Is it narcissism or confabulation? It can be a difficult to tell these two apart as distinguishing sarcasm and “humorously delivered” criticism. Is a person deliberately lying when they confabulate? Here’s a quick definition of confabulate.

In the formal version, confabulate means to talk, with roots found in the words ‘fable’ and ‘fabulous.’ In the world of psychiatry, it means to fabricate imaginary experiences as compensation for loss of memory. This is common in alcohol induced dementias aka Korsakoff syndrome (a type of dementia often associated with alcohol abuse), but it also has been observed in cases of Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia.


Confabulation As Habitual Lying

Some people may develop habitual lying, or confabulation, as a defense mechanism. They may have started out young in an effort to avoid displeasing someone in power over them, typically a demanding parent. Then over time, the survival coping mechanism became habit, and now they don’t even do it consciously. Do you know anyone like this? It can be very tough to manage this if you are in a close relationship with them. Often narcissism can be a factor. Even that can be somewhat on a spectrum in terms of daily behaviors. We all have our self-serving moments.

A Habit Is An Unconscious Skill

Here’s  a few behaviors to be aware of if you are in relationship with someone who has a tendency to lie.

Of course, the continual tendency to bring the spotlight back to themselves is present. It’s part of an unconscious skill—aka—habit, one learned via constant repetition.

  • Putting them on the defensive is easier than melting butter. Argument and debate comes naturally to them.
  • Lots of blaming the partner for their own insecurities takes place.
  • Many times they report they had a truly “Leave It To Beaver” kind of childhood. All roses and kittens and mama-in-the- kitchen, so the problem most certainly is you!
  • Less visible is the horrible underlying sense of anxiety they feel. This is a relationship killer for sure, and goes back to the sense of inadequacy that underlies it all.
  • The most insidious trait of all is the (again unconscious, but highly developed) skill of placing you in a double bind. That is when two messages are communicated at the same time, but actually mean the opposite of each other. The messages are often wrapped in dripping sarcasm.

All of this means it is tough to maintain your own sense of self esteem and confidence while in a relationship with a person who demonstrates these tendencies.

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