We have all met that person at one time or another in our lives. It may be a family member or a co-worker, someone that you learned (quite possible the hard way) that you can’t trust to share the truth with you, second guessing everything that comes out of their mouth.
You’ve caught them in the act, and even called them on it directly, and yet you can’t help but notice that it hasn’t slowed them down. It leads you to wonder, what could possibly drive someone to be so dishonest – especially if they’ve been caught!
While it may be incredibly frustrating to those that have to deal with someone like this, it is important to note that there may ab a psychological explanation. Pathological lying, also known as compulsive lying, mythomania and habitual lying, is a condition in which an individual habitually tells lies or falsehoods out of habit. In fact, they may not even realize that what they are saying isn’t the truth. Originally included in the third edition of the ‘Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders,’ pathological lying is recognized as a symptom of a number of personality disorders, including narcissism and psychopathy.
The lies that a pathological liar shares are often incredibly realistic, tied in with a number of truthful elements and details. This allows them to elaborate and overexaggerate on their current condition unnoticed. For example, if they have been suffering from migraines, and they believe that they aren’t getting the sympathy they deserve at work, they may begin to tell co-workers that they have a brain tumor. In other cases, a simple breakup can quickly become a dramatic event in which they are, obviously, the victim. These lies continue to evolve and build upon one another, creating their own alternative reality.
The hard to understand part, for those of us who aren’t in their shoes, is that many pathological liars buy into their lies so much that they actually believe them to be true. The internalize the worry that they paint, and the line between fact and fiction begins to blur within their mind.
It’s not necessarily that they are bad, negative or toxic people. If you compare them to an addict, they continue to engage in their addiction in much the same way. Just as an alcoholic will continue to drink until they are ready to recover and able to recognize their infliction, so too will a pathological liar. It’s a habit, an impulsive need to say whatever comes into their mind, and they struggle to control this urge. While some narcissists and psychopaths are also pathological liars, the terms are, by no means, synonymous.
Do you believe that you are dealing with a pathological liar? Watch for these signs:
#1 – Lack of Empathy
Why does it not bother these individuals to continue spreading their lies and dishonesty? While some may not realize that they are lying, others simply lack the empathy to realize how their actions may impact others around them. They don’t concern themselves with the feelings and emotions of others, focusing entirely on how this can move their own agenda forward.
#2 – Amazing Conversation Skills
They often don’t realize that they even have them, but pathological liars have AMAZING conversational skills. Why? In order for them to appear completely confident in whatever lie they are telling, they have learned to talk smoothly and without hesitation. This is one of the reasons why they can lie directly to your face and still go undetected.
#3 – Anger or Aggression
While a pathological liar is likely not going to show any concern or guilt for having told a lie if you confront them, that doesn’t mean that they aren’t going to react. This reaction often comes in the form of anger, frustration, or aggression, as they lash out at anyone who mentions their dishonesty.
#4 – Lack of Emotion
One of the reasons that pathological liars are able to convince others that the lies that they share are actually fact is the lack of emotions that they experience. While others, while telling a lie, may feel guilt or shame, the pathological liar is relaxed and comfortable in their deception (whether they are aware of it or not).
#5 – No Consideration for the Consequences
There are two reasons that this occurs, depending on the awareness of the one responsible. If they don’t realize that they are lying, they aren’t going to acknowledge that there are consequences as they fully believe that they are telling the truth. That being said, if they know they aren’t being honest but continue to tell lies anyway then they obviously believe that they can get away with it. They are confident in their ability to tell a lie without others realizing that is what is happening.
#6 – Love Attention
Whether they are doing so consciously or subconsciously, pathological liars feed off the attention of the people around them. If they notice that this attention is shifting elsewhere, they will use their lies to draw the attention back to them. This may be focused on gathering sympathy or creating concern among the people in their life. For example, they may invent or exaggerate a medical concern.
#7 – Subtle Manipulation
They aren’t generally outwardly manipulative, in fact they may not even realize that they are doing it. However, the lies and deception of a pathological liar often work with a specific focus – subtly encouraging those in their life to do as they would like them to do, even going as far as convincing them that it is their idea. This is one way that they continue to build their alternate reality.
#8 – Lack of Signs
There are a number of signs and giveaways that many of us associate with those that are being dishonest. For example, we know that liars often avoid eye contact, direct their attention to the nearest exit, or appear uncomfortable while they are talking to you. This isn’t the case for pathological liars. Whether they are completely unaware, or simply so comfortable with their dishonesty that they can hide it effectively, they don’t have any of the usual ‘tells.’
Image via The Daily Informator