The Link Between Childhood Trauma and Pathological Lying

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The majority of us would admit to lying occasionally. After all, we don’t consider it a big deal. Maybe we have told a lie to protect a loved one’s feelings, or we may have exaggerated the truth to get out of something we have been avoiding for so long or even to prevent a major conflict from breaking out. 

However, the truth is that lying is not considered to be an ideal strategy, regardless of what kind of situation you might find yourself in. On the other hand, when lying tends to become a habit, it is at that point that it becomes a major problem. The problem would be further compounded when other signs of being a pathological liar would also be present. In short, it would be safe to say that it would be a mental health issue that would be causing the pathological liar to behave in this manner.

A pathological liar would be considered to be an individual who would not only frequently lie but would always feel a need or compulsion to lie. This means that these kinds of people won’t be able to stop lying even when it would create problems with work or relationships, put them in danger, or cause them psychological distress. The most upsetting bit is that pathological lying is a habit that tends to begin early – in adolescence and early adulthood years.

Definition of a Pathological Liar

A pathological liar can be defined as an individual who not only frequently lies but also has little to no regard for the consequences that their lies and deceitful behaviour would cause. This means that they would resort to lying to anyone about anything, regardless of it being small or big, vague or detailed.

It would be for this reason that pathological lying has been known to significantly impair overall functioning, along with professional and social lives.

Signs of a Pathological Liar                                                                                      

Hiding Behind Vague Statements and Untruths

A pathological liar has been known to hide behind patterns of vague statements and untruths.

Blending False Stories With the Truth

Pathological liars also tend to blend false stories with the truth. This then makes it extremely difficult for the other person to discern the truth from the false story. 

Appear Entirely Indifferent or Unremorseful

Even when the pathological liar would be confronted, they may appear to be entirely unremorseful or indifferent. 

What Makes a Pathological Liar Different From Other Liars?

A significant difference could be witnessed between a pathological liar and other kinds of liars. This is because a white lie would generally be told without having any ill feelings. As such, they are generally considered to be harmless.

On the other hand, pathological lies are considered to be complex, compulsive, continuous, and one that would be taking place without any rhyme or reason. This could include making up a fictional relationship, creating a false personal history, or claiming to be suffering from a terminal illness. When a pathological liar would be questioned further, they might give detailed or quick responses, but upon further prodding, you would find them to become very vague. Despite frustration or scepticism from other people regarding the lack of truthfulness, pathological liars have often been known to display little to no remorse.

Causes of Pathological Lying

Pathological lying cannot be attributed to one particular cause as multiple factors could contribute towards its development. For instance, a person could be lying for sympathy and attention. Or it might even happen that if a person is suffering from a severe substance use disorder, then they might specifically lie to cover up their substance abuse.

Besides that, there are several other causes of pathological lying:

Lying Becoming a Compulsion

For some kinds of people, lying tends to become a habit and a compulsion in an attempt to deal with difficult life situations or painful thoughts. In these kinds of situations, pathological lying would be taking place completely out of the sphere of consciousness of the individual.

Munchausen Syndrome

Some of the pathological liars have been known to struggle with Munchausen syndrome. This would be regarded as a condition where a person would be suffering from a made-up illness in an attempt to gain attention and sympathy from those around them.

Childhood Trauma

Compulsive lying and childhood trauma have been known to go hand in hand, according to experts. Here, individuals would learn how to cope with the pain of their childhood by taking up the habit of pathological lying.

Personality Disorder

Certain kinds of personality disorders, like narcissistic personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder, have been known to create pathological liars. The case of antisocial personality disorder would be characterized by a constant disregard for other people’s emotions, along with applying manipulative tactics for selfish benefits and rewards.

Substance Abuse

Substance abuse could also influence pathological lying. This is because addiction to any substance would cause a person to adopt maladaptive coping behaviours despite the negative consequences it would entail.

Low Self-esteem

Pathological liars have been known to lie to improve their low self-esteem. This would be in the form of making themselves appear more powerful so that they would be able to create and maintain some form of control in their lives.

How Pathological Lying Affects Relationships

As you would have understood by now, pathological liars typically face major problems in maintaining relationships, both romantic and friendship. During the beginning of a relationship, a person who is constantly being lied to would definitely understand that something isn’t adding up. 

Over time, if this kind of behaviour would continue (consistently being lied to), then it would tend to create feelings of confusion, hurt, anger, and frustration.

It is for this reason that building and maintaining trust with a pathological liar would be considered difficult, in extreme cases, even impossible. Certain people have compared the feeling to gaslighting – constantly questioning oneself about what is real and what is not. Furthermore, compulsive or pathological lying could also be considered to be a significant part of an abusive relationship.

How to Deal With a Pathological Liar

The best options for dealing with pathological liars would be to set realistic goals, prepare for denial, or build up your case. In extreme cases, completely cutting off contact with the pathological liar would be considered to be the best option. 

If it’s truly a loved one, then maybe you can convince them to seek professional help for their pathological lying habits. If luck favours, they may be able to see the error in their behaviours and thereby make long-term healthy improvements.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, individuals who do not get their needs met at an early age often adopt lying as a coping mechanism. This is done in an attempt to receive the reassurance and love that they crave so much. 

Even though not every case of a pathological liar would be considered to be extreme, therapy could undoubtedly prove to be helpful. This could help people in becoming more aware and educated about the reasons for which they lie, along with their lying patterns. Not only that, treatment could also help them in addressing childhood traumas and underlying mental health disorders. 

With continuous treatment and help and support from loved ones, it might become possible for pathological liars to overcome their childhood trauma and work towards becoming better versions of themselves.

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