If you really wish to stop lying, as a compulsive liar, you should start telling the truth and being honest at all times to your therapist and put in the hard work to improve. By being able to practice telling the truth with a therapist, it will be easier to apply it to your personal relationships.
An old jest runs to the effect that there are three degrees of comparison among liars. There are liars, there are outrageous liars, and there are scientific experts. This has lately been adapted to throw dirt upon statistics. There are three degrees of comparison, it is said, in lying. There are lies, there are outrageous lies, and there are statistics
Why Lying Becomes Second Nature for Some People
However, both compulsive lying and pathological lying are usually a symptom of a bigger issue, such as:
- Narcissistic Personality Disorder
- Attention Deficit Hyperactivity
- Bipolar Disorder
- Addiction or Substance Abuse
- Borderline Personality Disorder
Compulsive liars can be hurtful to people around them, especially those who are close to them, like friends and partners. Because they can be manipulative and controlling, they often manipulate the emotions of those who care about them. If the lying is a symptom of a bigger disorder, they might lack empathy so they cannot see how their lies are hurtful and destructive. They could be serial cheaters or even mentally and emotionally abusive. Above all, they are untrustworthy.
If you’re trying to decide if someone you know is a pathological liar, here are some traits to look for:
- The lies are elaborate. Earlier when I said it was exhausting to pick apart what was fact and what was fiction, it’s mostly because of how elaborate the lies are. Typically, a pathological liar will weave truth into the lie.
- The lies make the liar look good, or even like a victim. If a pathological liar is telling you a story involving multiple people, he will typically look like the hero, or as if he is being treated unfairly and doesn’t deserve it. This could be due to low self-esteem. Part of why a pathological liar lies is because they feel they deserve attention. They’ll do whatever it takes to get to be in the spotlight. For this same reason, they’ll also get defensive if they get caught in a lie and blame someone else.
- The lies aren’t original. Sometimes, pathological liars retell other peoples’ stories but change the narrative so it sounds like it happened to them! If a story sounds familiar, don’t dismiss it. There’s a good chance you truly have heard it before.
- Liars avoid questions that might get them caught. When a pathological liar is confronted with questions, they tend to avoid them at all costs. They’re manipulative and may even convince you they already answered your question. They may also dodge your question entirely by feigning offense to the question. Liars will also manipulate you in whatever ways necessary to always stay one step ahead.
- They over-compensate with eye contact. While most liars would avoid eye contact, pathological liars will go out of their way to maintain deep eye contact in order to appear more convincing. Sometimes, a pathological liar’s pupils will dilate as they lie.
- They seem overly laid back. Generally when someone lies, they may be fidgety and anxious. But when a pathological liar speaks, even if repeating someone’s story you heard earlier that day, they seem laid back and not at all concerned about getting caught.
- Their pitch changes and their smile is insincere. Depending on the person, a pathological liar’s voice may get higher or lower when they are being dishonest. They could also be overly thirsty and require water while lying, as the stress from lying causes adrenaline to constrict the vocal chords. A pathological liar also smiles differently from a truthful person. When someone is genuinely happy, a person smiles with their whole face; their eyes crinkle and the corners of their mouth stretch. But a liar only smiles with their mouth.
- They may have a history of other problematic habits. A history of substance abuse, eating disorders, anger, etc. may be good indicators that a person has the capacity to be a pathological liar.
- They’re delusional. Pathological liars live in their own world. They believe parts of their lies are true and tend to exaggerate the importance of basic occurrences.
- They aren’t good at relationships. Not surprisingly, pathological liars have unstable relationships, both romantic and professional. Typically a pathological liar is estranged from their family, too.
- They jump from job to job. Pathological liars tend to have lengthy resumes. Their jobs are short-term because they tend to burn bridges with employers and coworkers alike.
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
By Robert LongleyUpdated October 28, 2019
A pathological liar is an individual who chronically tells grandiose lies that may stretch or exceed the limits of believability. While most people lie or at least bend the truth occasionally, pathological liars do so habitually. Whether or not pathological lying should be considered a distinct psychological disorder is still debated within the medical and academic
- Pathological liars habitually lie in order to gain attention or sympathy.
- The lies told by pathological liars are typically grandiose or fantastic in scope.
- Pathological liars are always the heroes, heroines, or victims of the stories they concoct.
Normal Lies vs. Pathological Lies
Most people occasionally tell “normal” lies as a defense mechanism to avoid the consequences of the truth (e.g. “It was like that when I found it.”) When a lie is told to cheer up a friend or to spare another person’s feelings (e.g. “Your haircut looks great!”), it may be considered a strategy for facilitating positive contact.
In contrast, pathological lies have no social value and are often outlandish. They can have devastatingly negative impacts on those who tell them. As the size and frequency of their lies progress, pathological liars often lose the trust of their friends and family. Eventually, their friendships and relationships fail. In extreme cases, pathological lying can lead to legal problems, such as libel and fraud. https://ea013c2a3720e02f0072b032389f37ca.safeframe.googlesyndication.com/safeframe/1-0-37/html/container.html
Pathological Liars vs. Compulsive Liars
Though often used interchangeably, the terms “pathological liar” and “compulsive liar” are different. Pathological and compulsive liars both make a habit of telling lies, but they have different motives for doing so. null
Pathological liars are generally motivated by a desire to gain attention or sympathy. On the other hand, compulsive liars have no recognizable motive for lying and will do so no matter the situation at the time. They are not lying in an attempt to avoid trouble or gain some advantage over others. Actually, compulsive liars may feel powerless to stop themselves from telling lies.
History and Origins of Pathological Lying
While lying—the act of intentionally making an untrue statement—is as old as the human race, the behavior of pathological lying was first documented in medical literature by German psychiatrist Anton Delbrueck in 1891. In his studies, Delbrueck observed that many of the lies his patients told were so fantastically over-the-top that the disorder belonged in a new category he called “pseudologia phantastica.”
Writing in a 2005 issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and Law, American psychiatrist Dr. Charles Dike further defined pathological lying as “falsification entirely disproportionate to any discernible end in view, may be extensive and very complicated, and may manifest over a period of years or even a lifetime, in the absence of definite insanity, feeble-mindedness or epilepsy.”
Traits and Signs of Pathological Liars
Pathological liars are driven by definite, typically identifiable motives such as bolstering their ego or self-esteem, seeking sympathy, justifying feelings of guilt, or living out a fantasy. Others may lie simply to alleviate their boredom by creating drama.null
In 1915, pioneering psychiatrist William Healy, M.D. wrote “All pathological liars have a purpose, i.e., to decorate their own person, to tell something interesting, and an ego motive is always present. They all lie about something they wish to possess or be.”
Keeping in mind that they typically tell their lies for purposes of self-gratification, here are some common identifying traits of pathological liars.
- Their stories are fantastically outlandish: If the first thing you think is “No way!”, you may be listening to a tale told by a pathological liar. Their stories often depict fantastic circumstances in which they possess great wealth, power, bravery, and fame. They tend to be classic “name-droppers,” claiming to be close friends with famous people they may have never met.
- They are always the hero or victim: Pathological liars are always the stars of their stories. Seeking adulation, they are always heroes or heroines, never villains or antagonists. Seeking sympathy, they are always the hopelessly suffering victims of outrageous circumstances.
- They really believe it: The old adage “if you tell a lie often enough, you start to believe it” holds true for pathological liars. They sometimes come to believe their stories so completely that at some point they lose awareness of the fact that they are lying. As a result, pathological liars can seem aloof or self-centered, with little concern for others.
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
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.
There’s no such thing as ‘what a person doesn’t know doesn’t hurt them’. Make no mistake, lying is a grave sin.
When you undermine somebody’s sense of reality, you are undermining the whole basis on which they make life decisions and you’re potentially ruining that person’s ability to relate to people in a trusting and open way.
In the legal field, victims and offenders frequently lie to avoid talking about serious incidents, such as past experiences of sexual abuse or criminal involvement. Although these individuals may initially lie about an experienced event, oftentimes these same people eventually abandon their lies and are forthcoming with what truly happened. To date, it is unclear whether such lying affects later statements about one’s memory for the experienced event. The impetus of the present review is to compile the current state of knowledge on the effects of lying on memory. Based on existing literature, we will describe how deceptive strategies (e.g., false denials) regarding what is remembered may affect memory in consequential ways, such as forgetting of details, falsely remembering features that were not present, or a combination of both. It will be argued that the current literature suggests that mnemonic outcome is contingent on the type of lie and we will propose a theoretical framework outlining which forms of lying likely result in certain memory outcomes. Potential avenues of future research also will be discussed. Continue reading “When lying changes memory for the truth”