Psychopaths are pathological liars. We lie to the people we meet and we lie to ourselves. I would surmise that a differentiator between the successful psychopath and the unsuccessful psychopath is not only the magnitude of the lie but the frequency of the lies as well. Some psychopaths come up with incredible lies worthy of their self-grandiosity. Some, like myself, tell mostly truth so that falsehoods are swallowed whole. It is a diverse spectrum of lying, but there is one constant that unifies all psychopaths: we lie to get what we want and feel no remorse over those lies we have spun.
The grand and easily discernible lie is one that should be employed sparingly. I remember when I was in college and applying for a prestigious scholarship. One of the criteria for determining whom would receive the scholarship involved future plans after college. I spun a marvelous story about academia, bettering lives, and other angelic aspirations that I had no intention of ever fulfilling. I did not receive the scholarship, however, even though my academic marks were much higher than others that applied for, and received, the scholarship. I suspect that part of the reason that I did not receive the endowment, all other things being held equal, is that I made my account too grand. The more extreme the account, the more evidence is needed to back it up. Most individuals, regardless of antisocial orientation, cannot back up such extreme stories.
What I’ve learned since then – and what is a trait that I am convinced that successful psychopaths possess – is that lies need to be much smaller in scale and much more infrequent in nature. I think back, also to my college days, in which I would develop rapport with the professors and then engage in work with them, be it grading papers or tutoring or any number of other things I could do to raise my status a bit. I would volunteer “struggles” that I had with the various jobs – such as not understanding the material, needing to learn how to teach better, etc. – so that when I wanted days off, I could play the illness or emergency card without anyone being the wiser. People want to believe those that they think are trustworthy and truthful. The psychopath knows how to exploit this perfectly.
All psychopaths lie. Some tell big lies and are found out, while some tell small ones on occasion and succeed with their subversion. The key to being a good liar is to tell mostly truth and to be subtle with those lies that are required. I’ve matured much at nearly thirty years at age, however I am certainly still a liar in many circles. I simply am more selective with where and when I lie.