Living a Lie: Exploring Compulsive Lying Disorder

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Compulsive Lying Disorder, also commonly known as pathological lying, can be regarded as a complex problem that will be defined by an uncontrollable urge to lie. This is despite encountering situations that will be deemed to be unnecessary.

Even though the occasional white or small lie is still considered acceptable, compulsive lying has been known to go beyond that. In fact, compulsive lying can become such a habit that it can significantly impact a person’s personal relationships and life.

That being said, this article will offer its readers a comprehensive guide outlining what the disorder entails and why and how it differs from other kinds of lying. In addition, this article will explore its symptoms, proper diagnosis, and treatment. This article will prove to be particularly helpful for people who have recognized that they are living with this complicated condition. So, without further ado, let’s begin!

What is Compulsive Lying Disorder?

Compulsive Lying Disorder can be described as a psychological or mental condition wherein a person will make lying a daily part of their life. This is despite the fact that their lying tendency will offer no personal benefit or that there will be any consequences if they tell the truth.

When talking about compulsive lying, one might imagine that the liar will be conjuring elaborate and grandiose lies. However, that may not always be the case; in a lot of cases, the lies have been found to be trivial and mundane. So, unlike the lies that normal people usually tell to avoid embarrassment or punishment, compulsive liars tend to tell their lies without having any clear form or purpose.

How Does Compulsive Lying Differ from Other Lying Behaviours?

This section will talk about unearthing several reasons why compulsive lying tends to differ from other kinds of lying behaviours:

Frequency and Habitual Nature:  The main defining characteristic of compulsive lying is the frequency with which people tend to lie, making it a daily habit or routine of their lives. Unlike the occasional white lies that people tend to say to avoid embarrassment or punishment, compulsive lying can be found to be different. A lie is considered to be compulsive when it’s displayed consistently, thereby blurring the lines existing between falsehood and truth.

Lack of Clear Motive or Benefit: One of the most mysterious characteristics of compulsive lying is the lack of a clear motive. In the case of normal lies, they are usually told for a specific reason, like gaining some form of advantage or protecting one’s self-image. However, in the context of compulsive lying, these lies are often told without any personal benefits. In fact, in the majority of cases, it would actually prove to be counterproductive for the liar.

Involuntary Nature of the Lies: Since compulsive lying tends to take place without little planning or thought, it’s considered to be involuntary. As such, it can be found to be vastly different from the more deliberate and calculated lies that people tend to tell when they are trying to manipulate an outcome or situation in their favor.

Broad Scope of the Lies:  Lies told by compulsive liars have been known to encompass a wide range of topics, from major events to minor and simple details. This kind of broad scope would vastly differ from the targeted lies, whose main intent would be to manipulate or deceive people in specific situations.

Negative Impact on the Liar:  Situational or strategic lying might provide the liar with temporary benefits by helping them get out of difficult situations. On the other hand, compulsive lying can lead to negative consequences. Tarnished trust can significantly impair relationships, thereby isolating the liar from their professional and social circles. 

Underlying Psychological Issues:  According to research, compulsive lying has been found to be deeply associated with psychological problems. This is also another reason why it can be so distinctively contrasted with other kinds of lying.

Individuals suffering from compulsive lying disorder frequently lie about minor and major things. This is also true in situations when telling the truth would be more beneficial and easier. As such, this pattern of lying is not driven by the typical motivations of being dishonest, like gaining material benefits or avoiding punishment.

Inconsistencies in Stories

A trademark sign of compulsive lying is the lack of consistency in the stories being told. Over time, the details of the stories may contradict each other, with the versions changing every time they are told. This kind of discrepancy usually arises because the stories are fabricated. As such, it becomes difficult to maintain a consistent narrative over a long time.

Lack of Remorse or Guilt

People who usually tend to lie may often feel remorseful or guilty after telling their lies. On the contrary, compulsive liars exhibit a lack of guilt or remorse. Even when their lies are exposed, you cannot expect them to show the expected emotional reaction that will be associated with telling a lie. 

Defensiveness When Confronted

If someone counteracts their statements, compulsive liars immediately become defensive. They become overly protective of their lies and may sometimes respond with aggression or hostility. This is an attempt to deflect further questioning rather than simply admitting that they are lying in the first place. 

Seeking Attention or Sympathy

Another major motivation for compulsive lying is a desire to gain admiration, attract attention, or gain sympathy from others. Hence, these lies are often crafted to make the person appear more victimized, successful, or interesting than they are in reality. This is often to fulfill a psychological or emotional need.

Compulsion to Continue Lying

Even when caught lying, a compulsive liar will always have an overwhelming urge to either create new lies or maintain their deceitful image. This could further lead to more elaborate tales being made up in an attempt to cover up previous lies.

Difficulty with Trustworthy Relationships

With such a huge trust factor existing in Compulsive Lying Disorder, it tends to severely undermine the ability of the individual to form and then maintain trust-based, long-term, and healthy relationships. As such, peers, family members, and friends have often found it difficult to form and maintain long-lasting relationships with compulsive liars. This would ultimately result in broken or strained relationships.

Low Self-esteem

Underlying issues like a constant need for approval or low self-esteem would also be found to be common among compulsive liars. Their lying behaviour could be found to be a misguided attempt to gain the acceptance and admiration they so badly crave or enhance their self-image. 

Avoidance of Eye Contact

Even though it might not be considered to be a universal sign, some people suffering from Compulsive Lying Disorder may exhibit nonverbal cues like avoiding making eye contact when they are lying. However, it would also be important to keep in mind that nonverbal cues can greatly differ among different individuals.

Impulsive Behavior

Compulsive lying‘s impulsive nature could also be a distinct sign. As such, it is usually done without carefully considering the consequences.

Diagnosis and Treatment

It’s also important to take a look at the diagnosis and proper treatment for compulsive lying disorder.


  • Clinical Evaluation:  This involves thorough assessments and interviews conducted by mental health professionals. This is done to better gauge and understand the individual’s history and behavior patterns.
  • Differentiating from Other Disorders: Careful thought and consideration are given to highlight differences between compulsive lying and other kinds of mental health conditions, like personality disorders.
  • Rule Out Secondary Gains It’s also important to make sure that lying will not primarily be done for gain, like avoiding legal trouble or gaining monetary benefits.
  • Assessment of Impact: Evaluation is also done to determine how lying affects a person’s social, professional, and personal life.


  • Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): This form of therapy will help individuals to identify their lying patterns and behaviours and understand the underlying triggers. This can then help develop healthier coping mechanisms in the long term.
  • Psychotherapy: Psychotherapy will help in addressing hidden or underlying issues like trauma or low self-esteem, which may contribute to compulsive lying.
  • Family Therapy: Family therapy may be recommended for individuals where it’s been found that family dynamics will play an important role in influencing behaviour. As such, family therapy can help in rebuilding trust and improving communication
  • Medication:  Even though no specific medications can be prescribed for compulsive lying, certain treatments may include giving medication for underlying disorders like depression or anxiety.
  • Support Groups: Being a part of a support group can offer coping strategies or a support network. This is because it provides an opportunity for people experiencing similar challenges to connect and share their personal experiences.
  • Consistent Follow-up: Regular meetings with a healthcare professional are extremely important to monitor progress and also adjust the treatment as would be considered to be necessary.


Therefore, Compulsive lying disorder can be characterized as a complex condition not only affecting the individual but also the relationships they share with others. As such, understanding and then acknowledging this disorder can be considered to be the first step to overcoming its challenges.

With the right treatment and support, the people suffering from this condition can then work towards integrity and honesty in their communications. Overall, this will then help them in improving the quality of their relationships and life.

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