Thoughts on Deception

Dr. Amos and Alice4

Alice and Dr. Amos, talking of deception

Alice, an Apatosaurus (“deceptive reptile”) our new psychiatry consult service mascot, told me about the new dinosaur identified recently. The popular name for the Regaliceratops peterhewsi is “Hellboy,” because of the eye horns. News articles describe Hellboy’s eye horns as small, which shows how little they know about him. He used a grinder on them so as to appear more human.

Anyway, the interesting thing is that the Hellboy dinosaur is an example of evolutionary convergence. Regaliceratops evolved from one lineage while at the same time developing traits from another one.

Alice is with us because of some kind of weird time warp. Because she hails from the Jurassic period, she couldn’t have known anything about the Hellboy dinosaur because it was from the Cretaceous period–or could she have?


Reptoids and convergent evolution?

How deceptive is Alice, anyway and how could I tell if she were deceiving me? Maybe because we share the tendency to deception in common. How could that happen? Maybe one way could be the evolutionary convergence theory. The Ancient Astronut (I mean Astronaut) theorists might use that to explain how the reptoids evolved. They’re a race of reptilians, often mistaken for aliens. Alice has no comment.

Hellboy-2-Perlman-JonesHellboy-HELLBOY-S-Hero-Battle-Damaged-Shirt-3Who are the deceivers here? Hellboy is a comic book character and everybody knows that. So that’s not a deception; it’s entertainment, right? We’d be fine there, except you can find discussion strings online in which people sound like they think Hellboy is real.

Well, anyway, psychiatrists are in the best position to tell who’s engaging in deception or not…not so much. The psychiatric disorder in which deception plays an important role is Factitious Disorder. Be careful, because you might think I made a mistake by leaving out malingering. Not so because malingering is not a psychiatric disorder, per se. One of my teachers is fond of saying, “Malingering is not a disorder…it’s an accusation.”

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I occasionally get called as a psychiatric consultant to help colleagues decide whether someone is lying or not. Many experts don’t believe that psychiatrists can discern when a patient is deceiving us.

Hair Guy ancient-aliensBy the way, is the Ancient Aliens Hair Dude engaging in deception or entertainment? How would anyone know? He certainly acts as though he believes what he says. Even Alice, the deception reptile, can’t tell for sure if he’s lying. Or is he acting? Are those the same?

Deception is nearly always thought of as a bad act. When your grandmother brought that awful fruitcake over for Christmas, didn’t your mother tell you to lie to her about how delicious it was? Was that bad? Probably the only really bad thing about the event was the taste of that candied fruit.Fruitcake

So maybe deceivers are not all necessarily bad. And it’s very difficult to get along in our society without the lubricant of lying. TV shows regularly deceive us. I remember (barely) an old western called Paladin. A paladin is a knight who stands for courage and chivalry and who protects the weak–sort of like Hellboy. The show was about a guy who was both an aristocrat and a gun for hire. He regularly killed people–all bad guys, of course, which made it OK, right? What I remember most about the show was the Ballad of Paladin, sung by Johnny Western, who was a popular musician who played western music and dressed like a cowboy.Have-Gun-Will-Travel

Johnny Western’s real last name was Westerlund–and he was from Minnesota, not Texas or Wyoming or wherever cowboys roam. Does that make him a deceiver? On the other hand, he really did sing the Ballad of Paladin.

The Ballad of Paladin

Paladin, Paladin, where do you roam

Paladin, Paladin, far, far from home


As big as a castle is the heart of a man

A knight wearing armor in a savage land

He’s yearning for wisdom, heeds the calling wind

Archangel of mercy, is the man called Paladin


Paladin, Paladin, where do you roam

Paladin, Paladin, far, far from home


He travels on to wherever he must

A chess knight of silver is his badge of trust

There are campfire legends that the plainsmen spin

Of the man who is just, of the man called Paladin


Paladin, Paladin, where do you roam

Paladin, Paladin, far, far from home


Far from home, far from home

The lyrics above sung to this tune–Ballad of Paladin

Did I deceive you?

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