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Pseudologia Fantastica

Pseudologia fantastica is also known as mythomania, compulsive lying, or pathological lying. The term, Pseudologia fantastica, is used by mental health care professionals to describe the actions of habitual or compulsive liars. The term originated in medical literature during the 1980s, and it was coined by Anton Delbrueck. Although it is a hot button topic, pathological lying is described as "falsification entirely disproportionate to any discernible end in view, may be extensive and very complicated, and may manifest over a period of years or even a lifetime". The person with this disorder may be alert to the fact that they are deceptive, or he or she may believe that they are being truthful.

Epidemiology of Pseudologia Fantastica

Although there is scant literature related to pathological lying, one study did prove that 1 in every thousand persons suffers from this disorder (the study was based on juvenile offenders. Typically, the disorder begins as the age of 16 years, and it happens to young women and men in equal numbers. Less than half of cases were believed to be caused by central nervous system abnormalities (such as epilepsy, abnormal EEG results, head injuries or CNS infection.

Characteristics of Pseudologia Fantastica

When people with this disorder are deceptive, they mix the truth with lies, in order to add plausibility to their tales. The lies are not the results of delusions or psychotic breaks. Rather, they are designed to protect the liar, by allowing him or her to feel truthful when defending statements. By clinging to some elements of truthfulness, the liar is able to feel more self-righteous when debating his or her tales with others.

The tendency to lie does not usually fade. Since lies happen “naturally”, rather than as a response to situations or social pressures, they are a character defect in the person with Pseudologia Fantastica, and therefore, remain a facet of his or her personality.

Motives for lying are typified as internal. Inside the person with this disorder, a range of reasons for lying may exist and be justified. Sometimes, people lie to avoid detrimental outcomes, such as domestic violence or criminal prosecution. In other cases, people lie to present a false self, or fake outward image, to the world. The importance of being perceived as brave vs. cowardly, strong vs. weak, good vs. bad, et cetera, may be a prime motivation for compulsive lying that paints the liar in a positive light. Embellishment of stories, in order to make the person with this disorder seem more powerful and impressive, may be a part of this mental health disorder.

Another possible facet of this disorder is the existence of false memories. The person with the disorder may believe that he or she has performed impressive acts that may not have actually occurred. This element of grandiosity is common in people with Pseudologia Fantastica.

Pathological Lying Facts

Lying is defined as knowingly and intentionally creating false statements. Many people do so out of anxiety. Pathological lying is a mental health disorder, due to its ability to override rational judgment and send the liar into a non-real world.

Telling a lot of lies is a common symptom of a variety of mental illnesses. For example, people who suffer from antisocial personality disorder use lying to use other people. Some individuals with borderline personality disorder lie in order to get attention. Pathological lying, on the other hand, may be defined as an addiction to telling lies. It happens when a person constantly lies for no discernible reason. The lies are typically very easy to see through, and often seem rather silly, as they serve no purpose.

Consequences of being a pathological liar may include loss of reputation, loss of relationships, and loss of respect. In severe cases, liars of this type may lose face in their careers as a result of their actions, or face legal penalties for telling lies.

Treatment for This Disorder

Pseudologia fantastica is related to borderline personality disorder, narcissistic personality disorder, and histrionic personality disorder. It may also be present although there are no other mental health symptoms. People who grow up in situations where telling lies was necessary in order to gain approval are more likely to turn into compulsive liars. Psychotherapy is the most effective way of treating pathological lying.