An awkward, unscientific lie is often as ineffectual as the truth.
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.
The more extreme forms of pathological lying take the shape of pseudologia fantastica, a matrix of fact and fantasy.