Do Sociopaths Believe Their Own Lies?

Reader’s Question

When a sociopath tells a lie, do they know it’s a lie or do they believe the lie?

Psychologist’s Reply

A Sociopath, also known as an Antisocial Personality Disorder, is a member of a diagnostic group known as ‘Personality Disorders‘ (see my introduction to personality disorders on this website). Without question, an Antisocial Personality is well aware they are telling a lie and in fact, lie very purposefully in an attempt to manipulate others, deny personal responsibility, escape the consequences of their behavior, or place them at some advantage. Telling a lie is always an option for an Antisocial Personality, especially when their behavior has caused them some social or personal difficulties.

Sadly, Antisocial and criminal personalities lie as a lifestyle. Their lies range from daily excuses and promises to complex schemes and scams that are based on a series of lies and deceptions. Some criminals (antisocial personalities) develop a set of lies/deceptions to con and steal from others, as we’ve seen in the media recently. Criminals develop false identities, companies, money schemes, check forgeries, etc. In my experience, Antisocial Personalities have no remorse, empathy, guilt, or concern for the victims of their lies: their personal situation is their only priority.

An Antisocial Personality doesn’t believe his or her lies — but that doesn’t bother them. It’s actually worse than that. They are only concerned that their victim believes the lie and for that reason, if they suspect you aren’t totally accepting their current lie, they will offer additional lies and promises until you are convinced. A physically abusive Antisocial Personality will actually blame his victim for the assault and if the victim doesn’t accept the lie, they will quickly use another lying strategy such as a promise to enter therapy, stop drinking, etc. When confronted, their major goal is to escape the consequences of their behavior — nothing else really matters. Once the lie works to their benefit, such as avoiding arrest or marital separation, they return to their previous behavior.

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Antisocial Personalities are not delusional and do not live in a fantasy world. They live in their world, where everyone around them is a potential victim. They fully realize they are telling a lie. They also know they will tell another lie if their first lie is discovered. Honest individuals have a personal investment in their word and promise, linking their sense of self-worth and self-esteem with their honesty. An Antisocial Personality has a personal investment in their survival and selfish demands — with no investment in their given word or promises. If you don’t like their first lie…wait a few minutes and you’ll receive another.

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