The Profile of a Pathological Liar

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The Profile of a Pathological Liar

Pathological liars are individual who lie for no reason. / Photo by: Nicoleta Ifrim-Ionescu via 123rf


Lying may be done for many reasons. Some people do it to keep themselves from trouble. Some do it in order to avoid offending someone. However, there are individuals who lie for absolutely no reason and will keep doing it because they can. These are the people called pathological liars, people who constantly lie even though it does not give them an advantage in any way.

According to Psychologia, 30% of pathological liars were brought up in a chaotic home environment where one of their family members was affected by a certain mental disorder.


What Is Pathological Lying?

Healthline defines pathological lying as a chronic behavior wherein a person engages in compulsive or habitual lying. This is also known as mythomania and pseudologia fantastica.

It was a condition first recorded in 1891 by a German psychiatrist named Anton Delbrueck after noticing how exaggerated and ridiculous the lies his patients told him were.

Dr. Charles Dike, an American psychiatrist who had his study published in the Journal of American Academy of Psychiatry and Law, described it as the “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, in the absence of definite insanity, feeble-mindedness or epilepsy.”


Causes and Risk Factors

Many factors can cause a person to become a pathological liar. It may be caused by some defects in their brain. It may be triggered by the malfunctioning of their central nervous system. Suffering from a trauma or brain injury may also be a factor. Having an abnormal hormone cortisol ratio may also lead them to habitually lie.

It may also be a product of being affected by a mental health condition. For instance, they may be suffering from Antisocial Personality Disorder.

Typically, pathological liars will lie for self-gratification. They may lie out of boredom, to stir up trouble and have some drama in their lives. They may also do this to boost their self-esteem or gain sympathy. This may also be done to justify any guilt feelings they have. They may also constantly lie to be able to live out their fantasies.


Characteristics of a Pathological Liar

Based on ThoughtCo’s description, here are the traits of a pathological liar:

They tell over-the-top stories

They tend to fabricate stories that are unbelievable. They often portray themselves to be part of fantastic stories where they tell others how rich, powerful and popular they are. They may also mention names of high profile people whom they are close to, even though they have never met those people in real life.

Always the hero or the victim

They are always the star or the main focus of their stories. Depending on whether they want to have sympathy or admiration, they are either doing courageous and heroic acts or the innocent helpless victim.

Think their lies are true

Since they lie so much, they begin to believe that all their lies are actually real. They may forget that they are actually lying. This makes them appear aloof or self-centered and as if they do not care about other people.



Their stories tend to change

It is difficult to tell tales that are outrageous and complicated in the same manner every time. They tend to change some core details of their stories because they could not recall the way they told it before. Their inflated ego motivates them to keep exaggerating the story every time they need to tell it.

They do not need a  reason to lie

It is already integrated into their personality. They are not driven by external factors to lie, rather are inclined to do so because of internal motivation. For example, they may lie simply to draw attention to themselves.

They dislike people who challenge their lies

When someone hearing their lies challenges how real they are, they either become defensive or respond vaguely. When another person makes them face the facts, they try to defend themselves by coming up with even more lies.  


How to deal with a Pathological Liar

Here are ways in which a person may cope while living or being acquainted with a pathological liar:

Be patient with them

They should try their hardest not to get frustrated by the pathological liar’s inclination to constantly lie. They should be compassionate but firm when confronting them.

Expect Denial

A pathological liar will often initially answer any statement with a lie. If they try to question their lies, they are likely to deny that they are actually lying. This may provoke them and they will be surprised that they are accused of doing it.


Pathological liars are most likely going to deny that they are lying. / Photo by: milkos via 123rf


Remind themselves that they are not the problem

They should remember that it is not their fault that this person compulsively lies. They may be prone to lying because they are affected by a mental health condition. Other times, it is because of other inner motivations such as self-esteem or anxiety.

Try to support them

As they confront the pathological liar, they must tell them they do not have to impress them by making up all these grandiose lies. Tell them that you value them for being true to themselves.

Help them seek medical assistance

Tell them gently that they may need to seek medical help. This should be done without judging them or trying to humiliate them. They may gather information about pathological lying and present to them by giving them an article or pamphlet about it.

They should tell the person concerned that they are doing this for their well-being.



The recommended treatment for the pathological liar is to undergo psychotherapy. Doctors may also prescribe some medication used for addressing depression and anxiety.


Psychotherapy is the recommended treatment for pathological liars. / Photo by: Katarzyna Białasiewicz via 123rf