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Richard J. McNally

Truth and fiction in psychotherapy and beyond

Is it true that the truth will set you free? Or are there circumstances when a noble lie should hold sway? Does truth depend on one’s perspective? Or is it perspective-independent? The purpose of my talk is to present empirical studies from my laboratory pertinent to answering these questions. I will cover a diversity of experiences, such as solitude, adversity, isolated sleep paralysis, and dreams, and the correlates and consequences of how one interprets them (e.g., as loneliness, trauma, abduction by space aliens, and memories of one’s previous incarnations or “past lives”). Finally, I will address clinical and policy implications of this work.