Could you tell me about mythomaniacs/pathological liars? Do they lie even if they don't need to? All the time? Sorry if this question if too broad.
It’s important to know that “pathological lying” is not a diagnosable disorder, and as such there isn’t agreed-upon criteria for what that term actually means.
However, in doing my research on this, I found a fairly amazing and comprehensive thesis about pathological lying that could be incredibly useful if you plan to write a pathological liar! (See here - it’s literally an entire book on this topic. It’s a little on the technical side, but I might be able to help you out on specific terms if you need me to).
Here’s the gist of the symptoms that are described (you don’t have to have your character have all of them; just pick and choose a couple):
- They lie much more often than is socially acceptable.
- The lies are told with no apparent purpose or material gain to the character - they fulfill a psychological need, not a physical one. Some possible motivations include:
- Wanting to sound interesting
- Because they were bored
- They want to be the center of attention
- The lies are wish fulfillment
- They want sympathy
- The lying may be automatic.
- The lies portray the character in a positive light, especially stories of the character being heroic, or playing the victim
- Note - lies about military service or taking part in espionage are relatively common
- The character doesn’t take responsibility for their lies easily. They deny they’re lying, and when challenged, will keep the lie going by telling more lies, or become aggressive. However, they can admit they were lying if confronted with enough evidence.
- They have trouble controlling or stopping their urges to lie.
- The lies build up on top of each other and can get out of control.
- The character may be aware they’re lying, but oftentimes, they have trouble admitting it. They might even believe their own lies.
- Other people are capable of telling that the lies aren’t true.
- The lies can seem odd or illogical to others. Sometimes, they’re incredibly trivial (e.g., lying about what they had for breakfast)
- The character does often feel bad after lying, but they can’t stop themselves.
- They keep telling lies despite the risk of hurting their relationships and reputation (to the point of losing a job, relationship, or opportunity because of it)
- The character is really sensitive to criticism and rejection, and a lot of the times they lie to try to make people admire them or at least think well of them.
- They try to deceive others rather than admit to their mistakes or wrongdoings
Hope that helps!