Friday, October 05, 2012

Quotable: Mental Disorders Behind Pathological LYING

"Pathological liars seem utterly sincere about their lies, but if confronted with facts to the contrary, will often just as sincerely reverse their story. Their stories have a believable consistency, but they just do not seem able to monitor whether they are telling the truth or not.'' ~ Dr. Brian King, psychiatrist at UCLA School of Medicine, and co-author of an article on pathological lying in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

Sound familiar? Who can spot Mitt Romney's mental illness/emotional disorder in Dr. King's focus on neurological impairment and/or "five common personality disorders?" Probably the first, "manipulative lies are the hallmark of the sociopath" who "gravitate toward sales, where their bent toward lying may serve them well. ... [S]ociopaths feel no remorse or empathy for their victims," and are "capable of the most cold-hearted of lies." Interestingly, more than one pundit described Romney in the debate as a "salesman."
"Research suggests that this most extreme form of lying is associated with a specific neurological pattern: a minor memory deficit combined with impairment in the frontal lobes, which critically evaluate information, Dr. King said. In such cases, the person suffers from the inability to assess the accuracy of what he says, and so can tell lies as though they were true.

Not all pathological lying stems from such neurological difficulties. Psychiatrists are also grappling with lies that typify certain emotional disorders, and are told by people who know they are lying. Dr. King's article describes five varieties of lies, each of which comes more naturally to those who suffer from one or another of five common personality problems.

While such lies could be told by anyone, they are far more likely in those with the following personality problems, according to Dr. King, because each kind of lie springs from the pressing psychological needs at the core of the disorders:
  • Manipulative lies are the hallmark of the sociopath, or ''antisocial personality,'' who is driven by utterly selfish motives. Such people are not necessarily criminals; they may gravitate toward the fringes of trades like sales, where their bent toward lying may serve them well. Since sociopaths feel no remorse or empathy for their victims, they are capable of the most cold-hearted of lies.
  • Melodramatic lies which make them the center of attention are natural to the hysteric, or ''hystrionic personality.'' Such people are searching desparately for love. They are also more taken with emotional truths than the facts of a situation. ''Casual lies are to the hysteric what license is to the poet,'' according to Dr. King.
  • Grandiose lies typify the narcissist, whose deep need to win the constant approval of others impels him to present himself in the most favorable light. They are prone to exaggerate their abilities or accomplisments in order to seem more impressive. Because narcissists feel entitled to special treatment - for instance, believing that ordinary rules do not apply to them - they can be reckless in their lies.
  • Evasive lies are typical of the borderline personality, whose wildly vacillating moods and impulsive actions constantly get him into trouble. Many of the borderline person's lies are told to avoid blame or shift responsibility for his problems to others.
  • Guilty secrets account for many lies of the compulsive person, a type who generally is scrupulously honest. Compulsives pride themselves on following the rule and attention to facts and details. But they also suffer from a fear of being shamed, and so lie to prevent other people from finding out about things they feel would meet with disapproval. Their lies are often mild, about things most others would find no cause for lying; one man, for instance, lied to his wife to keep her from finding out about his being in therapy. Studying the Normal Lie"

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