The Naked Truth Blog

The Naked Truth is a blog intended to help us all live more fulfilling lives by confronting our self-deception. No sugar-coating. No coddling. Just the honest reflection of you standing naked in front of a mirror. You can read it here or on Psychology Today.

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In an Era Dominated by Fake News and Lying, Dr. Cortney S. Warren Launches New ChooseHonesty.com Website

By Dr. Cortney S. Warren, PhD, ABPP | January 1, 2018 |
Lies, lies, lies. Claims of fake news and lying have dominated the media in 2017. In response, Dr. Cortney S. Warren launches the redesign of www.ChooseHonesty.com to provide the public with more relevant and easy-to-find information about how to be more honest with ourselves. ChooseHonesty.com details Dr. Warren’s program of research, keynote speaking, expert media appearances, and psychological services. “Humans are masters of self-deception. We don’t like to think of ourselves as liars; it hurts us too much to admit. So we lie to ourselves about that, too. Unless we actively Choose Honesty,” states Dr. Warren. Dr. Warren’s TEDx talk,Honest Liars: The Psychology of Self-Deception” has introduced many non-academics to her work and has been watched by almost a million people. Based on her book, Lies We Tell Ourselves: The Psychology of Self-Deception, she argues that “we are master liars—not just to others, but to ourselves. Our pervasive self-deception serves an important function—it protects us from realities that we do not want to admit. But, over time, lying leaves us with tremendous regret.” Why is self-deception and lying so important for us to understand and confront? Because we all lie to ourselves. It affects every human on this planet. And, Dr. Warren argues, “it is our biggest obstacle to living our ideal life because it keeps us stuck. It keeps us from growing. Because we can’t change something we can’t admit. And it affects every part of our lives. It affects our careers. Our relationships. Even our physical health. For when we believe lies without thinking critically about their validity, we behave in accordance with a dishonest reality and lose our authentic selves.” Much of Dr. Warren’s recent work is on lying and self-deception because that is the foundation of so many of our struggles with growth and personal development. But self-deception is not her only area of expertise. In fact, Dr. Warren is an expert in eating disorders and body image, addictions, and the practice of psychotherapy from a cross-cultural perspective. Using honesty as a platform, she shows how self-deception can affect all unwanted and dysfunctional behavior. For example, how self-deception hurts our eating and body image; our romantic relationships; our drinking and drug use; and, our ability to process diversity-related issues like race, ethnicity, and sexual orientation. Dr. Cortney Warren is not your typical psychologist, keynote speaker or media personality. Like the best motivational speakers, she is dynamic and provocative; delivers content tailored to her audience; and is an expert in her field. What makes her unique is that she is a licensed clinical psychologist and former tenured professor of Psychology. From this strong formal academic background, Dr. Warren uses core psychological principles to challenge us all to change. In fact, in all of her work, Dr. Warren focuses very heavily on take-home tools to change. We can learn to see how we lie to others—and to ourselves. Dr. Warren uses the 3 A’s to Authenticity—Awareness, Assessment, and Action—to teach people to be more honest with themselves. As she says, “I’ll help you change. I will tell you the truth about how you keep yourself stuck and I will show you what it costs. You want better employees, you want more money, you want better relationships and a happier work environment. I can teach you how to get more of that for yourself.  But you have to be willing to look in the mirror.  It’s not going to be easy for you.  But the end result is going to be well worth your time,” states Dr. Warren. In fact, the only thing people have complete control over in this entire world is themselves. Visit www.ChooseHonesty.com to find links to:
  • Warren’s TEDx Talk: “Honest Liars: The Pyschology of Self-Deception”
  • Warren’s book, Lies We Tell Ourselves; The Psychology of Self-Deception
  • Naked Truth free blog posted on ChooseHonesty.com and Psychology Today
  • Information on how to book Dr. Warren as keynote speaker, break-out session facilitator, and consultant.
  • Testimonials from some of the most famous names is Psychology, including Drs. Philip Zimbardo (Professor Emeritus, Stanford University and originator of the Stanford Prison Study), William Cross (President of the Society for the Psychological Study of Ethnic Minority Issues; author, Shades of Blackness), and Michael Levine (Professor Emeritus, Kenyon College; pioneer in eating disorder and body image research).
  • Review a video of Dr. Warren’s work on YouTube.
A special thanks to Elizabeth Crane from Ranking Edge for the outstanding work on the website: http://www.rankingedge.com Read More...

#VegasStrong

By Dr. Cortney S. Warren, PhD, ABPP | October 16, 2017 |

How do people become mass shooters?  Self-Deception plays a critical role.

Las Vegas has experienced the most deadly mass-shooting in modern US history. 58 dead. More than 500 wounded. Thousands traumatized. The world watching and congregating in support.

Unfortunately, mass shooting sprees are becoming commonplace. From Sandy Hook Elementary to Utøya Island, Norway, to an Orlando nightclub, mass shootings are increasing around the world.

In the face of such tragedy, most of us are left with more questions than answers: How can this happen? Why do people become mass-shooters? What goes on in the mind of a killer? 

Although the answer to these questions is incredibly complex, one fact is clear: people often use emotional pain to justify extreme acts of cruelty. In this way, mass shooters often justify killing others through the lies they tell themselves.

How is self-deception active in the mind of a killer? Let’s take a step back to understand self-deception in humans. All of us experience pain in response to challenging life circumstances. Some of our pain may be in response to objectively traumatic events: perhaps we were raised by an abusive parent; lost a child; had a near-death experience; were raped or mugged; or became physically disfigured or disabled.

When confronted with hardship, people often justify bad behavior by blaming other people for their pain. For example, an adolescent may justify getting in physical fights by telling himself that someone was speaking disrespectfully about his family. A mother may tell herself that her child deserves to be screamed at because he or she is misbehaving.

In the same way, mass shooters often justify their murderous behavior by blaming others for their emotional pain. For example, a shooter may blame the group they are killing for hardships in their life. A shooter may be philosophically against the beliefs of the group they are killing (e.g., around religion, values). Or, they may be so miserable in their own life that they feel gratified hurting others.

In fact, history suggests that humans use lies to justify everything from slavery to genocide. We create groups and artificial divisions in our own minds—us versus them—to reinforce that they are different from us in some fundamental way. We then use those differences to justify harming them.

The Naked Truth is this: Mass shootings are increasingly common. In the mind of the shooter, there is a justification for killing. And it is based in lies. The biggest lie being that they are justified in murdering innocent bystanders. In the wake of this most recent Las Vegas shooting, it behooves all of us to support one another through the grieving process. #VegasStrong

As a psychologist living in Las Vegas for 11 years, witnessing this carnage is heart wrenching. Everyone can support our community by donating time or money through a GoFundMe campaign started by Clark County Commissioner Steve Sisolak. Visit https://www.gofundme.com/dr2ks2-las-vegas-victims-fund.

Copyright Cortney S. Warren, Ph.D.

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I am NOT an Addict! The intertwined world of self-deception and addiction.

By Dr. Cortney S. Warren, PhD, ABPP | September 19, 2017 |

Photo Credit: Pixabay

Substance abuse, particularly the use of opioids, is now an epidemic in the United States. For most addicts, self-deception is the biggest obstacle to wellness. Because you can’t change something you can’t admit.  This guest blog, written by Constance Ray (one of the creators of Recovery Well), offers us two stories that exemplify the interconnections between self-deception and addiction. Honest, brutal, but also inspiring, these personal accounts demonstrate how the journey of overcoming addiction requires admitting the truth to yourself.

_____________________________

As addicts, we often try to convince ourselves that we don’t have a problem.  I’m not addicted.  I don’t use that much.  I’m not really hurting anyone, to name a few of the most common deceptive lies.  For those struggling with addiction, self-deception is a constant battle.  Almost always, it fluctuates between denial of the addiction and recognition of the truth that something needs to change.  In fact, deception is a key component of addition.  Like these two recovering addicts demonstrate in their stories below, it isn’t until you are truly honest with yourself that you can make a positive change.

Brandon’s Story

Accomplished athlete, college graduate — Brandon was living a great life, but he got bored and tried Oxycotin recreationally.  What started out as one or two pills here and there quickly escalated into many.  “I was using on a regular basis but I would lie to myself saying, “You’re not an addict — you went to work, you got everything done and you just happen to use pills for fun,” Brandon said.  “I didn’t want to hear that addict word.  But my excuses were just that — excuses.  I was lying to myself.”

Brandon was becoming a different person, and when he looked at himself in the mirror, he didn’t recognize the reflection.  He made up lies to justify his behavior, but all the while his bank account was dwindling to fund his addiction, alerting his parents to a serious problem.  “I’m 25 years old.  If I didn’t want to go to rehab, they couldn’t force me.  But I thought about it and asked myself, ‘How long am I going to do this?’  I was exhausted all the time; it was all I could do to get through an eight-hour work day.  I was sick and tired of being sick and tired,” Brandon said.

Once Brandon was honest with himself, he was finally ready to go to rehab, and booked the next flight to the Treehouse. If you ask Brandon, he will tell you that the secret to success in recovery is to truly be honesty with yourself, no matter how much it hurts or how hard it is to admit.

“Deep down in your heart, you have to want it.  They can give you all the tools available, but you really have to want it,” Brandon said.  “So ask yourself: ‘Are you done?  Are you really done?'”

Dave’s Story

Unlike Brandon, Dave’s life was a little more tumultuous due to his parents’ constant arguing, leaving him feeling isolated and alone.  In middle school, a friend introduced him to marijuana, and he felt like he had finally found the answers to his emotional problems when he was high.  Throughout college, Dave continued to numb the pain with drugs, but when he flunked out, his parents tried to intervene.  Although clearly at a low point, he hadn’t yet come to terms with the truth.  “I hadn’t conceded to myself that I had a problem with drugs or alcohol, but I was ready to get some emotional help.  So I went to treatment,” Dave said.

After treatment, he finished college and got a job in the pharmaceutical business.  However, Dave then started abusing prescription meds, and used his job to fuel his addiction.  “Because of my job, I knew exactly what to say to doctors to get prescriptions for opiates, benzos, and really anything I wanted.  I knew the language,” he said.

Over the next few years, Dave went to recovery meetings on and off and simply switched jobs when he thought he was close to being ‘found out.’  There came a point when he couldn’t go a day without using, and he came to a crossroads.  “I had to get completely honest with myself and admit things I wasn’t proud of doing to the people around me.  I still make mistakes, but now I also make amends,” he said.

According to him, recovery is the solution you’re looking for — you just have to put aside your fear and self-doubt.  “There’s hope in recovery.  You know, when you’re using, there’s such a sense of hopelessness and despair.  But recovery is possible,” Dave said.  “Our disease is what it is, but if you surrender and ask for help, help is out there.  There’s another way.”

The Naked Truth is This:  All of us lie to ourselves.  It is a part of human nature.  Yet, for those battling addiction, staying stuck in our self-deception can mean the difference between getting help and a lifetime of suffering.  Although it will be hard, take a moment and really get honest with yourself.  You’ll discover that the desire to get help is there; you just have to admit the truth to yourself first. 

Copyright Cortney S. Warren, Ph.D.

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To Friend or UnFriend Your Ex

By Dr. Cortney S. Warren, PhD, ABPP | July 11, 2017 |

Pixabay http://ow.ly/5KSb30cz8bJ

Navigating Social Media Interaction after a Breakup

Twitter. Instagram. Facebook. Snapchat. Tinder. LinkedIn. Social media is everywhere. According to the most recent 2016 Neilsen data, adult Americans spend an average of 25 hours a week using some form of media. These outlets inundate us with celebrity updates, breaking news, and personal messages on a minute-to-minute basis. Including information about our exes.

When going through a breakup, navigating our social media interaction can be very challenging. Why is it so hard? There are at least three main reasons:

  1. Continued access to information about your ex.   If your ex was a large part of your life, you will probably be bombarded by information about him or her on some of your social media sites whether you want it or not. You may still be friends with them online. Or you may have unfriended them, but they may be friends of friends—so their social life is still in your face.

The problem with this continual source of information is that, for most people, breaking up requires some space. We need time away from our ex in order to start creating a “new normal” that does not include them. In doing so, most of us benefit greatly by not having contact for awhile. Social media connections make this challenging.

2. Your reaction to information about your ex. When you learn about your ex through social media, it is likely that you will react to it. How? You may want to check up on him or her; try to get back together; become fixated and overly-obsessive about what they are doing now or who they are dating; or feel extreme anger and irritation.

The problem with reacting to information about your ex is that it is generally unpleasant. Who wants to feel upset or reactive to a person you are trying to detach from? It is not only uncomfortable, but it can leave you feeling powerless and challenged because you are at the mercy of outside information.

3. Engaging with your ex. Social media platforms allow you to continue engaging with your ex, which may not be in your best interest. Everything from angry interchanges to desperate attempts at reconciliation can occur on public platforms. It goes without saying, it is much healthier to have any meaningful exchanges in a private, more confidential way.

Given these realities, is it smart to use social media after a breakup? Should you try to stay friends with your ex? Should you take a break all together from social engagements?

The answer to these complicated questions depends on you and your circumstances. Social media can be either unhealthy or very healthy for you when going through a breakup, depending on the circumstances. That said, if you are struggling through a breakup and fixated on your ex, staying actively engaged in the relationship through social media will make it harder to move forward.

A good rule of thumb is to ask yourself whether having information about your ex will influence your quality of life. If hearing about him or her is highly painful or traumatic, it is probably in your best interest to unfriend your ex. This does not need to be done disrespectfully–this is about taking care of yourself. So, if you need to limit contact, do so.  If you need to stay off a given social media site for a while, do so. The goal is really to help yourself move forward in healthy ways while still having some interaction with the world at large.

How long should you limit contact? Until you find yourself not so reactive.

This is also a great time to join social media outlets that can offer you support. For example, EXaholics.com is an anonymous recovery program for anyone going through a breakup. Through support networks like EXaholics.com, you will have a community of people in a similar situation trying to do the same things you are doing. That can really help through the toughest times.

The Naked Truth is This: If you browse your social media after a breakup, stay connected to people and organizations that support you. Don’t allow yourself to engage with your ex if it makes you feel badly. If you sense yourself becoming obsessive and hyper-fixated, try limiting the amount of time you are spending thinking about your ex. Instead, focus on yourself. Every breakup—even the ugliest—offers you the opportunity to understand yourself more deeply. And it may require that you unfriend your ex.

Copyright Cortney S. Warren, Ph.D.

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Your Right to an Opinion Does Not Make Your Opinion Factual

By Dr. Cortney S. Warren, PhD, ABPP | June 19, 2017 |

When everyone has an opinion,

it helps to understand which are more valid.

 The greatest deception men suffer is their own opinions.    – Leonardo da Vinci

Without question, the political situation in the world during the last year has been one of the most stressful in recent times. It has led all of us to hear more opinions than we can count.  Or, care to!  Opinions about everything from taxes to abortion. Medical care to religion. Mental health care to race relations. Gender identity to gender-neutral bathroom signs.

Amidst the barrage of opinions, I hear a bombardment of the following sentiment: This is what I think—and I am entitled to my opinion!

Comments like this give me pause. It is true that everyone is entitled to their own opinion. It is also true that, in the United States, we value freedom of speech so that people can communicate their opinion without prosecution. We value the right to believe what we think is right and to express our opinions accordingly.

What is not true is that an opinion is fact.

Alarmingly, most humans believe that their opinion is fact. We incorrectly believe that our thoughts are correct, right? I mean, if we think it, it must be true. It is true in our own head. We are always right. Right!?!

Wrong. The truth is that a fact is a statement that can be supported to be true or false by data or evidence. In contrast, an opinion is a personal expression of a person’s feelings or thoughts that may or may not be based in data. For many of our opinions are based on emotions, personal history, and values—all of which can be completely unsupported by meaningful evidence.

For example, you may hold the opinion that Trump was a better candidate than Clinton. Just as you may hold the opinion that green is better than red. And blue cheese tastes better than cheddar. That the world is flat instead of round. Whether your opinion is valuable depends on how you reached that conclusion. Is your opinion based in data? Or not.

Why does it matter to understand the difference between fact and opinion? Because although everyone is entitled to an opinion, not all opinions are equally valuable. This is precisely why opinions by “experts” are more valued in court testimony and evaluative reporting because they are more likely to provide opinions based on facts. Based in data.

So, the next time someone tells you that they have a strong opinion about something, understand what their opinion is based on. Is it based on measurable data with some compelling outcome? Or, is it based on reactive, emotional preferences and impressions? If it is the latter, take it with a grain of salt before you value it. And if you have a strong opinion about something that you know very little about, try to figure out why before you give strong credence to your belief.

The Naked Truth is This: Everyone is entitled to their opinion. But not all opinions are equally valuable. The truth is that opinions based in fact—in measurable, meaningful data—are more valuable than those that are not.

Copyright Cortney S. Warren, Ph.D.

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“All my friends are getting married… What about me?!?”

By Dr. Cortney S. Warren, PhD, ABPP | May 16, 2017 |

Photo Credit: Pixabay maiaraluvizoto

How to handle wedding season when you’re without a plus-one.

 

It is wedding season, yet again. The invitations are rolling in and you are without a plus-one.

If you are single, you may struggle going to social events alone (especially weddings!). Common feelings range from loneliness to embarrassment to anger that you have to go to yet another couples-focused event on your own. For most of us want a romantic partner in our lives. Maybe you have never been married but would like to be. Maybe you desperately want children but don’t want to have them without a partner. Maybe you have recently gone through a painful breakup and don’t see how you are ever going to date again. Or maybe you are getting older and losing hope that you will be the person walking down the aisle someday.

In addition, being in a relationship labels us socially: We look desired if we are partnered and unwanted if we are single. Especially for women. That can lead to very unhealthy thoughts about our current value and future prospects.

If you are one of the millions of people who are single and struggling to go to social events alone, here are a few things to keep in mind this wedding season:

1) You don’t have to go to a friend’s wedding. You can always communicate how much you care about the person getting married privately.

2) If you decide to go, challenge any unhelpful thoughts about yourself. Many of us are highly critical of ourselves. If you have any thoughts that are negative—things like, “I am always going to be alone and will never find someone” to “I am such a loser”—pause. Stop yourself dead in your tracks and re-frame your thoughts to be more positive and helpful to your happiness.

3) Plan ahead for moments that might be emotionally triggering. Do you tend to drink too much at events like this when you run into an ex-friend or ex-lover at the reception? Eat too much? Think about the situations that will be most challenging before you get to the event itself and have a plan in place.

4) Focus on yourself. The more comfortable you are with yourself alone, the better you will be in a relationship. This is an opportunity for you to become more confident as an independent, single person. All the while presenting yourself as a vibrant, well-adjusted, interesting person to anyone who might be looking at you!

The Naked Truth is This: Wedding season is upon us. As a single person without a plus-one, going to social events like weddings can be challenging.  As you make deliberate choices about wedding attendance, you will benefit by preparing for emotionally triggering moments and focusing on yourself. Make a plan to shine brightly instead of feeling the lack of your plus-one.

Copyright Cortney S. Warren, Ph.D.

 

 

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Minimizing Anxiety, Honestly

By Dr. Cortney S. Warren, PhD, ABPP | April 3, 2017 |

Photo Credit: Pixabay xusenru

A guest blog by Jennifer Scott who runs SpiritFinder.org—an organization with the mission of providing accurate and helpful information about mental illness to the public.

“Anxiety’s like a rocking chair. It gives you something to do, but it doesn’t get you very far.” – Jodi Picoult

Most of us don’t want to admit that we struggle with difficult emotions from time to time. Sadness. Worry. Anxiety. Yet, we so desperately want to be happy all of the time. Sometimes we even flat-out lie to ourselves to stay convinced that we’re content in life. But the truth is that anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health issues affecting people in the world today. In the United States alone, anxiety disorders affect 2 out of every 10 adults and 1 out of every 8 children. In addition, many of us are affected on a regular basis by subclinical levels of anxiety that harm our ability to function to the best of our ability. And, all of us feel anxious from time to time! About money. Our kids. Our health. Relationships. Public speaking. Or, the state of current world events and political affairs.

Despite being among the most common symptoms, anxiety often goes untreated and can lead to relationship problems, difficulties on the job or in school, substance abuse, self-deception, and avoidance of important life events. If you’re looking to reduce anxiety, prevent panic attacks, and bring more joy and fulfillment to your life, there are several things you can do to help yourself.

1) Choose to be More Honest With Yourself

Before you can confront a problem, you have to acknowledge that you have a problem! You’re going to need to make sure you’re being honest with yourself about the symptoms you are having. Acknowledge that you are struggling with anxiety. If your anxiety is damaging your quality of life, stop brushing it off as though it is just a normal thing that will go away on its own. It is true that many people suffer from anxiety, but it doesn’t have to drastically affect your life. Trying to fool yourself is never a solution.

2) Take Up a Relaxation Practice

Once you acknowledge your struggles, you can do something about it. One of the best ways to tackle anxiety is start a daily relaxation practice and stay with it. The goal of this practice is to calm your mind and body. There are so many great activities out there that you can choose from: meditation, yoga, breathwork, attending church, swimming, cuddling puppies and kittens, or even knitting, if that’s your sort of thing. Find something that speaks to you. If you choose an activity that has a social element, such as taking a hot yoga class, be sure you get enough down time in between social activities to rest, reset, and rejuvenate.

3) Get Active and Eat Well

Another wonderful way to manage anxiety is to take care of your body. The United Kingdom’s NHS recommends eating right and exercising to fight off the depression and anxiety that many people experience each winter. If you’ve been craving extra sugars, carbohydrates and fatty foods, be sure to balance with fresh fruit and vegetables. Staying physically active is also helpful because it increases levels of the mood-enhancing chemical serotonin in your brain. Most doctors recommend at least 30 minutes of vigorous exercise 3 times per week for effective results.

4) Seek Treatment

If you seem to be really struggling or think your life is being highly negatively affected, psychotherapy is an excellent resource. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America lists anxiety as a very common and treatable illness. Sadly, most people with anxiety never seek treatment options. There’s no reason to feel like you have to suffer through anxiety and panic attacks alone. There are even 24/7 support hotlines you can call or websites that will match you with an online therapist during times of crisis. If your condition is starting to interfere with your daily life, talk to your doctor or psychiatrist. There may be something they can do to help you.

The Naked Truth is This: Although anxiety and its related disorders are highly common, there are many options that can help you live and even thrive in your life. Anxiety doesn’t have to be a barrier holding you back from doing the things you want to do. It can be easy to take steps today to reduce your anxious feelings throughout the year. Just remember, you’re not alone.

Copyright Cortney S. Warren, Ph.D.

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Soon, Your Doctor Could Legally Lie to You

By Dr. Cortney S. Warren, PhD, ABPP | March 2, 2017 |

Photo Credit: Dreamstime

How Texas Lawmakers Are Justifying a Bill that would allow Doctors to Lie to Pregnant Women

I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.
                                                                                                             –  Friedrich Nietzsche

It was a typical Monday morning. Bleary-eyed with coffee in hand, I opened a news app on my phone with the following headline: “Texas Lawmakers Advance Bill That Would Allow Doctors to Lie to Pregnant Women.” That can’t be right, I thought. No one would actually encourage lying in the medical community, right? I was wrong.

On Monday, February 27th, 2017, the Texas Senate Committee on State Affairs voted unanimously (8-0) to support a Bill that would prevent parents from suing doctors who did not disclose that their unborn child may have a disability. Also known as the “wrongful births” Bill or Texas Senate Bill 25, this legislation is a reaction to the 1975 Texas Supreme Court Case Jacobs v. Theimer. In this landmark case, Dortha Jacobs contracted rubella during the first trimester of her pregnancy and subsequently gave birth to a child with severe organ damage. Dortha and her husband sued their doctor, Louis Theimer, for failing to diagnose her illness and give them information about the infant’s health risk with adequate time to determine whether to terminate the pregnancy. The Jacobs family won and, subsequently, were awarded money to help pay for their child’s medical expenses.

On the surface, Texas Senate Bill 25 may seem simply to be about your right to sue your doctor. In the United States, medical malpractice suits are common and OBGYN’s are among the most commonly sued medical professionals. It also may seem to be about abortion—a highly controversial, heavily-debated issue in the world today. And, it is about each of those issues to some degree. But the crux of this Bill actually highlights a much larger issue—medical ethics and honesty. It is about whether a doctor can intentionally lie to a pregnant woman about the health of her unborn child.

How are lawmakers justifying a Bill that essentially allows doctors to withhold medical information from their patients? Supporters of the Bill seem to be using two main arguments: 1) that the Bill will protect fetuses and babies living with disabilities from undue harm; and, 2) that the Bill will prevent doctors from encouraging abortions to avoid lawsuits.

The problem with these arguments is that lawmakers are not addressing the biggest issue in this case—lying in the medical community. According to philosopher Immanuel Kant, lying is always morally wrong because humans are born with an intrinsic worth and should be afforded basic rights. What makes us uniquely human is that we are rational and capable of freely making our own decisions. As such, to be ethical requires respecting that power in oneself and others.

To claim that withholding medical information from patients is morally justified because it avoids unwanted consequences (including potential abortions and lawsuits) is wrong for at least 3 fundamental reasons:

First, lying violates the most important quality of being human: a person’s ability to freely make rational choices. You may not like the choices a person decides to make—but that is not the issue here. The issue is that we are each afforded the freedom to choose as a basic nod to our intrinsic value as human beings.

Second, intentionally lying to patients breeds a culture of medical distrust. If a doctor is allowed to legally withhold medical information from a patient, the very fabric of medical ethics is in question. The necessary trust between patient and doctor becomes severely compromised.

Third, the Bill assumes that there is no benefit to knowing the health status of a medically-ill child prior to delivery. It may be that a woman would choose to have an abortion if her unborn child is severely medically ill. Or, it may be that she would have more information to emotionally and practically prepare for life with a disabled child. Irrespective of what she chooses to do with the information, knowledge is power. To deprive a special needs child and new mother of information that could dramatically help their process is wrong.

The Naked Truth is This: Although Texas Senate Bill 25 may seem to be about abortion and your right to sue your doctor—it is actually, fundamentally, about medical ethics and honesty. If you believe that medically-ill children are maltreated or socially maligned, get socially active to stop it. If you believe abortion is wrong, you are free to join a pro-life organization. But please, do not suggest that those problems are fixed by lying to women about their health. Allowing doctors to intentionally withhold medical information from a pregnant woman about the health of her unborn child is unethical. Period. Oppose Texas Bill 25.

Copyright Cortney S. Warren, Ph.D.

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