How to Control Compulsive Lying When You Have an Addiction

Honesty Vs. Addiction

How to Control Compulsive Lying When You Have an Addiction

Recently, one of our guest bloggers at Vertava Health, Lorelie Rozzano opened up about her behaviors while in active addiction in her blog “Confessions Of An Addict (In Recovery).

” In the article, Lorelie explains, “My words were lies. I even believed the lies myself. When I felt guilty, I lied. When I was afraid, I lied. When I was angry or I felt cornered, I lied.

If I was having a good day, I lied.”

So often as family and friends, we are lied to and manipulated by our addicted loved one – usually someone who was once honest and thoughtful and considerate. It’s devastating to lose that trust that comes with a close relationship between parent and child, partners, spouses, grandparents and grandchildren.

Even when you are armed with the truth, and the evidence to support it, when addiction is involved, there is a good chance that you’ll still be surrounded by lies. Dishonesty is a symptom of the addiction.

This is because without lies, addiction cannot live; and without the truth – recovery cannot survive.

The “Feel Good”

A big part of human nature stems from the desire to feel good. For different people, that “feel good” can evolve from different things: Adventure, purpose, affection, security, and appreciation are all examples of things we strive to meet, in order to live satisfied lives. These basic human needs become our foundation for our lives, our personalities, and our actions.

For people who are addicted to drugs or alcohol, the “feel good” isn’t typically derived from the normal basic human needs. For people who are addicted to substances, things a caring family, close friends, vacations, and job promotions aren’t going to bring joy and happiness. Instead, it’s only drugs or alcohol.

Defending The Addiction

Mental defense mechanisms, the manner in which we behave or think in order to “defend” ourselves, are a part of the human mind. We think and do things in order to distance ourselves from unpleasant feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. John M. Grohol, Psy. D explains that some of the most common defense mechanisms include:

  • Denial
  • Acting out
  • Projection (misattributing a person’s undesired thoughts, feelings or impulses onto another person who doesn’t have those thoughts, feelings or impulses)
  • Displacement (taking out thoughts, feelings and impulses on a person or object that isn’t the cause of those thoughts, feelings or impulses.)
  • Rationalization

When a person is addicted to alcohol or drugs, they physically, mentally and emotionally depend on their drug of choice.

Addiction causes real chemical changes in the brain to directly affect the user’s conscious and unconscious behavior.

When the thing that makes them feel good (or keeps them from going through painful withdrawal) is threatened, the addicted person’s mental defense mechanisms will kick in.

Defending the addiction to himself or others, your loved one will deny and justify his behavior – and fully believe the lies. He will lie to anyone who may threaten his heroin use – and she will lie to anyone who may question her alcohol use. That includes him or herself.

The Common Lies

“I need to use cocaine in order to continue to be successful.”

“I need to drink in order to be social.”

“Everyone drinks and uses drugs – so I should, too.”

“If you knew my childhood, you would take pills, too.”

“I had a hard day, I deserve to drink.”

“I had a great day, I should celebrate with a drink.”

“I don’t really use or drink as much as other people.”

“I’ve never gotten a DUI.”
“I have a job, alcoholics don’t have jobs.”

“I take my kids to school every day, addicts don’t do that.”

“I could stop if I wanted to.”

“I’m not hurting anyone but me.”

The list could go on and on.

Ending The Lies

It’s important to recognize that your loved one isn’t being dishonest because he or she is a bad person or has moral failures. Lies are a symptom of addiction – as well as one of the biggest contributors to our anger and frustrations we feel with them.

There isn’t a light switch to flip on honesty in addiction – but there are things that loved one can do to bring truth to the table:

  • Realize that lies aren’t a personal attack on you.Any time I find out I was lied to – I’m furious. I feel it’s a personal attack on my intelligence: that the person who lied to me thinks I’m dumb enough to believe it. However, with addiction, your loved one isn’t lying to you because he or she thinks your dumb – they’re lying because they are sick with a disease that lies to them.
  • Don’t accept the lies.Your loved one’s dishonesty is keeping him or her trapped in addiction – and it’s keeping you sick, too. Don’t look the other way when you’re lied to – letting them know the truth can help them face the consequences of their actions. Refusing to accept the lies means refusing to enable or “rescue”. Refusing to accept the lies means getting help for yourself through a therapist or meetings for friends and family. Refusing to accept the lies can take your loved one another step closer to accepting the help he or she needs.
  • Drop the excuses.If you’re covering for an addicted loved one, you’re also caught up in the disease of addiction. Lies on top of lies won’t help anyone.
  • Encourage a supportive environment.Threats and power struggles are commonplace in homes dealing with addiction. Instead of resorting to arguments, create a supportive environment that promotes honesty.

The truth is, with addiction comes lies. These lies are only a distraction from the real problem – the addiction, and the underlying issues of the addiction. Don’t let dishonesty get in the way of helping your loved one find his or her path to addiction recovery. After all, with truth comes healing.


Compulsive Lying — Therapy Blog

How to Control Compulsive Lying When You Have an Addiction

Compulsive lying describes a condition in which a person tells falsehoods habit, sometimes for no reason at all.  It is also known as pathological lying, mythomania, and habitual lying.

A German physician named Dr. Delbruck first described the condition in 1891. Five of his patients had a habit of telling excessively large lies. He named their behavior pseudologia phantastica (spelled pseudologia fantastica in American English).

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Many people are dishonest on occasion. Yet pathological liars tend to lie more frequently regardless of context.

Habitual lying often has the following traits:

  • The lies are believable and may have truthful elements. A person who has the flu might tell co-workers the symptoms are in fact AIDS or some other serious illness.
  • The lying continues for a long period of time and is not caused by some immediate pressure. A person who lies repeatedly about an affair would typically not qualify as a habitual liar, since the lies result from the desire to keep a secret.
  • The lies tend to present the person lying in a positive light. A person is more ly to lie about having a Ph.D than claim they dropped high school.
  • The lies have an internal—rather than external—motivation. A child with abusive parents might lie compulsively to avoid harm.  These falsehoods would not be considered compulsive because the lying is motivated by an outside threat.

Before determining that someone is lying compulsively, clinicians will generally rule out other possible causes. Someone who has delusions or false memory syndrome is unly to qualify as a habitual liar. In general, a pathological liar must recognize they are saying something untrue.

Compulsive Lying vs. Pathological Lying

The terms “compulsive lying” and “pathological lying” are often used interchangeably. Medical literature currently does not differentiate between these terms. Yet there are professionals within the mental health community who classify the terms as subtly different conditions.

In this framework, compulsive lying is the habit of telling falsehoods uncontrollably. People in this category may be more comfortable telling lies than telling the truth. They may lie repeatedly about important as well as unimportant matters.

People who lie compulsively often have no ulterior motive. They may even tell lies which damage their own reputations. Even after their falsehoods have been exposed, people who lie compulsively may have difficulty admitting the truth.

Meanwhile, pathological lying often involves a clear motive. A person may lie to gain attention or admiration. Other lies may be designed to garner pity or help from others. Even self-harming lies may provide some form of internal gratification.

People who lie pathologically may mix falsehoods with the truth to make their lies more credible. As such, pathological lying is often considered a subtler form of manipulation than compulsive lying.

What Causes Compulsive Lying?

Psychologists disagree whether compulsive lying can stand alone as its own diagnosis. Currently, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual (DSM) does not recognize it as a separate mental health condition. Yet compulsive lying does appear as a symptom of several larger conditions.

Compulsive lying may be a symptom of:

Compulsive lying rarely indicates psychosis. People who lie compulsively can often identify their accounts as lies. Thus, they are not distanced from reality.

Some psychologists believe a person’s environment plays a large role in compulsive lying. A person may live in a context where deception creates advantages. If a community does not assign firm or consistent consequences for lying, a person may believe the benefits of lying outweigh the risks. Lies might also be a coping mechanism for low self-esteem or past trauma.

Despite these short-term benefits, compulsive lying often backfires in the long run. A habitual liar may feel extreme stress from keeping track of their falsehoods. They may struggle to live up to their own claims. If their lies are exposed, their relationships will ly grow strained. In some cases, they may face legal consequences.

Treatment for Compulsive Lying

People who lie compulsively are encouraged to seek the help of a qualified therapist. A therapist can help habitual liars understand their condition and the way it affects other people. They may also reveal underlying diagnoses such as bipolar or ADHD. In these cases, a therapist will ly treat all a person’s issues in tandem.

When a person lies to their therapist, treatment can be difficult. Treatment tends to work best when the person in therapy acknowledges their condition. If the person is forced into therapy, they are unly to cooperate. Ideally, the person in therapy will believe help is necessary and make a sincere effort to change.

When a person lies to their therapist, treatment can be difficult. Even if the therapist catches a lie, the person may refuse to admit their dishonesty. This resistance serves as another differentiation between compulsive and pathological lying. In treating pathological lying, some therapists have found it beneficial to address the lying as an addiction.

Either group or individual sessions can be beneficial in treatment. When a person’s lying has interfered with personal or romantic relationships, couples counseling can also be helpful. Behavior modification strategies such as role playing may be used to promote change and gauge progress.

Compulsive lying can be a challenging condition. But with time and effort, it can be treated. If you would help to stop lying, you can find a therapist here.


  1. American Psychological Association. APA concise dictionary of psychology. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association, 2009. Print.
  2. Birch, C. D., Kelln, B. R. C. & Aquino, E. P. B. (2006). A review and case report of pseudologia fantastica. The Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 17(2), 299-320.
  3. Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders: DSM-5. (5th ed.). (2013). Washington, D.C.: American Psychiatric Association.
  4. Dike, C. C. (2008, June 1). Pathological lying: symptom or disease. Retrieved from

Last Updated:05-8-2018

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Addicts & Lying: Why Do Addicts Lie & What to Do About It

How to Control Compulsive Lying When You Have an Addiction

Addiction can turn your loved one into a stranger. Gone is your sweet son or your caring wife, and in their place is someone who constantly lies to your face or manipulates you. This change can be difficult to swallow and hard to understand, but our Ohio drug rehab is here to give you a little more insight into the relationship between addicts and lying.

Why Do Addicts Lie?

While you may feel they are just manipulating you, addicts aren’t just lying for the fun of it. their addiction, lying becomes a compulsion that is hard to stop.

There are several reasons why addicts lie including:

  • Shame– Addicts are often ashamed of their behavior, so they use lies to cover their tracks.
  • Avoid confrontation– If you knew everything they have down, it would ly lead to an argument that they do not want to deal with.
  • Avoid being found out- Many people in active addiction do not want others to know about their substance use. Instead, they will use lies to keep you from asking questions and keep themselves from being found out.
  • Protect their loved ones– Addicts know that what they are doing is wrong and could hurt their loved one in more ways than one, but because they cannot stop their substance abuse, it is easier to lie about it.
  • Changes to the brain– Addiction causes the brain to rewire itself in a way that getting high/drunk becomes the person’s primary focus. As a result, lying, stealing, and cheating become excusable in the addict’s mind if it means getting more of the substance.
  • Denial- Sometimes they aren’t just lying to you; they are also lying to themselves to avoid admitting that they have a problem.

Common Lies Addicts Tell

Because addicts and lying can go hand in hand, drug addicts lie about everything from small details to entire stories. They will lie to their friends, families, coworkers, boss, and themselves. If you can learn to recognize the common lies addicts tell, you can better decipher fact from fiction.

Addicts will often lie about:

  • Where they were
  • Who they were with
  • How much they had of a substance
  • How they were able to get the drugs
  • What they are using the money for
  • How their substance abuse is impacting other parts of their life (job, relationships, finances)
  • The reason they got high/drank (holiday, event, bad day, everyone else was doing it)
  • Being able to stop whenever they want

If what your loved one is telling you doesn’t add up, it may be a sign of substance abuse.

How to Tell When A Drug Addict is Lying

Not only do drug addicts and alcoholics lie often, but also they can become quite good at it. Over time, their lying may even become second nature. Because you want to believe them, deciphering the truth from a lie can be a challenge. If you know what to look and listen for, you can more easily determine if your addicted loved one is lying.

Look for these signs an addict is lying:

  • They are avoiding eye contact
  • They are rocking back and forth or fidgeting with their hair, clothes, face, or hands
  • Their answers are vague, or they try to change the subject
  • They speak in broken fragments or use a lot of filler words (um, , uh)
  • They repeat you or themselves
  • Their face goes white
  • They use hand gestures after they speak
  • Their tone of voice becomes higher
  • They suddenly are speaking much louder1

Because some people are better at hiding their lies than others and not everyone’s cues are a, listen to your gut. If you suspect that your loved ones is lying to you or they are not telling you everything, you are probably right.

What to Do About an Addict’s Lies

If an addict lies to you, what you do next can make a big difference not just for you but for them as well. While you may be feeling hurt, manipulated, and deceived, it is important not to act solely on your emotions.

You need to confront your loved ones calmly and focus on your concerns for their well-being.

It is important that your loved one knows that you are not willing to put up with more lies, but you are there to support them in finding outpatient or inpatient addiction treatment.

Because you may want to avoid confrontation altogether, it can be tempting to brush their lies under the rug and do nothing, but this approach can be damaging for you both. If the addict knows that they can lie without consequences, they will continue to do so and manipulate you. As a result, their addiction will ly get worse.

Because repeated lies can severely damage family relationships, especially if a recovering addict lies about relapsing, it can be good to get help as a family. For example, our family addiction counseling in Carroll County helps the entire family heal from the damage caused by addiction and work on rebuilding trust in recovery.

At Vertava Health Ohio, we are here not just for the person struggling with substance abuse but for their loved one as well. Learn more about how we could help you and your loved one by contacting us today.


Treatment & Information for Compulsive Lying

How to Control Compulsive Lying When You Have an Addiction

You know the truth. And you know that deep intimacy and self-esteem are impossible without it. So how did the occasional little white lie become a habit, a strategy?

More importantly, how do you turn it around? How do you stop lying habitually, regain your sense of self-worth, and return to a life of trusting, secure relationships?

The first step in recovery is to understand it. To get to the bottom of why you do it.

Do you have any questions for us? Get in touch with us through our online contact form. 

Call Bayside Psychotherapy on (03) 9557 9113 to find out if we’re able to help you. Your call is completely confidential, and there’s absolutely no obligation.

You can also book an appointment by using our online booking form for online appointments. Or, if you prefer, you can book an in-clinic session. 

This compulsion usually starts during childhood, often as a way of coping with difficult feelings of shame or anxiety. Growing up in an emotionally unsafe environment (where certain thoughts and feelings are considered ‘wrong’) can lead to habitual lying. And there can be other reasons as well. Many times the cause is opaque, at first.

Eventually it becomes an attempt to avoid difficulties, even though new difficulties result from habitual lying. In some cases, individuals believe deep down that their true self is flawed and not good enough. They feel they need to lie to win the acceptance and approval of people they value.

Others do it to carve out a barrier of psychological space between themselves and the other. This is often seen in people who feel smothered or otherwise controlled.

Whatever the reason, over time, pathological lying can become addictive. A habit. It feels more comfortable and more normal than telling the truth, to the point where many compulsive liars end up lying to themselves as well.

Unfortunately, without targeted treatment, compulsive lying can last a lifetime.

While lying may have seemed to make life easier in the past, you’ve probably already realised that it can have a significant negative impact on your work, on loved ones, friends and colleagues. Even on strangers! It can ruin your career, tarnish your reputation and destroy relationships.

Deep intimacy requires trust. Friendships require trust. Fruitful working relationships require trust. Without trust, everything you say is called into question and every important person in your life feels betrayed and uncertain about your true intentions and feelings.

Just as importantly, your habit may be preventing you from getting what you need from your relationships. Many people who lie frequently are chronic people-pleasers who bury resentment and don’t feel capable of asking for what they want and need. Since their partners, friends and colleagues don’t even know they’re unhappy, there’s virtually no chance of improvement.

There’s also some evidence indicating that this condition creates personal distress even when the liar ‘gets away with it’. It can make it harder to connect with other people and feel empathy.

Plus there’s the constant anxiety about getting caught in a lie. The pressure to remember your lies, and to manage the snowball effect of covering up lies with more lies, can lead you to feel guilty, fake, worthless and powerless to change.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Unravelling the interior tangle of trauma and denial and ingrained behaviour can be tricky on your own. But you can get help to address your pathological lying and set your life back on track. And the earlier you start, the better.

Admitting that you have a problem is the first, courageous step towards recovery. Seeking professional treatment for pathological lying is the second.

Our psychotherapy, counselling or hypnotherapy services are available to help you identify and address the underlying causes of your addiction, so you can work towards the goal of stopping altogether.

As you begin to gain insight into the triggers and patterns of your compulsive lying, you’ll be better equipped to anticipate and control it. You may notice an improvement in your relationships and a significant increase in your self confidence. Not the fake kind of confidence that lying temporarily provides, but an authentic feeling of self-worth.

Psychotherapy involves deep, honest self enquiry designed to transform the inner conflicts that give rise to excessive lying in the first place. It requires commitment and the courage to confront painful, long-suppressed emotions. But the more thorough the therapy, the more ly you are to achieve lasting results.

We offer online and in-clinic counselling, psychotherapy or hypnotherapy.

Regardless of which you choose, we provide a safe, supportive, accepting environment, without shame or judgement. Compulsive lying is not something you should feel ashamed of or try to hide; it’s just a disorder that needs treatment — ideally from someone who can provide an objective and informed perspective without sacrificing empathy for the real pain a lying addiction can cause.

During your first session, you’ll be able to discuss your problem in confidence, ask any questions, and decide if your psychotherapist is the right fit for you. This session will give us an initial insight into the issues involved in your case, and help us understand what you want to achieve.

After the first session, we’ll work with you to create a tailored treatment plan. We may propose hypnotherapy to help change your habitual patterns of thoughts and responses.

But every case is different.

We may alternatively recommend mindfulness therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) or (Neuro-linguistic programming) NLP, for example, to create a program tailored to your individual needs.

Importantly, we don’t just treat your symptoms; we aim to help you discover the causes of your compulsive lying, so you can live a more satisfying, fulfilling and authentic life.

Some clients occasionally report that their treatment started showing results within the first few sessions. However, almost every compulsive liar requires longer term psychotherapy for meaningful change.

Although you may begin to experience improvements quite quickly, our therapy is not a quick-fix solution. We believe it’s important to hunt down the underlying causes for problematic behaviours so you can live a more satisfying, fulfilling and authentic life.

We’re committed to helping you, but you need to be committed too. Everyone’s circumstances and reactions to treatment are different but your progress also relies heavily on your willingness to participate in therapy.

Have questions about treatment?

Call Bayside Psychotherapy on (03) 9557 9113, or use our contact form to find out if we can help you let go of habitual lying. Your call is completely confidential, and there’s absolutely no obligation.

Make an appointment today

Ready to start treatment for compulsive lying? Book online now or call our Highett clinic on 03 9557 9113.

Note: Whilst we will do our best to assist you, we rely on our clients’ full commitment to and participation in the treatment process to optimise results. Although some of our therapists work with people presenting with this condition, no guarantees of any outcomes can be made.

Whilst there has been little research into whether compulsive lying may be a symptom of depression, the true causes of compulsive lying are unknown.

For instance, it has been reported anecdotally as being associated with several other disorders such as Bipolar Disorder; Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); Impulse control issues; Substance dependency; Borderline personality; or Narcissistic personality.

All of these illnesses can involve depression as well as compulsive lying, yet to state compulsive lying is a symptom of depression would be incorrect — they are simply two separate symptoms of an underlying conflict unique to an individual. Of not, not every compulsive liar has an underlying mental illness as such.

Figuring out where the symptom fits into a persons life and what function it intends to serve can be revealing. It is a case by case consideration.

A core feature of a pathological liar is that they generally have no obvious motivation to lie. Because of this, it can make it frustrating or even difficult to know what to do if you think you’ve met one. The function and purpose may be unconscious and ironically it required honestly and commitment in therapy to get to the trues behind the temptation to lie.

Given commitment and honestly is needed in therapy for treatment to be successful, not all people experiencing pathological lying will benefit from psychotherapy or even counselling. An initial assessment session is indicated to determine motivation and appropriateness of therapy. That said, there is always a purpose behind the lies unique to the individual.

It is often possible to tell if and why someone may have told us a lie. This is usually an incorrect or false statement they make to (consciously) benefit themselves, such as to avoid stress, embarrassment, or anxiety.

Unconsciously however the person lying may struggle with anger under the surface and lie in order to create conflict (he or she consciously avoids conflict while unconsciously orchestrating it by way of setting themselves up to be caught out lying).

This is typical but not universal. Every case is different.

Whilst this may be in the instance of a simple white lie, there are a few tell-tale signs to help recognise a pathological liar.

For example, a pathological liar may lie for no obvious reason, with lies that do not seem to impact or benefit them in any way.

Their lies seem to have no clear benefit, which can be particularly frustrating because the person lying doesn’t seem to gain anything (obvious) from their lies except to distort or manipulate the truth.

In addition, the lies they weave are often theatrical, complex, and extremely thorough.

Pathological liars tend to be great storytellers and, even though their lies are quite obviously over-the-top, they may be very convincing – leading you to doubt yourself and what you believe to be the truth.

A pathological liar may often show themselves to be the hero or victim in their lies, to invoke either awe or pity in the listener.

Along with this, pathological liars sometimes seem to believe the lies they tell, weaving stories that fall between obvious lying and delusion, in simpler terms — they seem to believe their own lies and become more convincing.

It can be problematic to determine how to deal with a pathological liar, especially since their defensive manoeuvres of denial, minimisation, projection, displacement, lashing out or gaslighting may be activated following confrontation. There are a few coping methods for dealing with a pathological liar, such as not losing your temper with them — it’s important not to let your anger get the better of you. 

  • Remember, it’s not about you — it’s difficult not to take it personally when lied to but remember the person may be experiencing an underlying disorder.
  • Be kind and supportive, but firm — remind them that you value them for who they are and that they don’t need to impress you with their lies. But encourage them to consider therapy if they recognise a pattern and are ready to change.
  • Don’t engage or encourage them – you may choose to question what they’re saying, but advise them that you don’t wish to continue the conversation if they are lying. Sometimes setting a clear boundary and limit is crucial to preserve sanity in a relationship depending on the circumstances.
  • Suggest help — suggest that they consider professional help, without judging or shaming them, reminding them that your suggestion comes from a place of concern and care for their well-being. It is ultimately their choice however and if they maintain denial in the face of evidence and otherwise to refuse treatment, there is little therapy can provide until they begin to take responsibility.

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Is Pathological Lying A Sign of Addiction?

How to Control Compulsive Lying When You Have an Addiction

It can be confusing knowing how to deal with a pathological liar.  A white lie every now and then – sure, that’s understandable. But habitually being lied to can be a source of great pain and lead to relationship strain and/or breakups.

Is pathological lying a sign of addiction?

If you’ve ever had friends or loved ones that struggled with addiction, you’ve probably been the recipient of their lies from time to time.  It’s not uncommon for those struggling with addictive behaviors to lie to themselves and others about their drinking or drugging habits. In fact, addiction experts believe lying is actually goes hand in hand with addiction.

If you have a loved one that’s struggling with lying and/or addiction, it’s ly you have some concerns and questions.  This article will help you come to know more about pathological liar symptoms and addiction – and how you can content with either.

Why People Lie About Their Addiction

Those that struggle with addiction do tend to lie about various things.  Some do it consciously, while others have no idea that what they are saying are lies. They may totally believe that what they are saying is true.

Here are some common reasons people may lie about addiction:

  1. To Keep Their Addiction A Secret – Those struggling with addictive behaviors usually want to keep their addiction a secret. They think that if others knew the truth about them, they’d feel quite ashamed.  They may fear rejection, abandonment, or be faced with an ultimatum to stop the addiction.
  2. They Lie To Avoid Conflict – Many people struggling with addiction lie to loved ones because they don’t want to have conflict or confrontation. They know that if they admit to drinking, drugging, or engaging in some other addictive behavior, it could cause contrast. They may not want to or be able to cope with that confrontation in a healthy way.It’s not uncommon for them to have poor communication or conflict resolution skills. The thought of having to be confronted by a loved one due to addictive behavior can cause so much anxiety for them. Therefore, they lie over and over to try to avoid confrontation.
  3. They Lie Because They Are In Denial – Some people who habitually lie about their addictive behavior just don’t think they have a problem. They are still in denial.
    For example, Jon’s spouse may ask him how many beers he had the night before.  Jon, who happens to think he’s not the alcoholic she thinks he is, says he drank three beers.  However, he really drank a 12-pack, but he knows if he tells her that, she will continue thinking he has a drinking problem.
  4. Shame – Some people habitually lie because they are ashamed of themselves for having become addicted to something. Deep down, they feel shame.  They think that if they become vulnerable and tell the truth, that they will be looked down upon by loved ones and society.

Pathological Liar Symptoms

Pathological liar symptoms vary from person to person. Pathological lying is different than lying to avoid consequences.  When lying becomes pathological, people lie for no reason at all. They lie so often that they may not even realize they are doing it. Sometimes, habitual lying can be a sign of a mental health condition, such as borderline or narcissistic personality disorder.

The following are various characteristics of those who are pathological liars:

  • Being deceptive
  • Low self-worth
  • Narcissism
  • Extremely selfish
  • Controlling
  • Manipulative
  • Being aggressive
  • Jealousy
  • Compulsiveness
  • Anger or rage
  • Being abusive
  • Addictive behaviors

Keep in mind not every pathological liar displays all these symptoms.  They may display several or perhaps only one.

How To Cope With Pathological Lying

If you’re wondering how to deal with a pathological liar, there are things you can do to help you and the other person.  Of course, it will depend on the specific situation.  If you see habitual liar symptoms in your loved one, try the following tips to cope:

  • Try not to take it personal. Pathological lying can be an addictive behavior. They may not even realize this is what they are doing.
  • Have a heart-to-heart conversation. Sit down and have a loving chat with the person. Approach the topic in a gentle, compassionate way.  Let them know your concerns about their habitual lying.  If you’re concerned about an addiction to something else, such as alcohol or drugs, talk to them about that as well. Try not to react, but listen attentively and really hear what they are saying. They may not be ready to fess up to any truth at the moment. Accept this, but be sure to set boundaries for yourself if they’ve been crossing any.  They may come around in time. In the meantime, practice self-care.
  • Inquire about other symptoms. Sometimes pathological lying points to an underlying mental health condition. You may want to ask them if they have additional symptoms that they’ve been struggling with, such as intense anxiety, depression, mood swings, and more.
  • Offer support. If your loved one admits to having a problem with habitual lying or an addiction to something, ask them how you can best support them. They may just need you to listen and offer them safe space to share their feelings.  They may also need practical advice.  Simply ask them and then check in with yourself to see if the request is doable and appropriate for you. If they need extra support, you can suggest professional counseling.

If you’re loved one is caught up in pathological lying due to their addiction, Soul Surgery can help with intervention and treatment. We can address the addiction and the habitual lying. Reach out today, as we’d love to discuss the topic with you further.

Dr. Ravi Chandiramani is a Naturopathic physician with over 15 years experience working with those struggling with addiction and alcoholism. Over those 15 years he has worked with over 7,000 patients.

He is the founder of the Integrative Addiction Medicine (I-AM) model which combines evidence-based conventional addiction medicine with the nurturing and rebuilding modalities inherent to the practice of Naturopathic medicine.


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