Compulsive and Pathological Lying

Compulsive Lying and Pathological Lying

In private practice I have seen numerous people who have had problems with obsessive lying. In most instances by the time they contact me they are at boiling point and don’t know which way to turn. Often they have tried a number of approaches without success both on an individual and group basis.
People may lie for all sorts of reasons. Two sorts of lying that people may have heard of are “pathological” and “compulsive” liars. Here is a useful distinction between these: two types:

Pathological Liar

A pathological liar is usually defined as someone who lies incessantly to get their way and does so with little concern for others. Pathological lying is often viewed as coping mechanism developed in early childhood and it is often associated with some other type of mental health disorder. A pathological liar is often goal-oriented (i.e., lying is focused – it is done to get one’s way). Pathological liars have little regard or respect for the rights and feelings of others. A pathological liar often comes across as being manipulative, cunning and self-centred

Compulsive Liar

A compulsive liar is defined as someone who lies out of habit. Lying is their normal and reflexive way of responding to questions. Compulsive liars bend the truth about everything, large and small. For a compulsive liar, telling the truth is very awkward and uncomfortable while lying feels right. Compulsive lying is usually thought to develop in early childhood, due to being placed in an environment where lying was necessary. For the most part, compulsive liars are not overly manipulative and cunning (see, Pathological Liar), rather they simply lie out of habit – an automatic response which is hard to break and one that takes its toll on a relationship.

This is another condition which can be helped by changing the “emotional trigger” for the behaviour so the client begins to think, feel and respond differently.

Client Feedback

“I can now cope with life and people are now liking me for who I am and not because I make things up. Conversations are now actually becoming interesting!”