In psychiatry, pathological lying (also called compulsive lying, pseudologia fantastica and mythomania) is a behavior of habitual or compulsive lying.It was first described in the medical literature in 1891 by Anton Delbrueck. Pathological lying has been defined as “falsification entirely disproportionate to any discernible end in view, may be extensive and very complicated, and may manifest over a period of years or even a lifetime”. The individual may be aware they are lying, or may believe they are telling the truth, being unaware that they are relating fantasies.
Little has been written about pathological lying but studies show that it has a prevalence of almost 1 in 1,000. It usually starts with juveniles at the age of 16 years. 30% have has a chaotic home environment where a parent or family member had a mental disturbance.
The stories told are usually dazzling or fantastical, but never breach the limits of plausibility, which is key to the pathological liar’s tack. The tales are not a manifestation of delusion or some broader type of psychosis; upon confrontation, the teller can admit them to be untrue, even if unwillingly.
The fabricative tendency is chronic; it is not provoked by the immediate situation or social pressure so much as it is an innate trait of the personality. There is some element of dyscontrol present.
A definitely internal, not an external, motive for the behavior can be discerned clinically: e.g., long-lasting extortion or habitual spousal battery might cause a person to lie repeatedly, without the lying being a pathological symptom.
The stories told tend toward presenting the liar favorably. The liar decorates their own person by telling stories that present them as the hero or the victim. For example, the person might be presented as being fantastically brave, as knowing or being related to many famous people, or as having great power, position, or wealth.It can also portray them as a victim of diabolical plots.
Pathological lying may also present as false memory syndrome, where the sufferer genuinely believes that fictitious (imagined) events have taken place. Sometimes when the lie gets a life of it’s own the sufferer begins to believe the delusion them selves.
Because pathological lying has not been recognized as a disorder it can be difficult to diagnose. There are many other disorders that can account for it such as Psychopathy, antisocial, borderline, narcissistic and histrionic disorders.
When a lie detector is used it can show that the pseudologia fantastica patients exhibit arousal, stress and guilt from the deception. Psychopaths have none of these reactions.
PF sufferers often lie because they think their lives are boring and they need to make themselves more interesting. Pathological lying is also Factor 1 in the Hare Psychopathy checklist.
People need to be aware of these personalities as they can wreck their own and others lives with their stories. Reputations and relations suffer greatly because of them. So in conclusion if the lie seems fantastic it probably is. Always question the reasons behind the story. Sometimes things just aren’t what they seem and Narcissists and Sociopaths are very good at all of this. It is used quite often in social media to boost the pathological liars status among their friends. Also in real life these lies can be used to denigrate others and show the pathological liar in a more favorable light.