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A Million Little Pieces of Deception

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					A Million Little Pieces of Deception
As an author, I have followed with great curiosity the controversy
arising from James Frey's best selling memoirs. Millions have read his
alarming, in-your-face account revealing years of substance abuse,
supposed recklessness, oppositional behavior towards authority figures,
and other antisocial behavior. It is a story filled with excitement and
raw feeling. By appearing on the Opra Winfrey show, James was able to use
that forum to catapult his book to a best selling nonfiction story.
As I understand it, memoirs are a non-fiction account about one's life
story. There is no room for deliberate inaccuracies, or embellishments in
an author's memoirs. Authors tell their story as it is, not the way they
want others to perceive it. They do not fabricate information and details
of events to make their memoirs more enticing to the reading audience.
Most authors of non-fictional literature have gone to great lengths to
verify the authenticity of their facts. That is the nature of non-fiction
writing. However, James Frey failed to write his account in an accurate,
factual manner. So why didn't James do that?
Lying to Gain Approval and Attention
People often embellish their life stories in an attempt to shore up a
feeble sense of self. Children sometimes tell 'stories' as a way of
hoping to gain approval from their peers. Adults also exaggerate aspects
of their life as a way of casting themselves in a more attractive light.
We all want to be noticed, even if it means for some of us that we go to
great lengths to distort the truth regarding our life experiences.
Often people enhance their history (particularly, those who have a
pathology of lying), as a way of gaining attention. They may portray
themselves as 'thugs' in order to create notoriety. Often, so called
'conduct disordered' people, under the guise of pretending to be
remorseful, will actually use the media and other forums to exploit their
history of villainous behavior. In reality, they are nothing more than
spoiled brats trying to gain the attention they believe they deserve.
One of the best ways to detect a 'wannabe criminal' is to listen to them
converse in great specificity about the heroic elements of their unruly
behavior. Often, what is stated by these individuals is misguided
nonsense aimed at alarming others and creating an atmosphere of sympathy.
In reality, their behavior is a trick, a 'con-job' played out to gain a
reputation as the 'bad boy'. It is the nature of the player's pathology
to do this.
Psychological Roots of Deceit
The pattern of using manipulation and deceit obviously works. Opra
Winfrey hooked right into it. She minimized and excused the fabrications
that permeated the work of James Frey. She gave him exactly what he
desired and needed - the continuation of an audience that would bolster
his ego and provide publicity for his memoir. It is never a wise thing to
enable an individual who fakes aspects of his life story.
Those who have quit drinking and drugging are admirable, but it is
important to be acutely aware of the motives and intent of those in
recovery. Those who have been involved in Alcoholics Anonymous meetings
know what I mean. AA members can spot those who are truly remorseful
versus those who use the meetings as a launching pad for boasting about
the minutiae of their life story before sobriety. Those who have
experienced alcoholic behavior first-hand can detect those who are truly
remorseful from those who are using their story to posture. Those who
frolic and drink a lot, i.e. teenagers, may exaggerate their life of
substance abuse and then boast about their ability to 'go it alone'
without on-going support after inpatient treatment.
Good journalism requires honesty, integrity and accuracy. Healthy
personal behavior requires the same. It has become a sad characteristic
of our culture that we often let people dupe us and then dismiss the
inappropriate behavior of those doing it. Instead of shutting these
individuals down, many of us continue to give license to their
manipulative and deceitful behavior. Why am I not surprised?
James P. Krehbiel is a licensed professional counselor and nationally
certified cognitive-behavioral therapist in private practice in
Scottsdale, Arizona. His book, Stepping Out of the Bubble is available at
http://www.booklocker.com He can be reached at
http://www.krehbielcounseling.com

				
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