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March 29, 2013

On the Mend: The physical toll of lying

We do it every day — whether deliberate or in passing.

For some, it’s as automated a response as going to the bathroom after you wake in the morning, but for others it can be as complex and difficult as composing a symphony. From the proclaimed self-righteous to holy men and everyone in between, we all tell lies.

Why do we lie? It’s an interesting question — a question that’s been around since the inception of verbal communication between humans.

The legendary neurologist Sigmund Freud concluded that all human actions are attempts to acquire love. While that statement is hotly debated, you can be certain at one point a caveman made a conscious decision to tell his wife her hair looked nice that morning.

It’s widely accepted that lies serve endless purposes. It would be hard to find a person who couldn’t acknowledge the utility of a little white lie. But while they act as functional tools to keep life going on an even keel, they definitely come at a price.

So, before you tell your next lie, think about what it does to your body — you might be better off with the truth.

Stress releases cortisol — a hormone that’s useful in bolstering your fight or flight nervous system but can also have a catastrophic effect on your body if released frequently or for prolonged times. Cortisol is linked to high concentrations of belly fat, stress and heart attacks to name a few items on a long list of the health woes of a liar.

Jiminy Cricket wouldn’t approve — after all, he is your conscience and would hate to see you to fall victim to the Pinocchio Effect which refers to the sudden and measurable erratic physical behaviors demonstrated by someone who is lying.

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