Suzy Bass — What is Pseudologia Fantastica?
She Said She Had Breast Cancer—But She Lied
“Suzy Bass had less than a year to live. The Knoxville, Tennessee, high school math teacher was battling stage IV breast cancer, and it had spread to her shoulder and heel. . . . “Everyone just loved her immediately. We could tell her anything.” . . . Webb’s students dedicated their prom fund-raiser to her . . . A week before the big dance, though, the school received a series of troubling phone calls. Bass, they said, was making the whole thing up. . . . A week after getting exposed, Bass pulled down her Facebook account, changed her phone number and disappeared. In her wake, she left a community of angry, bewildered people with many unanswered questions: How did she do it? How could we not have known? And the biggest, most puzzling one of all: Why?”
I first learned of pseudologia fantastica from a Discovery Channel documentary, Why We Lie. The only reference to the documentary I can find is at a business ethics site (they are extremely harmful to the workplace): Why We Lie
Though the word wasn’t used, it was apparent that pseudologues were also sociopaths — guileless manipulative ability, inspiring pity, geniuses at making others feel sorry for them, the truth was of no concern, amoral, etc. Apparently some researchers agree, some don’t — but there’s very little material on pseudologues. Wikipedia entry
From the few (two to be exact) I believe I have known I would say they are definitely sociopathic, but with a twist. Most sociopaths are not impaired at all in terms of reality testing. Pseudologues however don’t seem to realize there is a difference between reality and the stating of it, apparently unaware that reality is actually real. Furthermore, apparently their brains are structurally different. Habitual Liar Brains Look Different On Scans
The ones I knew were extreme sociopaths, they might as well have been emotionless machines that could calculate the proper emotional response incredibly quickly. In acting terms, the reaction was however a beat off, a noticeable delay — but why notice if the sociopath is saying everything you want to hear or has drawn you into their fantasy or has captured your caring nature to take of them.
Latest pseudologue (9/10/10): One more cancer hoax story: Jessica Vega, http://www.aolhealth.com/2010/09/08/jessica-vegas-cancer-hoax/. While the article doesn’t mention pseudologia fantastica or sociopathy directly, it does mention antisocial personality disorder which is a great advance.