinking about it when I haven't anything else to do. These few
little words were not enough to explain. I remember I asked my
aunt once. I tried to put things together what I heard, and what
words about it meant.''

The above excerpts from many interviews with this girl represent
points upon which there is the least contradiction. It is
obviously useless to give any more of her story because of the
variation from time to time. Even on the last occasion when we
talked earnestly to her before she was taken to her new home, she
lied to us about a number of points. Any attempt at an accurate
analysis of her impulse to steal seemed quite beyond the mark in
the light of her ever-ready fabrications.

The after-history of this case is of the utmost importance. A
woman of strong character took Edna and surrounded her with new
interests. Conference was had with us on the nature of the case.
For the next few months reports came that the girl was a liar
through and through and grave doubts were entertained of ultimate
success. It was after she had been tried in her new environment
for 3 months that, seeing us again, she confessed that her
stories about her foster father were absolutely untrue. From
about this time on there has been steady improvement. No more
elaborate fabrications have been indulged in. On several
occasions when Edna has been late from school she has lied about
it, but even that tendency for the last year has been nearly
obliterated. A good deal of interest in boys has been
maintained, but not with any show of immorality. There has been
nothing but normal flirting; accounting for the occasions when
Edna has been late from school.

At two or three periods during her new life Edna has engaged in
stealing. She has taken articles for which she had no particular
use and has told lies about the matter. The thieving has not
been a single event, but each time has seemed to represent a
state of mind she has been in, and for a week or so numerous
articles have been taken. We warned her good friend to make a
study of her social and mental influences at such periods. It
was found then that Edna was undergoing special stress on at
least one such occasion. A young man had been making up to her,
and later she confided that this given period was one of great
turmoil because of the renewed arousal of many ideas about sex
affairs. After this there was still more attempts to win Edna's
confidence about her daily experiences, including such as the
above. There has been the gradual development of character, and
Edna is now, two years after she was taken from her bad
environment, only very occasionally guilty of falsifying, and she
is otherwise trustworthy.

Our study of the causative factors of this girl's delinquency and
particularly of her extraordinary lying led us to see that
perhaps all of the following have a part: (a) Heredity. Father
unknown. Mother a free-living woman. (b) Home conditions.
Mental and moral bad influences in the home life on account of
the foster mother conniving at stealing and being herself an
extreme liar. (c) Psychic contagion from the atmosphere of lies
in which the girl has been brought up. (d) Mental conflict
arising from the suspicion of her parentage, early acquaintance
with sex knowledge, and the irregular morale of her home life.
(e) Bad companions, including her foster mother's friends, and
boys and girls.

Mental Conflict. Case 4.
Girl, age 15 yrs.
Home influences: Extremely bad, including
excessive lying.
Bad companions.
Heredity (?).
Delinquencies: Mentality:
Much stealing. (Shop lifting, etc.) Fair ability.
Excessive lying.
False accusations.
Sex immorality.


Summary: A young woman of 20, bright mentally, strong
physically, ``confessed'' to a professor of a university where
she was studying that she had shot and killed a man. The facts
were known to only three or four people and she was terribly
worried about it all. Upon her information the affair was taken
up by a group of professional men, one of them a lawyer of large
practical experience. She aided in an investigation which
attempted to uncover the ``white slave'' feature of the case.
The data of verification proved most elusive. Later, the young
woman implicated herself in a burglary, and altogether an
elaborate story of her life was evolved. It was found that from
early years she had been a great fabricator.

While a first year student at a university Marie M. begged for an
interview with one of her instructors at his home and there, with
him and others, she told a detailed story of how some months
previously she had escaped a difficult situation by killing a

The exceedingly long account which was given at intervals to
several professional men and enlarged upon in response to
inquiry, or as the occasion otherwise demanded, we are not
justified in taking space to retell. This case figures, as a
whole, in somewhat anecdotal fashion among our others, we freely
confess; it is cited to show the extent to which apparently
purposeless fabrication can go. It has been found impossible to
gain a satisfactory idea of the genesis of this young woman's
tendency, quite in contrast to the other cases we have cited. It
forms the only instance where we have drawn from our experience
with merely partially studied cases.

Marie's story involved many items of her life since she was about
12 years of age. A distant relative who had come to know her
whereabouts (she was an orphan living with friends) figured
extensively in her narrative. This relative had hounded her in
an effort to get her to engage in an evil life. His attentions
varied greatly; sometimes for months she was not bothered with
him. Once when she was on her way to Milwaukee a gray haired man
approached her on the train, said he knew her relatives, they
were rather a bad lot of people, and he wanted to protect her
from them. Then came a long account of being driven in a
carriage, changing her clothes in a hotel, having her picture
taken in an immodest costume, signing a paper at police
headquarters, and, at last, safely returning home, all guided by
the mysterious gray haired man. Another trip led to an encounter
with a man who took her in an automobile under the promise of
meeting a friend. Entering a building where men carried
revolvers and girls were given hypodermic injections, just as she
was about to receive the needle in her arm, she reached the man's
revolver and shot him in the back. Events follow swiftly in her
tale, but all is thoroughly coherent, and a number of facts are
included which could be substantiated. The professional men
could not help being impressed and spent much valuable time
before they felt convinced that it was a fabrication. The exact
locations could not be discovered, but then Marie was a stranger
in the city.

When we saw her the whole story was reiterated with but few
changes, which, however, from the standpoint of testimony were
most important. We soon found we could get direct testimony on
physical features which were provably untrue. For instance, the
description of a certain hallway in a building where she had gone
with one of the men interested in the events was totally unlike
anything that existed there. Then, too, certain embellishments,
which by this time included the payment of a large check to her
as hush money, a check which she as easily gave away again,
seemed altogether improbable. Marie by this time was implicating
herself in a burglary with this relative, and some other curious
incidents were given. In all of these, as we later found, there
was a central event about which her statements MIGHT have been
true. There was such a burglary; she had said in previous years
that she was hounded by a man, and so on. We, too, were struck
by the uselessness and lack of purpose in the lying--for we soon
felt assured that it was such.

Physically we found Marie to be a decidedly good specimen. She
weighed about 140 lbs. Strong and firm in carriage. Vivacious
in expression. The physical examination at the university had
shown her to be without notable defect of any kind. We can
summarize Marie's characteristics by stating that from the
earliest age of which we can get satisfactory record, when she
was about 10 years old, she has been persistently addicted to
falsehoods. Even then she made up, without any basis, stories
which puzzled many people. It is much to the point that she has
been a great loser on account of this tendency; it has injured
her reputation on numerous occasions and destroyed many of her
good chances. When she was about 15 it was noticed that she was
a great day-dreamer. She thought she could write stories and
once began a novel. Much more peculiar than this was the fact
that she repeatedly wrote letters to her friends which were
simply a mass of fabrications, describing such things as
imaginary excursions.

Tests for mental ability were not given in this case, there was
no need for it. Her marks in the preparatory course were just
fair. It had been noted by her teachers, as well as by her
foster parents, that she was prone to have periods when attention
to her work seemed difficult. Aside from her peculiarities,
which showed themselves entirely in her fabricating tendency and
her assumed illnesses, nothing much out of the way in her mental
life had ever been noted. On several occasions she had taken to
her bed, but when a physician was called, a diagnosis was given
of simulation, or hysteria. Nothing like major hysterical
attacks at any time occurred,

From most excellent sources of information we have obtained an
account of the family history. No instance of insanity is known,
but it is said there is much evidence of ignorance and
superstition. Marie's mother bore a good character, but was
decidedly ignorant. At about the age of 50 she made a homicidal
attack upon a second husband and then killed herself. The father
was an industrious and sober laborer, but unable to support his
large family. At his death in Marie's early childhood the family
was broken up and the ten children were distributed about. None
of the children is said to be abnormal mentally, but there has
been a tendency to free living, even on the part of the older
sisters. It seems very sure that no other member of the family
was given to telling false stories. The brothers have been
inclined to be shiftless and to roam, but then the environmental
conditions often have been against them. However, some of them
have done well. In general, as far as Marie is concerned, it may
be said early home environment was not bad except on account of
poverty. Marie bears no traces of having suffered from defective
conditions before or after birth. Her early developmental
history appears to be negative. She has lived about in several
different homes, the longest stay being about seven years. In
one place she was suspected of masturbation, but we were unable
to get a perfectly definite statement that she was addicted to
the habit.

Two years prior to the time we knew Marie she had worked up a
story of adventure in which she was the heroine. She used the
telephone to call for help, stating that she stood with a
revolver covering a burglar. From this incident she gained a
good deal of notoriety. The police found there was nothing to
the case and later Marie herself made a confession. By the time
we saw her this story varied somewhat from her original
statement, but was still persisted in, although she must have
known that we could readily trace the actual occurrence.

After Marie had continued her stories for a few weeks while
attending the university they had grown so that they included
night visitations in her boarding-house from the man who was said
to be hounding her, she was found once more impossible to deal
with and, as her work became poorer, she had to leave. At this
period it was most significant to us that in spite of her
expressed desire for freedom from persecution she did not want us
to look further into her case because of certain mysterious
letters which would incriminate her. We felt entirely convinced
that the several reports which we received of her career in
preceding years gave a satisfactory clew to her character,
although we were never able to analyze the case far enough to
ascertain the genetic features. Thus it is impossible to make
any summary of causative factors.


Summary: A thoroughly characteristic example of the type of
pathological lying which led to the invention of the term
pseudologia phantastica. A young woman, well endowed physically
and mentally, for years has often been indulging in extensive
fabrications which have no discernible basis in advantages
accruing to herself. The peculiarities of the falsifications
have given rise to much trouble for her, her family, and for many
others who have been incidentally connected with the situation.
The genesis of the tendency was finally found in early
experiences about which there have been much mental repression
and conflict. In the background there was also defective home
control and chronic neuropathic tendencies in both parents and in
their kin.

Janet B., 19 years old, we saw first in an eastern city at the
request of her parents. There she had become involved in
troubles which seemed particularly hard to unravel. However, we
were told that this was an old story with her. A diagnosis of
her mental condition was asked, and recommendations for the
future. Janet had told some very peculiar stories at her place
of employment where she was doing very well as a newcomer,
without any seeming reason for fabrication. Several who had
become interested in her were wondering if she were quite sane.

After having made her way alone to New York, Janet readily
obtained employment. After a couple of weeks she approached a
department manager of the concern for which she worked and
related a long story, which at once aroused his sympathy. She
told him that her father and mother had died in the last year and
that she was entirely dependent upon herself. When she was about
four years of age she had been in a terrible accident and a
certain man had saved her life. Naturally, her father had always
thought very highly of this person and had pensioned him.
Formerly he lived up in the country with his family, but at
present was old, penniless, and alone in the city. Now that her
parents were dead she was in a quandary about keeping up her
father's obligation to the old man. Out of her $8 a week it was
hard to make both ends meet. She had to pay her own board and
for this man also. She found that he needed to be taken care of
in every way; she had to wash his face and dress him, he was so
helpless. She made no demand for any increase of salary and the
story was told evidently without any specific intent. The
services of a social worker were enlisted by the firm and the
girl reiterated the same story to her, even though it was clearly
intended that the case should be investigated. Janet's
boarding-house was visited and there she was found to be living
with distant relatives whom she had searched out upon her arrival
in the city. They knew she had run away from home and, indeed,
by this time the mother herself was already in New York, having
been sent for by them.

The situation then became more complicated through the girl's
giving more explanatory details to the social worker, somewhat
accusing her own family. It was at this time I first saw her.
She then acknowledged that this story of a man who had saved her
life was purely an invention. Now she stated that in the western
town where she lived she had been engaged to a young man who was
discovered to be a defaulter and who had recently died. When
this fellow was in trouble, his mother, while calling on Janet's
family, used to make signals to her and leave notes under the
table cover, asking for funds with which to help him out. This
was a great strain upon Janet and even more so was his death.
She could stand it no longer and fled the city. Her lover's
stealing was a secret which she had kept from her own family.

Before we had become acquainted with the true facts about the
family this girl gave us most extensive accounts of various
phases of her home life which included the most unlikely and
contradictory details. For instance, they had a large house with
beautiful grounds, yet before she left home she bought a sewing
machine for her mother, which she is paying for on weekly
installments. Her $8 a week is very little for her to live on
because she is paying this indebtedness. Janet wishes now to
take out a twenty year endowment policy in favor of her mother.
Her brothers and sister are all very bright, she tells us, but
she has never been particularly close to any member of her family
except her mother. The others always remind her that they are
better educated than she is. She expects to take up French and
Spanish in the evenings because they would be very helpful to her
commercially. She does not care to grow up, prefers simple
enjoyments, and has no desire for social affairs. She is only
desirous of improving her education. She relates her success as
a Sunday School teacher. She thinks at times she is very
nervous, and especially when she was in the high school she
showed signs of it. Then she used to stutter much, but of late
she has been able to control this.

At another time, very glibly and without the slightest show of
emotion, she continues with her story. Tells of frequent
fainting spells when she goes from one attack into another. She
has not had them just recently, but she used to have them at
home. Tells us now that her mother has been very sick and she
has been worrying much about her. She wanted to send money to
her and help support her. `It's awfully hard on one to know your
mother is terribly sick and to think you can't reach her if
anything should happen.'' (It is to be remembered that all this
was told when the girl must have known, if she had thought at
all, that we would certainly get the full facts in a day or so.)

On the physical side we found a very well developed and well
nourished young woman. Weight 148 lbs. No sensory defect noted.
Moderately coarse features, broad deep chest, quiet and strong
attitude. No signs whatever of nervousness. Her only complaint
at present is of headaches and ``quivering'' attacks. (We could
get no corroboration at all of either of these from any one
else.) She frequently spoke of herself as entirely healthy
except for these slight ailments. Some months later, vide infra,
it was discovered that Janet had a chronic pelvic trouble. The
most notable finding was Janet's facial expression when
confronted by some of her incongruities of behavior. Then she
assumed a most peculiar, open-eyed, wondering, dumb expression.
When flatly told a certain part of her story was falsehood, she
looked one straight in the eyes and said in a wonderfully demure
and semi-sorrowful manner, ``I am sorry you think so.'' Her
expression was sincere enough to make even experienced observers
half think they must themselves be wrong.

On the mental side she demonstrated good ability in many ways.
She had been through two years of high school and showed
evidences of her training. We tested her for a number of
different capacities and, with one exception, we found all
through that she did fairly satisfactory work, showing herself to
have normal mental capabilities and control.

This exception was in the ``Aussage'' or testimony test. Here in
reporting on our standard picture she gave in free recital 17
items, which is a fair result, but she added several incorrect
details. On questioning she gave 12 more items, but invented
still more details. Of the seven standard suggestions offered
she very curiously accepted only one, and that not important. As
an example of how she would supply details from her fancy is the
following: The picture represents a little girl standing by the
side of an older person. Janet said it was a little boy, that he
had his hands in his pockets, a muffler on his neck, a stocking
cap on his head, and black shoes and stockings. All of these
were voluntarily offered and all were incorrect.

Beyond this curious performance, and her peculiar lack of
foresight and shrewdness, or whatever it is that causes her so
readily to falsify and fabricate, we found not the slightest
evidence of aberration. Her conversation was coherent and to the

In the information obtained from the intelligent parents the
following points stand out clearly. The heredity is of interest.
There has been no known case of feeblemindedness, insanity, or
epilepsy on either side, but there is a great admixture of very
good with quite unstable qualities. This is true of both sides.
Some members of the family have taken high positions in the
community, and been exceptionally endowed mentally. Others have
been notoriously lacking in stability. We are informed that on
one side some have shown a marked inclination for tampering with
the truth, and it is suggested that Janet's tendency is the
result of early influence. The care of an incompetent
grandmother, whose word was notoriously untrustworthy, devolved
upon the family and it was impossible to prevent Janet from being
much with her. All of the children were aware of the old lady's
untruthfulness. One of Janet's parents had been addicted to
narcotics, but had managed to shake off the habit. The other
parent has had a severe attack of ``nervous prostration,''
largely induced, it is maintained, by worry over family affairs.
It is most interesting to note that the other children, two boys
and one girl, have turned out remarkably well; two being
university graduates, and all being very stable in character.
Both parents are people of good moral ideals, and in spite of
their own nervous defects have given their children very good

The pregnancy with Janet was not entirely healthy, but no worse
than with the other children. Her birth and infancy were normal.
Walked and talked early. Started to school at 6. Menstruated
first at 13; not irregular. She never had any severe illnesses
of any kind. As a child she once fell down some steps and was
unconscious for a few minutes, but the accident was not known to
have left any bad effects. Janet's own stories of fainting are
much exaggerated. In fact, the mother has never really seen her
faint, nor is there any evidence of any minor lapses of
consciousness. At times the girl would feel faint and ask that
water be poured on her forehead--that was all there was to it.
She was removed in the middle of her high school course on
account of general nervousness. The doctor felt she was working
too hard. Her parents are sure she was never a great sufferer
from headaches. Nothing else of importance could be found in her
physical history.

The story of this girl's falsifications and fabrications as
obtained from her people is exceedingly long. As a young child
she was not over-indulged in fairy stories, and the parents
noticed nothing peculiar about her then. She was not regarded as
a child who had any unusual powers of imagination. Somewhere
about 12 years of age, her parents cannot be certain just when,
they noticed she began the exaggeration and lying which has
continued more or less ever since. In the past two or three
years this has grown upon her and she has been making not only
untrue statements, but has been concocting peculiarly long and
intricate fabrications. The curious thing to the family is that
Janet seems to have little shrewdness in lying; of normal ability
in other things, she seems to have the mind of a child in this.
Very many deceptions are discovered in short order, but even then
the girl will sometimes argue at length that what she has said
was really the truth. The parents insist she must know that she
is lying, but her anomalous behavior has been so excessive that
they have long felt she should be studied by a psychiatrist. Her
mother asserts there is some periodicity in Janet's tendencies.
She maintains she has noticed that most of her lies are told in
the two or three days preceding menstruation. (This was
certainly not true during the period we observed the girl.) The
parents are sure there has never been any particular mental
shock, and the mother has always felt that Janet was particularly
free from contamination by bad children. At times she seems to
realize her own bad behavior, and not long ago said she would
become a nun, for in the tranquil life of the convent her
tendency to lying would not be stimulated.

Further inquiry brought out the fact that it was true, as Janet
stated, that in her high school course she became nervous to the
extent of jerking and twitching, and that also for a time she
stuttered. Their physician said, however, that there was no
definite nervous disease.

As a young child the parents never thought this girl in any way
different from the rest of the family. As she grew older she has
been regarded as physically the most robust, but, as she stated
to us, she has done the poorest intellectual work and that has
often been a matter of family comment. The other children are
careful truth tellers.

The type of Janet's lying has been not only in the form of
falsifications about matters which directly concerned herself,
but also involved extensive manufacture of long stories,
phantasies. Meeting people she might give them extensive
accounts of the wealth and importance of her own family. She
once spread the report that her sister was married and living in
a fine home close by, giving many elaborate details of the new
household. Such stories naturally caused much family
embarrassment. Then she worked up an imaginary entertainment and
gave invitations to her brothers and sister at the request of a
pretended hostess. Just before the event she, simulating the
hostess, telephoned that an accident had taken place and the
party would not be given. An extremely delicate situation arose
because she alleged a certain young man wanted to marry her. The
truth of her assertions in this matter never was investigated.
The parents felt it quite impossible to go to the young man about
the facts on account of the danger of exposing their daughter.
They were long embarrassed by the extent to which she kept this
affair going, but it finally was dropped without any social
scandal occurring. In this and other affairs the family
situation was at times unbearable because of the possibility that
there might be some truth underlying the girl's statements. As
the years went on Janet, of course, suffered from her loss of
reputation, but still continued her practices of lying. In the
two years before she left home she worked as a clerk. Previously
she had held two or three situations and was reported to give
good satisfaction in her work, but something would always come up
about money matters, or other things, which would finally give
rise to trouble. It is not known that she ever really took any
money except the last time when she ran away and took a
considerable sum from her parents.

A period of extensive untruthfulness and deception occurred
before she left home. Janet represented to her parents that she
was working at a certain place after she had left. She got into
some mix-up about money matters, the rights of which never were
straightened out. As usual, the affair was too complicated to be
understood by anything short of a prolonged investigation. After
things had come to this pass and her parents hardly knew what to
do with her, she took money from them and ran away. She was
readily traced because the ticket agent in her home town could
give a description of her. She had bought a ticket to an
intermediate point and there stopped over night. Her father
followed her thus far. It seems when she finally got to New York
she hunted up the distant relatives who took her in and informed
the mother. The girl intended to earn her own living and soon
found a good place. She was always able to make a good
presentation of herself, being a quiet and convincing

Out of the mess of lies surrounding her New York experience, it
was finally found that she had met a young man in a
boarding-house and had become infatuated with him. He was an
honest enough fellow, but fell in readily with her forwardness.
He took her to shows, and letters, intercepted by the mother,
showed that between them there had been some premature love
passages. At that time Janet started making weekly payments on a
gold watch to give to this young man at Christmas, a curious and
quite unwarranted expenditure. Perhaps this was the fact around
which some of her fabrications at that time centered. Perhaps it
was this money which became now the amount she was paying to her
father's pensioner, now what she had to send home to her mother,
and, again, her payments upon an imaginary sewing machine. In
this affair, as at other times, the lying was extremely childish,
inasmuch as the truth, through receipts found in her room, proved
to be readily ascertainable.

A good example of the character of Janet's falsifications was the
story about the death of her lover, told to us at our last
interview with her when she had come to us with the specific
purpose of trying to get herself straightened out once and for
all. She was not aware that her parents had given me any account
of this young man, but she might well have supposed that I had
inquired about him, or at least would inquire. Only a few
minutes previously she had told about her lying and given a very
definite account of its beginnings which was much in accord with
what her parents had said. Mentioning her love affairs, she
maintained that, unbeknown to her parents, she had been engaged
to this man, but that he had proved to be a thief, stealing money
and robbing the mails. She started off on a story of how another
young man was accused, but no evidence was forthcoming about him,
and soon afterward her lover died. Getting him safely buried for
us, she was quite willing to go on to another topic.

The workings of Janet's mind in connection with her alterations
of a story were sometimes most curious. We were interested to
study a long letter quite coherently written to her mother a few
days before we saw the young woman, and about the time when she
first told her long story to the department manager. In the
letter she spoke of the extraordinary opportunities she now had
in this place of employment, exaggerating her salary to $14 a
week. She stated she had already had a raise, and could get work
for other members of her family at good salaries. She was about
to start a bank account, and so on. But instead of making any
remittances to her mother (such as she asserted at one time) she
requested her parents to send her $5 to tide her over. We
counted no less than nine definite falsehoods in this epistle.
We were keen to know if Janet could remember her own
prevarications and so asked her if she could recall what she had
written to her mother. She trimmed her statements most curiously
then, being aware we knew her salary to be $8 a week. She said
she had told her mother her salary was $10, but in answer to our
reply, ``Oh, you said more than that,'' she blurted out, ``Well,
I said $14.'' It was quite evident she remembered this, as well
as certain other exaggerated statements and figures in the

We were fortunate enough to be able to analyze out much of the
genesis of this girl's career as a pathological liar. After the
immediate situation was somewhat cleared and Janet asserted she
was anxious to make a new start in life, we began our inquiry
into beginnings. Janet showed willingness to enter into the
question of her mental antecedents and tendencies which she
maintained she heartily deplored. To be sure we had evidence
that even in her most sincere moments she was unable to refrain
from occasional falsifying, but the main facts seemed
self-evidently true, and some of them were corroborated at
interviews with the parents.

After considering her own career with us for a time, she asserted
that it now was clear to her just how and when she began lying.
As a child of about 12 years it seems she was wont to meet with a
certain group of girls on a hillside and they indulged in many
conversations about sex matters. Evidently the circumstances
surrounding this important introduction into affairs of sex life
were indelibly impressed upon her mind. She was there instructed
not only in the general facts, but also in methods of
self-gratification. It is clear to her, she states, that it was
exactly at this time that she first began deceiving her mother
and telling lies. She explains these tendencies as the result of
a guilty conscience. It comes out that the mother did not know
this group of girls to be undesirable companions for Janet, but
the latter's consciousness of their frailties always led her to
state that she had been with other children when in reality she
had been in this bad companionship. Through dwelling on their
teachings she began sex practices by herself, and in order to
carry this out she had to indulge in other deceptions. She
remembers distinctly her willful repression of the facts, and
states that the nervousness which she displayed for two or three
years in her school work was undoubtedly due to this cause. In
fact, she thought so at the time, but persisted in deceiving her
mother and her physician in regard to the matter.

Her mental repressions and conflicts did not begin, however, at
this period. By digging further into her memory Janet tells us
about a girl in another town where they used to live, a girl who,
when Janet was about 7 years old, wanted to show her about sex
practices. Janet knew this girl to be bad by general reputation,
and ran away when this offer was made, but it was too late--the
mental impress had been formed. She thinks her mother would
remember this girl. The things which this bad girl started to
tell came frequently up in Janet's mind and she wondered much
about them. No practices, however, were indulged in and even the
thoughts were fought against until the time mentioned above when
other sex ideas were implanted. Janet's mother had neither given
nor received confidences on this subject, and indeed never
throughout the daughter's life has there been anything except
vague warnings on the part of the mother about the general
dangers of sex immorality.

We gradually came to learn that Janet had been subject to much
sex temptation from her own physical feelings. She never was a
good sleeper, she thinks, and she often lies awake, or will wake
up for a time in the middle of the night and think of sex
affairs. She feels sure there has been considerable stress upon
her on account of this temptation which she has felt should be
combated. The occasional giving way to sex habits also resulted
in mental stress and, as she expresses it, worry.

At the time of her failure to do well in school work her internal
conflicts were especially acute. There was before her
continually the success which the other members of her family had
made, which she herself admired, and for which she was ambitious.
She hid at that time the cause of her nervousness and failure;
there was the danger of its being discovered. After thus
reviewing her case with us, Janet reiterated that she was sure
her tendency to prevaricate came on at the time when she first
began her bad sex habits.

This girl was probably not much of a day-dreamer. She denies
being so, saying she had always been too busy for such to be the
case. We also obtained corroboration of this from others who had
closely observed her. She says she had lived no specially
imaginative life beyond occasionally thinking of herself as a
well-to-do lady with many good clothes to wear, or sometimes
lying in bed and imagining she had a lover there. Further
inquiry into her imaginative life seemed futile because she was
not trained in introspection and because even in her frankest
moments we were always afraid that she might fall into her
strongly formed habit of prevarication. We ascertained that in
her home life special efforts had been made to keep her busy and
she could not be regarded as a dreamer. Janet strongly denied
the periodicity in her lying which her mother maintained, but the
girl did state that her periods of sex temptation were mostly
just preceding her menstrual period.

In giving the above account of what was ascertained by analysis
with Janet we have offered such of her statements as are clearly
probable or which are corroborated by the parents. Our many
experiences with the young woman led us to be particularly
careful in accepting as veracious any of her statements unless,
as in what is given above, they clearly followed the type of fact
which may be ascertained in the investigation of other instances
of pathological lying where the individual's word is more
reliable. The parents were able to corroborate many points. The
mother remembers the older girl in the town where they lived when
Janet was 7 years old and that this girl was notorious for her
sex tendencies, although she was not in the least aware that
Janet had been contaminated. Then she recollects that Janet used
to tell her so particularly about going with a special crowd of
girls (those which she now says were not her companions). Both
parents considered the matter at great length in order to help my
study of the case and both are very certain that it was just
about this period when Janet says she was beginning her covert
sex experiences that she began the lying, which was petty at
first, but after a time expanded into the type of detailed
falsifications we have enumerated above. Altogether there was
little doubt in our minds that Janet was giving the truth in its
main outlines. Undoubtedly it was merely her habit which always
led her to alter somewhat the details.

We were interested to note that in her letters and in her
ordinary conversation Janet took up the topics that a fairly well
educated girl would naturally discuss. For instance, she would
give us some account of her recent reading, or a visit to an art
gallery, telling us with normal vivacity about a couple of
pictures which had deeply impressed her. She spoke not only of
their subjective influence, but discussed the details of
composition and coloring. We might mention that in a
characteristic way she interjected some remarks that she herself
used to be very good at drawing and won several prizes at it.
She stated that she thought of going farther in art, but that her
parents could hardly afford to allow her to do this. These
remarks were found later to be quite aside from the truth.

Telling us the story of her school career, Janet insists her
memory had never been good for learning poems or for languages,
particularly Latin, but anything in the way of a picture she
could recall with ease. What she has read she often thinks of in
the form of pictures. Concerning her lying she denied it was
done particularly to cover up things, at least since the time
when the habit was first formed. She feels that it really is a
habit, a very bad one. She hardly knows she is going to
prevaricate; the false statement comes out suddenly. In thinking
about it all she harks back once more to that crowd of girls;
everybody thought they were good, but she knew they were not.

After a time of quieting down in her behavior tendencies,
although there was never complete cessation of the inclination to
falsify, a new exacerbation of lying arose. This time it seemed
to center about a clandestine love affair of a mild type. There
was one trouble with this case which neither I nor any one else
was able to clear for the parents. It was perfectly apparent
that the girl might naturally be expected to marry at some time.
Now, when an honest young man felt inspired to keep company with
this vivacious, healthy, and generally attractive young woman,
what were the parents to do? It was easy enough for them to
decide that she must not go with a man of bad character, but were
they bound in honor to inform any young man, before affairs had
gone too far, that the girl had this unfortunate tendency and
that she had had rather a shady career? It was perfectly clear
to them that she herself would not tell him. This was how the
matter stood at the time we last heard of the case, and while the
parents were holding back, a young man's affections and the
girl's fabrications were growing apace.

Janet had been suffering from a chronic inflammation of the
bladder, which, however, did not cause any acute symptoms. A
chronic pelvic inflammation was discovered, for which she was
operated upon in her home town. The surgeon reported to the
parents that conditions were such that they would naturally be
highly irritative, although there had been no previous complaint
about them. The girl made an exceedingly rapid recovery. It was
after this that her last affair of the affections was causing the
parental quandary and distress.

Our final diagnosis of this ease, after careful study of it, was
that it was a typical case of pathological lying, mythomania, or
pseudologia phantastica. The girl could not be called a
defective in any ordinary sense. Her capabilities were above the
average. She showed good moral instincts in many directions and
was at times altogether penitent. Nor could she be said to have
a psychosis. The trouble was confined to one form of conduct.

The lying, as in all these cases, seemed undertaken sometimes for
the advantages which thereby might accrue. On the other hand, at
times the falsification seemed to have no relation to personal
advantages. Indeed, this girl had experience, many times
repeated, that her lying very quickly resulted in suffering to
her. There were aspects of her falsifications which made it seem
as if there was pleasure in the mere manufacture of the stories
themselves and in the living, even for a short time, in the
situations which she had created out of her imagination and
communicated to others. Frequently there seemed to be an
unwillingness on her part to face the true facts of existence.
In her representation of things as different from what they
really were she seemed to show even the desire for
self-deception. Another point: no student of cases of this kind
should allow himself to forget the potency of habit formation.
There can be little doubt but that a large share of this girl's
conduct was the result of her well developed and long maintained
tendency to trim the facts.

As far as we were able to determine, and we undoubtedly got at
the essential facts, this girl's falsifying trait was based on
the following: The fact that she came of neuropathic stock would
make us think that she possibly inherited an unstable mental
make-up. To be sure, the only evidence of it was in this
anomalous characteristic of hers, namely, her pathological lying.
She seemed sound in her nervous makeup. The idea that the
grandmother passed on as inheritance her prevaricating traits is
open to discussion, but we have seen that environmental
influences from this source may have been the only effect, if
there was any at all. Very important in this case, without any
doubt, is the early sex teaching, its repression and the mental
conflict about it for years, and then the reintroduction into the
subject just before puberty. Probably this is the vital point of
the girl's whole career. The success she early achieved in
deceiving her mother, not by denials, but by the elaboration of
imaginary situations, has been the chief determinant of her
unfortunate behavior. Added to that was the formation of a habit
and of an attitude towards life in which the stern realities were
evaded by the interposition of unrealities. Even the affair of
the imaginary social gathering can be conceived in this light,
for evidently she and her family were not engaged then in social
affairs and the preparation for a gay event would for a time be a
source of excitement and pleasure. Her autoeroticism may have
helped towards the production of phantasies and the general
tendency to evasion of the realities of life.

It was clear from first to last that the exploration of the
genesis of the tendencies in such a case as this could be but one
step towards a cure. What was also needed was prolonged
disciplinary treatment under conditions which were well nigh
impossible to be gained at her age. Willingness on the part of
the individual to enter into any long period of discipline or
education, such as an institution might offer, is not easily

Mental conflict: early and severe. Case 6.
Early sex experiences and habits. Girl, age 19 yrs.
Mental habit formation.
Home conditions: defective understanding
and control, although ordinarily good
home. Early acquaintance with lying.
Heredity: neuropathic tendencies on
both sides.
Delinquencies: Mentality:
Excessive lying. Ability well up to
Runaway. the ordinary.


Summary: A girl of 16 brought to us by her mother, who regards
her as abnormal mentally because she is an excessive liar and
delinquent in other minor ways, proved to be an habitual
masturbator. Under direction, the mother succeeded in curing her
of this habit, with the remarkable result that the young woman
became in the course of a couple of years quite reliable.

We first saw this young woman of 16 with the mother who
maintained that there must be something wrong with the girl's
mentality because of her lying, recent running away from home,
and some minor misconduct. There had been trouble with her since
she was 7 years old. She was the twin of a child who died early
and who never developed normally. Her mother said she seemed
smart enough in some ways; she had reached 7th grade before she
was 14, but even at that time she was a truant and would run off
to moving-picture shows at every opportunity. Her father was a
rascal and came of an immoral family. He had a criminal record,
and that was another reason why the mother felt this girl was
going to the bad. The mother herself was strong and healthy; she

Book of the day:
Facebook Google Reddit StumbleUpon Twitter Pinterest