What is pathological lying?

Cover credit: Michiel Jelijs/Flickr

Cover credit: Michiel Jelijs/Flickr

While some might think that lying is a habit usually used by kids, to get what they want in a primitive stage where their satisfaction depends on fulfilling all their needs, rarely we find that lying stays with children.

Pathological lying, also called mythomania, concerns someone who lies for no apparent reason, only a desire to trick people. It is different than telling ordinary lies because those are usually goal-oriented and have a purpose.

When someone's life is characterized by a series of infinite lies, without any benefit coming from them; when they live in this fantasy world of lies; and when those last might become self-harming and damaging, this is when it is called pathological lying.

Pathological liars tend to eventually believe their own lies, with a refusal to admit that they are lying.

Related: Here's the truth about lying on résumés

This controversial condition has underlying causes. It can be a way to embellish their life to look more interesting to people around them. Pathological liars tend to need admiration and attention, sometimes for something they did not do. This is generated by low self-esteem and a tendency to want sympathy of others.

Moreover, by lying, they want to manipulate and control others in order to get their approbation and their agreement. This false approbation leads them to satisfaction.

Sometimes pathological liars have underlying psychiatric disorders, and to help them it is very important to treat those disorders. Psychotherapy is often associated with a psychiatric treatment, but the obstacle standing in the way is, obviously, the lies. Even in therapy, pathological liars can lie without thinking about the consequences. It is the role of the therapist to detect when they might be lying and help them in understanding their behavior, admitting it and changing it.