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How Is Pathological Lying Treated?

Nearly everyone has lied at one point in their lives, but pathological lying is on another level. It is, actually, uncontrollable lying and considered to be a psychological disorder. It can often be part of a larger psychological problem such as antisocial personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) or attention deficit and hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

Some believe that pathological lying is rooted in a brain malfunction. A study that was released in the October 2005 British Journal of Psychiatry says that those who have the condition tend to have a prefrontal cortex that has 26% more white matter (which has been associated with the ability to lie). People with autism, for example, cannot lie, and their white matter is significantly smaller. Children also become more “skillful” liars when they reach the age of 10, which also is the period where white matter matures.

There is no “one formula” for treating pathological lying. There is greater chance of successful treatment if the doctor is able to identify if it is connected to ADHD, OCD, or other psychological disorders – and then provides a holistic approach to the condition. Misdiagnosis can exacerbate the problem (for example, Ritalin, which is used to treat ADHD, tends to worsen OCD). Medication should also be accompanied with cognitive behavioral therapy.

And, as in all psychiatric and psychological interventions, the patient must be committed to overcoming the disorder—taking the medicines regularly, attending the therapy sessions, and following the recommendations of the psychologist. Someone who is not 100% willing to change can quite adeptly lie to the people who are trying to help him or her, rendering the treatment inaccurate and ultimately ineffective.

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