By Dr. Kim Logan-Nowlin & Arthur E. Nowlin, LMSW, CAADC
Back to Blog
This article was written by Dr. Kim and Arthur Nowlin for Message Magazine : Drama Files
Edward and Natalie met through a mutual friend while attending a graduation celebration. They dated for two years and have been married for 13 years. During that time they traveled and built a wonderful life together, so it seemed.
Edward works as an executive for a major company and Natalie is a dentist in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. Together they worked very hard to save their finances for their agreed-upon future endeavors.
One day as Natalie reviewed the transactions in one of their accounts she noted expenditures that were not clearly justified. She decided that before calling Edward, she would go to the bank herself. The banker told her $10,000 had been withdrawn from their joint account. When he showed her a printout of the debit card usage she thought there had to be an error. The card number belonged to Edward, but they could not determine where the money had gone.
That evening Natalie waited up for Edward to come home, but decided to go to bed when he didn’t show. When he tried to leave the house early the next morning, Natalie was already awake. She asked him what he had been doing and what happened to the $10,000 from the joint bank account. Edward, furious with her for questioning him, walked out slamming the door.
After a few days of avoiding Natalie, Edward told her that he had been gambling for a long time and was taking money out of the account over the months, just a little at time. She trusted his version of events and told him that she would go to counseling with him to work through his problem. Although he was very reluctant to attend he agreed.
Unfortunately, the storm lurked just ahead, threatening to sink and destroy their entire relationship because Edward was still lying regarding his true addiction. After three months in counseling and all appeared to be mending between Edward and Natalie the real truth came to light.
Open Up, In the Name of the Law
One afternoon a probation officer came to meet with Edward for his monthly visit. Usually, Edward visited his probation officer in his office in downtown Detroit. On this day, however, the PO visited and Natalie happened to have take the day off from work.
It turned out that Edward was serving three years probation for soliciting an undercover female police officer for sex. He had been going to strip clubs and soliciting prostitutes for five years and in addition to probation, he had to pay fines and lawyer fees.
While she was meeting with the probation officer Edward walked in on their meeting and was stunned. He finally admitted that he had an addiction to pornography for more than twenty years, managed to stop after they were married, but went off the rails at his new job. His colleagues there routinely patronized strip clubs during lunch and after work.
At first, Edward said, no one missed a few dollars from the account, but one day he noticed that almost all the money was gone. He got comfortable in his lies when no one detected that the money was gone, and Natalie didn’t know. He convinced himself that there would be no consequences. His lies covered his whereabouts when she tried to reach him at his office or on his cell phone. Edward convinced himself that as a habitual liar, he was pretty good.
Help For the Habitual Liar
Edward and Natalie attend counseling with Arthur and me to work through and understand the consequences of his lies. Compulsive lying disorder affects the sufferer and those that care about them tremendously. She has forgiven her husband and he has worked diligently to repay the money to their account. He also attends sex addiction therapy, meets regularly with his probation officer and attends church services with Natalie.
Treatment options for this disorder can only be effective if the person with the compulsive lying disorder agrees to treatment. In most cases, friends and family have to learn to adapt in order to maintain the relationship. Therapy addresses the addictive aspect of the disorder and helps the individual understand his or her behavior and how it impacts others. Later, we introduce measures to help change the way of thinking. Some psychiatrists prescribe antidepressants to treat underlying depression and self-esteem. Further, they may prescribe anti-anxiety medications to decrease the feelings of anxiety that may unconsciously prompt the individual to lie.
Hiding and Lying versus Openness and Honesty
A lie that one has told over and over can become one’s reality, at least in that person’s mind. We know our clients who have habitual lying disorder carry a heavy burden on a daily basis. They accrue very damaging and long-range effects too. One lie turns into many lies and the well gets deeper and deeper until there is no way out. When Edward hid from his inner demons, he trapped himself, a factor that reminds us all to meet issues head on rather than running and hiding. Throughout the recovery period, individuals with habitual lying disorder need help setting boundaries and maintaining them. Every part of recovery must be based on not reliving the past but learning from the past.
One must stop looking for the happiness in lust and through a sinful nature and find inner peace in Christ and within yourself. During the treatment process Edward re-dedicated his life to God, his wife and to himself.
We changed the names to protect the innocent.