Thursday, May 15, 2014

Secrets, Lies and Deceit

Secrets are what every story is about, they are the heart of every drama and romance.

I've been listening to the audio book 'The Truth about Lies', a book that delves in what lies actually are, and how people use them. It is totally fascinating, and has enlightened me to come concepts I'd never really considered.

I was brought up in a household in which lying was frowned upon, as I imagine it is in most households. Yet in reading this book about lies, it has become apparent that lies aren't just untruths that people say to make someone feel better (a white lie), or to cover up ones own mistake or crime (an ordinary lie). Lies can also be the things that aren't said. They can be the facts you omit to say, for the sake of someone's feelings or to better your own welfare. This is called lying by omission.

17199617Its these kinds of omissions and secrets that form the basis to many a novel. Think back on the last book you read, was the conflict primarily caused by some kind of lie or secret? It probably was. It may not be a lie or secret by the hero or heroine, but perhaps its the villain or a secondary character that's created a secret and the conflict grows from it.

The Truth about Lies, also delves into the body language of lying - and this is particularly fascinating. We've all be told that the avoidance of eye contact can mean some one is lying, but did you know that a person who has a kinesthetic way of viewing the world may avoid eye contact in a conversation simply because they're listening so hard to what you say that eye contact is irrelevant to them?

Research has shown that even if an individual is a trained and accomplished liar, their body may still give them away. Lying creates stress and fear, which increases pulse rates, causes faces to pale, causes shallower breathing, perspiration and several other unconscious physiological reactions. These are what 'lie detector' / polygraph machines test for. They don't detect lies, they simply detect changes in the person's physiological responses, which may detect the stress of a lie.

  What about the body language of a liar? Well, most accomplished liars manage to a    large extent to disguise the external gestures that may suggest a lie, but here are the most common gestures associated with lying that a reader and general observer of people might find interesting.

- Touching the nose. When people lie, there is often the urge to rub or touch the nose. This is because the stress of lying can cause a persons face to pale. After the lie is spoken, the blood returns to the extremity and can cause the nose to itch. I read somewhere that during ex-President Bill Clinton's denial of his affair with Ms Lewinsky - he touched his nose no less than 25 times.

- Squirming. A person telling a lie generally will lean backwards, or move in their seat in a subconscious effort to get away.

- Rigid neck. A person lying may angle their head away, and hold their head stiffly, without much  natural movement. This may be because they are trying to convince you, and flighty quick movements detract from what is being said.

- Lack of facial expression. A liar's face may become as stiff as their neck, with little expression. This is possibly where the term 'a bald faced lie' comes from.

- Staring eyes or excessive blinking -  staring eyes can indicate guilty discomfort - it is the person trying to look honest, and frankly failing. The excessive blinking may be expressing a desire to get-the-hell-out-of-here, due to the nervousness over lying.

-Covering of the mouth. This is obviously an attempt to mask the lie. It is particularly prevalent in children.

- Shoulder shrug. The individual's shoulders hunch and flex - indicating a sense of helplessness or perhaps an an apology for the lie.

-Foot tapping and twitching.  A reflection of how uncomfortable they are.

- Perspiriation and tugging at clothes. Lying makes people hot, and so often they'll tug at their clothes - or perhaps try and distract themselves or their listener by picking at their clothes.

So there you have a brief study on secrets, lies and deceit, the cornerstone of many good dramas!

Have a great weekend.

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