Contrasting Pathological Liars and Compulsive Liars
Truthfulness isn't always a trait that everyone possesses entirely. People often resort to false statements or half-truths for a variety of reasons, some of which could be for good intents like safeguarding someone's emotions. The occasional lie, especially when it's meant to protect someone's feelings, is often overlooked.
However, when dishonesty becomes a recurring pattern and is primarily meant to deceive others for personal gain, an individual can be labeled as a liar. Truth-tellers are seen as honest and dependable, while liars struggle to gain trust, even when they're being honest.
Some individuals, such as pathological and compulsive liars, frequently lie, demonstrating a lack of empathy for the damage their deception may cause. This makes it difficult to trust them, even when they may be speaking the truth.
The Nature of Their Differences
Despite both being habitual liars, pathological and compulsive liars differ in certain ways. Understanding these differences can help identify whether you're dealing with a malicious liar or someone less harmful.
What Drives Their Lies?
Pathological liars are driven by a clear intent to deceive. Their lies are well-crafted and designed for personal gain. They may lie for a variety of reasons, such as eliciting sympathy, covering up misdeeds, or manipulating situations and people. Their dishonesty often stems from a desire for attention and empathy.
On the other hand, compulsive liars have an uncontrollable urge to lie. They can tell lies multiple times a day, not just white lies. Their lies are a means to evade an uncomfortable truth, and since the truth brings no benefit, they see no reason to tell it. They often lie about themselves for self-gratification, and these ‘boastful lies' serve to inflate their ego.
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What Factors Lead Them to Lie?
Potential genetic and environmental influences during childhood may contribute to pathological lying. Many pathological liars exhibit signs of mental health disorders, such as narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), and some are even suspected to be psychopaths.
In contrast, compulsive liars often suffer from low self-esteem since childhood. They're not intentionally harmful and may not have a definitive mental health disorder. However, some display symptoms of disorders like ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) and Bipolar Disorder.
Do They Experience Guilt?
Pathological liars often create an alternate reality, sometimes to the extent of losing awareness that they're lying. They can lie convincingly, looking you straight in the eye, and can react angrily if confronted with the truth. They tend not to feel guilt or remorse, even when they incriminate themselves. Deciphering a pathological liar's truth from falsehood can be challenging, and they're unlikely to admit their lies.
Compulsive liars, however, feel guilt when they lie. They're conscious of the truth but can't stop lying, as it has become a part of their identity. Despite being caught in a lie and admitting it, they're likely to continue lying due to their compulsion.
How Do Pathological and Compulsive Liars Affect Others?
Interacting with pathological or compulsive liars can provoke a range of negative emotions such as hurt, betrayal, neglect, and fear. They can harm others' reputations and careers, and sometimes even lead others to question your honesty. Their frequent lying can result in legal repercussions from those affected.
Pathological or compulsive liars can strain relationships, both personal and professional. Recognizing their signs can make trust-building difficult. Even simple conversations with them can create discomfort.