Living with a person who lies about every small detail of his life can be extremely stressful for anybody. Whether the person is your spouse, parent, or sibling, once you realize about their lying habits and that they have not been truthful to you, the relationship can never be the same again. It is, however, important to understand that people who lie without any particular reason might be diagnosed as being compulsive liars. This is a type of psychological condition called obsessive compulsive disorder and is characterized by certain traits and behavior. Let us understand what these are and how to deal with a person who has been diagnosed with the same.
A compulsive liar is someone who does not have any motive for lying, he does this only for effect and out of habit. His first instinct and response to any query is to lie. Researches show that habitual liars (as they are referred to) have very low self-esteem, and thus, make up false stories about themselves to appear important and superior. Sometimes, habitual lying could be a result of some mental disorder that a person is suffering from. People with mental illnesses such as Bipolar Disorder, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Borderline Personality Disorder, often resort to lying compulsively.
Usually, a compulsive liar is very subtle when he lies, it is therefore not always possible to recognize that he is a compulsive liar. However, with prolonged and regular interaction, it becomes possible to recognize certain traits in them. Do they seem completely at ease while lying to you? People who lie habitually, actually start believing their own lies, and are thus not at all uncomfortable while lying to others.
Denying the fact that they lie, coming up with more lies in order to cover up their previous ones, enjoying the reactions they garner from their lies, trying very hard to impress others, often forgetting their own false stories, and coming up with different versions of the same story--these are all signs of compulsive lying.
Methods of Dealing
Psychotherapy and counseling is identified as an effective treatment for people who suffer from compulsive lying disorder. However, because people with this disorder live in denial and do not recognize the fact that they lie, it is up to the people close to them to convince them that they have a problem which needs to be addressed immediately.
Getting angry or blaming the person is not the correct way to deal with a compulsive liar. Instead, being gentle and supportive, yet firm when you confront them is encouraged. When you confront the person about their lies, their first reaction will most often be that of denial. It will take a lot of effort and convincing power on your behalf to have them accept that they have a problem. Sometimes, telling the person that they will lose all their close ones if they continue lying might help in making them realize that they should start with the treatment.
Before the treatment, a few tests such as a lie detector test might be run to determine the person's state. A psychiatrist will also examine the person for any kind of mental disorders. The treatment is usually a combination of psychotherapy, counseling, and medication, including role-plays, practical assignments, counseling the person on the ill effects of lying on his personal and professional life, amongst others.
No doubt that it is very stressful having to deal with a person who lies compulsively, but one needs to be very caring and supportive of the person. However, if the person refuses to undertake treatment or even accept that he has a problem, then despite repeated attempts by friends and family, it is advised that you remove yourself from the situation.