Special Mental Abilities. Once more, for the sake of completeness in giving a category of causes, we should call attention to the fact acknowledged by all thorough students of this subject, namely, that, other things being equal, it is particularly the individual who has linguistic abilities, who is especially good at verbal composition, that seems to have most incentive to dally with the truth. But beyond this we would insist that a combination of verbal ability with proportionate mental defects in other fields gives a make-up which finds the paths of least resistance directly along the lines of prevarication.
The role played in society by the pathological liar is very striking. The characteristic behavior in its unreasonableness is quite beyond the ken of the ordinary observer. The fact that here is a type of conduct regularly indulged in without seeming pleasurable results, and frequently militating obviously against the direct interests of the individual, makes a situation inexplicable by the usual canons of inference. To a certain extent the tendencies of each separate case must be viewed in their environmental context to be well understood. For example, the lying and swindling which center about the assumption of a noble name and a corresponding station or affecting the life of a cloister brother, such as we find in the cases cited by Longard, show great differences from any material obtainable in our country. In interpretation of this, one has to consider the glamour thrown about the socially exalted or the life of the recluse--a glamour which obtains readily among the simple-minded people of rural Europe. Then, too, this very simple-mindedness, with the great differences which exist between peasant and noble, leads in itself to much opportunity for cheating.
With us, especially in the newer work of courts, which are rapidly becoming in their various social endeavors more and more intimately connected with many phases of life, the pathological liar becomes of main interest in the role of accuser of others, self-accuser, witness, and general social disturber.
Here again, we may call attention to the fact, which is of great social importance, namely, that the person who is seemingly normal in all other respects may be a pathological liar. It might be naturally expected that the feebleminded, who frequently have poor discernment of the relation of cause and effect, including the phenomena of conduct, would often lie without normal cause. As a matter of fact there is surprisingly little of this among them, and one can find numerous mental defectives who are faithful tellers of the truth, while even, as we have found by other studies, some are good testifiers. Exaggerated instances of the type represented by Case 12, where the individual by the virtue of language ability endeavors to maintain a place in the world which his abilities do not otherwise justify, and where the very contradiction between abilities and disabilities leads to the development of an excessive habit of lying, are known in considerable number by us. Many of these mentally defective verbalists do not even grade high enough to come in our border-line cases, and yet frequently, by virtue of their gift of language, the world in general considers them fairly normal. They are really on a constant social strain by virtue of this, and while they are not purely pathological liars they often indulge in pathological lying, a distinction we have endeavored to make clear in our introduction.
It stands out very clearly, both in previous studies of this subject and in viewing our own material, that pathological lying is very rarely the single offense of the pathological liar. The characteristics of this lying show that it arises from a tendency which might easily express itself in other forms of misrepresentation. Swindling, sometimes stealing, sometimes running away from home (assuming another character and perhaps another name) may be the results of the same general causes in the individual. The extent to which these other delinquencies are carried on by a pathological liar depends again largely upon environmental conditions--for instance, truancy is very difficult in German cities; a long career of thieving, under the better police surveillance of some European countries, is less possible than with us; while swindling, for the reason given above, seems easier there.
Running away from home and itineracy show in a wonderfully strong correlation with pathological lying, both in previous studies and in our own material. Several authors, particularly Stemmermann in her survey of the subject, comment on this. This phenomenon, not only on account of the numerical findings, but also from a logical standpoint, is easily seen to be the expression, in another form of conduct, of the essential tendencies of the pathological liar. It is part of the general character instability, the unwillingness to meet the realities of life, the inclination to escape consequences. As a matter of fact, frequently the pathological liar gets himself in a tight place by lying, and then the easiest escape is by running away from the scene. The delinquencies of our present group as given below can with profit be compared with our previous statistics on a large group of offenders. We gathered the facts concerning a series of 1000 carefully studied youthful repeated offenders. Of 694 male offenders, 261 were guilty of running away to the extent that it made a more or less serious offense. Of 306 female offenders, 76 committed the same type of offense. For comparison with the present group it is to be remembered that 18 out of the 19 mentally normal pathological liars were females.
NORMAL BORDER-LINE Running away . . . . . . . . . 12 6 Stealing. . . . . . . . . . . 7 6 Swindling . . . . . . . . . . 7 2 Vagrancy. . . . . . . . . . . 0 4 Attempt at suicide . . . . . . . 0 2 Sex offenses . . . . . . . . . 8 1 False accusations. . . . . . . . 10 4 Self-accusations . . . . . . . . 3 2 Abortion. . . . . . . . . . . 1 0
 P. 140 ff. William Healy. ``The Individual Delinquent.'' Pp. 830. Boston: Little, Brown, and Co. 1915.