How easily we believe what people tell us! However, this prevents us from identifying compulsive liars too. Find out the signs to identify compulsive lying, so that you might be able to help people out of this disorder.
“I’m the most terrific liar you ever saw in your life. It’s awful. If I’m on my way to the store to buy a magazine, even, and somebody asks me where I’m going, I’m liable to say I’m going to the opera. It’s terrible.”
– Holden Caulfield, The Catcher in the Rye
We all tell lies. When we call in sick at school or work, when we feign a headache to opt out of a function or gathering, when we say we like broccoli because it is healthy, when we say the food at the party was good, or when we say “It’s not about the money”; we are all lying. But these kinds of lies are what are commonly called “white lies”; they don’t hurt nobody! In fact, they are more of excuses rather than lies (yeah, I can see you nod your head emphatically … and now you are smiling).
However, some people have the habit of lying about the most random things. If you ask them what they did over the weekend, they might say something like “I went fishing with a couple of friends” when actually all they did was sit at home and watch TV. These people cannot control their urge to lie. They will give false answers of every possible question. The worst part is, they do it for no good reason! They have no ulterior motives, neither do they have a particular end to realize through their falsehoods. They just … lie.
Cardinal Signs of a Compulsive Liar
It is quite difficult to simply listen to a person talk to you and know if he/she is a compulsive liar or not. More often than not, you would need professional help to identify a compulsive liar. This is mainly because the lies that compulsive liars tell are believable and entirely probable. How then can you identify a compulsive liar? According to a study carried out by B. H. King and C. V. Ford of the Department of Psychiatry, UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute and Hospital, compulsive lying has four main signs.
Fact + Figment = Falsehood of a Compulsive Liar
If a compulsive liar told you he/she has climbed Mt. Everest, you wouldn’t find it difficult to believe him/her; for it is very much possible for a person to climb Mt. Everest. Let’s take a simpler example; if a compulsive liar told you he/she went to Vegas last weekend and won $500 at the casinos, would you doubt him/her? No! However, fact may be that he/she actually lost $500 instead of winning. The stories of a compulsive liar are hence based on facts, but are not entirely devoid of fiction.
Stories Don’t Conform
The most obvious sign of a compulsive liar is that his/her stories don’t conform. You are always confused about the facts pertaining to a compulsive liar. A compulsive liar, often keeps on adding details to his/her lies, so that the new lie, is different from the one he/she began with. An intentional liar has an ulterior motive and will hence take extra care to remember the lies he/she told. A compulsive liar, however, will tell self-aggrandizing lies.
It Just Goes On and On …
Compulsive liars lie ceaselessly. They will lie at every opportunity, even if it is absolutely unnecessary. Most of the time their lies are harmless; however, it is difficult to believe a compulsive liar when they might be telling the truth? The main reason behind this tendency to just go on lying about every possible thing, is the fact that compulsive liars often do not realize they are lying. Sometimes they are simply unable to stop themselves, even though they know they are lying.
Guilty as Charged!
Compulsive liars will often admit to lying if they are confronted with enough facts. This is unlike an intentional liar, who may still try to defend himself. This proves that compulsive liars are not delusional. This often leaves the person confronting a compulsive liar perplexed, for confrontation also reveals lack of any ulterior motive. One cannot understand why the compulsive liar lied in the first place! The sad part is, even the compulsive liar does not have an answer to that question.
Several problems related to the central nervous system, such as epilepsy, infections etc. have been sighted as causes of compulsive lying. There is no specific pattern with respect to gender of the person; men and women are both equally inflicted. However, compulsive lying has been observed more in case of repeat juvenile offenders, with an incidence of 1 in 1000. It is indeed a very sad condition for a person to be in, for once the compulsive liar comes out of the closet, he/she is ostracized by almost everyone he/she knows. However, if you ever spot a compulsive liar in someone you know and care for, don’t alienate them. Instead help them come out of it.