Compulsive lying destroys families. This post includes John’s story of how his relationship with his father was ruined by his father’s habitual lies.
Even though compulsive or pathological liars tell lies constantly, it’s shocking to note that compulsive lying is not strictly a diagnosed condition.
Paul Ekman, in his book “Why People Lie” says that lying is like a drug to them. It gives them adrenalin and makes them feel in control of the person they are lying to.
Other theories on the phenomenon of lying state that it occurs because of emotional issues, neglect, or something that has happened to them in the past.
But these are not the only reasons people lie. Jerald Jellison a professor at University of Southern California, says that once compulsive liars start spinning tales they simply can’t stop. It becomes a habit to them and after a while they do not even know they are doing it. Of course, more lies follow in order to cover up the original ones.
Let’s look at an example. John did not speak to his father because his father was a compulsive liar.
His habit was so severe that it caused the break down of his marriage to John’s mother when he was a small child.
Typically, his father’s habit had got worse over the years. John remembers many distinctive times as he was growing up when he was lied to and then he would be made to feel guilty for what he done to him. John realized that his father had a problem and tried to help him. He begged and pleaded with him many times.
There is one particularly bad episode of his father’s lying that especially stuck in John’s head. It was when he was about 12 years old.
He called him up and told him he had sent his birthday present, which was already a week late. Jon waited and waited while his father called him to tell him “oh it will be at your house by 10:00 am so it will be waiting for you after school.”
John would come home from school everyday and nothing would be there. His father would call him again and keep making excuses about how it would be there and he would pull the “do you not trust me” routine on him.
Eventually, after about three months of nothing but lies he gave up. John got nothing, not even a card, Ironically, young John would have been very happy with a call on his birthday; but instead he got nothing. Worse, he got lie after lie from his own father.
Do Liars Have Different Brains?
A study at the University of California discovered that there are differences in the brains of compulsive liars.
The pre-frontal cortex region of the brain, the part which enables people to feel remorse or learn moral behavior has a different structure than that of a non liar. The study examined more than 100 people who all did a series of 12 pathological tests.
The tests concluded that there was a 25.7% increase of white matter and less gray matter in the prefrontal cortex compared to normal controls. Because the liars had more white matter, the study found that they have a greater capacity to lie and less moral restraints than others.
How Can You Spot a Compulsive Liar?
According to Dr. Gail Saltz, if a compulsive avoids eye contact often while having a conversation then they are probably lying.
If the person’s voice has a variation of pitch and mutters a lot of umms and ahhs that can also be a hint that they are lying.
Also, body language can be a give away. Watch out for hands going up to cover the mouth for example.
As we heard in John’s sad story, people that constantly tell lies leave a trail of misery and heartache wherever they go. The first step in curing a compulsive liar is to find out what is driving them to lie and then start the healing process by visiting a psychologist.