Mythomania is a behavioral disorder. The person who suffers from it is addicted to lying. The psychologist Juan Moisés de la Serna, who has treated several people with this problem, believes that “the mythomaniac seeks with his/her deceptions the acceptance of others, compensate his/her low levels of self-esteem“.
But not just any trickster is a mythomaniac. “The mythomaniac does not have a plan; he/she is not looking for anything in the medium or long term more than the immediate admiration. The key to detecting them is to decipher the intentionality of his/her hoaxes”, explains de la Serna. The origin of the disease has not yet been determined exactly.
“No gene related to lying has been found. Therefore, it cannot be said that he is born with it, although it is true that there are conditioning factors in childhood that can facilitate its appearance, especially low self-esteem”, says de la Serna
The lie is also linked to several mental illnesses such as dementia, borderline personality disorder, antisocial disorder, or bipolar disorder.
Is there a cure for it?
According to the psychologist, mythomania is a curable disorder. The first step is to convince the patient that he/she has a psychological problem and that he/she needs to undergo therapy. “As happens with any addiction, if the person does not want to be cured, it will happen as with tobacco, which you leave for a while, and then you relapse”.
De la Serna recognizes that not all health professionals consider mythomania to have a clinical solution. Many lie in the therapy itself, pretending to be healthy, which makes it difficult to work with them. Many also stop going to the sessions by making excuses to their partners or family members such as “the doctor told me I am already good” or “they told me it is something temporary that heals with rest”. The most used therapy for this type of patients is cognitive-behavioral.
The psychologist tells us how it works. “It is used to work on the aspect of self-esteem, reinforcing it and teaching the person to value themselves as they are, seeking to reduce the number of times they lie in a day.” Due to his consultation, mythomaniacs with very different circumstances have passed. But almost all were brought by force: either by their partners or by their relatives.
Even in some cases the healthy person even blackmails his or her mythomaniac spouse, threatening him/her with a divorce if he/she does not attend therapy. “It is very difficult for these people to recognize their problem, even when they are discovered they do everything they can to avoid the situation”, he says.
This happened to the American citizen Ferdinand Demara, popularly known as “The Great Impostor”. When he was finally discovered, back there in the 1950s, he had supplanted the personality of several people by posing as a monk, soldier, sailor, doctor of psychology, doctor of zoology, and sheriff, among others. It was an endless and pristine curriculum for someone who did not even have a school diploma!
The drama of mythomania resides in the vicious circle that occurs. “For that reason, they are usually people who end up alone, rejected by family and friends tired of their behavior”, says the psychologist.
In the most serious cases, a mythomaniac’s life is similar to that of Don Quixote’s, the world-famous character of the book written by Miguel de Cervantes. Moreover, he/she creates his/her own lies; he/she invents an alternative world where he/she is the hero and everyone loves him/her. Actually, he/she hates the real world, from which he/she goes further and further each day until it becomes almost impossible to return.