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My Former Step-Son Keeps Admitting to Things He Didn’t Do: Why?

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When taking a polygraph, my former step-son keeps creating scenarios that never occurred. We know this because they are about other family members. When the family member is questioned about rather something actually happened or not, they deny the scenario ever occurring. My former step-son is borderline developmentally delayed, had ADHD (and is off his meds because the school said he doesn’t need them, so we are having difficulty with behaviors at home including: lying, impulsivity such as stealing, emotional outbursts, being spiteful (telling me he doesn’t want me in his *blank* life when angry)), and he’s bipolar. He also hears hallucinations from time to time but ignores them.
He is currently on probation for a crime I believe he didn’t commit (but I’m not the law). The scenario happened at his mother’s apartment. However, when I first questioned him about it before he started his court appointed therapy, he told me it happened at his friend’s house. He was very confused about the details until his court appointed therapy.
He has no concept of time, due to his cognitive impairment. He says things happened a few months ago, which really happened two years ago. Then gets in trouble for it and DCF is called to investigate.
Recently, on his last polygraph (he has taken two), he admitted to doing something this January. The counselor kept asking him what happened in January. Finally, he imagined something that happened and told them. They said they have to get DCF back out to talk to him and he may be going back to jail. After talking with cousin he supposedly did something with, we know that nothing happened.
Why does he keep admitting to things he didn’t do? Why does he keep imagining things that never happened? (He once told me a scenario that if it had happened, his cousin would have never talked to him again. When I asked him for details, he couldn’t provide them. I’m pretty sure he imagined that too.) Thank you for your time.

My Former Step-Son Keeps Admitting to Things He Didn’t Do: Why?

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It’s difficult to know why your stepson behaves in a particular way without being able to interview him. Thus, my response will be general in nature.

It’s possible that his developmental delays are contributing to this problem. It’s also possible that he’s confused and does not fully understand the difference between truth and lies, or perhaps reality and non-reality. I’m also wondering if he’s ever sustained brain trauma or a head injury. Brain damage might also be contributing to his behavior.

I can’t help but wonder why he is taking a polygraph test in the first place? Was he forced to because of his criminal justice system involvement? Polygraphs are not fully reliable which is why they are not permitted in court. It has been theorized that they are measuring stress and not necessarily truth or lies.

Even if you understood the reason why he lies, it would likely not make it easier to deal with them. In all likelihood, his repeated involvement in the criminal justice system is distressing to the family. It would be advantageous to consult a family therapist who could assist your family in navigating these difficult issues. It’s best to utilize all available help and support.

If you would like to write back and ask more specific questions, I will then try to provide a more detailed answer. Hopefully, with the support of a counselor or other friends and professionals, you and your family can overcome these challenging issues. Thank you for your question.

Dr. Kristina Randle

My Former Step-Son Keeps Admitting to Things He Didn’t Do: Why?

Therapists live, online right now, from BetterHelp:

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW

Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.

APA Reference
Randle, K. (2018). My Former Step-Son Keeps Admitting to Things He Didn’t Do: Why?. Psych Central. Retrieved on November 27, 2020, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 13 Apr 2018 (Originally: 15 Apr 2018)
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 13 Apr 2018
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