The Liar

We have all dealt with our fair share of lies in our lives. We all have told at least one and we all have been told more than a few. My novel focuses on several people in a group therapy situation each with their own compulsive behaviors that got them there. I labeled one of my patients as a liar but found out early on that she was not a believable character. No pun intended. I had her lying about the oddest things with no visible pattern or gain. I decided to do some research and here is what I discovered:

For those who have extreme issues with lying there are basically two types; Pathological Liars and Compulsive Liars. Habitual Liars and Chronic Liars are terms usually associated with the Compulsive Liar.

The Pathological Liar lies for personal gain. This is probably the most common form of lying that you will encounter. However, the difference between a co-worker who lies to stay home “sick” and the friend or family member who starts a false rumor in order to take the light off their own mistakes is that the latter feels no guilt or shame. The Pathological Liar cares not who their lies hurt. They are manipulative and devious in their actions and truly believe they are justified because the lie will lead them to whatever it is they desire. Their happiness is the only thing that matters. Often times when they are confronted they will dig their heels deeper into their lies generating compounded lies and eventually believing their own creations. What they fail to realize is that most people can see right through them. They tend to use people up and move on. Often they lose the respect of friends and family until they have no one left to listen to their lies.

Compulsive Liars can be a mystery to many because they do not lie for personal gain but rather they lie out of habit. For them, there is no lie too big or too small. There is no truth that cannot be bent and for no other reason than it can be. They simply cannot tell the truth. On the rare occasion they do speak the truth, it comes as a surprise to even the liar. Compulsive liars tend to move from one relationship to another as the lying tends to take a toll on the people around them. So rather than face the truth they simply move on creating more lies about their past relationships.

My character falls into the Compulsive Liar category. Her lies hurt the people around her but her lies provide her with no personal gain. I have not yet seen that she shows any kind of remorse. On the contrary, she enjoys the act of lying as she often surprises herself with the genius of her spontaneous creations. She simply cannot control it. I considered rewriting her part and making her a Pathological Liar but I fear that her role would then have to be expanded and she would demand more time and attention, something I am not willing to give her right now. I might save that character for a later novel idea I have churning in my brain.


About Susan Warren Utley

Susan Warren Utley is a wife and mother living and writing in the shadows of the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia. Her stories are inspired by the unexpected twists and turns of real life and by her muse, a feisty Jack Russell Terrier who occasionally answers to the name of Lucy. View all posts by Susan Warren Utley

One response to “The Liar

  • blackwatertown

    Sounds interesting. Reminds me of liars who fabricated medical problems, even to the extent of prompting colleagues to fundraise for treatment.

    Also of Fight Club and the therapy groups and what could be described as lying behaviour of the main character.

    Perhaps there could be a big lie enveloping the whole plot – Goebbels-style?

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