Monday, September 28, 2015

WHY DO PEOPLE TELL EXTREME LIES?

Gentle Readers . . . and Maxwell,

I'm back to our chat about Tania Head, the woman who said she survived the first plane crash into the World Trade Center and received all sorts of attention for it, but it turned out she wasn't there. She never worked there. She was probably in Spain on 9/11. (For more information, see my review of The Woman Who Wasn't There, a great documentary made by my close personal friend, Angelo Guglielmo, who actually tweeted me a thank you for promoting his movie, and I can prove it because I have the tweet. And no, I wasn't in New York on 9/11. I was in Maryland.)

After the revelation that Head wasn't there, weird stuff happened with her. She hung around New York for a while and went to some of the 9/11 observances. Somebody tweeted that she committed suicide. She got a job with a company in Spain. Allegedly, they fired her when the book and documentary about her antics approached their release dates. They felt customers wouldn't trust them if they employed her.

Alicia Esteve Head has never admitted that she wasn't there.

Last week I found an article about this guy,



Steve Rannazzisi, who claimed to work for Merrill Lynch, as did Alicia "Tania" Head. Many times, he credited his presence in the tower with jump starting his career as an actor and comedian because he and his fiancée decided to leave the horrors of New York for the horrors of Los Angeles.


It turned out he's The Guy Who Wasn't There, but he admitted recently that he lied.

My close personal friend Angelo Guglielmo--you know, the guy who directed the great documentary The Woman Who Wasn't There--thinks people make up these stories out of a desire to connect with those who suffered. He says:
I think Tania started to reach out to [survivors] simply as one human to another and ended up becoming a 9/11 survivor,” he told The Washington Post. “She needed that intimacy, that connection. She needed to be part of that community and not an outsider.”

Some experts think people lie about these experiences because they long for attention. More specifically, it can be a form of Munchhausen Syndrome.

One woman who was maybe named Laurel Wilson or Lauren Stratford became a leader in the "repressed memory" community because she wrote a book about her status as a satanic ritual abuse survivor. Later, she took on yet another name and claimed she was a child survivor of the Holocaust.

Then we have Brian Williams, the former NBC anchor. He didn't need to lie to gain fame or acceptance. The Washington Post article cites experts who think he might have had false memories.

I find these cases interesting for multiple reasons, including some that are deeply personal. No point going there.

And you know, don't you, that when I call Angelo Guglielmo my close personal friend because he tweeted me that it's a joke? He really tweeted me, which was nice, but we are not friends in any way. His documentary is great.

Do you know anyone who has told extreme lies? Without revealing your identity, do you want to admit that you've told such lies?


Infinities of love,

Janie Junebug

40 comments:

  1. I wasn't in the World Trade Center when the first plane hit...because I managed to jump out of the plane moments before it struck.

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    1. I was on that plane, too. I shot one of the terrorists with the gun that everyone should have a right to carry anyplace at all, and then I jumped off the plane. My parachute opened so beautifully.

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  2. I've never told a lie that big. I think it's a form of Munchausen's Syndrome that people tell these lies not for the attention but to give their personal story more perceived significance. A lot of us think that our history isn't important or boring so we weave in these lies to add some interest for others. Like some desire to entertain others while making them think we're important by being present for history.

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    1. I believe some people are desperate for attention beyond anything I can imagine.

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  3. I really have never understood the lying thing. The costs of the truth just seem like they would outweigh anything. Then again, I suppose I should consider that someone who is lying may not be processing such information the way most do/try to?

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    1. Some people get away with the lies. Tania Head didn't get caught till 2007. The lady who wrote books about the satanic abuse she experienced as a child made a lot of money.

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  4. I haven't told such a lie, but I know of people who lied about certain things. Mostly they did it to get something out of it. But to lie about such an important day and the events
    . . . I personally feel it's disrespectful to those that died and their families.

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  5. I told a big whopper when I was away at camp one summer. I said I had an older brother who died in Vietnam. I think my reasoning was that if they (kids/counselors) felt sorry for me they'd have to like me a little or at least not be mean to me. I did not, however, bring big my fake dead big brother home from camp with me. But I do remember that his name was Paul.

    I feel sorry for that kid but sorrier still for those adults who told such whoppers. At least I grew out of that phase.

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    1. I don't think it's all that unusual for a kid to tell a lie like that. You don't continue to drag around the dead brother story. It's over and I've already forgotten that you ever did it.

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  6. Yes. Psychopath? Sociopath? Needs attention? Who knows.

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    1. Some people are pathological liars and can't stop.

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  7. I think those people initially saw it as an opportunity to go from zero to hero.

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    1. Definitely. It's a real attention grabber.

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  8. We all fib every now and then to spare people's feelings, but I can't recall telling a serious lie---yet.

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    1. I'll tell people who look like crap that they look nice. I want them to feel good. I also know how bad it makes me feel when somebody tells me I look like crap.

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  9. I believe these exaggerations come from people who need to feel more important than their ordinary, or less than ordinary lives. I know men who served in Vietnam only in their imaginations, as the extreme example. I found myself reluctant to challenge them, probably because I did not care enough to deal with a fog of lies.

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    1. I know of someone who lied about being a POW in Vietnam. He died, and his widow didn't know he'd made it all up. It's been many years. She might not know now, and I'm not telling her.

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  10. Is withholding a truth a lie as well? Interesting observations today, Janie.

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    1. A sin of omission instead of a sin of commission? It definitely can be considered a lie.

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  11. I think people tell these lies want to feel important in some way. i think it's a combination of a number of different things. Attention seeking is one part, needing attention is another. They might have always felt like they were part of the wall-never noticed and this is one way of getting noticed. A friend of mine knows someone who actually is married to her brother and that woman lies constantly so she can feel that she is #1. In this specific case she is abusive mentally and emotionally to her husband, lies to feel she is the only one to have gone through events or illnesses. she, I think, is a sociopath. A friend of mine, in grade school, would lie and say she broke her back. It was only to get attention because she felt unloved. The only lies I have told are the ones we all have-I am busy that night, pretend I'm not home so don't answer the phone but that's it

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    1. I don't think of those "lies" as lies. They're a way of not hurting someone else. I used to know someone who is a pathological liar. That person could not stop lying, and I think the person ended up not knowing the difference between the truth and the lie. The lies were told to hurt other people, and for self-aggrandizement.

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  12. I'm not even good at little lies. I'm one of those people who gets caught right off. Probably because I feel guilty and bad if I lie and everything shows on my face--LOL!

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    1. Oh, Rita Pita Pan. You are too sweet to lie.

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  13. This Munchhausen thing is interesting. I didn't know there was such a disorder, but it would explain why people would lie like this.

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    1. There's also Munchhausen's by proxy. It's when people do things like make their kids sick so they'll get attention.

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  14. I never deliberately lie, but my husband claims some of my best memories never happened, I say what's the difference, as long as they’re good memories?

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    1. I find that hyperbole is part of some of my best comedy.

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  15. This reminds me of those people who claim to have cancer or some other medical condition to raise funds for themselves. Of course, they're just con artists. The ones who are pathological liars simply for attention must be suffering some kind of mental illness. Of course that doesn't excuse what they do.

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    1. I truly believe some people can't stop lying.

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  16. When you mentioned the documentary, I watched it and felt disgusted. A lot.

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    1. I hope you didn't barf or something because barfing blue would be extra icky.

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  17. Can we change that to Buttmunchhausen Syndrome? No matter what the cause, I don't have sympathy for people that make up stories of this caliber. Like, if someone says they once beat up the elementary school bully when really they just ran and hid in the bathroom, okay, whatever, but saying you were at the center of one of the biggest national tragedies we've ever had and carrying that lie for almost 15 years is just disgusting.

    I guess what I'm saying is f*** you, Steve Rannazzisi.

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    1. I don't feel sympathy for Steve Rannazzisi, but at least he admitted that he lied and apologized for it. But did he admit it because he got caught, or because he felt bad about what he'd done? Apparently, he's on a TV show. I'd never heard of him before.

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  18. I am just going to go on record here and let everyone know that I am young, (I just know all the words and dance moves to 70's music because I am so well rounded) have a fantastic personality,( my son's ringtone for me is Saffire and the Uppity Blueswomen's song "B^%*# with a Bad Attitude" ) and very tall (at least in some cultures I would be considered tall) graduated at the top of my class,(top row that is. See, it is quite easy to lie, but believing it, well that is the hard part.
    Really, no idea why people do that. I guess they are the same one who believe they were kings and queens in a past life. TheHub and I have always said if there is such a thing as reincarnation he was probably a camel driver and I was probably a pox carrying milk maid.

    That being said, I did tell a whopper of a lie when I was 16 and new to driving. I was distracted and hit a bridge about 2 blocks from our house, and told my parents a bunny ran into the street . I was trying to avoid hitting it so I clipped the bridge instead. I just "fessed" up to the truth this year.

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  19. Everyone lies but some people sadly thing their lies are the truth they tell the same lie over and over and lose touch with what is the truth. I have a sister who lies about everything big things, little things, and sometimes mum and I will say what does she not thing people talk to each other and she has a terrible memory and liars need a good memory.

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    1. Telling the truth is easier. Or just keep quiet.

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  20. I watched the documentary based solely on your recommendation. Although it was hard to watch the horror of that day again, I was fascinated by the story. And interesting how many of the legit survivors doubted her, but didn't want to confront her because it was an awkward situation. But, yet another lesson in trust your gut instincts!

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    1. Thank you for an excellent observation. It's a shame that people didn't feel they could speak up, but somehow Tania Head developed so much power in the survivors network that she could get people kicked out--people who were legitimate survivors.

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