Deception is commonplace and a discipline such as psychiatry, so often reliant upon subjective accounts, may be susceptible to its effects (especially in the fields of military, liaison, medico-legal and forensic practice). However, psychiatric trainees receive little formal teaching on the subject of medical deceit. Here, I review some recent books on deception, emphasising those works that cast tangential light upon everyday psychiatric practice. Useful sources of reference include those concerning the philosophy of deceit, the recent rise of political lying and the clinical problem of feigned illness. A clinically helpful distinction emerges: that between truth (accuracy) and truthfulness (sincerity).
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