While people do lie for various reasons, we know that a newborn baby is not birthed a liar. Lying is a learned behavior. It is misleading to say that someone who lies was genetically born that way. People lie to protect themselves, to protect others, to get out of trouble, to get attention, to make themselves bigger, to look better, and who knows what else. But, what are some family scenarios that could breed lying? Two that I know of, and have worked extensively with, are incest families and narcissistic families. Neither is widely understood, so let's break down the two types and take a look.
When parents are narcissists, insidious dynamics are found in the family. Those dynamics are kept secret as part of a desired illusion. Narcissistic families are all about image and how it looks to the outside world. When children are taught to keep secrets, lying becomes the coping skill to remain a part of this family system. They become adept at putting on the false front even though a different story may be unfolding behind closed doors. The unspoken rule in the narcissistic family is to "pretend" that everything is ok. "Put a smile on your face and display the picture that all is fine." Parental modeling as well as spoken and unspoken messages reinforces the glittering veneer. It becomes the norm and those pretending may not even see it as lying. It's a way of life.
If a member of the narcissistic family points out truth or ‘calls" the family on the pretense displayed, that person is often punished, alienated, and made to feel like they are the crazy one. It is dismantling to a child because their reality is constantly being shattered. Imagine seeing the elephant in the living room and being told it does not exist. Imagine having feelings that are not acknowledged but instead you are told that the feelings are wrong. What does that do to a young developing person? It is no wonder that children raised in narcissistic families grow up with nagging self-doubt and little sense of self.
Feelings are not dealt with in a narcissistic family. This is an underlying factor. Feelings are to be buried or disguised. The parents do not tune into the emotional world of the child. By comparison, in healthy families the children's feelings are validated and the child then knows he or she is real and can learn to trust self.
The dark side of child sexual abuse is that is must be kept a secret. Child victims in incest families are bribed, threatened, coerced, and told that something bad will happen if they tell. A child believes this. In many incest families, when a young child does tell, it is not validated or acknowledged. This is similar to the narcissistic family. But, that is not a surprise because sex offenders are, of course, the most intense narcissists. The child sex offender is about gratification of his or her own needs. The empathy for the effect on the victim is obviously missing. Ah, another similarity to the narcissistic family.
Familial child sexual abuse is not easily reported. The child is taught to protect the offender and the family. The child is told that if he or she tells, the offender will go to jail, the family will be torn apart, and the child could go to foster care. The reality is that when the child does tell, these things do happen. If the child is old enough to understand the ramifications, this is another reason not to tell. Some could call that lying! Would you? If we understand the dynamics of child sexual abuse and therefore see where the behavior is coming from, it is clearly far reaching to call the innocent victim a liar. Sometimes what we see as lying is a part of a learned survival mechanism in dysfunctional families. In many cases, child sexual abuse is not reported until the child is much older. Often, it is never reported.
With regard to the Casey Anthony Trial, the intention is not to give an opinion or to defend either side of the podium. But, often the grandiose surface may look different on the underside. To simply see someone as a born liar is missing a wealth of information that could help make sense of a terrible tragedy. Maybe it could prevent something like this from happening in the future. Misinformation can rage about related to narcissism and child sexual abuse and these issues are being raised in this case. Incest and narcissistic families both demand "lying" as a membership requirement to remain a member.
Additional Resources for Recovery:
Resource Website: http://www.willieverbegoodenough.com
Book: Will I Ever Be Good Enough? Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers http://www.willieverbegoodenough.com/the-book-2/buy-the-book
Audio Book: http://www.willieverbegoodenough.com/the-book-2/buy-the-book
Workshop: Healing the Daughters of Narcissistic Mothers Virtual Workshop. Work recovery in the privacy of your own home, complete with video presentations and homework assignments: http://www.willieverbegoodenough.com/workshop-overview-healing-the-daughters-of-narcissistic-mothers
Daughter Intensives: One on one sessions with Dr. Karyl McBride
“Is this your Mom?” Take the survey: http://www.willieverbegoodenough.com/narcissistic-mother