Lying is a behavior as inherent to human beings as eating and sleeping . Becoming an effective, though not too honest, technique for achieving certain purposes or even for trying to be accepted by those around us
However, when lying becomes a necessity and the lie involves all aspects of the person’s life, it is possible that the person suffers from mythomania , a psychological disorder in which the person lies permanently about his life.
What is mythomania?
Mythomania, also known as pathological lying or fantasy pseudology , is a psychological disorder that was first described in 1891 by the Swiss psychiatrist Anton Delbrück. This condition is suffered by those who lie constantly and repeatedly in order to gain the attention and admiration of others.
These people constantly falsify and deform reality and, although in most cases they are aware that they are lying , sometimes they may believe their own inventions and take them as real.
Usually these people are moved by a compelling need to fascinate other people, pretending that their life is extremely exciting. However, in the vast majority of cases, they are aware that their reality is very different and consider their life tedious, unpleasant or unhappy.
The main characteristic of the lies inherent in mythomania is that these stories always tend to be fascinating and chimerical. However, they never become impossible or too fantastic , so it is really difficult to identify that the person is lying.
Of course, the mythomaniac always tends to be the hero or protagonist of his own lies, since the main motivation of these is to dazzle other people and thus get fame and admiration.
Moreover, since this need to lie consists of a personality trait of the subject, it is chronically lying. In other words, he does not respond to a specific social situation but his whole life revolves around lying.
Who is experiencing it?
Although it is not completely proven, different investigations point out that mythomania has a higher incidence in men than in women . Among the main characteristics of the personality of these people would be low self-esteem, narcissism, few or no social skills and a tendency to distrust other people.
What are the symptoms?
Because mythomania is considered to be a compelling need to lie, it can be considered something similar to a type of addiction , so it shares a number of common traits and symptoms with other addictions. These symptoms are:
- Increase in anxious symptoms at the time of carrying out the addictive behavior. In this case lying.
- Constant ideas and thoughts of an intrusive nature.
- Inability to resist the urge to lie .
- Decreased psychological pressure when lying and not being discovered.
In addition, there are a number of symptoms characteristic of mitomania . These include
1. Magnification of reality
Sometimes, instead of inventing a story, the mythomaniac magnifies reality, over-dimensioning and decorating it to make it much more interesting and attractive. In addition, these people tend to exaggerate when accompanying their stories.
2. Low self-esteem
The need to lie is often reinforced by low self-esteem and an inability to accept oneself and one’s life as it is . Hence the need to elaborate and express an idea of themselves that makes them seem attractive and interesting.
3. Anxious symptomatology
Because of the frustration and disenchantment they experience with the reality of life, mythomaniacs tend to experience numerous episodes of anxiety as a result of comparing their life with what they would like it to be in reality.
4. Constant feeling of stress
The sensation of constant fear of being discovered, the effort derived from maintaining the lies and the permanent creation of scenarios and contexts so as not to be discovered, leads them to experience persistent levels of stress that end up wearing them out on a psychological level.
5. Ability to believe your own lies
Although it does not happen in all cases, many people who live with mythomania can assimilate or believe their own lies , accepting them as truths or as situations lived in a real way .
Finally, mythomania may be integrated as a symptom more typical of other psychological disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and borderline personality disorder, as well as in some other addictions , since the latter place the person in a situation of isolation and great need to get money.
Although the exact cause for the mythomania has not yet been determined, there are a number of theories that attempt to give a basis to this disorder.
As for the neuropsychological basis, some research points to a neuronal imbalance in the frontal lobe area, as well as a greater amount of white matter in the brain.
On the other hand, according to different hypotheses put forward by psychology, the cause of this condition is found in a set of personality traits that make it easier for the person to feel the need to lie in order to attract attention or with the aim of seeking popularity or affection from other people.
Finally, theories have also been developed that indicate that mythomania is actually a symptom of another, more important underlying psychological condition, such as borderline personality disorder and antisocial personality disorder.
Is there a treatment?
Due to their fear of being discovered or their reality being uncovered, in most cases people with mitomania do not usually come for consultation or they show great repulsion to therapy. Therefore, a large part of the intervention is done through relatives or acquaintances who are very close to the person.
However, in cases where direct treatment can be started , it is necessary to obtain the person’s commitment and ensure their willingness to collaborate, otherwise the therapy will have no effect on them.
There are different means or techniques to treat mythomania. Some options are:
- Cognitive or cognitive-behavioral therapy
- Training in social skills and communication techniques
- Pharmacotherapy with anxiolytics.