Pathological liars: who are they?
Most people can not cheat. They are called pathological liars. Some of them understand that they are lying, and others believe they are telling the truth.
A pathological liar is a person with a propensity to report false information and distort reality. Pathological lie, which is referred to as the "fantastic pseudology" of Munchausen's syndrome, is considered a complex disorder with a complex structure. Pathology can be temporary (from several months) or last a lifetime. Scientists have proven that this phenomenon is not caused by epilepsy, insanity, or dementia. A pathological tendency to distort reality should be perceived as part of a general mental disorder and not as a separate phenomenon. To date, psychologists are engaged in the correction of such behavior.
To the origins of the phenomenon
Opinions of experts concerning the nature of this phenomenon were divided. However, the most common causes can be identified.
Children's naive and harmless fantasies can eventually transform into a need to lie already in adulthood. First of all, excessive criticism, violence, and humiliation because of the lack of attention from parents. The lack of care and affection forces the child to compose non-existent things to achieve praise and attention in childhood. A person grows up, but the need remains, only now, instead of parents, there is a broader environment: relatives, friends, colleagues, and instead of praise - public recognition.
A symptom of a mental disorder may be that a person lies at every turn.
People with alcohol and drug addiction often cheat to hide such a problem and, at the same time to lure out money for their habits.
In 2005, the first evidence was found that the brain of a pathological liar has specific differences. Researchers at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, led by representatives of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences, Yelling Yang and Adrian Raine, conducted a study among volunteers aged 21 to 45 years. When analyzing the brain function of liars, structural anomalies were revealed.
The prefrontal cortex decreased the volume of gray matter (neurons), while the white value increased by 22 percent (nerve fibers connecting parts of the brain). This part of the brain is associated with learning moral behavior and feelings of remorse. The gray matter consists of brain cells, and the white is like a "connecting wiring" between them. An excess of white matter increases the ability of pathological liars to lie and weakens their moral restraint.
A person composes engaging stories to look like a more interesting interlocutor. He doesn't even have to ask questions to tell his stories. The main thing is to get your attention.
Other psychological problems
Lying can be linked to mental illnesses such as bipolar disorder and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. This behavior can be associated with fear, guilt, or shame.
But remember that not every person with such diseases is a pathological liar!
How to recognize a pathological liar
- These people lie at every turn, with or without
- They are not tormented by remorse, and they continue, looking into the eyes of the interlocutor, to develop their fantasies.
- It is difficult for them to keep fantasy under control, and they often change the content of the same story.
- Their stories may be illogical.
- With growing up, the pathology only increases, and it is difficult for such people to reshape their tendency.
- Their fables can be so absurd that only they do not see the meaninglessness of such statements.
- To not run out of interest, liars are capable of anything: to “bury” their father or son without any problems - just to solve the task.
- If you try to catch such a person in a lie, you may encounter aggression, as he considers himself always right.
How to communicate
If you can stop communicating with a pathological liar, there is no need to continue listening to his stories. However, such a person may be a member of your family or a circle of close people.
Options for communicating with such a person
- Everyone is uncomfortable when we are deceived. We may experience anger, disappointment, and resentment. Turn on critical thinking. Understand what makes a person lie at the moment, what drives him, and what goal he pursues. Understanding the motives for such behavior can calm down and perhaps show sympathy.
- Stop believing in his fairy tales and fantasies, no matter how plausible they seem. Question every word he says. Until you can be sure that he is telling the truth, continue to doubt what you hear—your belief in his lies fuels his imagination. Try to keep a neutral stance without getting emotionally involved. Focus on matching the information you get from him with verified facts.
- Let go of the illusion that the pathological liar will change and start telling the truth. Try to abstract from it.
- You don't have to be silent. It is normal to convey that something does not add up to the deceiver. It does hurt to soften the wording with the following: “Something I got confused." Can you explain it to me again?
- It is difficult to live or work with such people: how to determine where is the truth and where is the deceit? Difficult but interesting! They believe in their fantasies. And if you direct their energy in the "right direction," you can get, for example, writers or artists.
Pathological lie, mythomania or Pseudologia Fantastica (lat.), causes 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 speculation that this is a particular form of addiction: a person cheats under the influence of a psychological impulse, like an alcoholic, a smoker, or a gambler, reacting to specific triggers. However, the fact remains that some people lie all the time. Their deceit can be called chronic, as it is observed throughout life, or habitual, as it becomes second nature.
People of this type always act under the influence of internal motivation and not external factors. In other words, they lie not so much to avoid the unpleasant consequences of the truth but for "sports interest."
Pathological liars are not so easy to recognize, especially on a superficial acquaintance or at the beginning of a relationship. They may seem attractive, intelligent, friendly, and charming. Their true face is revealed only with time, and communication becomes strained. Lying endlessly can destroy friendships, loves, work relationships, and even families.
What Causes This Behavior?
There is no clear scientific explanation for the tendency to report deliberately false information. This behavior is due to many genetic and environmental factors, but this set is unique for everyone.
Among the most common reasons:
1. Personality disorders. As mentioned above, lying at every turn can be a symptom of a mental disorder.
2. Features of the brain. Several studies point to structural abnormalities in the brains of pathological liars. One such study revealed increased white matter volume in three prefrontal cortex regions.
The authors of another work believe that a stable tendency to lie is formed as the restraining emotional reaction of the amygdala weakens. Earlier studies have found that 40% of pathological liars damage the central nervous system caused by epilepsy, head trauma, or dangerous infections.
3. The costs of education. In childhood, we all learn what is good and what is wrong. At an early age, a person may lie out of fear of punishment or profit, which later becomes an unconditional attitude.
4. Chemical dependence. Drug addicts and alcoholics are often cunning to hide their problems and at the same time, lure out money: addictions “turn off” their conscience.
5. Other psychological problems. Someone who lies frequently may be suffering from depression, anxiety, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Such behavior may be associated with fear, guilt or shame, and unwillingness to admit their condition. It is essential 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 telltale signs of a lie.
1. The stories of liars are incredible. If you notice that you often shake your head, refusing to believe the fables, it seems that you have come across just such a person. Does someone tell how they dined 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 skin, trying to prove his importance, you are a pathological liar. They practice two ways of attracting attention (see points 3 and 4).
3. They lie to you to fill their worth. Instead of admitting their mistake or honestly saying they are in trouble, such people are talking nonsense just to look sinless.
4. Play the victim. To enlist the sympathy and support of others, they complain about imaginary misfortunes. Illnesses, death of loved ones, someone's cruelty, and other catastrophes they allegedly suffered.
5. Liars have low self-esteem. It does not indicate a pathological or compulsive lie, but in combination with other signs, it completes the portrait of an unabashed deceiver. Usually, low self-esteem is found in compulsive liars: it hides anxiety and insecurity.