Compulsive lying is also known as Mythomania or pathological lying and it is a serious condition that needs to be acknowledged openly as a medical disorder. It is important to let people know that lying habitually is not okay.
Who doesn’t lie once a while? But that’s just all a part of being a normal Human being. We all lie at some point of our time, sometimes for our own benefits or to get ourselves out of an uncomfortable situation. But that’s all a limited or controlled behavior, and we really don’t like lying at all in the first place. Sometimes just a minor lie keeps us awake at night feeling guilty of our actions. This is all but a normal trait that we all possess.
But a compulsive liar tends to lie for every small thing. You may as well ask them a simple question like what their name is, and they may even lie to you about their name. This is particularly frustrating for people who have to deal with a compulsive liar on a daily basis. It becomes more annoying since it affects you the most rather than the one lying.
In many cases, compulsive lying disorder occurs as a result of several mental conditions such as personality disorder. However, there are also many people who do not seem to have any history of medical conditions, yet they develop this disorder (maybe for the fun of it).
While dealing with a pathological liar, keep in mind that, they are suffering from a medical condition. If you approach them just like any other normal liar, you will only get more frustrated.
- Keep calm and support them
When you talk about treating a compulsive liar, before you can go and seek any medical help, you have to try to do it yourself. Yes, it can be frustrating dealing with them but remember never to lose your patience. If you act violently, they may never open up to you about their lying habits.
It seems impossible to let them accept the fact that they have a problem, and that they need to change or seek professional help, but with patience and support, they will eventually open up about their problem. That is the primary difference between a pathological liar and a compulsive liar. A compulsive liar, if treated well will eventually improve and may even acknowledge the problem while a pathological liar will never do that.
- Don’t take it personally
A compulsive liar may lie straight to your face, but in many cases, they don’t have any sense of how that affects them or the other person. It’s just like a remote button that just clicks inside them, and they lie for no apparent reason. Even though it is too hard not to take things personally most of the time, it is vital to understand that; they don’t mean to harm you particularly. There is no personal agenda or dislike involved when they lie to you, its just their way of functioning.
The moment you start taking their lies personally, it only gets worse from there. It’s like you trying to convince a two-year-old not to suck on their thumb; they will still do it because they don’t have any sense of how it affects them.
- Expect denial
Don’t just expect them to agree with the fact that they are a compulsive liar when you first approach them. It is our human defence mechanism to automatically defend ourselves when we are confronted with our shortcomings or lies. For most compulsive liars, even the fact that you think they lie will sound preposterous. The simple fact is, lying for them is like an involuntary action, that they control over, but in due time if you’re patient, they will eventually see it.
In fact, there have been many cases, where compulsive liars have come out openly and shared that they have problems. These are all a result of a positive attitude and support from friends/families.
If you decide to just confront them without any plan, you may as well just kiss any possible future treatment bye-bye. Expecting a denial allows you to keep calm even if they disagree with you, in this way you can keep finding ways to help them realize that they have a problem without losing your temper.
- Suggest medical treatment
The whole point of all the above steps or ways to deal with a compulsive liar is to get him/her professional help. Keep in mind that it also yields the best result if they first accept their problems and then proceed to recommend medical treatment. If you just drag them to seek professional help without first showing support or to allow them to realize their problem, they may never open up about their problem.
Imagine if your mom took you to doctor suddenly and start telling the doctor of all the problems that you have, even though you don’t know anything about it. That raises more questions and confusions rather than producing a solution.
In most cases, the medical treatment will vary from person to person depending on the severity of their lying nature. Doctors will usually check for any signs of mental illness before proceeding for the treatment procedure. The treatment thereafter can include counseling sessions, psychotherapy, medications etc. All these procedures and treatment primary focus is to understand the root cause of their compulsive lying behavior.
Therapy sessions such as making them practice telling more truth frequently or giving a particular set of task to accomplish within a specific time with the help of telling the truth or controlling their impulsive need to lie have been proven very effective.
Keep in mind that medical treatment is always dependent on the person themselves, and the amount of effort they put into trying to change their compulsive lying disorder. Simply putting them in a medical facility without any sort of positive contributions from your side like supporting them and encouraging them will only prove futile.