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How can you tell if someone is a pathological liar? The following excerpt, from wikiHow, may be useful.
The term, “liar, liar pants on fire” takes on new meaning when dealing with a pathological liar. This person may not be completely rooted in reality, believing the lies they tell, often in an effort to remedy low self esteem. Unlike telling a few fibs here and there, or slightly exaggerating the truth once in a while, the pathological liar lies about literally every aspect of his or her life. From how much was spent on dinner last night to talking about the last time the dog was bathed, the pathological liar feels that every bit of communication has strategic meaning positioned for his or her gain.
Being lied to on a consistent basis is not only frustrating but also disrespectful to the other person. So how do you determine if you’re dealing with someone who may drop a few fibs on occasion versus a true pathological liar? A few clues and steps may help you draw a sensible conclusion.
Understand what a pathological liar is. Basically, a pathological liar is someone who tells lies habitually, chronically and compulsively. It has simply become a way of life for this person, to make up things for a variety of reasons and eventually, the truth becomes uncomfortable while weaving whoppers feels right to them. This kind of lying tends to develop early on in life, often as a response to difficult home or school situations that seemed to resolve better if the child lied. It’s a bad habit, not a manipulative trait––this is how to differentiate a pathological liar from a sociopath who does seek to manipulate.
Determine whether the person’s details and information comes across as consistent every time they tell a story. Find an easy, run-of-the-mill story, such as what the person had for dinner last night. They may tell you pasta and broccoli, but then may tell you and/or others that lobster and champagne was involved. Details and information will constantly change and evolve.
- Compare and contrast both big and small details. From the number of people in the liar’s story to the actual storyline itself, recall what has changed and how often the details have changed in the story.
- Keep tally of the cast of characters involved in the story. If, for example, suddenly the third time the story is told, the cops show up, you have to start wondering if he or she is telling the full truth.
- Recall the frequency of the lies. Pathological liars will lie consistently, which is one thing you can count on––they will lie all the time. Conduct a non-scientific experiment and inquire about certain aspects of the person’s life everyday. Choose something random like what the person ate for dinner or watched on TV the evening before. Ask the person the same question throughout the day to see if it changes––play into the lie by either getting excited or showing intrigue when the person embellishes the story. Don’t give away that you’ve heard a different answer before.
Compare stories with mutual friends of both you and the person you suspect of being a pathological liar, to determine if the story has changed or reshaped to accommodate certain personalities. Certain details may be morphed to create drama or draw attention to the liar.
- Trying to pit friends/family members against each other. If the liar was involved in an argument he or she may change the details so that he or she looks better. Also, he or she may involve other parties, making up information about the other party in order to get more people on his or her side.
- Trying to avoid trouble. If the liar has done something wrong, he or she will do whatever is necessary to avoid blame––that means fabricating a story and/or pinning culpability on another person.
- Fabricating a lie in order to gain attention. The main goal with many pathological liars is to gain positive notoriety. From being bored to having low self esteem, the pathological liar’s goal is to look better than everyone else, so that people pay attention and worship their accomplishments.