How to recognize a pathological liar

 
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Have you ever communicated with a person who seemed to live in a fantasy world where everything said felt false or exaggerated? Have you ever had an experience with a person who always seems mysterious and nothing they say ever comes to fusion? Well…if so, you might have been dealing with a sociopath, narcissist, or even a pathological liar. This article will discuss 6 important characteristics we should all be aware of with the pathological liar.

How to recognize a pathological liar

Pathological lying (PL) has been defined by the Psychiatric Times as a “long history (maybe lifelong history) of frequent and repeated lying for which no apparent psychological motive or external benefit can be discerned.” There is no real consensus on what pathological lying is and many people have developed their own definition. Pathological lying is something that has negatively affected many people, even professionals, who are often unaware of the psychiatric instability or personality disorder of the liar. For example, in one of my previous articles I focused on Judge Patrick Couwenberg, a Superior Court Judge of California, who lied repeatedly while serving the public. The former Judge maintained the lie that he was a Caltech graduate, a wounded war veteran, and a CIA operative in the 1960s. All of these statements were easily identified by his peers as unreliable and inconsistent, but Couwenberg continued to attempt to evade others. He was later removed for “willful and prejudicial misconduct” for lying about attending Caltech. This education was critical to his Judicial position.

The sad part about this story is not so much that the former Judge lost his job in the end, but that he lacked insight into the fact that his steps could be traced and that many people would ultimately find him out. An appropriate level of consciousness was missing from Couwenberg and is missing in so many other people who are compulsive liars. The very fact that a lie could be found out does not affect the pathological liar.

They have an inability to consider the consequences or even fear being found out. It’s as if the pathological liar believes they are smarter than everyone and will never be found out. The very fact that the pathological liars’ work-life, home-life, or reputation could be in jeopardy as a result of the lies, does not phase the liar. Guilt, shame, or regret does not affect the liar. Consequences also do not seem to affect the liar. So then why does the liar engage in such behaviors?

Multiple research studies have attempted to find an answer to this question to no avail. Trying to understand the mind, behaviors, and intention of the pathological liar is not an exact science. It is very much an inexact science and entails years of study. Humans are complex and trying to understand the reasons for why they do all the things they do takes more than a graduate school degree in psychology and years of work experience.

For many mental health professionals and psychiatrists, trying to understand the pathological liar (or sociopath and narcissist who engages in this behavior) will entail a combination of intuition and science. Science alone cannot answer the many questions we have about pathological liars, but experience can offer some clues. We now know that pathological lying is spontaneous and unplanned. Impulsivity is often the culprit. We also know that pathological lying is more likely to occur in certain disorders or among individuals who have certain personality traits. Some diagnoses that might include pathological lying includes but is not limited to:

Personality Disorders:

Antisocial Personality Disorder (better known as sociopathy)
Borderline Personality Disorder
Narcissism or narcissistic personality disorder

Behavioral disorders:

Conduct disorder (often diagnosed in children and teens who have criminal-like behaviors or who demonstrate sociopathic traits such as animal cruelty, fire setting, and oppositional behaviors toward authority)

Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD) and CD (conduct disorder)

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often combined with ODD or CD

Certain personality traits where pathological lying may occur include:

Narcissism or self-centered behaviors and thought patterns
Selfishness
Abusive attitude
Obsessive, controlling, and compulsive behaviors
Impulsivity
Aggressiveness
Jealous behavior
Manipulative behaviors
Deceptiveness
Socially awkward, uncomfortable, or isolated
Low self-esteem
Tempermentalness
Anger

It is important to keep in mind that there are pathological liars who quite frankly just cannot help telling so many lies. It is almost like an automatic thing for the liar. Their world is much different from our world. But there are also liars who are gratified by telling lies, are good at it, and do not regret anything they have ever said. These individuals are “skillful” liars who attempt to evade and harm everyone they come across in their lives. In fact, these liars would meet diagnostic criteria for antisocial personality disorder (or sociopathy).

They also tell truths in ways that give incorrect perspectives. In other words, they tell the truth in a misleading way to cause people to view things in an incorrect fashion. Such individuals enjoy and get much gratification from keeping you confused and believing their stories. It is the experience of watching a “victim” run through the maze of confusion that gives gratification to most liars.

Fuente: blogs.psychcentral.com
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