The Mythomanias: The Nature of Deception and Self-Deception

The Mythomanias: The Nature of Deception and Self-Deception

The Mythomanias: The Nature of Deception and Self-Deception

The Mythomanias: The Nature of Deception and Self-Deception

Synopsis

Recently, there has been a renewal of interest in the broad and loosely bounded range of phenomena called deception and self-deception. This volume addresses this interest shared by philosophers, social and clinical psychologists, and more recently, neuroscientists and cognitive scientists. Expert contributors provide timely, reliable, and insightful coverage of the normal range of errors in perception, memory, and behavior. They place these phenomena on a continuum with various syndromes and neuropsychiatric diseases where falsehood in perception, self-perception, cognition, and behaviors are a peculiar sign. Leading authorities examine the various forms of "mythomania," deception, and self-deception ranging from the mundane to the bizarre such as imposture, confabulations, minimization of symptomatology, denial, and anosognosia. Although the many diverse phenomena discussed here share a family resemblance, they are unlikely to have a common neurological machinery. In order to reach an explanation for these phenomena, a reliable pattern of lawful behavior must be delineated. It would then be possible to develop reasonable explanations based upon the underlying neurobiological processes that give rise to deficiencies designated as the mythomanias. The chapters herein begin to provide an outline of such a development. Taken as a whole, the collection is consistent with the emerging gospel indicating that neither the machinery of "nature" nor the forces of "nurture" taken alone are capable of explaining what makes cognition and behaviors aberrant.

Excerpt

Philosophers, social and clinical psychologists and psychiatrists, and, recently, neuroscientists, neurologists, and cognitive scientists have reflected on the broad and loosely bounded range of phenomena called deception and self-deception. Unexpectedly, I am immersed in the mood of the theme by virtue of civic duty and the human interactions it yields as I am sitting in a long L-shaped corridor in the courthouse of Culver City, California, the municipality where I live. I have been chosen at random from among the more than 14 million residents of Los Angeles County for jury duty, which must be completed within 1 month, 10 days in court, or service on a jury that reaches a verdict, whichever comes first. Three of the allotted weeks have passed, and I have been in the courthouse 6 different days.

The judge and deputy district attorney, as well as the public defender, repeatedly caution the panel to avoid biases toward or against police because of personal experiences and media events, toward or against members of minorities because the defendant is a member of such a subgroup, and so on. They are admonishing us to avoid self-deception, and ask us if we can do this. Everyone on the panel agrees that they can avoid bias. The deputy district attorney also points out that we have to use common sense and avoid being misled by possibly deceptive testimony from arresting officers or witnesses, or by possibly deceptive testimony of the defendant if he wishes to testify. Instructions are directed toward avoiding deception as well as self-deception. Is the defendant who says he did not commit the crime, where evidence seems to show that he did, lying, intentionally deceptive, or engaging in self-deception? Is it possible to deceive oneself, or is there always a glimmer of truth that is avoided? Must one have an intention to deceive oneself, and therefore know the truth? How else can it be avoided? Contemplate our minds. Do these questions not raise an old paradox? How can I consider self-deception and deception of others unless my own perceptions are subject to deception?

The problem of self-deception is nearby on any turn of the history of the human spirit. Its various aspects have been studied from the beginning of the experimental psychology of thinking: Einstellung, mental set, Aufgabe, determining tendency, attitude -- an entire armamentarium of terms referring to a highly robust phenomenon is still with us. Among them are the . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.