Inveterate Liars

We've been discussing the nature of human emotions and how they distort reality. Here's another example: The city of Los Angeles was paralyzed with fear in 1969 when Charles Manson and his "family" murdered many people in cold blood. Residents wondered who would be next. My mother was quite convinced that she was the prime candidate. Sure enough, Mom and Dad heard the intruder as they lay in bed one night.

Thump came the sound from the area of the kitchen.

"Did you hear that?" asked my mother.

"Yes, be quiet," said my father.

They lay staring into the darkness, breathing shallowly and listening for further clues. A second thump brought them to their feet. They felt their way to the bedroom door, which was closed. Mom propped her foot against the door and threw her weight against the upper section. My father characteristically wanted to confront the attacker head-on. He reached through the darkness and grasped the doorknob, but his pull met the resistance from my mother. Dad assumed someone was holding the door from the other side, while my mother could feel the killer trying to force it open.

My parents stood there in the blackness, struggling against one another and imagining themselves to be in a tug-of-war with a killer. Finally Mother ran to the window to scream, which allowed Dad to open the door. That's when she noticed that the light was on in the hall. In reality, no prowler was there. The thumps were never identified, and Charles Manson never made his anticipated visit.

This story illustrates the way fearful people can be deceived by human emotions. Feelings are inveterate liars that often confirm our worst fears. That's why I wrote a book whose title asked this question, Emotions: Can You Trust Them?

It took me two hundred pages to say no!

From Dr. James Dobson's Handbook of Family Advice

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