As One Lie Leads to Another

There are many different reasons for why people choose not to speak the truth.

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As One Lie Leads to Another

Ordinary people lie all the time. Tall tales, bluffs, lies for the greater good, plagiarism…the list goes on. There are many explanations as to why people normally lie, but there are also people who do it simply because they cannot stop. They find it enjoyable.

These types of people are considered pathological liars, someone for whom lying has became a habit and a way of life. According to Psychology Today, in extreme cases lying can be recognized as a personality disorder or a manic episode, whether it’s uncontrollable or a symptom of larger personality disorders, like psychopathy or narcissism.

By no means should a pathological liar automatically be considered a bad person. Typically, pathological liars create false information about themselves or something else due to their development of bad habits.

Mark Lundgren, a retired Federal Bureau of Investigation agent, is a counterintelligence officer at Argonne National Laboratory in Lemont, Illinois. He’s dedicated 25 years of his life to being an agent and supervisor, combatting terrorism, investigating public corruption and serving in a counterintelligence role.

“To be labeled a liar, one needs to have fallen into a pattern of unhealthy mischaracterizations, that often are not logical… these are what I would call pathological or compulsive liars,” Lundgren said. “Quite often [I deal with people that lie] during investigative interviews. The truth is shaded and occasionally the bald-faced lie is told.”

According to Business Insider most people start to make up lies at the age of three or four. At that point during the brain’s development, there is an incredible and powerful tool produced: teaching one how to lie and connecting it with the language children use.

Some experts consider lying a developmental milestone because it requires the person to be sophisticated in their planning in order to manipulate someone successfully. According to The Washington Post, as one gets older, the amount of lies may decrease because of the development of morality and the ability to self-regulate.

There are many assumptions that come with a person who pathologically makes up lies. Some believe that it is a disease or that the liar inherited it from their parents, but every person’s situation is different. It can be taught to or learned by a person at a young age.

“[I think it can be hereditary] because if somebody is raised around people who are constantly lying, they’re obviously going to want to try it and it might not be genetically inherited, but just the way that you’re raised definitely influences that,” sophomore Emily Lewis said.

Pathological liars can’t ignore the urge to tell lies regardless of the situation. In some cases, people who are pathological liars may enjoy lying because of the extra adrenaline they receive when telling a lie.

“I think those kind of people like to lie and it gives them an adrenaline rush they like and enjoy the attention they get out of it,” senior Autumn Zienty said. “Some go too far and continue with some of their lies that aren’t necessary or appropriate to lie about.”

There can be a motive to lie if the person is trying to protect someone else or themselves. It can become someone’s natural instinct in a dangerous situation.

Sometimes in a relationship or in a scary situations a person may feel pressured to lie. The feeling of uncertainty towards the other person can be draining on someone else’s mental health.

Once one starts to lie, it can be hard to stop and that is when things become hard to believe. Ironically, people are usually untruthful because they fear of a negative consequence.

Although some might believe stopping lying is impossible, it can be resolved with control and understatement of the truth. Everyone is dishonest at some point, even though everyone knows lying is wrong.

“I believe honesty is key, lying only digs people into deeper holes and makes it very tough to get out of it,” sophomore Jocelyn Grech said. “It’s better to take the consequences and move on.”

Lying can be hard to overcome, especially when a person is constantly coming up with a new or different story. The liar may start to believe the words they are saying and lose sight of the truth simply because they no longer know the real story anymore. The person may also start to believe that they need to do it more often, which could lead to dangerous situations and false accusations.

“Lying to get ahead ultimately damages character while chipping away at your own sense of self-worth,” Lundgren said. “Character is something you can’t buy, steal or cheat, it is something you earn.”