Making up stories and believing them (Pathological Lying)

In this article, we look at who makes up stories and believes them, the clinical picture of Pathological lying, and how to handle them.

Pathological Lying

The recurrent behavior of obsessive or repetitive deception is pathological lying, commonly identified as mythomania and pseudologia fantastica.

A pathological liar tends to lie for no apparent purpose, unlike stating the occasional blatant lie to avoid damaging someone’s emotions or causing trouble. If you think you’ve encountered one, this may render it confusing or difficult to decide what to do.

While pathological lying has been known for more than a generation, there is still no consistent, standardized description of the condition.

Sometimes pathological lying can originate from a psychiatric illness, like antisocial personality disorder (sometimes called sociopathy), whereas others seem to have no scientific explanation for the conduct.

Anyone who lies habitually is a pathological liar. Although pathological lying seems to have several potential reasons, it is not yet fully known why anyone would lie in this manner.

Specific lies have to be told to create the pathological liar to become the hero or obtain recognition or sympathy. However, there is little to be benefited from many other lies.

Compulsive deception, such as antisocial personality disorder, is also a recognized characteristic in some personality disorders. Trauma or brain injury, including a hormone-cortisol level irregularity, can also play a significant role in pathological lying.

Research about what occurs in the brain whenever you lie discovered that the quicker and more regular lying becomes, the more blatant lies a person says. The findings have shown that deception appears to be fueled by self-interest.

  • Their lies appear to offer no apparent advantage.

A pathological liar tells a lie or tales that do not have an objective advantage. The individual can lie to prevent an unpleasant situation, like humiliation or getting into trouble.

This could be particularly upsetting for friends and family since the person who lies does not directly benefit anything from their lies.

  • Typically, the things they say are dramatic, complex, and informative.

Excellent storytellers are pathological liars. Their lies appear to be quite colorful and informative. The pathological liar, while over-the-top, can be very persuasive.

Pathological liars prefer to tell lies that seem to be targeted to receiving praise, sympathy, or approval from others in addition to being called the protagonist or survivor in their stories.

  • They also seem to believe the lies they say often.

A pathological liar tells lies and tales that come between deliberate deception and paranoia. They accept their lies occasionally. 

It’s hard to learn how to deal with a pathological liar who might not always be mindful of their lies. Some do it so much that researchers suspect that they will not know the difference between reality and fantasy for some period.

Natural actors often appear to be pathological liars. They are intelligent and know-how, while interacting, to communicate with others. They are imaginative and unique, and efficient thinkers who generally do not display typical signs of deceit, such as awkward gaps or eye contact avoidance. They can talk a lot when questioned, without being precise or addressing the query.

A pathological liar is an outstanding actor and storyteller. By telling intricate and exciting tales while being enthusiastic, they know how to mesmerize their listeners. People are also intrigued by what pushes an individual to lie, in addition to learning how to construct and articulate a comprehensive narrative.

It’s reasonable to want to understand why they’re lying, mainly when the apparent explanation for their lies seems not to exist.

Causes of Pathological Lying

In this field, limited research has been conducted, and the origins of pathological lies are unidentified. Whether pathological deception is a result of yet another illness or disease is itself unknown. Habitual lying, for example, is a characteristic of many other conditions, such as fatigue syndrome and personality disorders.

Factitious illness, also referred to as the syndrome of Munchausen, is a condition where a person behaves as if, although they are not, they are physically or psychologically ill.

When someone lies about another person having a disorder, Munchausen’s syndrome by default, this condition is more common in moms who are feigning their children’s illness and lying about it to a physician.

The origins of the condition are unclear. Some theories are:

  • Triggers that are physiological or hereditary
  • Early life molestation or harassment
  • Poor concept of self
  • Existence of personality disorder
  • The misuse of substances
  • Depression

Personality disorders

A potential symptom of some personality disorders is pathological deception, including: 

  • Borderline personality (BPD) 
  • Narcissistic personality disorder (NPD)
  • Antisocial personality disorder (APD)

BPD is a disorder that makes it difficult for the individual to control their feelings. People with BPD can experience extreme mood changes, experience increased uncertainty and vulnerability, and do not have a secure sense of identity.

Delusions of great significance and the need for recognition and special care are the cornerstones of NPD. Researchers believe that although pathological lying can happen in individuals with APD in principle, those with this disorder mostly lie for personal benefit or enjoyment. An individual with BPD or NPD can lie to twist reality into something which matches, instead of the truth, with emotions they experience. Such personality disorders can contribute to severe interpersonal communication difficulties.

Frontotemporal dementia

A study of one individual exhibiting signs of pathological lying showed how their behavioral patterns were identical to that of frontotemporal dementia that can arise.

Frontotemporal dementia is a type of dementia that influences and induces behavioral changes and language in the brain’s frontal and temporal regions.

Those modifications can include:

  • Inappropriate social conduct
  • Inadequacy of empathy
  • Lack of knowledge into the actions of others and yourself
  • Alterations in dietary preferences
  • Habitual conduct
  • Boredom
  • Restlessness

There are compulsive pathological lies and can build it up. Lies, especially if required to cover up a previous lie, may become more complex and theatrical. Unwanted quantities of detail also render them complex. Individuals who lie often are not inherently pathological liars. A pathological lie’s most distinctive characteristic is that it does not have a purpose.

Therefore it is unlikely that people who often overstate tales to render themselves seem more impressive or regularly lie to conceal errors they have created would be pathological lying. There are apparent motivations that promote specific interests.

Pathological lies, which can be harmful to the individual who tells them, are simple for others to check. For instance, the person can make false allegations or grand statements about their history that are easy to verify for others.

Diagnosis of Pathological lying

Pathological deception is not a professional diagnosis, but a doctor or specialist may recognize the action as a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as a personality disorder or factitious disorder.

These conditions have symptoms that connect, including pathological lying. People with these conditions also display many effects. Pathological lying may be an isolated symptom, as specific individuals indulge in pathological lying without any clinical disorder.

Since there is no psychological or biological testing for it, it can be difficult for a physician to assess if someone is involved in pathological deception.

A psychiatrist will make use of a psychiatric examination to assess most mental health problems. It might be necessary for the physician to speak with family members to find pathological lying patterns if they are not truthful regarding their lies.

Coping with Pathological lying

It can be profoundly difficult to understand a pathological liar when the deception seems to be meaningless. It can challenge confidence and make it difficult to have a basic conversation with the individual in any relationship.

To help you navigate an interaction with a pathological liar, here are a few tips:

  • Don’t lose your cool

It is essential not to let your frustration get the best of you when addressing a pathological liar, as tricky as it may be. Be encouraging and kind but firm.

  • Expect rejection

Someone who is lying pathologically will have the propensity to reply with a lie first. If you question them about lying to them, odds are they’re going to deny it. They could become upset by the allegation and convey shock.

  • Keep in mind that this is not about you,

It’s hard not to take being directly lied to, but pathological lying is not about you. An underpinning personality disorder, anxiety, or low levels of self may propel the individual.

  • Be sympathetic

Reassure them that they shouldn’t need to try and impress you when talking concerning their lies. Let them realize that for who they genuinely are, you appreciate them.

  • Avoid engaging them

Don’t engage them when you realize the individual is telling lies. You can ask what they think, which would empower them at that stage to avoid the lie. You could also let them understand that you would not like to keep the conversation going if they’re untruthful.

  • Recommend Clinical Assistance

Recommend that they consider proper assistance without judgment or shame and let them understand that your idea comes from a sincere concern for their health.

Treatment for Pathological lying

There are no standardized therapies for it because pathological lying is not a recognized condition. If a physician believes that an underlying disorder causes the lie, they may prescribe treatment for that condition.

A physician might also prescribe counseling for others related to the person, as pathological lying may be detrimental to others. To assist them in controlling their reactions to the issue, a therapist can work with them.

BetterHelp: A Better Alternative

Those who are seeking therapy online may also be interested in BetterHelp. BetterHelp offers plenty of formats of therapy, ranging from live chats, live audio sessions and live video sessions. In addition, unlimited messaging through texting, audio messages and even video messages are available here.

BetterHelp also offers couples therapy and therapy for teenagers in its platform. Furthermore, group sessions can also be found in this platform, covering more than twenty different topics related to mental health and mental illness. The pricing of BetterHelp is also pretty cost-effective, especially considering the fact that the platform offers financial aid to most users.


In this article, we look at who makes up stories and believes them, the clinical picture of Pathological lying, and how to handle them.

FAQ: Someone who makes up stories and believes them

What is the difference between a pathological liar and a compulsive liar?

Even without a strong motive, pathological liars say compulsive lies. This kind of lying is distinct from non-pathological deception, where somehow the lie is always advantageous. Lying is a principal characteristic of human social experiences. In certain species, such as chimpanzees, this behavior also happens.

Are pathological liars psychopaths?

Only as a symptom of other conditions such as psychopathy and antisocial, narcissistic, and histrionic personality disorders, pathological lying is described in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Psychiatric Disorders, not as a separate diagnosis.

Do pathological liars have a conscience?

Lying is very easy for them. They lie without any conscience.


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