- How To Recognize Pathological Lying
- 4 Signs That Someone Is a Compulsive Liar
- The compulsive liar vs. the pathological liar
- 1. Body language
- 2. Self-esteem issues
- 3. Fear
- 4. They refuse to come clean
- The Truth Behind Pathological and Compulsive Liars
- Compulsive vs. Pathological Liars
- Can Compulsive or Pathological Liars Change?
- Spotting, Living With, or Working for a Whopper of a Liar
- 5 Signs You’re Living With A Pathological Liar
- 1. He Uses The Silent Treatment As A Weapon
- 2. Criticism Comes Right Back At You…. Times 10
- 3. Your Partner Is An Expert At The Pity Play
- 4. There Is Rage In Your House
- 5. He Has Lied To Others Repeatedly
- What to Do When Your Loved One Is a Chronic Liar
- What is the Stages of Change Model?
- How are these stages relevant to changing habits?
- How long does each stage take?
- The limitations of this model
- How can you live with a pathological liar?
- Pseudologia Fantastica
- Pathological Vs Compulsive Lying: Is There A Difference?
- What Causes This Lying Behavior?
- Signs Of Pathological/Compulsive Lying
- How To Deal With This Form Of Lying
- Pathological Liars: Understanding Compulsive Lying
- Pathological Lies Versus White Lies
- Why Do Pathological Liars Lie?
- How to Deal With a Pathological Liar
- How to Recognize Pathological Lying
- The psychological reasons why some people can’t stop lying
- The truth doesn’t matter to narcissists
- Compulsive liars are not necessarily bad people
- Stop compulsive lying and enjoy real relationships
- Compulsive Lying Treatment Melbourne
- Why do people become addicted to lying?
- Why is it a problem?
- How can you stop?
- What can you expect from your confidential ‘treatment for lying sessions’?
- How long will treatment take?
- Make an appointment today
How To Recognize Pathological Lying
By Nadia Khan
Updated November 16, 2019
Reviewer Prudence Hatchett, LPC, NCC, BC-TMH
When you think back to this past week, have you lied to someone about something? If so, what was the reason for your lie? As truthful and honest as we may wish to be, little white lies are a reality of our daily life. Sometimes, we lie to spare someone’s feelings. When your mother in law asks if you like the gift she got you, you tell her it’s perfect even if you don’t agree. Other times, we will lie to avoid difficult situations. When your boss asks you to work all weekend for a co-worker who failed to meet scheduled deadlines, you stoically say you are happy to give up your plans for the good of the team and then vent your resentment about the unreliable co-worker. Whatever your reason may be, the fact remains most people lie and for the most part the little white lies aren’t hurting anyone and telling a white lie doesn’t make you a liar or a dishonest person. However, when someone lies all the time, it may signal a more serious issue.
Pathological Lying is A Dangerous Path That Can Destroy Your Life And Others Work On Your Communication Issues In Online Therapy Today
The clinical name for this disorder is pseudologia fantastica. Lying can be a stand-alone problem or a symptom of other disorders including psychopathy, narcissistic, and histrionic personality disorders. There is inconclusive research indicating that psychological lying may be a neurological disorder.
There is widespread disagreement among experts about whether pathological lying itself is a true mental disorder. The ambiguity about the cause of pathological lying makes the disorder extremely hard to treat without professional mental health support. Treatment is compounded by the fact that many pathological liars deny telling falsehoods and refuse treatment.
According to Psychologia, pathological lying is not gender specific affecting both men and women equally. The average age where pathological lying may begin is sixteen years; the average age when psychological lying is typically discovered is 22 years. Pathological liars tend to have an average level of intelligence, but this can vary greatly.
Compulsive vs. Pathological Liars
At first glance, compulsive liars and pathological liars may be confused as being one and the same, however, there is a difference between the two. Pathological liars manipulate and deceive others without guilt or regret. Compulsive liars on the other hand seem to have some control over their falsehoods and their lies are often without purpose or direction. They often lie just for the sake of lying whereas pathological liars respond to their agitation, often without situational stimulation. Pathological liars are usually egoistic and have low levels of self-pride. One hallmark of pathological lying is constantly changing stories. Because pathological liars tell so many falsehoods, they often cannot remember their previous lies, so they continually invent new, often contradictory stories.
Do Pathological Liars Believe Their Lies?
If you tell a lie long enough, do you start believing it yourself? Dr. Charles Dike, writing in the Psychiatric Times, explains that pathological liars may “believe their lies to the extent that the belief may be delusional,” leading to its alternate name as “wish psychosis;” but he also stated that challenging pathological liars repeatedly can sometimes get them to admit their fabrications. This incongruity indicates that pathological liars may be aware of what they’re doing on some level.
It is possible that pathological lying may be rooted in a wish to avoid shame. The lies can escalate to a point where the liar finds it much easier to believe the lie than confront the reality. Embarrassment and remorse don’t often have much effect on the behavior of a true pathological liar. Unfortunately, in most cases only a professional can determine if the person lying is a pathological liar and if the lies are delusional or manipulative.
Many tell lies that are grandiose and often unbelievable. They also tend to be extremely sensitive about the subject of lying and will become hostile and defensive if challenged. For those living with a pathological liar, providing irrefutable proof of the falsehood will not bring a positive resolution to the lying. It is more likely that the liar will become extremely angry and attempt to use more lies to counter any evidence presented.
How to Spot a Pathological Liar in Your Life
Many pathological liars fabricate elaborate stories to make themselves feel more successful, valuable, and prominent. A pathological liar who claims to have great wealth but works in a menial position may tell self-soothing lies about his success and monetary resources. Pathological liars invent experiences, relationships, and resources; in short they will go to any lengths necessary to support their stories. So how can you tell if you’re in the presence of a pathological liar if they’re so good at lying? Thankfully, there are a few things you can look out for:
- Pay attention to their behavior and body language, such as excessive eye contact. They convincingly tell their lies because they are so experienced.
- Listen for any inconsistencies in their stories.
- Problems like substance abuse, frequent job losses, and a history of unstable relationships are all additional indications someone may be a pathological liar.
Pathological liars are unable or unwilling to build stable, long lasting relationships because all their connections are rooted in untruths and dishonesty. They may have multiple failed marriages and strained relationships with parents, siblings, and children. While many people experience occasional loss and failure, pathological liars have a pattern of failure that is often inconsistent with the grandiose stories they tell about their successful, impressive lives.
Pathological Lying is A Dangerous Path That Can Destroy Your Life And Others Work On Your Communication Issues In Online Therapy Today
If you suspect that someone you know may be a pathological liar, read the online test found at Promises Treatment Center. The test can be a helpful starting point for signs to look out for as it provides clear indicators for evaluation and makes you reflect on things by asking:
- Does the person chronically lie about small things? People who are pathological liars tend to lie frequently, even about random and insignificant things like what they ate for dinner or which television show they watched last night. Random lying about inconsequential things is a hallmark of pathological liars.
- Does the person frequently spin elaborate stories that are easily disproved? Pathological liars are known for creating intricate, far-fetched stories that are often unbelievable. They seem to have little regard for credibility and make little effort to develop stories that others might find plausible.
- Does the person become hostile and defensive when challenged? Pathological liars get extremely angry when confronted with proof of their falsehoods. They often balk at innocent questions about their fabrications. Many pathological liars believe their lies and find it more comfortable to lie than tell the truth.
- Does the person often contradict themselves, their past, their contacts, and their achievements? Pathological liars tell stories that are often inconsistent with previous lies. They are usually unconcerned about concealing their inconsistencies. When questioned or confronted, they revert to anger and hostility.
- Does the person show remorse for lying? Pathological liars often do not believe they are lying and have no remorse for their lies. If they are aware of their lies, they do not show it. They are more concerned with the internal gratification they feel than the threat of being revealed as untrustworthy.
Living with a pathological liar is very challenging for the liar’s significant other, family members, friends, and co-workers. Spouses and significant others never know where they stand in the relationship. Loving a pathological liar can also mean never feeling secure and knowing that your relationship may be built on a foundation of deceit. People who love pathological liars and are involved with them in any capacity need to establish boundaries for their own mental health care and mental well-being. It’s also important to remember you are not alone, being in a relationship with a liar can feel very lonely and isolating but it doesn’t have to be. A host of support is available for you if you seek it.
For example, a woman named Sharon married her husband, Eli, after a two-month whirlwind courtship. Shortly after they returned from their honeymoon, she noticed inconsistencies in his stories. He said he was originally from Chicago but later said he was born and raised in Texas. Sharon noticed that he lied about little things like his favorite book or where he went for lunch. She began to question every aspect of their relationship and confronted him with evidence of the inconsistencies. To her horror, he immediately became aggressive. When Sharon tried to get him to go to counseling, he refused. In a desperate effort to save her marriage and her sanity, she went alone.
This is an excellent example of how people involved with pathological liars must acknowledge that professional help is necessary for both the liar and for themselves. If the person you are involved with is unwilling to get help, then you must get help for yourself. Counselors and therapists found online at sites like BetterHelp can help you navigate the confusion and challenges you are facing as you try to salvage your relationship and your own mental health. Read below for some reviews of BetterHelp counselors, from people experiencing similar issues.
“Busola is amazing, I’ve only had a few sessions with her but she makes me feel listened to. She understands what my primary needs are for each session and addresses them. Moreover, it doesn’t feel like just time to talk and unload everything on someone, but she addresses negative behavioral patterns and helps create an action plan for them.”
“I have been dealing with quite a slew of issues, but after working with Mackenzie, I feel significantly more able to go forward in my life with effective strategies that match my abilities and goals. Mackenzie guided me toward establishing healthier boundaries, being more self-reflective, relying on both emotions and logic when confronting issues, and finding concrete ways to alleviate stress and anger at issues outside of my control. She is an incredibly skilled and valuable resource.”
When dealing with someone who may be a pathological liar, it is important to remember that they gain pleasure from lying. They may not even be aware of the lie because they wrapped up the falsehood in an elaborate fantasy they created to make themselves feel good. Pathological liars get satisfaction and gratification from lying. A parent, sibling, child, or significant other will never be able to convince them to stop lying. Confronting them with irrefutable proof will only create anger and hostility; it will never lead to an end to the fabrications.
The only thing anyone can do is gently encourage the pathological liar to seek help since they need to recognize and deal with their deep rooted issues. As stated above, only a professional can provide an accurate diagnosis to the liar and lay out an appropriate course of care. The problem will not just go away or diminish over time on its own. Confronting a pathological liar with proof of the prevarications never works. The only hope for a positive outcome when dealing with a potential pathological liar is to engage a mental health professional. If they don’t want to seek individual counseling, suggest family or couples counseling, since taking small baby steps together may help them to eventually seek appropriate help.
You may have periods where you feel hopeless but there is always support available and ways to move forward. No matter what you’re experiencing, with the right tools, you can build honest and fulfilling relationships. Take the first step today.
4 Signs That Someone Is a Compulsive Liar
Everybody hates a liar. It’s not so much that a liar has misled us; it’s the fact that many of them build lies upon other lies, and absolutely refuse to come clean in many cases. Is it a problem with communication? Is something broken in their psyche? Or do they simply think that they can seriously get away with whatever it is they have planned, just so long as they can keep up the ridiculous rationalizations?
It’s hard to tell, and there are a million reasons why an individual lies. We all do it, every day. Most lies are harmless, though. Others? Not so much. The question is, how can you tell if someone is telling more than just a white lie? What if you suspect there’s a pattern at play, and that an individual’s lies are a symptom of a larger problem?
The compulsive liar vs. the pathological liar
A man wears a ‘Pinocchio’ style nose, emulating the most famous liar of all time | Greg Wood/AFP/Getty Images
You might be dealing with a compulsive liar or a pathological liar — and yes, there is a difference.
A compulsive liar is someone who lies… well, with compulsion. They have little, if any, control over it. Their lying is constant and habitual, and they seemingly tell lies for no reason at all. On the other hand, pathological liars do so with some sort of intent. They lie to get what they want through manipulation.
So, how can you tell if you’re dealing with one of these people? There are some tell-tale signs to help you spot them, and with a little effort it’s fairly easy to see a pattern of lying and deceit — be it of the pathological sort, or compulsive.
1. Body language
US President Bill Clinton pauses a moment while being asked about former White House intern Monica Lewinsky | Stephen Jaffe/AFP/Getty Images
Body language can reveal a lot about what’s going on in someone’s head. Though compulsive liars do have a bit of an advantage, if that’s possible, since their lies are typically habitual, and often for little or no reason. But there are still several body language cues that can give a liar away. For example, eye contact — or a lack thereof. Liars will typically avoid eye contact when telling a fib.
Also, look out for slouching or bad posture. It reveals a lack of confidence. Perspiration is another sign, as is a shaky voice, and covering one’s mouth when they speak.
2. Self-esteem issues
Coworkers discuss a man with low self-esteem | Source: iStock
If you want to dig into the psychology of compulsive liars, you have to first take a look at self-esteem. Esteem is at the core of many compulsive liars’ behaviors. This plays right into what we’ve already mentioned: a lack of confidence, which is often translated via body language. Generally, scientists and researchers point to childhood as the point where many compulsive liars pick up the habit. They may not be as quick as their mates, and thus, start fibbing to get by, and give themselves an esteem boost.
“It’s tied in with self-esteem,” University of Massachusetts psychologist Robert Feldman told LiveScience. “We find that as soon as people feel that their self-esteem is threatened, they immediately begin to lie at higher levels.”
A fearful trader rubs his face while working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange | Mario Tama/Getty Images
Building off of a lack of confidence and fragile self esteem, we land at fear. Fear is what drives a lot of compulsive lying. If people lie to cover up other lies, it’s likely because they’re afraid of being found out. We’re all scared of being outed as frauds in one way or another, so lying becomes a crutch to get us through it. Lying is an easy way to make an attractive man or woman think you’re interesting — many are scared of being rejected, or thought of as boring.
In short, we lie because we’re scared. At their core, many compulsive liars are simply afraid.
4. They refuse to come clean
American president Richard Nixon (1913 – 1994) announces his resignation on national television | Pierre Manevy/Express/Getty Images
The final sign you have a compulsive liar on your hands? They refuse to just drop the act. You see this happen among the rich and famous, as they string lies along for years. Sometimes decades. Bill Clinton lied about his affair with a White House intern, hoping it would go away. Richard Nixon lied about the Watergate scandal. Bill Cosby has allegedly lied, for decades, about sexual assaults.
If you’re facing a similar situation with a loved one, you may be dealing with a compulsive liar.
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The Truth Behind Pathological and Compulsive Liars
Compulsive vs. Pathological Liars
Out-of-control lying is known as compulsive or pathological lying. Definitions are fluid, experts say.
Compulsive liars have a need to embellish and exaggerate, says Paul Ekman, PhD, a professor emeritus of psychology at the University of California in San Francisco and the author of Telling Lies, among other books. “They tell the stories they think want to be heard,” he says. When you ask a compulsive liar for an opinion on an important issue, says Dr. Ekman, they’re likely to say something like this: “You know, you made a really wise choice in asking my opinion. Many people do. I’ve actually been asked by the governor of California to comment on this.”
“Often, they’re pretty good liars,” Ekman adds. “You often believe what they say — at least for a while.”
RELATED: 5 Things Psychologists Wish Their Patients Would Do
Pathological liars may be even bolder. They ”continue to lie when they know you know they’re lying,” Ekman says. The two lying types are pretty similar, he says, and actually, ”You could be a compulsive pathological liar.”
Neither compulsive nor pathological lying has been studied extensively, say Feldman and Ekman. “I don’t think we really know enough about the etiology of these to know if they should be considered a mental disorder,” notes Ekman.
For example, experts don’t know for sure what drives the troublesome lying. They know impulsivity and a need to impress could be linked to the habit. But they’ve debated whether these types of lying are symptoms or a disease.
Liars’ brains may differ structurally from the average brain. In a study in The British Journal of Psychiatry, scientists did brain scans on pathological liars and others, and found that the liars had more white matter in the brain’s prefrontal cortex. They concluded that the increase in white matter may somehow provide these “super-liars” with ”the cognitive capacity to lie.”
While everyday lies are goal-directed — you don’t want to hurt the feelings of your overweight spouse — pathological lies often seem purposeless. Sometimes the lies are even self-incriminating, making them that much more difficult to figure out.
RELATED: What’s Your Anger Type?
Compared to pathological liars, compulsive liars can get along pretty well in life, Ekman says. “Compulsive liars usually get away with it because they tell the lies we want to believe.”
Fortunately, neither type of liar is common, according to Feldman and Ekman. Ekman estimates fewer than 5 percent of people lie compulsively or pathologically.
Can Compulsive or Pathological Liars Change?
In Ekman’s experience, most liars who are compulsive or pathological don’t want to change enough to enter treatment. Usually they only do so when directed by court order, after they’ve gotten into trouble, he says. Or they do so after their lies have resulted in dire consequences such as bankruptcy, divorce, or loss of a career.
Little research exists on treatment options for liars. Counseling or psychotherapy may help, with a focus on how to reduce impulsivity.
Spotting, Living With, or Working for a Whopper of a Liar
Can you tell on first meeting that someone might be a troubled liar? It’s difficult, but Ekman has found this rule-of-thumb helpful: “In the first half hour , if I want to invite them home for dinner, I watch out!” he says. That means their charm, a characteristic of liars, may have worked its devilish magic.
If a new friend or acquaintance shows his colors as a compulsive or pathological liar, the mentally healthy thing to do is walk away, Ekman says. “What people value in friendships is truthfulness,” he says.
While those closely tied to a pathological liar may stay optimistic that the liar will change, Ekman tells them: “You also need to be a realist. Do you really want to spend your life, at work or at home, wondering if you’re being duped?”
Pathological liars are so good, Feldman agrees, ”so you won’t know when you’re being lied to.” Don’t expect remorse, either, he says. “Pathological liars will look at a situation entirely from their own perspective. They have no regard for another’s feelings about what might happen as a result of their lies,” Feldman says.
5 Signs You’re Living With A Pathological Liar
The effects of loving a pathological liar can be devastating – from emotional abuse to manipulative behavior to aggression – people who love pathological liars risk their emotional and physical health. So what are the signs that you’re living with a pathological liar?
I would know. I was married to one. For five years, he lied to me. For four of those five years, I had absolutely no idea. And then our daughter was born, and he tried to get away with a lie so big his entire house of cards collapsed.
Three weeks after I gave birth, I found nearly indisputable evidence that my husband was leading a double life (complete with girlfriend). Instead of coming clean though, he lied. And lied and lied. For months, I vacillated between knowing with certainty that my husband was not the person I thought he was, to desperately wanting to believe that it was all a silly “misunderstanding.” More and more disturbing evidence surfaced, and I begged for the truth, yet he refused to own up.
According to Psychology Today, while compulsive, pathological lying has no “official diagnosis,” it is associated with a range of personality disorders, such as borderline, narcissist and antisocial.
The sociopathic/narcissistic pathological liar has no moral qualms about lying which makes it easy to look someone in the eye and tell a bold-faced lie. Some pathological liars believe their lies; living in a fantasy world that they’ve constructed. In other cases of pathological lying, the liar experienced trauma early in life and began lying as a coping mechanism, and, at some point, lying became more comfortable and “truthful” to him than the truth.
The good news? If you know what to look for, you can identify a pathological liar. The tricky part? Pathological liars are much more skilled at lying than the average Joe. But the signs of pathological lying are still deeply embedded in a person’s behavior.
Here are five signs that you’re living with a pathological liar:
1. He Uses The Silent Treatment As A Weapon
When you catch your partner in a potential lie or you try to talk about something that just doesn’t add up, your partner goes from doting and loving to… silent. You go from feeling completely secure in the relationship to feeling as if you’re walking on eggshells. He can go from one extreme to the other quickly and without warning. Often you find yourself keeping your head low and being as agreeable as possible, so you don’t have to endure one of his silent treatments or “moods.”
When I confronted my husband about his big lie, he vacillated between rage and complete silence. Outofthefog.com, a blog about emotional abuse, defines the silent treatment as: “A passive-aggressive form of emotional abuse in which displeasure, disapproval and contempt is exhibited through nonverbal gestures while maintaining verbal silence.”
2. Criticism Comes Right Back At You…. Times 10
You try to have an open discussion with your partner about something that bothers you and he changes the course of the conversation to how really you’re to blame for a, b and c, that you didn’t even know were related to the current conversation but somehow now seem massively important. Suddenly, you’re wracking your brain for how to make it up to your partner for being insensitive to his needs. He’s shifting the blame to you and even making you feel like the guilty one.
On PsychologyToday.com Jeff Wise, author of Extreme Fear: The Psychology of Your Mind in Danger, called this tactic a “counterattack” and noted, “Just as most of us are uncomfortable telling lies, most are uncomfortable accusing others. This discomfort can be used in the liar’s favor.” Brilliant, really.
3. Your Partner Is An Expert At The Pity Play
You bring up some strange credit card charges and your partner breaks down about his grandma’s cancer…that you didn’t even know about until this very moment. Psychologist Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door, calls this the “pity play,” and she believes that it is the number one tactic employed by the sociopathic liar. Even if the sob story were true, it still wouldn’t justify the lying. A pathological liar knows our natural response is one of empathy and pity and they use it full to their advantage.
4. There Is Rage In Your House
I remember my ex-husband screaming at me with such a cold look in his eyes that I completely forgot what I was upset about in the first place. Reacting with anger is another technique used by the pathological liar. You try to have an open discussion about something that just isn’t adding up, and he erupts in a rage. You immediately shut down. At first maybe you’re upset and pissed right back. But then, when it becomes clear that your partner is not backing down from his volcanic rage, you become nervous you’ve somehow gone too far and pushed him over the edge. You even apologize to him for making him so angry and find yourself being more careful in the future to not set him off.
5. He Has Lied To Others Repeatedly
This is the single biggest indicator that you’re living with a pathological liar. If you have seen him unflinchingly and convincingly tell a lie to someone else, stop right there; you are living with a stone cold liar. You may try to rationalize that he would never lie to you, in fact, he only lied to protect you! But if he can lie to someone else with ease, he can, and will, do it to you.
Pathological liars will often lie about small, unimportant things that may leave you scratching your head. Pay attention to these supposedly insignificant lies. Ron Schouten, author of Almost a Psychopath, describes a pathological liar who lied “about little things, like what he had had for dinner the night before.” The take away? A liar is a liar. Period.
There are different types and levels of lying, but if you suspect that you love a pathological liar, talk to a counselor or therapist. Your primary care physician is also a great resource. Every case is different; determine what is safe for you and your situation. Keep in mind though that pathological liars rarely, if ever, change their ways, and so my advice is to seek help for yourself first. If you determine that your pathological liar is also on the psychopathy spectrum, your only recourse is going no contact. Setting off on my own with a newborn baby was the hardest thing I’ve ever done, but it also made me into a stronger, deeper, and more empathetic person. While breaking free from the pathological liar may feel impossible, you must take steps to distance yourself from him/her as soon as possible; your sanity, physical health and future happiness is at stake.
What to Do When Your Loved One Is a Chronic Liar
Change is tough, there’s no doubt about it. Old habits are hard to shift, and adopting a new lifestyle can feel like an uphill battle!
In this article, you will learn about a simple yet powerful model:
Stages of change model, that explains the science behind personal transformation.
You’ll discover how and why some changes stick whereas others don’t last, and how long it takes to build new habits.
What is the Stages of Change Model?
Developed by researchers J.O. Prochaska and Carlo C. DiClemente over 30 years ago and outlined in their book Changing For Good, the Stages of Change Model, also known as the Transtheoretical Model, was formed as a result of the authors’ research with smokers.
Prochaska and DiClemente were originally interested in the question of why some smokers were able to quit on their own, whereas others required professional help. Their key conclusion was that smokers (or anyone else with a bad habit) quits only when they are ready to do so.
Here’s an illustration done by cartoonist and illustrator Simon Kneebone about the different stages a smoker experiences when they try to quit smoking:
The Stages of Change Model looks at how these conscious decisions are made. It emphasizes that change isn’t easy. People can spend a long time stuck in a stage, and some may never reach their goals.
The model has been applied in the treatment of smoking, alcoholism, and drugs. It is also a useful way of thinking about any bad habit. Social workers, therapists, and psychologists draw on the model to understand their patients’ behaviors, and to explain the change process to the patients themselves.
The key advantages to the model is that it is simple to understand, is backed by extensive research, and can be applied in many situations.
The Stages of Change Model is a well-established psychological model that outlines six stages of personal change:
How are these stages relevant to changing habits?
To help you visualize the stages of change and how each progresses to the next one, please take a look at this wheel:
Let’s look at the six stages of change, together with an example that will show you how the model works in practice:
Stage 1: Precontemplation
At this stage, an individual does not plan to make any positive changes in the next six months. This may because they are in denial about their problem, feel too overwhelmed to deal with it, or are too discouraged after multiple failed attempts to change.
For example, someone may be aware that they need to start exercising, but cannot find the motivation to do so. They might keep thinking about the last time they tried (and failed) to work out regularly. Only when they start to realize the advantages of making a change will they progress to the next stage.
Stage 2: Contemplation
At this stage, the individual starts to consider the advantages of changing. They start to acknowledge that altering their habits would probably benefit them, but they spend a lot of time thinking about the downside of doing so. This stage can last for a long time – possibly a year or more.
You can think of this as the procrastinating stage. For example, an individual begins to seriously consider the benefits of regular exercise, but feels resistant when they think about the time and effort involved. When the person starts putting together a concrete plan for change, they move to the next stage.
The key to moving from this stage to the next is the transformation of an abstract idea to a belief (e.g. from “Exercise is a good, sensible thing to do” to “I personally value exercise and need to do it.)
Stage 3: Preparation
At this point, the person starts to put a plan in place. This stage is brief, lasting a few weeks. For example, they may book a session with a personal trainer and enrol on a nutrition course.
Someone who drinks to excess may make an appointment with a drug and alcohol counsellor; someone with a tendency to overwork themselves might start planning ways to devise a more realistic schedule.
Stage 4: Action
When they have decided on a plan, the individual must then put it into action. This stage typically lasts for several months. In our example, the person would begin attending the gym regularly and overhauling their diet.
Stage 4 is the stage at which the person’s desire for change becomes noticeable to family and friends. However, in truth, the change process began a long time ago. If someone you know seems to have suddenly changed their habits, it’s probably not so sudden after all! They will have progressed through Stages 1-3 first – you probably just didn’t know about it.
Stage 5: Maintenance
After a few months in the Action stage, the individual will start to think about how they can maintain their changes, and make lifestyle adjustments accordingly. For instance, someone who has adopted the habit of regular workouts and a better diet will be vigilant against old triggers (such as eating junk food during a stressful time at work) and make a conscious decision to protect their new habits.
Unless someone actively engages with Stage 5, their new habits are liable to come unstuck. Someone who has stuck to their new habits for many months – perhaps a year or longer – may enter Stage 6.
Maintenance can be challenging because it entails coming up with a new set of habits to lock change in place. For instance, someone who is maintaining their new gym-going habit may have to start improving their budgeting skills in order to continue to afford their gym membership.
Stage 6: Termination
Not many people reach this stage, which is characterized by a complete commitment to the new habit and a certainty that they will never go back to their old ways. For example, someone may find it hard to imagine giving up their gym routine, and feel ill at the thought of eating junk food on a regular basis.
However, for the majority of people, it’s normal to stay in the Maintenance period indefinitely. This is because it takes a long time for a new habit to become so automatic and natural that it sticks forever, with little effort. To use another example, an ex-smoker will often find it hard to resist the temptation to have “just one” cigarette even a year or so after quitting. It can take years for them to truly reach the Termination stage, at which point they are no more likely to smoke than a lifelong non-smoker.
How long does each stage take?
You should be aware that some people remain in the same stage for months or even years at a time. Understanding this model will help you be more patient with yourself when making a change. If you try to force yourself to jump from Contemplation to Maintenance, you’ll just end up frustrated. On the other hand, if you take a moment to assess where you are in the change process, you can adapt your approach.
So if you need to make changes quickly and you are finding it hard to progress to the next stage, it’s probably time to get some professional help or adopt a new approach to forming habits.
The limitations of this model
The model is best applied when you decide in advance precisely what you want to achieve, and know exactly how you will measure it (e.g. number of times per week you go to the gym, or number of cigarettes smoked per day). Although the model has proven useful for many people, it does have limitations.
Require the ability to set a realistic goal
For a start, there are no surefire ways of assessing whereabouts in the process you are – you just have to be honest with yourself and use your own judgement. Second, it assumes that you are physically capable of making a change, whereas in fact you might either need to adjust your goals or seek professional help.
If your goal isn’t realistic, it doesn’t matter whether you follow the stages – you still won’t get results. You need to decide for yourself whether your aims are reasonable.
Difficult to judge your progress
The model also assumes that you are able to objectively measure your own successes and failures, which may not always be the case. For instance, let’s suppose that you are trying to get into the habit of counting calories as part of your weight-loss efforts. However, even though you may think that you are recording your intake properly, you might be over or under-estimating.
Research shows that most people think they are getting enough exercise and eating well, but in actual fact aren’t as healthy as they believe. The model doesn’t take this possibility into account, meaning that you could believe yourself to be in the Action stage yet aren’t seeing results. Therefore, if you are serious about making changes, it may be best to get some expert advice so that you can be sure the changes you are making really will make a positive difference.
The Stages Of Change Model can be a wonderful way to understand change in both yourself and others.
While there’re some limitations in it, the Stages of Change Model helps to visualize how you go through changes so you know what to expect when you’re trying to change a habit or make some great changes in life.
Start by identifying one of your bad habits. Where are you in the process? What could you do next to move forwards?
Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com
|^||Psych Central: Stages Of Change|
|^||Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)|
|^||Empowering Change: Stages of Change|
|^||Boston University School Of Public Health: The Transtheoretical Model (Stages Of Change)|
|^||Psychology Today: 5 Steps To Changing Any Behavior|
|^||The Transtheoretical Model: Limitations Of The Transtheoretical Model|
|^||Health Education Research: Transtheoretical Model & Stages Of Change: A Critique|
How can you live with a pathological liar?
If you are okay with living in complete misery, then you should be just fine living with a pathological liar. I’d say it would be like living with a toddler, because every conversation that you have with that person is confusing, you have to ask the same thing over and over again and by the end of the conversation you realize you know less than before the conversation started. But that analogy is not fair. At least toddlers are cute.
A pathological liar is very difficult to live with. You lose all trust in everyone around you. You question and investigate everyone. You get in the habit of assuming that any story you hear, any excuse you are given, any answer provided to you by friends, family and co-workers is something that needs to be investigated. The liar in your life will make you jaded and the concept of people being decent, honorable people will no longer exist in your mind set. And, if you are like most people, you won’t share that this person who is special to you is a compulsive liar- because that is private. But your constant interrogating and mistrust in everyone around you will work against you. You will come across as a paranoid and untrustworthy person. Typically, people believe that if a person is constantly accusing others of something, it is because subconsciously they are guilty of it themselves. So, your liar’s bad habit will actually reflect back on you. Also, their lies will eventually get you caught up in the middle of them and you will either have to reveal all or tell a small little lie yourself. Because it would probably be easier than explaining the entire thing from the start and how so-and-so is a pathological liar. And that’s how it starts….
If you are living with a toxic person, such as a pathological liar, you need to shut that sh!t down or get out before your ethics and values are poisoned.
They lie again and again.
Dishonesty is their calling card.
Sometimes they don’t even seem to know what is true and what is false.
Welcome to the world of pathological liars.
Now, can you, hand on heart, say you tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth 100% of the time?
No, of course you can’t, and neither can 99.99% of the population.
If anyone claims to always tell the truth, they are almost certainly lying.
But most of us can say with some honesty that we try to keep our lies to a minimum.
For the pathological liars and compulsive liars, however, lying is a way of life. They tell porkies more often than they tell the truth.
So what is pathological or compulsive lying, why do people do it, and how can you spot it?
Pathological lying or Pseudologia Fantastica to give it its more formal Latin name (also known as Mythomania) is somewhat of a talking point in psychiatric circles.
While some consider it merely a symptom of other conditions (such as borderline personality disorder, antisocial personality disorder, and narcissistic personality disorder), others believe it should also be regarded as a standalone disorder.
The reasons for this debate are beyond the scope of this article, but one thing is for certain: some people do lie consistently and compulsively.
This kind of lying can be described as both chronic in the sense that it occurs over long periods of time – often someone’s entire life – and habitual in the sense that it occurs regularly as if it is second nature.
Some people even consider it to be a form of addiction, whereby the liar lies in order to gratify some psychological impulse much like an alcoholic, smoker, or gambling addict might respond to specific neurological triggers.
Lies of this sort are always born of some internal motivation as opposed to an external motivation. In other words, they lie to gratify themselves, not to avoid the negative consequences of telling the truth.
Pathological lying is not always as obvious as you might expect, especially if the interaction between two people is fleeting or when the relationship has yet to properly develop.
The liars can come across as interesting, intelligent, socially adept, and even charming.
Yet, over time, as the lies become apparent, it strips away any trust that might have grown and causes significant tension between the liar and those being lied to.
Friendships, romantic entanglements, work relationships, and even family bonds are liable to break down if and when these constant falsehoods are uncovered.
Pathological Vs Compulsive Lying: Is There A Difference?
While some literature uses the terms pathological and compulsive interchangeably when discussing this sort of deceitful behavior, others believe it is possible to make a clear distinction between the two.
Here are some ways in which one type of lying might be distinguished from the other:
- lie with a clear intent or motive
- create extravagant stories that may be maintained/tweaked over long periods of time
- often believe their own lies / have a weak grip on reality
- are more likely to go on the defensive if a lie is challenged
- have more control over when they lie
- feel less discomfort and exhibit fewer of the signs of lying
- feel literally compelled to lie, either because it’s the only way they know of operating or because they are uncomfortable with the truth
- often lie for no clear reason and sometimes for no real benefit
- make up lies more spontaneously and without great thought
- prefer to tell the sorts of lies that they think people want to hear
- mostly know what is a lie and what is the truth
- are more likely to admit to lying when confronted, though this might not stop them from continuing to lie
These characteristics merely point to some of the ways in which a pathological liar may differ from a compulsive liar, but they are not strict definitions. As we mentioned above, not everyone agrees on a clear separation between the two.
You may also like (article continues below):
- 8 Ways Lying Is Poisonous To Relationships
- Why Lying By Omission Is Just As Hurtful And Damaging To Relationships
- How To Respond When You Find Out Someone Has Lied To You
- How To Rebuild And Regain Trust After Lying To Your Partner
- Telling White Lies: When It IS And When It ISN’T Okay
What Causes This Lying Behavior?
As with all personality disorders or traits, there is rarely a single, clear, underlying cause for these kinds of lying.
It is highly likely that a mix of genetic and environmental factors contribute to it, but this mix will be unique to each individual.
Here are just a few of the more common reasons for compulsive and pathological lying:
1. Personality disorders – as mentioned above, this form of lying can be associated with various types of personality disorder.
That is not to say that it is caused by these disorders, but rather it forms a part of them.
2. Their brains are different – while the hard, scientific evidence remains somewhat sparse, there are studies that indicate potential differences in the brains of pathological liars.
One such study showed a widespread increase in the white matter in 3 prefontal subregions of the brain.
While another suggested that the act of lying can make the next lie easier to tell in a ‘slippery slope’ of deceit. This might be because of the way the amygdala’s emotional response to lying weakens with repetition.
Some early work found that as many as 40% of pathological liars had evidence of central nervous system dysfunction which may relate to conditions such as epilepsy, head trauma, or infection of the central nervous system itself.
3. They learned to lie – during our childhoods, we learn what is acceptable and what is not. It may be the case that an adult who lies compulsively or pathologically does so because this is what they learned to do.
Whether because of some childhood trauma or simply because it was effective in getting what they wanted from a caregiver, lying may have become a default setting.
This links back to the second study quoted above about how lying becomes easier the more one does it.
4. Substance abuse – when in the grips of an addiction such as alcoholism or drug use, a person may lie in order to both hide their problem from others and as a means to fund their habit.
In these instances, the need to meet their addiction overrides their moral code when it comes to making decisions about what to say. The same can be said about their shame and the desire to conceal their habit.
5. Other mental health issues – people who lie pathologically may also be suffering from a mental illness such as depression, anxiety, or OCD. This does NOT mean that people with those conditions are pathological liars.
But if someone regularly lies due to a mental health issue, it may be down to underlying feelings of fear and shame surrounding that issue.
They may lie to escape the realities of their condition or to hide it from those around them.
Signs Of Pathological/Compulsive Lying
If you suspect someone of regularly lying to you, and you want to know whether they are doing so to conceal an indiscretion (which is not pathological because it is based on external motivation) or because this is simply how they function, look for some of the signs below.
1. Their stories are beyond belief -if you often find yourself shaking your head in disbelief at some of the claims being made, it’s more likely that you are dealing with a pathological liar (less so a compulsive liar).
If they tell you how they dined with Tom Cruise or hold the world record for the number of chipolatas eaten in 60 seconds, it’s a big red flag.
2. Their lies contribute to their attention-seeking behavior – if a person lies in order to direct the attention back toward themselves or it forms part of a more general need for attention, they could be a pathological liar.
Yet they may get attention in two very different ways, which are covered in points 3 and 4.
3. They lie to inflate themselves – rather than admit to their shortcomings or divulge information that might reveal a hard time they are having, they construct stories that paint their life and their character in a more positive light.
4. They lie to create a victim identity – in order to garner sympathy and attention from others, they may tell regular falsehoods regarding unfortunate events that have befallen them. This could include illnesses, personal losses, maltreatment by others, or some horrible occurrence that has left them in physical or emotional pain.
5. They have poor self-esteem – on its own, low self-esteem is not a sign of pathological or compulsive lying, but when observed alongside some of the other signs, it adds to the overall picture of a person’s lying ways.
Poor self-esteem may be more likely to indicate you’re dealing with a compulsive liar as it may be a crutch they use to hide their anxieties and insecurities.
6. They love to have the last word – when you argue with a pathological liar, they will always want to have the last word. After all, if you stop arguing your point, they can claim victory and continue with their lie until it is challenged again.
As mentioned in our comparison above, compulsive liars might be more willing to admit to their lies, and so won’t be so keen on having the last word.
7. They are mentally quick on their feet – in order to spin lies to different people, in different situations, they are typically very quick-minded and versatile in terms of the stories they tell. They can pull lies out of thin air and make them sound very convincing.
8. They backpedal and change stories to cover up lies – if a lie has been uncovered, or they sense that one is about to be, they may change their statements and alter their stories. Only, if you point out that they said something different before, they will deny it and claim you misheard or misunderstood.
9. They lead unstable lives that are often full of drama – as much as they may try to keep their lies hidden, most people eventually realize that something doesn’t add up.
Relationships break down, jobs are lost, and the pathological liar may find themselves moving between circles of friends and even different locations to find new unsuspecting victims to lie to.
10. They cannot keep secrets they’ve been told and like to gossip – because honesty is not a quality they care anything about, you are likely to hear a lot of details about other people – some of which will be personal secrets. Nothing is sacrosanct.
How To Deal With This Form Of Lying
The obvious way to deal with a compulsive or pathological liar is to avoid dealing with them at all. To remove them from your life.
But this is not always easy, nor is it always desirable.
As we have discussed above, this form of lying can have a variety of causes. Those causes do not necessarily make someone a bad person or a wholly negative influence on your life.
Yes, if you can be fairly sure that an individual is suffering from the likes of narcissistic personality disorder or antisocial personality disorder, it is probably wise to distance yourself from them. And you do not have to feel guilty for doing so.
But if the person in question has depression or an addiction or one of the other causes listed above, you may wish to keep them in your life. How, then, do you approach their lying?
Trust… Where Appropriate
It’s simply not healthy for you to consider every word this person says as a lie. Yes, they may lie a lot, but they will also speak the truth at times.
Or they may exaggerate something which is for the most part true.
Either way, try to learn to recognize when they are more likely to be lying and when they are telling the truth.
Are there particular subjects that they lie about most often – that you have caught them lying about previously? Are there times when their mental state makes them more prone to lying?
You can have a healthy level of skepticism when listening to what they say, but unless you have a strong suspicion that it is a lie, putting a little bit of faith and trust in them isn’t a bad thing.
Of course, if the matter at hand is something of importance, you should be more wary than if it’s something of little consequence.
The reason you should put some trust in them is because if they think you believe everything they say is a lie, what reason are you giving them to tell you the truth?
By showing some degree of trust in them, you create a positive environment in which they might feel more comfortable telling the truth, particularly if their lies are related to feelings of shame or guilt.
Understand The Lie
We hurt when someone lies to us because an unconscious emotional response is triggered. In order to lessen this response, we need to combat it with critical thinking.
Ask: why did this person lie? What was their motive? What underlying reasons do they have to lie in this situation?
Refer back to the causes in the earlier section and see if you can pinpoint those that are relevant in this particular case.
This should help you understand the person who lied to you and sympathize with them to some degree.
You might not be able to overcome your entire emotional response, but it should allow you to act more calmly so as to diffuse as much tension from the situation as possible.
Accept That It Happened And Will Happen Again
Pathological or compulsive liars don’t always have a great deal of control over the lies they tell. So you have to accept their lies as part of them being in your life.
This doesn’t mean that you have to accept what they say as the truth or that their lying is acceptable in a wider context. It means accepting that their lying is not always done with malicious intent to you or others.
Lying is something that they do. At least, it is something that they do right now, given their current circumstances.
While you may seek to help them overcome this habitual behavior, they will tell you further lies. Try to see it for what it is and try not to take it too personally.
Help Them Seek Treatment For Any Underlying Causes
If their lying has arisen more recently and the cause is something you are aware of, try to encourage them to seek treatment for it.
If, for example, they have fallen into a depression and the lies started at the same time, you may be able to persuade them to see a doctor in order for them to find a suitable treatment.
Or if they have formed a destructive addictive habit which has caused them to lie excessively, you might once again be there to support them through admitting their problem and finding a way to address it.
Even if this person’s lying is a long-standing issue that developed in childhood, you can help them find a suitable professional psychotherapist to work with.
People who lie repeatedly are not easy people to have in your life. But neither should they always be vilified as evil or manipulative.
Lying can become pathological or compulsive for many reasons and as much as it can affect the lives of those who tell the lies and the people around them, there are ways to deal with it and even to treat it so that it bears less of a burden.
Hopefully this article has helped you to gain a better understanding of what these forms of lying are.
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Pathological Liars: Understanding Compulsive Lying
A pathological liar exhibits the chronic behavior of habitual or compulsive lying. While it’s common to tell an occasional white lie, pathological liars tell more than a random fib — oftentimes lying has become part of that person’s everyday life, and telling a lie feels more natural than telling the truth.
While there are a number of reasons people lie — to spare someone’s feelings or avoid difficult situations — pathological lying is usually a symptom of a greater problem. While there is inconclusive research on whether psychological lying is a neurological disorder, it has been concluded that it can either be a stand-alone problem or a symptom of other disorders such as obsessive-compulsive disorder or of some personality disorders.
Pathological Lies Versus White Lies
Pathological lying is different from creating a fabrication to get out of something or change the scope of a situation in your favor, both of which are white lies.
White lies are small lies. A white liar is the most common type of liar, someone who tells untruths in everyday situations to make life a little easier. These lies are harmless, for example, a friend says “I love your dress!” but they don’t really mean it.
Pathological liars, on the other hand often lack empathy — they are often colder and more calculating. Neuroscientists carried out a study on the brains of pathological liars and found that they have difficulty holding down long-term jobs. The short-term gains from their constant lies catch up with them and they live wandering lives, constantly switching workplaces and relationships.
Why Do Pathological Liars Lie?
Why someone lies pathologically is often unknown, to the audience and the liar. According to Psych Central, a pathological liar appears to lie for no apparent reason or personal gain. In fact, the chronic lying seems to be a pointless habit, one which is incredibly frustrating for family, friends, and coworkers. The Psychiatric Times defines pathological lying as a “long history — maybe lifelong history —of frequent and repeated lying for which no apparent psychological motive or external benefit can be discerned.”
How to Deal With a Pathological Liar
When someone lies to us, our trust in them can feel broken. Once you notice a pattern, it hurts even more. If you think you’re dealing with a pathological liar, you do have options, however, on how to handle the situation.
Address the problem
If you’re willing to help the liar process their emotions, make him or her aware that you know the truth isn’t being told. Before you do so, however, consider the potential that the liar could have feelings of resentment when you vocalize your concerns. Next, calmly discuss the problem in a private, safe space, try to help them understand the reason behind the lies and encourage them to seek help outside of your relationship.
If nothing is changing and you’ve expressed your concerns, you may have to step away from the relationship. Lies can hurt deeply and the pathological liar needs to recognize that change is necessary to keep those they love in their life.
No matter what, stay calm
It’s not worth your energy to argue with someone who lives in a fantasy world. Starting a conflict with someone who may not know what they are doing (or might get defensive) won’t help anyone. Be sure to always keep your cool and avoid directly engaging with the lies.
How to Recognize Pathological Lying
Identifying pathological lying can be difficult. After all, those who do it may not be aware of their behavior, are typically telling impulsive, random lies, and feel they aren’t in control of the lying. You can ask yourself or the liar a series of questions to better understand the situation:
- Is the individual chronically lying about little things?
- Are they frequently contradicting themselves?
- Do they show little or no remorse about their lies?
If confronted, the liar may become defensive or hostile, which will naturally make you question whether it’s worth challenging them, even if you have proof of the falsities he or she is telling.
You can try to spot behaviors, patterns, and encourage change, but professional help is likely necessary to help them recognize and successfully deal with these deeply rooted issues. While you can try to empathize and cope with a pathological liar’s constant mistruths. Understanding what causes the lying is the only way to change a pathological liar’s behavior.
Treatment, which can include psychotherapy or medication or both, will depend on whether or not the pathological lying is a symptom of an underlying psychiatric condition.
The psychological reasons why some people can’t stop lying
- There are several theories for why some people can’t stop lying.
- Narcissists are often pathological liars, because they simply don’t care about the truth.
- They prefer to tell lies and gain control over people than be honest.
- Sometimes, compulsive liars are highly impulsive people who struggle to take the time to think things through and tell the truth.
- Lying doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person, but it could be a sign of something more sinister.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
By the age of three or four, we all start to lie. At this point in our brain’s development, we learn that we have an incredibly versatile and powerful tool at our disposal — our language — and we can use it to actually play with reality and affect the outcome of what’s happening.
Sooner or later we learn that lying is “bad,” and we shouldn’t really do it. But if Jim Carey’s “Liar Liar” taught us anything, it’s that this just isn’t feasible. We all have to lie sometimes.
But some people are pathological liars, meaning they can’t stop spreading misinformation about themselves and others. The psychological reasons for why some people are this way is a bit of a mystery, but in the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, pathological lying is a disorder in its own right, as well as a symptom of personality disorders like psychopathy and narcissism.
“I think it comes from a defect in the neurological wiring in terms of what causes us to have compassion and empathy,” psychiatrist Judith Orloff, author of “The Empath’s Survival Guide,” told Business Insider. “Because narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths have what’s called empathy deficient disorder, meaning they don’t feel empathy in the way we would.”
The truth doesn’t matter to narcissists
When you don’t care about other people, lies don’t seem to matter. A lack of empathy essentially means a lack of conscience, which is a hard concept to grasp for a lot of people.
“When they lie it doesn’t hurt them in the same way it would hurt us,” Orloff said. “So many people get into relationships with pathological liars, or just can’t understand why they’re lying, because they’re trying to fit these people into the ordinary standards of what it means to be empathetic.”
But they don’t fit. In fact, they may not even realise they are lying half the time, because they’re not conscious of it. Orloff said they actually believe they are telling the truth a lot of the time. It’s not so much about the fact itself, she said, as it is about wanting to have power over somebody.
This is extremely dangerous for highly sensitive people, because they attract narcissists. Then when they see someone is lying, they try and figure it out, or blame themselves. Once the lies start, it can end with the victim being gaslighted, which is essentially when they are told over and over again that their version of reality is incorrect, and they begin to believe the warped truth of the abuser.
“The great power of relationships is when you can tell the truth to one another, and trust each other, and be authentic — and with pathological liars you can’t trust them,” Orloff said. “You can’t base your life around them. It’s like a moral deficit, and there’s no accountability. Someone who is a pathological liar will not say I’m sorry for doing it. They’ll say it’s your fault.”
The only way to escape the clutches of a pathological liar is to be strong enough to say “no this is not my fault, this is not ringing true to me, so I can’t really trust you,” she said.
Unfortunately, people tend to doubt themselves, because the lies can escalate subtly. It may start with a small white lie, and a few months later the victim’s life with be a mess of confusion because of the web of tall tales that has been woven.
“If somebody lies, don’t try and make an excuse about it,” Orloff said. “A lie is a lie. And if you bring it up to the person and they say it’s your fault, or no it didn’t happen, just know there’s something very wrong going on.”
Compulsive liars are not necessarily bad people
Psychologist Linda Blair, an author of many psychology books, told Business Insider some compulsive liars are simply too impulsive to tell the truth. The impulsive-reflective scale is ingrained in our genes, and it’s very hard for someone highly impulsive to take the time to think things through, just as it is a challenge for a reflective person to jump into something head first.
“If you’re an impulsive person, it’s really hard to break the habit, because you have this terrible feeling inside you that you have to sort things out right now,” Blair said. “So when it comes to your head, you just say it. That doesn’t mean you necessarily lie, but it’s a little harder for you to stop from lying, more than it is for someone who’s more reflective.”
Pathological lying and narcissism aren’t synonymous, they just sometimes go hand in hand. In other cases, compulsive liars just might not have the capacity to stop themselves blurting things out. And Blair said they just need to learn to control their urges and compulsions. Their lies don’t necessarily come from a bad place.
“I don’t think it’s something they know how to deal with,” she said. “We think probably it has something to do with actual brain function and the way some people’s brains work, which makes it much harder for them to understand the effect it will have on other people… We think, but we just don’t know yet for sure.”
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Compulsive Lying Treatment Melbourne
You know the truth. And you know that deep intimacy and self-esteem are impossible without it. So how did the occasional little white lie become a habit, a strategy?
More importantly, how do you turn it around? How do you stop lying habitually, regain your sense of self-worth, and return to a life of trusting, secure relationships?
The first step in recovery is to understand it. To get to the bottom of why you do it.
Why do people become addicted to lying?
Compulsive lying usually starts during childhood. Often as a way of coping with difficult feelings of shame or anxiety, and in response to growing up in an emotionally unsafe environment (where certain thoughts and feelings are considered ‘wrong’), one can become a habitual liar. Other reasons exist as well. Many times the cause is opaque, at first.
Eventually the lying becomes an attempt to avoid difficulties, even though new difficulties result from habitual lying. In some cases, individuals believe deep down, that their true self is flawed and not good enough. They feel they need to lie to win the acceptance and approval of people they value.
Over time, lying can become addictive. A habit. It feels more comfortable and more normal than telling the truth, to the point where many compulsive liars end up lying to themselves too.
Unfortunately, without compulsive liar treatment, it can last a lifetime.
Why is it a problem?
While lying may have seemed to make life easier in the past, you’ve probably already realised it can have a significant negative impact on your work, on loved ones, friends and colleagues. Even on strangers! It can ruin your career and destroy relationships.
Deep intimacy requires trust. Friendships require trust. Fruitful working relationships require trust. Without trust, everything you say is called into question and every important person in your life feels constantly betrayed and unclear about your intentions and real thoughts and feelings.
Just as importantly, your lying habit may also be preventing you from getting what you need from your relationships. Instead of expressing what you want, and addressing issues, many individual who lie frequently are chronic people-pleasers who bury resentment. Their partners, friends and colleagues don’t even know they’re unhappy, so there’s virtually no chance of improvement.
Additionally, some evidence indicates lying creates personal distress even when you ‘get away with it’. One effect noted involves difficulties with empathy and connecting with other people.
Plus there’s the constant anxiety a compulsive liar wrestles with about getting caught in a lie. The pressure to remember your lies and to manage the snowball effect of covering up lies with lies, leads you to feel guilty, fake, worthless and powerless to change.
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Pathological liar treatment is available. You can stop being a compulsive liar. You can book online to take the next step.
How can you stop?
Admitting that you have a problem with is the first, courageous step in overcoming your lying problem. Pathological liar treatment is the second.
Our psychotherapy, counselling or hypnotherapy services will help you identify and address the underlying causes of your lying addiction, and, before too long, stop lying altogether.
As you begin to overcome the causes and resultant habits of compulsive or pathological lying, you may notice an improvement in your relationships and a significant increase in your self-confidence. Not the fake kind of confidence that lying temporarily provides, but an authentic feeling of self-worth.
What can you expect from your confidential ‘treatment for lying sessions’?
We offer counselling services in Melbourne, or online counselling via Skype. And both are completely non-judgmental. It’s a safe, supportive, accepting environment, and we don’t force you to endure excess guilt or embarrassment. Its not something you should feel ashamed of, or try to hide. It’s merely something that needs treatment ideally from someone who can provide a completely objective and informed perspective while being empathic to the legitimate difficulties a lying addiction involves.
Just as importantly, we don’t just treat your symptoms; we help you discover the cause of your compulsive lying, so you can live a more satisfying, fulfilling and authentic life.
During your first visit, you’ll be able to discuss your problem in confidence, ask any questions, and decide if your psychotherapist is the right fit for you. This initial session will give us an initial insight into the issues involved in your pathological lying, and help us understand what you want to achieve.
After the first session, well begin tailoring a treatment plan to your individual needs. Its possible we may be able to manage your patterns by changing your habitual thoughts and responses, through hypnotherapy, but usually longer term treatment involving psychoanalytic psychotherapy is required. Psychoanalytic psychotherapy is an insight-oriented, intensive treatment that requires an honest commitment from you to address issues, but it is very effective for resolving the underlying causes of compulsive or pathological lying.
That’s not to say that psychoanalytic psychotherapy, alone, is always the answer to chronic lying. Every case is different. Yours may require a combination of psychoanalytic psychotherapy and proven natural treatments like Buddhist psychotherapy, Mindfulness Therapy and Attachment Therapy. Our counsellors are qualified in a range of counselling approaches and treatment techniques, so they’re able to tailor a plan to your specific needs and preferences, rather than trying to force an approach that doesn’t quite work for you.
How long will treatment take?
For some people, treatment starts working within the first few sessions. However almost every compulsive liar requires longer term psychotherapy for meaningful results. Although you may begin to experience change quite quickly, our treatment is not a quick-fix or band-aid solution.
We’re committed to helping you but you need to be committed too. Your progress relies, fundamentally, on your willingness to participate in therapy.
Make an appointment today
Call Bayside Psychotherapy on (03) 9557 9113 (Melbourne), book online or use our contact form to find out if we can help you let go of habitual lying. Your call is completely confidential, and there’s absolutely no obligation.