How to support a mythomaniac relative

Ian Stockbridge of Hope Therapy featured in Happiful.

What is mythomania?

According to the experts, mythomania, also called pathological lying, is the strong impulse to magnify reality to either play the victim or hero. Once it becomes a habit, mythomaniacs can use lies to:

  • Protect themselves from being held accountable.
  • Seek attention.
  • Take revenge on someone by causing turmoil and conflict.
  • Try to emulate the exaggerated version of themselves that lives in their heads.
  • Get a break from what feels like a monotonous life.

As you can see, mythomaniacs use lies to shape reality to their liking, and to help them, we must identify the root cause – the initial thing or things that made them feel insecure or threatened, and prompted them to use lies as a protective measure.

Counsellor, and director of Hope TherapyIan Stockbridge, explains: “They potentially can come from a variety of places, but I think that childhood trauma and childhood insecurities, more generally, and a wish to constantly please your caregivers, your parents, and to protect yourself in vulnerable situations as a child, can be associated. I think we can potentially learn at a very young age that to lie can be a protective factor.”

Are there types of mythomania?

Since every mythomaniac has a different reason for lying, that is, a different root cause, it’s difficult to classify them between those who lie to perpetuate their fantasy, and those who do it for the thrill of positively or negatively influencing their environment.

“I think the problem with mythomania is that it isn’t recognised by the DSM5, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual version 5, as being a psychiatric disorder, so it doesn’t get split out in any diagnostic sense,” Ian explains. “I think, from a therapeutic point of view, it is more about recognising that there can be different underlying causes associated with it rather than different types of it. For example, often mythomania can be linked with anxiety, it can be linked with depression, and it can be a coping mechanism – that we lie pathologically to protect ourselves from some source of emotional hurt – so it may be a variation in the situation or maybe an anxiety disorder, and therefore I lie because it can stop me being anxious. I create a version of the world that is less anxious to me.”

Read the full article here: How to support a mythomaniac relative (

Leave a comment

Item added to cart.
0 items - £0.00