7 signs and symptoms that help identify a pathological liar
Widely referred to as “pseudologia fantastica”, the pathological lie seems to have no purpose. It is a habit that is assumed and maintained for a variety of reasons. Identifying it can be challenging, but it is possible.
“All pathological liars have a purpose, that is, decorate their own person, tell something interesting, and an ego motive is always present, they all lie about something they wish to possess or be.”
– Healy, W., and Healy, M. T. (1915). Lies, accusations and pathological scams: a study in forensic psychology
The pathological lie has been defined as a chronic, uncontrollable and compulsive need to lie, regardless of whether the lie is obvious, that it serves no purpose, or the obvious consequences of telling the lie. It is a lie that has internal motives instead of external ones. In addition, if there are external reasons, they are secondary to internal reasons. For example, one can lie for personal gain, for power, for money, or simply to avoid guilt. One can lie for the benefit of others too. But the pathological lie has nothing to do with these motives. It is triggered by psychological reasons such as improving one’s self-esteem, overcoming the guilt of being in a certain way or fulfilling a particular fantasy.
Many possible internal reasons for PF (fantastic pseudology) include autonomy, the need to regulate self-esteem, repression or denial of reality, power or aggression (in order to deceive another person) and the satisfaction of desire.
– Ford, C.V., King, B.H., and Hollender, M.H. (1988). Lies and liars: psychiatric aspects of prevarication. American Journal of Psychiatry
Studies have revealed that pathological liars have more white matter than gray matter in their prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain that allows people to remain moral and feel remorse for their actions. The excess of white substance is what can be causing these people to lie, manipulate and deceive people compulsively. Gray matter is what allows people to maintain the need to cheat and be under control. This is probably the reason why people can become pathological liars.
Identifying a pathological liar
The statements made by pathological liars have an unreal quality about them. They seem rooted in fantasy and this is very obvious to the listener. Some of his lies are easily discernible. For example, they may say that they own a large farm that has ranches that breed a unique hybrid variety of horses and that these are the fastest horses in the world.
A pathological liar can invent lies in public to get attention. They like to portray themselves as heroes or victims of a particular situation, which they believe will make life more interesting.
They begin to believe in their own stories. A pathological liar may not be deliberately lying. He / she believes in the lies completely. This may be due to their need to have the last word or one more in each case. In this case, the person may seem self-centered with very little respect for other people’s feelings.
One of the simplest ways to identify pathological liars is to catch their lies. It is relatively easy to do this because such individuals tend to change their stories frequently. One day they can say something and the next they can change the facts of it. They may not be able to keep track of the stories they have made, which is then easy to catch.
It is likely that pathological liars become defensive even if an innocent question is asked in relation to the given situation. They tend to feel threatened when they are interrogated. This could explain his reaction to any question asked. Another reaction to the confrontation is that they can simply lie more to get out of the situation in question.
These liars have no regrets when they lie. They do not think it’s bad to lie. They do not worry about the consequences either. They just lie and continue with life as if it were the most normal thing.
These people do not value honesty and are known to report events and incidents that have been confidentially told to others. By doing so, they can also exaggerate the facts too. As such, you can not trust them with secrets.
To summarize everything, the lies told by pathological liars are a means of gratification for themselves. The pleasure that comes from lying (for whatever reason) is the reward for behavior. These people have the ability to recognize that they have been lying, although they may be deeply rooted in the fantasy world they have created for themselves.
The first step to treating a pathological liar is to teach the people around him how to identify him. This includes doctors, therapists, legislators and law enforcement. Psychotherapy has been found useful in the treatment of pathological liars to some extent. However, treating them is extremely challenging because, in the first place, they should be willing to accept the fact that they have been lying, and secondly, they are likely to be able to manipulate the therapist into believing their lies.
There may also be the possibility that your habit of lying is a symptom of a larger problem such as a personality disorder. In such cases, the treatment must go beyond psychotherapy and involve the prescription of medications. Experts suggest that the treatment will never succeed until the liar is unwilling to accept that he has a problem.