Pathological lying, also known as mythomania and pseudologia fantastica, is the chronic behavior of compulsive or sickly lying.
A pathological liar is someone who spreads compulsive lies. Unlike telling a white lie for its own good, a pathological liar appears to be lying for no apparent reason.
This can make it frustrating or difficult to know exactly what to do if you think you’ve met one in your life. You want to know why this person is exhibiting this behavior and whether it might be your fault.
In this article, we’re going to cover all aspects of pathological lying so that you can finally get answers to questions you’ve probably had for a while. So read on quickly..
Purpose of this article: In this article I’m going to teach you Recognize Pathological Lying or Treatment like what Pathological lying is, what the 5 main symptoms are, what the causes are (scientifically proven), the official diagnosis (they use a special device for this), how best to dealing with someone who lies pathologically and ultimately how best to treat a pathological liar.
Although pathological lying has been recognized as a mental illness for over a century , there is as yet no clear universal definition of this mental illness. Today it is also known as the Pinocchio syndrome.
Pathological lying can sometimes be the result of a mental condition, such as antisocial personality disorder, while in some people there seems to be no medical reason for the sickly lying.
A pathological liar is an excellent storyteller. They know how to captivate their audience by telling elaborate and fantastic stories while being very animated.
Besides being able to express detailed stories, people are also fascinated by what drives someone to lie so often.
It is normal to want to know why someone is pathologically lying, especially when there seems to be no apparent reason for his or her lies.
Symptoms of pathological lying
Their lies seem to have no apparent benefit
While you may sometimes lie to avoid an uncomfortable situation, such as embarrassment or to avoid trouble from accidentally hitting a car with a pole, a pathological liar tells lies or stories that have no apparent benefit.
Friends and family of a person with mythomania find this especially frustrating because it does not benefit the person who is lying at all.
The compulsive lying will only cause him or her problems. They don’t seem to gain anything with their lies.
The stories they tell are usually dramatic, intricate and detailed
Pathological liars are great storytellers. Their lies are often very detailed and colorful.
While obviously exaggerated, the pathological liar can be very persuasive.
That’s often what makes it so hard to believe you’re dealing with someone who has a morbid tendency to lie.
“Huh? Did I hear that right? No you can’t, last week he told me something completely different!”
They usually portray themselves as the hero or the victim
You may have noticed that someone who lies pathologically is often the hero or victim in their own stories.
This sometimes has an important reason. The person who is prone to lying sickly tries to gain admiration, sympathy or acceptance from others in this way.
They often seem to believe the lies they tell
A pathological liar tells lies and stories that fall somewhere between knowingly lying and deception. They often believe in their own lies.
Some do it so often that experts think that over time they may not know the difference between fact and fiction.
The lies then become their own reality.
Pathological liars also tend to be natural performers . They are often articulate and know how to communicate with other people when they are speaking.
They are often quick thinkers and very creative and original.
A pathological liar may show no signs of lying at all. Think of taking long breaks in conversations or consciously avoiding eye contact.
If you were to ask this person a specific question, you will often see them keep on talking endlessly without ever being really clear or answering the question.
A prime example of this is President Trump who seems to be a master of dodging and answering questions. The US president is found to have made more than 3251 false or misleading claims in his first 497 days .
Causes of pathological lying
While there can be many possible causes for pathological lying, it is not yet fully understood why a person tends to lie sickly.
Scientifically Proven: In a 2007 study , researchers suggest that central nervous system problems may predispose a person to pathological lying.
Compulsive lying is also a well-known feature of some personality disorders, such as antisocial personality disorder. You sometimes also see sickly lying in people who are not able to stand up for themselves .
A traumatic event such as PTSD or head injury may also play a role in pathological lying, which is often associated with abnormalities in cortisol levels.
A 2016 study of what happens in the brain when you lie found that the more untruths a person tells, the easier and more frequent lies are told. The results also indicated that self -interest, in particular , seems to fuel lies.
While the research didn’t look specifically at pathological lying, it can provide insight into why pathological liars can lie as much and easily as they want.
Pathological lying or white lie?
Let’s face it, everyone lies once in a while. Research shows that we tell lies on average 1.65 per day .
Perhaps you were once stopped by the police. You open your window and get a verbal scolding from the officer.
You immediately apologize and say “I thought you were allowed 75 miles per hour on this road, sir.”
Avoiding punishment or consequences is the most common reason people tell serious lies, regardless of age. Whether it is about avoiding a fine or wanting to appear better to someone else.
Serious lies can cause a lot of problems if they are discovered by someone else. Think of the loss of freedom, money, work, reputation or a broken relationship.
When we lie, it is often considered a white lie, or lying with good intentions. A pathological lie, on the other hand, is much more harmful. Moreover, they are often meaningless and are continuously done by someone.
A white lie is usually:
- Harmless (saying you have muscle soreness trying to get out of a workout)
- With no ill intent (you overslept and lie about being late for work)
- Lying to save other people’s feelings or to avoid getting into trouble (that dress looks great on you!)
A person who lies pathologically does so for no apparent reason.
With pathological liars you see that:
- The lies are often told compulsively (telling lies to impress others, such as saying they are related to a famous person)
- There’s not always a reason why they lie (the lying is ingrained)
- It is sometimes done to make the liar appear heroic or pathetic (claiming a life-threatening illness they don’t have)
- The pathological liars are not deterred by guilt or the risk of being discovered
Symptoms of pathological lying
Recognizing someone who is pathologically lying is not always easy.
While it is human nature to be suspicious of something that sounds good to be true, pathological lying is not always done in an exaggerated way.
The lies can sometimes be very subtle so that you do not immediately realize that you are dealing with a liar.
They also tell “ordinary” lies that someone without a compulsive urge to lie might tell.
Here are some clues that can help you identify a pathological liar:
- They often talk about experiences and achievements in which they appear heroic
- They are also victims in many of their stories, often seeking sympathy
- Their stories are often extensive and very detailed
- They respond comprehensively and quickly to questions, but the answers are usually vague and they don’t answer the question either
- They may have different versions of the same story, resulting from forgetting previous details
Dealing with someone who lies pathologically
Dealing with a person close to you who lies pathologically can be very frustrating because the lying seems pointless.
It can completely take away the trust in any relationship and make it difficult to even have a simple conversation with the person.
Here are some tips for starting a conversation with a pathological liar:
Don’t lose your patience
As frustrating as it may be, it’s important not to let your anger take over when confronted by a pathological liar.
Be supportive and kind, but set your limits if you are treated unkindly.
You can also let them know that you don’t want to continue the conversation if they are being dishonest.
Someone who lies pathologically may have a tendency to respond with a lie at first.
If you confront them about lying, chances are they will deny it.
They may become enraged and express shock at the accusation.
Remember it’s not about you
It’s hard not to be lied to in person, but pathological lying isn’t about you.
The person may be driven by an underlying personality disorder, anxiety , or low self-esteem .
When you talk to the person about their lies, remind them that they don’t have to try to impress you. Let them know that you appreciate them for who they really are.
Suggest medical help
Without judgment or shame, consider professional help and let him or her know that you are genuinely concerned about their well-being.
Be prepared with information about pathological lying, such as a printout of an article or pamphlet for them to read when they’re ready.
Expressing your concern that their behavior may stem from an underlying medical condition can also help.
Diagnosis of mythomania
Diagnosing a person who is pathologically lying can be difficult due to the many possible causes of the behavior.
Talking to the person and taking a medical history and interview is usually not enough to make a diagnosis. This is because the person in question has a constant tendency to lie.
An important part of diagnosing a pathological liar is determining whether they recognize they are lying or believe the lies they tell others.
Some professionals use a polygraph, also known as a lie detector test. The test is not to catch them in a lie, but to see how well or often they “beat” the polygraph.
This says something about the extent to which they believe their own lies or are good at using other things to convince others of their lies.
Some professionals also interview family members and friends when diagnosing mythomania.
Recognize Pathological Lying or Treatment
The treatment of someone who lies pathologically will depend on whether the pathological lying is a symptom of an underlying psychiatric condition.
Treatment of mythomania will often amount to psychotherapy and may also include medication for other problems that could fuel the behavior, such as drugs used to treat anxiety or depression.
Empathizing with a pathological liar comes down to getting a good idea of what drives this person to lie.
Most likely, the lying is a symptom of another problem that can be treated. Encourage them to get the help they need.
PS Do you know someone who lies pathologically? How do you deal with it? Let us know by posting a comment in the comments.
- Recognizing Psychopath (In A Relationship)? 10 Signals & 3 Tips
- Stay positive? 10 Tips That Help In Difficult Circumstances
- 10 Tips For Personal Development
- 7 Tips To Stop Manipulative Behavior In (Social) Relationships
- Recognize Narcissist? Discover These 12 Important Signs
- What Is Gaslighting? Meaning, 13 Examples & Symptoms