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When Lies Go Too Far

When Lies Go Too Far

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Ed Yeates Reporting While we still don't know exactly what's happened psychologically to Mark Hacking, his apparent fabrications beg a lot of questions that intrigue behavioral scientists.

We all get caught lying to a degree. People make up stories to get out of social commitments. Sometimes they create a facade to impress others. But what psychiatrists like Dr. David Tomb at the University of Utah worry about is when the envelope is pushed too far.

Dr. David Tomb: "Lies aren't static. They grow and for most people, they get to a point where it becomes overwhelming. And it goes beyond the point that they can tolerate."

In the movie "Catch Me If You Can," actor Leonardo DeCaprio portrays a true to life story, a man who lies and fabricates academic degrees and resumes, who perpetuates the allusions until finally, they back him against a wall.

David Tomb, M.D.: "The tricky thing about lying is that you have to have a pretty good memory to maintain effectively, and to maintain a series of lies you have to remember what you've told people."

Dr. Tomb says what happens psychologically and how people deal with this kind of stress varies from person to person.

David Tomb, M.D: "As those kinds of pressures become routine and mount, people will become depressed. They will develop anxiety in certain circumstances."

Depression, anxiety, perhaps more. Behavioral scientists say in worst case scenarios, lying and fabrications might be the by-product of an underlying mental illness. For example, if a person has paranoid delusions, lying may become a way of dealing with those delusions. The stress increases. The cycle becomes a viscous one.

Again, we should emphasize Dr. Tomb has no connection with the Hacking case.

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