Understanding Pathological Liars and Polygraph in Knoxville

Everyone is guilty of dishonesty from time to time. We all tell those little white lies or deliberately omit information to protect ourselves or the person we are talking to from an uncomfortable or hurtful truth. In most cases, this isn’t an issue. It’s human nature, and it isn’t doing any real damage. However, when lying becomes the default, that’s when it starts to become a problem. If someone frequently and deliberately lies without any real reason, that dishonesty can become a compulsive or even pathological habit. With that in mind, let’s take a look at what pathological lying is and how a polygraph examiner in Knoxville can help if you are living with one.

What is a Pathological Liar?

A pathological liar is somebody who lies very frequently. In most cases, they will have no real reason to do so, and it can almost become habitual for them. Often, the things they are lying about are not important, but they may get a sense of security from lying about them. However, while these lies are seemingly harmless, they can cause real damage to relationships and potentially lead to dangerous situations over time. This is where a friend, family member, or even a health professional might refer to a polygraph examiner in Knoxville to start addressing the problem. You may also hear the term ‘compulsive liar.’ This is used interchangeably with pathological liar, and clinically speaking, there is no real difference between the two. Some psychologists subscribe to the school of thought that compulsive lying is a sub-category under the broader umbrella term of pathological lying.

What Are The Traits of a Pathological Liar?

If you have a pathological liar in your life, you will soon come to recognize the lies. Part of that might be because they lie about something you know the truth about, but it can also be because their lies will usually follow a pattern. Some of the traits that are often seen in pathological lying can include the following:

  • The lies will usually seem believable because they include an element of truth. For example, if they are sick with a cold, they may lie and say they have a far more serious illness like Pneumonia!
  • Pathological lies continue over long periods without any pressure to maintain them. For example, a person lying about infidelity for a year is doing so to protect themselves, so this is not considered pathological. However, lying consistently about having a dairy allergy over the course of a year is habitual because there is no real reason to continue the lie!
  • The lies told are more likely to be internally motivated rather than externally. For example, if someone lies habitually to avoid harm from an abusive partner, that is not considered pathological as a genuine external threat motivates them to lie.
  • A pathological liar will almost always paint themselves in a positive light with their falsehoods. For example, they are more likely to lie about completing a college degree than dropping out of high school!

Can a Pathological Liar Pass a Polygraph?

One of the big questions that come up when talking about pathological liars is whether or not they believe their own lies. Subsequently, that leads to the question of whether or not a polygraph examiner in Knoxville would be able to test them. The answer is a complex one! Many mental health experts believe that pathological liars do believe the stories they tell because they have repeated them so often they begin to feel authentic. They may live in a fantasy world of their own design, which becomes a reality. However, others say that pathological liars are aware of their deceptions but do not care that they are being untruthful. A test developed to identify pathological liars called the Survey of Pathological Liars, or SPL, takes the form of 9 questions to be answered using a scale of 1 to 7 based on how strongly the individual agrees. However, we must also consider that the respondent will likely lie when taking this test! This is where a polygraph examiner in Knoxville steps in to help confirm the diagnosis of a pathological liar. In this scenario, the test may not be used to detect lies but instead can be used to gauge how well they have developed their lies. If the examiner knows that they are lying, but the polygraph does not register this, it shows that the subject has either developed a high level of skill in lying or has come to believe their own lies. Of course, many pathological liars will fail when tested by polygraph examiner in Knoxville because they belong to the group who knows they are lying but are compulsively compelled to do so - or don’t care that they are lying.

Why Polygraph, a Pathological Liar?

Now that we have established that a polygraph examiner in Knoxville can be a valuable resource in diagnosing pseudologia phantastica, the clinical name for pathological lying, the question is, why would someone choose to polygraph someone like this? In most cases, the spouse or family of a pathological liar already knows they are lying, so what does a polygraph prove? In many cases, it is a way to force the subject to admit to the behavior in order to seek treatment. Therapy can help them to work toward recognizing the patterns of their lying and aim to change the behavior. Having a polygraph proves their deception, and when coupled with the clinical SPL test, it can help them face the truth and agree to a treatment plan.

If you or someone you love exhibits signs of pathological lying and you feel that a polygraph examiner in Knoxville could help, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

Uncover the truth!


Ken Shull served as a Special Agent with the FBI for almost 25 years and was head of the FBI Polygraph program until his retirement in 2001. At that time he set up the Kendall Investigations practice as a private investigator in Knoxville, TN offering Polygraph services, private investigations, and security guards. Ken is a member of the American Polygraph Association and The American Association of Police Polygraphists.

The Truth is Still the Truth Even if No One Believes it, A Lie is Still a Lie Even if Everyone Believes it.