Republican-elect George Santos is currently embarrassed while some of the lies he has concocted since the beginning of his career have come to light. Is the politician mythomaniac? We spoke to a psychologist about it.
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First, what exactly is mythomania?
Let’s get something straight first: everyone lies. Therefore, to know if we are dealing with a mythomaniac, it is necessary to go back to the very basis of lying – there are several types – but also to question the motivation that drives the person to lie and the frequency , with which they lie, explains the psychologist Geneviève Beaulieu-Pelletier.
Don’t worry: telling someone their pants fit them well when they don’t, won’t make you a mythomaniac. The same goes for a child who lies to get what they want.
A mythomaniac person will often lie and even go so far as to alter reality in order to present themselves in a beautiful light and be more grandiose, she explains.
“Often the mythomaniac is in seduction mode and very often charismatic,” notes the psychologist. She adds that a mythomaniac is often a fragile, overly emotional person who has a strong dependence on the gaze of others.
So the killer question: Is George Santos a mythomaniac?
Without being able to make a diagnosis, there are very clear elements in the history of the American politician of Brazilian descent that could lead one to believe that he is a mythomaniac, such as the fact that “having built a whole life that did not happen “.
In the past, Rep. Santos has repeatedly repeated various inconsistencies about his life.
Among other things, he claimed that his mother died in the September 11 attacks, that his maternal grandparents survived the Holocaust, that he was Jewish and that he had worked for large and respected Wall Street corporations. However, all of these claims have been denied.
“It’s still very big, the lies that have been formulated. We’re not talking about a résumé full of lies to get a job at a little shop around the corner. It’s really about exposing yourself and representing people while being misleading. There is a difference between beautifying and inventing,” says Geneviève Beaulieu-Pelletier.
How do you become a mythomaniac?
We are not born mythomanic, we become one. It is not an official diagnosis of a mental illness, but part of a personality disorder. Several cases of mythomania are triggered, among other things, by trauma or humiliation in childhood.
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“[Le mensonge] can be a foundation when one is not feeling glorious, to counteract the humiliation and to build a shell by saying to oneself, “I will no longer be the one who is rejected. I will be more grandiose,” says the psychologist.
And when a lie has borne fruit, like when he’s granted access to a promotion, “it’s certain that that will encourage him even more to lie” and want to control the narrative, she adds.
Do mythomaniacs believe their lies?
There could be a certain escapism, argues Geneviève Beaulieu-Pelletier.
“Are you aware that her CV is full of lies, for example? Yes. There’s a contact with reality, but there’s not necessarily a level of consciousness to know why she’s doing it,” she exemplifies.
For a mythomaniac, lying can become a way to regulate their emotional state and social situations, such as consumption for some people.
Can it be treated, mythomania?
According to Geneviève Beaulieu-Pelletier, this is case-by-case.
In addition, since some people are mythomaniacs to protect themselves from reality, they will not seek help. But that doesn’t necessarily mean there’s nothing to do.
“The mythomaniac also needs the other person in order for his lie to work. If it no longer works and the deception is uncovered, it can be a window for intervention,” says the psychologist.
The mythomaniac person could also fall into a deep depression, which can be a gateway to psychological help.