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Habitual Liar? Or Something Worse?

Question:

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p>Okay, well honestly, this is quite embaressing. Okay, Im 14 years old and though it’s really not that old, believe me, I can hold up conversations.

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p>Alright, so my question is, what’s wrong with me?? See, I’ve looked all around and the most I can find myself diagnosed as, is a habitiual liar. You see, ever since I was little I had the problem of lying. And I know that it’s often for kids to lie but it’s only gotten worse.

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p>For instance, when I was in the first grade my teacher had the kids gather in a circle and tell us some news. I told them that my brother (who’s 3 years older then me) killed my cat. My cat was non exsistant and my brother never did. Appalled, my teacher had me go to my brother’s class and bring him to my own where she asked if it was true. Of course, he told her it wasn’t.

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p>Then, about a year ago, I told an ex boyfriend that I was raped by my father when I was 9 and later told him that my father changed my birth certificate to make me a year older, so in fact my dad ‘raped’ me when i was ‘8’.

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p>Even before that I’d tell people that my mother treated me horribly and that I swore she hated me and called me horrid names. In all honesty, my mother is an angel.

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p>Even now, I told my current boyfriend that my ex boyfriend abused me. That he forced me to do sexual things to him and that the reason i broke up with him was because of all the abuse.

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p>I even told a friend I had like…5 other names (like, middle names and such). I told stories about things that had happened in Colombia, SA when I’ve gone (and nothing really happened) and such.

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p>I admit, I enjoy the attention and the empathy they all give off. I love feeling vulnerable and in another sense I don’t. That’s another problem I know I have. I give myself fake characteristics and to different people. Like, one group of my friends may think that i’m shy and quiet, another group might think of me as moody, over controling, and another group of friends thought of me as the go to girl.

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p>What I feel is even stranger is that in the fifth grade I stole three poems from a friend in one town and showed them to a group of my friends in my town, telling them that I wrote it (In grade school I was horrible at writing) and now, writing is my passion (yes, MY passion).

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p>And finally, I tell people that I’ve always been a straight A student, in fact only in 7th grade did I start getting higher grades and still, im not all straight As. (by the way, im in 10 grade).

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p>I’ve tried talking to a hospital shrink that goes to my school but I end up lying about things even more. Whenever I want to tell her my problems, I feel ashamed for being what everyone knows I hate. Please help me…

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p>Often I ask myself why I do this and though I wish it’d make me stop it never did.

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Answer:

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p>You know, there is no formal DSM diagnosis for “Pathological Lying Disorder”, and there probably should be. While in graduate school, a fellow student had a housemate named Carl (at least that is what he told us his name was). We were led to believe that he was a law student. He seemed a nice enough guy, but one day, for some reason, my peer called up his law school to try to get some information from them and learned that he was not a student there. More digging revealed no record for the person he said he was at all. His entire personality was fabricated, it turned out. Needless to say, this was a very creepy thing for my peer, who was living with this man she thought she knew and really didn’t know the first thing about. Trust was broken and I believe he was forced to move out. I had a similar experience in College too, with a friend who turned out to be a liar. There are more people out there who do this sort of thing than you might think. There should be a formal way to describe this problem, but I’m not aware that it has been described. Go figure.

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p>There is a condition called Factitious Disorder (otherwise known as Munchausen’s Disease) where people will induce an illness in order to gain medical attention and the care of professionals. Such people are not below lying about how they are injured, of course, but they go further than your typical pathological liar in that they actually wound themselves to gain the attention they want.

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p>Attention is the main motive for this sort of lying, I think. As you yourself suggest, you like the attention and the empathy that you get from manipulating people into thinking you a victim. It’s not just attention, however, becuase if that were all it was, everyone would be a liar, and that is not the case. With factitious disorder patients, it seems that they learn at an early age that the attention they get from medical professionals is superior (vastly superior) to what they can get from regular friends and family. They get fixated on the special attention that a medical facility can provide and go to extreme lengths to get more of it than is their share. At the same time, they seem not to develop normal social skills that would enable them to make friends who could care for and attend to them becuase they genuinely like them and not for a manipulative reason. I would think that a similar process must be at work with the pathological liars as well. They may not believe that anyone could really care for them enough without them adding in some misleading yet compelling reason to care for them. They like the attention, yes, but it is also that they maybe are terrified of not having the attention and what that would mean for their self-worth.

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p>There is a certain glee that many liars seem to have in getting one over on their victims. You can see this glee in evidence in this other letter I recently responded to: “I choose victims to comfort me“. This little antisocial tendancy seems to be a part of the problem as well, at least for many liars I’ve encountered.

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p>The main problem with your lying is that it ultimately will hurt you more than it will help you. Life is a difficult thing to negotiate in the best of circumstances. Most people find that the best comfort available in life comes from their committed friendships and relationships. However, people who lie all the time and misrepresent themselves never let themselves become vulnerable enough to form real relationships. They experience instead only fake relationships built upon false foundations, and which are very likely to crumble and fall apart when the first crisis occurs. Liars are the most alone people there are. This aloneness is their secret tragedy and ultimate pain that no amount of lying can cover over.

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p>I can’t help you. Only you can help you. No one can help you with this if you don’t own up to it. So, you have to reach a decision inside yourself that you are willing to forego the antisocial joy of manipulating people in exchange for becoming an authentic person. It really is as simple as deciding to not lie anymore, and that difficult.

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