There may be 3 kinds of lies, but there are at least 2 types of liars: compulsive liars and pathological liars. What’s the difference? Basically, pathological liars lie to get their way and have little concern for others; compulsive liars lie out of habit and are not overly manipulative and cunning (source: Truth About Deception).
I think more of us are familiar with pathological liars, those individuals who pave the way to their own gain with lies, at any cost. They’re the unbelievable clowns who leave you shaking your head incredulously, yet again stunned at the depths another so-called human being will sink to manipulate others and get their way. Again.
How do you know you’re dealing with a pathological liar? Chances are if you suspect it, then you are; but here are some signs to watch out for:
*They lie about even the smallest things. For example, saying “I brushed my teeth today,” when they didn’t.
*They change their story all the time.
*They act very defensively when you question their statements.
*They believe what they say is true, when everyone else knows it isn’t.
*He or she lies when it is very easy to tell the truth.
*They lie to get sympathy, to look better, to save their butt, etc.
*They fool people at first, but once people get to know them, no one believes anything they ever say.
*They may have a personality disorder.
*They are extremely manipulative.
*They have been caught in lies repeatedly.
*They never ‘fess up to the lies.
The personality disorder most frequently associated with lying is sociopathy, or antisocial personality disorder. According to Your Total Health, this disorder is “characterized by a lack of regard for others’ feelings and manipulating others for personal gain (or sometimes just plain amusement). People with antisocial personality disorder also frequently have erratic work histories and substance abuse problems and may engage in criminal activities.” These individuals also “may tend to lie or steal and often fail to fulfill job or parenting responsibilities” (source: Mayo Clinic).
Describe anyone you know?
Other personality disorders associated with lying are narcissism (inflated sense of your importance) and borderline personality disorder. I’m going to focus on borderline personality disorder, whose characteristics include:
*Difficulty controlling emotions or impulses
*Frequent, dramatic changes in mood, opinions and plans
*Stormy relationships involving frequent, intense anger and possibly physical fights
*Fear of being alone despite a tendency to push people away
*Feeling of emptiness inside
*Suicide attempts or self-mutilation
According to the National Institute of Mental Health, BPD affects about 2% of adults, mostly young women. Their website states, “Distortions in cognition and sense of self can lead to frequent changes in long-term goals, career plans, jobs, friendships, gender identity, and values. Sometimes people with BPD view themselves as fundamentally bad, or unworthy. They may feel unfairly misunderstood or mistreated, bored, empty, and have little idea who they are. Such symptoms are most acute when people with BPD feel isolated and lacking in social support, and may result in frantic efforts to avoid being alone.
“People with BPD often have highly unstable patterns of social relationships. While they can develop intense but stormy attachments, their attitudes towards family, friends, and loved ones may suddenly shift from idealization (great admiration and love) to devaluation (intense anger and dislike). …People with BPD exhibit other impulsive behaviors, such as excessive spending, binge eating and risky sex.”
So…back to the lying…a lot of us are dealing with a liar on a regular basis, like it or not, and I think a lot of us can agree it’s maddening. WikiAnswers had a blunt, to-the-point statement that BPD liars are “wrapped up in their own universe with little or no concern for others and how their behavior affects others.”
This becomes tragic when children are involved, because the kids are included in those who don’t matter to the liar. What impact is this having on kids? What are they learning by watching a parent lie to get her/his own way, and demonstrating no compassion for others or remorse for what they are doing? How do you protect kids from someone who insists on lying and shows no intentions of curbing the hateful, harmful behavior? How destructive and painful is it for a child to slowly realize that someone they have been relying on for love and care is a blatant, foul, nasty liar who cannot be trusted?
In case you are curious where you fall in terms of lying, here’s a Compulsive Lying Survey. Click here to check yourself!
“Always tell the truth. That way, you don’t have to remember what you said.”– Mark Twain