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Lies we Live by: The Art of Self-Deception

BMJ 2001; 322 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.322.7300.1495 (Published 16 June 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;322:1495
  1. Sean A Spence, senior clinical lecturer in psychiatry
  1. University of Sheffield

    Eduardo Giannetti (translated by John Gledson)

    Bloomsbury, £7.99, pp 320 ISBN 0 7475 5294 0


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    When people tell lies we think we understand what they are doing. They know the truth themselves but instead of telling “the truth” to their victim they intend to create a false belief in that person's mind. Alternatively, deceivers might choose not actively to tell a lie but instead to dissimulate: in this scenario they withhold vital information. In the way of politicians, they are being “economical with the truth.”

    But what of self deception? Do we understand what is happening here? Certainly we use and hear the term commonly enough and there are philosophical tomes devoted to it. But can it …

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