Everyone tells a lie from time to time, but some people may lie for no apparent reason and on a regular basis, whenever they need to cover up another lie. These people are known as pathological liars, although there is no official clinical diagnosis for this mental disorder. These people are often described as sociopaths, as they act in deceitful and manipulative ways, with no regard for the rights and feelings of others. A number of other terms are also used to describe the behavior of habitual or compulsive lying: pseudologia fantastica, or mythomania, for example. Pathological lying is found in both men and women, and in almost one in 1000 of repeat juvenile offenders.
Characteristics of pathological lying
Most of the people who lie out of habit usually tell stories that are not entirely untrue. In most cases, their lies have a small element of truth. Unlike in other people with mental disorders, stories of pathologic liars are not an expression of delusion or some other form of psychosis.
The tendency to tell lies is normally long lasting, and it is not a simple reaction to the immediate situation or some kind of a social pressure. More likely, it is an urge that a person has and needs to act accordingly. These people very often present themselves in a good light, as being very brave, respected, and knowing or being related to many famous people.
Pathological liars need to change their story very often, especially if they are being questioned about particular details. This happens because they try to cover up for another lie, and fill the logical gaps in the story. Their stories are often contradictory, as they slowly lose a track of the lies they have told. When they are challenged to discuss their story or give some solid evidence, they will usually act defensively or continue to lie for sympathy. These people simply do not value the truth, and they are often inconsiderate about the feelings of others.
Treatment for pathological lying
Pathological lying is one of the rare disorders that are not fully understood. Scientists and doctors are still trying to find out what actually causes pathological lying, and if it is possible to prevent it or cure it. Most people with this problem suffer from this condition throughout their entire lives, and lying becomes a way of life for them. Others may find significant relief in therapy or self-help, which can help to control and overcome their lying. The main problem about the treatment is that pathological liars often will not or cannot admit that they have issues around telling the truth.