Mental illnesses have been known to cause a variety of relationship issues including compulsive lying. Dealing with a loved one who is always lying can be frustrating, cause distance, unwanted arguments or strain on the relationship. It is important to understand the potential mental illness behind the constant lying in order to help your loved one and hopefully eliminate the number of frustrating instances resulting from continuous lies.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, Narcissistic Personality Disorder, Avoidant Personality Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder and Histrionic Personality Disorder are the five types of mental illnesses that can cause compulsive lying. These are five of the ten known personality disorder types.
Below, we’ll discuss the characteristics of each of the five types of mental illnesses (personality disorders). Also, we’ll discuss why those suffering with them tend to lie compulsively.
This is a helpful way to be able to understand the struggles some people might be going through. It will also help you identify why they might be lying to you.
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Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Compulsive behavior is in response to the obsession one with obsessive compulsive disorder is experiencing.
If their obsessive thoughts lead them to irrational, dangerous or irresponsible actions, they might lie to cover up their actions.
In some cases, lying might also be the compulsion itself. If the obsessive thought is so compelling, the urge to lie might be unavoidable and happen frequently.
Those with OCD tend to be perfectionists. Lying might be a self-preservation technique used to maintain whatever the objective of the individual is.
Since the cycle of obsessions and compulsions is ongoing, continuous “compulsive” lying occurs as a result.
It’s important to understand the unique obsessions and compulsions that are associated with you/your loved one’s condition.
Understanding the cause of the persistent lying can help prepare you for those instances. You may even be able to communicate better when it happens. For more on OCD, check out this article on What is OCD?
Narcissistic Personality Disorder
Compulsive lying is often seen with those suffering with narcissistic personality disorder. Narcissism tends to affect more men than women.
A narcissist will usually come off as charming, flashy and have a general sense of arrogance about them. They are also master manipulators.
Often they will be able to talk their way out of confrontations and lying can be a go-to technique for which to do so.
When a narcissist is dating someone or trying to impress people, they might lie about a variety of things in order to win someone over.
They have been known to “stretch the truth”. They will not shy away from saying things that they know people want to hear just to get their way.
Dealing with a narcissist can be a slippery slope to a dangerous place if you’re not familiar with the type of person you’re dealing with.
For more on how to recognize a narcissistic, check out this previous article on 9 Signs of a Narcissist.
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Avoidant Personality Disorder
Avoidant personality disorder affects people in a variety of severity. People diagnosed with AVPD will suffer from extreme anxiety with social interactions.
It’s not that they are afraid of being social in general, they’re afraid of rejection, judgement or criticism from others.
Those of us not diagnosed with AVPD might fear these types of things to some extent as well. However, those with AVPD will be so anxious about gaining the approval of others that they will avoid social situations.
They will change their behavior and even lie in order to avoid their extreme feelings. Their mental illness is rooted in shame and fear and will dramatically influence their words and actions.
Depending on the situation, this could include compulsive lying. For more on AVPD, check out this article on Understanding Avoidant Personality Disorder.
Borderline Personality Disorder
Borderline personality disorder is a mental illness where people feel so ashamed and unworthy that they push loved ones away. They are also reckless and have been known to inflict self-harm.
People with BPD are known to be extremely sensitive to the actions and words of others. They also exhibit mood swings. This mental illness has been known to cause relationship issues.
Compulsively lying can occur with those suffering with borderline personality disorder because they will either lie in order to stay in “good standing” with people or they will lie in order to push people away.
It’s a painful, lonely disorder that causes people to do extreme things. For a more in depth explanation on BPD, check out this article on Understanding Borderline Personality Disorder.
Histrionic Personality Disorder
Histrionic personality disorder is similar to borderline and avoidant personality disorders in that the individual is seeking the approval of others.
The difference is that they are not afraid to draw attention and are outgoing. As outgoing as they are, they will do nearly anything to gain the attention and approval of others. However, they are easily persuaded by others.
This can lead them to compulsively lie about the smallest things. They will do this to maintain their image, impress people and ultimately, to make themselves feel important.
Many mental health disorders that develop from severe anxiety are typically rooted in shame, guilt or some level of self-loathing (poor self-esteem, unworthiness, etc.).
In some cases those with mental illnesses/personality disorders of anxious natures may experience panic attacks.
Being proactive about self-care for anxiety and seeking professional counseling (online) can significantly reduce and even eventually eliminate several personality disorders including the ones discussed in this article.
By understanding mental illness and being proactive about treatment, we can better understand each other and communicate more efficiently.
If you or someone you love is struggling with a mental illness/personality disorder such as these five, start taking steps toward better mental health today!
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