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. This can make it frustrating or hard to know what to do if you believe you’ve met one.

Though pathological lying has been recognized for more than a century, there’s not yet a clear universal definition of the condition. Some pathological lying may result from a mental condition while others appear to have no medical reason for the behavior.

A pathological liar is someone who lies compulsively. While there appears to be many possible causes for pathological lying, it’s not yet entirely understood why someone would lie this way.

Some lies seem to be told in order to make the pathological liar appear the hero, or to gain acceptance or sympathy, while there’s seemingly nothing to be gained from other lies.

Some evidence from 2007, trusted source, suggests that issues affecting the central nervous system may predispose someone to pathological lying. Trauma or head injuries may also play a role in pathological lying, along with an abnormality in hormone-cortisol ratio.

A 2016 study, trusted source, of what happens in the brain when you lie found that the more untruths a person tells, the easier and more frequent lying becomes. The results also indicated that self-interest seems to fuel dishonesty.

Most people lie at one time or another. Previous research has suggested that we tell an average of 1.65 lies every day. Most of these lies are what are considered “white lies.” Pathological lies, on the other hand, are told consistently and habitually. They tend to appear pointless and often continuous.

White lies are occasional and considered: small fibs, harmless, without malicious intent, told to spare another’s feelings or avoid getting in trouble.
Some examples:
saying you have a headache to get out of attending a meeting; saying you’ve paid the phone bill when you forgot to pay it; or lying about why you were late for work.

Pathological lies are: told frequently and compulsively, told for no apparent reason or gain, continuous, told to make the teller appear heroic or the victim, not deterred by guilt or risk of getting found out.
creating a false history, such as saying they’ve achieved or experienced something they haven’t; claiming to have a life-threatening illness that they don’t have.

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