The Psychology Behind Pathological Liars

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 Lying has been found to be a common feature amongst social creatures like us humans. The fact that lies would always be considered to be harmful would also not be the case. In certain cases, lying has been found to be beneficial. For example, a person may lie to cover up their social embarrassment. Other people could be found to lie a tad bit more, but that does not in any way signify that they would be suffering from an underlying mental health condition.

In the case of pathological lying, it could be considered to be a whole new ball game. In the case of pathological liars, it would most definitely be a symptom of an underlying mental health condition, like a person who has a personality disorder.

That being said, this article will discuss the concept of pathological lying and what tends to make pathological liars at great length. Furthermore, this article will explain how to recognize these kinds of liars so that you will be able to cope better with these people.

Characteristics of Pathological Liars

To get to the main point, we will just be looking at the four main types of behaviours if you are trying to determine if a person can be considered to be a pathological liar or not.

1. Excessive Lying

Pathological liars are singled out as opposed to other liars because they tend to lie more than other people. In fact, some of them have been known to make such fantastic stories that you would actually end up believing them. What’s more, they would also add more credibility to their original lies. However, the lies they tend to tell can be easily disproved since they are so outlandish.

2. Lying Without Having Any Good Reason for It

Some people have been known to tell small or white lies so that they would be able to avoid unpleasant consequences. This could be making up an excuse for being late to work rather than outright admitting that they overslept. However, as would be the case with pathological liars, they would not have any one set motive. They would tell stories that would have no direct benefit to them. What’s more, if the truth were to come out, it might, in turn, hurt and discredit their image.

3. Long-term Problem

Pathological lying is a condition that has most definitely not developed overnight. It would often begin during the adolescence or teenage years and has been known to continue indefinitely, encompassing various aspects of life. In fact, it would actually be dishonest that people would remember the most accurately about them.

4. The Lying Cannot Be Considered to Be a Symptom of Any Other Mental Disorder

It might be quite possible that a pathological liar would be suffering from other kinds of mental health conditions like anxiety or depression. However, that cannot be attributed to their cause of lying. This is because pathological lying would be defined as a main condition and not a symptom of any other mental health condition.

How To Cope With Pathological Liars

Coping with an individual who has a habit of pathological lying could indeed be considered to be a challenging situation. As such, forming a relationship and then maintaining it could require immense patience and time on your part.

However, the most important thing to remember is that a pathological liar would not intend to benefit from the lies they are telling or even cause harm to other people. 

Put simply, pathological lying would simply become a compulsion—the person feels that they won’t be able to breathe if they don’t tell a lie. The sad part is that the pathological liar would fail to recognize that their lies would lead to negative results and consequences. 

As such, you need to be the bigger person and keep an open mind when dealing with pathological liars. This means blaming them for the lies they tell or angrily responding by bursting out.

Furthermore, it is also helpful to remember that pathological lying is likely a sign of an underlying mental health condition. In that case, speaking to the person to find out if they would have any other symptoms could help in narrowing down the problem. It would also then become easier to seek help from a therapist or a specialized doctor.


Even though pathological lying has not yet formally been diagnosed, a therapist would still be able to recognize the symptoms and signs as being of another underlying health condition, like an artificial disorder or a personality disorder.

The difficult bit is that these kinds of disorders have also been known to have overlapping symptoms, including compulsive or pathological lying. It would be quite likely that people suffering from these conditions would also be exhibiting other signs.

On the other hand, it would also be likely that pathological lying could be considered to be an independent symptom. For instance, some people may engage in the act of pathological lying without suffering from any pre-existing mental health condition. 

It is for this reason that it then becomes challenging for therapists to determine whether someone would be pathologically lying accurately, as there would be no biological or psychological tests that have been specifically designed for this purpose.

Treatment For Pathological Lying

As mentioned before, pathological lying is not considered a recognized condition. This means that no formal treatments also exist for it. So, if a doctor suspects an underlying condition causing the lying, then they may suggest a treatment for that particular condition. For instance, treatments designed for personality disorders usually tend to involve medication or psychotherapy.

Since pathological lying is also considered harmful to other people, the therapist may suggest that a person close to the pathological liar seek treatment as well. The therapist will work closely with them to better manage their responses to the main problem.

Bottom Line

Pathological lying would not benefit any of the parties involved; rather, it would lead to harm. Hence, it’s important to keep in mind that lying becoming a compulsive habit and not being a recognized condition would mean that no formal treatments would exist for it. 

The best option is to seek counseling from a therapist who can help you better understand your problem and work towards solving it.

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