Lies!, Lies!!, Lies!!! The Psychology of Deceit

By Charles V. Ford | Go to book overview

Chapter 7
Pathological Lying

An awkward, unscientific lie is often as ineffectual as the truth.

--Mark Twain

Many people, particularly those with a strong moralistic bent, regard any lying as pathological. However, as detailed in prior chapters in this book, lying and self-deception are pervasive features of everyday life and human interactions. Furthermore, as I explore in Chapter 13, lying may be beneficial to the individual or may serve the needs of those to whom the lie is directed. In this chapter, pathological lying refers to lying that is compulsive or impulsive, occurs on a regular basis, and either does not seem to serve overt material needs of the person or has a self-defeating quality to it. For example, the pathological lie is told even though its ultimate disclosure and negative consequences are inevitable.

The following categories illustrate various forms of pathological lying. They are separated for ease of description and discussion; however, it is obvious that considerable overlap exists among them.


Pseudologia Fantastica

The more extreme forms of pathological lying take the shape of pseudologia fantastica, a matrix of fact and fantasy.

-133-

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Lies!, Lies!!, Lies!!! The Psychology of Deceit
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Acknowledgments ix
  • Preface xi
  • Chapter 1 - Everybody Lies 1
  • Summary 21
  • Chapter 2 - Defining Deceit: The Language of Lying 23
  • Summary 45
  • Chapter 3 - The Biology of Deceit 47
  • Summary 66
  • Chapter 4 - Learning to Lie: Developmental Issues in Deceit 69
  • Summary 86
  • Chapter 5 - Why People Lie. the Determinants of Deceit 87
  • Summary 101
  • Chapter 6 - Styles of Deception: The Role of Personality 103
  • Summary 129
  • Chapter 7 - Pathological Lying 133
  • Summary 146
  • Chapter 8 - Living a Lie: Impostors, Con Artists, and Persons with Munchausen Syndrome 147
  • Summary 170
  • Chapter 9 - False Memories, False Accusations, and False Confessions 173
  • Summary 194
  • Chapter 10 - Detection of Deceit 197
  • Summary 219
  • Chapter 11 - Technological Detection of Deceit 221
  • Summary 234
  • Chapter 12 - Therapeutic Approaches for the Deceitful Person 237
  • Summary 248
  • Chapter 13 - Effects of Deception 251
  • Summary 270
  • Chapter 14 - A Psychology of Deceit: Conclusions and Summary 271
  • Summary 283
  • Epilogue 287
  • References 289
  • Index 317
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