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Pseudologia fantastica, mythomania, or pathological lying, is one of several terms applied by psychiatrists to the behavior of habitual or compulsive lying.[1][2] It was first described in the medical literature in 1891 by Anton Delbrueck.[2] Although it is a controversial topic,[2] one definition of pathological lying is the following: "Pathological lying is falsification entirely disproportionate to any discernible end in view, may be extensive and very complicated, and may manifest over a period of years or even a lifetime."[1]



Although little has been written about pathological lying, one study found a prevalence of almost 1% in 1000 repeat juvenile offenders. The average age of onset is 16 years, and its occurrence is equal in men and women[citation needed]. Forty percent of cases reported central nervous system abnormality (characterized by epilepsy, abnormal EEG findings, head trauma, or CNS infection).[citation needed]


The defining characteristics of pseudologia fantastica are that, first, the stories are not entirely improbable and often have some element of truth. They aren't a manifestation of delusion or some wider form of psychosis: upon confrontation, they can't acknowledge them to be untrue, even if unwillingly. Second, the fabricative tendency is long lasting; it is not provoked by the immediate situation or social pressure as much as it originates with the person's innate urge to act in accordance. Third, a definitely internal, not an external, motive for the behavior can be clinically discerned e.g. long lasting extortion or habitual spousal battery might cause a person to lie repeatedly, without the lying being a pathological symptom.[2] Fourth, the stories told tend towards presenting the person in question in a good light. For example, the person might be presented as being fantastically brave, knowing or being related to many famous people.

See also


  1. ^ a b Charles C. Dike, MD, MRCPsych, MPH, et al.. "Pathological Lying Revisited". Journal of the American Academy of Psychiatry and the Law. Retrieved 2008-01-21. 
  2. ^ a b c d Dike CC. "Pathological Lying: Symptom or Disease?" Psychiatric Times. 2008;25(7).

Matt Weaver

References and links

  • King, B. H. and Ford, C. V. (1988). Pseudologia fantastica. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 77, 1-6.
  • Hardy, T. J. and Reed, A. (1998). Pseudologia fantastica, factitious disorder and impostership: a deception syndrome. Med. Sci. Law 38, 198-201.
  • Newmark, N., Adityanjee and Kay, J. (1998). Pseudologia fantastica and factitious disorder: review of the literature and a case report. Compr. Psychiatry. 40, 89-95.

External links

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