Being Suicidal: What It Feels Like To Want To Kill Yourself

“One of the more fascinating psychotic conditions in the medical literature is known as Cotard’s syndrome, a rare disorder, usually recoverable, in which the primary symptom is a “delusion of negation.” According to researchers David Cohen and Angèle Consoli of the Université Pierre et Marie Curie, many patients with Cotard’s syndrome are absolutely convinced, without even the slimmest of doubts, that they are already dead.

Some recent evidence suggests that Cotard’s may occur as a neuropsychiatric side effect in patients taking the drugs aciclovir or valaciclovir for herpes and who also have kidney failure.* But its origins go back much further than these modern drugs. First described by the French neurologist Jules Cotard in the 1880s, it is usually accompanied by some other debilitating problem, such as major depression, schizophrenia, epilepsy or general paralysis—not to mention disturbing visages in the mirror. Consider the case of one young woman described by Cohen and Consoli: “The delusion consisted of the patient’s absolute conviction she was already dead and waiting to be buried, that she had no teeth or hair, and that her uterus was malformed.” Poor thing—that image couldn’t have been very good for her self-esteem.


Still, call me strange, but I happen to find a certain appeal in the conviction that one is, though otherwise lucid, nevertheless already dead. Provided there were no uncomfortable symptoms of rigor mortis cramping up my hands, nor delusory devils biting at my feet, how liberating it would be to be able to write like a dead man and without that hobbling, hesitating fear of being unblinkingly honest. Knowing that upon publication I would be tucked safely away in my tomb, I could finally say what’s on my mind. Of course, living one’s life as though it were a suicide note incarnate (yet remember this is precisely what life is, really, and I would advise any thinking person to stroll by a cemetery each day, gaze unto those fields of crumbling headstones filled with chirping crickets, and ponder, illogically so, what these people wish they might have said to the world when it was still humanly possible for them to have done so ) is an altogether different thing from the crushing, unbearable weight of an actual suicidal mind dangerously tempted by the promise of permanent quiescence.

misanthropy central}}}: Butterfly Suicide GIF: Special Edition

In considering people’s motivations for killing themselves, it is essential to recognize that most suicides are driven by a flash flood of strong emotions, not rational, philosophical thoughts in which the pros and cons are evaluated critically. And, as I mentioned in last week’s column on the evolutionary biology of suicide, from a psychological science perspective, I don’t think any scholar ever captured the suicidal mind better than Florida State University psychologist Roy Baumeister in his 1990 Psychological Review article , “Suicide as Escape from the Self.” To reiterate, I see Baumeister’s cognitive rubric as the engine of emotions driving deCatanzaro’s biologically adaptive suicidal decision-making. There are certainly more recent theoretical models of suicide than Baumeister’s, but none in my opinion are an improvement. The author gives us a uniquely detailed glimpse into the intolerable and relentlessly egocentric tunnel vision that is experienced by a genuinely suicidal person.


According to Baumeister, there are six primary steps in the escape theory, culminating in a probable suicide when all criteria are met. I do hope that having knowledge about the what-it-feels-like phenomenology of ‘being’ suicidal helps people to recognize their own possible symptoms of suicidal ideation and—if indeed this is what’s happening—enables them to somehow derail themselves before it’s too late. Note that it is not at all apparent that those at risk of suicide are always aware that they are in fact suicidal, at least in the earliest cognitive manifestations of suicidal ideation. And if such thinking proceeds unimpeded, then keeping a suicidal person from completing the act may be as futile as encouraging someone at the very peak of sexual excitement to please kindly refrain from having an orgasm, which is itself sometimes referred to as la petite mort (“the little death”).

So let’s take a journey inside the suicidal mind, at least as it’s seen by Roy Baumeister. You might even come to discover that you’ve actually stepped foot in this dark psychological space before, perhaps without knowing it at the time.


Step 1: Falling Short of Standards


Most people who kill themselves actually lived better-than-average lives. Suicide rates are higher in nations with higher standards of living than in less prosperous nations; higher in US states with a better quality of life; higher in societies that endorse individual freedoms; higher in areas with better weather; in areas with seasonal change, they are higher during the warmer seasons; and they’re higher among college students that have better grades and parents with higher expectations.

Baumeister argues that such idealistic conditions actually heighten suicide risk because they often create unreasonable standards for personal happiness, thereby rendering people more emotionally fragile in response to unexpected setbacks. So, when things get a bit messy, such people, many of whom appear to have led mostly privileged lives, have a harder time coping with failures. “A large body of evidence,” writes the author, “is consistent with the view that suicide is preceded by events that fall short of high standards and expectations, whether produced by past achievements, chronically favorable circumstances, or external demands.” For example, simply being poor isn’t a risk factor for suicide. But going rather suddenly from relative prosperity to poverty has been strongly linked to suicide. Likewise, being a lifelong single person isn’t a risk factor either, but the transition from marriage to the single state places one at significant risk for suicide. Most suicides that occur in prison and mental hospital settings occur within the first month of confinement, during the initial period of adjustment to loss of freedom. Suicide rates are lowest on Fridays and highest on Mondays; they also drop just before the major holidays and then spike sharply immediately after the holidays. Baumeister interprets these patterns as consistent with the idea that people’s high expectations for holidays and weekends materialize, after the fact, as bitter disappointments.


To summarize this first step in the escape theory, Baumeister tells us that, “it is apparently the size of the discrepancy between standards and perceived reality that is crucial for initiating the suicidal process.” It’s the proverbial law of social gravity: the higher your majesty is to start off with, the more painful it’s going to be when you happen to fall flat on your face.

Step 2: Attributions to Self

It is not just the fall from grace alone that’s going to send you on a suicidal tailspin. It’s also necessary for you to loathe yourself for facing the trouble you find yourself in. Across cultures, “self blame” or “condemnation of the self” has held constant as a common denominator in suicides. Baumeister’s theory accommodates these data, yet his model emphasizes that the biggest risk factor isn’t chronically low self-esteem, per se, but rather a relatively recent demonization of the self in response to the negative turn of events occurring in the previous step. People who have low self-esteem are often misanthropes, he points out, in that while they are indeed self critical, they are usually just as critical of other people. By contrast, suicidal individuals who engage in negative appraisals of the self seem to suffer the erroneous impression that other people are mostly good, while they themselves are bad. Feelings of worthlessness, shame, guilt, inadequacy, or feeling exposed, humiliated and rejected leads suicidal people to dislike themselves in a manner that, essentially, cleaves them off from an idealized humanity. The self is seen as being enduringly undesirable; there is no hope for change and the core self is perceived as being rotten.

Suicide-Gif | Tumblr


This is why adolescents and adults of minority sexual orientations, who grow up gestating in a social womb filled with messages—both implicit and explicit—that they are essentially lesser human beings, are especially vulnerable to suicide. Even though we may consciously reject these personal attributions made by an intolerant society, they have still seeped in. If we extrapolate this to, say, Tyler Clementi as he was driving towards the George Washington Bridge to end his own life in the wake of being cruelly and voyeuristically outed over the Internet, I’d bet my bottom dollar that he felt even the songs on the radio weren’t meant for him, but for “normal people” more relatable to the singer and deserving of the song’s message.

Step 3: High Self-Awareness

“The essence of self-awareness is comparison of self with standards,” writes Baumeister. And, according to his escape theory, it is this ceaseless and unforgiving comparison with a preferred self—perhaps an irrecoverable self from a happier past or a goal self that is now seen as impossible to achieve in light of recent events—fuelling suicidal ideation.

This piquancy of thought in suicidal individuals is actually measurable, at least indirectly by analyzing the language used in suicide notes. One well-known “suicidologist,” Edwin Shneidman, once wrote that, “Our best route to understanding suicide is not through the study of the structure of the brain, nor the study of social statistics, nor the study of mental diseases, but directly through the study of human emotions described in plain English, in the words of the suicidal person.” Personally, I feel a bit like an existential Peeping Tom in reading strangers’ suicide notes, but it’s a longstanding cottage industry in psychological research. Over the past few decades alone, nearly 300 studies on suicide notes have been published. These cover a broad range of research questions, but because they tend to yield inconsistent findings, they have also painted a confusing picture of the suicidal mind.

This is especially the case when trying to reveal people’s motivations for the act. Some who commit suicide may not even be aware of their own motivations, or at least they have not been completely honest in their farewell letters to the world. A good example comes from University of Manchester sociologist Susanne Langer and her colleagues’ report in a 2008 issue of The Sociological Review . The researchers describe how the suicide note written by one young man was rather nondescript, mentioning feelings of loneliness and emptiness as causing his suicide, while, in fact, “his file contained a memo inquiring about the state of an investigation regarding sexual offences the deceased had been accused of in an adjacent jurisdiction.”

The more compelling studies on suicide notes, in my view, are those that use text analysis programs enabling the investigators to make exact counts of particular kinds of words. Compared to fake suicide notes, real suicide notes are notorious for containing first-person singular pronouns, a reflection of high self-awareness. And unlike letters written by people facing involuntary death, such as those about to be executed, suicide note writers rarely use inclusive language such as plural pronouns, such as “us” and “we.” When they do mention significant others, suicide note writers usually speak of them as being cut off, distant, separate, not understanding, or opposed. Friends and family, even a loving mother at arm’s length, feel endless oceans away.

Step 4: Negative Affect

It may seem to go without saying that suicides tend to be preceded by a period of negative emotions, but, again, in Baumeister’s escape model, negative suicidal emotions are experienced as an acute state rather than a prolonged one. “Concluding simply that depression causes suicide and leaving it at that may be inadequate for several reasons,” he writes. “It is abundantly clear that most depressed people do not attempt suicide and that not all suicide attempters are clinically depressed.”

Anxiety—which can be experienced as guilt, self-blame, threat of social exclusion, ostracism and worry—seems to be a common strand in the majority of suicides. As I mentioned in last week’s post, we may very well be the only species for which negative social-evaluative appraisals can lead to shame-induced suicide. It’s not without controversy, but the most convincing data from studies with nonhuman animals suggest very strongly that we are the only species on the face of the earth able to take another organism’s perspective in judging the self’s attributes. This is owed to an evolutionary innovation known as “theory of mind” (literally, theorizing about what someone else is thinking about, including what they’re thinking about you ; and, perhaps more importantly in this case, even what you’re thinking about you) that has been both a blessing and a curse. It’s a blessing because it allows us to experience pride, and a curse because it also engenders what I consider to be the uniquely human, uniquely painful emotion of shame.

Psychodynamic theorists often postulate that suicidal guilt seeks punishment, and thus suicide is a sort of self-execution. But Baumeister’s theory largely rejects this interpretation; rather, in his model, the appeal of suicide is loss of consciousness, and thus the end of psychological pain being experienced. And since cognitive therapy isn’t easily available—or seen as achievable—by most suicidal people, that leaves only three ways to escape this painful self-awareness: drugs, sleep and death. And of these, only death, nature’s great anesthesia, offers a permanent fix.

Step 5: Cognitive Deconstruction

The fifth step in the escape theory is perhaps the most intriguing, from a psychological perspective, because it illustrates just how distinct and scarily inaccessible the suicidal mind is from that of our everyday cognition. With cognitive deconstruction, a concept originally proposed by social psychologists Robin Vallacher and Daniel Wegner, the outside world becomes a much simpler affair in our heads—but usually not in a good way.

Cognitive deconstruction is pretty much just what it sounds like. Things are cognitively broken down into increasingly low-level and basic elements. For example, the time perspective of suicidal people changes in a way that makes the present moment seem interminably long; this is because, “suicidal people have an aversive or anxious awareness of the recent past (and possibly the future too), from which they seek to escape into a narrow, unemotional focus on the present moment.” In one interesting study, for example, when compared to control groups, suicidal participants significantly overestimated the passage of experimentally controlled intervals of time by a large amount. Baumeister surmises, “Thus suicidal people resemble acutely bored people: The present seems endless and vaguely unpleasant, and whenever one checks the clock, one is surprised at how little time has actually elapsed.”

Evidence also suggests that suicidal individuals have a difficult time thinking about the future—which for those who’d use the threat of hell as a deterrent, shows just why this strategy isn’t likely to be very effective. This temporal narrowing, Baumeister believes, is actually a defensive mechanism helping the person to cognitively withdraw from thinking about past failures and the anxiety of an intolerable, hopeless future.

Suicide GIF - Find & Share on GIPHY

Another central aspect of the suicidal person’s cognitive deconstruction, says Baumeister, is a dramatic increase in concrete thought. Like the intrusively high self-awareness discussed earlier, this concreteness is often conveyed in suicide notes. Several review articles have noted the relative paucity of “thinking words” in suicide notes, which are abstract, meaningful, high-level terms. Instead, they more often include banal and specific instructions, such as, “Don’t forget to feed the cat,” or “Remember to take care of the electric bill.” Real suicide notes are usually suspiciously void of contemplative or metaphysical thoughts, whereas fake suicide notes, written by study participants, tend to include more abstract or high-level terms (“Someday you’ll understand how much I loved you” or “Always be happy”). One old study even found that genuine suicide notes contained more references to concrete objects in the environment—physical things—than did simulated suicide notes.

What this cognitive shift to concrete thinking reflects, suggests Baumeister, is the brain’s attempt to slip into idle mental labor, thereby avoiding the suffocating feelings that we’ve been describing. Many suicidal college students, for example, exhibit a behavioral pattern of burying themselves in dull, routine academic busywork in the weeks beforehand, presumably to enter a sort of “emotional deadness” which is “an end in itself.” When I was a suicidal adolescent, I remember reading voraciously during this time; it didn’t matter what it was that I read—mostly junk novels, in fact—since it was only to replace my own thoughts with those of the writer’s. For the suicidal, other people’s words can be pulled over one’s exhausting ruminations like a seamless glove being stretched over a distractingly scarred hand.

Even the grim, tedious details of organizing one’s own suicide can offer a welcome reprieve:

When preparing for suicide, one can finally cease to worry about the future, for one has effectively decided that there will be no future. The past, too, has ceased to matter, for it is nearly ended and will no longer cause grief, worry, or anxiety. And the imminence of death may help focus the mind on the immediate present.


Step 6: Disinhibition

We’ve now set the mental stage, but it is of course the final act that separates suicidal ideation from an actual suicide. Baumeister speculates that behavioral disinhibition, which is required to overcome the intrinsic fear of causing oneself pain through death, not to mention the anticipated suffering of loved ones left behind to grieve, is another consequence of cognitive deconstruction. This is because it disallows the high-level abstractions (reflecting on the inherent “wrongness” of suicide, how others will feel, even concerns about self-preservation) that, under normal conditions, keep us alive.

A recent theoretical analysis by University of Rochester psychiatrist Kimberly Van Orden and her colleagues sheds some additional light on this component of behavioral disinhibition. These authors point out that while there is a considerable number of people who want to kill themselves, suicide itself remains relatively rare. This is largely because, in addition to suicidal desire, the individual needs the “acquired capability for suicide,” which involves both a lowered fear of death and increased physical pain tolerance. Suicide hurts, literally. One acquires this capability, according to these authors’ model, by being exposed to related conditions that systematically habituate the individual to physical pain. For example, one of the best predictors of suicide is a nonlethal prior suicide attempt.

But a history of other fear-inducing, physically painful experiences also places one at risk. Physical or sexual abuse as a child, combat exposure, and domestic abuse can also “prep” the individual for the physical pain associated with suicidal behavior. In addition, heritable variants of impulsivity, fearlessness and greater physical pain tolerance may help to explain why suicidality often runs in families. Van Orden and her coauthors also cite some intriguing evidence that habituation to pain is not so much generalized to just any old suicide method, but often specific to the particular method used to end one’s own life. For example, a study on suicides in the U.S. military branches found that guns were most frequently associated with Army personnel suicides, hanging and knots for those in the Navy, and falling and heights were more common for those in the Air Force.

So there you have it. It’s really not a pretty picture. But, again, I do hope that if you ever are unfortunate enough to experience these cognitive dynamics in your own mind—and I, for one, very much have—or if you suspect you’re seeing behaviors in others that indicate these thought patterns may be occurring, that this information helps you to meta-cognitively puncture suicidal ideation. If there is one thing that I’ve learned since those very dark days of my suicidal years, it’s that scientific knowledge changes perspective. And perspective changes everything. Everything.

And, as I mentioned at the start, always remember: You’re going to die soon enough anyway; even if it’s a hundred years from now, that’s still the blink of a cosmic eye. In the meantime, live like a scientist—even a controversial one with only an ally or two in all the world—and treat life as a grand experiment, blood, sweat, tears and all. Bear in mind that there’s no such thing as a failed experiment—only data.”

suicide gifs | Explore Tumblr Posts and Blogs | Tumgir

Source: https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/bering-in-mind/being-suicidal-what-it-feels-like-to-want-to-kill-yourself/

All About TRUST

“We have all been hurt and experienced pain at some point in our lives. That pain compromises our trust and can transform our perspective on life. It is natural psychologically to defend ourselves when we feel vulnerability would be dangerous, but trust is as much a blessing for our own mental health as it is a gift for those we chose to trust. When trauma or pain takes away our ability to trust others, this means it is continually hurting us and depriving us of deep, meaningful bonds.

Our spiritual heart-felt side cannot thrive if we keep ourselves walled up. While we must be careful with whom we decide to open up with, it is not healthy to withdraw trust from everyone. Every relationship whether intimate, professional or family based requires a certain level of trust.

What is Trust

Trust refers to our ability to confidently believe that someone else’s intentions are good towards us. It is our ability to predict someone’s behavior and how they will respond to situations. Trust is just as much logical and based on evidence as it is emotional and instinctual. We FEEL trust, but we also calculate it.

The Future of Trust | Download

Much of our social interactions are based on a give and take system, trust is a crucial part of this. When we marry someone and choose to trust them with our well-being, we have certain expectations of what they will give to the relationship as well as what we will give. Even if you consider the act of buying a car, it is natural to have more trust in a dealer selling you a certified used car with a warranty versus someone off the street that might give you a better deal but no warranty.

It comes down to this. If you believe someone will do right by you even in a difficult situation, you have trust in them. If you are unsure if someone will do right by you, then you don’t trust them.

Developing Trust

It takes time to develop trust in someone, this is typically not an overnight process although in some social situations such as with a religious leader, we tend to expect trustworthiness out of them. As we have more social interactions and experiences together we start to notice their trends which either indicate they are dependable or not trustworthy.

In some situations, the other person is asked to sacrifice something such as money or time to meet our needs, those situations draw us closer to them and allow us to let our guards down. Although it is inevitable we will have to take a leap of faith at some point to develop deep and significant trust.

Trust in Relationships

The depth of our trust we develop in a relationship is so important as it relates to the extent we commit ourselves and invest. Considering the give and take social system, we give a lot more of ourselves to someone when we trust them and in return, we hope to receive that back. Insecurity about whether someone will act in our better interest causes us to withdraw emotionally, spiritually and often physically from that person. We will create a psychological distance from the other person as a means of defense.

Think of it like building a castle around our heart, we allow them to roam outside of our castle, but we won’t let down the drawbridge so easily. It is impossible to be close to someone if we won’t let them inside. Naturally, the person roaming the castle will grow tired and eventually withdraw, thus ending the relationship. This can relate to business partnerships and friendships just as much as intimate relationships.

Teamwork — Stock Photo © katy89 #32457105

Can You Trust Again?

Even if you have been badly hurt and betrayed, perhaps in a very traumatic situation, you can learn to trust people again. You have the power to decide if you will let their actions continue to hurt you and impact your ability to trust others or if you will make the choice to move forward, heal and work on trusting others.

4 Steps Towards Learning to Trust Again

  1. Trust yourself. You cannot expect to trust others if you don’t trust yourself. Do not blame yourself for the past pain that robbed you of trust. Remember you are making the choice to stop giving power to that pain. Have faith in your judgment and don’t doubt yourself based upon past experiences.
  2. Forgiveness. This doesn’t mean you are forgetting or condoning what the other person did, but you are choosing to be the better person and extend forgiveness to them as well as yourself. You are refusing to let their bad choices dictate your future. Every major religion in the world promotes forgiveness and mercy. Not just as an act of charity, but as a means of healing your own heart.

…you do not do evil to those who do evil to you, but you deal with them with forgiveness and kindness…

  1. Stop victimizing yourself. We always have a choice when we are hurt, to remain the victim or to become stronger. No matter how harsh of a pain you endured, it is your choice to use it as a crutch and stay withdrawn OR take the steps forward toward healing. I have often heard the expression that which does not kill you only makes you stronger, it is true if you allow it to be. Stop being the victim, start being the victor. No one will hand you the ability to trust again, you must work toward it.
  2. Accept vulnerability. Trust requires being vulnerable, which yes that means you must accept the risk you might get hurt. Every time we trust someone it is a careful risk calculation. Without the occasional leaps of faith, you will never know the extent of trust and love you can experience.

Final Thoughts

Trust is a critical component of our mental well-being, if we cannot trust anyone else then we lack trust in our own judgment. To achieve our happiest and most positive state of mind, we must allow ourselves to be vulnerable. That doesn’t mean we never have our guards up, of course, we must be mindful of who has access to our heart and the ability to harm us. Trust is a careful calculation of risk and reward. You have the ability to learn how to trust again, I did.”

Source: https://blogs.psychcentral.com/spirituality/2018/08/learning-how-to-trust-again/

Getting Unhooked From Thoughts

too many thoughts gif | Tumblr

Getting hooked means getting caught up in thinking and losing touch with what is happening outside of our minds. When we get hooked by unwanted thoughts it is as though they push us around or bully us, like a critical coach who stands on the sidelines giving harsh feedback.

Getting unhooked means stepping back from our minds and experiencing our thoughts without evaluating them, trying to change them, or pushing them away. That is, paying attention to the experience of having the thoughts, rather than focusing on their meaning (for example, “there must be something wrong with me).

That doesn’t mean you have to like or want the thought. It is more to do with acknowledging that you are having the thought and that pushing it away may not have been very helpful. The more you resist, the more the thought persists.

PSYCHOLOGY: The Art Of Lying

“Lying is among the most sophisticated and demanding accomplishments of the human brain. Children have to learn how to lie; people with certain types of frontal lobe injuries may not be able to do it.

Electrical stimulation of the prefrontal cortex appears to improve our ability to deceive. This region of the brain may, among other things, be responsible for the decision to lie or tell the truth.

Most people have trouble recognizing false statements. Some polygraph tests are better at it yet are far from perfect. Researchers are trying to use imaging methods to distinguish truth from lies. Intensified activity in the prefrontal cortex may be an indicator of the process by which we decide to lie or not—but it tells us nothing about the lie itself.

A 51-year-old man I will call “Mr. Pinocchio” had a strange problem. When he tried to tell a lie, he often passed out and had convulsions. In essence, he became a kind of Pinocchio, the fictional puppet whose nose grew with every fib. For the patient, the consequences were all too real: he was a high-ranking official in the European Economic Community (since replaced by the European Union), and his negotiating partners could tell immediately when he was bending the truth. His condition, a symptom of a rare form of epilepsy, was not only dangerous, it was bad for his career.

IAS Lies: Bacon's Truth - How the path of modernity was paved by lying |  Institute of Advanced Studies (IAS) - UCL – University College London

Doctors at the University Hospitals of Strasbourg in France discovered that the root of the problem was a tumor about the size of a walnut. The tumor was probably increasing the excitability of a brain region involved in emotions; when Mr. Pinocchio lied, this excitability caused a structure called the amygdala to trigger seizures. Once the tumor was removed, the fits stopped, and he was able to resume his duties. The doctors, who described the case in 1993, dubbed the condition the “Pinocchio syndrome.”

Mr. Pinocchio’s plight demonstrates the far-reaching consequences of even minor changes in the structure of the brain. But perhaps just as important, it shows that lying is a major component of the human behavioral repertoire; without it, we would have a hard time coping. When people speak unvarnished truth all the time—as can happen when Parkinson’s disease or certain injuries to the brain’s frontal lobe disrupt people’s ability to lie—they tend to be judged tactless and hurtful. In everyday life, we tell little white lies all the time, if only out of politeness: Your homemade pie is awesome (it’s awful). No, Grandma, you’re not interrupting anything (she is). A little bit of pretense seems to smooth out human relationships without doing lasting harm.


Yet how much do researchers know about lying in our daily existence? How ubiquitous is it? When do children usually start engaging in it? Does it take more brainpower to lie or to tell the truth? Are most people good at detecting untruths? And are we better at it than tools designed for the purpose? Scientists exploring such questions have made good progress—including discovering that lying in young children is a sign that they have mastered some important cognitive skills.

The Art of Lying by Kazuo Sakai

TO LIE OR NOT TO LIE
Of course, not everyone agrees that some lying is necessary. Generations of thinkers have lined up against this perspective. The Ten Commandments admonish us to tell the truth. The Pentateuch is explicit: “Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor.” Islam and Buddhism also condemn lying. For 18th-century philosopher Immanuel Kant, the lie was the “radical innate evil in human nature” and was to be shunned even when it was a matter of life and death.

Today many philosophers take a more nuanced view. German philosopher Bettina Stangneth argues that lying should be an exception to the rule because, in the final analysis, people rely on being told the truth in most aspects of life. Among the reasons they lie, she notes in her 2017 book Deciphering Lies, is that it can enable them to conceal themselves, hiding and withdrawing from people who intrude on their comfort zone. It is also unwise, Stangneth says, to release children into the world unaware that others might lie to them.

It is not only humans who practice deception. Trickery and deceit of various kinds have also been observed in higher mammals, especially primates. The neocortex—the part of the brain that evolved most recently—is critical to this ability. Its volume predicts the extent to which various primates are able to trick and manipulate, as primatologist Richard Byrne of the University of St. Andrews in Scotland showed in 2004.

CHILDREN HAVE TO LEARN HOW TO LIE
In our own kind, small children love to make up stories, but they generally tell their first purposeful lies at about age four or five. Before starting their careers as con artists, children must first acquire two important cognitive skills. One is deontic reasoning: the ability to recognize and understand social rules and what happens when the rules are transgressed. For instance, if you confess, you may be punished; if you lie, you might get away with it. The other is theory of mind: the ability to imagine what another person is thinking. I need to realize that my mother will not believe that the dog snagged the last burger if she saw me scarf down the food. As a step to developing a theory of mind, children also need to perceive that they know some things their parents do not, and vice versa—an awareness usually acquired by age three or four.


People cook up about two stories a day on average, according to social psychologist Bella M. DePaulo, of the University of California, Santa Barbara, who conducted a 2003 study in which participants filled out “lie diaries.” It takes time, however, to become skilled. A 2015 study with more than 1,000 participants looked at lying in volunteers in the Netherlands aged six to 77. Children, the analysis found, initially have difficulty formulating believable lies, but proficiency improves with age. Young adults between 18 and 29 do it best. After about the age of 45, we begin to lose this ability.

A similar inverted U-shaped curve over the life span is also seen with a phenomenon known as response inhibition—the ability to suppress one’s initial response to something. It is what keeps us from blurting out our anger at our boss when we are better off keeping silent. The pattern suggests that this regulatory process, which, like deception, is managed by the neocortex, may be a prerequisite for successful lying.

Current thinking about the psychological processes involved in deception holds that people typically tell the truth more easily than they tell a lie and that lying requires far more cognitive resources. First, we must become aware of the truth; then we have to invent a plausible scenario that is consistent and does not contradict the observable facts. At the same time, we must suppress the truth so that we do not spill the beans—that is, we must engage in response inhibition. What is more, we must be able to assess accurately the reactions of the listener so that, if necessary, we can deftly produce adaptations to our original story line. And there is the ethical dimension, whereby we have to make a conscious decision to transgress a social norm. All this deciding and self-control implies that lying is managed by the prefrontal cortex—the region at the front of the brain responsible for executive control, which includes such processes as planning and regulating emotions and behavior.


UNDER THE HOOD
Brain-imaging studies have contributed to the view that lying generally requires more effort than telling the truth and involves the prefrontal cortex. In a pioneering 2001 study, the late neuroscientist Sean Spence, then at the University of Sheffield in England, tested this idea using a rather rudimentary experimental setup. While Spence’s participants lay in a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) brain scanner, they answered questions about their daily routine by pressing a yes or no button on a screen. Depending on the color of the writing, they were to answer either truthfully or with a lie. (The researchers knew the correct answers from earlier interviews.) The results showed that the participants needed appreciably more time to formulate a dishonest answer than an honest one. In addition, certain parts of the prefrontal cortex were more active during lying (that is, they had more blood flowing in them). Together the findings indicated that the executive part of the brain was doing more processing during lying.

I know you're lying. I don't need eyes for that. | Horror art, Art, Drawings

Several follow-up studies have confirmed the role of the prefrontal cortex in lying. Merely pointing to a particular region of the brain that is active when we tell an untruth does not, however, reveal what is going on up there. Moreover, the situations in these early experiments were so artificial that they had hardly anything in common with people’s everyday lives: the subjects probably could not have cared less whether they were dishonest about what they ate for breakfast.


To counter this last problem, in 2009 psychologist Joshua Greene of Harvard University conducted an ingenious experiment in which the participants had a monetary incentive to behave dishonestly. As subjects lay in an fMRI scanner, they were asked to predict the results of a computer-generated coin toss. (The cover story was that this study was testing their paranormal abilities. Even neuroscientists sometimes have to employ misdirection in the name of a higher scientific goal!)

If the volunteers typed the correct response, they were given up to $7. They lost money for wrong answers. They had to reveal their prediction beforehand for half of the test runs. In all the other runs, they merely disclosed after the coin toss whether they had predicted correctly. Subjects were paid even if they lied about their advance conclusions, but not everyone exploited the situation. Greene was able to read the honesty of the participants simply by looking at the hit rates: the honest subjects predicted correctly half the time, whereas the cheaters claimed to have come up with the correct answers in more than three quarters of the runs—a rate too high to be believed. After the study was over, a few liars were bothered by a bad conscience and admitted that they had cheated.

Greene asked himself what distinguished the honest from the dishonest participants. Analysis of the fMRI data showed that when honest subjects gave their answers, they had no increased activity in certain areas of the prefrontal cortex known to be involved in self-control. In contrast, those control regions did become perfused with blood when the cheaters responded. The analysis of reaction times told much the same story. The honest participants did not hesitate even when they were given the opportunity to cheat. Apparently they never even considered lying. Conversely, response time became more prolonged in the dishonest subjects.

Particularly interesting was that the cheaters showed increased activity in the control regions of the prefrontal cortex not only when they chose to behave dishonestly but also when they threw in occasional truths to distract from the lies. Greene suggests that activity in the control regions of the prefrontal cortex in the cheaters may reflect the process of deciding whether to lie, regardless of the decisions those cheaters finally made.

Instead of assessing individual brain regions at the same time as someone told the truth or a lie, psychologist Ahmed Karim of the University of Tübingen in Germany and his colleagues influenced brain activity from the outside, using a method known as transcranial direct-current stimulation—which is safe and painless. In this method, two electrodes are attached to the scalp and positioned so that a weak current hits a selected brain area.


To make the experimental situation as lifelike as possible, the team invented a role-playing game. The test subjects were to pretend they were robbers, sneak into an unobserved room and steal a €20 note from a wallet in a jacket pocket. They were told that some participants in the study would be innocent. After the theft, they were subjected to an interrogation. If they got through the interrogation without getting tangled up in contradictions, they could keep the money. They were advised to answer as many trivial questions as possible truthfully (for example, giving the correct color of the jacket) because nonguilty people might remember such details just as easily as thieves did but lie at decisive moments (for example, when questioned about the color of the wallet). The electrodes were applied to everyone before questioning, but electrical impulses were administered to only half of the participants (the “test” subjects); the other half served as the control group.

MORE EFFECTIVE DECEPTION, THANKS TO BRAIN STIMULATION
In Karim’s study, the electrodes were arranged to minimize the excitability of the anterior prefrontal cortex, a brain area that earlier studies had associated with moral and ethical decision making. With this region inhibited, the ability to deceive improved markedly. Subjects in the test and control groups lied about as frequently, but those who received the stimulation were simply better at it; their mix of truthful answers and lies made them less likely to get found out. Their response times were also considerably faster.

The researchers ruled out the possibility that brain stimulation had elevated the cognitive efficiency of the participants more generally. In a complicated test of attention, the test subjects did no better than the control group. Apparently Karim’s team had specifically improved its test subjects’ ability to lie.

One possible interpretation of the findings is that the electric current temporarily interrupted the functioning of the anterior prefrontal cortex, leaving participants with fewer cognitive resources for evaluating the ethical implications of their actions; the interruption allowed them to concentrate on their deceptions. Two follow-up studies conducted by other teams were also able to influence lying using direct current, although they used different experimental setups and target brain regions. But all the test subjects in these studies lied at essentially the press of a button. Whether electrically stimulating selected brain areas would work outside the laboratory is unknown. In any case, no instrument has yet been developed that can test such a hypothesis.

CHALLENGES OF LIE DETECTION
On the other hand, devices that supposedly measure whether a person is telling the truth—polygraphs—have been in use for decades. Such tools are desirable in part because humans turn out to be terrible lie detectors.


In 2003 DePaulo and her colleagues summarized 120 behavior studies, concluding that liars tend to seem more tense and that their stories lack vividness, leaving out the unusual details that would generally be included in honest descriptions. Liars also correct themselves less; in other words, their stories are often too smooth. Yet such characteristics do not suffice to identify a liar conclusively; at most, they serve as clues. In another analysis of multiple studies, DePaulo and a co-author found that people can distinguish a lie from the truth about 54 percent of the time, just slightly better than if they had guessed. But even those who encounter liars frequently—such as the police, judges and psychologists—can have trouble recognizing a con artist.

Will A.I. End the Art of Lying? - OZY | A Modern Media Company

Polygraphs are meant to do better by measuring a variety of biological signs (such as skin conductance and pulse) that supposedly track with lying. Gestalt psychologist Vittorio Benussi of the University of Graz in Austria presented a prototype based on respiration in the early 1910s, and detectors have been refined and improved ever since. Even so, the value continues to be a matter of contention. In 1954 the West German Federal Court of Justice banned polygraph use in criminal trials on the grounds that such “insight into the soul of the accused” (as a 1957 paper on the ruling put it) would undermine defendants’ freedom to make decisions and act. From today’s perspective, this reasoning seems a bit overdramatic; even the latest lie detectors do not have that ability. More recent criticisms have been leveled at their unreliability.

Courts in other countries do accept results from lie-detector tests as evidence. The case of George Zimmerman, a neighborhood-watch volunteer who, in 2012, shot a black teenager—Trayvon Martin—supposedly in self-defense, is well known. Zimmerman’s acquittal triggered a debate about racism across the U.S. The police interrogation involved a particular variant of a lie-detector test that includes what is called computer voice-stress analysis. This analysis was later placed in evidence to prove the innocence of the accused, despite vehement scientific criticism of the method.

Polygraphs do detect lying at a rate better than chance, although they are also frequently wrong. A questioning technique known as the guilty knowledge test has been found to work well in conjunction with a polygraph. The suspect is asked multiple-choice questions, the answers to which only a guilty party would know (a technique very similar to the study involving the pickpocket role-playing described earlier). The theory behind it holds that when asked questions that could reveal guilt (“Was the wallet red?”), a guilty person exhibits more pronounced physiological excitation, as indicated by elevated skin conductance and delayed response time. This method has an accuracy of up to 95 percent, with the innocent almost always identified as such. Although this test is by far the most precise technique available, even it is not perfect.

Recently experiments have been conducted to evaluate whether imaging techniques such as fMRI might be useful for detecting lies. The proposed tests mostly look at different activation patterns of the prefrontal cortex in response to true and false statements. In the U.S., a number of companies are marketing fMRI lie detection. One advertises itself as useful to insurance companies, government agencies and others. It even claims to provide information relating to “risk reduction in dating,” “trust issues in interpersonal relationships,” and “issues concerning the underlying topics of sex, power, and money.”

But fMRI approaches still have shortcomings. For one thing, differences in responses to lies and truths that become evident when calculating the average results of a group do not necessarily show up in each individual. Moreover, researchers have not yet been able to identify a brain region that is activated more intensely when we tell the truth than when we lie. As a result, a person’s honesty can be revealed only indirectly, by the absence of indications of lying. Another problem is Greene’s finding that elevated blood perfusion in parts of the prefrontal cortex might indicate that a person is deciding whether to lie and not necessarily that the person is lying. That ambiguity can make it difficult to interpret fMRI readings.

So far courts have rejected fMRI lie detectors as evidence. The efficacy of the method has simply not been adequately documented. A machine that reads thoughts and catches the brain in the act of lying is not yet on the near horizon.

This article is reproduced with permission and was first published in Gehirn&Geist on April 3, 2018.”

Source: https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/the-art-of-lying/

Being Stuck With Our Shadows

With this current world situation we are stuck with our shadows. We used to escape our problems instead of deal with them, now we have to face them. We have to face our own shadows and the shadows of the people we are living with. Living with your family is like living with multiple mirrors, people who created your shadow and they reflect back and expose your shadow.

Just To Be Listened To & Being Blocked

Listening to a fellow human is sometimes all they want. They don’t want advice, they just want to be listened to. Just to be listened to.

One of the hardest things is not being able to speak how you truly experience reality and how you feel. Being blocked by brain fog, being blocked by a traumatised damaged brain, being blocked from being in so much pain physically and mentally, being blocked because you are afraid to speak, being blocked by medications making your mind hazy, numbed and soggy. Not being able to communicate how you experience your own reality and how you feel is TORTURE.

Everything Is Frequency & Vibration Based

“You are what you feel, not what you think. Feelings come first. They produce thoughts. Feelings shape your whole being from within. Everything is feeling-based at its core. Feeling is sound/vibration-based. First, there was vibration in the form of audible or inaudible sound and only out of sound was light born. At the beginning, there was Logos: the word, the sound, the vibration. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” (The Bible, John 1:1)”