Trump: our snake charmer

. . . he is pathological and has succumbed to the hate and rage born from his sense of inferiority and his deepest knowledge that he is a fraud and cheat. I believe his dark side is in control. He would be the last to know.

I have not written a blog in some time because I am focused, as a woman of a certain age, on writing a memoir. It takes up almost all of the space in the Puzzling Things Out part of my mind. Yet life continues around me, annoyingly so, and it has been disturbing.

None of us can pretend when we see evil and ignorance gathering that it doesn’t affect us, cause us to fear, to be amazed such things are happening. How many people are saying, “I never expected this in my lifetime”?

Pundits are having their say, and in the process reveal their wisdom or their calculations on how to be provocative and increase their media face time and their audiences. Some of these pundits, and many of my friends on Facebook, are far better writers than I am. Perhaps not in depth, but in words and information. It is intimidating.

Yet, my forte is how things work inside of humans on the personal level, so I venture out because it is time. My audience is small, and mostly liberal, and mostly with advanced degrees. If you are not in these categories, I welcome you and ask you to stay with me.

Let’s get to it. We are watching an uber-narcissistic con-man call up the snakes inside people. He sings them songs that mesmerize them, that tell them it is okay—natural, brave, and right—to hate and it is good to be violent against those you hate. He has vast circles of adoration that increase daily and allow him to feel he is a demi-god, answerable to no one and not to truth. He has his followers and that is enough truth for him.

I do not believe he is a carnival barker who takes cynical pleasure in toying with naïve people or scaring them with horror houses. I believe he is pathological and has succumbed to the hate and rage born from his sense of inferiority and his deepest knowledge that he is a fraud and cheat. I believe his dark side is in control. He would be the last to know.

Think about it. This is a man with the goofiest hair in the world and he doesn’t seem to realize it. This is delusion.

I’m not yet comparing him to Hitler, but I can’t help but think of that mustache that stayed on throughout the Holocaust.

Of course, the real issue is not a singular madman, but that he has watered and fed the possibilities in humankind to rise and hate en masse. How did so many of us as a people become susceptible to a snake charmer?

The mixed blessing of democracy is that it allows the worst to come out in people as well as the best. Pandering to fear-filled conservatives, Bible-belt prejudices, censoring of scientific truth, gun-toting urban cowboys and cowgirls, and xenophobia in order to get votes has come home to roost.

We have a large portion of the population who are educated by television reality shows and violence and Fox news.

We have a large portion of the population who gain their sense of power by open carry.

We have a large portion of the population who do not travel, learn other languages, study other religions, or read books.

We have a large portion of the population who are under-employed or trying to survive on a shameful minimum wage.

We have a large portion of the population who feel humiliated, correctly or incorrectly, by most of you who will read this.

We have a large portion of the population who are ready to believe someone selling them snake oil, someone even paying enough attention to them to sell them snake oil.

Is it too late to change this? Of course not, because it cannot be. Those of us with more influence need to spend more time caring and acting for mutual good and less time lamenting and accusing others of not being so brilliant as we are, tra la.

This is the time to acknowledge these people, to look into root causes, to expose Donald Trump for the malicious opportunist he is. This is the time to reach across our neighborhoods and our country, to invest dramatically in education and truth in media, to bring everyone into a democracy that is fair and equal, and to broaden lives and opportunities.

It is not only the right thing to do but we need to immune our democracy not only against people like Donald Trump but against people like Ted Cruz. He is even more scary because evil has solidified inside him. In Trump it still whirls like nauseous gases.

These people drink their own Kool-Aid. It is a concoction that makes them pompous, manipulative, power hungry, delusional, and dangerous, especially to those so looking for someone to help them that they cannot discern when they are being duped, when they are considered only to be a power base for personal power.

If we as a democratic people do not support and provide comprehensive education, financial opportunities, truth and depth in media, and exposure to other cultures, those of us who receive the least will continue to be susceptible to the people who would harm them the most.

Is it not a prerequisite of democracy that we care for all of our citizens out of common decency and mutual respect? Democracy is a responsibility. If we privileged do not come out of our comfort zone to help those with few comforts, we will have reneged on that responsibility.


A GUIDE TO LIARS: living well is the best . . .

This is the final post of the series. Part 1 focused on that you are surrounded by liars and they are well-disguised. Part 2 examined the mental-emotional processes of deceivers, scammers, and narcissists and how their minds work differently than ours. It looked at delusion, empathy, guilt, entitlement, and conflicting impulses of superiority and inferiority. It touched on how liars project their qualities onto you, allowing them to blame you and fight dirty.

This post focuses on you and how to recover from injuries by deceivers. While it is not necessary to read Parts 1 and 2 to appreciate this post, you are encouraged to read the entire series – and file it nearby, just in case.

Part 3 of A Guide to Liars

Reality #9: your right to joy is inviolable

You have a right to joy. No one has a right to take that away from you, and you should not let them. I am not talking about fighting for goods or reputation. I am talking about your happiness.

Your first duty is to yourself as a miraculous creature on this earth. This is different than an aggrandized sense of your importance compared to other people’s importance. Your joy is intricately tied in with the joy and care of those around you. They are inseparable.

Your job is to sort out how best to care for yourself in relationship with others. That includes sorting out who supports you and your happiness and who doesn’t, and if any one person’s support matters or doesn’t, and, consequently, who should then be in your life and who shouldn’t.

Your job also includes protecting yourself in ways that will not set up or continue cycles of damage, i.e. the boomerang hit me in the head again effect. Winning battles with liars is seldom a productive goal, or realistic. Winning the battle to return to joy is both productive and reclaims – or perhaps claims for the first time – the golden chalice. It is realistic, and it can expand you into new levels of compassion, greater understandings, and more nuanced relationships. It also gives you the muscle, experience, and desire to help others.

Besides, you’re too good to keep down.

Reality #10: betrayal demands grieving

Betrayal is a kind of death, whether of your plans for your future or as the end of a relationship. Especially painful is to be betrayed by someone you loved and were, or are, committed to, someone you identified, or identify, your being with.

Betrayal by your mate can be as painful as a physical death. I have had recent widows say to me, “This I can survive, it is easier than betrayal would have been.”

Your trusted mate slipped away, abandoning you to face a stranger who is willing to harm you a lot and who, unfortunately, looks exactly like your missing mate – has the same gestures, same mannerism, same hands. Love does not turn around quickly. You stand, grieving the loss of your dearest friend as you have to become a warrior against a sudden enemy. It is immensely confusing.

And it will have the same grieving cycle as for a physical death even though you try to fast forward it because of the circumstances, even though people may not understand why you don’t instantly hate your betrayer. One day, months or years later, the grieving will be over. There is a release. It may be quiet, but you know when it happens.

I’m just acknowledging that for those of you to whom it has happened or are in this process; and I am telling those of you it hasn’t to remember that when this happens to a friend, male or female, that love isn’t turned off by fraud or savagery by their mate. It takes time and the grieving process is mucked up.

We have to learn to save ourselves with as much elegance as we can muster.

Reality #11: even stunned, you need to do some things immediately 

So, you’re reeling, your world has been turned upside-down, your money was scammed, your spouse blind-sided you, the child isn’t yours, the list goes on.

Gather your team immediately. Contact your friends and ask for support, secure your funds, get therapeutic help if you need it, find a great lawyer, make a budget, change your will and estate planning if pertinent – and start preparing yourself to walk away if it comes to that.

My double-life husband who never expected me to leave nonetheless had a lawyer by the next morning. A really nasty lawyer. It foretold what was to come. Do NOT expect deceivers, once exposed, to play nice. They might, I’ve heard some do, but for most you have become an obstacle to what they want now.

That said, do not engage in tit for tat. It is bruising and he or she is the pro, not you. I once watched a self-made Park Avenue lawyer swear under oath the truth of a story he totally fabricated, complete with detailed conversations, time and place. Now, he was a pro. You, however, whether in court or other conversations, need to rely on truth. It has to do with your relationship to yourself. It has to do with honoring your future.

Regarding your lawyer (if that’s where you are): check and re-check that they are doing what they agreed to do when they said they would do it, change them if necessary, see them only with a note-taking friend if you get confused, micro-examine and negotiate their charges, and strategize with them when to be tough and when to be yielding because most lawyers are stuck in either being “tough” or “compromising,” which can be another word for “giving in,” sometimes too soon.

Your lawyer is not in love with you, and he or she has other cases. You know better than they what might be best in dealing with your “adversary.” Trust, with scathing self-examination, your intuition. You get to mix it up, gentle one day, unyielding the next.

With your “adversary” – mate, business partner, other – save records of all communications, past and on-going. I advise witnesses. Taping conversations is allowed, just not as evidence in court if you didn’t tell the person you were taping that you are taping them. Reasons to tape? Liars change their stories, deny or forget what they said, renege on promises, and set you up.

I personally have never taped anyone without their knowledge, but I have refused to have conversations unless they were taped. It brings some element of carefulness and rationality to a conversation.

While it may feel weird, even alien, to strategize against someone you may have loved and/or trusted and/or worked with, get it though your head that he or she is strategizing against you. Get clear that someone who deceived you does not have your interest at heart and does not have a viable concept of justice. Instead of seeing their culpability, most liars blame you (specifically or as a representative of humanity) and they want revenge. You’ve messed with their projected happiness, you caused their troubles. She or he will not wake up tomorrow and stop lying because it seems like a nice thing to do.

Other concerns: eat well, dress beautifully, exercise, dance, change your hair, take a shower or bath very single day at least once, cry often, hug, don’t drink too much, never ever listen to sad music, and watch only happy movies – or movies where good conquers evil. I watched the entire seven year series of “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” in two months. My daughter brought the set over as immediate first aid. It was a brilliant move. Little girl kicks the crap out of evil non-dead people. (I love Angel, but ultimately preferred Sting.)

Reality #12: revenge is a two-way sword

There is fighting to reclaim – material goods, reputation, and other losses – that might have been taken away from you or at least to get some recompense. Then there’s “getting even,” which is about your anger and hate. “Getting even,” as usually used, means deliberately injuring the other person, business, corporation, or organization for personal vengeance, as a vendetta.

I believe that people are accountable for deception and calculated harm – rape, scamming, fraud, all of it. I also believe in going public, which you may have noticed. That is, I am not willing to cover up for liars, deceivers, bad actors. The shame is not in being deceived, it is in being a deliberate deceiver. I believe in holding up mirrors because I believe people should act decently towards others. If public knowledge, transparency, helps stop that, then good. Note: people who deceive, like other abusers, usually continue unless revealed.

That said, I’m not an expert on hate or anger. Fewer women than men are. It is men I hear say “I’m going to get that s.o.b.” and “(S)He’s gonna wish (s)he never messed with me.” Problem is, you can’t cut others without inflicting self damage. Hate corrodes. Revenge gives away your moral core.

I’m not saying women are nicer than men. Maybe we are, maybe we aren’t. What is sure is that we have learned that the court system is weighed against us, we are physically weaker than men, and society is quicker to condemn our bad  behavior, i.e. we have training in anger management and creative solutions in order to survive.

But let’s say you, male or female, are in a rage and feeling hate. (Hate is the hard top coat over the “softer” and more “vulnerable” emotions of grief, fear, and humiliation.) Therapists, friends, time, exercise, and art are aids to get past that, but first you must be willing to get past it.

Important: to get past rage and hate, to reclaim your right to joy, you must recognize that actions by you with the goal of doing harm, even in exchange for harm done to you, makes you (also) an aggressor. They change you in negative ways, and will cling to you through your life. Anyone can do harm. It takes more courage to find and walk the path where you receive justice as best possible without perpetrating gratuitous cycles of damage.

What you want is an end to it, what you want is to live well again, which is, after all, the best revenge. But you want to live well on your own, reclaiming your joy without constantly looking over your shoulder to make sure your injurer knows you are living well. Move on.

Now, this does not mean you can’t have some fun in the “make it public” area. A woman I knew in Brazil took out a huge billboard on the busiest street of Rio near her husband’s office that showed a photograph of his fancy sports car with its license plate. It said the person driving that car was having an affair. It was the first he knew she knew.

A woman I don’t know did something similar with a huge photo and announcement at Times Square in NYC. There are ways to vent and regain a sense of personal power that expose but are essentially fair. As one of my husbands said, you shouldn’t do anything you don’t want on the front page of The New York Times.

Reality #13: trusting again is a choice. Choose it.

Trusting again is a decision. You can, if you wish, stay outside of humanity and intimate relationships and never invest again, financially or emotionally. But do you want to live fully or not? Do you want to be creative or not? Do you want to be juicy or not? Do you want to dance or not? Do you want to expand your life and work and contributions or not? Do you have the courage to trust yourself to trust?

Will you answer to your fears or to your right to joy?

Now you’re older, wiser, have more compassion, and have learned what matters most to you, what is to be cherished and celebrated for its rarity and beauty. Cherishing and celebrating require sharing yourself and that requires trust.

Trust and gullibility are not the same thing. Enlightened trust is not gullible, it is grounded and watchful and does due diligence. It looks carefully, and checks for discrepancies. Not everything, every proposal, every person is to be trusted. Now you know. You know to look for the gems, usually people, and savor them more than you did before.

And now, when you do trust, you understand in advance that there may be a gap between what you prefer to happen and what may actually happen. But understanding that the gap may occur, you are prepared to leap over it or go another direction. Your trust can be both adventurous and flexible.

Without trust you cannot experience the warmth of people who want to be with you, who want to be nearby, who want to know about your life and be, in one way or another, loved by you and to love you.

Reality #14: you can forgive if you want to

Yes, I know forgiveness is essential to happiness and good health. I also know that so long as you don’t forgive, whoever abused you by any kind of deception has a hook in you. They may or may not care, but you sure feel it.

I’m not airy-fairy about forgiveness. For me it is somehow irrelevant. I just don’t want bad behavior to continue, and I think people should be accountable, but I’m used to that many liars appear to get away with deception, and I’ve made my peace with that. I don’t find these people very interesting. I find people of truth and courage to be interesting.

I also probably don’t like the exchange of deceivers owing me an implied apology. It leaves a kind of connection while I prefer neutralization.

If, for you, neutralization includes an internal act of forgiveness, then do it the quicker the better and again and again if you need to. Work it out. Come to it. Bring your full self back to joy. Don’t leave part of yourself behind, snarling in the dark.

Reality #15:  . . .  just to know, deceivers don’t get away with it

Even when liars appear to have gotten what they wanted, they are, unavoidably, alone. Surrounded, they are still alone. It’s unavoidable because they are not really there. There’s only a stand in, a fake, a deceiver, a pretender. People lose their own good company when they deny their authenticity. They sacrifice their right to joy, which always comes from inside, from the honest place, the hard working place, the place of love with others and recognition of kinship, the place of “two or more gathered . . .”

Reality #16: honesty

No one hasn’t been hurt. No one hasn’t lied. Most of these hurts and lies have been, or could be, laid to rest. They don’t need resurrection. They are compost.

Having free will, we make choices. Honesty works best over time because it keeps our own good company and, by processes I could not possibly explain, celebrates our right to joy.


A GUIDE TO LIARS: how a liar’s mind works

Part 1 (previously posted): you’re surrounded
Part 2 (below): how a liar’s mind works
Part 3 (coming soon): living well is the best . . .

Part 2 of “A Guide to Liars” 

The mind of a pathological liar has a sub-terrain with shifting plates of distorted perceptions and assumed privilege that split the worlds of the rest of us, our sense of what is real and what is the order of things. Their fault lines turn our lives upside-down. Whether that is through a Ponzi scheme, infidelity, false claims of expertise, embezzlement, or other frauds the patterns are the same, both of us and for them. In part 2 of this guide, we will look at them.

Reality #3: liars lie because they want to

In most societies we no longer need to lie to save our lives or remain healthy. Chronic liars choose to lie because they feel it serves them better and faster than honesty.

Yes, there may be differences in the brain structure of some pathological liars from that of the rest of us, specifically a lack of development in the area that differentiates truth from fiction that usually matures around age six; and pathological liars have been shown to have more white “wiring” matter and less grey matter in the prefrontal cortex of their brain than other people.

Nonetheless, the primary differences between chronic deceivers and the rest of us  is not our ability to tell reality from fiction but between our levels of greed, capacity for empathy, sense of privilege, and concern for “right” and “wrong.”

The interior fault lines of frauds have them experiencing inferiority and superiority at the same time. Their sense of superiority tells them they are above the normal rules while their sense of inferiority urges them to disguise their inferiority by acting above the rules.

Reality #4: liars and narcissists experience themselves as the center of the world

A subset of the colluding delusions of superiority and inferiority is “power corrupts,” where wealthy or other powerful people feel exempt from the rules (honesty, fidelity, paying taxes, for example) and they feel that what they want should be theirs because they are a “cut above.” Ethics and morals are revised to support an isolated life of privilege. Erasing the poor and deprived from your mind and actions is, by the way, moral deception.

Wealth is a test of character. I’ve lived around rich people. Most are deeply caring, welcoming, and generous. But I’ve heard others actually say they deserve whatever they want because they’ve worked so hard. Never heard a single mom working two jobs say that.

But not all frauds are wealthy and not all work hard. Most want fast and easy rewards and deception is the tool of choice – identity thief, scamming the elderly, faking resumes, embezzling, having affairs.

It’s easiest to do this when you experience yourself as the center of your world so completely that you feel yourself to be the center of THE world. Self-delusion, deception of others, and narcissism are the holy trinity of liars.

Narcissists have diminished empathy. They do not have a mature compassionate interior self. They lack the “ping” of relationship. They do not viscerally feel others as completely real. This makes deception of others easy.

As a character disorder, narcissism is notoriously difficult to treat because 1) narcissistic liars are not motivated by caring overly much about anyone else, 2) they get their way often enough that they have little incentive to change, 3) they are not troubled by their consciences as much as the rest of us, and 4) they feel superior to therapists. One study I read boiled down to “If you’re involved with a narcissist, turn around and run. Now.”

Reality #5: liars have skewed guilt meters

Most liar’s ability to cipher out what they should or should not feel guilty about is non-functional and nonsensical. One can have sympathy when this condition came from horrendous early experiences, but be careful. That was then, this is now.

Liars may or may not express remorse, some even beg forgiveness, some make promises, but there is an agenda behind it that is not about taking care of you or changing. (Did I mention the other ex-husband, the one who was physically violent? That’s how I learned that begging for forgiveness, even on your knees, and making promises can also be calculated lying.)

Reality #6: some liars lie as a way of life, or just to do harm

While most liars want to gain something – status, money, sex, admiration – others lie out of habit and/or the desire simply to harm others. One woman in the San Francisco Bay area is infamous as a broadband liar with a specialty in gratuitous character assassination. She convinced many of us that one ex-husband was so crazy and violent that for years I and others assumed he was in and out of institutions. In fact, he is a mild-mannered expert in the Far East, retired professor, world traveler, and author of many successful books.

She tried to destroy another man’s reputation by starting rumors he was a pedophile, and fabricated a case against another ex-husband as a compulsive spender buying wine at $1000 a bottle and suits at tens of thousands. Swearing to this under oath, in order to get special financial consideration in their divorce, didn’t faze her.

Often people who lie specifically to do harm also use “suck up” techniques on people they perceive as powerful or “above them.” It is two sides of the same coin used to climb an imagined ladder. Bring some people down, get other people to lift you up.

Reality #7: liars are usually very angry and almost always fight dirty

When most of us “try on” the feeling of lying – whether overt, covert, or by omission – we become uncomfortable because to deceive others is to alienate ourselves from our integrity. It separates us from our core being. We betray ourselves the instant we betray someone else. We lose our mooring when we lose our morals.

That is, bastardizing your integrity to deceive or do harm exacts a heavy price. When you are not honest with yourself, self-delusion, dissonance, and confusion move in. Your internal mirror is broken, so instead of seeing your shadow side, you project it onto others. What you unconsciously or only semi-consciously don’t like inside yourself you see as the qualities of other people, i.e. Pogo: we have met the enemy and he is us.

This projection makes deceivers formidable enemies because in their minds it gives them license to fight dirty. They see you as trying to cheat them, feeling entitled, and not giving a f**k about them. Their projection is seamless and may feel like the most real thing in their world. They can smolder in righteous indignation and rage to take you down. (Did I tell you about the former employee who cyber-stalked me and whenever someone wrote an article about me, she contacted them to tell them the “truth”? She had fabricated vital points of her resume, read and sometimes kept my private mail, and . . . so it goes.)

As projectionists, liars blame. As narcissists, they do not make mistakes. Failures in business, life, marriage, and family are caused by someone else, by the people who were supposed to do their work for them.

Mix together projected demons and narcissistic privilege. Stir in that even honest people who substitute short-term rewards for long-terms gains are usually disappointed.

And that is how chronic liars become so nasty.  I hope you never need to review this material.

Reality #8: liars’ abilities to perceive and grow are compromised

The dynamic is: once you’ve compromised your integrity, your capacity for self-examination is compromised. Your interior mirror is foggy if not outright splintered. You have no true way of seeing yourself, even the good parts, which everyone has somewhere.

In any case, most deceivers are so heavily invested in fooling themselves there’s no incentive to look deeply. The mirror, splintered or not, is not looked into or missed.

Now, everyone wants a sense of self. This desire is so strong that in order to grow – that is, to change ourselves – we feel we must have something to hold onto during the transition. For most of us that “something” is a baseline belief that we can trust our integrity. We feel our core essence will stay true even as we change. We believe we will find our way to larger truths and nuances and complexities and relationships, even if a tad wobbly. This allows us to mature and develop, have sophisticated beliefs, and nurture multi-level evolving relationships.

Liars, not sure their centers will hold through uncertainty, tend to freeze in place, clutching the same perspectives, worldviews, sense of privilege, and belief, usually that they are more clever than the next guy.

IMPORTANT: I can think of few things more courageous than a chronic betrayer or deceiver owning up to himself or herself to do the work to rebuild authenticity, to peal back the layers, to distrust his or her personal story. It would take such courage of self-examination, deconstruction, and reconstruction! The initial work is so important that the secondary work of personality reconstruction and of any recompense or apology to others is … well, secondary. Necessary, but secondary.

Part 3: living well is the best . . . will be posted soon. Learn the principles of recovery and why honesty is the best policy.


A GUIDE TO LIARS: you’re surrounded

 Part 1 (below): you’re surrounded                                                                                    Part 2 (tomorrow’s post): how a liar’s mind works                                                             Part 3 (following soon): living well is the best everything

Liars lie, some of them big time, some with the intent to damage others, others to aggrandize themselves, and others to gain perceived or real leverage in life situations. This “Guide” is not to take revenge on liars. I leave them to their own devices.

Rather, it is for those of you, the majority of us, who don’t lie big time and who chafe at deceiving others. It is intended for those of you who are unprepared and ill equipped for scammers and liars who have you in their sights or, if you have already been victimized, to help you understand what hit you. I recommend filing it under “emergency help.”

Why me?

Those of us whose spouses led double lives should have bumper stickers – I Climbed Betrayer’s Mountain or Honk If He Cheated. We are a large special interest group without social status or recovery programs. If your partner is alcoholic or a drug or sex addict, you have a 12-step program. Why not one for those of us were lied to, scammed, diced, and sliced?

As it was, I relied on my daughter and friends – and three medications and two therapists. Or the other way around, I’m not sure. I have only chards of memory like flashes of lightning against black from the first two years after my partner and husband of 18 years guided me into our garden and handed me a 3-page letter telling me of the other woman and their apartments in Beijing and San Francisco, and that from then on he would be spending half his time with her and half with me. I would always be the love of his life and soulmate, of course. She was mundane, really, and it had only been about sex but, alas, they had fallen in love. What could he do? He understood I might have “an initial period of upset.” He said so in the letter.

I was out of the house in 20 minutes with one suitcase that included, I swear, a cooking pan. That was six years ago.

I landed in an empty house we bought five months earlier that was under renovation. His vision, it turned out, was that she would stay with us often and teach him Mandarin script down by the Potomac River. Delusion and duplicity are intricately woven.

It also never entered his mind I might leave. (More on delusion and duplicity in Part #2.)

Over the next weeks, my hair went from straight to wavy, I lost 15 pounds, and one day I woke with the nose of a hunting dog. I could discern the separate smells of grass, dirt, rotting wood, and the river. I could smell a used washcloth across a bathroom. Grief and shock are physical.

We were written about as a “renaissance couple.” I believed he was the most honest man I knew.

People who have been betrayed become researchers. We are archeologists digging up ancient bones, historians of old letters and photographs, bio-physiologists of human development and sexuality, and amateur lawyers. We do research because we hope never to go through this again.

Reality #1: liars, liars, everywhere

Scientific reports show that one in every ten people is a liar on a scale unimaginable (taboo) to the rest of us. Even when secret, they are betraying our trust, and their integrity, routinely and deliberately. We do not suspect because things that are foreign to us do not enter our heads. This gives liars and cheaters free reign in the world of the unthinkable. (Prime example: Madoff.)

Now, when I go into a restaurant, a theater, any large group, I scan. Her? Him? I put a face on the statistics. I imagine every tenth person as a fraud. Who is betraying the person sitting next to them? Embezzling in the office? False resumes? Identity thief? Using their professional position to take advantage of others?

This practice keeps me alert, I recommend it.

Now, you and I lie. We all lie, but our lies are usually small ones and are usually meant to make other people feel good: “You look just like you did 30 years ago!” Or we smooth over an awkward situation: “It’s fine, no problem, really.”

But ten percent of us practice large-scale calculated deception for our perceived personal gain. We scam, cheat, betray and use others. We manipulate reality.

Of this ten percent, two-thirds are male and most of their lies are to enhance themselves to the world and themselves, or to conceal something from the world and themselves. That is, approximately half of all lying is fueled by the male ego’s desire for status and power. There’s no softer way to state that.

What is a “purple lie?’

Besides white lies, there are “purple lies” said by basically honest people who believed what they said when they said it. Usually spontaneous, “purple lies” often infer a commitment to the person they’re talking to: “doing lunch,” calling soon, being in love, going to Rome together. We’ve all been on both sides of “purple lies.”

The crucial difference between fraud and a “purple lie” is that the person who tells a “purple lie” wasn’t lying at that moment. They just should have thought more before speaking. Many lovely things said during passion fall into this category with the light of day. (On the other hand, passion is sometimes the only way to get to the truth, but that is different, possibly future discussion.)

Also, a basically honest person who tells a “purple lie” usually has some relationship with their conscience. He or she may then feel guilty and act weird. It’s a bad way to lose a friend, and happens too often.

My own code is that people prone to exuberant “purple lies” deserve leeway while deliberate strategizing liars are not entitled to leeway. Most, though not all, know they are deceiving. They seldom feel guilty. They seldom care what happens to others. They feel entitled to having advantages over the rest of us.

And they seldom give themselves away by acting abnormal. Lying is their normal.


Reality #2: good liars are, by definition, well disguised

A very successful friend of mine did not know for two decades that her husband was gay. She knew he was alcoholic, she knew he relied on her to make the money, she knew he could be nasty, but she had no idea he was having serial homosexual affairs. She’d never checked his porno sites. Now he lives with a man who matches my friend in size, color, and nationality, just not gender.

(Do you see the word “Liar” composing the face at right?)

Liars are everywhere and the best are indistinguishable from you and me until after you’ve already been had, whether by a mate, scammer, colleague, or stranger. The best liars are deceptive beyond your ability to perceive or anticipate.

Another friend was financially ruined when her prominent husband, whom she trusted with everything, was exposed in a multi-million dollar fraud. Public humiliation was poured on top as she lost her home, finances, and spouse.

My favorite example, however, of living with a fraudulent spouse is a male friend who found that his husband of many years had not been raised by an eccentric great-aunt backstage in Paris theaters after his parents were killed in a car accident. Nor had he been taken under the wing of Marlene Dietrich, despite the book he wrote, and that was published, about their relationship. One day an unknown woman showed up at their home outside Las Vegas, a woman who had finally tracked down her brother. His very alive parents, who had raised him quite ordinarily in middle-class society, turned up shortly after. My friend was not charmed, and the marriage was over. It also had something to do with the life-shortening illness that didn’t really exist.

Part #2 of the Guide to Liars will be posted tomorrow. Find out why liars lie and why they fight dirty.