Dangerous Mind Games: How Psychopaths Manipulate and Deceive

We’ve all been burned by psychopaths largely because we fell for their lies and their lines.  The better informed people are with their techniques of deception, the more they can recognize them and protect themselves against them. A psychopath gets you within his power largely through deception. As Cleckley noted in The Mask of Sanity, the main reason why people are easily taken in by their lies is not because the lies themselves are that convincing, but because of the psychopaths’ effective rhetorical strategies. What are those?

1. Glibness and Charm. We’ve already seen that these are two of the main personality traits of psychopaths. They know how to use them to their advantage. Psychopaths lie very easily and in a smooth manner. They often pass lie detector tests as well because such tests register emotion, not deception. Psychopaths tend to remain cool under pressure. They can tell you the most implausible stories–such as when they get a call from their girlfriend but tell you that it’s a random call from a jailbird–but do it so matter-of-factly that it makes you want to believe them. Sometimes they distract you from the content of their words with their charm. They look at you lovingly, stroke your hair or your arm and punctuate their speech with kisses, caresses and tender words, so that you’re mesmerized by them instead of focusing on what they’re actually saying.

2. Analogies and Metaphors. Because their facts are so often fabrications, psychopaths often rely upon analogies and metaphors to support their false or manipulative statements. For instance, if they wish to persuade you to cheat on your husband or significant other, they may present their case in the form of an analogy. They may ask you to think of the cheating (or breaking up with your current partner) as a parent who is sparing his drafted child greater harm by breaking his leg to save him from going to war. This analogy doesn’t work at all, of course, if you stop and think about it. Your significant other isn’t drafted to be dumped for a psychopath. You’re not sparing him any pain by breaking his leg or, in this case, his heart. You’re only giving credit to the psychopath’s sophistry and misuse of analogy to play right into his hands, thus hurting both yourself and your spouse.

3. Slander. A psychopath often slanders others, to discredit them and invalidate their truth claims. He projects his faults and misdeeds upon those he hurts. To establish credibility, he often maligns his wife or girlfriend, attributing the failure of his relationship to her faults or misdeeds rather than his own.

4. Circumlocution. When you ask a psychopath a straightforward question that requires a straightforward answer, he usually goes round and round in circles or talks about something else altogether. For instance, when you ask him where he was on the previous night, sometimes he lies. At other times, he tries to divert you by bringing up another subject. He may also use flattery, such as saying how sexy your voice sounds and how much you turn him on. Such distractions are intended to cloud your reasoning and lead you to forget your original question.

5. Evasion. Relatedly, psychopaths can be very evasive. When you ask a psychopath a specific question, he will sometimes answer in general terms, talking about humanity, or men, or women, or whatever: anything but his own self and actions, which is what you were inquiring about in the first place.

6. Pointing Fingers at Others. When you accuse a psychopath of wrongdoing, he’s likely to tell you that another person is just as bad as him or that humanity in general is. The first point may or may not be true. At any rate, it’s irrelevant. So what if person x, y or z–say, one of the psychopath’s friends or girlfriends–has done similarly harmful things or manifests some of his bad qualities? The most relevant point to you, if you’re the psychopath’s partner, should be how he behaves and what his actions say about him. The second point is patently false. All human beings have flaws, of course. But we don’t all suffer from an incurable personality disorder. If you have any doubts about that, then you should research the matter. Google his symptoms, look up psychopathy and see if all or even most of the people you know exhibit them. Of course, even normal individuals can sometimes be manipulative, can sometimes lie and can sometimes cheat. But that doesn’t make our actions comparable to the magnitude of remorseless deceit, manipulation and destruction that psychopaths are capable of. Furthermore, most of us, whatever our flaws, care about others.

7. Fabrication of Details. In The Postmodern Condition, Jean-François Lyotard shows how offering a lot of details makes a lie sound much more plausible. When you give a vague answer, your interlocutor is more likely to sense evasion and pursue her inquiries. But when you present fabricated details–such as when you are with your girlfriend in a hotel room but tell your wife that you were with your male buddy named X, at a Chinese restaurant named Y and ate General Gao chicken and rice which cost a mere $ 5 at a restaurant and discussed your buddy’s troubles with his girlfriend, who has left him because he cheated too much on her–your wife’s more likely to believe your elaborate fiction. Because they excel at improvisation, psychopaths are excellent fabricators of details. Even novelists have reason to envy their ability to make up false but believable “facts” on the spot.

8. Playing upon your Emotions. Very often, when confronted with alternative accounts of what happened, psychopaths play upon your emotions. For example, if his girlfriend compares notes with the wife, a psychopath is likely to ask his wife: “Who are you going to believe? Me or her?” This reestablishes complicity with the wife against the girlfriend, testing the wife’s love and loyalty to him. It also functions as a subterfuge. That way he doesn’t have to address the information offered by the other source. To anybody whose judgment remains unclouded by the manipulations of a psychopath, the answer should be quite obvious. Just about any person, even your garden-variety cheater and liar, is far more credible than a psychopath. But to a woman whose life and emotions are wrapped around the psychopath, the answer is likely to be that she prefers to believe him over his girlfriend or anybody else for that matter. Even in such a hopeless situation–if a psychopath’s partner doesn’t want to face the truth about him–it’s still important to share information with her. Psychopaths form co-dependent, addictive bonds with their so-called “loved” ones. They’re as dangerous to their partners as any hard drug is likely to be. If their partners know about their harmful actions and about their personality disorder, then at least they’re willingly assuming the risk. Everyone has the right to make choices in life, including the very risky one of staying with a psychopath. But at least they should make informed choices, so that they know whom they’re choosing and are prepared for the negative consequences of their decision.

Deception constitutes a very entertaining game for psychopaths. They use one victim to lie to another. They use both victims to lie to a third. They spin their web of mind-control upon all those around them. They encourage antagonisms or place distance among the people they deceive, so that they won’t compare notes and discover the lies. Often they blend in aspects of the truth with the lies, to focus on that small grain of truth if they’re caught. The bottom line remains that psychopaths are malicious sophists. It really doesn’t matter how often they lie or how often they tell the truth. Psychopaths use both truth and lies instrumentally, to persuade others to accept their false and self-serving version of reality and to get them under their control. For this reason, it’s pointless to try to sort out the truth from the lies. As M. L. Gallagher, a contributor to the website lovefraud.com has eloquently remarked, psychopaths themselves are the lie. From hello to goodbye, from you’re beautiful to you’re ugly, from you’re the woman of my life to you mean nothing to me, from beginning to end, the whole relationship with a psychopath is one big lie.

For a fictionalized representation of a psychopathic social predator, check out my new novel, The Seducer, previewed on the links below:


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140 Comments

  1. Another great article Claudia and so so true. My ex would never answer a direct question. Especially when we split up. When I asked him if he ever loved me he said “that was irrelevant now”. They will NEVER give a straight answer, and this lying from them is what is mostly to blame for the victims of them then being totally headf*ked and ruminating constantly over what was said, how it was said, what did it mean?? My ex also was (and probably still would be) highly abusive to me if I ever asked anything about what he did or why he did it. I get accused of bringing up things that are not relevant, that “put people’s (ie his!) backs up…that I’m not interesting – because you ask a question that matters to you and you need the truth. His rage and blame would upset me so much that I would never want to ask anything again. Which was what he wanted.
    lesleyxxxx

  2. Lesley, I’m glad this article resonated with your experience as well. It’s written from mine, not just specialized readings about psychopathy. I have so many examples of my ex’s pathological lying, I could fill out entire volumes with them. Just one example: when he was trying to get back together right after I broke up with him in December 2007, he told me he was celibate, living like a monk, pining for me. Meanwhile, his wife told my husband that they were having sex frequently and he had even given her a list of “nonnegotiable” sexual positions. After my husband shared with me this bit of information, to prove to me I almost made a collosal mistake in choosing this guy over him, I confronted the psychopath with his obvious lie. He was had an answer, as usual, when caught in a lie: that his wife doesn’t count since he’s not sexually attracted to her. The whole notion of a nonnegotiable contract also raised additional red flags, needless to say. If it’s nonnegotiable, it sounds like a sex slave contract to me. Or something very similar and, at any rate, extremely degrading for his wife. At the same time, of course, he was also looking for women on dating and adult websites plus seeing his various friends with benefits, flings, etc. This “monk” certainly belongs in a nunnery (the Shakespearean, “get thee to a nunnery” kind!). Claudia

  3. Claudia, thanks for another excellent article. Like your and Lesley’s experience, my ex-P was an expert at evasion and circumlocution; trying to get a straight answer out of her sometimes required Tylenol. What was perhaps the most frustrating was that there was always some degree of truth in the things she said, as if to make the lies more legitimate. And anything to do with money was so shrouded in secrecy. I remember asking her long ago how much she charges her clients per hour, and she just went round and round in circles. A whole year later she finally (and almost painfully) divulged her hourly rate, as if it were some big deal. The hourly rates for personal trainers are publicly posted at every gym in the area, yet this was obviously a great big secret for her.

  4. Julian, your note is one more confirmation (one of many) that male and female psychopaths operate the same way. The secrecy is to enable lying, hiding, fudging, and cheating: in the example you gave, her customers. They’re frauds in their personal lives and they’re fraudulent in their business practices as well. Claudia

  5. Claudia and Julian
    That is just hilarious in an awful way!! His wife didn’t count??!! My god. i think we may have dated the same man..hahahaha.
    My ex had a fuck buddy and when I asked him if was still seeing her – he said “no I don’t fuck her anymore, I used to fuck her”..(sorry about the language but you need it for the general idea really) – so I said “but you have threesomes with her with your ex girlfriend so that is sexual relations is it not?” – his answer was that he allowed her to suck him off as she was “not good enough to be fucked by him anymore”. So I suppose an answer in sorts. And of course this behaviour would be perfectly acceptable to any new girlfriends he has no doubt??!! When I asked him last year when i was living with him if he still saw his ex gf at AA meetings..he said no, i haven’t seen or heard from her for years. Sadly i knew this was a lie as I had found an email from her from only months before. I did not however know at the time that they were still having threesomes together.
    Julian, you are right too. Even with things that there is no need to be secretive about they put up all these walls and smokescreens. I am sure it is all so they make you even more crazy because then you start to think “well why are they doing that??”…my ex said that I thought I knew what he was like inside out, and to be honest I did the more time I spent with him and i think it did unnerve him. Sadly I only knew and sussed him when i was in close proximity to him and had been there a while and I could read him like a book, and I think that is why he destroyed me so much. Hated me really. As i said in my post above, my ex would try to and no doubt still would, shut me up by abuse, rage, threats to never see him again, that i was vile, mad, nosey, too interested in his life. Sorry would one not be when one finds out the person you love is sleeping with anyone and anything?? The lies he told were bad enough, but i think it was the abusive, blaming, insulting, accusing tone he took with me when i questioned him that really did me in.
    lesleyxxx

  6. Also Claudia…its interesting re the non negotiable sex acts…when my ex was trying to use me after we split up his words were…”you can come to the sex club with me, but it’s the conditions that I want clear. I want to be able to date other people, see them as friends or proper dates (eh we all know what that means) see who I like when i like. If I don’t have it this way then, truthfully, its just not worth the pain for me”
    This from a man that i left everything for and lost everything for. And he had the audacity to come out with that statement. Like I was to be thankful!!
    The lies, stories, insults and general messing with your heads that these paths do, male or female, is quite literally mind blowing.
    lesleyxxxx

  7. Julian LOL “trying to get a straight answer out of her sometimes required Tylenol” LOL!! How about Ibuprofen? That is hysterical and I sooooooooo relate!

    Claudia, this is a great article! And much needed as to address what the psychopath DOES and HOW he does it. Mine was the most incredible liar ever! He used truth mixed in with lies. this is the major Mind*ucking that they do. It requires twisting one’s brain into a pretzel. There WERE times when I KNEW he was lying to me or telling me some big story….like when he started dating again and would date tons of women during the week, but tell me he was out with the guys LOL, well, that would have made sense except he had no friends that the guy friend “John” didn’t exist! And the story he told about THAT guy was amazing. It makes me SO angry now that I didn’t confront that. Even while he was lying to my face, I just stared at him, but felt like this out of body experience, knowing it was a lie and then just shut down and didn’t ask anymore questions. The lies are PURPOSEFUL and hurtful, one of the most hurtful things he did to me. This is another pointed reason as to how dangerous they are. The lying is not out of the blue, it is INTENTIONAL. Kel

  8. Lesley,

    Wow, your ex was pretty amazing too. Like Linda’s and Claudia’s. I agree with you, the way they shut you down, is just as painful if not more so, than the lying itself. And all of that can be done because there is NO EMOTION, which underlies everything a psychopath does or says. Kel

  9. Kel, it certainly is intentional–to harm and manipulate others most effectively–though sometimes it’s just to show they can, for no practical purpose whatsoever. Like in the example I just gave, my psychopathic ex lied to me about being celibate like a monk when he was actually giving his wife a list of “nonnegotiable sex positions” AFTER I had already broken up with him. We weren’t together, we’d never be a couple again or even see each other again. There was no good reason for lying to me, except to twist my sense of truth/falsehood and of reality. And also perhaps to prove to me he was still in love, and manipulate me some more, but that wasn’t a real motive since it was very clear his true nature had been exposed and the relationship was over for good. Claudia

  10. Lesley, I hope you said goodbye to your ex immediately after he stated his disgusting conditions! I bet he showed you his true intentions and colors after you left your husband for him. It would have been nice to know it in advance, who you were dealing with. But then you wouldn’t have sacrificed everything for him, which means less of an ego boost for the psychopath. My psychopathic ex told me that he has never been just friends with a woman. It’s only later that I understood what that meant… Claudia

  11. Hi Keli and Claudia.
    Keli..you hit the nail on the head..shut you down. That is what they do exactly!! That is how you feel..as they don’t want you thinking anything so you will never catch on to them. When i think of these things and what we all have gone through on this site, do you not think that we have been incredibly strong? Every one of us? Because i think so many people would maybe just take the blame, the hit for the whole of their lives and it takes such strength to call time on someone, that lets face it, we all were daft about, we all really truly loved and would have done anything for (well not anything but maybe a lot!!)
    Claudia no, i fought for months over that one, because i didn’t know at the time what i was dealing with …why was my ex boyfiend suddenly only wanting me for that?? I could not get my head round it, did he not have any memory of what we had had together?? What i had given up?? It was when i found your site that i slowly realised what he was doing. By that time he had moved onto wanting me to sleep with him and his ex gf but i was the “lucky one that would be fucked…she wouldn’t be Lesley..she can watch…” i mean for godsake??! I am quite liberal in my sexual outlook (which was what he flung in my face in the end) but that is just not about being open minded with sex..that is the breaking down of all moral boundaries. And I, though I may be adventurous, want to be with a loving partner for that and not one that uses it to degrade me and his ex gf of years ago!! Sorry got off the thread there.
    Thank god i have all you, Keli, susan, Julian, Michael, Claudia, linda..i think i’d go mad.
    xxxxxxxxxxxx

  12. Lesley, that’s right, it’s not about sex for psychopaths, much less love. It’s about degradation and humiliation of their victims. Otherwise he’d have been open about his open sexual mores from the beginning and you could have opted out, before becoming emotionally invested in him. And… otherwise they’d choose only women who want sex, not love. But they choose both, and deliberately attempt to corrupt, humiliate and degrade the women who do fall in love with them. That is their biggest sexual trill: the domination and destruction of decent women. I think I have enough alliteration in this comment:). Claudia

  13. Lesley,

    They have no “memory” unless they choose to bring it out of their manipulative hats, dear. :) they have no past and no future, only what they want in the present, which is why he asked you to do that with his ex gf. It’s all about them, and everything they do, is impulsive and IN THE MOMENT. Because they lack emotional depth, they cannot look back upon a moment that you and I, as loving empathic people can, in a romantic or loving way upon a relationship. They never had the DEPTH of emotion to have a collective memory of what would be considered an intimate relationship. Add to this, their level of impulsiveness and deviancy and it’s easy to see why he asked you to participate in a threesome, without thinking about how you might respond or feel. I think in some ways, they give themselves away such as with what he asked you to do, because they believe we think JUST LIKE THEM, and we think or assume THEY THINK JUST LIKE US, when neither is true. There is a whooooole lotta projection going on on both sides. Integrate his behaviors by knowing and understanding them, and in doing so, you’ll know that anything devious he asked of you, is part of the disorder itself. Kel

  14. Claudia
    So true. And my ex said it was all we had in common was sex. What a load of nonsense. And it is, as you say, not about sex, its about making you feel inferior.
    The lies and and gaslighting they do is so damaging, in all areas of the “relationship” . The scars that are caused by their caustic behaviour and treatment of others can run so deep and I hope lots of people find this site and gain the help and advice I have in order to become stronger and heal quicker.
    lesleyxxx

  15. Claudia,

    It’s really sad that his wife would acquiesce to such requests. It’s so obvious who he is in doing so. If she isn’t disordered herself, I believe she has merged with him in a way that she may never free herself. That is soooooooo sad. I’m really glad that while he lowered my self esteem expotentially, it wasn’t enough to participate in devious acts, no matter how minor because I didn’t want to be an “object” anymore once I realized that that is exactly what i was to him. Lesley, I’m far from a prude. I’m sexual liberal as well, but there is a BIG difference in what I feel is precious to me, in making love with a man who loves you, rather than one who uses sex to exploit you, no matter in what way. Sex is a beautiful thing, but expressed between two people who love one another, I believe, allows that liberal side to come out and be appreciated and lovingly explored :)

  16. Kelli, you said it. Amen! The sexual revolution is not about the sexual degradation and duping of women (or men). It’s about sensuality, love, honesty, equality and mutual respect. Claudia

  17. I can’t resist sharing with everyone the lyrics for this Maroon 5 song (Moves like Jagger) I really like because of its nice, catchy beat. Then I actually LOOKED at the lyrics, below, and realized the words seem right out of a psychopath’s mouth:

    http://www.youtube.com/user/ClaudiaMoscovici?feature=mhee#p/a/f/0/suRsxpoAc5w

    Nice dance song though! Claudia

  18. Claudia

    LOL! Twiddle dee and twiddle dum! UGH! Kel

  19. Kel, that’s right. Now neither of us can get this song out of our minds!
    Claudia

  20. Lesley, I hope so too! Claudia

  21. I know, Claudia, and THAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAANKS FOR THAT! UGH! Kel

  22. Kel, you just better make sure that you move like Jagger… to that song in your head! Claudia

  23. Claudia, Kelli; reminds so much of my exes antics in 2008; i was the “second love” of her life, at the same time she was trying to manipulate her ex back into a relationship (because he had moved on with someone else), joined dating sites. When I challenged her in 2009 about her outrageously sychophantic fllirtacious emails to her new victim; her response was “your being paranoid, I’m not interested in him, he isnt my equal”. I later found out she was screwing him and discarded me overnight for him. She tried to keep me on ice and manipulate me in case she needed me again! She told me that “he was not as good as me in bed” !! At that point I didnt realise it was the same guy who she was emailing when we were together and I was recovering from my head injury.

  24. Michael, these psychopaths just tell each target what they want to hear: if they still want anything from them. If not, then as Lesley pointed out, they show their cards: not out of honesty, but to get the perverse pleasure of seeing you vanquished (risk and lose your life for nothing, i.e. them, a scam). Claudia

  25. Michael,

    I tend to believe that when they are “done” with us, they ENJOY the dramatic ending to which they are in complete control with the ultimate dupe. Makes sense with a psychopath, doesn’t it? Since destruction is the goal in the first place, but manipulation is the what we first encounter during the luring phase, we can’t see the planned destruction until the devalue and discard happens. I looked up manipulation today. The definition. Sounds ridiculous, doesn’t it? I knew the definition, but now that word takes on an entirely different meaning after having been with a psychopath. Manipulation IS THE IDEALIZATION PHASE!

    Here’s wikipedia’s definition:

    Psychological manipulation is a type of social influence that aims to change the perception or behavior of others through underhanded, deceptive, or even abusive tactics.[1] By advancing the interests of the manipulator, often at the other’s expense, such methods could be considered exploitative, abusive, devious, and deceptive.

    Manipulation=LIES under the disguise of something GOOD. Manipulation is DECEPTIVE. It is planned. From beginning to end, HE/SHE IS THE LIE…….manipulation IS abuse. So in the idealization phase, THE VICTIM IS BEING ABUSED.

    Trying to imagine the absolute GLEE they have when they end the relationship or start devaluing and you are shocked, astonished and grief stricken, is UNIMAGINABLE to those who
    can love. Kel

  26. Kel, that is so true! The idealization phase, which victims tend to remember most fondly, IS the worst of the manipulation and emotional abuse. The worst because it’s the most underhanded and perverse. Afterwards, at the end, when they psychopath no longer has any use for the victim, he shows his cards much more openly, with a sense of victory and glee, to watch the victim suffer the shock of betrayal. That is the psychopath’s ultimate reward for a job well done, or a well executed ruse that destroyed another human being. Claudia

  27. OMG! Exactly!!!

    And why do those lines appeal to us as women?

    There are red flags in those lyrics. Great song to dissect with teen girls. And even the female response….how many of us told the p “secrets”.

    ARGGHHH.

    And as always your art is a huge message in itself!

  28. Susan, that’s why I’m doing the youtube video for Dangerous Liaisons to this song. The fact it’s so catchy and sticks in your mind with such a good dance beat only makes the words more effective. I must confess though, I love this song! It’s got a universal appeal as far as pop music goes. Claudia

  29. Hi everyone
    Yes Keli you are right..you forget that they think you are just like them – and you do TRY to remember that they are not like you but you so easily forget when you are in touch with them. Which is why its best not to read or listen to anything they say. Though its hard, well I find it hard.
    Also totally right about the idealisation and manipulation – really everything they say is a lie, or they are economical with the truth or they have selective memories…whatever one they do..in my exes it was all three, is so damaging. When I look back my ex definitely was beside himself with joy at the hurt he’d caused to me, the more hurt i was the more the stuck the knife in. That is why I do believe that they intentionally cause harm due to their programming and they love every minute of it as it boosts their egos.
    Michael..i find your exes comment re her new dupe that he was not her “equal” interesting too. That they see themselves as so above all of us, all of their past conquests – when I asked mine about why he did not take his f(ckbuddy to a sex club and not me he said “oh her..oh no I wouldn’t take HER..” – I suppose from that I should have been flattered that it was me that he lowered himself to take!!! Hahaha
    Also, as you all know i left my husband for my ex. When I pulled him up on his lies he just said that “well you lied…look what you did to your husband..” – they see (as Keli pointed out above) no difference in what you do to what they do. They are masters of fudging the truth to suit their lies. It makes your head go AAAAAAAAAARGH…and like someone is squeezing it like a sponge!! Hahaha
    lesleyxxxxx

  30. Lesley, you raise an excellent point about how psychopaths think that everyone is just like them. It wasn’t until I understood this that I realized how my ex could accuse me of cheating and lying and hiding money from her – these were all things *she* did, and she thought I was just like her!

    The flip side to this truth is that psychopaths don’t think like we do. Unfettered by a conscience or morals of any sort, they’re not constrained the way we are. Once I understood this, a lot of my anger and frustration about her bizarre behaviour melted away. – Julian.

  31. Lesley,

    Because of their constant manipulating, it is very difficult to “think” like them. We view the manipulation as love from them, when it is in fact, deceptive. The project their behaviors onto us. Whatever the psychopath says you are doing or accuses you of doing, he/she is doing and it does not matter what it is.

    Because twisting our brains to fit into their agenda is a requirement in trying to understand them, particularly if we are in constant touch with them, this means we must “split” or go into Cog/dis to stay. What a miserable existence. It becomes so normalized that we forget what normal REALLY is. But once you can wrap your mind around what he/she does, what he/she says and how he/she does it as it pertains to the disorder, you begin to heal faster, understanding that he/she is ill and it’s nothing personal. They do it to everyone. Kel

  32. Hi keli and Julian
    Oh i know – i totally agree with both of you. once I realised that they are just not right, as in wired up right, that they do treat everyone the same, I was more at peace with myself. That they were really, alien to us. I know my ex definitely projected all what he was onto me, I even said that to him at the time, that he was just using me as a mirror to reflect what he actually was. And that was before I knew anything about psychopaths…
    I think what I find hard, and what i touched on briefly before, is the rage, the hate, the utter contempt, which is, sadly, what these types are TRULY like underneath. Well mine’s was and is. He is the real deal, the real manipulative user and hater that gives any partner he has hell 95% of the time. I think that is what destroyed me the most, the emotional abuse of it all. My therapist told me that mentally I am very strong, I know and totally understand and accept his condition and how he was and that the blame is not mine and never will be . What I have trouble with are the flashbacks, and the upset that he caused in my life. I no longer go over all the lies, and try to figure out what he was saying to me. That is gone, thank god!! And I really am so much better. But sometimes, just sometimes, I get floored by a thought that comes winging its way into my head…its usually involving a vile remark he made, or insult or i remember him screaming at me, and it just gets to me. That is what I need to work on getting through I think. That is the hard one.
    Love to you both
    lesleyxxx

  33. That is the abuse once I’d left…he wasnt too bad when i was with him..but when i left…oh god. i mean you are upset enough…everyone thought he would say sorry, come and get me and take me home. Not bloody likely!! you woudl have thought i’d murdered his family….sorry that was just to clarfiy that it was worse when i’d gone….
    lesleyxxxx

  34. Claudia,Lesley: Seems most psychopaths have the propensity to engage in threesomes, orgies, what have you… they seem to enjoy engaging their current, and x’s together for a F–k Fest. Naturally this is due to their lack of bonding they are unable to form with their partners as well as their core desires to control, dominate and degrade other human beings and lets not forget their sadistic fantasies they like to play out as well. As someone once told me the only pleasures they get are immediate and its fleeting such as ejaculating, manipulating and duping others. Lesley I was also given sexual proposals of this nature; wanting me to go to swinging clubs and the sorts and he made it clear that if I had ANY feelings of jealousy DONT BOTHER coming. he always equated jealousy to being INSECURE, I found this interesting that I was labeled insecure because I had the ability to love another person and then be insecure and jealous as I watched him have intercourse with another person. I was NEVER jealous of this act but more DEEPLY WOUNDED that this clearly was a man that could not love another person a man that would take PLEASURE (if I had done these things with him) to watch me be HURT from watching him screw another person in front of me and furthermore the pleasure HE WOULD derive from watching me get degraded having another man screw me as he watched. These are HIGHLY DISTURBED acts of sexuality and I am no prude. Like Claudia states its not EVEN about the actual act of sex itself but the power and degrading that he is seeking. Jealous, Insecure? PLEEEEEEEZE this is nothing but PURE SICKNESS on their part and I am GLAD I would feel jealously, and insecurity and HURT that makes me NORMAL, that makes me healthy. What would I be jealous of? The fact he is degrading someone else and not me? EWWW maybe I am insecure because he loves this other person we would be engaged with? Well we all know thats not going to happen. Now when I picture him screwing others I FEEL NOTHING but nausea. I feel so lucky that he was never able to sway me into doing these acts as so many of them do to their targets. I escaped with my share of damage thats for sure but it could have been worse. Linda

  35. Lesley, as Linda pointed out in her recent post, psychopaths are highly motivated by control and domination – and therefore very de-motivated by the loss of control. That’s why the abuse escalates so rapidly if you try to leave them.

    Your ex seems to reacted similarly to the way mine did. When I lost my job, I wanted to discuss our options (one of us would have to sell our homes and move change countries) and how we would handle the finances for the temporary period where there would certainly be only one income. Well, there was never any discussion at all, because her position was very clear: I had to liquidate everything I owned and illegally move to the USA, and as soon as possible. For the next several weeks she continued to flatly refuse any discussion whatsoever, so I had no choice but to make a unilateral decision in both our best interests and that was to end the relationship. It was that day that the floodgates of abuse opened wide.

    For the psychopath, I suppose there’s no worse tragedy than discovering that the person they thought they had duped and controlled completely will now no longer do their bidding. There’s no reason for the mask of sanity any more. And, as you can well imagine, it was she who eventually dumped me, of course. The final death-rattle of the control freak.

    One thing that I saw in retrospect was that my psychopathic ex had exactly two tools in her problem-solving repertoire: blame and rage. Whenever anything didn’t go her way (whether it involved myself or not) she would instantly devolve to the mental level of a five-year-old child, throwing a tantrum and blaming everyone else, with absolutely no reasoning capacity whatsoever.

    It’s good to hear that you’re over the constant re-hashing of all the lies and confusion, that endless mental loop. As for the flashbacks, I still get them, usually triggered by something someone says or does that reminds me of some bizarre thing that my ex did. But I’m finding that they’re fewer and further between as time goes by. I hope it will be the same for you. – Julian.

  36. Lesley,

    Its interesting that you say he wasn’t too bad when you were with him. I’m stunned to find many stories where victims claim it wasn’t too bad. When I ask them to elaborate, and they tell me what happened during the relationship, everything, start to finish was abusive. The problem was that they didn’t RECOGNIZE it as abuse. Some will say, “oh he was never verbally abusive to me, he just lied, cheated and manipulated me” Um…..THAT is abuse. It’s surprising to me what society, overall, considers abusive and not abusive. Some believe it only to be physical abuse. Violence. But most are NOT violent. You can destroy someone with words, manipulations, verbal abuse, lies, cheating. Many victims attest to the reality that he never EVER hit them, but what he did was just as damaging and earth shattering. Kel

  37. Kel, great point: if victims knew everything the psychopath did behind their back, for instance, even during the so-called “honeymoon” phase, they’d be horrified. It goes back to the definition of “manipulation” you offered earlier. Claudia

  38. Julian, you are healing pretty fast, as far as it goes. No doubt, the fact you went No Contact after the breakup and the fact that you’ve informed yourself so well about personality disorders must have helped. Claudia

  39. Linda, absolutely! I never participated in any of these “events” nor did I receive an invitation from my ex. While we were together, he was still hiding and lying to me, still pretending that I was the love of his life and that he was faithful to me. But by the end, when he asked me to post ourselves on a dating website just as I had agreed to marry him, I caught a glimpse of his real motives. And they were, indeed, the perverted ones you describe. Claudia

  40. Just saw this in a random tweet I stumbled on, a woman saying a man making moves on her said “Your sweetness is your weakness.”

    That is one of those red flags…when they say things that let us know who they are, but we think it is a joke. The p I was involved with said “I think I may have borderline personality disorder”. I thought he was kidding.

    The woman tweeted it under #suspect….so she did see it as a red flag. Hope she pays attention.

  41. Kelli, that’s a very revealing statement: “The problem was that they did not RECOGNIZE it as abuse.” I’m one of those who thought that overall, my “relationship” was mostly pretty good, just with the odd episodes here and there. Now I realize I was very, very wrong about that overall description.

    The first “big” episode was about six months into the relationship, just weeks after I had moved in with her. I was returning to the USA, usually a 7-hour trip by car. This time, there was an unexpected two-hour delay at the border crossing. Once I had cleared it, I immediately called my ex to give her my updated time of arrival.

    I arrived within ten minutes of my updated ETA to a fit of blame and rage. I was so “disrespectful” by being “late” (not delayed, late). I had no integrity and never did what I said I would. I should have left at 4 AM so that I wouldn’t have hit the delay. Blah blah blah. (remember my favourite red-flag mantra: perverted reactions to normal life events) Oh, and then she wanted SEX. Well, I wanted FOOD as I had just spent nine hours in the car without eating, and rather than making supper, she had chosen to sit and do nothing but fume because of my “disrespectful lateness.” I was so shocked at this first full-scale outburst of rage and total unreasonableness that I didn’t even notice the absurdly massive lack of empathy for my situation.

    Of course, the NEXT time I did the same trip, I found myself in a quandry, as I didn’t want a repeat performance in case I had a flat tire or something along the way; a lot can happen in 400 miles. So I ended up carefully explaining to her that I’m going to arrive sometime on Sunday, and that she should just do whatever and not expect me to be there at any particular time. Of course, she wanted an exact ETA again, and I told her that it’s impossible for me to give one, as I don’t have a crystal ball and can’t forsee what might happen along the way. “At least tell me when you’ll be leaving.” “No, the last time I did that you added 7 hours to it and expected me to arrive precisely then.”

    In retrospect, that whole mess was clearly abusive, but I wrote it off as her just having some sort of OCD issues about promptness. What’s important is that her abusive tactics did negatively change my own behaviour; I was forced to stop treating her as a reasonable human being, at least as far as travel was concerned. I’ve never had to do that with anyone ever in my life. A couple of similar issues cropped up later on (once I was raged on for being a half-hour late from work on account of a serious highway accident, even though I had called to tell her about it), “confirming” my suspicions about the OCD over promptness. It wasn’t until the “real” abuse started that I realized that it had nothing to do with promptness, it was all about control: “You’ll do everything I want you to, when I want, and the way I want it done.” Not to mention a total lack of empathy. I saw the wreckage of that highway accident, and it was clear that at least one person had died. Kind of puts things in perspective – for most of us, that is.

    Claudia, honestly, I have no idea what she did for those 5 or 6 days that I was away in Canada every month or two. I have no idea what she did for those 6 or 7 hours each day that I was away at work (at a full-time job) and she was in between clients. I’m not one to keep my partner on a short leash, but given that so many things she said and did were so fraudulent, I’ll now bet she was up to nothing good when I wasn’t looking.

    It’s just so easy to rationalize abusive behaviour, especially when it’s followed by weeks of seeming normalcy. But it slowly chips away at you, and is very damaging just the same, and causes the abusee to start some unusual and unhealthy behaviours. Thanks very much, Kelli, for correcting my perception of abuse. – Julian.

  42. Claudia, than you for the encouragement. Yes, no contact is the ONLY way to go (I only wish I had done it earlier than I did) and the more I learn and understand about psychopathy – while steering far clear of the ex – the clearer my head becomes. And there’s still more to understand, as Kelli’s valuable comments about recognizing manipulation and abuse have just taught me. – Julian.

  43. I’ve just realized that it’s my RATE of healing that’s been really fast over the last three weeks or so; it was much slower before that, and absolutely glacial when I first got out of the relationship.

    It seems to take a long, slow time to build “critical mass” in the healing process, but then it just sort of takes off. At least that’s my experience; if you had asked me a month ago if I were to be in this state today, I would have said “no way.” I wonder how many other people are closer to that “critical mass” than they think. – Julian.

  44. To add one more comment to my post above, those “weeks of seeming normalcy” are not really normalcy; the very fact that we changed our behaviour specifically to prevent further abuse just makes it look that way. But the cycle has already begun. – Julian.

  45. Susan, what a huge red flag! Yes, I sure hope she pays attention.

    Regarding personality disorders, now that I’ve read some serious texts – not pop-psych stuff – about psychopathy and narcissism, I’ve become concerned that many people consider personality disorders something that cause people to be just weird or off-beat. When hearing a well-evidenced suggestion that someone is a psychopath or has serious Narcissistic Personality Disorder, the only appropriate response is to cringe – these are extremely dangerous and thoroughly twisted people, no matter how “normal” and “respected” they might appear to so many others. These are the people who caused the financial crisis of 2008, causing tens of millions to lose their homes and jobs, and there are millions more out there destroying lives on a much smaller scale – one at a time, in secret.

    Personality disorders are not something that should be taken lightly or joked about. – Julian.

  46. Kelli, what a magnificent post! We all look back with “fondness” at the “good times” of the idealization phase. But as you say, it was by far the biggest fraud perpetrated on us in the entire relationship, no matter how good it felt!

    I’ll offer an example of how big a fraud my idealization phase was. I rarely watch TV, and when I do, it’s for educational material or documentary films. What I hate most is reality TV and soap operas, as I consider them to be mental poison. I made that clear early on, and it was never a problem. But when our relationship soured, guess what was on the TV all the time: Sex and the City, Jersey Shore, Celebrity Rehab and similar garbage. My ex no longer cared to keep up the mask, and thus showed her true colours overnight. Had I known she was addicted to such garbage, I would have ended the relationship instantly. But she cleverly hid that from me for over a year!

    So yes, I fully agree, the idealization phase is where the most massive and heinous frauds happen – because they’re so effective that most of us didn’t even realize that they were fraudulent, and worse still, remember the lure of that phase and stay in the relationship longer than we should.

    Thanks so much for your really helpful posts today! – Julian.

  47. That’s so true, Claudia. As I posted in rely to Kelli above your commment, my ex showed her true colours literally overnight and got a real kick out of my refusing to remain in the same room as the filth she was watching on TV. It’s also precisely when she began addressing me as “Boy Toy” which shocked me immensely. – Julian.

  48. Julian,

    Could you clarify what you perceive as serious texts vs. pop psych stuff? I’m curious as to what you’ve read.

    Nothing I’ve read that discusses personality disorders puts it into a category that is anything less than evil and dangerous.

    You piqued my curiosity.

    I think you’re correct in that psychopathy is influenced heavily, in politics in this country in particular. The other day, there was a Republican Candidate debate. A question was delivered as to what should happen to a comatose man after six months without medical insurance, should he be allowed to die. It was seriously sick and shocking to have tea party members in the audience screaming YES YES…THAT is politically influenced psychopathy. It made me sick to my stomach to see that, however, that kind of influence in our political system is extremely dangerous to those who are the most vulnerable in our society. Psychopathic politicians love exploiting them and spreading their propaganda of sickness. Kel

  49. Julian,

    I’ve already crossed that line, The ruminating is different now. It’s really not about whether or not he’s a psychopath so much, as it is the extent of what was done and how it was done and why. It also doesn’t help that he’s hoovering. Kel

  50. And that kind of man…so obnoxiously self-confident, talking about control, arrogantly suggesting the woman aim for his heart (not him loving her), is exactly the kind of man we have to lose any appetite for. It used to bring out a competitive spirit in me. Now it more makes me sick.

    “I don’t give a sh*t what you think of me” was a favorite line of the p I was with. And M was short for Monster, which is what he called his you know what…was that a red flag red or what!

    From the song “I’ll take it from here”…
    The p I was with would say
    “it’s time for you to shut up, and I’ll take it from here”

    Probably he heard this song and stole a lot of the lines…that is so consistent with his behavior.

    Music is very triggering for me, and it is only since I’ve been on this board that I’ve started listening to music again. Yes, Almost 4 years of no music. But now I can listen to it and not get triggered.
    Except this song…..which shows it is a perfect song for the book! It was just too dead on with the big M even. LOL! But just caused a brief flashback, a brush of anger, a brief wish for revenge, but now he’s back to insignificant…just about.

  51. Amen…I told him at the time that I had looked it up and that it was a very serious condition, and I said, “no way are you like that. And you are just kidding right?” and he never answered….But my last communication to him said “You are right, you do have a personality disorder, but maybe a different one than you think, or several together.” Something to that effect. I was saying anything I thought would give him a total disgust of me so that he would never contact me again, and I also threatened him with the evidence I had against him.

    So far, so good.

    Cringe…YES! Run…YES!

  52. Susan,

    That seems to work for the most part. I told mine he was a sociopath. That I knew he was sick.

    While he attempted a hoover a couple of times, life has been pretty peaceful since. Kel

  53. Julian,

    Seems like such a simple words with simple definitions. When I looked up manipulation, I made more of a connection. It helps much. There are more elements to abuse than I have ever imagined. Kel

  54. That’s so right on Julian, everything in your two posts above. I too had trouble recognizing abuse at first. I gradually realized everything I said I would hate, he forced on me, and everything I said I would love, he might do it once, but then take it away.

    Control, control, control. It was all about control. Power. Dominance. Winning. Pulling one over. Subjugating. Sadism. Misogyny (in my case). Lack of any empathy whatsoever. Withholding information. I could go on and on.

    Great posts!

  55. Oh wait, the song is too new. :-) The p’s all sound alike anyway! I misquoted him, he would say it is time for you to shut the eff up….etc. He would also say things like “I could have talked you into anything.” …and I remember thinking, no way, jerk, but I didn’t say it. I was still in the fog.

  56. Julian

    What you are describing is “walking on eggshells”. That’s what we are trained to do with a psychopath. I began to notice, more towards the end of the relationship (although in retrospect, it was long before that) that each time he came into the room or to see me or whatever, I IMMEDIATELY changed my overall behavior, attitude and even PERSONALITY to accommodate HIM. It was the weirdest thing. When I realized what was happening, I thought OMG….I’m taking on HIS traits now just to DEAL with him. I remember feeling tremendous anxiety ALL the time. I didn’t even want to have sex with this man in the end, because I knew that afterwards something AWFUL would happen. I think I’ll put up my personal list of abuse. If people here don’t already know it, maybe it will help some others who don’t yet. Kel

  57. Abuse:

    1. Manipulation (using love bombing tactics to lure or hoover!)
    2. Lies
    3. verbal abuse (name calling)
    4. degradation
    5. objectification
    6. hitting, slapping, pinching, shoving, finger in your face, kicking, biting, physically or sexually!
    7. sexual abuse-porn addictions, depravity, deviancy, objectification (Your a blow up doll)
    8. withholding sex
    9. silent treatments
    10. blaming
    11. projecting
    12. gaslighting
    13. walking away from you during a discussion.
    14, purposely frustrating you in resolution to problems you bring up
    15. changing subjects
    16. cheating
    17. yelling/raging
    18, NO EMOTIONAL RESPONSE TO YOUR PAIN and/or unusual response to the pain of others or to situations such as death or illness
    19. neglect
    20. ignoring repeated requests for anything
    21. abusing in any way, your children or pets
    22. stalking or monitoring you at work, at play or any other way
    23, control
    24, isolation
    25. seeming pleasure at your pain
    26. sexual coercion
    26. coercion through alcohol or drugs
    27. making you feel worthless, suicidal or deeply depressed
    28. comparing you to others
    29. purposely looking at other women in front of you
    30. berating
    31. WORDS DO NOT MATCH ACTIONS, PAST OR PRESENT
    32. Shallow effect
    33. sucking you in and then attempting to DESTROY YOU
    34. asking for a negative behavior NOT to be repeated, but then it happens again and WORSE the next time.
    35, insensitive to your thoughts and feelings
    36. contrived or fake emotions of love
    37. endless games, push/pull
    38. jekyl/hyde personality
    39.cog/dis in the relationship in order to survive it.
    40. Having an argument then the psychopath pretends it never happened.
    41. guilting you
    42. shaming you
    43. leaving you behind in places that are far away or dangerous
    44. stealing your money, hiding money, lying about finances.
    45. Fostering an air of unpredictability, anxiety or stress.
    46. calling, texting, emailing constantly under the pretentiousness of how your day is going or where you’ve been or where you are.
    47. humiliation disguised as a joke
    48. making derogatory comments about your clothing, your personality, sexuality, social status, financial status, friends or family
    49. Purposely creating drama and arguments as a way to degrade you or upset you.
    50. denial of your reality.

    Can you come up with more? Kel

  58. Thanks Julian….and Keli too.
    What i meant was that he was bad when i was living with him, but not AS bad as he was when i left and he unleashed his full arsenal. But you are both right. you get conditioned to their patterns of behaviour when you live with them. You make excuses, or sort of blame yourself too. But then the lies and deceit it all adds up and you think, no this is not me, i’m not the one lying here, and blaming. Yes Julian rage and blame. Mine’s was the exact same. And also – don’t know if you found this all the time, you mention it though, that there is no “discussion” at all. My ex used to tell me that i was allowed (get him eh?? allowed?) to talk to him about “my issues” between 7pm and 8pm any night but no other time. Controlling?? Manipulation??
    Keli that list is perfect!! I don’t think i can even think of any more!!
    I think its the frustration also, that you cannot discuss anything with them. They twist anything you say, anything you do. They accuse you of things they do or are doing. You can NEVER react to anything they do. They really do just have you walking on eggshells, which funnily enough Kel my ex said I did to HIM.
    Julian I am glad i don’t go over stuff in my head so much, but yes when someone says something or does something then I’m reminded. As I said last week, he contacted me via email and i think that always sets you back a bit, but i hope that i’ve managed to block him now and anything he sends that does get through will be deleted before i even open it. As they just hurt you even more.
    Hope you are both ok
    lesleyxxxx

  59. Lesley,

    You make a VERY important point here, which goes directly to the core of psychopathy in that they do nothing without preplanning to cause harm, to watch you hurt. That’s what the deviant sex is all about, it’s about him, and also it’s about his watching you HURT. They get their “high” from the pain they cause. Kel

  60. Lesley; It never ceased to amaze me how at how adept my ex was a twisting and projecting things around to the point were she almost managed to convince me I was the problem, or the one with the issue. Her defensive wall was impenetrable and crazy making.

  61. Lesley, yes, there were practically no discussions with my psychopathic ex. Trivial discussions about what to have for supper or where to go on the weekend were OK, but anything of any significance whatsoever (division of housework, finances, etc.) was a complete exercise in frustration, exactly as you described.

    One day, my ex simply announced that she had fired the cleaning lady (which I paid for) and that I would now do half the housecleaning. Fine, I said, but then I’ll pay $150 less each month, right? Ha! This turned into a huge argument that didn’t end until I agreed to at least do the vacuuming. And she kept the $150 per month, feeling entitled to it simply because I earned more than her. This is a fine example of one of the many tactics she used to squeeze me for more money.

    “Discussion” is a way for people to resolve differences of opinion by exchanging points of view. The psychopath does not tolerate differences of opinion as has only one point of view – his own. In the classic words of The Borg, “Discussion is irrelevant. Resistance is futile.”

  62. Kelli, the two books I’ve learned the most from are “Without Conscience” and “Snakes in Suits.” A third book that I found very eye-opening is “The Narcissism Epidemic” which puts personality disorders in a much wide, societal context.

    I have not read any “pop-psych” books; my comment was based on what I’ve heard from other people. I’m sometimes shocked by people who throw around psychological terminology with very little understanding of its significance. They must have gotten their information somewhere, I figure either magazines or pop-psych books. Or maybe Oprah? – Julian.

  63. Lesley and Kelli, I agree that psychopaths derive a sick pleasure from hurting people, especially when they get feedback from you that it’s actually working. Whenever my ex said something insulting to me, I would object and she’d get excited and ramp up the insults. But if I ignored her, there would be no more insults for now. A sick way of training you, isn’t it?

    I’d like to add that not only do they get off on hurting others, but they also like winning (or maybe it’s watching others lose) and control (getting others to do their bidding). – Julian.

  64. Julian,

    You raise a very important point in your above post. Often the label psychopath is termed very loosely as well, The most significant part of recovery is understanding the psychopath, what it is, what it does, what it says, how it says it….it’s being able to wrap your mind around and embrace the disorder to where a person “gets it”. This comes with a lot of time and a lot of reading. I own the two books you have cited here, but I have about eight more, two more on the way. All have been beneficial in my recovery. It is very important to read and study as much as you can about psychopathy, as it is sooooo true. The longest and hardest part of recovery is understanding and comprehending the disorder. Even for those who are extremely intelligent, it still takes alot of time, because the psychopath didn’t just infiltrate a person’s intelligence, it went to the person’s soul and that requires emotions. The two have to have to come to terms in being able to heal. Kel

  65. Julian, Lesley, kelli; Psychopaths are the most needy people on the planet, needing others for narcissistic supply, to mirror them as a means of feeback that they actually exist. Of course they resent us for needing us in this way, so they project it all back onto us, accusing us of being needy and suffocating. they resent and punish us more if we move the mirror as you say julian- by defending ourselves and protesting around their behaviour. They just up the anti and abuse us more, Michael

  66. Julian and all…I discovered that same “oppositional defiant” behavior. If I wanted white, I had to beg him for black, then I would get white. And sometimes when I would show no emotion or even smile, when he expected me to be breaking down in tears, he couldn’t stop himself from asking “Doesn’t this hurt you?”.

  67. Michael,

    I saw this suffocating neediness that showed itself through endless demands and snide remarks and comment to outright verbal emotional abuse if I did NOT want to spend time with him…even just taking care of my responsibilities, school, children turned into a shouting match. He wanted me there when he wanted me there, even if he was giving and doing NOTHING while I was there. I began to realize that all I needed to be was present, to attend to him if need be. They can’t STAND to be alone. But only your physical presence is really required. Kel

  68. Susan

    I’m so glad you brought this up. You learned how to work around your ex, it’s creative thinking! LOL! Anyway, when you shared the question he asked, it brought flashbacks to times when mine would say “Aren’t you hurt?! Aren’t you hurt?!” In a very excited sort of way. UGH, if that wasn’t a red banner waving in the wind…Kel

  69. I saw that suffocating neediness also. That day I was delayed two hours, she was watching TV when I arrived. She was pissed because I wasn’t there to watch TV with her. As if she needed me to watch TV. They’re just so empty and needy and sick. And just don’t move that mirror (great analogy, Michael) or they’ll explode.

  70. Great advice from Dr. Leedom:

    Surround yourself with people who have a well developed Inner Triangle! Love people who are warm and have a track record of self-sacrifice for others. Trust only those who can control their own impulses. Admire only those who experience embarrassment, guilt and shame. Depend only on those who are dependable. Since sociopaths/psychopaths are con artists, get proof of these qualities by first hand observation before you ascribe them to anyone.

  71. PS Her inner triangle is:
    ability to love, impulse control and moral reasoning

  72. Susan

    Does self sacrifice for animals count???? LOL!

    I hope so!!! So funny because as I write this, my dog is happily lying in the sun next to me. Kel

  73. Yes, definitely!

  74. Susan, thanks so much for your positive and inspiring comment about people with a good Inner Triangle. Kelli and I just *love* animals; she’s done so much for her ailing weiner dog, and as I write, my cat (adopted from an animal shelter) is also basking in a sunbeam. – Julian.

  75. Susan,

    I have read Lianne’s Inner Triangle article at LF. I don’t agree with it one hundred percent. What I think about the Inner Triangle is that love and moral reasoning definitely go together. Impulse control…I wonder WHAT is meant by that because we are all impulsive to some degree. But this isn’t addressed. When Herc was first sick, it was IMPULSIVE to spend my rent and bill money AND food money for my children to save his life. I guess most “NORMAL” people with “impulse control” wouldn’t do that right? You put your kids first always before your pets. Some people thought what I did was stupid, however, those that know what it is to love pets DIDN”T think it was “stupid” but still impulsive. Hmmmm……..well, I don’t apologize for that “impulsive” move. The last week, he’s not been doing well. It’s been up and down since January. So now, he’s going to require more maintenance to keep him comfortable while he’s alive. What this means is another “impulsive” act on my part. Something will be sacrificed so he gets a couple of lazer treatments for his back and the medications he will likely need now for the rest of his life.

    Well, call me impulsive!

    But doing nothing goes against my feelings of love and morality for a living creature whose loyalty and double love I can never replace. He has given me far FAR more than the psychopath ever did. Kel

  76. Julian,

    Sooo true. A funny thing about Herc. The sun does funny things to him. I swear in 100 degree weather, he will lay in the sun as long as I allow him too. In winter, when we had a fireplace, he would lie as close to it as possible, when he wasn’t burrowing into a couch blanket (he does this in summer too), and when he’d get up from being in the sun or by the fire, he looked like he was on dope LOL it was so funny, he stumbled around like he’s on something. I so love my puppy. Kel

  77. Kelli, I mostly agree with Dr. Leedom’s article, and I’d like to point out that your actions regarding Hercules are NOT impulsive; they come straight from the heart and are therefore inherently moral. What Dr. Leedom refers to as “impulsivity” comes from the socio/psychopath’s opportunism and need to take advantage of every situation they come across for their personal benefit. That is clearly not the case with you; you genuinely love your dog as much as he loves you back, so please do not confuse that with impulsivity. – Julian.

  78. Julian!

    thanks! I appreciate your perspective!

    I still feel it’s impulsive though, to some extent. I think I’m confusing impulsiveness with spontaneity?

    I see it as impulsive. I can’t explain why. I think I need to study up about this a little bit more. Kel

  79. Wikipedia- Impulsivity- definition

    Impulsivity (or impulsiveness) is a personality trait characterized by the inclination of an individual to initiate behavior without adequate forethought as to the consequences of their actions, acting on the spur of the moment. Eysenck and Eysenck related impulsivity to risk-taking, lack of planning, and making up one’s mind quickly. Impulsivity has been shown to be a major component of various neuropsychiatric disorders such as ADHD, substance abuse disorders and bipolar disorder. Impulsivity has been shown to have a genetic component and may be inheritable. Abnormal patterns of impulsivity may also be an acquired trait as a result of various neurodegenerative diseases, traumatic brain injury (TBI), hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy, intrauterine hypoxia, bacterial or viral infections or neurotoxicity as a result of chemical exposure. The orbitofrontal cortex and right inferior frontal gyrus have been shown to play a part in impulse control.[1][2][3]

    As a personality trait, impulsivity is part of normal behavior as it contributes to adaptive functioning. To do something and not be aware, especially for young children, is relatively common. Recent psychological research has suggested that there are various facets of impulsivity.[4] Some researchers have proposed a 3-factor model according to impulsivity; attentional (“getting easily bored”), motor (“going into action”) and cognitive (“inability to plan”) factors. Recent theories[5] have suggested five separate aspects of impulsivity:[6]

    Positive urgency; the tendency to act rashly while in a positive mood.
    Negative urgency; the tendency to act rashly while in a negative mood.
    Lack of premeditation; the inability to anticipate the future consequences of actions.
    Lack of perseverance; the inability to follow through on a task
    Sensation-seeking; the experience of positive feelings towards risky actions.

  80. Julian,

    As you can see from the definition, impulsivity is not limited to those with personality disorders, but others, to which I have, as in ADD.

    This doesn’t mean that the person who has impulsivity issues is without empathy, remorse, guilt, etc. In fact, sometimes more so, if the person is aware of their disorder and we know this does not apply to personality disorders. this is why I don’t agree with Dr. Leedom on this level, while agreeing with her other assertions about morality and love. Kel

  81. The impulsive things I have seen psychopaths do are impulsively slam on the brakes and make a sharp turn into a parking lot when they see a woman walking alone. Or suddenly decide to go drinking all afternoon when they were just supposed to be on a quick lunch break from a job. Or have a spitting contest from a second floor balcony while drunk. Or suddenly just hop on a motorcycle and disappear for months.

  82. I personally feel we need to be very careful with this because there are bottom line core behaviors that spell out psychopathy that are differentiated from other disorders that can MIMIC psychopathy in other ways.

    Having said that, this is what defines psychopathy to me:

    1. lack of empathy, the ability to feel the feelings of others or to put yourself into their shoes
    2. lack of guilt
    3. lack of remorse.

    Those with other disorders, such as ADD/ADHD, asperger’s, etc, show MANY impulsive traits as with psychopathy. It may even seem that we don’t HAVE empathy, when we do. our “impulses” such as speaking before thinking, organization, fact based responses, etc, are easily labeled as psychopathy when they are NOT.

    This does NOT excuse the impulsiveness of a psychopath, which I believe is most prevalent in his relationships (psychopaths cannot survive without feeding off of others,therefore relationships are NECESSARY to his/her survival), with the pathological lying, cheating, manipulation, and the above mentioned that he does not have. Pathological LYING IS IMPULSIVE. And he/she does it without consequence. This is ENTIRELY different from someone with another disorder (again as mentioned above), that IS capable of remorse, guilt and empathy when their impulsive behavior is pointed out and dealt with.

    Another reason I do not agree with Dr. Leedom on this. It’s too easy to say that those that are impulsive are psychopaths when there are CLEAR traits (again mentioned above),that over a period of time appear to be FAR MORE than just impulsive.

    lack of morality and love is clear when it comes to a psychopath,. Impulsivity as a generalization is not, Kel

  83. All actual examples, not made up. And in the spitting contest the p ended up spitting hard enough to fall to the ground. Didn’t die.

  84. Susan,

    And those are PERFECT examples of psychopathy, BUT they could also be perfect examples of alcoholism. Psychopathy and alcoholism combined is a completely different animal. An alcoholic can be cured. A psychopath cannot, Kel

  85. Susan LOL!! that’s too funny , but at the time I’m sure it was not.

    What other examples (I’m curious) did you see of his psychopathy WITHOUT alcohol? Kel

  86. Those were from different people. One was a man who tried to attack me at a wild bird sanctuary, He spotted me from up on the highway and screeched into the parking lot and drove down to where I was with my car. Meanwhile, I saw him coming and jumped in my car, locked the doors and starting trying to get out, but he kept blocking me. Finally I gunned the car over a log, figuring I would make it…maybe …and I did. But from his stalking behavior and aggressive blocking of my car, I assume he was a p. I guess he could have been on some kind of drug instead.

    The spitting contestant is a man eater woman. Even as a baby she would go rigid when picked up. Dare devil, excitement seeker. All about me, fake emotions, manipulative, etc, etc, etc. Not an alcoholic at all. Just an excitement seeking party. The first thing she said to me after it was how the paramedics all thought she was so cute and came back to see her the next day in the hospital. She was in her 30s by then, not a teen.No shame or embarrassment, just another chance to find new men.

    The other two are the same man, an x-con, who did work at our house. From multiple, multiple behaviors we think he is a non-violent p. There is a warrant out for him right now…stuff like not paying child support, not paying fines, not doing assigned community work. I don’t know where he is now. Never feels shame. Never self-sacrifices for anyone, seducing a married woman while stringing two others along, sleeping different places, I could go on, but you get the picture. Thinks he is a wonderful dad when he never sees or does anything for his kids. Super impulsive.

  87. Hi Kelli,

    What I originally was calling attention to was her list of traits to look in for NON pyschopaths.

    Love people who are warm and have a track record of self-sacrifice for others. Trust only those who can control their own impulses. Admire only those who experience embarrassment, guilt and shame. Depend only on those who are dependable. Since sociopaths/psychopaths are con artists, get proof of these qualities by first hand observation before you ascribe them to anyone.

    Impulsive can imply sacrificing long term good for a quick gain or a quick lust. Being hotheaded. stuff like that.

    I think she is absolutely correct on the description…only problem is psychopaths can FAKE some of that stuff.

    You are helping me realize I really like Becker’s writings more. And for him, the bottom line is a willingness to exploit. More than that, a proclivity to exploit, a desire to exploit, a drive to exploit.

  88. Susan

    I think you’re right about exploitation. that really does underlie everything the psychopath does. Kel

  89. Susan

    As to the above, HOW SCARY FOR YOU!!! Wow! Did this guy ever come around again? that is just frightening!

    Thanks for clarifying. I think those are CLEAR examples of P’s. You’re right about the first one though. But who knows? Nevertheless that is very frightening! I’m sorry that happened to you. Kel

  90. No, he was just a stranger driving by, I never even looked at him. As soon as I got in my car, locked the doors and started the engine, I thought “there, I’m safe, and it is probably just someone coming to see the birds that almost drove past the spot.” But as soon as he began blocking my car with his car, I knew I was in a bad situation.

    That was before we all had cell phones too. Almost 30 years ago, but even to this day, I won’t pull off the highway alone for anything!

  91. Susan

    Unless my car stopped running for some strange reason, I wouldn’t EITHER. Kel

  92. Annoulia, try very hard not to delude yourself; that idealization phase or “honeymoon” wasn’t real at all, and he’s never going to improve. Simple narcissism sometimes improves with age, but psychopathy is hard-wired and permanent. And never forget that he broke your pelvic joint, which takes an incredible amount of force. That’s not just physical abuse; that might be viewed as attempted murder.

    I just posted this on “The Psychopath’s Relationship Cycle: Idealize, Devalue, Discard” article:

    My favourite line from Claudia’s article is: When all is said and done, the only truth that remains is that the whole relationship was a fraud. It really helps to remind yourself that all those wonderful things about him, all those good times – that was all completely fake. Especially when he tries to hoover you (suck you back in like a vacuum cleaner). That’s a pure manipulation tactic; he wants you to recall those fond memories as if they were really true.

    Over the last few weeks, I’ve completely lost my fondness for the “good times” with my ex. Looking back at them, there was always something not quite right with each one. Even the very best parts were nothing more than a complete fraud designed to drain me of my energy and money.

    It’s almost comforting to cling to the illusion of happiness at the beginning, but it’s a roadblock to recovery and makes you much more vulnerable to hoovering. Stay no contact and do your best to prevent him from contacting you. Best wishes! – Julian.

  93. Great post!

  94. Susan and Kelli, I’ve been keenly watching your interesting debate these last couple of days, and I finally think I have something useful to add. I admire Kelli’s exhaustive list, and like Dr. Leedom’s short, sweet and upbeat advice. However, neither one comes even close to being any sort of diagnostic criteria so neither should be taken too seriously.

    I went back to Robert Hare’s description of the PCL-R which is a set of fundamental traits and behaviours in psychopaths. In Snakes in Suits, he states that the average normal person scores 5 or less (criminals average 20, hard-core psychopaths 25-30), and that means that all of us exhibit some psychopathic traits to some extent.

    I highlighted the word fundamental because I think it’s important to understand that everything else cascades from them. For example, in the aptly titled Without Conscience, Hare explains that “lack of conscience” isn’t in the PCL-R because the combination of lack of empathy, guilt, remorse and incapacity to accept responsibility do in fact constitute lack of conscience. This in turn spawns a lack of morals and values, as they are irrelevant if conscience is not present. Now imagine the thousands of behaviours that could cascade forth from the lack of conscience, morals and values.

    Steve Becker is right on about the psychopath’s compulsive exploitation (my ex was a whiz at it!), but t’s merely a natural, learned behaviour for someone with a strong sense of entitlement, lacking goals, no conscience, and complete disregard for consequences. These traits spawn not only exploitation, but cheating, stealing, tax evasion, perjury and a wide variety of other behaviours. It works for them, and it’s “the smart thing to do.”

    I could go on and on, but I think I’ve made my point. The possible behaviours with the various combinations of fundamental traits and behaviours under diverse conditions yield many different “styles” of psychopathy, and none of them individually qualify as indicators of psychopathy.

    Now that I’ve staggered everyone (myself included) with the complexity of the situation, I would like to offer a simple “wacko detection” strategy. Sorry, it isn’t scientific and doesn’t diagnose anything, but it can be a reliable early-warning indicator of whether or not you should stay in a relationship or leave. Here it is.

    Perverted reactions to a variety of typical life events./b

    To illustrate what this means and how it should be applied, consider Kelli’s concern over whether impulsive behaviour is a valid psychopathic indicator. With ADD, ADHD or Asperger’s – and let’s not forget that many perfectly normal people can be impulsively inclined – you’ll see consistent impulsive behaviour in a wide variety of situations. With a wacko (my newly-chosen word for anyone with some sort of severe personality disorder), you’ll sometimes see impulsivity, but more often it will be a large variety of highly inappropriate and inexplicable behaviours depending on the circumstances. Disordered individuals are truly multi-coloured when “shit happens” in life, whereas the rest of us are fairly consistent.

    Some examples from my own experience: Being delayed two hours and getting raged on, total secrecy about expenses when negotiating shared living, total evasiveness when asked about income and expenses, creatively fabricated excuses when lies are exposed, and insisting that I sell my house because I lost my job. The life of a disordered person is indeed an intricate web of lies and deceit – regardless of their disorder, they all desperately need to keep it hidden – and its complexity is revealed by the variety of bizarre reactions to otherwise ordinary things.

    There must be thousands of “red flag” lists on the internet for various disorders, but I think that this simple strategy is the most effective in detecting psychopaths. Because the best of them are really good at being “moving targets” and it’s precisely the variety of their reactions that gives them away. – Julian.

  95. Sorry about the formatting difficulties. Unfortunately, this blog has no HTML preview capability. – Julian.

  96. Annoula, to better answer your question “with age and more power, do they get worse? – I believe that they definitely get worse, especially the smarter ones. My ex was really, really smart, and in her 20s went after “ordinary guys” – anyone that would fall for her charm. By the time she reached her mid-30s, she got her “Ph.D in psychopathy” and has only gone after doctors, lawyers and engineers.

    [sidebar: it's probably useful for you to know how I got this information. One day she asked me, "tell me about your previous relationships" and I answered "Sure, but you tell me about yours first." I highly recommend this kind of response to anyone who inquires about your private life. She may have fabricated some of it, but I have no reason to believe she did.]

    Psychopaths are remarkably adept at “reading people” so that they can mirror them better in the idealization phase, manipulate them better while draining them, and hoovering them back after they’ve discarded them. They keep learning better techniques and refining old ones. My ex is a good example of this; she’ll probably end up with a multi-millionaire within the next few years, and she started out 25 years ago with beach bums on the Jersey Shore (she’s now 45).

    About psychopaths and power, yes they get worse also. Two films that I highly recommend are Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (a company completely and totally based on nothing but lies, deceit and manipulation, hiding behind a ruse called “mark-to-market accounting”) and Inside Job, which clearly demonstrates how so many psychopaths have risen to the highest positions of political and economic power in the USA, and continue to deceive and fleece the American people time after time. You’ll also learn a lot about the global financial crisis of 2008. – Julian.

  97. A small correction: the fifth paragraph should have read:

    The possible behaviours with the various combinations of fundamental traits and behaviours under diverse conditions yield many different “styles” of psychopathy, and none of the resulting behaviours individually qualify as indicators of psychopathy.

    This blog doesn’t allow after-the-facts editing either. Sigh. – Julian.

  98. If I understand you right, I think Steve Becker agrees with your Perverted reactions to a variety of typical life events.

    He writes:
    What, then, is the first—and, for that matter, second—telltale sign that someone is wrong, and really bad, for you, sociopath or not? (And speaking honestly, should we really need more than a sign or two?)

    The answer is, ANY EXPRESSED BEHAVIOR or ATTITUDE that leaves you feeling disarmed or disoriented by its inappropriateness, selfishness and/or insensitivity.

    Take great heed of such an experience, because almost always, it is a sign that more are sure to follow. In other words, preparing to bail at this point is a wise consideration.

    Specifically, what behaviors and attitudes am I referring to? For starters, how about the first, surprising flash of rage, contempt, arrogance, selfishness, coldness, presumptuousness, dishonesty, indifference, ungratefulness, even denseness; shocking acts of abuse, verbal or physical; and startling failures of empathy, or compassion.

    It is really less the behavior or attitude, per se, that screams ALARMING…prepare to BAIL!, than the experience of it as, “Where did that come from?””
    (All from Becker)

  99. Susan, thank you so much! I’ve read a lot of Steve Becker’s material on lovefraud.com, but I must have missed this one. If you have the link, would you kindly post it here? I’m VERY curious as to his complete perspective; we might be onto something big.

    I’m especially intrigued by Steve’s comment “should we really need more than a sign or two?” I had considered adding a “three strikes and you’re out” policy to my previous post.

    And I also love his succinct description of the feeling you should be looking out for: Where the hell did that come from? Boy, can I really relate to that! Over the last ten years, I’ve successfully dodged two female psychopaths; one made it to only the third date and the other didn’t even make it to the first one (no kidding – I called to confirm and her HUSBAND answered. She had implied that she was single). In both cases, I had that gut feeling of “Where the hell did that come from?” and bailed pronto. Later on, I learned of the immense damage that both of them did to their subsequent targets and their spouses. My personal challenge lately has been to understand why I didn’t dodge my latest psychopath, and why so many others don’t either.

    My basic concern is that there are so many possible red flags, and they are individually so easy to justify or explain away, which can keep us locked into toxic relationships far longer than we should. I’ve therefore lost a lot of faith in all the popular “red flag” lists as a way to detect disordered individuals EARLY in the game. But they’re certainly useful to anyone who’s been with a wacko for a few years and seen a lot of their disordered behaviour.

    Thanks so much again, Susan. – Julian.

  100. Susan, I should also add that regarding my two previous psychopathic encounters, I had absolutely no clue as to personality disorders at all. In fact, the woman who introduced me to the 3-date psychopath was a licensed psychotherapist familiar with personality disorders and argued with me vehemently that “she was just testing you” and strongly advised me to continue the relationship. The psychopath seduced her boyfriend away from her and married him less than a year later.

    So I’m now a firm believer that it’s your “gut feel” that’s best in detecting a toxic partner, not “red flags.”

    Thanks so much again. – Julian.

  101. Susan, one last thing… Steve Becker has his contact info on his website, so I’d like to get in touch with him soon to discuss this strategy further. May I please have your permission to forward him your comments as well as mine? Thanks – Julian.

  102. Annoula,

    Going with Julian’s fine post, I’d like to share with you in what ways they can become worse as they get older. Psychopaths are chameleons, they borrow from various relationships from the past, as well as “morphing” into what you believe at the core of yourself (in other words, they will read what you read, affiliate with any religious/political denomination,, while they have been something else ENTIRELY with the prior target). As they age, they acquire “behavior modification” techniques from past prior relationships, in other words, what worked and what did not and implement that into their morphing of YOU. In essence, mirroring. The reason they are so adept at this as they age is PRACTICE. It’s a lifetime of mirroring. This also means that they become MORE devious, lie better, manipulate better (meaning you’re swept off your feet at the beginning of the relationshit, more so than even the LAST victim), etc, BUT, they also have a tendency to lose their masks sooner in a relationship as they age, than when they are younger. psychopaths experience the same age related afflictions that we all do. They tire more than they did when they were twenty/thirty/even forty. It is EXHAUSTING and ENERGY DEPLETING to keep the mask on as long as they did before, therefore, the abusive behaviors can often be seen SOONER in an older psychopath than a younger one. If you are keen on the red flags, you will see the mask slip SOONER.

    Because they are FAKING via MORPHING into what you want them to be, the energy to keep up the facade is too much for them. As they get older, their relationships also tend to not last as long as they did when they were younger. They are a bit lazier with keeping up appearances. This is not to say that they can’t because they spend their LIVES doing it, but what seems to be more proficient for the psychopath is the LURE as they get older….it’s keeping the mask on that’s more difficult. I hope that helps. Kel

  103. Susan and Julian,

    I hope you’ll understand this. What do you think of Sam Vaknin? I’m curious. He has some great articles and videos as well, and I think he’s pretty right on, even though he ADMITS he’s a Narcissist, although from the video I, Psychopath, it appears he registers on that continuum as well. The first book I ever read about Cluster B’s was Sam’s book: Malignant Self Love. While I didn’t agree with ALL of it, I did with most and it does fit the profile of a Cluster B. While I actually DO appreciate Sam’s work, he is NOT the only professional nor article writer who is familiar with psychopathy. Sandra Brown, I believe, is one of the best, as well as Dr. Hare, Babiak, etc. Martha Stout is also a professional, and is VERY good although I do not know if she is available for phone consult. Many therapists well versed in psychopathy will do phone sessions with you, but they are pricey. Sometimes it’s worth every dime, but other times it is NOT. While I have read Sam’s work and agree with much he has to say about Cluster B’s, I would NOT consult him for further advice about my own personal situation. Oftentimes it’s better to consult with someone near where you live that can offer just as good, if not better advice about personality disorders, providing you’re willing to take the time to look. Kel

  104. Julian,

    This is an excellent post. My point in creating the list, was the behaviors I saw personally out of my ex. As unlikely as it sounds, A LOT of people believe that abuse means PHYSICAL. There are WAY too many generalities with regards to emotional abuse. The specific tactics a psychopath uses are what’s most important and those are a “waterfall” from the basic PCL-R traits that Dr. Hare has compiled in his diagnostic assessments. Most people who come for help are looking for something SIMPLE in defining their experiences. The PCL-R is great in terms that are GENERAL in nature. Apply that now to what each person experiences with a psychopath and you have another ball of wax ENTIRELY. It is VERY important to have specifics with regards to BEHAVIOR that flows from the basic traits. In Thomas Sheridan’s book, there are five basic traits, but more than 20 subtraits. This is why people love this book and his videos. It is NOT academic in nature and not leaving each of us to guess what the psychopath is or does. It is in laymen’s terms, which is often what victims sorely need because the psychopath uses brain twisting mechanisms, often in the form of generalities (because he does not GET specifics when it comes to emotions-lack of empathy) and overuse of “intellectual/factual speak), that, in the end make NO SENSE at all. So let me put this in laymen’s terms again. A strung out victim with NO prior knowledge of psychopathy is not likely to relate well to the DSM version, Dr. Hare version (PCL-R) of psychopathy. It needs to be formatted simply and in terms that each can understand given their own PERSONAL experience with a psychopath. What my ex has done, may be ENTIRELY different than someone else’s. This is also a slippery slope because some psychopaths will exhibit certain traits above others and some will not exhibit a certain trait at all, while exhibiting all the rest. It is VERY important to understand what the simplistic terms of abuse ARE, to connect the dots to the generalities expressed in the PCL-R. Oftentimes, there will be terms that have to do with psychopathy that the victim will hear and understand via DEFINITION for the VERY first time in their lives. I have recently looked up MANY terms, even as simple as “manipulation” and having seen that definition, in print, helped me to connect the dots to how evil and deviant the psychopath truly is in the luring phases. It’s not enough to “sorta” understand the definitions. Manipulation has a whole new meaning to me now. It was the first time I saw it defined as DECEPTION. These definitions, as well as SIMPLE outlines of what abuse LOOKS like are incredibly important to a victim who is just coming to terms with psychopathy. Kel

  105. Susan,

    I do not disagree with your agreement with Steve Becker insofar as exploitation by a psychopath, however, this is NOT what a victim will be thinking about, even with the word, while going through the experience. Exploitation and it’s definition come AFTER the experience, AFTER the simple definitions. The psychopaths ultimate desire is to HARM, through dominance and mainly POWER, which IS the drive behind the psychopath. This is what Steve Becker NEVER acknowledges, but Sandra Brown, Thomas Sheridan and others DO.. This premeditated. It isn’t JUST about exploitation, it is one of the many WEAPONS in the psychopaths arsenal that he uses. I wish to quote this out of Sandra Brown’s book, “Women Who Love Psychopaths” : Rieber and Vetter indication “psychopaths are extremely sensitive to POWER relationships and want maximum POWER. Psychopaths enjoy POWER most when it is equated to, and produces, VICTIMIZATION. The psychopath will not find a victory as ‘POWER inducing’ if the victim knowingly gives him what he wants. He prefers to victimize her somewhere in the process. In order for him to feel the most POWER, someone else must be weak. Resulting violence is not always a trait of psychopaths and often they seek POWER (and the consequential emotional victimization), more than exerting violence.
    The psychopaths DOMINANCE DRIVE is the force behind his pathology. His dominance can be overt aggression and demanding control of his whole environment. or his dominance can be cover through passive aggressive use of guilt, pathetic neediness or pity to dominate her emotions. The end result is the same-the ability to dominate someone’s emotions thus dominate their inner world.”

    And this, also from the same book: “His insatiable need for POWER and DOMINANCE is so non-stop that it feels unquenchable to her. Psychopaths hurt people because POWER through victimization is much more satisfying to them. THEY ARE EMOTIONALLY REWARDED BY THE HARM THEY CAUSE”.

    And that is the foundation to psychopathy. Kel

  106. Julian,
    RE: your post above about red flags vs. gut instinct.

    I disagree with that, but only partially. BOTH are critical in pinpointing a psychopath. I think it’s pretty safe to say that if we were all using our “gut instincts” many of us would not be here on this blog or any other for that matter, HOWEVER, giving everyone here the benefit of the doubt, yourself included, who KNEW about psychopathy prior to their experiences with one? That’s why understanding the RED FLAGS are so important, as well as gut instinct. I’ll give you an example of that: One of the reasons I was SO attracted to my ex and the first thing I noticed about him that had me SO HOT for this man was his COOL, CALM, COLLECTED manner. This came across to me as someone who “had it all together”. Could remain calm in many situations. It is an ATTRACTIVE feature for someone, yes? NOT! There was NOTHING in my gut that said anything was wrong with that demeanor. AT ALL. My therapist validated told me that someone who is this way IS (if they are “normal”) a potentially good partner, BUT, this was my BIGGEST RED FLAG. My therapist and I also discovered it was his LURE for me. As the relationship progressed, this “calm, cool, collected” demeanor was activated in situations that one would expect someone NOT to be calm, cool and collected. I saw this with others very deeply troubling issues that he would observe and have NO emotional reaction too (Illness or death of coworkers of many years, or “friends” he had that were sick with life threatening illness), or if I was PISSED OFF, NO emotional reaction whatsoever. I’ll surely NOT miss that RED FLAG again. In retrospect, if I had observed his behavior just a little more closely, this would have sent me RUNNING FOR THE HILLS. It was a lack of empathy and shallow emotions. Something else I was to see manifest itself through him with others in other ways. He was clearly FAKE. Just sayin. Kel

  107. Everyone,

    BTW, my bad, I apologize for capitalizing when I emphasize certain points in my post. It just dawned on me while re-reading them that it looks like I’m shouting, ugh! I’ll work on that. Hugs. Kel

  108. Kelli, I pointed out at the beginning that my intent was to devise a better strategy for detecting disordered people early on in a relationship (before you become a victim!). This strategy doesn’t help victims understand abuse or coming to terms with their situation; your list does a much better job of that. – Julian.

    P.S. Regarding Sam Vaknin, I wouldn’t come within a mile of him. He’s a serious narcissist, and we avoid those like the plague, right?

  109. Julian

    Sam is a professed narcissist. Would I have dinner with this man, let alone consult with him? Um, no. I wonder if you’ve seen the video I, Psychopath. It is very interesting and captures the essence of Sam and his disorder. it’s actually rather frightening. I no longer read his stuff, as I find there are professionals and those that come from the perspective of experience, such a Claudia, or Thomas sheridan, or professionals such a Sandra Brown, Martha Stout, Robert Hare, etc, that are much better at sharing their perspectives of psychopathy. Kel

  110. Yes, I’ve seen “I, Psychopath” and I too found it rather frightening, especially towards the end. It looks like I’ve read the same books as you have, except that I haven’t ordered Sheridan’s book yet. I’m very curious to learn more about the Psychopathic Control Grid. – Julian.

  111. Kelli, I agree that it is very true for most that it isnt until the relationship is over that and we educate ourselves around psychopathy and cluster b; we begin to recognise the whole relationship was littered with red flags. They are so easily overlooked and normalised until these fissures and dichotomies become to great to air brush over. Michael

  112. Julian. that is one of the funniest things i ‘ve read..wacko detection strategy..” hahaha you have no idea how much you cheered me up today! Keli, too right about the ageing thing, they do get worse with age for all the reasons you set out..and also they get more screwed up as they lose their looks as they get older. I am sure they lose it quicker too, that they cant’ pretend for as long as the last relationshit they were in. My one wanted a relationshiit he could make out was real but carry on his sexual liaisons as much as he liked. So he sees girls that are abroad, flies over there, makes out he’s in love and they are everything to him and then goes home and has threesomes with his ex etc. Awful.
    Lesleyxxxxxx
    Hope you are all okxx

  113. Michael,

    That is exactly it. This is why the victims have a tendency to stay in the relationshit so long, because the red flags are blown off as a happenstance, rather than a behavior pattern that isn’t discovered right away, but over time. No normal person behaves in this way and for victims who have been involved with a psychopath, it’s quite likely something they grew up with and can’t distinguish the patterns or someone who has never experienced a psychopath and is believing it’s THEM and not the psychopath that is the problem and the psychopath counts on this to continue his feeding in the relationshit. Kel

  114. Lesley,

    Re-read your posts. Now, aren’t you glad you’re out of the relationshit? :) Kel

  115. Julian,

    Certainly can quote me.

    Here is the link.
    http://www.lovefraud.com/blog/2008/12/18/radar-not-for-the-sociopath-but-for-the-wrong-people/

  116. I think in protecting ourselves, it is good to think of OUR traits that make us vulnerable….especially those traits which are normally a GOOD thing, such as,

    We tend to;
    * be trusting
    * be ready to forgive or understand or normalize or minimize unacceptable behavior, even in the absence of any expression of remorse, regret, actions that show commitment to change
    * strongly believe in relationship commitment, working things out
    * want to believe the best about people
    *be diplomatic
    *be tolerant and accepting
    *be quick to apologize
    *be quick to blame ourselves
    * not be suspicious
    * keep working with/ keep being nice to someone who has really thrown us under the bus, or otherwise treated us badly
    * be insanely loyal
    *want to help people with their problems
    *take the high road
    and, in the words of the Betrayal Bond book
    ” overlook the obvious and accept the improbable”

    My husband says the p changed me. NO. I changed me, with a lot of hard work. He says I’m very skeptical now…very committed to truth…not easily moved by people’s stories and situations….much less emotional….much less trusting….and very able to stand up to abuse now and end the conversation. I have a home office, so he can hear me interacting with everyone from major donors to scum bag animal abusers. I don’t think I could have handled this job before the understandings I gained about p’s.

  117. Well, not all of those things are good, but you get the point!

  118. Susan

    This is a GREAT list! And in looking at it, there are belief systems we all have that need to be changed after this experience. One of the things I don’t want to become is so skeptical that I face the world with a serious lack of trust. I prefer to be cautious. It does seem much better to keep my circles very small. This list is very important in another way too, something that I see a lot of, which is that authorities on certain subjects seem to be those who are placed with automatic trust, simply because something they say resonates with us. Psychopaths love positions of authority. This is scary. My ex was in a position of AUTHORITY and I gave him my automatic trust. I’ve also had another experience with someone of authority in a therapeutic position and I will never, EVER do that again. Protecting yourself seems, at first, almost insanely selfish,but it’s really not. One of my newer healthy friends told me, “You’ll know you’re healing when you don’t give a shit what anyone thinks about you”. I think I know what she means by that. She doesn’t put up with abuse at all. There is a difference between a difference of opinion and abuse. I see that. I find myself moved by other people’s stories and situations, but I no longer feel I have to fix it. I still want to maintain my compassion for those who are deserving and truly hurting. I don’t want to close off the world because it’s not who I am. Perhaps I’m thinking in extremes, black and white, because I’m still newly out of this experience and trying to find an inner peace and balance. I’m not there yet. It will probably take a couple of years more of therapy to challenge my “insane loyalties” to others in my past. I read about that in the Betrayal Bond too. Susan, I like that book and own it, but I think one of the issues and probably the only issue I have with it, is that it addresses abusive behavior in general, but NOT a psychopathic bond, which is VERY different. I think personal responsibility is so important in the healing process, however, the psychopathic bond is not something that was the fault of ANY of us. But in being out now, I need to deal with what made me vulnerable in the first place and a pathological background is one of those elements. I didn’t ask to be born into pathology and I didn’t ask for it with the psychopathic bonds I’ve been in, but NOW, I have the freedom from toxic relationships to work through all the stench to understand myself well enough, purge the pain of pathology and how to protect myself in the future and now that I have knowledge, it is my responsibility to do the work. Kel

  119. Susan, this is certainly a good list, even if it’s still a bit uncomfortable for me to accept it. I’m guilty as charged for pretty well everything. This will change, however, as I’ve decided that everyone I deal with needs to be as straightforward about themselves as I am. Any evasion or discomfort about simple questions regarding honesty and integrity, I just won’t tolerate that any more.

    I once read an inspiring story on LoveFraud where a woman exposed the con-artist pursuing her after just the first date: http://www.lovefraud.com/blog/2007/11/13/letters-to-lovefraud-i-met-another-sociopath-on-millionairematchcom/

    Her closing comments are great: “Busted!!!! Any caring emotionally healthy man would have nothing to hide and be impressed with my desire to protect myself.” And I admire the way she had her eyes wide open the whole time. – Julian.

  120. Lesley, thank you kindly, it’s always uplifting to hear that I’ve cheered up someone’s day. I’ve had a *really* long one today and now I can go to sleep a bit happier.

  121. Susan, thanks very much for the link. It’s a really good article; I don’t know how I overlooked it. I like when Becker says “It is tempting and, at some point, I suggest, unfruitful to get stuck on the suspected psychopathology of a partner (present, or ex). Because when you get right down to it, there are only two diagnoses that really matter: Is this person, for me, RIGHT, and GOOD? Or WRONG, and BAD?”

    That’s exactly the reason why I called it the “wacko detection strategy” – when all is said and done, the exact diagnosis doesn’t matter much, does it? It’s all about whether the person is sick or healthy. – Julian.

  122. It never hit me …but I just looked. He only used the word sociopath once, and never psychopath. But I can’t think of anything in the book that didn’t fit the relationship with a psychopath.

    If you look on page 29 and 30, don’t you feel your relationship with the p manifested some or most of those signs?

    That book is my bible and totally saved me. I still reread parts of it often and redo the exercises. It is a book that I get more out of each time I read it.

    And his rules for re-engagement (p. 160) are ones that NO psychopath could meet. LOL!

    I guess the truth is I agree with Becker. What we need is radar for “not the sociopath but the wrong people.”…wrong for who? You! …that is what Becker says.

    There are psychopaths that each of us is bullet proof against, I bet. When your boundaries are strong in an area, they can try to target you, but their arrows just bounce off. I’ve seen that with my husband and I interacting with my brother (p). My brother can say something…..and I’ll be just about to respond as the p would want…and my husband says something so different, that it kind of takes my breath away….and then I have that “Ah ha!” moment, when his remark has cleared the fog and I realized I was about to get sucked in again on something. But my husband has very clear boundaries for the kind of stuff my brother specializes in.

    and in the work environment, I can now spot them, even when the mask is created just for me.

    The ones we have to watch out for….whether a psychopath or an extreme narcissist…are the ones that are “wrong” for us.

    I agree, a pyschopath hurts like no one else….but read 171 and 172….he clearly gets what a pyschopath can do to you…without labeling the person as one.

    Each person is different….but I didn’t want to spend too much time at all figuring out if the p WAS a p or a n or what. First of all, it was pretty obvious when I read through Hare’s stuff, and I could do a pretty good analysis, I felt, since I knew him as a kid too. And his family.
    But when you are doing that, the focus is still on HIM. I quickly came to the conclusion that the smartest thing to do is assume he is very dangerous….and when I look back now, I think of things I did rather subconsciously that I think saved my life.And assuming he is capable of the worst made no contact that much easier.

    I ramble and ramble!

    I don’t think the Emotional Rape book uses psychopath either. But I also found that book very validating.

    I do think this site is important and making clear what a p is, how to spot them, etc. It is a vocabulary item I hope gets out more and more in the general public. But probably at the time some of these books were written, it was a good choice not to use the term, because the public was SO far from beginning to understand it could be the person you were just involved with…even if they didn’t kill you.

  123. Kelli, I think you’re spot-on, and Annoulla, I would take Kelli’s words to heart. Keeping up the mask is definitely energy-depleting for them. My ex kept hers up for over a year, but once her divorce reached the courtroom – where lies and deceit and manipulation are replaced by court orders to provide factual evidence – that’s when the mask started to drop.

    In fact, I think that any event in life where things don’t go the way the psychopath wants them to is an enormous stressor for them. We really need to watch their reactions to such events; it’s a dead giveaway that they’re truly sick. – Julian.

  124. Susan

    I think survivors like yourself who are so much more out of the relationship can view toxic as just toxic, however, I think it’s so important to understand the psychopath, what he does, how he does it, what he says, why he says it….it is critical to recovery. It starts out about them (as you’ve seen as the mantra on LF), but becomes about us. I understand that. One of the things that Sandra Brown says is that the LONGEST part of recovery is understanding HIM. And it is, because they tie such knots in one’s head, and there is so much addiction to HIM, it’s imperative to understand it. I know that the more I learn about the disorder that the more the pieces are coming together. I’m really glad that the Betrayal Bond was what helped you get through your experience. I think it’s different for everyone, but I actually think you’re ability to process it was different than others and it does help that you had the experience with the same man years before. It also helps that you have the loving support of a healthy man who can clearly help distinguish the differences to one who is NOT. I have found that it’s also critical to feel every aspect of the process. The grieving, the anger and however long it takes, it takes. You also have practice with a P brother LOL! YIKES. I choose to have nothing to do with my P family. I’m not yet certain enough of myself, nor do I have any desire, to be sucked into drama nor be around it. I want to heal enough that I understand what my vulnerabilities were that got me involved in the first place. Having a pathological background, surely did not help. Learning what healthy is, is something I know only partially. It’s not comfortable for me yet and I feel a bit out of my element just yet.

    I think to blame the victim when it comes to a psychopath is very detrimental to healing. In any way shape or form. Ironically enough, I can spot a psychopath pretty quickly now. My choice is just not to deal with them at all. I know there are psychopaths that operate smoothly within the realms of the therapeutic environment as well. That is easy to spot for me now too. No matter how infamous they may be. It is easy to miss. Especially if the person is admired, or a position of authority on some level, which is what psychopaths strive for to keep their “audiences”. No matter what they are to you, husband/wife, child, therapist, etc etc.

    I really enjoyed the betrayal bond. It was a good read. I started doing the exercises, but was too triggered to continue. This is something that needs to be done with my therapist. With all that pathology and abuse, memories flow and sometimes they can send me into a panic attack. But the book did not help me in understanding the psychopath, and all the elements that go within the dynamic of the relationship. It’s far too complicated of a dynamic to not be detailed and specific as to behaviors and understanding the addictive pull, and enmeshment that the psychopath induces in their victims.

    Understanding the psychopath, that it wasn’t the survivors fault that they were targeted, to understand the behaviors that suck us in, the reasons for targeting, etc, and really grasping the meaning of it all, accepting that there are disordered people in this world and that evil does exist, REALLY grasping that, opens the flood gates for healing in other areas that involve only ourselves and what made us vulnerable in the first place. That’s where books like the Betrayal Bond comes in. Kel

  125. I have always been a very strong advocate of not blaming the victim AT ALL. I’m sorry if anything I said came across that way.

    First of all, NO BAD GUY= NO PROBLEM …no problem with ANY of the traits I listed above, such as trusting. Even minimizing an accidental hurt can be good, if no BAD GUY is involved.

    NO BAD GUYS out there except the p’s in my family would mean I wouldn’t have to understand my personal history so well, if I just stayed away from my family. (which I do…that example was from almost three years ago, when my P mom was dying and I saw my brother then.) But since there are bad guys out there, I’m at risk of repeating old patterns from my family with a p…which is what I did with the p I was involved in…both at 15 and 40 years later. He treated me just like my mom did (with obvious exceptions), and it felt like “love”…I knew the dance very well. And thought this time I could make it come out right. But I wasn’t conscious of what I was doing at that time.

    And if there weren’t rapists out there, I wouldn’t have had to learn self-defense techniques.Is it a “weakness” that my untrained reaction to being choked might help the rapist succeed in choking me? Am I to blame if I get raped because of some self defense move I don’t know?
    Of course not.

    and the same is the true for the emotional/soul rape that a p does to us.

    Sorry for using “guys” all the time. There are bad gals out there too. Obviously.

  126. Susan,

    I’m sorry I misunderstood you, I thought you were still involved in seeing your P brother presently. I’m sorry if you felt that I was saying you implied that you were blaming the victim. I did not mean that as directed at you. I apologize if it came across that way. I meant that in general this is often the case. In listening to Thomas sheridan on one of his interviews he is clear about staying away from people during recovery who blame the victim for their situations. I believe that is very true. I do understand the theory behind it starts out as about them and then becomes about us, but not without understanding the psychopath and the dynamics involved first…I’m seeing that from there, there is a domino effect in the need to look back and see where my vulnerabilities lie. It’s a very painful, and frustratingly slow process.

    Again I apologize if you felt i was directing any of that at you. And saying “guys” does not bother me at least, at all LOL :) Kel

  127. Well, it is a very valid point your raised, I just wanted to make sure it was clear I agree.

    And even when it becomes the “about you” part….as Sandra says, it is often our strengths….NOT weaknesses…that are the “vulnerabilities”.

    Just like in the self-defense I was taught, a big bulky guy (a strength you would think in self-defense) is less able to carry out the maneuvers that a small, flexible woman can succeed at better.

    So too can our great strengths of compassion, the ability to love and forgive….traits we don’t want to lose….be a huge part of what attracted the p to put a target on our forehead.

    And even when I look at myself clearly, and I see some faults, because all humans have them, and I’m no exception, nonetheless the “shame” for things in the so called “relationship” with the p very clearly in my mind (finally) belong to the p, because had he been a normal person…..it all would have unfolded VERY differently. VERY. My husband forgave me long before I forgave myself. His first reaction? “Why didn’t you tell me? You shouldn’t have suffered through all that alone” He’s a prince. And he says he loves me more now than he ever has. THAT is real love. (and I tease him that with that kind of forgiveness, he’s a good target too!)

  128. None of that negates that it is a good thing that I finally found out what a P is and the patterns I was repeating…but the shame, the blame belongs to the P, not me, regardless.

  129. Susan,

    That is a beautiful post and you’re a very lucky, very strong woman. And I LOVE your comment that he’s a target too and it’s probably true!! GOOD men can be targets as well! GREAT post! Kel

  130. Julian, you should be proud of almost all of those traits. With a normal person, who also shares those traits, a wonderful relationship is the result.

    Yes…great link above!.

    I just found this quote from Sandra Brown:

    “A woman ENDS UP with a pathological man because she did not know what pathology looked or acted like. Some women end up with pathological men because they ignored their own red flags when they actually had some concerns during dating.”

    Both were true for me. And a few other reasons too….like assuming I knew his core, the pull of a first love, the cloak of respectability of his profession and wealth, my own beaten down state from several things, including Katrina rescue work.

    But I think her quote underscores why this site is so crucial.

  131. Susan, regarding your quote from Sandra Brown, both were true for me also, and I had been working 400 miles from home and living in a hotel for over a year when I first met my ex. She was a welcome respite from my loneliness, and it was great to date a “local” who knew the area inside out.

    I certainly am proud of the traits you posted, but now I’m aware that some people can take advantage of them. I plan to be much more cautious and observant, particularly when I see evasion or discomfort about normal, ordinary things. – Julian.

  132. I think another thing I’m going to look out for is women in the midst of a divorce who are denigrating their ex-husbands while trying to fleece them in the courtroom. Yuck! – Julian.

  133. Susan,

    I LOVE your quote from Sandra. And that is the absolute TRUTH of the matter! How can you recognize pathology when you dont KNOW what it looks like, then by the time it is discovered it’s TOO LATE, the person is already in so deep that it takes time to unravel all the knots he/she has tied in their partners head! this also speaks to the red flags that are IGNORED during the dating time. How many of us felt that something said or done was probably a bit off, but when looking back realize it was A WHOLE LOTTA OFF? You cannot avoid what you DO NOT understand! This combined with learning good boundaries and a healthy protection around yourself is critical in avoiding it again. Simply loneliness can also be a HUGE target for a psychopath. He can sniff this out and sandra refers to this as their “sixth sense”. Even if you have established really good boundaries, and developed yourself to a healthy point in your life, through a lot of hard work and self examination, a psychopath can STILL get through if you are LONELY. This is my biggest battle right now. Awareness of our emotional vulnerabilities, even at the healthiest we can be, is critical in avoiding another encounter with a psychopath. Kel

  134. Kelli, thanks so much for bringing up Sandra’s description of the psychopath’s “sixth sense” for sniffing out loneliness. One of the biggest things that has been a lingering issue for me is “how did I fall for a psychopath when I’ve quickly fended off lesser wackos before, without even knowing about personality disorders?” Now that I’m aware of what boundaries are, I think mine are pretty damn good and I recall being thoroughly confused when my therapist was so keen on finding problems with them. I actually wrote my boundaries out in a computer file, and I couldn’t find any problems with them.

    Well, the answer to both issues is now abundantly clear. My ex-girl-fiend exploited not only my loneliness far from home and family and friends, but also that I missed my cats so much (who were in the care of my brother while I was away). She used the latter to lure me into moving in with her (with my cats, of course) only five months into the relationship. And for me, that’s way too fast. Even after a whole year, you haven’t really gotten to know a person all that well. You have to live through thick and thin to know what someone is really like, and that’s probably why psychopaths like to accelerate the milestones in a relationship. And in my case, she knew I was paying $3,000/month for the hotel, and wanted to get as much of that as possible.

    [In fact, she thought I was paying $4,500/month, the hotel's published rate on the web, but I had to correct her as I had negotiated a long-term agreement with them. Just the fact that she had gone to the trouble of figuring out the extent of my expense account was in itself a huge red flag!]

    Thanks very much for helping me see this, I feel so much better about how I got snared into my mess! – Julian.

  135. Yes you do indeed cheer me up Julian – you all help me on this site in one way or another! Though this week, I’ve not been too good. It is hard to explain, well not to you guys its not..but since I heard from mine I have been getting very upset again. For me, it is not just because of the “dream” I had of living with him, but because I moved back to Scotland and i really did love living down south, and in some ways wish I had stayed down there, not with him obviously, but down there on my own and made a life for myself. Back where I am there are too many memories of my ex-husband, friends we shared etc. Sorry everyone, I’m not much help today – I suppose you just have times like this, when it all just gets to you a bit and you feel so powerless to change anything. Dont get me wrong, i have tried to get jobs in England again but the market is so bad just now, as it is at home. Some times I just think back and think oh god why did you have to be a psycho…I was having such a lovely time until your mask fell off.
    Sorry again….I know its not really what you all want to hear! You are all so uplifting!
    Love lesleyxxxx

  136. Yes Julian, they can hit a person with good boundaries who is lonely, etc. My boundaries were not the greatest, because I was used to living with p’s, but didn’t know it, but they were good enough to hold against the p for 40 years. We had exchanged letters on and off, until he started trying to talk me into an affair, and I told him to never write to me again. That was many, many years ago, maybe 15 years after we had dated, and he always tried to talk to me on my birthday. I think I talked to him once. After that I wouldn’t take his calls. But then he emailed me when I was at a low point. My husband had some problems at that time, his own sister told me to go have an affair! And he didn’t care, or at least said it was okay. And I was burned out from Katrina work, and had stepped down voluntarily to a lower stress job, but it was still stressful. A dog I loved died, so did a bird, so did some foster kittens…. Not excuses, but certainly shows why at last he succeeded.

    Well, my husband’s problems are straightened out…and I don’t feel they are mine to discuss, but our marriage is great now.

  137. Lesley, I’m sorry to hear you felt down but hope you’re feeling better again. I know what you mean by being in a place that triggers too many memories. We’ve all had moments like that. Hopefully though you can build new ones,
    real ones and better ones. Claudia

  138. Julian, psychopaths mask their personality disorders much better than the “lesser wackos”. So don’t blame yourself for being fooled; often even experts are. Claudia

  139. Julian, one red flag is dating while separated. It’s better to date people who are already single rather than planning to be single. Because many psychopaths lie that they’re separated or going to get a divorce, when really they’re just stringing multiple victims along. Claudia


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