The Anatomy of a Lie

I rarely lie. I wish I could say I don’t. But societal norms and the value of tact mean that sometimes I feel compelled to water down the truth or deliver a fallacious statement in the preservation of decency and sometimes polite acquaintance. But my family and my friends and my partner know that I do not lie to them – much to their consternation at times. I don’t see the purpose of lying. I prefer to face the immediate consequences of honesty rather than the long term mental, emotional, and spiritual degeneration that comes from lying. I have no fear of conflict. The truth, no matter how harsh or inconvenient, can be delivered with kindness and love. When I’m presented with a situation where I know I can be dishonest or disingenuous and maybe even get away with it, I can hear my Mother’s voice in my head reciting ‘Speak the truth and speak it ever, cost it what it will. He who hides the wrong he does, does the wrong thing still’.

I don’t hate much. I’m good-natured. I’m kind. I’m even reasonably even-tempered. But I hate liars. Not someone who tells a lie, a little white lie every so often to maintain the illusion of polite society. No. Habitual liars irritate the very core of my being and bring out the absolute worst in me. People who lie for expedience, for comfort, for convenience, for entertainment, those people will see the dark side of me very quickly. Having encountered a few such people in my life, I’ve wondered at the make up of it. I’ve had to examine a lie from the ground up more than once in an attempt to understand how it came to be in the first place. This is what I’ve deduced. A lie has three distinct parts which I’ve examined in the context of the human form itself – the head, the body and the feet.

The Head

In the head of the lie resides the rationalization for it. The liar is presented with a situation in which the truth can be told or a lie can be fabricated. The choice is made to lie. I’ve found that it is always a choice. We can argue the difference between pathological and casual liars, but at some point both these states converge on a decision to keep going. The justification is as unique as the creator. There are some who will convince themselves that they are doing it for the good of the person being lied to, sparing their feelings, protecting them from a hurtful reality. Some may convince themselves that the recipient will not handle the truth well and so they’re avoiding conflict, diffusing a situation, maintaining peace.

The Body

The body of the lie contains the heart and all the other appendages that make up the untruth. Here, you will find the true intention of the lie and all the other lies that become necessary to maintain the structure of the original falsehood.

The true intent of the lie, whether it be to misinform, misdirect or manipulate is where the nature of the liar is revealed. The true intent of a lie is always to the benefit of the liar. No matter the justification, the lie contributes only to the liar’s comfort, contentment, entertainment or self-preservation. The heart of the deception is what keeps it alive. From it pumps the purpose that spawns the other lies that serve to polish the façade, or in some cases, chip away at it. As the fallacy takes shape, the many little lies that are told as the fabricator attempts to weave the tale they want believed form the appendages. The indignation – ‘I am not a liar. How dare you suggest that’. The hurt – ‘You don’t trust me *sniff sniff*’. The defense – ‘What reason would I possibly have to lie?’. The disbelief – ‘I can’t believe you think I would lie to you’. The body of the lie can be a beautiful thing, well formed by a skillful and accomplished and pathological liar. The lie can be pleasing and comforting as long as you don’t know that’s what it is… It can also be hideous. Riddled with apertures left behind by carelessly thought out untruths. Through these cracks, you can see the truth trying to push its way out, rendering the entire story an ugly mess, falling apart from every seam.

The Feet

The feet of a lie, the foundation of it, are always made of clay. With the right amount of pressure, the deception crumbles. The entire structure collapses. The person on the receiving end need only examine the foundation closely to reveal the weakness. The foundation for the lie is invariably selfish. The liar alone stands to benefit. I’ve learned to be suspicious of persons who do not provide straightforward answers to direct questions. A person who immediately seeks to deflect or suspects an ulterior motive to your question is as likely to lie as they are to breathe. There is a big difference between privacy and secrecy and a person who hides their true self, even from those to whom they are close should not be trusted blindly.

There do however, seem to be some people who like being lied to; recent circumstances appear to prove that out. And I’m reminded of a quote by Katherine Dunn, “The truth is always an insult or a joke, lies are generally tastier. We love them. The nature of lies is to please. Truth has no concern for anyone’s comfort”. We really like to be comfortable and the truth can irritate, or hurt, or anger. What we fail to realize though, is that discomfort stimulates change and change facilitates growth. If the truth makes you uncomfortable, whether as the teller, or the recipient, that’s probably a sign that you need to adjust your reality. My choice will be to do the right thing, to tell the truth. As Bob Marley said, “The truth is an offence, but never a sin”…



7 thoughts on “The Anatomy of a Lie

      1. A part of the reason NCB got so stressful for me is because it was expected that the customer care reps would lie, constantly and consistently, for the bank. I got marked down on my calls all the time for telling customers the truth. Didn’t care


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