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The Honest Truth About Liars

Updated on August 11, 2012

Compulsive liars are people who lie even if there is no need of it. Most have run across one at some time or another. And they can be aggravating to say the least. What prompts a person to lie for absolutely no reason whatsoever?

A compulsive liar is someone who lies out of habit. They feel comfortable lying, but uneasy when speaking the truth. Researchers have concluded compulsive lying disorders usually develop during childhood and are a form of obsessive compulsive disorder. It is generally accepted there are two classifications of liars, compulsive and pathological. The terms Habitual Liar and Chronic Liar are often used to refer to a Compulsive Liar.

Pathological liars are different from a compulsive liar. A pathological liar is usually defined as someone who constantly lies to get their way. Pathological lying is often focused and goal oriented. It is viewed as a coping mechanism and often associated with some other type of mental health disorder. And they are frequently thought of as manipulative, cunning and self-centered.

For compulsive liars, the act is an automatic response to a given situation. They are also referred to as habitual or chronic liars. To those who have it, it can be an addiction just as smoking and drug abuse. This type of lying may fill a need to be someone else due to low self-esteem issues.

Compulsive lying is considered a mental disorder whose exact origin is indeterminate. The condition can often be accompanied by depression, substance abuse, self mutilation or alcoholism. It can result from a number of specific root disorders, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, and many others.

A compulsive liar will lie, regardless of the situation. Not your everyday little white lie. It becomes a second nature. Not only will they fracture the truth about issues large and small, but they will take comfort in it. For them, it just feels right. Telling the truth, on the other hand, is difficult. Lying can become addictive and hard to stop and is often a symptom of a much larger personality disorder.

Compulsive lying can be treated through counseling or therapy. But, like any addictive behavior getting someone to admit there is a problem is the difficult part.

This disorder in children is one every parent should watch for. All children lie to some extent. This is normal behavior. It becomes serious when they begin lying for no apparent reason. It’s essential to identify the disorder in children during the early stages. Some people fabricate stories better than their life, while others create stories worse.

It’s not easy, but there are symptoms to look for which may identify a compulsive liar. Compulsive liars have turned their lying into a fine art and are very skillful in presenting their fabrications. These symptoms are usually noticed by those close to the afflicted. Following is a list of things to look for to spot a potential compulsive liar:

  • 1. People who need to be the center of attention. They lie to build themselves up to their peers and impress others with their self importance.
  • 2. Fabricating illustrious, great stories to enhance others view of themselves.
  • 3. Not remembering the original lie. They retell the same story, but although the basic premise stays intact, people, places, dates etc., may change. They tell so many lies, they can’t remember them all.
  • 4 Low self esteem is a trademark of compulsive liar disorder symptom is low self esteem. An inferiority complex forces the person to make up stories, that makes him/her feel worthy and appreciated.
  • Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) is common in children having the disorder. Although adults suffering from ADHD, with impulsive behavior, sometimes display compulsive lying symptoms.
  • People with a bipolar disorder may be compulsive liars because of extreme mood swings.
  • Drug addicts, alcoholics, gamblers, etc. may exhibit compulsive liar disorder.

There are no specific tests, other than possibly a polygraph machine or being able to read body language adeptly.

Physicians generally agree the disorder is due to some underlying mental illness. There are many compulsive liars having no psychiatric or psychological problem. Treatment involves seeking help of a qualified counselor.

According to Robert Reich, M.D., a New York City psychiatrist and expert in psychopathology, “Compulsive lying has no official diagnosis. Instead, intentional dissimulation, not the kind associated with dementia or brain injury, is associated with a range of diagnoses, such as antisocial, borderline and narcissistic personality disorders.”

When it comes to compulsive liars, says Charles Ford, a professor of psychiatry at the University of Alabama Birmingham, "…words seem to flow out of their mouths without them thinking about it." Ford, author of “Lies! Lies!! Lies!!!” and “The Psychology of Deceit says “…pathological liars may slide easily from the notion that something could have happened to the conviction that it did. When pressed, many will admit what they are saying isn't true.”

In conclusion, it might be wise to consider the words of Mark Twain: “Always tell the truth. That way, you don’t have to remember what you said.”


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    • DaNoblest profile image

      DaNoblest 6 years ago from California

      Thank you that was a very informative read. I did not know there was a difference between compulsive liars and pathological liars.

    • robie2 profile image

      Roberta Kyle 6 years ago from Central New Jersey

      Well done and I love the picture of Pinoccio -- Interesting that lying is classified as a mental disorder. I have always thought of it as a character flaw. Seeing it as a mental illness kind of takes the responsibility for the lies away from the lyer and I'm not sure how I feel about that.

    • MartieCoetser profile image

      Martie Coetser 6 years ago from South Africa

      I am a lier when I write fiction. I bend the truth as I please and I add a lot of tails. Sorry, but I need the money :))))

      As always, JY, you wrote an excellent hub!

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Thank you all for those good comments. Robie, I'm not sure I know how I feel about that either. And Martie. YOU LIE! LOL. Sorry sweetie...just had to do that.

    • Ginn Navarre profile image

      Ginn Navarre 6 years ago

      Yes I could be president of the lier's club for like MartieCoetser, I'm just an ole Cajun RACONTEUR that writes fiction.

      "Without lies humanity would perish of despair and boredom." Enjoyed this.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 6 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Ginn, I can't believe all you guys bought this pack of lies. :-)

    • privateye2500 profile image

      privateye2500 6 years ago from Canada, USA, London

      Not sure how I feel about that either Robie2...but then again, it isn't necessarily 100% *true*. Pun intended.

      Very informative hub.

    • Lucky Cats profile image

      Kathy 5 years ago from The beautiful Napa Valley, California

      Hi John....I must catch up with all your amazing writing...starting with this one. Very detailed and in depth study of a serious and disappointing condition. I say this because to be around one who spends so much time being deceitful must be a dreaded experience. One would never know if/when the truth had any part in the story being told. I must say that this is one among your top 10 in my opinion. Maybe I should say, this is one of my favorite top 10 of your wonderfully written hubs I've read. UP Interesting Useful Awesome. Thank you.

    • JY3502 profile image

      John Young 5 years ago from Florence, South Carolina

      Gee Lucky, I've missed all of your flattering comments lately. I thought you might be fooling around behind my back with some other writer and I had lost you. Well, read paragraph 1 again!

    • Missing Link profile image

      Missing Link 4 years ago from Oregon

      I found this to be an excellent hub...mostly cause it helped me gain insight per a person I had experiences with years ago. I had the misfortune of falling deeply in love with a woman who I later realized was one of the people you refer to in this hub. Her lies brought great damage and pain to my life...and to hers as well.

      I did not understand the video.

      Awesome hub--voted up and now following.

      By the way, I wrote a hub on this same topic but like yours better.

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