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What Frequent Liars Actually Think and Why
Do you ever feel like you’re surrounded by liars?
Are you tired of listening to lie after lie after lie? And we’re not talking about the type of liar that lies occasionally as an excuse for breaking a commitment.
No, that would be a little easier to handle.
We’re talking about the lie-for-no-reason, make-you-want-to-pull-your-hair-out type of liar.
Yes, that one.
No worries. You’ll be able to keep your hair once you understand there are multiple reasons why a person lies like this, also known as pathological lying, as well as how to recognize and deal with one.
Pathological lying is continuously lying with no logic behind it.
Fibbing, deceiving, fabricating — whichever way you slice it, you know it’s lying. However, pathological lying is different. This kind of lying goes beyond what’s considered a “fib” or a “harmless, little lie” in that the person routinely lies and does so without any logic behind it.
There are multiple names for pathological lying as well, such as mythomania, compulsive lying and pseudologia fantastica.1 While some of these terms may be familiar to most people, some are not, unless you’re an expert in the field.
Also, the overall consensus is that these terms all mean the same thing, but there is some debate between mental health professionals that pathological liars fall under compulsive liars. They believe it’s the compulsive liar that lies without reason, just out of habit, and that the pathological liar not only lies habitually, but also creates lies rooted in manipulation.
Pathological liars can leave you open to harm.
It can be easy to think lying is no big deal, but being around a pathological liar can be harmful in some cases. These people not only lie to make their lives sound more exciting or credible, they also lie about other people — maybe even you.
Not knowing if a person is a pathological liar or not could result in lots of negative experiences. For instance, you could be working in your office and find out a pathological liar has lied about you in order to take your job. Or sometimes, it may not even be about taking your job. They may do it just to be hateful. In addition, a pathological liar may not seem so obvious at first. Some come off as extremely charming, kind and nice. But you may soon realize this person is not only a liar, but may even be a sociopath, leaving you open to harm.
This type of liar may actually suffer from other mental disorders.
As of today, pathological lying is2
“not recognized by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual— a book published by the American Psychiatric Association — as a separate mental health condition, but it is agreed that this type of lying does not line up with standard human behavior.”
Also, some people suffer from other disorders and pathological lying can be a symptom of these disorders. These issues can contribute to or make it harder to diagnose pathological lying on its own. For instance, a child may be suffering with attention deficit disorder or have oppositional defiant disorder. In addition, an adult may have psychotic disorders, delusions, sociopathy and more. All of these disorders can blur the lines behind what is and isn’t pathological lying.
To take it a step further, Medical Daily says,3
“Pathological lying doesn’t crop up out of nowhere like a tumor. Somewhere along the line, and then for multiple years thereafter, it gets learned.”
To spot a pathological liar, observe these behaviors.
When you’re dealing with pathological liars, you’ll begin to notice a few things about them.
They are “so” amazing.
For example, every story they tell will seem extraordinary and absolutely fabulous. They often put themselves in an excellent light, such as a hero that saves the day, someone that’s rich and powerful, or they know a lot of celebrities or people in enviable positions.
They play the victim non-stop.
In addition, pathological liars may also take an opposite approach and show themselves as victims. This person may always have a new illness, or tragedy in their life. It’s when the number of terrible events in a person’s’ life makes you question their honesty, you’re probably dealing with a pathological liar. 4
They have addictive personalities.
If a person has certain addictions like alcoholism, gambling, substance abuse or more, they may be more likely to be a pathological liar. This doesn’t mean all addicts are liars, but according Expertscolumn.com, people fighting addictions tend to be more likely to lie uncontrollably to friends and family. 5
More traits to keep in mind with pathological liars:6
- Abusive attitude
If you come across any pathological liars, address them in the right ways.
So when you know someone is a pathological liar, you can be on your guard and more apt to addressing them. How? Well, according to PsychCentral, there are a few ways to handle them:
1. Avoid engaging them if possible.
Your gut instinct may quickly tell you something’s off with a pathological liar. Instead of agreeing and engaging them, you can give them a confused, blank stare. That let’s them know you realize they aren’t fooling you with their outlandish stories. This may get them to pull back or move on to someone else.
2. Get confirmation.
If you know this person lies a lot, don’t even consider believing any part of their story unless you can line it up with facts. Until you can, make sure you stay detached and neutral during all your conversations.
3. Don’t argue with them.
There’s no point in arguing with a person that clearly has issues and lives in their own head. You’ll most likely never get to the truth anyway and it’s best to just keep your distance if you can.7
If you’re friends with the person, Nobullying.com says to try these suggestions:
4. Offer support for them.
Reassure them that you still care about them regardless of their issues. Tell them you understand they felt compelled to lie and that you are willing to help.
5. Help them change.
Encourage them to practice the truth a little at a time. Telling a few truths consciously and intentionally may help in adjusting their behavior.8
If all else fails, you may need to call it quits with the friendship. Sometimes, you can’t stay friends with a pathological liar. In that case, you may need to end the relationship altogether and stay away from that person. Livestrong.com says:
Pathological liars can overcome the propensity to lie, but it takes willingness and, usually, therapy, so to be a friend you need to be there for the long run. Often though, the person does not want help, at which point you need to make a clean break to keep from being hurt.9
Understanding how a pathological liar operates as well as how to recognize one will make you better equipped to deal with this person properly and protect yourself in the process.
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