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10 Signs You Are Dealing with a Pathological Liar

Clinically Reviewed by: Dr. Robin Campbell, LMFT, PHD

Dealing with a pathological liar can be challenging, whether you’re encountering them within your family, social circle, or work environment. At New Hope Healthcare Institute, we understand how complex this issue can be, especially when it intertwines with mental health disorders. Pathological lying is habitual or compulsive; it’s not just an occasional fib but a habit that can disrupt lives and relationships. Recognizing these signs is crucial in seeking timely intervention.

Understanding a Pathological Liar

A pathological liar is someone who lies compulsively and without any apparent reason. Unlike typical lies, their fabrications aren’t primarily motivated by a desire to avoid punishment or gain a tangible benefit. Instead, pathological liars often lie out of habit, even in situations where telling the truth would be easier and safer. This type of lying is usually disproportionate to the setting or context in which it occurs, and the liar may even begin to believe their own fabrications, blurring the lines between reality and falsehood. It’s important to understand that pathological lying can be a sign of deeper psychological issues. Unlike mere storytelling or occasional fibbing, it’s persistent and pervasive, potentially signaling underlying mental health conditions such as personality disorders. Recognizing the behavior is the first step towards seeking help and fostering healthier communication habits.

10 Signs of a Pathological Liar

1. Excessive Storytelling

Those who pathologically lie seem to exist in a reality more dramatic than a prime-time soap opera. Their excessive storytelling typically involves convoluted, intricate details, often bordering on the incredible or tragic. While everyone loves a good story, the tales spun by a pathological liar often stretch believability to its limits.

2. The Constant Victim: Seeking Sympathy

  • Perpetual portrayal of themselves as the victim.
  • Over-exaggeration of conflicts or negative experiences.
  • Fabrication of challenges designed explicitly to elicit pity.

Pathological liars have a knack for emotional manipulation, often resorting to deceit to paint themselves as the victim in need of sympathy.

3. Inconsistencies in Their Stories

The stories told by pathological liars aren’t set in stone; they’re more like dunes, shifting and changing with the wind. Over time, you might start noticing these inconsistencies, whether in minor details or significant plot points, which contradict earlier narratives.

4. Denial Despite Evidence

One of the most definitive signs of a pathological liar is their stubborn denial despite concrete evidence to the contrary. They’re likely to react defensively, and sometimes even aggressively, when their lies are called out, refusing to back down even when faced with irrefutable proof.

5. Unusual Comfort When Lying

Most people exhibit telltale signs when they’re lying — they might avoid eye contact, fidget, or show signs of anxiety. Not pathological liars. They lie with a coolness and calm that can be deeply unsettling, maintaining eye contact and a steady voice as they spin their tales.

6. No Guilt or Remorse

Regardless of the consequences, pathological liars show no signs of guilt or remorse. Even when their fabrications cause harm — whether emotional, financial, or physical — they seem unfazed, lacking the typical conscience-driven reactions you’d expect.

7. Compulsive Lying

For pathological liars, lying feels as natural as breathing. Their compulsive lying is automatic, not a calculated choice. They lie even in situations where the truth would be easier or more beneficial, highlighting the impulsive nature of their behavior.

8. Self-Aggrandizing Lies

A common thread in their tapestry of tales is grandiosity. Whether about achievements, experiences, or fictional connections with influential people, their stories are often self-aggrandizing, meant to impress or win admiration.

9. Social Alienation

Over time, consistent deceit leads to social alienation. As people begin to see through the lies, pathological liars often find themselves increasingly isolated, prompting them to seek out new social circles unaware of their reputation.

10. Ignoring the Consequences

A pathological liar’s disregard for the repercussions of their fabrications is often startling. They continue down their path of deceit heedlessly, even when past lies have resulted in personal loss or strained relationships.

Pathological Lying

Understanding the designation of a pathological liar is essential. It’s not merely someone who fibs occasionally; it’s someone whose life is a labyrinth of lies. This persistent pattern of deceit can wreak havoc on relationships and is often a facade for deeper psychological issues. Unraveling these lies and the reasons behind them requires professional help.

Call New Hope Healthcare Institute Today!

Recognizing a pathological liar in your life is the first step toward seeking help. Whether it’s for you or a loved one, understanding the need for professional assistance is crucial. At New Hope Healthcare Institute in Knoxville, TN, we specialize in dual diagnosis treatments for both teens and adults, helping address pathological lying linked to mental health issues. Don’t let lying disrupt your life; call us today at 866-806-1027 for the support and solutions you deserve.


Pathological lying is the habit of lying compulsively, without a clear motive or benefit, often to the point that the liar believes their own lies.

Yes, with professional help, individuals can work through the reasons behind their compulsive lying and learn healthier patterns of communication.

Pathological lying itself isn’t classified as a mental illness, but it can be a symptom of other mental health conditions, including personality disorders.

It can severely strain relationships, erode trust, and lead to the breakdown of familial, platonic, or romantic bonds.

Yes, pathological lying can co-occur with substance abuse or mental health disorders, a situation known as a dual diagnosis, requiring specialized treatment.

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