Erstelle eine Website wie diese mit
Jetzt starten

Lies – The foundation of civilized society

Von Elke Bodderas Verantwortliche Redakteurin

Veröffentlicht am 19.11.2012 | Lesedauer: 7 Minuten

Von Elke Bodderasresponsible editor

As a therapist, Hans Stoffels hears many great, colorful, made-up stories. Some of them he has believed, some he would like to believe, many he would believe if he did not know better. Often they are entertaining stories that his patients tell him, imaginative lies, wholesome lies, sometimes even life lies.  

In the eighth biblical commandment, lying is outlawed. Since Adam and Eve, it has been considered the instrument of evil, of intrigue, of destruction. Or else as the opposite, as the professor has experienced dozens of times:   

1 Notorious liars possess a flourishing imagination, which they use to invent stories. They lie only because they could not live without their stories.   

40 to 50 liars in 15 years  

 The patients Hans Stoffels treats in his outpatient clinic in Berlin’s West End are creative, entertaining people – „pseudologists,“ as medicine calls those adults who can’t help but repeatedly leave truth and reality behind. Among German psychiatry professors, Stoffels is considered an expert in a field in which the real and the imagined can no longer be distinguished, if only because his patients experience both with equal intensity.

Stoffels estimates the number of pathological liars he has treated in the past 15 years at 40 to 50. For example, there was the man who claimed to be one of the last members of the Russian Romanov dynasty.  

At the same time, however, he said he „was also descended from Spanish royalty.“ Or the rather simple story of the man who described how strangers had beaten him so brutally in the woods at night that he only made it home on all fours.  

Clear-eyed, curious, reserved and full of attention, this is how the professor scrutinizes everyone who sits across from him, guests and patients alike. „I believe every story they tell me,“ he says. „If I didn’t, no one would trust me.“


Pinocchio’s nose is also a dream: it’s about being able to look untruthful to those around you
Source: Getty Images/Flickr RF

Brutal experiences from the concentration camp  

Hans Stoffel’s first pseudologist case came to him in Austria. He was there at an international congress marking the anniversary of „Reichskristallnacht“ in Vienna. Stoffels gave a lecture on „trauma processing“. After him, a previously unknown scientist stepped up to the lectern, Benjamin Wilkomirski, a Swiss author and psychotherapist. He had shortly before written a book about his experiences in the concentration camp.  

The book had been published by Suhrkamp, translated into 13 languages.   

Wilkomirski recounts horrific stories in Vienna: of crushed children’s skulls, dying children gnawing off their frozen fingers, and proposes a hitherto new form of trauma therapy for the victims of the Holocaust.  

„His stories were incredibly brutal,“ Stoffels says, but strangely, „they didn’t touch me.“ Shortly thereafter, a Swiss writer uncovers the truth about Benjamin Wilkomirski: That his name is Bruno Dössekker, that he has no Jewish background, had never been in a concentration camp and is the illegitimate child of a Swiss seasonal worker.  

It’s give and take  

People love a good story – and that’s why it usually takes quite a while before a person with an outrageously eventful life story is exposed as a pseudologist. „We’re flattered to know people who have experienced exciting or terrible things,“ Stoffels says. It’s a give and take: The pseudologist enjoys the success of his stories – his amazed listeners are moved, they don’t want to let a few inconsistencies take that away. They like to believe, they don’t ask any further questions.  

Stoffels receives letters every week. He estimates that 20 to 30 percent are from pathological liars. The rest are from relatives asking him for advice.  

„They see through the tendency to fib, they love the imaginative gift of the husband, the mother, the daughter, and they don’t want to lose it.“ It’s always the same dilemma: On the one hand, they are fascinated by the charm of tall tales. They don’t want to give that up. But on the other hand, they want to hear nothing but the unvarnished truth.  

Translated with (free version)


„Savers‘ deposits are safe.“
2008 Lehmann Brother
Financial Crash Global

Veröffentlicht von Karlheinz W. Gernholz

Dipl. Ing. Architect (Germany) Structural Engineering/ Construction management/ International experience mainly in Arabic countries, especially Tunisia

Ein Kommentar zu “Lies – The foundation of civilized society

Kommentar verfassen

Trage deine Daten unten ein oder klicke ein Icon um dich einzuloggen:

Du kommentierst mit Deinem Abmelden /  Ändern )


Du kommentierst mit Deinem Twitter-Konto. Abmelden /  Ändern )


Du kommentierst mit Deinem Facebook-Konto. Abmelden /  Ändern )

Verbinde mit %s

%d Bloggern gefällt das: