Is pathological lying a trauma response?
Childhood trauma as a cause of pathological lying
In some cases, pathological lying can be a result of childhood trauma, such as neglect or abuse. People who did not get their needs met as children may begin lying as a coping mechanism, in an attempt to get the love and reassurance they crave.
Research indicates pathological lying can occur because of low self-esteem and a false sense of self. People who lie pathologically may want others to view them positively, making things up to make them look better. Their desire to create a false sense of self could indicate that they are unhappy with themselves.
Sometimes, compulsive lying is connected to a mental health condition, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), bipolar disorder, or borderline personality disorder (BPD).
Damage to the brain can sometimes cause confabulation, an unusual neurologic phenomenon in which people talk, often with great flourishes, about events or experiences in their lives—unaware that their stories are false.
Fear of danger (perceived or real), causes the brain to have a stress reaction, which leads the child to protect themselves by telling the lie. So, can you understand why a child with a trauma history might be prone to lying? The child isn't trying to be manipulative or defiant.
It is unclear whether a person who pathologically lies is aware of their deceit or is capable of thinking rationally about their lies. Pathological lying can make socializing difficult and lead to significant interpersonal problems with loved ones and colleagues.
Treatment for Pathological Lying
No medication will fix it. The best option is psychotherapy, but even that can pose challenges. That's because pathological liars may lie to their therapist instead of addressing their lying behavior.
Some mental health conditions may be associated with patterns of pathological lying. These include: antisocial personality disorder (ASPD): may tend to lie for status, resources, or sympathy. borderline personality disorder (BPD): may tend to lie to avoid rejection or abandonment.
Understanding what causes the lying is the only way to change a pathological liar's behavior. Treatment, which can include psychotherapy, medication, or both, will depend on whether or not the pathological lying is a symptom of an underlying psychiatric condition.
Other Reasons for Pathological Lying
Insecurity: Some people feel very insecure about who they are and might lie in an effort to make themselves feel better or inflate their own sense of self-worth. Lying may also be a defense mechanism to prevent ridicule or social exclusion.
Is compulsive lying a coping mechanism?
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.
They alter our reality, reframing it through the agenda of the person who doesn't want the truth to come out. Being lied to makes you feel insecure – your version of the truth is discredited. It also makes you feel unimportant – the person lying to you didn't value you enough to tell the truth.
Pathological lying, also known as mythomania and pseudologia fantastica, is the chronic behavior of compulsive or habitual lying. Unlike telling the occasional white lie to avoid hurting someone's feelings or getting in trouble, a pathological liar seems to lie for no apparent reason.
Lying leads to psychological arousal, which in turn creates physiological arousal. The polygraph measures physiological responses that correspond to this arousal: galvanic skin response, respiration, heart rate, and relative blood pressure.
Lying is not usually enough to create PTSD, but trauma is a real effect of lying. Let's look at the difference between PTSD and trauma, and why lying is more likely to cause trauma than PTSD. Lying in your relationship does not usually cause PTSD because PTSD is triggered by more severe events than trauma.