Pseudologia fantastica

Pseudologia fantastica or in English terms a pathological liar is a phenomena that certain litigants experience in divorce proceedings. The term has been used since 1891. The impact is of course extreme as the “word” of the pathological liar is taken as evidence although anyone familiar with said pathological liar is familiar with certain tells, like a nose twitch or certain mannerisms that give the lie away. Judges of course are not intimately acquainted with these tells as they have not lived with that person and no one ever asks that person for actual proof of the lie.   The scientific literature is filled with descriptions of what is considered to be the Pseudologia fantastica personality and some reviews recognize the relevance in legal proceedings.

Others have defined the personality behind the Pseudologia fantastica as abnormal where it is not the lie, but the liar that is abnormal, with the abnormality relating not to the nature of the lies told, but to the mental state associated with the behavior.

Several studies have equated the behavior associated with pathological lying as a mental disorder and there has been discussion as to whether to consider this abnormal behavior as a separate diagnosable psychiatric condition.

The defining characteristics of pseudologia fantastica that currently exist are:

The stories told are usually dazzling or fantastical, but never breach the realm of reality. The possibility of truth is key to the pathological liar’s survival. They are not a manifestation of delusion or some broader type of psychosis: upon confrontation, the teller can admit them to be untrue, even if unwillingly.

The fabricative tendency is chronic; it is not provoked by the immediate situation or social pressure as much as it is an innate trait of the personality. There is some element of dyscontrol present.

A definitely internal, not an external, motive for the behavior can be discerned clinically: e.g., long-lasting extortion or habitual spousal battery might cause a person to lie repeatedly, without the lying being a pathological symptom.

Obviously dealing with this type of personality during a marriage and divorce is a nightmare. There is no desire to assume personal responsibility for the pathological behavior personality as not a single thing is their fault and outrageous fabrications to an extreme are the norm.  Unbelievable  descriptions are presented to the court as fact and the other parent is literally terrorized by the extreme actions of the pathological liar to a never ending degree. The point is to obtain an advantage in custody proceedings to WIN in court.

Dike, Charles C. (June 1, 2008). Pathological Lying: Symptom or Disease? 25 (7).
Dike CC, Baranoski M, Griffith EE. Pathological lying revisited. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law. 2005;33(3):342-9.
King BH, Ford CV. Pseudologia fantastica. Acta Psychiatr Scand. 1988 Jan;77(1):1-6.
Janssens S, Morrens M, Sabbe BG.[Pseudologia fantastica: definition and position in relation to axis I and axis II psychiatric disorders].Tijdschr Psychiatr. 2008;50(10):679-83.


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