Compulsive vs. Tactical Lying
What’s the difference between compulsive and tactical lying? Compulsions are behaviors beyond a person’s ability to control. And for a long time, many viewed the folks some call “pathological” liars in this light. Traditional thinking has it that some folks’ anxiety is so great that they just can’t help misrepresenting themselves and various things. But in our character-impaired age, people routinely and senselessly lie for other, more practical reasons.
I’ve written before about pathological lying. And I’ve explained the real reasons most so-called “compulsive” or “pathological” liars deceive:
Pathological liars have a singular purpose. They lie to keep a position of advantage. That’s right. As I assert in both Character Disturbance and In Sheep’s Clothing, it’s always about position, position, position for some disturbed characters. Such folks view life as a game or contest. And they don’t want a level playing field. Whenever they engage, they want a leg up on you. Lying helps them keep the advantage. When you don’t who someone really is, how they really feel, or what they’re really up to, you’re automatically in a one-down position. And that’s just the way some disturbed characters like it.
The High Cost of Our Lost Reverence for the Truth
Disturbed characters of all stripes engage in all manner of tactical lying. And they do so without compunction, which is another feature of our narcissistic, character-impaired times. They feel no obligation to sift fact from fiction. Reality is what they say it is – period! And it’s not that they find the truth too painful, so they unconsciously fear and can’t bear it. Rather, it’s that the truth might very well stand in their way. And in their grandiosity and sense of entitlement, they want none of that! So, if actual reality conflicts with their agenda, they’ll ardently promote an “alternate” one. (They don’t have to believe it to promote it!) And sadly, in our times, folks often buy into the lies they spread (for reasons too numerous to address in this post).
As I’ve written about before, in many respects, truth is the ultimate “higher power.” And those who won’t even recognize let alone serve anything bigger than themselves have no use or respect for it. In Essentials for the Journey, I explain how dearly the loss of reverence for the truth has cost us all. And I also explain what we can all do to turn things around.
The Perils of Persisten Lying
Folks who lie persistently can paint themselves into a corner. But that’s not because they can’t stop lying. It’s because they won’t stop lying, out of disdain for any governing higher power and a lack of reverence for anything or anyone outside of their own interests and purpose. At some level, they might even realize that they’ve boxed themselves in. But in their abhorence (notice, I didn’t say “fear”) of subordinating their will to something bigger, they persist despite all costs. It seems senseless and irrational to most of us. But it’s the way they insist on living. To them, subordination is worse than death.
In summary, most so-called “pathological” lying is actually tactical lying, for the sole purpose of maintaining a position of advantage to abuse and exploit you.
Here more about this topic on the latest Character Matters podcast.