The difference between a compulsive and pathological liar


Bbeing honest has a positive connotation and lying has a negative connotation, but the outcome of either action isn’t always so clear: affects where you land on the continuum between positive and negative . However, when lying becomes a force of habit, or the line between truth and lying begins to blur, you risk falling squarely on the darker edge of that spectrum. This behavior is common in a compulsive and pathological liar, but the main differences between the two types of liars can help you understand the person’s intention and guide your relationship with them more effectively.

Although both types of liars tend to lie very often (no surprise in that), a pathologic liar lies with a particularly manipulative bent in order to get what he wants, save face, get out of trouble or avoid trouble. blame it, explains clinical psychologist Ramani Durvasula. , PhD, author of “Don’t you know who I am?” How to stay sane in the age of narcissism, law and incivility. In contrast, the compulsive liar lies out of sheer habit, often with minimal consequences and for little or no tangible reason, says Dr Durvasula.

“A pathologically liar lies to get his way, save face, get out of the woods, or avoid blame.” —Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D.

Because the real effect of lying is, again, so context-dependent (think: a friend who lies about loving your dress versus a partner who lies about cheating), it’s worth the effort. to reiterate that the type of lie – rather than the frequency of the lie – is an important factor to consider.

For example, you would be hard-pressed to find someone who hasn’t told a single lie, like saying you listened to a certain band when you didn’t, for example. But it’s when these little lies become the norm and are interspersed with more infamous L-shaped lies that the problem turns squarely into the land of deception and mistrust.

Main differences between pathological and compulsive liars

Given their distinct motivations – the pathological liar with a selfish end goal and the compulsive liar lying just because it feels comfortable or familiar to them – the most important difference between pathological and compulsive liars often lies in How? ‘Or’ What they also lie.

“The compulsive liar usually lies in low or no stakes situations, maybe saying that he went to a certain vacation spot when he didn’t, or lying about what he did. ‘he watched on television the day before,’ says Dr Durvasula. She compares this type of lie to petty crime: while it doesn’t hurt much at the time, it can still speak of an underlying problem – in this case, a difficulty facing the truth, which could come from early experiences in an environment where lying was routine or compulsory.

The pathological liar, on the other hand, tends to embody a more manipulative approach to lying, often weaving elaborate webs of lies in order to gain personal gain. This is often done to the direct detriment of others, for whom the pathological liar may show little respect, says Dr Durvasula.

This lack of empathy or awareness of how their actions might impact others helps explain why pathological lying can tend to coexist with a narcissistic streak or narcissistic personality disorder. But regardless of any related mental or behavioral health conditions, pathological lying is typically a defense or coping mechanism developed in response to early childhood trauma (this is also true of compulsive lying).

How to deal with a relationship with either type of liar

While the differences between pathological and compulsive liars may reflect different general motivations, Dr. Durvasula suggests proceeding with caution in a relationship with either. The effect of repeated lies, regardless of the particular strain of it, can reduce the strength of any relationship, no matter how or why the lie occurs.

“Deception is dangerous because it can inform erroneous decision-making by others, leading to psychological fallout in those injured by the betrayal, and [can] undermine and undermine trust, ”says Dr Durvasula, adding that the trust component is essential to any strong relationship (platonic, romantic or other). Being able to rely on and being vulnerable around another person relies heavily on a foundation of trust which, in turn, breeds depth and intimacy.

In that vein, being able to have any kind of relationship with a pathological or compulsive liar can start by lowering your expectations a bit: you are unlikely to be able to build enough trust with either. type of liar to develop a partnership for depth or longevity, says Dr. Durvasula. “And engaging with a pathological or compulsive liar repeatedly over time can cause you to question what’s real, which can be unsettling,” she says.

That said, set limits on the relationship with either type of liar – especially if it’s a partnership you need to maintain, such as with a family member or coworker – and Being aware of taking what the person says with a grain of salt can help you maintain a baseline, non-toxic relationship.

Learn all about protecting your personal boundaries in the episode of Good + Good Podcast, link below.

“If you’re dealing with high-stakes information that you need to be sure it’s accurate, be sure to get that information confirmed from someone else,” says Dr. Durvasula. “And avoid confronting the liar, if you catch him lying.” This is especially true with a pathological liar, as a confrontation can likely result in denial or defensiveness – and you’d better save yourself the stress and bandwidth, and instead choose to seek the truth elsewhere.

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