Monday, August 26, 2013

Liar, Liar Pants on Fire

It may be wrong to say it, but sometimes I wish the Liar's pants would catch on fire, for real.

I have been thinking a lot lately about lies and the motivational forces behind them. Sociopaths are experts at lying, and I'm pretty sure lawyers are too (do they get special training in law school, or what). While I don’t think lies are inherently good or bad, I do think that the intention behind them is a powerful indicator of a disordered personality.

The best I can figure, lies serve two main purposes: to protect or to manipulate. Protective lies are the ones that most of us are guilty of telling. Complementing someone falsely to spare their feeling or to protect ourselves (or loved ones) from danger. We feel bad for doing it, but decide that is the best action to take in a situation.

Sometimes we accidentally lie by not following through on the things we say we will do. When confronted, we readily own up to it and apologize. Geez, I’m so sorry I did that. I don’t know where my mind has been lately.

Manipulative lies are designed with a more sinister purpose in mind. These lies seem to serve no purpose on the surface, but really they are intended to accomplish a goal. The goal may be to win us over to the liar's side, make us love them or inflate their own ego.

When we confront a sociopath with their lies, they attack. The attack can be directly against us, or indirectly against us by targeting a third party. I have noticed the following patterns when confronting personality disordered liars :

Attack: Shift the Blame

The “Shift the Blame” strategy can be an indirect attack on a third party or circumstance. I don't know about you, but for me these are easier to spot. It usually involves the sociopath inventing a story. The stories are somewhat fantastical and fall apart under careful analysis.

 It might involve an active smear campaign about us or something more ridiculous, like saying they couldn't fulfill an obligation because they were hit by a car and hospitalized.  This is BS you can smell a mile away. Any person in regular contact with you- who really cares about you- doesn’t forget to tell you vital information until you call them out.

A more direct “Shift the Blame” attack involves insulting us directly. I think a lot of us have gone through this. It involves projection and put downs. It usually has the the words, “... because your a...” (fill in the blank.) Or they may say, “why didn't you...” do whatever it is that you could have done to prevent them from lying in the first plae.

Attack #2: Guilt Trip

What do sociopaths feed off of? Our compassion and empathy. The attack in this case usually making US feel bad about their lie.

Example #1: “I guess I am just a worthless person. After all, I'm only working my butt off for you. “

Example #2: “Join the list of everyone who's mad at me. I'm miserable but I have to stay here, in this horrible place, just for you.”

Attack #3: Isolation and Alienation

Similar to Shift the Blame, but the attack is designed to not only defend the lie, but also isolate us from anyone who can confirm our suspicions. It usually involves insulting people we are close to, and pointing out how those individuals have failed us, which the sociopath has not.

Attack #4: Confuse and Distract

Most of us are familiar with the gas-lighting technique used in the Confuse and Distract strategy. It consists of them making up additional lies, convincing us we didn't hear what we thought we did, or that we’re just so plain dumb that we failed to comprehend what they were telling us (see the post on the sociopaths deposition for an example.).

I'm sure there are many other techniques I've overlooked here. What patterns have you seen when confronting a sociopath with their manipulative lies?

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