TED Conversations

Dyed All Hues

Thinker and Experimenter,


This conversation is closed.

If someone you knew was a pathological truth-teller; how would you react to this person?

Most of you have probably hear the term "pathological liar", meaning they lie all the time, from dusk til dawn. We all lie though, but too much lies can ruin any relationship. If there was no lies, but pure truth 24/7 360days a year for the rest of that persons' life, how would you react to this person?

Some have argued with me that we need lies to live for example, 'your best friends mother on her death bed asks you where her son is, and you couldn't tell her that her son has just died on an air plane that blew up just before landing, so you lie and tell her that his flight was cancelled and he says he loves you very much and you fill in the blanks with fond memories....now let's change that situation a bit....

Your best friend mother on her death bed asks for her son, but you know he just died on that exploding plane, so you give her the low down and tell her that his flight didn't make it here because his plane blew up, though he really loves you and he told me this before we got off the phone.

Two scenarios, both end the same, she passes away, but the details may be different depending on the individual.

A pathological truth-teller doesn't blurt things out though, like if they see something/someone they hate, they won't go I hate that thing over there and then proceed to tell the thing or person they hate it/them, though if they were asked to give an opinion they would tell the truth.

If you asked this person a question, they would answer you extremely truthfully and at times it might even seem offensive. For instance, you ask them "do I look good in this" and the pathological truth-teller says "it looks hideous on you, but you already tried all the clothes in this store and they all don't look good on you, so let's go to a store with a different style?".

How would you react to this person?

Update: This is a scenario of a world with pathological truth tellers.



Closing Statement from Dyed All Hues

All I could think of is "thank you for participating and hope the remnance of this discussion will shed light upon your life", though this topic is far from reaching any type of consensus; we can all strive to respect one another and live earnestly and honestly.

May you take positive leaps and bounds in your life.

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.

  • Jun 30 2012: I think people tend to calibrate their reactions to individuals, as they get to know them.

    For example: A blunt statement will be perceived differently depending on whether its delivered by a typically tactful person, or a typically blunt person.

    For me, the topic question doesn't seem hypothetical. For the past 27 years, I've known a person who I believe fits your description of "Pathological truth teller".

    She wouldn't have told the woman her son was dead, but she typically made a terrible first impression on new people she met.

    The first time I met her, I thought she was very rude. But, people who had known her for a long time seemed completely comfortable around her, and unphased by her apparent rudeness.

    As I got to know her, I too became very comfortable around her. She wasn't malicious. She didn't have hidden agendas. You didn't have to watch your back around her. You always knew where you stood. She was very trustworthy. She loved her family and we loved her.
    • thumb
      Jun 30 2012: So, she is the type of person that would tell you "I don't think I like you very much after that specific comment you just made", or she makes comments like that after you ask her "where do I stand on your list of likeability?"?

      There was an insightful comment made that I would like to note made by Steve C (below).

      "It only becomes pathological when they believe that the facts are more important than me."

      So, your friend probably takes some consideration of your feelings, but is generally really blunt?
      • Jul 1 2012: I don't think feelings were much of a consideration, not because she didn't care about people, or because she believed the truth was more important than the person. Feelings weren't much of a consideration because I don't think she understood feelings very well; even her own.

        Regarding your first paragraph, she wouldn't have made the first comment and I would never have had reason to ask the second.
        • thumb
          Jul 2 2012: Her personality sounds like it is an aquired taste, but I am interested in meeting this person, or someone similar, someday.

          Thanks for the clarification John. =)

Showing single comment thread. View the full conversation.