Pseudologica Fantastica: The Narcissist as Pathological Liar

By: Dr. Sam Vaknin


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In "Streetcar Named Desire", Blanche, the sister in law of Marlon Brando, is accused by him of inventing a false biography, replete with exciting events and desperate wealthy suitors. She responds that it is preferable to lead an imaginary but enchanted life - then a real but dreary one.

This, approximately, is my attitude, as well. My biography needs no embellishments. It is chock full of adventures, surprising turns of events, governments and billionaires, prisons and luxury hotels, criminals and ministers, fame and infamy, wealth and bankruptcy. I have lived a hundred lives. All I need to do is tell it straight. And yet I can't.

Moreover, I exaggerate everything. If a newspapers publishes my articles, I describe it as "the most widely circulated", or "the most influential". If I meet someone, I make him out to be "the most powerful", "most enigmatic", "most something". If I make a promise, I always promise the impossible or undoable.

To put it less gently, I lie. Compulsively and needlessly.

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All the time.

About everything. And I often contradict myself.

Why do I need to do this?

To make myself interesting or attractive. In other words, to secure Narcissistic Supply (attention, admiration, adulation, gossip). I refuse to believe that I can be of interest to anyone as I am. My mother was interested in me only when I achieved something. Since then I flaunt my achievements - or invent ones. I feel certain that people are more interested in my fantasies than in me.

This way I also avoid the routine, the mundane, the predictable, the boring.

In my mind, I can be anywhere, do anything and I am good at convincing people to participate in my scripts. It is movie-making. I should have been a director.

Pseudologica Fantastica is the compulsive need to lie consistently and about everything, however inconsequential - even if it yields no benefits to the liar. I am not that bad. But when I want to impress - I lie.

I love to see people excited, filled with wonder, bedazzled, dreamy, starry eyed, or hopeful. I guess I am a little like the myth spinners, legend tellers and troubadours of yore. I know that at the end of my rainbow there is nothing but a broken pot. But I so want to make people happy! I so want to feel the power of a giver, a God, a benefactor, a privileged witness.

So, I lie. Do you believe me?


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