P is for Pseudologia Fantasica


Pseudologia fantasica sounds kind of sexy. Guess again. This behavior confounds those who do not have it. In most cases, pseudologia fantasica costs sufferers friends, jobs and even family relationships. Do you know anyone with pseudologia fantastica?

Mythomania has been documented in medical literature since 1891. Perhaps, you know it by its common name.

Pathological Lying

Pseudologia fantastica is habitual or compulsive lying. The lies are more prevalent than the truth, even when telling the truth would bring about the same result. They are often complicated and are built into a large web. Mythomania can progress over a few years or for a lifetime.

Although it is not listed as a separate disorder in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) or International Statistical Classification of Diseases and Related Health Problems, some members of the psychiatric community advocate its admission when it can be separated from disorders with a lying component, such as malingering or Munchhausen syndrome.


The main characteristic of the pathological liar’s falsehoods are they contain an element of truth. The lies are generally plausible. They have no basis in delusion or other psychosis. Even if the liar is not comfortable or willing, when confronted with the lies, they will admit their prevarication.


These liars are not prompted by immediate stimuli or social pressure to lie. Instead, the tendency is innate urge to steer away from the truth. Pseudologia fantastica is also not a phase. It is long-lasting, and not generally associated with any age group or developmental stage, although its onset is noticed most often in the mid- to late teens. Pathological liars do not grow out of it.


The cause for the lying is an internal one, as opposed to an external social pressure. An example of an external pressure is domestic abuse. Victims will habitually lie about the abuse, but the lying is to avoid social judgment. Pseudologues have a clinically definitive internal mechanism at the root of their lying.


Another aspect of the pathological lie is making the liar look better. The lies portray the liar as more intelligent, more adept, fearless or associated with celebrities. Tales and exaggerations about bravery or over emphasis of the liar’s role in an emergency are commonplace. These types of lies are generally associated with low self esteem.


Pseudologia fantastica can also be a symptom of false memory syndrome. The lies will center around an event, and the liar’s exaggerated role in it, which exists only in fantasy. The pathological liar will believe the event, despite its implausibility and proof otherwise.


Since lying is natural to the pseudologue, there are no real indicators what is said is a lie. Almost none of the telltale signs of lying are present.

  1. Fidgeting (playing with objects)
  2. Disguised smile
  3. Fillers (uh, um, er)
  4. No head movement
  5. Slower speed (indicating plotting)
  6. Heightened voice pitch
  7. Lowered body language (hand and facial movement do not match verbiage)

The pathological liar rarely sees what they are saying as a lie. It is the natural answer to the question, which is why they do not exhibit the natural side effects of lying.


Paying the piper is inevitable for the pathological liar. The toll on relationships is heavy because pseudologia fantastica shatters trust. The pathological liar tells lies out of habit and about all things great or small. Their natural response to questions is a concoction of fantasy or a commingling of falsehood and fact.

Pseudologues will try anything to support their lies. When faced with the truth, they will change the story in an effort to convince those confronting them the fantasy is reality. This behavior is alienating to the ones who identify the lies.


Pseudologia fantastica has not been studied in isolation to determine if pharmacology could be a treatment for it. Since habitual lying is a symptom of other major disorders, like narcissistic personality disorder and sociopathic disorder, often psychologists and psychiatrist look for other sources of the lying.

Have you ever known or been a pathological liar? How does habitual lying damage relationships? Can you think of another situation where pseudologia fantasica is commonplace?

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© Red Dwyer 2012
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  1. I found myself repeating a lie, does that make me a liar also? I have been wondering that for a year now.

    Repeating the lie was my own fault though, I wanted to believe it so badly, I never went back and found out the final truth.
    valentinelogar recently posted..Throwaway ChildrenMy Profile

    • Red

       /  April 19, 2012

      Ironically, repeating a lie is not generally considered lying, unless you know when you repeat it, it is a lie.

  2. I would never lie!
    Okay, okay… I USUALLY don’t lie.
    spilledinkguy recently posted..English Garden (infrared)My Profile

  3. I could never be a liar. Lies are too hard to remember. On the other hand, they do come in handy at times. It can be turned into financial benefits. To lie or not: The trouble with me is I cannot make a decision. Or can I? That’s what happens when you spend too much time gazing at the belly-button, eating Gummy Bears and thinking up new premises for alien comic books. I just won 10 Billion bucks so now you have to give me a REALLY big raise if you want me to stay in the corner office dreaming up new comic book lies….er…premises. I’ll settle for a cookie. “:)
    Raymond Alexander Kukkee recently posted..P is for Putz and PutzingMy Profile

  4. The one thing about liars is that if they wish to follow this negative route then they need to have excellent recall, indeed a memory likened to Einstein perhaps?

    There is always one that stands out from the crowd and the lies are so blatant that one would think that nobody would believe them, but rather ridiculously they draw in the numbers, all eager to listen to the claptrap nonsense that they offer on a regular basis.

    Unbelievable lies that just astound…

    Yes I do know a few people that fit into this category and it always amazes me how they have the audacity to think that I would believe anything that they say…

    A brilliant posting for your ‘P’ Red 🙂

    Androgoth XXx

    • Red

       /  April 20, 2012

      They do believe everyone should believe everything they say. I, too, know a few who believe in their “honesty”, even when you can present them with facts to the contrary. One in particular will burst into a tantrum or tears as though being persecuted when confronted with the truth, yet still, refuses to acknowledge the lies. Amazing to think everyone else is so stupid.

  5. I am related to someone who is a habitual liar. He tells a lie when the truth would do, and I can’t trust anything he says. You can confront him and he will act as if he’s innocent when you know he is not. He is a drug addict, so that might explain it, but I know drug addicts who are not this geared toward lying. He will steal anything and lie to you about it. His stories are exaggerated and he doesn’t take blame for anything. He’s a mess. Because of this, he has little interaction with the part of the family that is not a part of his enablers. It makes me so sad, because I love him. I cannot trust him, however, and I can’t be fully in his life as long as this behavior continues. It is awful!!!! Good post 🙂 or is that 🙁
    Angela recently posted..Communication Busters: Mind readingMy Profile

    • Red

       /  April 20, 2012

      The holding close to enablers is really common. PL need to feel like they are superior to their audience, to lessen the chance of being confronted with their fabrications. This is a good example of how it strains relationships. It is also a great example of tough love, Angie.

  6. I’ve known several pathological liars, one who did it for sympathy, another because her kids loved me to bits and hated her, calling her ‘the whore’ so she tried to destroy me via malicious gossip; a lad who was incapable of telling the truth who is now a convicted drug dealer and, obviously, my father who lives in a fantasy world where he insists he did no wrong and that anyone who speaks out against him ends up under threat of death…

    Love and hugs!

    prenin recently posted..Thursday – shopping dayMy Profile

    • Red

       /  April 20, 2012

      The one who did it for sympathy, likely was a pathological liar. The other three were all lying secondary to another purpose. PL lie because they know nothing else. They lie for the sake of lying. It is different than narcissistic personality disorder and a host of others which include lying.

  7. this brings me back to my old college psych class days:0
    Happy A-Zing!

    • Red

       /  April 20, 2012

      You may be in for a surprise when the 3 o’clock post comes out! R is going to be fun! Glad to see you!

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