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    Lie To Win

            Pathological lying is a sickness of the soul. As dangerous to human relationships as hatred, and just as powerful. As insidious as cancer, and often even harder to cure. As potentially destructive to another person’s well being as domestic abuse, but who’s signs are much harder to detect.
            Yet you won’t see much coverage of pathological lying in the media. Maybe lying in general is so accepted in our society that taking it to the pathological state just seems like an an extreme extension of something most people do anyway. Why get your shorts in a knot? Similar in that respect to alcoholism. Most people drink. Some drink too much and too often. So what?
            It’s helpful to differentiate between a pathological liar and a compulsive liar:

    “A pathological liar is usually defined as someone who lies incessantly to get their way and does so with little concern for others. Pathological lying is often viewed as a coping mechanism developed in early childhood. A pathological liar is often goal-oriented (i.e., lying is focused - it is done to get one's way). Pathological liars have little regard or respect for the rights and feelings of others. A pathological liar often comes across as being manipulative, cunning and self-centered.” (definition courtesy of

    “A compulsive liar is defined as someone who lies out of habit. Lying is their normal and reflexive way of responding to questions. Compulsive liars bend the truth about everything, large and small. For a compulsive liar, telling the truth is very awkward and uncomfortable while lying feels right. Compulsive lying is usually thought to develop in early childhood, due to being placed in an environment where lying was necessary. For the most part, compulsive liars are not overly manipulative and cunning (see, Pathological Liar), rather they simply lie out of habit - an automatic response which is hard to break and one that takes its toll on a relationship. The terms Habitual Liar and Chronic Liar are often used to refer to a Compulsive Liar.” (definition courtesy of

            Having grown up in a family where we have both pathological and compulsive liars, I’ve been surrounded by both kinds my whole life. I can occasionally slip into the habit of telling a little compulsive lie during the course of a conversation. Rarely about anything important, and usually done to make myself look better, like when I’m feeling shame about something I did or didn’t do, I nevertheless always feel bad about it afterward. I did it more when I was younger, when I was more insecure. I didn’t like that about myself, so I set out to change it. Rarely a problem for me now, but, like alcohol for an alcoholic, it’s always around. I have to stay on top of myself, because truth and honesty are important to me, and even a small, seemingly harmless compulsive lie compromises that value for me.
            Statistically, the chances are good that you know at least one pathological liar, and probably more. I believe both pathological lying and substance abuse are far more prevalent in our society than most people realize. In fact, they’re Emotional/Spiritual Epidemics.
            Dealing with a pathological liar or a person with a substance abuse problem regularly can lead us to madness. If we aren’t aware of, and educated about, these ailments, our serenity and sanity eventually end up compromised. The good news is that that often drives us to help ourselves because we end up in so much pain. This leads us down our own path of growth and transformation.
            Eight years ago, I started going to Al-anon because I needed validation that I wasn’t losing my mind. Things were happening around me that I found incredibly disturbing, painful, and unacceptable. Yet they were being fluffed off, denied, rationalized, excused, or completely minimized by just about everyone else involved. So I started to question my own responses, my own thoughts and feelings, my own attitudes, my own sanity. I knew I wasn’t perfect. I knew I was human and wrong about plenty. I knew I had plenty of character flaws. I wanted to own my stuff. But I could no longer be part of what was happening. It was literally driving me out of my mind. So either I was crazy, or the situation I was involved in was. Either way, I needed help.
            I continue to get help, because I’ll always need it. I can’t do this life alone, as much as a part of me wishes it could. But that’s a lonely part of me that just hasn’t seen enough light yet. As I grow, I open, and thus expose and illuminate more of myself.
            Ultimately, this comes down to me. How I deal with a pathological liar is my opportunity to learn and grow. That said, minimizing my contact with them is usually a good idea. They are good at what they do. Far better than I am. I can’t win their game, or even play it. The way I win is not to play their game at all. The way I win is to be myself in the midst of a shit storm. To go inside and get to know me better. As always, the journey leads me back inward.


    ©2009 Clint Piatelli. All Rights (and thousands, no...millions, no...billions, no...all of the Wrongs on earth, ‘cuz they are ALL MINE!) Reserved.

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