Pathological lying is also known as mythomania and pseudologia fantastica (sometimes spelled pseudologia phantastica)

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1. They Have Unusual Body Language For A Liar

This may be a bit tricky since the compulsive liar usually does not behave in the way we normally expect a liar to behave. For instance, we tend to associate a shifting gaze or the inability to look someone in the eye with lying. The compulsive liar, however, will typically keep looking straight at you while lying. Furthermore, once you are aware that someone is a compulsive liar, you may be surprised to realize how relaxed they are when they lie – because it is so natural to them. This is in contrast to the notion we normally have that a liar is fidgety and nervous.

2. They Have Complicated Lives

Quite often, the lies the compulsive liar tells have already led to broken relationships and lost jobs. If the person has been married multiple times, seems to be always in and out of romantic relationships, and is constantly changing friends or jobs, it may be a sign that they are compulsive liars.

3. They Retell Things Told To Them In Confidence

It is hard for the compulsive liar to keep a secret. Plus, they are likely to embellish the story as they pass it on to others. You may notice, therefore, that they tend to enjoy getting and sharing gossip.

4. The “Steal” Other People’s Stories

It is not uncommon for the compulsive liar to take another person’s story and turn it into their own. Their tendency to do this increases if the story is likely to gain attention or sympathy. They may even be quite blatant about it. For instance, upon hearing a co-worker say their house was broken into, the compulsive liar might come to you with an extravagant tale of how they were recently the victim of a break-in.

5. They Are Quick Thinkers

Compulsive liars get into the habit of lying to cover up inconsistencies in past lies – and they get very good at it. They seem to be able to make up an explanation without any effort or stalling. Furthermore, they become quite skilled at telling different lies (or different versions of the same lie) to different people.

6. They Are Defensive

If you point out discrepancies in their story or frankly say that you think they are lying, the compulsive liar will tend to become defensive. This may include pointing the finger at someone else as the reason they had to lie. Anger is another common reaction a compulsive liar will give when confronted with the truth. They may angrily accuse you of not being their friend if you don’t believe them or insist they know the “facts” better than you do.

7. They Seem To Lack Empathy

Many compulsive liars seem to have no regard for how their lies affect others. They will keep on spinning the lie even if they make someone else uncomfortable or hurt in the process. This lack of empathy may stem from the fact that the compulsive liar is focused solely on satisfying their internal motive to lie.

8. They Staunchly Deny The Evidence

Showing the compulsive liar irrefutable facts in an attempt to get them to come clean does not always work. They may say you are mistaken, or you are mixing up events, and their version did happen. In the end, the compulsive liar will likely just come up with another lie to make their original one seem more plausible.

9. They Avoid Questions

Questions threaten the illusion the compulsive liar is trying to create with their lies. If you ask the compulsive liar questions to clarify their story, they most likely won’t answer directly or become defensive about you doubting them. What’s more, if you press them for a straight answer, the compulsive liar will probably make up another lie in reply.

10. They Have Low Self-Esteem

Low self-esteem often leads the compulsive liar to tell boastful lies about their accomplishments, connections, or abilities. These lies are told not just to deceive the listener but also to make the compulsive liar feel better about themselves and about fitting in.



There is no consensus among mental health professionals about whether pathological lying is a symptom of various mental disorders or is a disease all on its own. That, however, does not stop persons from being affected by the condition and having to deal with the consequences of it.

If you are struggling with being a compulsive liar or if you have a loved one who you feel needs help for their pathological lying habit, do not hesitate to reach out to me for help right now.

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