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March 11, 2009

Monday night, a new episode of “House” aired about a man (an editor, no less) who suddenly begins telling everyone what he really thinks, showing parallels to Gregory House himself, though the patient’s condition is pathological rather than a personality quirk.

Throughout the episode, this patient is telling everyone the first thing that comes to mind. He tells Taub he’s never seen a bigger nose on another human being, informs Cuddy that he’d definitely take her to bed.

Then he lights into his wife and daughter, eventually confessing that he sometimes regrets his marriage and admitting that neither of the women in his life is very bright.

I first became charmed by House because I appreciated the candid manor in which the Good Doctor deals with both his patients and his colleagues. He’s the one you can always count on to tell the truth, even if nobody else wants to hear it.

Lately, it seems like everyone I encounter is lying about something. This is a gross exaggeration, of course, and I realize that we all have secrets, but it seems to me that life would be infinitely simpler if we all resolved to tell the truth more often than not.

With some people, inhibition promotes lying. We are afraid to tell the truth because we don’t want to offend someone else or open ourselves to painful criticism. With others, the catalyst for dishonesty is rooted in something darker, something I’ve encountered far too often over the last few weeks.

I’m not a perfect human being, and I’ve told my fair share of lies over the years. However, I’ve never lied with the intention of hurting someone I love, and perhaps that makes all the difference.

Little lies, big lies—at some point, the truth becomes ambiguous, and the fine line between protecting yourself and helping yourself blurs perceptibly.

I do believe that in some cases, “little white lies” are necessary and can strengthen a relationship, however temporarily. I just wonder how all our lives would change if we were suddenly afflicted with frontal lobe damage and became disinhibited.

After the initial culture shock, would we all become closer to one another? Or would everything fall apart?

8 Comments leave one →
  1. Amy permalink
    March 11, 2009 9:41 am

    I saw that episode too. Like you, I think little lies have there place but I also think that the truth is often hidden when it shouldn’t be.

  2. March 11, 2009 10:22 am

    I think there will always be situations when masking our opinions with “little white lies” will be appropriate. For one thing, you know what they say about opinions 😉 People can be cruel enough as it is. I didn’t see this episode (actually I rarely see any tv) but did anything good come of this guy telling his wife and daughter what he really thought of them?

  3. Sam Tamlyn permalink*
    March 11, 2009 1:23 pm

    Thanks guys. No, eventually House solved his problem and he went back to his “nice guy” persona. But not until after his wife almost left him. At the end it was implied that “ignorance is bliss”, as the wife tells him about her new promotion (for a job he earlier belittled), and he tells her how proud he is of her. I’m not sure how I feel about all that, though I think if I was in her position, I would have run in the other direction.

  4. Sam Tamlyn permalink*
    March 11, 2009 1:24 pm

    But it also comes down to individual personalities. I would rather know the real score than be deceived for my own “benefit”. However, other people don’t feel that way.

  5. March 11, 2009 2:30 pm

    I think if I found myself married to a guy who thought I was stupid and didn’t respect me, I’d leave, even if he morphed back into Mr. Nice Guy. Deep down I would never believe there was any real trust or affection there again, so like you I’d still be outta there. It would be better if people were honest in the beginning. If you think that little of someone why would you marry them? I realize we’re talking about a fictional scenario here, but I’m sure there are many real cases of spouses who feel this way about a partner.

    So perhaps a little more honesty would be a good thing. On the other hand, I don’t need everyone who thinks I’ve recently gained a couple pounds coming up and telling me so, or telling me they think I’d look better with a nose job or facelift, or a boob job. People are only too happy to make rude remarks under the guise of “honesty”. I expect my close friends to be honest with me, especially when I seek out their opinion, but I don’t need to know what everyone thinks all the time. I don’t know what’s been going on in your life but I get the impression the betrayals have been more than sniping and petty criticisms.

  6. Sam Tamlyn permalink*
    March 11, 2009 2:44 pm

    Yeah, there’s a fine line between telling someone the truth when asked and offering unsolicited criticism. I certainly don’t want people walking up to me on the streets and going, “Have you been living on pizza and beer? ‘Cause you need a treadmill.”

    And I’m probably overreacting because I keep getting different stories from people over this family fiasco. But I definitely agree with you on the fictional plotline.

  7. March 13, 2009 3:56 pm

    I just found your blog via Bold Soul.

    Great post about truth. I haven’t seen the TV shows (not sure they are broadcast in Australia), but I wrote about the fine line between privacy and truth on my blog here

    Good luck with your novel! I look forward to further exploring your blog.

  8. Sam Tamlyn permalink*
    March 13, 2009 4:29 pm

    Thanks Carolyn, and if you’re interested, you can watch House online at

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