(Disclosure: I am not a mental health professional. The statements in this blog post are based on personal observations.)
An active imagination is great if you’re a creative person. However, an adult understands the limits and responsibilities.
I have done some fiction writing, and know how it is to let my creativity run amok and then look at the results later. That’s where editing comes in. I can’t call it art unless the characters are developed in a human way, the plot is constructed carefully and the wording is readable. It would be terribly embarrassing if anyone saw my unedited fiction writing.
On a related topic:
Whether we’re hearing odd claims from acquaintances or listening to grandiose talk from someone whose authority, knowledge, ability and connections to celebrities are in question, we should consider the possibility that we’re hearing misguided creativity. It could be that person’s way of compensating for an empty life or low self-esteem. On the other hand, that person might just want to rip off our money or use us for some other sleazy purpose. It isn’t art, and a person who behaves that way can hurt us if we aren’t careful.
A word on grifters: The best of the bunch persuade themselves to believe what they’re saying. It makes them sound convincing. Stanislavsky would probably be repulsed, but method acting can be used for evil purposes. Most talent can.
Sometimes we hear a clue when a claim is made a second or third time. The story might get a bit more shocking with each telling. Someone who is coerced into giving money to an aggressive panhandler may describe the trauma accurately the first time, but later you hear about the panhandler threatening the person with a knife. Then it’s a gun. And so on.
A person who has fallen into the trap of presenting embellished stories as fact loses credibility. Yes, some people who do that have serious mental health issues. Some of them are just human, though, and after they calm down they don’t feel too proud of what they’ve told others. If a distorted claim comes up later, the person at the source must decide whether to continue with the lie or work up the courage to admit doing something wrong.
If you’d like to see a fine television show featuring a character who paints himself into a corner that way, I recommend a Streets Of San Francisco episode titled Web Of Lies (originally aired in 1975), with Pat Hingle. By the way, just about anywhere you go, filing a false police report is illegal.
Comments on this topic are welcome, but no troll stuff, please. The internet shouldn’t be a place where people vent every nasty impulse while hiding from the people they’re insulting.
We can disagree, and offer polite arguments on why we disagree. We can cite sources. We can recount personal experiences (no embellishing, please). We can even throw in humor about our imaginary friends, and hope others are sophisticated enough to get the joke.
It’s all about being adults.