Caught in the web of lies? How to identify a compulsive liar

When does bending the truth go too far?

While we can get away with lies that we tell ourselves, lies told to other people have consequences.

Clinical psychologist Khosi Jiyane distinguishes between innocuous lies and pathological ones.

She says regular "white lies" typically serve a purpose and distort or manipulate the truth as a means to an end.

The definition is conscious and deliberate distortion of information.

Khosi Jiyane, clinical psychologist

Compulsive lying:

Trust is the most important relational currency between people, and compulsive liars are quick to lose it, Jiyane explains.

She says that compulsive lying is an impulse which comes with high costs.

Compulsive lying... it's just that irresistible urge... It's the lie that leaves you wondering "but why?"

Khosi Jiyane, Clinical psychologist

Unlike "white lies", compulsive lying serves no purpose and has no real benefit, she advises.

While "white" lies" are often spontaneous, compulsive lies tend to be planned and premeditated.

Jiyane says that compulsive liars fabricate information for no apparent reason whatsoever, to the extent that they internalise their own lies.

She explains that lies become so pervasive that they form the basis of people's relationships with friends, family and the rest of the world.

You lie to an extent that it becomes you; you become egosyntonic... You lose sight of where the line is and the line between reality and fantasy gets blurred.

Khosi Jiyani, Clinical psychologist

According to Jiyane, compulsive lying often exists simultaneously with other psychological or personality disorders.

Take a listen to her expert advice:


This article first appeared on CapeTalk : Caught in the web of lies? How to identify a compulsive liar


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