Why Lying Causes Internal Stress
by Peter Hyatt
Certainly, Dr. Hannibal Lector did not feel guilty about his meal of his enemy's liver (and fava beans), and wouldn't have been at all nervous taking a polygraph. He would just concentrate and use his brilliant, sociopathic brain to control the needle measuring his body's reactions to questions.
Or so Hollywood would have you believe.
It ain't so.
Lying causes internal stress and this stress is not exclusively that of a conscience. This is not what causes the stress. It may, for those of a tender conscience, but that refers to those of us who lie, feel badly about lying, and own up to our mistake and grow from it.
It is stressful, as well, to be seen as a liar. Liars do not like to be called liars. This does cause stress, but it is not the entire cause of internal stress that causes deceptive people to avoid a direct lie, instead employing a process of editing out, or suppressing (which takes effort) information in order to deceive.
This suppression, itself, is stressful. Yet, the element of internal stress caused by a direct lie is due to something far more powerful, and it is what causes leakage of information from a deceptive subject. This is why we love when the liar talks and talks.
Leakage is simply this:
The guilty party is thinking about what he did, while answering a question, or making a statement, attempting to deceive.
So, when the father of a "missing" toddler was asked about taking a polygraph and said, "I smoked it", he may have thought about the pot smoked beforehand to make him relax.
When confronted with allegation that he was not cooperating with police and said, "Contrary to rumors floating around out there, I have been cooperating...." with the thought of the child dumped, perhaps, in the Kennebec River.
The brain may hold (in this case) 20,000 words in its vocabulary.
While thinking of guilty activity, the subject reaches into this dictionary and finds: CONFLICT.
The conflict is a cause of stress. Liars do not like being called liars and liars do not being caught, but it is in the conflict of words, internally, that is powerful, uncomfortable, and causes a 'delay' in the amazing processing speed of computing words and sending them to the tongue to speak, or the hand, to write.
It is like a 'cog' or 'gremlin' in the machinery that causes this conflict, or delay, in processing, which ignites anxiety, in less than a microsecond, for the subject. Hence, the body's blood pressure rises, as does perspiration, breathing, etc. The body reacts to the conflict.
The polygraph machine is just reading stress on the body. That's all. If we measure stress via the body's reactions on a scale of 1 through 10 of a very nervous subject (since being polygraphed is, itself, stressful):
1. Is your name John Smith? Answer: Yes Nervous subject: Level 3
2. Is today Tuesday? Answer: Yes Nervous subject : Level 3
3. Did you take the missing money? Answer: No Nervous subject: Level 10
4. Is it 11AM? Answer: Yes Nervous subject: Level 4
(Note "take" is not "steal", which is morally charged language. We use not only neutral language, but in Statement Analysis' rule of "no interpretation", we seek to only use the subject's own language, which will then give us reliable results and avoid "inconclusive" results. )
When the guilty party seeks to deceive, what really happened, and what he wants to say, are both known by the brain and the conflict arises of which words to use.
The main source of internal stress is this:
the speed of transmission is disrupted.
For some, there is the stress of conscience, but only when there is time to consider things.
For some, there is the stress of having to keep track of lies, but this, too, is only when there is time to consider the matters at hand.
The immediate, therefore, most reliable indicator of stress in deception is the disruption of the tremendously fast transmission:
The subject moves into his 25,000-35,000 internal dictionary.
The subject chooses which words to use;
what order to put the items,
place which words where, in order to make sense:
all of this in less than a micro second of transmission.
Deception interrupts the speed of this transmission triggering stress chemical to the brain.
If you are able to learn this, you can learn to discern deception.
If you are a polygrapher, trained in Statement Analysis, entering into the language of the subject, grasping the principles and avoiding introducing your own speech:
you are in a "no miss" position in obtaining results.
Learn this principle and learn how to exploit it to your advantage in analysis.
The speed of transmission is what gives us our accuracy. Learn what causes this micro-fast process to be 'thrown off' and you will learn to discern deception and catch the liar.
Forget Hollywood's portrayal of lie detection and sociopaths.