Cochise

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Nah, if you're lying for gain there's nothing compulsive about it.
I guess that's what I'm trying to get at. We all tell little social white lies - I guess you could call that compulsive, but I get the impression that's not what is meant.

It might salve some sort of feeling that people are basically good and therefore that habitual tellers of big lies are compulsive and can't help themselves. I don't believe it, they have a motive. Even if that is only to test the reaction of those listening to the whoppers. I've known such people.
 

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No, compulsive behaviour shows up in a number of ways. Lying is just one of them. It doesn't need to be big lies.
 

Cochise

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No, compulsive behaviour shows up in a number of ways. Lying is just one of them. It doesn't need to be big lies.
How do you know? Just asking.

edit: I mean are you saying they don't know what they are doing? That I don't believe. Of course they might tell other people they don't know what they are doing - after all, they are liars.
 

Cochise

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Not that they don't know what they are doing but that they can't stop. Like germophobes.
Ok, truce :) I agree they can't stop. but unlike 'phobes I don't agree it's merely a phobia - its a deliberate manipulation, although equally an addiction.
 

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The point is that for compulsive liars the lying is an automatic, deeply ingrained response akin to the aversion behavior associated with a phobia. Compulsive lying isn't a phobic reaction; it's an automatic response similar to a phobic reaction.
 

Cochise

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They would say that, wouldn't they. I don't believe it. but then I don't believe in psychologists or psychiatrists either. No-one really knows what goes on in someone else's head.
 

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If you don't believe in compulsive behaviour, I can see why this is going nowhere.
 

EnolaGaia

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They would say that, wouldn't they. I don't believe it. but then I don't believe in psychologists or psychiatrists either. No-one really knows what goes on in someone else's head.

In a way, this illustrates the status of 'compulsive lying' from a clinical perspective. It's usually considered an uncontrolled / uncontrollable version of pathological lying behavior. However, there's no general agreement whether the additional notion of the lying being compulsive (i.e., automatic) is warranted or demonstrable enough to consider this as a real, much less diagnostically relevant, condition.

Some psychiatrists distinguish compulsive from pathological lying, while others consider them equivalent; yet others deny the existence of compulsive lying altogether; this remains an area of considerable controversy.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pathological_lying
 

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I wonder if "compulsive liars" and habitual "conspiracy theorists" are two manifestations of the same psychological needs.

Both types claim to believe, and try to persuade other people to believe, things that are not true.

In doing so, perhaps they gain attention and notoriety, and a sense of identity, establishing and consolidating their own position on the margins of society. In both cases, perhaps they struggle to fit in, and therefore make a virtue of standing out.

By "conspiracy theorist" I do not mean someone who has credible evidence that there might be a conspiracy in one specific area; we know that conspiracies exist. I mean someone who is predisposed to allege conspiracy in preference to all other explanations, and who is prepared to ignore, select, or distort facts in order to support the position that they claim to believe in.

Who really knows what someone else actually believes? However, compulsive liars repeatedly claim things that are often easily disproved, and habitual conspiracy theorists persistently claim things that are contradicted by reasonable evidence. Do they believe it? We can only know what they say they believe.

The compulsive liar tends to concentrate on their own supposed exploits and achievements; the conspiracy theorist tends to concentrate on their own unique insight into the supposed actions and motives of others.
 

Cochise

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In a way, this illustrates the status of 'compulsive lying' from a clinical perspective. It's usually considered an uncontrolled / uncontrollable version of pathological lying behavior. However, there's no general agreement whether the additional notion of the lying being compulsive (i.e., automatic) is warranted or demonstrable enough to consider this as a real, much less diagnostically relevant, condition.



https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pathological_lying
Thanks for the link EnolaGaia - interesting. I'm absurd enough to imagine the average human being is in charge of their own brain - I realise this is far from an unassailable argument :)
 

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I’m still not sure what a compulsive liar is, even with EnolaGaia’s helpful posts and link.

Degree of the person’s awareness, ability to control, pervasiveness of the lying, triggers, motivation, etc. – important criteria maybe for deciding who is compulsive and who is merely having a good time or pathological time.

If the content of the lies is mundane, and I didn’t know the person well, I doubt if I would ever notice.

For the whopper braggart: I have known several, usually alcohol-fueled and in group social situations. But since everyone believed the person was really exaggerating, I think this is not very effective lying. All of these people were men (sorry guys!), mostly current or ex- military, police, and the like.

The closest to a compulsive liar I have observed, over several years, was a compulsive “embroiderer” whose career experiences and personal anecdotes were always much better than anyone else’s, no matter who else was in the room. Again, I’m sure nobody believed his embroideries. They started along the lines of “I was having dinner privately with the King of Saudi Arabia and…” I don’t know how much he was aware of his exaggeration, or how much control he had over it. It was pervasive in group social situations, not one-on-one. I felt much sympathy for him, since he apparently needed to feel he was a little better than everyone else. He was from Europe, teaching in the US, and social pecking order was very important to him, to the decades-long dismay of his colleagues.

I think women lie as much as men, generally, but that most people don’t lie compulsively or routinely. Little white lies to spare someone’ feelings excepted.

Of course, if everything I wrote above is not what I believe to be true, then perhaps I am a compulsive liar too! Oddly, I don’t feel like one… Can anyone tell me what a compulsive liar’s interior state feels like?
 
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gordonrutter

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Of course, if everything I wrote above is not what I believe to be true, then perhaps I am a compulsive liar too! Oddly, I don’t feel like one… Can anyone tell me what a compulsive liar’s interior state feels like?

I guess a compulsive liar could but then we couldn’t believe them.
 

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An ex work colleague couldn't help himself.
He rogered Michaela Strachan round the back of the Hacienda nightclub in Manchester while the 'Hitman and her ' music programme was being filmed after knocking Pete Waterman out with a guitar!!
(the hacienda had long since been demolished at this point)
I was going out with a well known gangster/thugs daughter (unknown to him at the time)
When we got chatting during a works Christmas party I mentioned said gangsters name and some of the stuff he got upto. Of course he was a close personal friend of his and explained how far back they go and if I have any problems he'll phone him and he'll get the boys!
(said gangster died 18 months earlier after an unfortunate accident involving a quad bike & a tree!)
Me and some of my work colleagues would purposely make up names within ear shot of him and he'd interrupt..oh yes I know him!
He was an ex lover of M out of the 90s band 'M people ' and were days from getting married but didn't know her name..!
Also him and his boys chased Jim Davidson out of a working man's club after he insulted them never to be seen again..
 

EnolaGaia

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... Degree of the person’s awareness, ability to control, pervasiveness of the lying, triggers, motivation, etc. – important criteria maybe for deciding who is compulsive and who is merely having a good time or pathological time. ...
Agreed, and that's a big part of the problem in addressing the notion of a compulsive liar. Unless you have persistent exposure to a person in a variety of situations it's risky to assume that recurrent lying in one type of situation / context generalizes to his / her entire life. The notion that persistent lying may be situation-specific is rarely mentioned or acknowledged.

For the whopper braggart: I have known several, usually alcohol-fueled and in group social situations. ...
The closest to a compulsive liar I have observed, over several years, was a compulsive “embroiderer” whose career experiences and personal anecdotes were always much better than anyone else’s, no matter who else was in the room. …
I think these two observations relate to a central issue. Recurrent / persistent lying is most commonly observed in social situations within which the liar seems to be driven to demonstrate equivalence with or 'one up' anyone and everyone around him / her.

In other words, persistent / pathological lying (at least in my experience) seems to be as much a social tactic as a psychological aberration.

There are two apparent but distinct objectives I've noticed among such routine liars / embroiderers:

- they're simply trying to remain on an equal footing with everyone around them in the given conversation / situation; or
- they're compelled to always surpass everyone else in relating how interesting (etc.) their own experience(s) have been.

(Whether these tactics are transient / situation-specific or constant / in all aspects of life depends on the person and the situation(s).)

These two objectives aren't necessarily different degrees of the same thing.

In the former case ('equivalence' liar) the goal is simply to not seem lower / lesser compared to everyone else. This can be done passively as well as proactively, because it requires nothing more than agreeing with or expressing approval for whatever anyone / everyone else says. In other words, this can sometimes be accomplished without much effort (and exposure to criticism, refutation, etc.).

In contrast, the latter case ('superiority' liar) requires the liar to proactively claim something that 'trumps' everyone else. Achieving the superior status can only rarely be accomplished passively, and then only to the extent the social situation (and other participants' actions) afford receiving such status. Generally speaking, this latter objective requires effort, skill and a modicum of luck.

A sufficiently passive equivalence liar might be able to disclaim responsibility for what he / she expresses or is perceived to express.

A proactive superiority liar has deliberately walked out on a limb from which he / she cannot easily retreat.

Can anyone tell me what a compulsive liar’s interior state feels like?
My vote is "No."

The only way to even partially know what it's like is to simulate the experience yourself - e.g., bluff your way through a situation based on falsehoods, leveraging sufficient wits to keep yourself believable for however long it takes. This can give you a taste of how it feels to perform and pursue the lying.

As far as the basic motivation and internal perception of behaving that way, it's beyond the reach of others' observation (as Cochise noted earlier).
 

stu neville

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I guess that's what I'm trying to get at. We all tell little social white lies - I guess you could call that compulsive, but I get the impression that's not what is meant.
I think social white lies are more an exercise in avoiding potential offence or slight rather than augmenting one's own image. In that respect they're a social convention: interested to know if this is a global thing, or just a first-world (or even Anglophone) habit - are there other cultures which won't blame illness or lack of babysitter for declining a social invitation? Are there societies where saying "I just don't want to come, thank you." is accepted or even expected?
 

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...are there other cultures which won't blame illness or lack of babysitter for declining a social invitation? Are there societies where saying "I just don't want to come, thank you." is accepted or even expected?

I had to look up who said it, although I remembered the quotation: "Very sorry can't come. Lie follows by post." (A telegram sent by Lord Charles Beresford, declining a summons to dine with the Prince of Wales.)

This was an open acknowledgement of the existence of the convention of white lies,. It shows a degree of confidence and trust between the two of them that he did not need to offer the white lie or formal excuse, and could joke about it. (Either that or he was being insolent!)

Even within one country, there is never a single homogenous culture. Each social class or stratum has its own cultural values and manners. Each stratum has its own perception of its status compared to others.

The "white lie" exists to smooth over those circumstances where the person making the polite excuse feels the need to avoid causing offence. That means they either consider the other person to be a social equal, or a social superior — or they actually care about the individual and don't wish to upset them.

There are many cases where a person may reject an invitation frankly. This may be because of mutual trust and respect, or because the person rejecting the invitation is the one in the socially superior position. I would happily say to my best friend, "No thanks, I need a night in," and the Prince of Wales would simply be "Unable to accept your invitation" if he were invited to open a village hall in an obscure village in Lincolnshire.

I suspect that in societies where social rank is more rigidly defined than in our own, the absence of a white lie is often a conscious and calculated display of status: an alpha move.
 

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I think social white lies are more an exercise in avoiding potential offence or slight rather than augmenting one's own image. In that respect they're a social convention: interested to know if this is a global thing, or just a first-world (or even Anglophone) habit - are there other cultures which won't blame illness or lack of babysitter for declining a social invitation? Are there societies where saying "I just don't want to come, thank you." is accepted or even expected?
Finland I would think.
 

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I had to look up who said it, although I remembered the quotation: "Very sorry can't come. Lie follows by post." (A telegram sent by Lord Charles Beresford, declining a summons to dine with the Prince of Wales.)
Along the same lines, the polite but brutal RSVP from Peter Cook:
"I'm sorry, but I find I'm watching television that evening."

Don't get me wrong, I'm sure we all have people in our lives with whom we wish we could just be that brutal, but there are usually other factors involved - professional, familial, a tangible glare from one's other half - that necessitate either diplomatic politeness when declining, or silent but unwilling acceptance.
I suspect that in societies where social rank is more rigidly defined than in our own, the absence of a white lie is often a conscious and calculated display of status: an alpha move.
Or the absolute opposite, complete and easy familiarity among equals. In normal times, I am fortunate to have friends all of whom can decline invitations to social gatherings by just saying "no". We all know one another well, abd we all have lives, and lives can be messy and not conducive to getting to the Coach & Horses on Wednesday evening.
 

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I have a reputation among my friends for being, let us say, the opposite of a diplomat. Something similar at work - my old boss sacked me - let me think - four times for telling him the truth when he didn't want to hear it. We are still pals :)

But in a social setting when I don't want to upset people - friends of my wife or my F-I-L, for example - I can lie like a trooper. There is a quote that covers the technique - I can't quite remember it - suppress the truth and suggest the false? Works much better than blatant lying.

I also had a friend who - as described above - was one of those who had to outrank everyone around him. I remember in a bar once he was going on about his (non-existent) diving experiences only to be torn apart by the next person along the bar who was the editor of a magazine on diving. I'm not sure he ever recovered.
 

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I have a reputation among my friends for being, let us say, the opposite of a diplomat. Something similar at work - my old boss sacked me - let me think - four times for telling him the truth when he didn't want to hear it. We are still pals :)

But in a social setting when I don't want to upset people - friends of my wife or my F-I-L, for example - I can lie like a trooper. There is a quote that covers the technique - I can't quite remember it - suppress the truth and suggest the false? Works much better than blatant lying.

I also had a friend who - as described above - was one of those who had to outrank everyone around him. I remember in a bar once he was going on about his (non-existent) diving experiences only to be torn apart by the next person along the bar who was the editor of a magazine on diving. I'm not sure he ever recovered.
I suppose it's quite easy for insecure people to start a little lie, that, like Topsy, just 'grows and grows'. You tell one small fib to make yourself look better in a crowd whose experience all seems to outdo yours, and make yourself look a little more interesting. Next thing it's someone telling you to 'tell that story about that time you....' to someone else, and then it's got out of control and into the wild, where the lie runs free.

I've told the odd fib myself, but absolute, outright compulsive lying generally gets brought down eventually.
 

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I also had a friend who - as described above - was one of those who had to outrank everyone around him. I remember in a bar once he was going on about his (non-existent) diving experiences only to be torn apart by the next person along the bar who was the editor of a magazine on diving. I'm not sure he ever recovered.
Ha! Meaning of Liff once more...
prague.JPG
 

Cochise

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I suppose it's quite easy for insecure people to start a little lie, that, like Topsy, just 'grows and grows'. You tell one small fib to make yourself look better in a crowd whose experience all seems to outdo yours, and make yourself look a little more interesting. Next thing it's someone telling you to 'tell that story about that time you....' to someone else, and then it's got out of control and into the wild, where the lie runs free.

I've told the odd fib myself, but absolute, outright compulsive lying generally gets brought down eventually.
The friend I mentioned was very convincing. I recall him talking round a yacht captain - this was when I was living in the Connecticut - to take him out. The yacht guy was quite experienced - used to earn his living by shifting rich peoples' boats from Long Island sound to the Caribbean for the seasons. But my mate got him drunk - he could drink for Scotland - and tried to sail the yacht himself. Thought a traffic light on shore was a harbour light, sailed the yacht on to a sandbank. Where they spent the whole night .

Oh how we laughed when we learned the story from the shamefaced yacht guy.
 

stu neville

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The yacht guy was quite experienced - used to earn his living by shifting rich peoples' boats from Long Island sound to the Caribbean for the seasons.
Ah - OT sidebar for one minute, we spent a while living in Port Jefferson on the north coast of Long Island. The wealth was somewhat conspicuous, wasn't it? The parallels with society there today and that of Gatsby - albeit set on the other side of the island - weren't hard to draw. Which of course itself is about facades (and the damage that preserving them can wreak on others), so maybe not quite so off topic after all.

(I should add we weren't a part of that set by a country mile - we lived further inland in much more modest circumstances, but close enough to see the money, if not the class in every case.)
 

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Link dead for me.
Link:
What is SUPPRESSIO VERI?
Lat Suppression or concealment of the truth. “It is a rule of equity, as well as of law, that a suppressio veri is equivalent to a suggestio falsi; and where either the suppression of the truth or the suggestion of what is false can be proved, in a fact material to the contract, the party injured may have relief against the contract.” Fleming v. Slocum. 18 Johns. (N. Y.) 405, 9 Am. Dec. 224. Suppressio veri, expressio falsi. Suppression of the truth is [equivalent to] the expression of what is false. Addington v. Allen, 11 Wend. (N. Y.) 374, 417. Suppressio veri, suggestio falsi. Suppression of the truth is [equivalent to] the suggestion of what is false. Paul v. Hadley, 23 Barb. (N. Y.) 521, 525.
 

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Link dead for me.

Just checked and it's fine for me.

Here's the meat & 2 veg:

"What is SUPPRESSIO VERI?

Lat Suppression or concealment of the truth. “It is a rule of equity, as well as of law, that a suppressio veri is equivalent to a suggestio falsi; and where either the suppression of the truth or the suggestion of what is false can be proved, in a fact material to the contract, the party injured may have relief against the contract.” Fleming v. Slocum. 18 Johns. (N. Y.) 405, 9 Am. Dec. 224. Suppressio veri, expressio falsi. Suppression of the truth is [equivalent to] the expression of what is false. Addington v. Allen, 11 Wend. (N. Y.) 374, 417. Suppressio veri, suggestio falsi. Suppression of the truth is [equivalent to] the suggestion of what is false. Paul v. Hadley, 23 Barb. (N. Y.) 521, 525."

maximus otter
 

Cochise

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Ah - OT sidebar for one minute, we spent a while living in Port Jefferson on the north coast of Long Island. The wealth was somewhat conspicuous, wasn't it? The parallels with society there today and that of Gatsby - albeit set on the other side of the island - weren't hard to draw. Which of course itself is about facades (and the damage that preserving them can wreak on others), so maybe not quite so off topic after all.

(I should add we weren't a part of that set by a country mile - we lived further inland in much more modest circumstances, but close enough to see the money, if not the class in every case.)
Seen the Bridgeport - Port Jefferson ferry many a time, but we lived further inland - Oxford.
 
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