Posted in Alienation

Pathological liars: Everything you need to know

Factitious disorder

Factitious disorder — sometimes called Munchausen’s syndrome — is a condition in which a person acts as though they are physically or mentally ill when they are not.

Munchausen’s syndrome by proxy is when someone lies about another person having an illness. This condition is most common in mothers, who feign illness in their child and lie to a doctor about it.

The causes of factitious disorder are unknown. Theories include:

  • biological or genetic causes
  • childhood abuse or neglect
  • low self-esteem
  • the presence of a personality disorder
  • substance abuse
  • depression

Personality disorders

Posted in Alienation

[PDF] A review and case report of pseudologia fantastica

Abstract A phenomenon of particular interest to forensic mental health workers, the courts, and police is that of pathological lying or pseudologia fantastica (PF). Unfortunately, PF is an understudied, poorly understood entity. The current diagnostic system captures intentional deception around physical or psychological problems but does not allow for diagnosis around prominent, purposeless deception within other realms (e.g., false accusations). In addition to reviewing the literature around… CONTINUE READING

Posted in Alienation

Pathological Lying A Sign of Several Health Conditions

While the occasional white lie is considered to be a normal part of social interactions, repeated and elaborate fabrications cross into a very different territory. But what do you do when you realise the person you love is a pathological liar?

Persistent dishonesty is a clear sign of something gone wrong in a friend or loved one. As trust is a fundamental component of relationships, repeated violations of it indicate serious problems are afoot. Lying can occur for a variety of reasons, and ascertaining the root cause of the dishonesty is critical in addressing the problem and beginning to rebuild relationships.

Pathological lying is a unique type of mental health disorder that often co-occurs with other mental health conditions. Understanding the nuances of pathological lying can help you know if your loved one is struggling with this condition, and how to support them.

Posted in Alienation

Real vs False Self

One of the reasons that narcissists are so difficult to spot, and indeed to understand, is because they have a split personality – one that maintains a public image of the very pillars of society, and another private one that wreaks havoc and abuse on anyone misfortunate enough to get close to them.

Why the Split Personality?

Generally, people develop Narcissistic Personality Disorder in their early infancy. It happens as a result of serious trauma experienced as a young child – physical or sexual abuse, for example – as a result of which the child feels a sense deep shame towards their “Real Self”. Their real character is buried deep in their psyche, and suffers arrested development – that is to say certain emotions  develop no further as they grow older but are frozen in time at the age that the abuse happened. Key regulatory emotions affected include empathy, remorse, love, and compassion. They compensate by establishing a “false self”, in essence a charade, an act that mimics mannerisms learnt from their parents, friends and family, films etc.

Posted in Alienation

Narcissism and Empathy Capacity – Dr. George Simon

Empathy Capacity

Empathy capacity is central to healthy emotional, spiritual, and character development. Some equate this capacity with what it means to be truly human. But these days many among us have an impaired capacity to truly care. The reasons for this are many and varied. And as I’ve written about before, how impaired a person is in their empathy capacity has a lot to do with where they might fall on the character disturbance spectrum.

(See also: Narcissism SpectrumCharacter Spectrum DisordersUnderstanding the Character Disorder Spectrum, and The Character Disturbance Spectrum.)

Posted in Alienation

Horrendous lack of respect

For a long time many professionals believed narcissists had to present a confident front because they were inwardly insecure. (Sadly, some professionals still believe this!) They thought that admitting shortcomings, error, or fault was simply too devastating to their “fragile” egos. So, they simply had to be right. To admit frailty, weakness, or any type of vulnerability would crush what little self-esteem they actually had. And for a small minority of narcissists, there actually might be some truth to  a few of these notions. But not for most! (See also: Character Disturbance.)

Most of the time, the issue comes down to the horrendous lack of respect the grandiose among us have for any “higher power.” And truth, you see, is the ulimate higher power. If we reckon with it honestly, it has the power to grow us and set us truly free. But folks who are character disturbed take issue with the truth. Some simply deny it. Others are at war with it. Still others place themselves above it. For the most ardent narcissists, truth is what they say it is. They know they’re not always right. But to acknowledge that would be tantamount to removing themselves from the perch they’re absolutely determined to occupy. Dethroning themselves is not something narcissists do willingly. They refuse to even recognize, let alone voluntarily subordinate themselves to, any higher power.

See also: The Judas Syndrome and Narcissists Can’t Recognize a Higher Power.

Posted in Alienation

Do Narcissists Really Believe They’re Always Right? – Dr. George Simon

Behaving Like You’re Always Right

Most true narcissists act like they’re always right. And sometimes they can be really convincing about it. They can project a remarkably confident image. Their demeanor seems to make a statement: “I don’t just think I’m right. I know I’m right.” But do they really believe such nonsense?

Most folks on the narcissism spectrum know they’re being pompous when asserting they’re always right. That’s right. Most narcissists know better, even though they’re loath to admit it. They definitely won’t admit it to others. And they’re very hesitant to admit it to themselves. Although they will admit it sometimes. That’s when they re-invent themselves and re-frame things in a way that lets them assert they were right all along even when they know they erred. But those at the farther end of the narcissism spectrum may have deluded themselves for so long and so egregiously that they no longer know what’s real and what isn’t. And they can even become so delusional that they can no longer know or respect reality.

Posted in Alienation

Deluding Others, and Deluding Oneself

Deluding Others, and Deluding Oneself

Narcissists can get to almost believing their own lies. They engage in so much truth distortion that it can become hard for them to tell what’s true and what isn’t. But at some level, most narcissists know the truth. But they lie because it’s so easy, even despite negative consequences that can occur. It’s a cheap way of shirking the inherent burden (i.e. “labor of love”) that comes with a grateful self-subordination to something greater and more important than themselves. Conning takes little effort if you have the skill. And it works sometimes, which reinforces you doing it. Serving something bigger than yourself takes more effort. It’s what defines real love. And you have to have the heart for it. Most narcissists do not. They simply don’t care for anything or anyone but themselves.

I use a rhyming phrase in my professional trainings. “It’s not that they don’t see, it’s that they disagree.” Similarly, I say: “It’s not that they’re unaware, they just don’t care.” And recently a famous person wondered out loud why they couldn’t get the adulation they felt they deserved when their subordinates easily did. “Must be my personality,” the person said. The person “sees” the dilemma just fine. It’s the way they style themselves that bugs people. Will they change it? They would have to care. Do they care? No. It’s as simple as that.

Posted in Alienation

Narcissistic Truth Distortion Is Just Manipulation – Dr. George Simon

Narcissistic Truth Distortion

Narcissists engage in truth distortion a lot. And they do so in many different ways. Sometimes, they exaggerate the truth. Other times, they minimize the seriousness of their missteps. Still other times, they twist the truth to serve their agendas. The only constant with Narcissists is their disregard for the actual truth. As I’ve written about before, truth is the ultimate “higher power.” It’s what holds us accountable. But there are those among us who don’t feel accountable to anything or anyone but themselves. They consider themselves above the need for any governing higher power or principle.

Truth distortion is lying, plain and simple. But narcissists and other disturbed characters raise lying nearly to an art form. They do it in so varied and deviant ways. Narcissists lie to others, of course. They lie to themselves, too. And when they do, it’s not a case of what professionals call denial. True denial is an unconscious, primitive, but powerful defense against overwhelming pain. Sadly, professionals unskilled in dealing with character dysfunction often erroneously equate lying with unconscious denial. And this can cause some big and unnecessary problems in treatment.

Posted in Alienation

DV by Proxy

In reality, what these women are describing from their ex-partners is better termed Domestic Violence by Proxy (DV by Proxy), a term first used by Alina Patterson, author of Health and Healing. DV by Proxy refers to a pattern of behavior which is a parent with a history of using domestic violence or intimidation, uses a child as a substitute when he no longer has access to his former partner. Calling this behavior “parental alienation” is not strong enough to convey the criminal pattern of terroristic behaviors employed by batterers.

When his victim leaves him, batterers often recognize that the most expedient way to continue to hurt his partner is to assert his legal rights to control her access to their children. By gaining control of the children, an abusive male now has a powerful tool which allows him to continue to stalk, harass and batter an ex-partner even when he has no direct access to her. Moreover, by emotionally torturing the child and severing the bond between children and their mother, he is able to hurt his intended victim — the mother — in a way she cannot resist.

DV by Proxy includes tactics such as: threats of harm to children if they display a positive bond to the mother, destroying favored possessions given by the mother, and emotional torture (for example, telling the child the mother hates them, wanted an abortion, and is not coming to get them because they are unloved).

DV by Proxy may also include coaching the child to make false allegations regarding their mother’s behavior and harming or punishing the child for not complying. DV by Proxy perpetrators may also create fraudulent documents to defraud the court in order to prevent the mother from gaining custody. Whether or not the child is biologically related to them is irrelevant to perpetrators of DV by Proxy. The perpetrator’s main motivation is to hurt his ex; whether or not his own child is harmed in the process is irrelevant to him.

This is very different from “parental alienation syndrome” as described by the late Richard A. Gardner. Dr. Gardner described PAS as an internal process by which a child aligns themselves with a preferred parent to protect themselves from the divorce conflict. “PAS” is conceptualized as a psychological process of identification with a parent who, according to the theory, encourages this identification at the expense of the other parent.

PAS inducing parents, according to Gardner, are often unconscious of what they are doing to encourage the identification. In contrast, perpetrators of DV by Proxy are very conscious of what they are doing. Controlling, coercive, illegal acts often done by abusive and controlling people, usually men, are not subtle, and do not encourage an identification with a parent. Criminal, fraudulent, coercive acts are visible and obvious. These behaviors encourage compliance by threats and fear. Behaviors involved in DV by Proxy are deliberate and often illegal. These behaviors include: battery, destruction of property, locking children in rooms to prevent them from calling parents, falsifying documents, along with other similar overt behaviors.

The most dangerous aspect of Gardner’s PAS theory is that that the alienating parent’s behavior is theorized to be so subtle as to be unobservable. In other words, the behaviors that are supposed to cause the alienation are assumed to be happening without any proof that they have actually occured. As many women have discovered this makes a charge of “alienation” almost impossible to defend against.

While Gardner’s theories regarding PAS have been shown to be overly general and have not been supported by careful research, behaviors seen in DV by Proxy can be readily observed. Behaviors involved in DV by Proxy are deliberate and planned; many are illegal, and if the child is given the freedom to talk, will be described in great detail by the child.

If the child’s formerly favorable view of the victimized parent changes when exposed to tactics like this over time then it is more likely a form of “Stockholm Syndrome” or traumatic attachment to the abuser, rather than the alignment with one parent and negative reaction to the other that Gardner described as “alienation”.

A recent and comprehensive article on PAS and its use in the court system, by Jennifer Hoult can be downloaded here.