“I got my masters from Harvard business school, and I had my PhD at Oxford”. My mouth fell open hearing that from Ayo, who had never left the country, much less got a visa. Lying was her MO, and she would never be caught telling the truth. She had a knack for constantly telling lies about everything, from her relationship to her family background, financial status and education. She did have a PhD in telling lies at an unknown university. She has developed expertise in telling richer lies to cover up her lies when it seems she is about to be nabbed. One wonders if all the people she relates with choose to ignore her lies or are unaware.


Results from the UCL Experimental Psychology showed that lying for personal gain produces a response in the form of a negative feeling in the amygdala, a part of the brain which can limit the extent to which one is prepared to lie. However, when people continue to lie, this response fades, and the lies become more prominent than they envisage.

People lie for different reasons. These reasons range from escaping punishment, covering up a previous lie, and preserving their reputation to boosting their ego. Whatever it is, the fact remains that people lie, and some are out of habit. Research shows that the more people lie, the easier it gets and the more frequent it becomes (Wan & Kaplan, 2018).

To understand why people lie, it is essential that we first understand what a lie is. Mahon (2016) alluded that a lie is a false statement made to another person or persons to increase the believability of such a statement. People who lie know that their words are false but usually want them to be accepted as the truth by the person they lie to because the desire to be in control often makes them lie repeatedly. When the validity of a situation does not agree with such authority, they produce a lie that conforms to the narrative they desire.

Sometimes, people worry they will only be respected if the truth leaves them looking well. This makes them offer a lie that casts them in a good light. So they keep improving on making their lies look so good that subconsciously the truth is forgotten, and the lies become their new realities.

When people tell lies habitually, they become Pathological liars, also known as mythomania and pseudologia fantastica. It is a chronic behaviour of compulsive or habitual lying. Healy and Healy (1915) defined pathological lying as a trait that entails falsification that does not have a noticeable end in view because it rarely centers on a single event. Instead, It manifests itself frequently. Sometimes over the years or even a lifetime.

Some scholars see pathological lying as a distinct disorder (Curtis & Hart, 2020). Some suggest that it should be viewed as a symptom of other psychological disorders (Garlipp, 2017), while others argue that pathological lying is a separate symptomatic entity (Dike, 2020). However, a recent study by Gunec (2022) showed that lying is a habit. However, Once it becomes a habit, it is usually difficult to stop. However, it can be overcome through therapy because it is a habit, not a disease.


Curtis, D. A., & Hart, C. L. (2020). Pathological lying: Theoretical and empirical support for a diagnostic entity. Psychiatric Research and Clinical Practice, 2(2), 62-69.

Dike, C. C. (2020). A radical reexamination of the association between pathological lying and factitious disorder. J Am Acad Psychiatry Law; 48:431–435.

Garlipp, P. (2017). Pseudolagia fantastica—pathological lying; in Unusual

and Rare Psychological Disorders: A Handbook for Clinical Practice and Research. Edited by Sharpless BA. New York, Oxford University Press.

Gunec, B. C. (2022). Why People insist on Lies. Zhongshan School of Medicine. DOI: 10.13140/RG.2.2.16680.85769

Healy, W., & Healy, M. T. (1915). Pathological Lying, Accusation, and Swindling: A Study in Forensic Psychology (Criminal Science Monog No 1). Oxford, UK, Little Brown.

Mahon, J. E. (2016). The Definition of Lying and Deception, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Winter 2016 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.).

Wan, W., & Kaplan, S. (2018). Why liars lie: What science tells us about deception. The Washington Post.

Coach Adetutu is a Pharmacist, Co-founder Hazon Holdings, MD/CEO Wellness Healthcare group, health tech enthusiast, Emotional & Mental Wellness Coach and Doctoral Student, her earnest desire is to influence individuals to make healthy lifestyle choices.

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