Compulsive lying disorder, also known as pseudologia fantastica or mythomania, is a condition that describes the behavior of a habitual liar.
While compulsive lying disorder is actually not included in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-IV), except as a symptom of factitious disorder, many psychiatrists and psychologists consider it a distinct mental disorder.
In the past two decades countless hours of research and multiple papers have been written regarding this issue, though it remains one of the most under researched psychiatric conditions. Individuals with the disorder simply cannot stop themselves from misrepresenting the truth.
People with the disorder are not able to control their lies and experience no guilt regardless of how the lies may affect themselves and others. The lack of guilt is frequently the result of the fact that the individual becomes so caught up in the lie that they are telling, they begin to believe it themselves. If confronted with a lie they have told in the past or one that they are presently telling, they will be insistent that they are speaking the truth.
Over time, the individual will become so adept at lying that it will be very difficult for others to determine if they are, in fact, telling the truth. There are no exact figures regarding the number of people that suffer from this disorder, but has been found to be equally common in men and women and usually becomes very apparent in the late teens.
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Is your husband or wife, boyfriend or girlfriend a compulsive/pathological liar or a sociopath?
To begin with, it may help to understand the difference between a pathological or compulsive liar and a sociopath (see types of liars).
Ultimately, making this type of distinction may not be that useful. Because in either case, the outcome is typically the same: dealing with a compulsive or pathological liar is very difficult to do. And unfortunately, sociopaths cannot be changed (seelovefraud).
A compulsive liar will resort to telling lies, regardless of the situation. Again, everyone lies from time to time (see when lovers lie), but for a compulsive liar, telling lies is routine. It becomes a habit—a way of life.
Simply put, for a compulsive liar, lying becomes second nature.
Not only do compulsive liars bend the truth about issues large and small, they take comfort in it. Lying feels right to a compulsive liar. Telling the truth, on the other hand, is difficult and uncomfortable.
Understanding of Individual’s Psychological Stability
Psychological stability is the other factor in determining if someone is a pathological liar. Many people habitually lie due to a mental illness such as bipolar disorder, borderline personality disorder or depression. Many mental illness sufferers have misconceptions about what is reality. Their distorted perceptions make it difficult for them to understand what is false and true. That’s not to say that all individuals who suffer from mental illness lie unknowingly, but many lie so they don’t suffer repercussions from caregivers and psychiatric care providers.
Suggest Professional Help
If you suspect someone you love has a problem with pathological lying, seek help from a qualified therapist. If the person who compulsively lies will not seek help, set your own boundaries firmly in order to avoid being hurt.