Do you know a pathological liar

When lying becomes a disease

WDR:To be a compulsive liar is a psychologically recognized clinical picture. How can this disease be recognized?

Hans Stoffels: It is not easy to get the diagnosis right. People who lie often hide behind something - sometimes an illness. The psychotherapist has to look very carefully to recognize this clinical picture. It often occurs as part of a widespread personality disorder. This can range from borderline personalities with great impulsiveness to narcissistic and anti-social personalities who misperceive reality.

WDR:What makes a notorious liar?

Stoffels:One has to assume that the person concerned is creative and has a great talent for fantasizing and making up stories. First of all, that's a positive skill that an artist or writer must have. But a pseudologist often grew up in circumstances characterized by great deprivation, such as parental attention. His great imagination is then the means with which he changes this reality and "overcomes" the traumatic circumstances.

WDR:So pseudologists consciously flee from reality?

Stoffels: Exactly. This escape into fantasy can even serve as a means of coping with life completely. Self-esteem has often suffered greatly. By acting out the fantasy, pseudologists also want to save the diminished self-esteem.

WDR:How can you specifically help these people?

Stoffels: This usually goes over several stages. It is important that therapists do not dismiss the patient as a liar, but recognize his need. First of all, self-esteem has to be stabilized again. Then situations are discussed in which the temptation to lie occurs. It must always be ensured that the pseudologist not only lies to other people, but also believes the story of lies and is also deceiving himself.

WDR:What lies do pseudologists like to think up?

Stoffels: That has changed. In the past, pseudologists liked to pose as aristocrats or world travelers in order to gain recognition. Today they like to take on the role of victims, for example the role of the victim of serious cancer or rape. Recently, I was brought up on the case in which a man alleged that his son had died of an accidental death, which it later found to be false. But at first he had received a lot of affection and compassion.

WDR: Those who have been lied to, i.e. partners or friends, also suffer particularly badly ...

Stoffels: That is why I recommend involving relatives in the therapy when psychotherapy is started. This contributes to the success of the therapy. This is discussed with the patient because he has to agree and think it makes sense.

WDR:Can pseudology be completely cured?

Stoffels: I am very optimistic. If it is possible to steer the creative talent of those affected in a different direction, this can have a positive effect. But the psychotherapeutic goals should be modest, and it is definitely a success if the pseudologist can control himself better, retains his stories of lies and speaks openly with his family about his fatal tendencies.