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Pathology of Lying..

Pathology of Lying..

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Published by Suzan

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Published by: Suzan on Dec 02, 2008
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Summary: Girl of 18 made accusations to officials that a lawyer
for whom she worked had been immoral with her. About the same
time it was found that she herself had been stealing and lying
about other matters. Later, when there was reiteration of the
charges, a physician's examination showed that she had not been
immoral. Some months afterward she went to other officials and
insisted she ought to go to a reform school. A year still later
she did have sex experiences and contracted venereal disease.
Her succeeding record is totally different. For several years
now she has been a young woman of thoroughly good character.

In its progress, after extended exhibition of exceedingly erratic
conduct, to complete stability now long observed, this case is of
considerable interest. It was after some months of effort on the
case by experienced social workers that we were asked to study
this girl. We found no difficulty in rapidly becoming intimately
acquainted with her conditions and troubles.

Physically she was a normally developed young woman of distinctly
good strength, but slouchy attitude. In expression rather dull
and pleasant; laughs much in rather childish way for her age.
Weight, 110 lbs.; height, 5 ft. 2 1/2 in. No sensory defect.
Good color.

Mentally we gave her a wide variety of tests with the result, in
general, that she did well on them. She had left school at 14
years when in the 7th grade, but had not forgotten what she had
learned. Her arithmetic was done very well indeed and she wrote

a very good hand. The tests, which brought her abilities in many
directions into play, were done almost uniformly well. Her
memory processes were distinctly good and showed her capacity by
her remembering logical connections as well as details. Her
casuistic responses which were asked for in two moral situations,
verbally presented, Test XXI, were rather vacillating, but
evidently sound. It was easy for her to appreciate the intricacy
of the situation.

On the ``Aussage'' experiment, Test VI, out of 15 details given
as remembered from the picture just seen two were imaginary, and
of 9 more items given on cross-examination two were erroneous.
Her account as given was functional, not at all enumerative as in
the usual childish fashion. Out of 6 suggestions proffered she
accepted 4. This was a poor result for a person of her age. Her
range of information was normal. Her interests while at home had
been very simple; for instance, she had not been allowed to read
novels nor go to theatres. In all our work on tests and in our
several interviews with her we never discovered any signs of
aberrational tendencies. Her social conduct furnished the only
evidence of erraticism.

This young woman's mother, who is said to have been a normal
person, died a few months before we knew her daughter. She had
long been ill and consequently had had very imperfect control
over her daughter all through adolescence. The father had been
dead for several years previously; he was a storekeeper in a
small way, fairly educated and non-alcoholic. No other family
history of importance was ever forthcoming. There was only one
other child in the family, a younger brother, who was quite
normal. Outside of bronchitis during infancy it was said this
girl had never had any serious disease. In the last few months
there had been much complaint about suffering at the menstrual
period. Menstruation began at 13 years of age and was said to
have been regular until seven months or so prior to the time when
we first saw her. However, this latter statement was made by the
girl herself and at this stage her word was not particularly

When we began study of this case we were put in possession of the
following notes made by an unusually competent social worker,
extending over the previous nine months. Attention was first
drawn to her when she was living with someone who had offered to
give her a home while her mother was mortally ill in a hospital.
She then had clothing and trinkets the possession of which she
could not satisfactorily explain. It was discovered that she was
lying. It was about this time that the girl told her friends
that she had been immoral, and accused a man for whom she had
worked of being responsible for her downfall. She had also been
flirting with a married man who had been talking to her about
eloping with him. It was learned that she stayed all one night
at a downtown hotel, but probably alone. Further investigation
showed she had stolen a considerable sum of money from an
acquaintance and also a watch. Then a physical examination was
made and a certificate given that the girl had not been immoral.

Much trouble was taken about the case in the ensuing year, the
notes naively say, ``object being to see if the girl could not be

reclaimed.'' She was given an unusually good opportunity with a
sterling family. She made much trouble for them and others who
were interested in her. Her mother died early in the period. On
a number of occasions she left her place and stayed away all
night, sometimes walking the streets. On one occasion she is
reported to have gone to a certain agency, looking as if she had
been recently intoxicated, and appealed to be sent to a reform
school. She was taken in by the police on one occasion. We
first saw her after she had been living in this good home for
several months.

At the same time we studied her physical and mental conditions we
attempted to make some analysis of her self-orientation. She
maintained then that her main trouble was because she had got
mixed up with this married man. She declared he threatened her.
(This was very likely from what was discovered about his
character.) She had very good words for the officials who had
helped her so much. She told us how she had stolen a matter of
$100 or so. When we questioned her about her early accusations
she said that she did tell a lot of lies when her case first was
looked into. ``I thought they were too inquisitive. I thought
if I told them a few lies they would leave me alone. Everybody
has to know everything. I forget half of what I'm to say. I
don't know why I stole that watch. I would have brought it back
home if he had not taken it on me. I never told anybody that I
wanted to go to the reform school. I was afraid to go home
because I was afraid I would get a good scolding. I think I have
told all the truth to the officers since the first. I was
ashamed to tell it, that's the whole truth. That's the truth,
there was no one with me this other night. I did not meet a soul
I knew. I went out to the South Park. I had never been there
before. Where I have been living they would not let me go out
anywhere. I had to stay there Sundays and all the time. When I
got out I was worse than a wild calf. Maybe if I went out
oftener I would not be so bad. I am here now because I went to
the police station and told them I would not go home. It was
late and I was afraid to go home. I had stayed out on the street
all night. One night I went home and it was all dark and I was
afraid to ring and I stayed on the street all night. I was on
the street all the next day too. I went to the cemetery. Late
that afternoon I met a young man and stayed talking to him and a
detective came along and told us we shouldn't stand there. I
never did anything bad with any man. I never said so. A
visiting nurse told me the dangers of life. My mother told me I
should be careful. Oh, I worked for that lawyer before my mother
died. I worked for him about two weeks and he did not pay me
what he owed me. No, he never did me any harm. A man came along
with a lady from that office and he asked me some questions and I
was so scared because I thought they were going to lock me up. I
guess that was the question maybe and I said, yes, but I did not
know just what it was.''

It was after this that the girl gave much trouble because of
queer little trickery concerning some insurance papers, and about
losing some money. Her friends wasted much time in the endeavor
to get these matters adjusted. The family she was with thought
she was very childish for her age.

Our opinion as dictated at this time was that the girl was
physically and mentally all right, but that she showed a
decidedly childish reaction towards the world and was very
suggestible and unreliable. We knew many more facts about her
which proved these points. Our judgment set down was that she
was an unstable adolescent with possibility of showing very
different characteristics inside of a year or two. We noted she
had a weak type of face.

She was seen four months later, after a period of having run away
twice for several days at a time. On inquiry she maintains she
was impelled to do it by her own feelings of restlessness and
general dissatisfaction. She thought the people with whom she
lived were very nice and only strict as they should be. There
was some question raised about this time about the periodicity of
her impulsions, but except for her own statement that it was just
before her menstrual time, nothing definite was proved. On the
last occasion she did pick up with a young man and was immoral
with him. She stayed out in a hallway all night. A venereal
disease was then acquired. This was speedily treated in a
hospital and the girl was found another place. Three years have
elapsed, and during the time this girl has continued under the
observation of one of her old friends. She has remained steady
and trustworthy, and shows no tendency whatever towards
untruthfulness or evasiveness. She has lived in one good home
for two years and the people are deeply attached to her.

Adolescent impulses: Lack of self-control. Case 19.
Sex temptations. resisted. Girl, age 18.
Lack of parental care.
Deficient interests: Both mental and
Delinquencies: Mentality:
False accusations. Good ability.
General lying.
Staying away from home.

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