17904935Reviewed by Poppy Johnson

Authors Bridget Harwell and Elizabeth Scott are clinical psychologists who study clients with problems in the area of self-deception. Typically these women help guide clients from the dark underwater cave of self-deception to finding truth, wading through confusing thoughts and ideas to allow them to emerge to a level of personal insight about why they lie. The idea is that our lives would become more whole if we have an honest relationship with ourselves first, then the rest of the world later.

Lies: The Truth about the Self-Deception That Limits Your Life offers 40 chapters that highlight situations in which people are most likely to lie. The information comes from the authors’ clinical practice; their goal is to help clients identify their deepest held self-deceptions (read: lies) in an effort to free them to live more fulfilling lives going forward.

The structure of the chapters is in the form of Liz talking to her client and the client answering back with thoughtful responses. Both authors weigh in to provide a clinical analysis of the clients’ issues, as well as their subsequent development and results of therapy.

The discussion of the clients’ feelings – such as feeling guilty – allows readers to think back to when they felt that way last. Authors encourage readers to take a feeling such as guilt, probe deeper to decide what is underneath this feeling and re-label it to develop a higher order understanding of this moment. There are many ways that we lie about ourselves or lie to others. For example, we lie about our families (especially when they are dysfunctional), lie to get attention from others (when the world isn’t fair), lie when we don’t want to listen to another person, lie about what we learned from a life lesson, say yes to people when we want to say no, or even lie about the flaws we see in ourselves and in others.

In the book there are also black and white sketches at the top of each chapter. I liked the sketches and also liked the authors’ acknowledgement that people’s lies are 80% normal. Their theory is that people will make up a story to calm the brain’s imagination regarding the worse events in their lives in order to make them more acceptable.

The authors are right about a few issues. We can become the stories that we create in our heads – good and bad. Since the truth includes a future we have yet to experience, the made up version is easier to believe tonight. The authors suggest we say to ourselves in these uncertain times, “I don’t know the future yet, let’s wait and see.” I agree with this logic. They make definite distinctions between true worrying and positive problem solving for better results.

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

After a decade of working in several NYC law departments and teaching, Poppy decided she enjoyed writing full-time. She currently works as a freelance writing consultant, and lives with her husband and sons on the East Coast.

Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Bridget Harwell and Elizabeth Scott. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.