Pathological Lying: Signs and Dealing with It
Lying is an inherent part of human behavior. We often lie to avoid confrontations, to protect ourselves or others, or to gain some benefits. However, pathological lying is a different matter. It is a persistent habit of lying without any rational explanation. A pathological liar can create elaborate untrue stories and keep lying, even when caught. How can you detect a pathological liar? What should you know about dealing with them?
What is Pathological Lying?
Pathological lying is a behavior disorder characterized by a chronic compulsion to lie, exaggerate, or fabricate stories or events. It is different from occasional lying or white lies, which can be a normal part of social behavior. Pathological lying is also not related to psychotic disorders, such as delusions or hallucinations, but rather a personality trait or a symptom of a broader condition.
Studies show that pathological lying may be associated with brain abnormalities. People who compulsively lie may have less gray matter in the prefrontal cortex, the area responsible for morals and decision-making. They may also have less ability to self-monitor and regulate their behavior. However, not all pathological liars have brain abnormalities, and not all people with such abnormalities lie pathologically.
Signs of Pathological Lying
If you suspect that someone you know is a pathological liar, there are several signs to look for:
Contradictions: The person’s stories may be inconsistent or change over time. Facts don’t add up, or the person makes exaggerated claims without evidence.
Attention seeking: The person may create elaborate, grandiose stories or achievements to get attention, admiration, or sympathy.
Defensiveness: Pathological liars may get very defensive or angry if challenged or questioned. They may feel threatened if their lies are exposed or if their power is diminished.
Master liars: Pathological liars are often skilled at keeping their lies straight and covering their tracks. They may use social manipulation or diversion tactics to mislead others.
Asking you to repeat yourself: When caught off-guard, pathological liars may ask you to repeat what you said to buy more time to come up with a new lie.
Unafraid of their lies: Pathological liars may lie with no regard for the consequences or the impact on the other person. They may not feel guilty or remorseful for lying.
Dealing with a Pathological Liar
Dealing with a pathological liar can be challenging, but it is essential to recognize the problem and take action to protect yourself. Here are some tips:
Understand that a pathological liar is unlikely to change: There is no cure for pathological lying, and most liars will not admit they have a problem. Therefore, don’t expect a pathological liar to stop lying or behave differently just because you want them to.
Be aware of their motive: Pathological liars are not lying for the sake of lying, but mainly to serve their agenda, gain attention, or manipulate their surroundings. Therefore, it’s essential to identify their incentives and minimize their opportunities to deceive.
Limit your interactions: Pathological liars can be charming and manipulative, so it’s easy to be drawn into their web of lies. However, limiting your interactions with them can help you maintain your distance and avoid being trapped in their lies.
Set boundaries: Establish clear boundaries and standards of behavior with the pathological liar. Don’t believe everything they say and hold them accountable for their words and actions.
Be empathetic but cautious: Pathological liars may have underlying emotional or psychological issues that drive their behavior. However, it’s vital to be empathetic but cautious, as they may exploit your kindness and use it against you.
Seek help if necessary: If you feel overwhelmed or threatened by a pathological liar, seek help from a therapist or a counselor. They can assist you in understanding the problem and developing strategies to cope with it.
Pathological lying is a complex behavior disorder that can cause significant harm to the individual and those around them. While there are no guaranteed ways to detect or treat pathological liars, identifying the signs and taking precautions can help you avoid being caught in their web of deception. By setting boundaries, being cautious, and seeking help when necessary, you can protect yourself from the negative impact of pathological lying.