Today, I’m going to talk about pathological lying, what it is, and how it’s different from normal lying. Yes, there is a kind of lying that isn’t bad. If you have pathological lying, there isn’t a set definition because it isn’t a mental disorder.
Instead, it’s seen as a behavior problem that comes with other disorders, like some personality disorders, like antisocial personality disorder, and some brain disorders, like Korsakoff’s syndrome, which is brain damage caused by alcohol, instead of as a separate disorder. The term “pseudologia fantastica” used to be used for people who lied a lot. I like to say that. It also talked about people who told a lot of outrageous lies that were close to the fantastic. These were more than simple lies.
These would include things that seem like they’re not real, but when you question the person about them, they tell even more lies to make the story work. The reason for lying wasn’t always clear, and sometimes it was just for show. In the past, there was a lot of research on deception. Most of the early work was done in a forensic setting, looking at people who had done something bad. The more recent research has been done in non-criminal settings. When they looked into it, they learned about deception.
Lying is when you try to get someone to believe something that you know isn’t true. A normal person doesn’t lie very often. A person who lies a lot is called “pathological.” Pathological lying is still seen as a separate thing that takes lying to a whole new level, but normal lying and a lot of lying were seen as things that were not pathological. This is how people used to think of normal lying: telling less than five lies in a single day. “Now, before you think that’s a lot, let’s look at how they broke down the lies. I hardly ever lie.”
In one of the studies I’ve talked about, they used specific examples to divide the lies into little lies and big lies.
These were thought of as little lies. Telling a lie to keep someone from hurting their feelings. No, your butt doesn’t look big in those jeans. Telling a lie in order to protect someone.
“Not at all. He wasn’t there. I took $500 from your money drawer. I’m sorry about that.” Telling a lie when you don’t like someone’s gift because you don’t want to accept their gift.” Oh, right.
There are polka-dot socks that I like, as well as the pants that go with them.
It’s okay, thanks. Yeah, that’s right.” The act of telling a lie in order to keep someone from finding out about a secret “Oh, Jenny isn’t drinking alcohol because she’s taking part in Lent.
“Even though Jenny isn’t drinking, she isn’t ready to tell anyone because she is pregnant and wants to keep it a secret. Afterwards, telling a lie when a child wants something that they can’t have.” You can’t have that toy because the boogeyman owns it and he might get mad at you if you touch it.” No, I haven’t told any of these lies. In some ways, these can be thought of as lies that are okay to tell because they protect someone else.
Now, these were a lot of big lies. Not telling your partner who you’ve been with, where you’ve been, or how much money you’ve spent on someone, calling in sick when you feel fine, and calling it a mental health day. Lies about whether or not you love someone, not telling your partner who you’ve been with, where you’ve been, or telling your partner that you haven’t had that much to drink when you really have, and telling someone they look good when they don’t.
In a way, this is like the little lie of not admitting that someone looks fat. Offer that someone looks good when you know they don’t. Rather than telling them what they didn’t want to hear from you, you tell them what they want to hear.
So, let’s go back to the difference between normal lying and a lot of lying. On average, people lied one to two little lies a day, and one big lie a week. Prolific lying was telling six small lies and three big lies in one day. This is how it was done. A lot of people who lie a lot end up having more problems at work and in their relationships because they lie a lot. During the study, they found that most of the people who lied the most were younger, male, and had more money or power at work.
Is it better to be dishonest all the time or to be dishonest all the time? It would be okay for both people to be normal and to be very prolific, even though being very prolific can still cause problems. When someone is pathologically lying, they do it all the time and the lies don’t have a clear reason or benefit. It can look like you’re lying just to be lying. Some people start to believe their lies and can’t even tell the truth from the lies.
The person might be so buried in lies that they can’t even get out. It doesn’t make sense to challenge them on their lies. Because pathological lying hasn’t been studied very well, we don’t know how to treat it. There is therapy that can help the person gain more insight into their lives and figure out what makes them do what they do, and even help them recognize that they’re getting into a lying loop. A lot of people don’t even know they’re telling a lot of lies. It can become normal conversation for some people. They think it’s just talking, like telling a story.
And what’s wrong with telling stories? So for that person, it might be good to help them see that their storytelling is bad for both them and other people.
On the other hand, there isn’t a specific drug that can stop people from lying. The person might get very anxious when they don’t lie, or they might use their lies to make up for some obsessive thinking. If this is how you look at it, an antidepressant like the one we use to treat obsessive compulsive disorder might help them. So that’s lying that isn’t true.