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A pathological liar is someone who unknowingly tells a lie or fabricates information. A pathological liar may not be completely in our reality. Often, in an attempt to cure his low self-esteem, he himself believes in his fables. To identify a pathological liar, look at his behavior. A person can lie for the sake of attracting attention or for personal gain. You may also notice constant inconsistencies in his stories. Problems such as substance abuse or unstable relationships in the past may also indicate that a person is a pathological liar.
What is a pathological lie?
Experts say that this is a pathological tendency of a person to report false information, compose various stories, passing them off as truth.
As a rule, such a lie can be explained by a person’s great desire to attract attention, the desire to prove his own significance. Such people can be divided into two groups - those who understand that they are lying, and those who believe in their lies.
Scientists have discovered that pathological liars have some abnormalities in the brain. The prefrontal cortex is responsible for remorse and morality. Brain scans showed that people prone to pathological lies had less gray matter in this area.
Pathological lies, mythomania or Pseudologia Fantastica (lat.) Cause a lot of controversy among psychologists and psychiatrists. Some believe that this is only a symptom of a more complex disorder (for example, borderline personality disorder, sociopathy or narcissism), others are convinced that this is a deviation in itself.
There is an assumption that this is a special form of dependence: a person is deceiving under the influence of a psychological impulse, like an alcoholic, smoker or player, reacting to specific triggers. However, the fact remains: some people constantly lie. Their deceit can be called chronic, because it is observed throughout life, or habitual - in the sense that it becomes second nature.
Pathological liars are not so easy to recognize, especially with a superficial acquaintance
People of this type always act under the influence of internal motivation, and not external factors. In other words, they lie not so much in order to avoid the unpleasant consequences of the truth, but for the sake of "sports interest."
Pathological liars are not so easy to recognize, especially with a superficial acquaintance or at the beginning of a relationship. They may seem interesting, smart, sociable, charming. Their true face opens only with time, and then communication becomes strained. Endless lies can destroy friendship, love, working relationships and even family.
Pathological and compulsive lies: what is the difference?
Two types of lies have their own characteristics. How to understand who you are dealing with?
- lie for a specific purpose,
- make up fantastic stories that can be endlessly supplemented with new details,
- they themselves believe everything that they spit
- indignant when they are suspected of cheating,
- they lie to strengthen their authority,
- Do not blush and do not feel awkward.
- they seriously believe that they are obliged to lie: either because they do not know how to do it differently, or if it is inconvenient to tell the truth,
- often lie for no apparent reason and without any benefit,
- compose fables on the go, not really thinking about credibility,
- prefer the “holy” lie that is believed to be wanted by others,
- as a rule, they feel someone else's distrust,
- when they are caught, they confess that they are lying, but continue to fool others.
These differences are very arbitrary, because deceivers easily change masks.
What causes this behavior?
There is no clear scientific explanation for the propensity to report knowingly false information. This behavior is due to many genetic and external factors, but this set is unique for everyone.
Among the most common reasons:
1. Personality disorders. As mentioned above, the manner of lying at every step can be a symptom of a mental disorder.
2. Features of the brain. A number of studies indicate structural abnormalities in the brain of pathological liars. One of these works revealed an increased volume of white matter in three areas of the prefrontal cortex.
The authors of another work believe that a steady tendency to lie is formed as the restraining emotional reaction of the amygdala weakens. Earlier studies found in 40% of pathological liars damage to the central nervous system caused by epilepsy, head injuries, or dangerous infections.
3. The costs of education. In childhood, we all learn what is good and what is bad. At an early age, a person can lie out of fear of punishment or for the sake of profit, and subsequently this becomes an unconditional attitude.
4. Chemical addiction. Drug addicts and alcoholics are often cunning to hide their problem and at the same time lure money: addictions "turn off" the conscience.
5. Other psychological problems. Those who often lie can suffer from depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Such behavior may be associated with fear, feelings of guilt or shame, unwillingness to acknowledge their condition. It is important to understand that not every person with such a diagnosis is a pathological deceiver!
Signs of pathological and compulsive lies
If you suspect that you are regularly fooled, pay attention to the characteristic signs of a lie.
1. The stories of liars are completely unbelievable. If you notice that you often shake your head, refusing to believe the fables, it seems that you have come across a pathological liar. Someone tells how he had lunch with Tom Cruise or set a world record for eating sausages? You are not mistaken.
2. There is a desire to attract attention. If someone lies to arouse interest, and climbs out of his way, trying to prove his own significance - in front of you is a pathological liar. They practice two ways of attracting attention (see paragraphs 3 and 4).
3. They lie to you to get your price. Instead of admitting their mistake or honestly saying that they were in a mess, such people are nonsense, just to look sinless.
4. Build a victim from themselves. To enlist the sympathy and support of others, they complain of imaginary misfortunes. Diseases, death of loved ones, someone’s cruelty and other disasters in which they allegedly suffered.
5. Liars have low self-esteem. In itself, it does not indicate a pathological or compulsive lie, but in combination with other signs it complements the portrait of a shameless deceiver. Usually low self-esteem is found in compulsive liars: anxiety and insecurity are hidden behind it.
If liars feel that they are close to failure, they immediately back up and change the meaning of what was said
6. The last word should remain with them. To argue with a pathological liar is like banging your head against a wall. He will give the most ridiculous arguments, until you get tired of bickering, just to get out of the fray as a winner. Compulsive liars are easier: they are embarrassed when they are exposed, and do not insist on their own.
7. They are extremely dodgy. They manage to instantly invent plausible versions for all occasions, create a suitable lie literally from the air and present it in a convincing form.
8. They know how to turn everything upside down. If liars feel that they are close to failure, they immediately back up and change the meaning of what was said. But catching them with a word is useless: they will object and declare that you have not heard or misunderstood.
9. Their life is messy and full of tragedies. They get out as much as they can, trying to seem honest, but sooner or later people understand that something is wrong here. Relationships collapse, another job is lost, friends turn away, but the pathological liar is still rushing about in search of simpletons who can hang noodles on their ears.
10. They do not know how to keep secrets and love to gossip. The concept of decency is not familiar to them: they enthusiastically discuss the details of someone else's life, including intimate ones. There is nothing sacred for them.
How to behave with them
It would seem, nowhere is clearer - to stop communication and delete from life. But this is not always easy, and not always necessary. Not all deceivers are notorious crooks.
If you are convinced that you have encountered a daffodil or a sociopath, then there is no question: stay away from him, and let your conscience not torment you. But if someone close has serious psychological problems or addiction - perhaps you should not say goodbye to them. What to do?
Believe ... if necessary
Finding a lie in every word is more expensive. Yes, a person often lies, but still able to be honest. He may be exaggerating, but generally speaking the truth. At least try to understand when to believe him and when not.
Do you recall slippery topics, during the discussion of which you repeatedly caught the interlocutor in a lie? Or periods of exacerbation, when the tendency to lie became too obvious?
When a person knows that in any case he will be accused of deception, why on earth should he be honest?
Healthy skepticism will not hurt, but if there is no complete certainty that everything said is a complete lie, why not let that tell you the truth? Of course, this does not apply to important issues: everything must be checked here.
At least a bit of trust is needed: when a person knows that he will be accused of deception in any case, why should he be honest? Those who are trusted are more likely to reveal the truth, especially if the lie is associated with feelings of guilt or shame.
Understand why they lie
We are bitter when we are deceived, and this is a natural emotional reaction. Critical thinking will help to cope with it. Think: why is a person lying? What drives them? What is the reason?
If you can figure out the motives, a drop of sympathy will surely appear. Emotions may not calm down right away, but sooner or later you will calm down and be able to take a sober look at the situation.
Take it as a fact: a lie will be repeated more than once
Pathological or compulsive liars do not always control their speech. Therefore, it is wiser to admit that they are like that and we need to somehow live with it. This does not mean to force oneself to believe fables or to consider their behavior the norm. The main thing is to realize that not every lie is said with malicious intent.
They cannot help but lie. In any case, now, subject to some circumstances. Of course, no one forbids fighting this, but you yourself will not change anything. Try to look at it philosophically and not take it to heart.
When it makes sense to seek help
If the interlocutor has a tendency to lie relatively recently, you guess what the matter is (depression, addiction in the initial stage, child psycho-injuries) and the person you care about, try to persuade him to consult a psychotherapist.
With people who constantly cheat is not easy. And yet do not rush to write them in scoundrels or malicious manipulators. A pathological or compulsive lie has many causes, and although this habit harms both those who lie and those who lie, it can be treated.
How to recognize a liar
So what signs may indicate a pathological liar?
Their stories are inconsistent, and eventually begin to refute themselves.
Desire to attract attention
Such people will start to invent incredible stories and tell about their achievements, only to get attention and admiration.
The goal of the pathological liar is to manipulate you. If you have doubts that a person is inconsistent, he will violently defend his lies and may even become angry.
It may take more time to determine the web of lies because pathological liars are constantly improving. If they suspect that you can catch them in a lie, they simply come up with another lie to hush everything up.
They ask you to repeat
If such people are caught lying, they may ask you to repeat what you said so that they have more time to come up with something else that you may be able to believe.
They are not afraid of their lies
Such people are simply not afraid to lie, they are not afraid of the consequences of their lying words and the fact that these words can harm someone.
Things to Know About Pathological Liars
They use their time studying you
It is important for them to study you in order to understand your weaknesses and take advantage of them. By studying you, a pathological liar is better able to understand which lie you most likely will believe.
They have no empathy
They simply cannot feel remorse for their actions, like a normal person, because their brains are so arranged. Such people lack the ability to worry that their words can offend someone. Do not expect that they will show stinging or they will worry about the result of their actions.
They can imitate the necessary emotions, if they are useful to them.
They will use all means, psychological and emotional, to deceive you. If you fall for their bait, you will remain defenseless before their lies, and it will seem to you that such a person can be trusted.
Pathological lies are not treated
In order to cure a pathological liar, he must first admit that he has a problem, and this is extremely rare. Moreover, many psychologists would not agree to treat such people simply because they cannot truthfully answer questions. Pathological liars do not know how to exist without constant lies.