January 27, 2018

How to decode the web of lies spun by pathological liars, Cluster B's, and other toxic manipulators

A Heaping Pile of Narcissistic Bullshit with a side of Factitious Disorder, please!

Anatomy of a web of lies and other indications that you are dealing with a narcissist, psychopath, or sociopath.

One of the hallmark behaviors of a toxic individual is pathological lying.  The second most noticeable behavior toxic people bring to relationships is an utter lack of respect for our boundaries.  This is often intensified in relationships between people with personality disorders and naturally empathetic people who will go out of their way to help another person who is struggling or in pain.  A natural ability for many narcissists, psychopaths, and sociopaths is obviously to manipulate those around them but some of them do this via feigned or self-induced illnesses. 

Cluster B personality disordered abusers often label their victims with physical or mental illnesses so they get away with their abuse.  Some of them actually take this a step further and make themselves sick if they feel threatened with abandonment to manipulate you back into the relationship frequently after you have tried to establish a boundary with them.  
I have the burning desire tonight to find out if so many victims of abuse, albeit not psychiatrists or psychologists, labeling their abusers as a narcissist when in fact they might have factitious disorder, Aka Munchausen Syndrome/ Munchausen Syndrome by proxy?  Or is factitious disorder actually the love child of a cluster B personality disorder and something else?  

Usually, the fact that this toxic individual either made themselves sick or someone else sick to manipulate those around them is the last thing a survivor ends up thinking about or talking about with others.  By the time we leave these relationships all the other horrible situations these walking nightmares manufactured for us somehow outranked the heinousness of the falsified illness.  Or the living hell of witnessing one of their self-induced reactions to a medication while making it look like they were actually suffering from a major health condition. 
We are too busy fighting false allegations, being ostracized for other manufactured problems, or dealing with a pending police investigation that’s been looming over our heads or some other cluster B manufactured catastrophe.  The list of shit we must deal with at this point makes a feigned illness pale in comparison.  Sure, we are disturbed to think about it, however, given enough time and open dialog this theme appears repeatedly in narcissistic abuse survivor groups. 

Cluster B, ya dig?

Before going any further I want to quickly throw in a brief over view of what a Cluster B personality disorder is.  More than likely if you landed on this article you are somewhat aware of this terminology or you will be very soon.  Many survivors of abuse find their way here while googling for answers to the crazy they just lived through and are currently trying to claw their way out of the depths of hell.  Below is a quick run down of what Cluster B personality disorder means.

With that said, I wouldn’t go out of your way to use this as evidence to illustrate to your abuser that they do have a personality disorder.  Giving them this information will result in two simultaneous reactions: 1. It will put a target on your back and 2. This knowledge will make them feel special in some distorted way as if they had won a trophy and try their best to outshine their cluster B “competition” to see who can exhibit the most severe cluster B behavior….. with you as their target.

DSM 5, Cluster B- Dramatic, Emotional & Erratic

There are lies…. And then there are Cluster B lies…

Let’s face it, this cluster of personality disorders tells so many lies that even their lies have lies.  The disturbing part is that they are well adept at keeping their lies in order.  Do yourself a favor and believe who they are the first time they show you and trust your gut.  If you have a feeling that someone is lying to you but you can’t put your finger on what they are lying about then they are probably lying about everything they have ever told you.

While in the past there has been little research into the association between Factitious Disorder (a whole new level of lying that can result in death) and personality disorders, like borderline personality disorder or narcissistic personality disorder (NPD), forensic psychologists are working to close this gap.  To really dissect the anatomy of a cluster B lie we need to start by delving into how these falsehoods will be, or were, used to exploit you. 

According to scholars there are two basic kinds of lies which are aggressive and defensive.  The aggressive lie is one that is commonly associated with the wrath of a narcissist and is typically used to destroy lives.  These lies are exaggerations of the truth or completely deceptive and told out of revenge.  They show up in our lives in the form of false allegations that very well could land us in jail or worse. 

The defensive lie is used in a more manipulative way.  These are the lies that are told to get out of trouble to avoid facing the severe consequences of illegal behavior OR to gain your sympathy and support.  One of the biggest forms of these lies shows up when someone intentionally makes themselves sick in order to keep you around.  I mean really, what normal person can leave a relationship when someone is deathly ill?

If you have crossed paths with one of these toxic individuals you have undoubtedly experienced both aggressive and defensive lying on their part.  Narcissists, psychopaths, and sociopaths manipulate their victims through many avenues of deception which results in the use of a string of lies to keep reality at bay and you in your place.  In other words, these predators require people to exploit to fulfill their own needs and they get better at it as they age because they have already had practice on a string of victims before you. 

Cluster B’s intentionally create a series of lies that eventually build up to an entirely distorted reality for all involved and they know exactly what they are doing the entire time.  Always keep in mind, they are morally insane not legally insane.  Further on the topic, recent research suggests that “Pseudologia fantastica (PF) also referred to as “mythomania”, “deception syndrome”, “pathological lying” is defined as a disproportionate falsification that may be extensive, complicated, and presents over a period of years or even a lifetime.”[i]  

Many victims of psychological and emotional abuse find that they are not believed when they reach out for help since their abusers have been lying to them and about them for so long.  The reality of everyone around the abuser and the victim is distorted beyond comprehension.  Most of the time people are so uncomfortable when faced with the reality and gravity of the lie that they would prefer the lie to truth.  These people are usually called Flying Monkeys.  Read about soul murder here.

This level of manipulation is unfathomable and the moment you realize the extent of their lies you are in for a whole new treat in the Cluster B hellhole they’ve created in your life. The process of them realizing they have an opportunity to exploit you, ending in a web of lies you are forced to grasp, from start to finish is the equivalent to a shark smelling a drop of fresh blood 10 miles down the coastline. 

True to predatory nature they want more of you and they want it now.  You are a drug.  You are a meal ticket. The difference between sharks and human predators is that people will sometimes manipulate their prey by asking for help before giving the final death blow while sharks go for the kill straight away. 

Personality disordered individuals will weave a web of lies regarding their, or your, illness to gain sympathy, to break down boundaries which will leave you groomed and ready to accept the full extent of their rage and wrath.  The moment you realize that this person has been intentionally making themselves sick is hair raising.  A part of you will want to confront them but deep in your gut you know that if you alert them to the fact that you’re on to them it will be game over for you.  Do yourself a favor and keep your mouth shut while slowly backing away.

Soul Cannibals will pretend to be sick to manipulate you

After dealing with a narcissist, psychopath, borderline personality disordered individual you will gradually try to wrap your mind around the different ways they have manipulated you with their pathological lies.  You will most likely be very embarrassed to even speak about the events that led you to find and read this article which is why I am sitting here writing it tonight.  I too am trying to understand the epic mind fuck of my journey with a Cluster B.

Thankfully for us, criminologist have been promoting the need for and conducting extensive research into the area of the individuals who intentionally deceive others with self-induced illnesses.  These illnesses can be either physical or mental and sometimes both.  
It is no secret that many criminal deviants will pretend to be mentally incompetent to get a reduced sentence or just a better deal for themselves in general.   

An article published in the Journal of Behavioral Sciences & The Law states that, “if a defendant successfully feigns a psychiatric disorder and is not found to present a substantial risk by reason of mental illness or mental defect, the final result can be outright release and the avoidance of all criminal and civil commitment sanctions.”[ii]   The interesting thing about this research is that it is highlighting the lifelong patterns of those with cluster B personality disorders and their use of deception while feigning illnesses and their reasoning for doing so. 

This knowledge leaves me with this sick feeling in my gut that knows a lot of innocent lives could have been saved had a connection between self-induced illness to manipulate others and criminal behavior had been made centuries ago.  Experts working within the legal system are now calling for those within the field of psychiatry to research and investigate this phenomena in depth to assist police officers and the courts with criminal prosecutions and to weed out false allegations of crimes.

Accused of false allegations? Ask a Lawyer
This sentiment was clearly articulated by researchers in the Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology while highlighting the need for a distinction between intentional and unintentional lies that lead to illness and crimes in order to mitigate problems currently trending within the court and legal systems. 

The current diagnostic system captures intentional deception around physical or psychological problems but does not allow for diagnosis around prominent, purposeless deception within other realms (e.g., false accusations). In addition to reviewing the literature, we also report the case of a 22-year-old female who made frequent, dramatic false accusations against others for no apparent reason, and who possessed an unusual ability to convince others to collaborate in her lying. Her lies eventually resulted in a number of people being criminally charged, including a friend being imprisoned for over a year for staging an elaborate abduction, the burning of an apartment building, and the investigation of a small child for arson. Implications and suggestions for future research are discussed. [iii]
Researchers in the field are now finding that many of the criminals that are eventually diagnosed with cluster B personality disorders have regularly manipulated others via illness throughout their lives.  We also know that many individuals with cluster B personality disorders go undiagnosed and un-incarcerated.

Malingering & Factitious Disorder

This brings me back to my original questions on the subject of if our abusers are undiagnosed as a cluster B personality disorder and make themselves sick for a personal gain like money which is found with malingering or if they are undiagnosed as having Munchhausen syndrome or Munchhausen syndrome by proxy?

With Malingering the individual is fully aware of what they are doing to themselves.  Their illness is manufactured with a specific purpose in mind.  “Malingering is defined in DSM-5 as “the intentional production of false or grossly exaggerated physical or psychological symptoms motivated by external incentives such as avoiding military duty, avoiding work, obtaining financial compensation, evading criminal prosecution or obtaining drugs’’.[iv] Malingering is a behavior exhibited by most of the narcissists, sociopaths, and psychopaths in our lives.  These manufactured illnesses sometimes go on for years as seen with those feigning psychiatric illnesses to manipulate those around them for things like a tiny disability check every month. 

While malingering is the behavior of a disturbed individual it pales in comparison to Factitious disorder.  Those with suspected factitious disorder go above and beyond in the realm of intentional self-harm.  These individuals are aware of what they are doing but go further than simply simulating a disease or illness.  They intentionally make themselves ill and intentionally inflict harm on themselves but usually for sympathy or control in a relationship. 

They consciously interfere with their own healing process and will even ingest medications known to produce severe adverse effects.  In fact, they have probably practiced the exact dosage of a medication they will need to ingest to make themselves ill quickly.  They become experts at the necessary dosage to take to give themselves convulsions, seizures or to suddenly appear to have a combination of other mystery ailments that come out of nowhere and they need your help with because they are too sick to do it alone.   This will usually happen after an argument and especially after you try to establish boundaries.

In my quest for knowledge I stumbled upon the following article which has been very helpful in finding some sort of closure from my own volatile experience.  This article examined the relationship between borderline personality disorder and a co-morbidity with factitious disorder and I’ll be the first to say this publication was long overdue and much appreciated.

There are few data on the relationship between factitious disorder and BPD. However, there are several case reports in the literature that affirm an association between BPD and the factitious symptoms of hemiplegia, blindness, and rape. Factitious disorder by proxy has also been associated with BPD. In addition to case reports, Goldstein reported that 11/19 (58%) patients with factitious disorder met the criteria for BPD; based upon these findings, he suggested a new classification of factitious disorder that would account for the presence of BPD. Rothenhausler and Kapfhammer stated that the majority of patients with factitious disorder suffer from Cluster B personality disorders, particularly BPD. Bouden and colleagues indicated that in factitious disorder by proxy, the perpetrator of the surreptitious symptoms is most likely suffering from BPD.  Finally, the association between factitious disorder and BPD has been previously suggested and discussed by Sansone and Sansone. The elemental psychological association between these two DSM disorders seems to be that the self-destructive behavior observed in BPD may be actualized through a self-harming pattern of contrived or simulated symptoms—which may be experienced by the patient through surreptitious medications, procedures, and/or surgeries.[v]

And you, the one sitting there reading these words most likely know firsthand the significance of these statements in your life because I sure do.  There are some situations that happen to us that we might never heal from or find closure from but the above paragraph sure did bring me a little closer and It’s my hope that it will help you too. My suspicions are officially confirmed and it makes so much sense.  There is no end to the lies they will tell to the point of intentional self-harm.

Boundaries, what are they good for?

Normal people don’t stop to ask themselves if a person is possibly lying about their poor health or other situations that cause them to struggle. While making this point it is also important to recognize when an individual actually is suffering from a chronic illness and really does need help.  You will know the difference by their actions and just know that the truth has no choice but to come out either way. It is a normal human reaction to want to assist someone with their dilemma’s or poor health.  It usually isn’t until we are knee deep in a web of lies that we realize we have been duped by the soul cannibal in our life.   

The number one reason you need to establish boundaries is right here.

Many times, we get so focused on solving the problems they’ve thrown in our laps that we don’t even realize that this toxic person began crossing little boundaries in their sick attempts to manipulate us which resulted in them crossing major boundaries down the line.  If this has happened to you don’t feel bad.  

Just know that you are normal and capable of putting yourself in the shoes of those around you.  You are emotionally and neurologically capable of being a loving and kind person.  You have the ability within you to believe in the good of people.  Most of all, you are most likely not someone that other people will need therapy for after knowing you.  

Ten steps to no contact here.

We can never plan on being deceived but we also can’t go through our lives as if each person we meet is a crime scene after an experience like this.  As far as boundaries go, remember to establish them, remember to enforce them, and remember to trust your gut.  The last point to remember is that if someone repeatedly fails to respect the boundaries you have established it is not your job to keep reminding them.  



Birch, C. D., Kelln, B. C., & Aquino, E. B. (2006). A review and case report of pseudologia fantastica. Journal of Forensic Psychiatry & Psychology, 17(2), 299-320. doi:10.1080/14789940500485128

Chandra, N., Bagra, I., & Pattanayak, R. (2017). INTENTIONAL PRODUCTION OF SYMPTOMS: A NARRATIVE REVIEW. ASEAN Journal of Psychiatry, 18(1), 95-104.

Gordon, D. K., & Sansone, R. A. (2013). A RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN FACTITIOUS DISORDER AND BORDERLINE PERSONALITY DISORDER. Innovations in Clinical Neuroscience, 10(11/12), 11-13.

Korenis, P., Gonzalez, L., Kadriu, B., Tyagi, A., & Udolisa, A. (2015). Pseudologia fantastica: Forensic and clinical treatment implications. Comprehensive Psychiatry, 5617-20. doi: 10.1016/j.comppsych.2014.09.009

Kucharski, L. T., Duncan, S., Egan, S. S., & Falkenbach, D. M. (2006). Psychopathy and malingering of psychiatric disorder in criminal defendants. Behavioral Sciences & The Law, 24(5), 633-644.

Westbrook, L. F., & Jackson, M. H. (2009). Borderline Personality Disorder: New Research. New York: Nova Science Publishers, Inc.

[i] Pseudologia fantastica: Forensic and clinical treatment implications. P. 18
[ii] A review and case report of pseudologia fantastica. 
[iii] A review and case report of pseudologia fantastica.