Compulsive Liar

Compulsive Liar – Causes, Picture, Symptoms and Treatment

A compulsive liar is a term used for people who have no control over their lying. Everyone in the world may have lied at some point in their life. You may have said a white lite to save yourself from any situation. It is lying by choice where you tell a lie to overcome a difficult situation. Compulsive liars are different. They tell one lie after the other. So, the lies pile up leading it to become their habit. the motivation for a compulsive liar is fear. To overcome a fearful situation, they start telling lies, which becomes a habit. It is not easy to break the habit as it becomes ingrained in the conscience.

A compulsive liar needs to identify that they have an issue. The lying can isolate them from society. So, it can result in self-destructive and anti-social tendencies. It will harm them and the people around them. Therefore, it is crucial that compulsive liars seek proper treatment. You need to gain more information to identify the traits of such people. If you believe your friend or a family member suffers from the issue, you need to urge them to take action. Hence, read ahead to get valuable information about the disorder to take necessary actions.

Who Is A Compulsive Liar?

You may have heard about the alcohol addiction or drug addiction. A compulsive liar has an addiction, to lie profusely. So, it is the disorder that causes addiction to dishonesty. It is not a psychiatric disorder. But, it is a symptom of other personality disorders. The different personality disorder causing the issue are:

People can also become compulsive liars without any personality disorders. Certain events or bad experiences in the past can lead to the compulsive lying. The underlying reason is to feel good about themselves. So, the motivating factors are:

  • Getting sympathy from others
  • Becoming popular among peers
  • Overcoming failures
  • Feeling superior
  • Overcoming low self-esteem

Scientific Theories Behind Compulsive Lying

According to researchers, the brain looks different for a compulsive liar. The prefrontal cortex is the region in the brain that is accountable for decision making. The frontal lobe has an area that conveys to you about the socially acceptable behavior. It also helps in making the right decisions. The brain images have grey and white matters that signifies the brain function. A person with more white matter and less grey in the prefrontal cortex exhibit signs of a compulsive liar. The brain images with lower amounts of white matter represent people who cannot lie (people with autism). So, it is established that people with more white matter lie profusely. But, compulsive liars may or may not have white matter. It depends on the individual person.

Difference Between Compulsive Liar And Pathological Liar

You may confuse compulsive lying disorder with the pathological lying. Both the pathological lying and compulsive lying is known as psychopathic behavior. It is associated with antisocial behavior. People exhibiting the traits suffer from an antisocial personality disorder. But, there is a big difference between the two conditions. Pathological liars can lie to manipulate others. It helps them achieve their goals without considering the feelings of others. While the compulsive liar says lies to overcome a situation. The white lies are the automatic response. So, a compulsive liar is dishonest to feel good about themselves rather than manipulating or hurting others.

Root Causes Of Becoming A Compulsive Liar

People do not turn into compulsive liars overnight. Something triggers in the mind and heart of the individuals that make them feel the need for lying. One or more factors can develop into compulsive lying.  Therefore, the main causes of becoming a compulsive liar are:

A Dysfunctional Family

A family that often engages in misbehavior, child abuse or neglect, conflict regularly is known as dysfunctional. The parents engage in such activities forcing the other members in the family to accommodate the actions. Children growing in such families think the behavior as normal. But, the develop moderate to serious mental problems. Therefore, the children are more prone to developing an addiction, becoming anti-social, or have problems maintaining relationships. They can also exhibit signs of a compulsive liar.

Sexual/Physical Abuse


The abuse in childhood is a major health problem. It can cause long-term side effects. The children once subjected to physical or sexual abuse can act out. As they fear to disclose the abuse, it can lead to poor coping skills. Many tend to overeat, become compulsive liars, use recreational drugs or become addicts. They prefer isolation, engage in physical violence, and think about death.

Neuropsychological Abnormalities

The changes in the behavior, memory, thinking, and other brain functions are known as neuropsychological problems. Therefore, it can lead to other issues like learning disabilities and borderline mental retardation. It can also cause compulsive lying in some people.

Impulse control disorders

People with impulse control disorders have a tendency to lie. Individuals with the disorder cannot resist the temptation to continue a behavior. So, it results in compulsive lying. People with compulsive shopping issue, kleptomania, pathological gambling, etc. also lie a lot.

Personality Disorders

People with personality disorders can lie to protect their self-esteem and make them look good in front of others. The different personality disorders linked to compulsive lying are:

Borderline Personality Disorder

Individuals with the BPD judge themselves severely. They expect the people around them to do the same. So, they lie to overcome the shame when something bad happens that makes everyone judge the person negatively. It helps them retain their image.


Sociopaths are more prone to compulsive lying as they do not understand the extent of their lies. They tend to speak more lies than truth. Therefore, such people lie as they as cannot comprehend other’s feelings and the impact of lies on other’s life.


The narcissistic people tend to keep a high opinion about themselves. It makes the individual a compulsive liar as the like keeping things in control.

Substance Abuse

Compulsive lying and substance abuse go hand in hand. A person with an addiction problem lies to themselves to continue using the drugs. They also suffer from low self-esteem, pride, and fear phobia. So, it can lead a person to become a compulsive liar. They lie to survive in a society with the addiction problem.

Risks Faced By A Compulsive Liar

An individual starts lying to save themselves from the wrath of a punishment or the fear of getting caught. The white lie then turns into something that a compulsive liar has no control over it. The low self-esteem can lead a person to fabricate stories that will make them look appealing to other. So, it gives a compulsive liar a pseudo-confidence. Slowly the lies start piling up. It progresses from insignificant lies to the outrageous ones. The bubble of lies burst when people find the truth. Subsequently, the liars find it difficult to survive in the society.

With the lies getting caught, the people around the compulsive liar find it difficult to believe them. It results in the society shunning the liars. The repeated lying can break the trust leading to people finding it difficult to believe anything the liar says. So, it causes hindrance in forming successful relationships. All relationships, professional and personal are based on the foundation of trust. Without trust, no relationship can survive. Therefore, the compulsive liars may not find it easy to maintain healthy relationships for a long time with others.

Symptoms Pointing To A Compulsive Lair

The compulsive lying is a psychological problem and not a health issue. So, the symptoms may not appear overtly. It is difficult to diagnose the issue. If your friend or family member is a compulsive liar, then you may not release the issue initially. the person lies till getting caught with ample proof as everyone believes the lies. Once the lies come to light, it becomes difficult to believe the person anymore. But, some symptoms can point that a person is a compulsive liar. You need to check the signs like:

Bipolar Disorder

People with bipolar disorder can experience extreme mood swings. It is also connected with the compulsive lying. The people with the bipolar issue have two extreme behaviors. One is depression and the other is manic. During the maniac phase. Individuals believe they can achieve everything. The impulsive mood can trigger compulsive lying.

Attention Seeking Behavior

As discussed earlier, the problem can start in childhood. Some children lie to their parents to get extra care and affection. They may also lie to evade punishments. Subsequently, the behavior can escalate and lead to compulsive lying. Without monitoring of the behavior, the chances of the children turning into compulsive liars are high. Sometimes, the issue is triggered due to social behavioral disorders. Hence, kids with ADHD or ADD needs monitoring.

Fear Of Facing Truth

Most people start lying once they are unable to face the actual truth. They tell themselves the lie and make others believe it. Even with the proof presented about the lying, a compulsive liar never accepts it.


People with substance abuse, gambling, or alcohol addiction can lie. The addiction is synonymous with lying. So, if your loved ones have an addiction, then the chances of compulsive lying is more. It makes them hide their true personality from the outside world. Therefore, it is important to understand their lifestyle.

Story Fabrication

A compulsive liar can fabricate a story to make them feel superior. Some kids feel that they deserve more attention. Therefore, they construct stories that make them become superheroes. It also involves elaborate adventures that makes them the center of attraction. Once their elaborately constructed stories start to fail, they lie again to shake the bad image. The character trait can grow with the person into their adulthood. But, the stories never stop. It only becomes more grounded in nature. So, the awe-inspiring intent remains the same.

Test To Detect A Compulsive Liar

No diagnostic tests can help detect compulsive lying in a person. But, certain physical tests along with psychological assessment can help a doctor detect the condition.

Physical Tests

When you take your friends or relative to the medical professional for assessment, the following tests can detect the changes physically. The lies can accelerate your heartbeat as it releases stress hormone. So, your doctor can check the following:

The changes a compulsive liar experience is recorded to detect the dishonesty.

Lie Detector


It is a cognitive process that can detect deception. Many technologies are available to detect the lie, but the common one is a polygraph. During the polygraph test, a compulsive liar is asked a series of question. The specialist conducting the test looks for the cue to determine the truthfulness of the answers.

But, the accuracy of the testing methods is questionable. A compulsive liar can convince with their dishonesty. Therefore, it can fool even the polygraph machines. But, the doctors can check other signs like eye contact, body language, etc. to determine the compulsive lying.

Treatment Options For A Compulsive Liar

Each person is different. Hence, the treatment varies from person to person. The doctor can determine the right treatment option after eliminating the chances of mental illness. The compulsive lying due to underlying mental illness is treatable only by overcoming the actual cause. So, the doctor can suggest the following methods to a compulsive liar to manage the issue:

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy

Cognitive behavioral therapy helps a compulsive liar identify the thoughts and situations that can urge them to lie. With the understanding of the different instances that leads to lying, the patients can learn how to behave with honesty. So, it helps people behave differently from past experiences in a positive manner.



It uses the psychological methods while interacting with the compulsive liar to overcome problems and change the behavior. Individuals can improve their mental health and well-being with the psychotherapy. The therapy sessions can alter a compulsive liar’s urge to lie. It motivates the patient to start telling truth even in dire situations.

Counseling Sessions

The counselors help the compulsive liar to identify that they have a problem. Once individuals that they have a problem, it is easy to find an appropriate solution. The counseling session can also help people overcome the mood swings and other issues. Counselors can also recommend some assignments to get completed in natural circumstances, where the patient has to control his impulse to lie.

The success of the treatment methods depends on the individual’s will to overcome the problem. If the patient takes steps to change his/her behavior, the positive changes can occur. But, some patients can even manipulate the doctor with their lies about the therapy results. You need to extend support for a family member or friend suffering from the issue. With the support and encouragement from close ones, the compulsive liar can take interest in changing their behavior. Therefore, it will give them the courage and mental strength to overcome the compulsion to speak lies.


A compulsive liar never accepts that they have a problem. If your loved one is suffering from the issue, then you need to take action. They do not seek assistance themselves. So, people close to the compulsive liars need to take appropriate steps to bring the individuals back on track. Lying is not good for maintaining healthy relationships. Therefore, it is important to break the habit for a good life.

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