All About Pathological Liars: What You Need to Know

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Almost everyone tells lies in their lives for some reason. However, there are some people who lie a lot, and we call them liars. There are different types of liars depending on their severity and purposes. Those people who lie compulsively and excessively without any reason are pathological liars.

A pathological liar needs to be dealt with caution. That’s why, in this article, we will explore all the basic information required to deal with a pathological liar, including what they are, how they become a pathological liar, their signs, impacts, treatment, etc. Let’s get started!

What is Pathological Lying?

Pathological lying is fabricating stories or any type of information for no apparent reason. It’s habitual and compulsive, and the person feels an overwhelming urge to lie and keeps lying even when they need to tell the truth for their own good.

The pathological liars usually don’t use the fibs to avoid trouble or gain advantages. Many know what they do isn’t good and try to stop lying. But they have a hard time stopping their lies like a person with an addiction trying to avoid their addiction.

Signs of a Pathological Liar

You can identify a pathological liar by looking for specific patterns in their behavior. Some of the signs of pathological liars are:

Elaborate and Believable Stories

Since pathological liars come up with stories in most cases, they need to add details or related fibs to make their stories seem more believable. They often add unnecessary intricate information to convince people that the storyline is accurate.

Frequent Changes in Story

As pathological liars tell so many unnecessary lies and fabricated details, they often lose track of all their lies. So, they usually share information inconsistent with what they said before.

Lying Without Obvious Reason

Pathological liars lie even about daily lives that don’t even need to be lied about. Their lies often don’t benefit them or make sense, yet they keep lying, which can baffle other people.

Lack of Guilt or Remorse

Pathological liars sometimes don’t show guilt or embarrassment when caught lying, as they believe in these fabrications. The lies are entirely ordinary, so they often don’t feel remorse for telling lies.

Defensiveness When Questioned

As pathological liars believe they are doing the right thing, they often become very defensive and aggressive when questioned about their lies. These actions are also impulsive or a defense mechanism for them.

Belief in Their Own Lies

Pathological liars who used to deal with negative life experiences often create lies to comfort themselves. They also lose track of what’s reality and fantasy and believe in their lies. It’s a defense mechanism to protect themselves from harsh reality.

Seeking Attention or Sympathy

Sometimes, pathological liars keep lying to gain attention or sympathy from others. You can see this a lot from children who usually don’t get enough admiration or attention from their parents. They fabricate stories or achievements to gain sympathy from their caregivers, and it usually works.

Complex Justifications

Since pathological liars are often lost in their fabrication and don’t separate reality and fantasy, they might offer complex explanations or justifications when you confront them for their lies. Their explanations also seem plausible and convoluted as their lies.

Impacts Relationships

Since pathological liars lie about most things, people around them suffer for their lies and distance themselves from the liars. That’s why you can find most pathological liars alone or with almost no close relationship with others.

Lies Across Contexts

Some people lie in their workplace or with specific people or topics. However, a pathological liar doesn’t lie in only one area of their life but across different contexts and environments.

Why Do People Become Pathological Liars?

People become pathological liars for a variety of complexities. Some of the reasons are:

Underlying Mental Health Conditions:  Sometimes, mental health issues lead to pathological lying. Specifically, people who have personality disorders like bipolar lose the perception of reality and keep lying habitually.

Coping Mechanism for Stress or Trauma: Many individuals start lying to cope with past or current trauma and stress. It helps them as they can create a better version of reality with their lies that feel safer, so they keep lying to themselves and others.

Desire for Attention or Admiration:  Some pathological liars start lying when they notice telling lies can help them gain attention, sympathy, or admiration. This is especially true in this age of social media, where many lie online to seem better to others.

Low Self-esteem:  People with insecurity or low self-esteem start lying about their qualities, achievements, or experiences to fit in with others. They think lying will help them fill the gaps between them and others.

Fear of Rejection or Failure: Many individuals start lying when they see that it can help them deal with the fear of rejection. They also lie to mask their inadequacies or perceived negativity from others.

Thrill or Habit: Some lie out of the fun and the thrill of deceiving others and getting away with it. They usually start as occasional liars, but when they get addicted to the excitement, lying becomes a compulsive habit, and they become pathological liars.

Lack of Empathy:  Some people lack empathy by nature or after any incident in their life. Those people sometimes turn into pathological liars as they don’t have any concern for others’ feelings and keep lying while hurting others.

Desire for Attention or Admiration: Some pathological liars start lying when they notice telling lies can help them gain attention, sympathy, or admiration. This is especially true in this age of social media, where many lie online to seem better to others.

Modeling Behavior:  People like to copy the behaviors of their models or what they admire; it’s even more valid for kids. When they see that many individuals they admire, their family, or friends lie frequently, they model this behavior.

Problems Caused by Pathological Lying

The consequences caused by pathological lying are many; some of the top problems are:

Damaged Personal Relationships: Since pathological liars lie with their family members, romantic partners, and friends, they damage the trust severely. That’s why most of them have broken or strained relationships with others.

Professional Repercussions: Pathological liars can face serious problems in their workplaces. As any workplace values honesty and integrity, when someone lies about their qualification, task, or other things, they lose their reputation or even the job.

Legal Issues: Since pathological liars lie habitually, sometimes they end up lying about their identity, financial matters, or other significant issues. Lying about these essential aspects can lead to legal trouble sometimes.

Psychological Distress: Pathological liars need to maintain a web of lies that they said before and need to come up with more relevant stories. The fear of being discovered or fear of not being able to tell relevant lies constantly worries them and increases their anxiety and stress.

Isolation:  Although pathological liars keep telling detailed lies, some of their close people find out about their lies often and start to distance themselves. It leads to a sense of alienation or loneliness for the liar.

Self-Delusion: As pathological liars start to believe their own lies over time or to create a better fantasy to live in, they often have a distorted perception of what’s happening around them. This makes it difficult for them to make sound judgments about anything.

Financial Problems: Many pathological liars keep lying about their financial condition, and it also leads to poor financial decisions, debts, and related troubles.

Erosion of Self-Identity:   As pathological liars keep creating false scenarios and false sense of identity, they sometimes lose their sense of self. They can’t understand what they really want or who they truly are inside.

Missed Opportunities for Growth: Many pathological liars lie about their skills and qualities rather than facing the truth about themselves, which hinders their ability to overcome challenges or grow personally.

Complications in Therapy:   Although professional help like therapy sessions can aid pathological liars, it becomes very challenging and time-consuming as the liar still lies with the mental health professional, and the treatment doesn’t work very effectively.

Can it Be Treated?

Yes, pathological lying can be treated and managed with appropriate steps. Here are some detailed aspects of the treatment process:

Professional Counseling: To treat something effectively, you first need to understand its reasons and other essential terms related to it. The same is true for pathological lying; the individual needs to seek professional help and undergo therapy like CBT or cognitive-behavioral therapy to change the thought pattern that leads to lying.

Addressing Underlying Conditions: As pathological lying often stems from mental health issues or other underlying conditions, those problems need to be addressed first with therapy, medication, or both. The urge to lie reduces significantly when the root problems are healed.

Developing Honesty Skills: Pathological liars lie almost all the time; that’s why it’s even harder for them to tell small truths. That’s why they can start therapy that involves exercising honesty step by step, and it can build up honesty skills soon with proper practices.

Building Self-Esteem:  Low self-esteem and insecurity are also reasons behind pathological lying. Working on building a healthier self-image can mitigate the problem. To feel good about themselves, people can set and achieve small goals, engage in positive self-talk, and engage in positive activities with others.

Learning Coping Strategies:  Many trauma survivors use lying as a coping mechanism to cope with their trauma, anxiety, or stress. Their lying can be significantly reduced if they learn a healthier coping mechanism.

Support Groups: People get more nervous and don’t usually help themselves improve when they feel alone. That’s why having a support group is important. If an individual joins a group who struggles with the issue, they can share experiences and strategies to understand and help others try harder to solve the problem.

Family Therapy: Although family members of a pathological liar aren’t always in need of therapy for themselves, they can help the individual by learning about the problems and taking related treatment to deal with the situation and recovery process and prevent anyone from becoming a pathological liar.

Consistency and Patience:  No matter what type of treatment the pathological liar is receiving, it will take consistent effort and time. Both the individual and their support network need to be patient and face setbacks as part of the process.


Pathological lying is a more complex issue than ordinary falsehoods. It has deep underlying issues and requires proper understanding, patience, and professional intervention to solve.

Although the process or idea of solving or managing this problem can seem complicated, it’s not impossible. Support the struggling pathological liar in treating their concerns, and they will eventually turn out fine.

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