Everybody lies. At one time or another all people have said something that wasn’t true. People might lie to protect another person’s feelings or to get, and stay out of, trouble. Sometimes people tell small lies to avoid conflict, like saying they can’t get a sitter to go out to dinner with a friend when they are just too tired and unmotivated to get dressed for a night out. Social contracts permit these types of lies and allow interpersonal relationships to continue without a hiccup. However, there are times when the level of lying becomes problematic. You may sometimes encounter a person who appears to lie all the time and, seemingly, for no good reason. In these cases, you might find that you are dealing with a pathological liar.
How to Spot a Pathological Liar
A pathological liar is defined as a person who chronically tells lies for no particular reason. The lying typically begins in adolescence and continues into adulthood. Pathological liars do not gain anything from their lies, not in the traditional sense. They do not lie to avoid responsibilities or penalties, or for some type of gain. The reasons for their lies are often internal, for their own pleasure, to gain attention, feel special or simply feel the enjoyment of telling an elaborate and captivating story. Thus, motives are usually unclear to outsiders. People who lie pathologically, may not be aware they are lying and may not be able to control it. The lies are often impulsive and random. Even though a pathological liar might partially acknowledge falsities, they usually will not, and may even become defensive or hostile if challenged. So, if someone you know seems to be comfortable with their lies, has no clear reason for telling them, and seems to tell them randomly and impulsively, how can you tell if they are a pathological liar? There are some questions you can ask yourself, or behaviors you can watch out for to test if your friend or loved might be a pathological liar.
- Does your friend or loved one chronically lie about little things? Pathological liars tend to lie all the time, even about little things like what they ate for breakfast and what they wore to work.
- Does your friend or loved one frequently tell elaborate, fantastical stories that are easily disproved? People who engage in pathological lying often tell intricate, far-fetched stories that border on fantasy.
- Does your friend or loved one get defensive and angry when challenged about the veracity of their stories? People who lie pathologically tend to get very uncomfortable and angry, even at innocent questions about their stories. It is generally uncomfortable for them to tell the truth and more comfortable to lie.
- Does your friend or loved one frequently contradict themselves, their achievements, or their past? Pathological liars often cannot keep their lies straight. And they tend not to be concerned with concealing the inconsistencies. It is about the lie, not getting caught” in the lie.
- Does your friend or loved one show no remorse about lying? Pathological liars generally have no remorse about their lies or lying. They are not worried about getting caught lying. In fact, they may not even believe that they are lying. If they are aware of the lie, they are more concerned with the internal gratification of telling the lie than the threat of being found out.
It is important to note that pathological liars gain pleasure from lying. They may not be aware of the lie, or may believe it to be true because they are wrapped up in a fantasy world they’ve created for themselves. If you’ve determined you are dealing with a pathological liar, you will not be able to convince them to stop lying. They will require professional help to deal with deeply rooted issues stemming from childhood that are likely causing the problem. Additionally, the lying may be a symptom of a greater problem, such as a personality disorder. Sources: The Pathological Liars Club Fiddler of the Truth a Brief look at Pathological Lying Pathological Lying Revisited Pathological Lying: Symptom or Disease?