Why We Lie: The Source of our Disasters Paperback – 27 May 2010
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‘Rowe asks why we tell lies and puts the answer down to a mixture of vanity and terror.…all pretty toxic, as far as personal relationships are concerned, but Rowe goes further: our failure to tell the truth is behind all manner of ills, from the current economic crisis to global warming…scary stuff, but Rowe is so wise that you begin to think it might be possible to change’ Guardian
'Rowe has a clear, easy style…Rowe is accurate in her perceptions, and persuasive in her presentation of them…she paints a nuanced picture of why lying is always dangerous, and why we should cultivate an attitude of considered scepticism' TLS
'Her analysis is gripping, astute and incisive…parts of this book are hilarious' FT
‘[A] seer… with qualities that place her between sainthood and genius’ Fay Weldon
About the Author
Dorothy Rowe was born in Australia in 1930, and worked as a teacher and child psychologist before coming to England, where she obtained her PhD at Sheffield University. From 1972 until 1986 she was head of Clinical Psychology. She is now engaged in writing, lecturing and research, and is world-renowned for her work on how we communicate and why we suffer. Her books include ‘‘Wanting Everything’, ‘‘Beyond Fear’ and ‘‘Time On Our Side’.
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In the early pages she attempts a potted review of scientific culture: long strings of showy items with no coherent argument. OK, she knows about Einstein and Darwin, but must she waste so many pages skimming through her shallow knowledge of deep research? At one point she interrupts a pompous, highly superficial summary of the physics of time to comment on the difference between European and American conventions for setting out calendar dates! At times it reads like a script for that most accomplished of trivial show-offs, Stephen Fry.
And that outburst of mine brings me to the main point of my review. What shouts from this book is not insight or understanding, but anger. Rowe is angry with her parents, with her teachers, psychologist colleagues, and competitors. She rages against ad-men and bankers. And she is rather cross with Tony Blair, too. (But then, who isn't?)
Underneath her anger she has very interesting, even wise things to say. But she interrupts herself constantly. She can't stick to her track for more than a page or two before leaping onto one or other of her horde of angry hobby horses.
It's a shame. A good editor could have cut the length by at least 50%. That would make the book at least ten times better.
She has some sharp observations to make about those in her own profession who insist on continuing to follow the practices of Freud, even though his observations and studies have been superseded by modern techniques such as brain scans, which shows us that there is no inherent `inner core' within each of us. Rather, our brain receives a mass of external information about the world around us and resolves this input into a pattern that we think of as `self'. However your `self' is nothing like my `self' because my touch, taste, hearing, vision and imagination that constitutes my sense of who I am, are quite different to your various sensory impressions. I found this first section of the book profound and absorbing as she explains just how we use lies to defend ourselves, make ourselves more likeable and bolster our own self esteem, in addition to preserving our fragile `self'. The explanations as to what impels people to lie were riveting and illuminating - I certainly recommend any student of human nature reading the book for this section, alone.
However, Rowe extends her analysis to the professions, business, religion and politics.Read more ›
I found the author's constant references to the recent world banking crisis somewhat irritating after a while and that is why I have only awarded the book four stars. It is well known that obvious risks were ignored and maybe bankers lied to themselves and to each other though I do like the author's comparison of the bankers with out of control teenagers who think they know all the answers to everything. Clearly if you tell lies on a global scale then the lies may have fatal consequences but where does sincere belief in a particular ideology end and lies begin? How can anyone possibly distinguish truth from fiction? That's not to say we should not try to distinguish the two.
I found the book very interesting when discussing the effect on children when their parents lie. Children are often told that their parents will always know what they are doing or thinking and young children are rarely able to understand that this statement is a lie. No one can possibly know what your thoughts are - even someone studying your brain by means of an MRI scanner. Even when children grow into adults they can still be adversely affected by lies told by their parents.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well worth a read and she recommends a couple of other books in it I intend to buy especially the one about the CIA she has her finger on the pulse I just love her books.Published 3 months ago by Easy Tan
Not yet finished yet, up to about 60% but so far so good. It has made me think about the reason why people lie. Read morePublished on 23 July 2014 by kevin smith
Top rating from me; it is full of real stories from Dorothy Rowe's extensive experience and describes how we think and act and gets to the nub of why. Read morePublished on 13 Jan. 2014 by Mr M J Milbourn
Lies may be subjective truths. But the crux of the matter may be purely relative: when does a lie cause damage? Read morePublished on 9 May 2013 by Miketang
There are many words of praise I could use for Dorothy Rowe's books including wisdom, good sense, sensitivity, and understanding. Read morePublished on 29 Mar. 2013 by Amazon Customer
Dorothy Rowe is a wellknown writer and psychologist. Here is another of her 'words of wisdom' book full of enlightenment re the lies that politicians and folks in authority tell to... Read morePublished on 26 July 2012 by Mrs. B. MCINNIS
I was very excited to receive this book for Christmas but was very dissapointed from early on. Expecting something similar to 'why psychotherapy doesnt work: and what we can do... Read morePublished on 22 Feb. 2011 by Ayemadre