How to Spot a Sociopathic Liar
Creating elaborate lies for their own gain with no care about who gets hurt is a hallmark of sociopathic lying. Sociopaths are compulsive pathological liars.
Sociopaths lie without conscience.
That means that they can look you right in the eye and lie to you and not show the usual markers that would give them away.
It also means that they don’t care about collateral damage.
They get their mind set on a goal and they will make up whatever they need to in their attempts to achieve their goal. It doesn’t matter what the consequences are to others as a result of their lies. It doesn’t matter if other adults get hurt and it doesn’t matter if children get hurt. It doesn't even matter if their own children get hurt.
What is a sociopath?
I see sociopath and psychopath as the same thing. So, the answer to the question, "What is a psychopath?" is the same as the answer to the question, "What is a sociopath?"
There is also overlap between sociopaths and what is being called malignant narcissists. (I talk more about the narcissist-sociopath continuum of characteristics in this blog post: Characteristics and Traits of a Narcissist.)
One way to define sociopath: Sociopaths are parasites.
Like other parasitic creatures, sociopaths need a “host” for survival. They are on the lookout for strong, healthy hosts. When they find a suitable host, they latch on, and aren’t satisfied until they have sucked the life out of the person who has had the misfortune of becoming their target.
When we think of sociopathic people, we most often think of those that kill. But sociopathy can be put on a continuum from zero to Jodi Arias. On this continuum, everyone past the half-way mark is going to cause problems for people who come in contact with them. As you move along the continuum of sociopathic behavior, the perpetrators become more and more destructive.
Some sociopaths (such as Jodi Arias or Scott Peterson) physically kill their targets. Others kill their psyches, financial health, self-esteem, reputation, ability to have another relationship, or their spirits.
The diagnostic manual used by mental health professionals uses the term Antisocial Personality Disorder to designate a pattern of attitudes and behaviors we commonly call psychopathy or sociopathy.
Being without conscience and enjoying lying are two key elements of sociopathic personality. These elements go hand in hand in that sociopaths’ lack of conscience means that they can lie without showing the normal markers of lying. That’s how they pull people into believing their lies and get away with as much as they get away with. They are so practiced at lying that they respond to being caught in a lie by creating a new lie. It is very difficult to pin them down. Their lies tend to be complex and detailed.
Education is protection
According to Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door, 4% of the population is sociopathic. That is 1 in 25.
We bump up against sociopathic people in our neighborhoods, workplaces, and grocery stores. Those of us who are particularly unlucky partner with one or have one in the family.
To protect yourself and people you care about, it’s worthwhile studying these people and learning what to watch out for.
The characteristics of sociopathic lying
Some of the sociopath characteristics make it extra easy for them to get away with their lies.
lie without conscience
don’t show the normal markers of lying
don’t care about collateral damage
are very practiced manipulators
make up new lies as cover stories if old lies are exposed
- be very charming
- bring up crocodile tears (fake tears they can conjure up at opportune times)
- extract people’s sympathy
- use detail in their lies to be convincing
Why do sociopaths lie?
People so often grapple with “Why?” Why do they do it? Why would anyone make up such a lie?"
When they can’t see a good “why” answer, they often conclude “It makes no sense for them to lie about this, therefore it must be true.”
I’ll tell you why. It’s a simple answer really.
Sociopaths lie because they perceive some gain from the lie.
The gain to the liar may be:
- winning an argument,
- punishing someone they see as an adversary,
- getting someone out of their way,
- undermining the credibility of someone who could expose their lies,
- an ego boost,
- demeaning or humiliating others,
- an opportunity to practice their lying skills,
- enjoyment from pulling the wool over people’s eyes,
- protecting their previous lies,
- creating an illusion of who they are, or
- getting something they want.
Remember, sociopathic liars don’t have a pesky conscience to hold them back and they don’t care about collateral damage. All they care about is their self-centered gain.
- Tags: partner abuse
- Ann Silvers