Deconstructing a high stakes deception : A case study of false claims of heroism
Cudmore, Marilyn Jane
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SubjectCanadian liberation of Holland; Deceiver/Receiver attractant traits; Deceptive communication strategies; Hero/liberation story; High stakes deception; Personality traits
A high stakes deception surpasses other intentional forms of deceit because it is a strategic construction of distorted truths which supplies notable benefits to the Deceiver but purposely delivers deleterious outcomes to targeted Receivers. The level of risk necessary for the Deceiver to accomplish these desired results is tempered by the intense satisfaction of having successfully orchestrated it, of having "won". Specifically, some high stakes deception is unique in that it is well prepared, produced as revenge to a targeted person, and maintained over time using a developed public persona that is exemplary and credible. A historical, single case study was selected in order to deconstruct the multiple aspects of this type of high stakes deception, to further understand how contextual elements, personal characteristics and interpersonal communication tactics combine to enable a Deceiver to conceive and implement strategic manoeuvrings efficaciously. The case study exposes a deception by a Dutch Jewish individual who lived through both the Holocaust years in Amsterdam and a short incarceration in a Nazi transit camp at the end of World War II. Forty eight years after the war, he made a startling claim that he was the liberator of almost nine hundred Jewish prisoners from a Dutch transit camp, Kamp Westerbork. His survivor/hero script brought him considerable prestige and financial reward, the capstone being a knighthood conferred onto him by the Royal Dutch House of Orange, although Dutch historians later debunked his claim. The deconstruction of the deception broadens the understanding of how the Deceiver was able to effect a convincing deception to a wide Receiver audience, with minimal accountability. The study supports the Interpersonal Deception Theory.
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