When a person asks you who do you think chronically lies, there are a few answers that come to my mind, that I have heard in various surveys.
Some of these responses are (In no special order):
If you notice, this list includes people who would essentially “Lie for a living.” If you were to take it to the extreme.
However, these are extreme over-generalizations, and the majority of people in these groups, while I do not deny lie occasionally as a way to reach their goal, I would also ask a much simpler question of everyone else: Who among you has not done the same?
So, with this in mind, I would like to focus on the person who TRULY chronically lies. These people do not need a reason to lie. They are not lying to avoid trouble, to obtain financial gain, or better themselves necessarily. They are lying for the sake of lying, and oftentimes are not even realizing they are doing it. These are in fact the masters of deception that are the chronic liars.
It has been hypothesized that chronic or pathological lying is not a mental disorder of it’s own. In fact, it is not recognized in the DSM-IV (The Diagnostic Manual used to describe mental illnesses). Instead, it is viewed as a symptom of another mental disorder that is present, such as delusional thinking, psychopathy, or narcissism.
However, we are now looking at studies of pathological liars over the last 100 years, and a number of conclusions have been made, some obvious, others not. The first is that the reasons for lying may have a serious problem behind them, while others are benign. When no underlying mental illness can be found, then the focus of “Why does this successful, otherwise well-adjusted person feel the compulsion to fabricate stories?”
We do know that in a normal, healthy person, some lying and deception is normal, and starts at about the age of 5 or 6 years old. It continues through adulthood, and most adults will tell small lies on a weekly or even daily basis to get through their days, using harmless and inconsequential lies. In one research study at the University of Massachusetts, people wore a recording device for 3 days, and at the end tallied up the number of lies they told. The average rate of lies as 3 in every 10 minutes of conversation.
The nature of these lies falls into what is known as the “white lie” category. These are used for a number of purposes:
When does social “white lying” become a problem? When it becomes the first line of defense – the first tool used a coping strategy.
There are a number of other key items to look for when evaluating whether a person is suffering from a case of chronic lying. First, if they lie to avoid something, be it a test, a deadline or project, and then need to have the lie proliferate on itself in order to be believed, and it keeps growing, is a sign. Secondly, chronic liars change their stories when caught out, and support the new story with another lie. Finally, when a person lies for no reason at all, there is no gain, no motivation to lie.
It is believed that there may be a neurological defect in those who are chronic liars. They generally have highly developed verbal skills and a slight impairment of the frontal lobe. These frontal lobes are basically our “editors” that censor what we say, which may be indicative of some of the behavior in SOME cases. This is because we sometimes run two consciousnesses in our mind – reality as it exists, and reality as we would like it to be. For those with frontal lobe difficulty, reality as we would like it to be may come out instead of reality as it is.
The reason I said this is the case in SOME people, is that in others, the telling of tales eeks them out their 15 minutes of fame. It allows them to stand out, to be interesting. And the more they receive, they more they want. Additionally, others feel they cannot live up to the expectations of others, so they invent stories to match what they feel others expect from them, With all of these reasons, this may be why no easy cure is on the horizon. Chronic lying seems to stem from either a biological basis or from a rung on Maslow’s hierarchy of needs.