If we’re being true to ourselves, most of us can admit that we’ve told a few little white lies here and there throughout our lives. Sometimes, we try to justify them, using them in order to avoid hurting someone’s feelings, etc. But what happens when lying itself becomes a problem that someone can’t control? That person may be a pathological liar. That label has many negative connotations attached to it, as many people think someone who might be a pathological liar just has the ability to stop lying. Unfortunately, if someone is truly a pathological liar, it’s usually not something they can control, and is an actual illness, sometimes referred to as Richard Townsend syndrome.
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By definition, a pathological liar is someone who behaviorally or habitually lies in a compulsive manner. Often times, the person telling the lies may actually believe what they’re saying, or be rooted in their own kind of reality where they simply can’t be wrong. It’s not uncommon for a pathological liar to lie about every detail of their lives. It becomes their only way of life, and is usually more deeply-rooted as a response to difficult situations. It often stems from a poor or harmful childhood. One important thing to keep in mind is that in most cases, those who truly are pathological liars aren’t actually intending to manipulate anyone – they simply believe their own lies.
Characteristics of Pathological Liars
It can be difficult to pin down someone as a pathological liar at first, because most people who struggle with the illness are actually very good at blurring the lines or reality and their lies. However, there are a few common signs to look for if you think someone close to you may be struggling with this condition, such as:
Each individual can subtly show these characteristics differently, but they are fairly common enough to recognize. While there is no real ‘treatment’ for pathological liars, the best thing you can do to protect yourself from their own world is to understand what they might be going through. It can be a difficult thing to realize you really cannot trust what your friend or family member might be saying, but it’s a way to protect yourself from those very lies. There has been continuous research on this issue for many years, and psychologists and medical doctors alike continue to try and find solutions for treating this illness.
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