- Mental Health
The Honest Truth About Liars
Compulsive liars are people who lie even if there is no need of it. Most have met one at some time or another. And they can be aggravating. 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 (OCD). It is generally accepted there are two classifications of liars, compulsive and pathological. The terms Habitual Liar and Chronic Liar are often used in reference to Compulsive Liars.
Pathological liars differ from compulsive liars. Pathological liars are defined as those who constantly lie. They are focused and goal oriented. It's viewed as a coping mechanism often associated with a mental health disorder. They are frequently thought of as manipulative, cunning and self-centered.
It Can Be an Addiction
Compulsive liars react automatically to certain situations. They are also referred to as habitual or chronic liars. It can be an addiction due to low self-esteem issues.
Compulsive lying is considered a mental disorder whose exact origin is indeterminate. The condition is often accompanied by depression, substance abuse, self mutilation or alcoholism. It can result from a number of specific disorders, including Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder, to name a few.
A compulsive liar lies regardless of a situation. It becomes second nature and comes easily. Not only will they lie about issues, large or small, but will take comfort in them. Telling the truth, on the other hand, is difficult. Lying becomes addictive and hard to control. It's often a symptom of a larger personality disorder.
Compulsive lying can be treated through counseling or therapy. But like any addiction admitting a problem exists is the difficult part.
The Disorder in Children
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:
- 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.
- Fabricating illustrious, great stories to enhance others view of themselves.
- 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.
- 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 for diagnosis, except possibly a polygraph machine or being adept at reading body language.
Physicians generally agree the disorder is due to an underlying mental illness. However, there are many 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." When pressed, many will admit they are lying.
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.”