A Painful Incredulity: Psychopathy and Cognitive Dissonance

Almost everyone involved with a psychopath goes through a phase (and form) of denial. It’s very tough to accept the sad reality that the person who claimed to be your best friend or the love of your life is actually a backstabbing snake whose sole purpose in life is humiliating and dominating those around him. Rather than confront this reality, some victims go into denial entirely. They aren’t ready to accept any part of the truth, which, when suppressed, often surfaces in anxiety, projection and nightmares.

At some point, however, the evidence of a highly disturbed personality shows through, especially once the psychopath is no longer invested in a given victim and thus no longer makes a significant effort to keep his mask on. Then total denial is no longer possible. The floodgates of reality suddenly burst open and a whole slew of inconsistencies, downright lies, manipulations, criticism and emotional abuse flows through to the surface of our consciousness.

However, even then it’s difficult to absorb such painful information all at once. Our heart still yearns for what we have been persuaded, during the luring phase, was our one true love. Our minds are still filled with memories of the so-called good times with the psychopath. Yet, the truth about the infidelities, the constant deception, the manipulation and the backstabbing can no longer be denied. We can’t undo everything we learned about the psychopath; we cannot return to the point of original innocence, of total blindness. The result is a contradictory experience: a kind of internal battle between clinging to denial and accepting the truth.

Cognitive dissonance is a painful incredulity marked by this inner contradiction in the victim’s attitude towards the victimizer. In 1984, perhaps the best novel about brainwashing that occurs in totalitarian regimes, George Orwell coined his own term for this inner contradiction: he called it doublethink. Doublethink is not logical, but it is a common defense mechanism for coping with deception, domination and abuse. Victims engage in doublethink, or cognitive dissonance, in a partly subconscious attempt to reconcile the contradictory claims and behavior of the disordered individuals who have taken over their lives.

The denial itself can take several forms. It can manifest itself as the continuing idealization of the psychopath during the luring phase of the relationship or it can be shifting the blame for what went wrong in the relationship from him, the culprit, to ourselves, or to other victims. In fact, the easiest solution is to blame neither oneself nor the psychopath, but other victims. How often have you encountered the phenomenon where people who have partners who cheat on them lash out at the other women (or men) instead of holding their  partners accountable for their actions? It’s far easier to blame someone you’re not emotionally invested in than someone you love, particularly if you still cling to that person or relationship.

Other victims project the blame back unto themselves.  They accept the psychopath’s projection of blame and begin questioning themselves: what did I do wrong, to drive him away? What was lacking in me that he was so negative or unhappy in the relationship? Was I not smart enough, virtuous enough, hard-working enough, beautiful enough, sexy enough, attentive enough, submissive enough etc.

When one experiences cognitive dissonance, the rational knowledge about psychopathy doesn’t fully sink in on an emotional level. Consequently, the victim moves constantly back and forth between the idealized fantasy and the pathetic reality of the psychopath. This is a very confusing process and an emotionally draining one as well. Initially, when you’re the one being idealized by him, the fantasy is that a psychopath can love you and that he is committed to you and respects you. Then, once you’ve been devalued and/or discarded, the fantasy remains that he is capable of loving others, just not you. That you in particular weren’t right for him, but others can be. This is the fantasy that the psychopath tries to convince every victim once they enter the devalue phase. Psychopaths truly believe this because they never see anything wrong with themselves or their behavior, so if they’re no longer excited by a person, they conclude it must be her (or his) fault; that she (or he) is deficient.

Because you put up with emotional abuse from the psychopath you were with and recently been through the devaluation phase–in fact, for you it was long and drawn-out–you have absorbed this particular fantasy despite everything you know about psychopaths’ incapacity to love or even care about others. But with time and no contact, the rational knowledge and the emotional will merge, and this last bit of illusion about the psychopath will be dissolved.

Cognitive dissonance is part and parcel of being the victim of a personality disordered individual. It doesn’t occur in healthy relationships for several reasons:

1) healthy individuals may have good and bad parts of their personalities, but they don’t have a Jekyll and Hyde personality; a mask of sanity that hides an essentially malicious and destructive self. In a healthy relationship, there’s a certain transparency: basically, what you see is what you get. People are what they seem to be, flaws and all.

2) healthy relationships aren’t based on emotional abuse, domination and a mountain of deliberate lies and manipulation

3) healthy relationships don’t end abruptly, as if they never even happened because normal people can’t detach so quickly from deeper relationships

4) conversely, however, once healthy relationships end, both parties accept that and move on. There is no stalking and cyberstalking, which are the signs of a disordered person’s inability to detach from a dominance bond: a pathetic attempt at reassertion of power and control over a relationship that’s over for good

Cognitive dissonance happens  in those cases where there’s an unbridgeable contradiction between a dire reality and an increasingly implausible fantasy which, once fully revealed, would be so painful to accept, that you’d rather cling to parts of the fantasy than confront that sad reality and move on.

Relatedly, cognitive dissonance is also a sign that the psychopath still has a form of power over you: that his distorted standards still have a place in your brain. That even though you may reject him on some level, on another his opinions still matter to you. Needless to say, they shouldn’t. He is a fraud; his opinions are distorted; his ties to others, even those he claims to “love,” just empty dominance bonds. Rationally, you already know that his opinions and those of his followers should have no place in your own mental landscape.  

But if emotionally you still care about what he thinks or feels, then you are giving a disordered person too much power over you: another form of cognitive dissonance, perhaps the most dangerous. Cut those imaginary ties and cut the power chords that still tie you to a pathological person, his disordered supporters and their abnormal frame of reference.  Nothing good will ever come out of allowing a psychopath and his pathological defenders any place in your heart or mind. The schism between their disordered perspective and your healthy one creates the inner tension that is also called cognitive dissonance. To eliminate this inner tension means to free yourself– body, heart and mind–from the psychopath, his followers and their opinions or standards. What they do, say, think or believe –and the silly mind games they choose to play–simply does not matter.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction

73 Comments

  1. Claudia,

    Your gift for writing what I feel and or share, as many others do here, is amazing. It is a true and real gift. This article is nothing less than wonderful.

    Having said that, I guess the mantra about the psychopath remains, even though you spoke about it rather eloquently : Cognitive dissonance DOES NOT occur in healthy relationships. It occurs only in abusive relationships, namely, but not limited too, the relationship with the psychopath. Thanks for writing this Claudia. It’s one of the best articles so far! Kelli

  2. BINGO!!! I needed to read this article tonight. I remember suffering so badly during the last few months of our contact by phone, the horrible degrading manner in which he spoke to me, (talking to me like I was a prostitute) after I would hang up the exact things would race thru my mind in what Claudia outlined, I would start to think why does he only see this way, and why did he take me off the pedistal I was once on, he still is with his GF so he must treat her with more respect – so the Cog Dis hit me in the third example you outlined I would start to doubt myself rather than say OMG he is so disordered and be done with it. I never blamed him but myself as I still do at times. Its very important to remain NC because of this for with every contact the psychopath will make you doubt yourself, and/or degrade and demean you as much as he can and you are left with COg DIS it tears at you heart and makes you go almost insane.

    Its also important to remember NOBODY HEALTHY goes from idolizing a person to degrading them in the way a personality disordered person does. Which only further confirms how the whole idolization phase was a such a scam and lie and act from day one. x0 Linda

  3. Kelli and Linda, thanks. I read your comments and they make me think about new articles, since we’ve all been through very similar experiences. I really do believe that only those who have somehow seen a psychopath at work can know the manner in which he thinks inside/out, although of course reading what psychologists and therapists have to say about it, from an external perspective, is also essential. Claudia

  4. COG DIS is pure mental torture!!!!! After having been with one of these very disturbed individuals we walk around with this mental torture when there is absolutely no need at all to feel this way about ourselves. Here is a good one for you a few days ago at work I asked a fellow co worker hey do you know what Cog Dis is? She said, what is THAT I have never heard of it, tears started to fill my eyes because at that moment I wish I was her and all the others out there who have never experienced the infliction of it. I thought of all the things he once promised me and never in a million years would I have believed all he ever gave me in the end was a shattered life, heart and COG DIS. Talk about empty promises, thanks so much you freak, nice knowing ya!!!!

  5. Another brilliant article! It really gets to the heart of the disordered relationship with a pyschopath and the toxic aftermath the victim endures.

    I know I am going to sound somewhat vindictive and psychopathic here, but when do I get to WIN? It seems like the pyschopath gets to go through life causing extreme pain and devastation to everyone around him, and they never suffer one bit. I was reading that psychopaths don’t typically even feel depression or sadness, rarely do they committ suicide. Their victims on the other hand…..

    Mari

  6. Oops, sorry, should be spelled “psychopath” throughout my post!
    Mari

  7. Mari: You win by disengaging, its a very personal victory but how you win is by getting your life back. I try not to focus and dwell on the fact he got off scott free as they say. You were dealing with someone who has no remorse and no conscience. Who is the winner in the end? They have a host of all sorts of mental inflictions can you really look at this person and think he is a “winner”? Jumping from one target/victim to the next with his only intent and goal in life is to dupe one after the next to serve and cater to his disorder? No my friend you are the winner, I am the winner. Look to the right on this blog and see the category, “signs you are dating a loser”, or maybe “social predators” or the words, “evil”, “terror”, “sadists” because that is what this person will go on doing long after we are out of their lives – let them bask in their full glory but you are a winner because you have come to know personally what they are and what they do. When you watch programs and documentaries on psychopaths do you see them as winners? Most of the general public thinks of them as “SICK” WE ARE WINNERS because we are NOT sick, I look at his ability to discard me and move on as something very very sick and disturbed. Just my input its a personal victory I hold close to my heart. x0x0 Linda

  8. Linda,

    Yes, you are absolutely right.

    The psychopath in my life is a self-made millionaire with a wife and three children. I look at him and think how easy his life must be while I have struggled emotionally and in other ways in life (not just due to him). He lives behind his smug lying mask and nothing ever seems to hurt him or go wrong for him. But you are right, ultimately he is a loser, an empty shell, barely human.

    Mari

  9. Mari, Linda and everyone: you get to win when you disengage from the psychopath in all respects and move on with your life. Martha Stout ends The sociopath next door with the following saying: “Living well is the best revenge.” For as long as you remain invested in the psychopath, even if only in the form of bitterness or revenge, he wins. If he contacts you in any way, record it to prove a pattern of stalking to the authorities, so he can be arrested. If he cyberstalks you by email, keep in mind that even rerouted IP addresses can be identified by the police. If he calls, let your answering machine do the talking and, once again, keep the recorded message as evidence of stalking. Psychopaths need supply and control. That’s the only reason they continue to harass former targets. They can’t move on because of their fixation on power. But you can move on and that’s the best thing you can do. Claudia

  10. Marni- Mine also is a millionaire but hey what can I say bin laden lived in a multi million dollar fortress when he was killed, mmmmm DO NOT be deceived by what others have – those are just the material things in life I ask myself all the time would I be happy being his live in GF living in his $$$$$ home knowing he was a psychopath and/or sexual predator doing what he does behind my back, would I be willing to sell my soul in exchange for living in luxury? I THINK NOT. Do you think their life is EASY, having to wear masks 24-7? You see in order for them to lure and dupe others they must wear their masks and that is a fact for if I saw him that fateful night as he really was I would have said WOE, I AM OUTTA HERE dont think this is what I had in mind with a partner. YOUR WRONG, you just dont see what goes wrong for them but trust me many things go wrong for them in their life, so they throw that mask away and try a new one. I too have struggled but the reason why we struggle is BECAUSE we have a conscience, ethics, morals or what have you, they have NONE of those things so life to them is just one big game and we are just pieces to play in that game, his wife is also part of his game. Marni I also have times I think the bastard got by doing this to me why cant he suffer as I have suffered, dont even go there just be glad you are no longer apart of a psychopaths sick game. Would you like to have to wear a mask all your life to hide who you are? I would rather have my personal struggles than to live that way, for we will always know what personal contentment is and having the ability to connect to others on all levels is what makes life rich and worth living, they will never know that or have that with themselves of anyone. Maybe I got up today and I was sad, or cried, or maybe a puppy made me feel good but I dont have to go to my closet and pick out which mask I am going to wear to make it thru my day or who I am going to hurt and torture to make me feel alive because I am some sick sadistic bastard.

    So give me normal life struggles any day to what they are. x0 Linda

  11. I think, mari and linda, that it’s great that you’re getting this out. I was reading on another Narc site today that the average healing time is somewhere between eighteen months and two years. Some shorter, some longer, with different variables. I think not acknowledging anger, sadness, rage, whatever you’re feeling is ALLOWING you to stay in cog/dis. The key is to go with whatever you’re feeling for as long as you feel it, because even if you’re not reading this blog, a book or anything remotely close to anything about a psychopath, the thoughts still swirl around in your head and they will for awhile. Somehow, for me, knowing that, brings me peace and actually lessens the cog/dis a bit. Time is truly the healer of all the wounds the psychopath as inflicted. Be kind and gentle to yourselves as you express and GET IT OUT! Kelli

  12. Kelli, I completely agree: let your emotions out, discuss them, inform yourself and others, but never engage with the psychopath or any of his disordered defenders and cronies. They are not the appropriate outlet for healing and moving on. Claudia

  13. Claudia,

    That is true. Engaging the spath is NOT the right thing to do even if tempting, but again, ladies, allow your grief to happen. It will help with the cog/dis. HUGS

  14. Having just come out of one of these unhealthy relationships, I find these articles incredibly helpful in the healing process. I have many wonderful friends who love, support, and commiserate, but I find I need help in understanding what is going on with my psyche. Thank you for this site.

  15. Vanessa, you’re fortunate to have many friends who understand and support you. I hope you’ll find additional support here. Claudia

  16. Claudia, and all- Claudia you capture the essence of cognitive dissonance in the context of a pathological relationship wonderfully. Cognitive dissonace is the anxiety and conflicting emotional tensions born out of the simulataneous holding of two dichotomised belief systems. For example; i know smoking is bad for me and is having a potential and statistically probable catastrophic impact on my health. On the other hand I love and value smoking. How do i reconcile these conflicting internal schemas? I slip into denial- ciggarettes help me de-stress, my demise through smoking will not happen, I will quit maniana!

    Because cluster B’s (a psychopathic personality construct) are as you say Jekyll and Hyde; we are seduced of course by Jekyll, and then as the mask begins to slip we are exposed to Hyde (what we did not know was that Hyde was always Hyde- he / she was just well Hyden! spelling mistake intended). Jekyll weaves a powerful spell on us, and some! We bond, invest, connect, love so much; and with this in mind is becomes more easy to understand our heavily weighted cognitive and emotional bias. When Hyde shows up we engage in denial with a whole myriad of ways of normalising increasing devaluing and emotionally abusive behaviour. Our own lack of awareness and comprehension of the psychopath amps up our ambivalence by a factor of one million to the power squared. Even now; in spite of the intensive research I have done I still struggle to comprehend the inner landscape of these emotionless voids. We should never reproach ourselves for believing and falling for their facade.

    Mari, it is a natural feeling to wish / think badly of your psychopath- “when will I win?”. With a psychopath you cannot win by expressing your anger at the callous and or complete emotionless disregard for the impact he had on your life. They do not know, cannot comprehend, and they do not care on any emotional level whatsoever. They feed off your emotional energy whether it is love or anger you express. It has always been and forever will be all about them and their percieved needs at any given moment. Psychopaths will not feel remorse, regret, and sadness after you vent to them; neither will they reflect on what you have said and empathise with you. Jekyll was a persona; and they will drop the persona and you with it once you begin to see through their mask. Mari- imagine a world without love, never knowing what it feels like to love and care for someone; in all its bittersweetness- love is the emotion that we are here for. Imagine never being capable of a personal narrative, a personal story that charts our growth towards being more than what we are- by that I mean the wisdom that our own weaknesses, vulnerabilities, faults, and flaws that moves and pushes us towards knowing ourselves better.

    Psychopathic personalitys can be and often are intelligent and articulate; with psychoptahs we are not dealing with the ability to cognitively learn. What we are dealing with is a person who on the surface is a fully formed and whole person; when in reality what they are is a walking, breathing antithesis of everything that makes a person a person. There is no emotional / spiritual growing with these guys and gals. trying to have a relationship with a psychopath is like trying to take a drink from a bottomless glass; you lift the glass to your mouth and the glass is empty (I could have sworn I just filled the glass under the tap!). Let that be your revenge.

    The first step towards resolving cognitve dissonance is accepting and comming to terms with the fact that psychopathy is very real; and we encountered it; up close and very personally.

  17. Claudia, I am a bit sensitive when others say “report it to the police”, ha ha ya right as mine was a county sheriff. I often think what if I had reported a domestic rape or some kind and he came to the call he would probably think, “too bad I missed out on watching it”, However, like anyone in any profession you will get those that are corrupt and use the position as a form of power over others. My trust and faith in our law has not been tainted by this man this psychopath just happen to choose this position because of the power it gave him over others and NOT genuinely to secure the safety of his community. A psychopath with a badge very very dangerous combination lets see Drew Petersen comes to mind and many others that we always read about. But sure I will take your advise and maybe send the recordings to his captain I am sure he would really love to hear the message of how he would love to see two men rape me then his Captain can get a little bit of Cog DIs thrown at him!! Linda

  18. imagine a world without love, never knowing what it feels like to love and care for someone; in all its bittersweetness- love is the emotion that we are here for. Imagine never being capable of a personal narrative, a personal story that charts our growth towards being more than what we are- by that I mean the wisdom that our own weaknesses, vulnerabilities, faults, and flaws that moves and pushes us towards knowing ourselves better.

    I would like to add on to that imagine being able to say and do ANYTHING you want with absolutely no merit of truth of any form in order to get what you want, once you have achieved what you want imagine knowing you almost destroyed another persons life then imagine not ever having the emotions to FEEL what you did to someone. I felt bad last week because I ran over a bird in the road, I thought it would fly away but it just stayed in the path I was driving, I looked back in my rear view mirror and there the poor thing was flat as a pancake I thought OMG I killed it, at that moment even though I realize it was JUST a bird I still felt bad. They can run our lives over but they will not look back in their rear view mirror they will just keep driving forward and we are PEOPLE for god sakes they cant even say, “I really feel kinda bad that I screwed her over like that, I bet I really hurt her/him”.

    Very nicely expressed Michael, love is the emotion that we are here for I could not imagine my life without not being able to feel what love is and to NOT want to hurt another human being (or bird ha) So I WIN, and he will lose the rest of his life because he will never love. x0x0 Linda

  19. Linda, even if the police do nothing about it, if you establish a pattern of stalking or cyberstalking you have legal grounds for a lawsuit. Claudia

  20. Michael, as usual, your comments are very instructive and helpful to everyone. The distinction between cognitive and emotional intelligence you underscored is crucial. If psychopaths had low intelligence in both categories they’d be dependent and harmless. But their normal to high cognitive intelligence coupled with low emotional intelligence makes them capable of inflicting great damage upon others without any qualms. Claudia

  21. Thank you all for your insightful posts. It helps so much to have this supportive community here that really understands. I have friends that have been very good to me during this ordeal but unless you have been through a relationship with a psychopath, you just can’t truly wrap your mind around it. I know some of my friends think I am being a bit paranoid and some refuse to believe that a person can just be all evil. So, this community is a lifesaver! Thanks again, Mari.

  22. Mari, you’re welcome. I’m also grateful for all your comments. Unless you learn about psychopathy, you can’t imagine that there are people out there without a conscience whose sole purpose in life is to play games with and hurt others. You may notice that even in the cases when these psychopaths commit gruesome crimes against innocent individuals, people tend to look for justifications for them, such as a history of child abuse or something, anything to rationalize their gratuitous evil acts.

    The truth is that psychopathy doesn’t have any excuses. Many psychopaths are brought up in loving families yet still go on to live a life revolving around harming others. Until we accept that a certain percentage of the population is malicious and evil–whatever the physiological and social causes for this personality disorder may be–we won’t be able to recognize and defend ourselves against psychopaths.

    This is why each and every website that raises public awareness about psychopathy, narcissism and other personality disorders is very helpful. This is not a competition among resources of support, it’s a joint effort. The cumulative effect of these diverse sources of information and support forums for victims/survivors will eventually make a dent and reach the mainstream public: including those who have not yet been the target of a personality disordered person or who have been but aren’t aware of it. Claudia

  23. MIchael,

    I’m feeling very paranoid even in expressing what I feel to others in the positive ways that i do ie: What you say is so eloquent and HELPFUL! Everything I say that is kind to someone now, feels like a love bomb attempt. This is what got me into trouble with my Psychopath from the beginning. I saw things in him that I thought were so good and great about him. I can’t go into what they are here, but now that i’ve seen what he is, none of that is truth.. It was just the superficial mask I was appreciating, the public persona…

    I don’t know if we are allowed to exchange emails here, so I will refrain from putting mine up, but if any of you would like to, I would like to as well. I find this group amazingly helpful and intelligent.

    Linda, your posts are so raw, sometimes they are hard for me to read. I believe that’s because I relate so well to what you’re experiencing right now.

    As I read the posts, some of them are so hard to deal with because I’m still trying to wrap my brain around what happened to me. I’ve been on another forum for a couple of days and what I’m reading is painful. It resonates with my experience with my psychopath. there is no judgment there like there is not here, for the OW of a psychopath experience. So many people in pain over these disordered individuals. In some ways, it’s opening my heart. I know i can love, but a lot of it feels stunted by pain. I don’t know if any of you understand that, but even just eight months out now, I’m starting to really feel the emotions of what happened to me. When someone on the other forum told me it was not my fault and that what he had left me with in blaming me in losing his marriage, some of his friends, the target he was totally focused on, as well as the pancreatitis he got as a result of his alcoholism (blamed me for being in the hospital due to stress), I cried. I have been blaming myself and feeling intense pain for the pain caused to his family and mine, while he feels absolutely NOTHING about it. Where is the dividing line with responsibility? I’m taking it all on and it is more burden than I can bear. on top of my guilt from destroying lives left and right, I’m also left with grief and sorrow from the loss of this man…the cog/dis is not limited, for me with his Jekyll/Hyde behavior. He told me we needed to move on. That he was done, before he was even done….I knew he was so sick, yet I continued because i had become so sick with him too. It’s such a mess to sort through. I hope you are all doing well. Kelli

  24. Wouldn’t it be great if there was some way of having a ‘Register of Psychopaths’ just as there is a register of paedophiles? I realise Im probably not being very realistic and it might never be possible. On the other hand if the ‘brain wiring test’ were to be applied to everybody in order to make it ‘fair’. Could you imagine the pain and suffering that could be avoided or at least we could be armed somewhat in dealing with these creatures. It could change the world.

    I still think that public humiliation is probably a way to impact a psychopath. They will do ANYTHING to preserve their image in their world – so that’s where it hurts them. But ultimately they should be criminalised and pay just like any other dangerous criminal- for that is what they are?

    Just my personal opinion from seeing how they operate. Spreading the word about them has to be the only way to get back at them? Trying to get the message to the new woman/man should surely be important also? Why let others suffer knowingly? After all Evil reigns while good people remain silent?

    Tricia

  25. Tricia, good to hear from you again! How have you been? In principle it would be good to have such a registry, but they’d still have to be caught for some of their crimes and legally accountable. If they don’t get caught for a crime, as registered sex offenders do, how else would there be legal proof of their pathology and wrongdoings? Claudia

  26. Tricia, I like this. they think they are so smart and above us “there is nothing wrong with me, take a look in he mirror. I have a life and your just jealous” Famous words from my ex freak. You know they are so empty. why not put them in the spotlight let everyone know what they are. I would absolutely love to see my ex in that kind of spotlight. Yep I’m pissed off and I’m in the I want to see her destroyed phase (if there is one) Not physically hurt but just called out by everyone to the point she has nowhere to go but deal with her emptiness.. an intervention given by the world… Nowhere to run nowhere to hide.
    Gary

  27. Tricia,

    I have thought the same thing many times over the past year. It would be great to have a website of psychopaths to warn others. There is a new website called WAC-M.com started by Casey Jones (I have talked to her a few times and she is very committed to the cause) which allows you to post info about con men to warn others. However calling someone a con man (or woman) versus calling them a psychopath are two different things, in my opinion.

    I think part of the problem with posting names of psychopaths is how can we really be sure they are on the psychopathy spectrum without having them tested via the Hare PCL-R checklist and an MRI brain scan through Dr. Khiel (spelling?) at UNM, for example. That might open people up to libel/slander charges and lawsuits unless they are sure their psychopath has been professionally diagnosed and/or incarcerated. I would also be afraid of revenge by the psychopath since they can be vindictive. Seeing their name on a website warning others might push them over the edge into being violent. What are your thoughts on that, Claudia?

    My ex-psychopath who is a millionaire and now retired wants to become a schoolteacher. How awful! Think of the damage he could do with vulnerable children to control and dominate. I think there should be federal laws that all teachers need to be given thre PCL-R test before they are hired, along with being checked to make sure they are not sex offenders.

    Mari

  28. “But you can move on and that’s the best thing you can do.”

    I am feeling so much sadness in moving on and letting him go, I know moving on is the best thing I can do for myself and although I never want to see him again I am also sad I will never see him again. I am left now not even knowing who the hell I am, I only know ONE thing no matter how lost, and alone I feel at this stage I can never turn to the illusion of him to fill that void, some little fantasy I never wanted to let go of. I miss the terms of endearment he once called me, that in the end turned into vile, degrading terms, I miss how he once made me feel like the most important person in the world and in the end he barely threw me crumbs, I will miss feeling sooooo loved even though it was nothing close to love I wonder will I ever feel again? All of those things I just described were all an act for me but I STILL felt loved and cherished beyond anything I have ever felt before. In the end they say, ha ha jokes on you and you fell for it hook line and sinker. Now I have to throw the whole damn thing out the window as if it never existed because it really didnt, just turn off my love like a faucet because that person I loved was a fake and fraud. Sometimes I want to say, how do you really move on from something like that, the only thing that keeps me moving on is knowing he was disordered, and a psychopath. Just sad today x0 Linda

  29. Again this in an excellent article and sums up so precisely the total confusion that sets into your (healthy) mind after the break down of a relationship with a path, in short the feeling that YOU are the mad one. There is so much turmoil in your head: the sadness of leaving someone you love (well the person they sold you), their total hatred for you, the trying to work things out and coming up against more hate and anything you say or suggest being twisted, then (in my case) the communication making out they miss you then for you only to find out its just to use you, the sweeping mood swings with you from pretending to be the person they were at the start to the hateful spiteful nobody they actually are, the abusive texts and phone calls if you don’t do what they say and then the brutal swift cut off from them: you deal with all of that whilst you get over in your own head what on earth has come into your life and destroyed it. It is the most awful, mind blowing, confusing situation to deal with and the only way you can is with no contact, time, and having people around you that can listen to you as you need to get it out whenever you feel you have to talk about it. You cannot bottle it up. Claudia, your site has helped me so much and I know I say it a lot but it really has. The descriptions that you give of these “sub-species”, the situations, their behaviour, it makes things so much clearer in my head (and i hope in anyone’s head that is lucky enough to find your site) and saves you from destroying yourself from within. Which i think, is what these sick, twisted losers want you to do.
    Thanks Claudia. Another great informative piece of writing and again it hits the nail on the head. You are just brilliant.
    lesleyxx

  30. Also Also I meant to say that I was a victim that blamed myself totally for the failure of “The Relationship (as he always referred to it as) – though my gut always told me that no I was not to blame and that there was something seriously wrong with this person. He blamed me for us failing because i didnt drive the car enough, I did not have enough hobbies (i’d only just moved 500 miles to be with him and had just managed to get a job and start to make friends), that i coughed too much, that I always wore white tshirts or white tops (??!), that he loved every other ex more than he loved me (actually he then admitted he never loved me), that he was interested in people that had a lot going on their lives and I was, quite frankly, dull. The list goes on of the blame he piled onto me. But it was not my fault, the only mistake (and it was one I shall never forget!) was to fall in love with someone that did not exist. As we all have on this site. But as Michael says, you cannot win with them, you can express any emotion you like to them. They simply do NOT care. Once you feel stronger and have not heard from them for a while you gain more and more perspective and the mist on your lens starts to clear. And definitely with help from this site and others.
    lesleyxxx

  31. Lesley,
    I completely agree with you. I was the blame, hell she blamed things she was guilty of on me. They have this image of there own perfection stuck in that vast empty head of theirs. I fought the blame game, in fact still fighting. Although through education it is getting easier. She was so bad and convincing that I went to two therapist to find out what was wrong with me. The funny thing is both therapist told me they did not see anything outside of the norm with me. In a sense she stole normalcy from me and created her own little delusional world in my head and I,m starting to find my way back to reality or what is viewed as reality to the normal mind. I am just completely amazed at the similarity of the stories on this site. Gender doesn’t seam to make a difference. A path is a path.
    Gary

  32. Hi Gary
    Thank you, yes I think they try their damndest to make sure their partners take the blame. And really, it could be no other way for them as they are perfect and see nothing wrong with themselves or with the way they treat their partners. Though mine used to sit and cry and feel sorry for himself – over his PAST loves I hasten to add – and how bad he felt about what had happened with them, but I’m sure it was just as more punishment to me as then I would think..oh gosh why did he love them so much and not me?? And you are right they blame you for things THEY do..but its only to deflect it from them so that you are so busy worrying about doing things right for them that you forget to think about what they are doing behind your back!! They just project all their negative facets onto us then character assassinate us. And yes you are right again, they seem to be exactly the same whatever gender and everyone’s experiences and stories are so so similar. Its slightly worrying! But also such a support as you know that you are in touch with people that TOTALLY understand what you mean, what you have been through and are knowledgeable in these horrible, self immersed evil people. Though some of my friends have said that my ex is the most evil person they have ever heard of, they do not understand the problems i have faced with the cutting off, the mentally dealing with the vileness of him (i.e. the cognitive dissonance) and so this site and all your posts and comments definitely have made me stronger and more positive about my own self really!

    lesleyxx

  33. Also Gary my ex said he went to counselling for 5 years (for his ex gf’s sake supposedly so he could deal with his “jealousy issues”..) – the only thing he ever mentioned from that was that the counsellor had said he needed to embrace his dark side..i.e to be more promiscuous (that is how my ex took it) to do anything sexually he liked..anyway my point is that the scenario with the path is so hopeless that its irrelevant who goes for help…because A. if you are questioning yourself then there is a 99.9% chance it aint you! and B. If they go they will probably lie to their counsellers about what is wrong with them, and I personally think it made my ex worse. I think it opened the floodgates for him to think that his behaviour was acceptable as he had gleaned this advice (though he had no doubt lied and also twisted anything the counsellor said) from a professional. However, I did tell him that I hoped he hadnt’ paid for it and if he had he should get his money back as if anything he was even more mentally unhinged than before he went..hahaha..i try to make light of it…but we all know..its a shocking situation with these types..
    lesleyxx

  34. Lesley, thanks so much. I just reread one of your earlier messages that clarified something about my psychopathic ex’s behavior. He had a penchant for sex in semi-public or public sex, which I found incredibly unsettling and bizarre. You called it “dogging” and I looked that up to find out it’s actually a name for a sexual perversion, a kind of exhibitionism/voyeurism. Apparently a lot of psychopaths like this sort of thing because they’re constantly seeking new thrills. They seek every perversion known to man (or woman) to escape the emptiness of their hearts. Claudia

  35. Lesley and Gary, the devaluation phase is not pleasant. But, as you both state, it’s not really about you. It’s a projection of the psychopath’s inner emptiness, as I’ve said before. You are boring to them because everything and everyone is eventually boring to them. My psychopathic ex would call me to complain that his parents bored him out of his mind (when they’d visit him) and that his wife was “as familiar as a pair of old shoes,” even after she went to extreme lengths, moving away, setting up their new house, losing weight, exercising several hours a day: all this to please a pathological man. Nothing worked, needless to say. He still was tired of her and cheated on her with every woman and man he could find, both in person and online. I’m writing a new post for tomorrow about why the idealization phase only happens once with a psychopath and why nothing anyone does can make it come back. It’s part and parcel of the psychopathic bond: there’s only one honeymoon phase and even that one is a total fraud. Claudia

  36. Linda, your wounds are still fresh and you’re still in the mourning phase, which is especially painful because you now realize that you’re mourning a man that never existed, an illusion made of lies, hiding his true identity and false promises. But you will get better. And allowing yourself to feel this pain and to accept reality is a necessary step to moving on. We’re here for you. Claudia

  37. Claudia, and all. I have often wondered about the idealisation phase of my encounter…….was it real? was it all a fraud? what was going through her mind at that time when she was “so into me”?

    My view is that she believed I was it! she truly did idealise me; and in her mind I was it- the next thing she was on; a hit, the excitement, the fantasy, the perfect answer to her perfect self. We are seduced into this world of fantasy; their fantasy. We do not know or imagine that we are swept up in a fantasy that is piggybacked on the devaluation of their once previous idealised partner; we were next in line and we did not know it. Through a chance encounter we were targeted and seduced with vigour, and seduced we were.

    Did it feel so intense for you’s as well? Psychopaths home in and focus on us with great gusto; does this ring true? She made me feel like we had joined and connected in a special soul mate connection; a companionship; an exclusivity that only we could share. Our intimacy was special…oh so very special. we infered our feelings (of course we would given what they said to us) onto them. We make a fundamental attribution error that seals our fate for emotional devastation. In other words we naturally assume they have bonded with us in a similar / same way we have with them.

    What we did not know, and what they will never admit is that what they are lacking is the following-

    They live in the here and now; literally- they are driven only by their here and now impulses.

    They believe that it will be you that will push them through their lack of emotion; they endow us with an abiltity to push them through their inability to feel love.

    Because they are mistaken; and they are incapable of feeling love; they blame us- and there lies the truth of their conceit and lack of insight, and responsibilty- they conclude “if i do not love this person it is because this person is unlovable, or I dont love them” and so on. It never occurs to them that even if they fell out of love with you that this brings with it emotional tides of change, loss, pain, and the feelings associated with a failed relationship with someone they once had deep feelings for. How many of you have had the experience of your ex displaying no sadness, grief, emotional pain etc?

    Their inability to love is projected onto us and they make it our problem.

    What about everything they shared and said to us? Their declarations of love? Did you notice that at best they may have said something along the lines of “I meant it when i said it”, or worst; deny having said it in the first place, or interact with you as though you never had those conversations? Dids it feel like “now you see them, feel them; now you dont”? And vice versa?

    Psychopaths (i.e. cluster B’s – borderlines, narcissists) have no past, or future; they skip through life like a slate thrown across a stretch of water. Everything is here and now; and this is a key issue that is helpful in our understanding why and how they caused us so much gut wrenching heart destroying confusion.

    What I gain comfort from is that through all their dichotomies; an encounter with a psychopath plants the seeds of our salvation.

    Love to you all

  38. ((((((((((((((( MIchael )))))))))))))))))))))

    I still think you should be a writer🙂

    I’m crying reading your post. So painfully and poetically true.

    Yes to all of it.

    Kelli

  39. All of your stories I’ve read here today are absolutely heartbreaking for me after what I’ve experienced today.

    Absolutely heartbreaking.

  40. Kelli, what happened today? Claudia

  41. Michael, thanks as always for your input. Your writing is, indeed, both poetic and perceptive. I also had the impression during the psychopath’s luring phase that he believed in the intensity of his feelings: but only in that moment. The next hour he’d deliberately taint our “romantic” memories by inviting an escort in the same place. Psychopaths can’t bond more deeply but also the little they can and do bond they deliberately sabotage.

    To them emotional bonding means loss of their control and, as we know, they never want to abdicate control. The best they can do is feeling intensely in the moment, when they perceive your own pleasure and love reflected in your eyes. It’s an exciting sign of their own power over you. They can mirror your emotion as well, in a kind of passion and desire for possession, that is very fleeting yet intense. I wrote about this in my novel, The Seducer:

    “Michael noticed that his girlfriend’s eyes lit up like someone in a delirium. “So are you,” he replied, feeling like she was the one. At that moment, he wanted Ana to be completely his, from head to toe, from morning to night, as if the present were a living fossil perpetually frozen in the transparent layers of time. He was especially drawn to the ecstatic mixture of wonder and abandon he saw in her eyes. “I will love you for as long as I see my love reflected in your eyes,” he vowed. With a possessive yet understated gesture, his hand grasped the flat of her throat and rested there, immobile, as he covered her ear and cheek with a flurry of kisses.” Claudia

  42. Is’nt it just the cruelest thing to do to another? To give them what every human being dreams of – perfect love and all the dreams they ever had were going to come true. The love of another for the rest of their days. The long strong arms holding us – protecting us…..”Stay with me always Trish…….please?” I got little cards with this written on. I couldn’t pass him without being stopped and held and told just how much he loved me.
    All the while he was with others and persuing others. I still play the mantras(he used to play) to try sometimes to get a little bit of that time back.
    It was all a mirage. Why would anyone do that? Emotional cruelty beyond description.
    Tricia

  43. Im not doing too badly Claudia thanks. I joined a life drawing group and came across a website called ‘www.meetups.com’. Its a good way to make yourself get out and make new acquaintances. There are ‘meetups’ for all kinds of things – so I would recommend it to those who are ready to get moving again . I basically stayed in my bedroom for about 8 months (I had a hysterectomy in Nov so was also dealing with that).

    ‘HE’ has of course moved on and been with several women but has moved in with a ‘wonderful’ woman who’s love ‘keeps him buoyant at this time’ !!!!!! They are writing a childrens book together!!!
    Isn’t that lovely for him?

    I’m writing a book also…….the title is :
    ‘Mirror Mirror On The Wall………..Who’s The Cruellest Of Them All’

    Tricia

  44. Tricia, I’m glad that you’re doing relatively well, all things considered (recovering from the surgery and the psychopath). Unfortunately for the new woman, nobody keeps a psychopath buoyant all the time except his own hot air. They get bored with everyone, and even before they reach that stage, during the honeymoon phase, they still sabotage the relationship in a quest for control. He’s saying that primarily to make you jealous, and cause more suffering. I hope that you won’t let it bother you. There’s nothing to envy about anyone involved with a psychopath, as you know. It’s the least enviable–and most undesirable–relationship of all. Claudia

  45. Hello Everyone.

    I posted this on another forum to which I’m also finding great healing. No judgments on where i’m at, should be….today was a monumental event, a great epiphany for me, so I’m going to copy what I put on that forum here and then explain this breakthrough. I hope it will help you in your healing as it is indeed, helping me. God is good.

    Sometimes, if you are “lucky” enough to see karma happen, particularly to one who was once your best friend, it isn’t always what you think it will be.

    If you have compassion and love in your heart, once the ex psychopath has destroyed this person too and still attempts too, when you see their illness in your face, when they look so much older, tired, lost…it isn’t fun. It is a depth of sadness, if you are human, that exposes us to the extreme amount of damage a psychopath does…he may have blown in and out of my life a long time ago, and at the time, he did for 20 years, but the destruction to my best friend in going with him was worse. THey find the most vulnerable. Those with the most heartache to inflict and inject their endless amounts of poison into. Friendships ruined, families destroyed…and yet he keeps pursuing her….for his own selfish needs, no matter how ill she is…and she still wants to believe there is love……

    My heart is aching today for her. It also helped to heal me in many ways from the last relationship with a P, as I was the OW, in understanding that she really doesn’t have it much better, in fact, sometimes, much worse.

    But it all comes down to the same thing. They destroy lives. They leave a lifetime of broken hearts, abandoned, torn apart families, abandoned children, manipulation if there is still involvement with current children, disaster upon disaster………

    After my meeting with her this morning, the ex BFF/OW of ExPh, I had an epiphany of sorts, even though terribly sad. He ruined our friendship. He ruined years of friendship. He ripped apart the lives of our children, hers and mine, who were so close and were growing up together. He caused intensive pain, suffering agony. waBecause of what she believed in his charm and early love bombing, we were spared more grief directly from him…but she was not. To her, I owe my life and my children owe her their sanity. This is not what happened to her or her life…..and to this new wife of ex P, I owe the same, although I will never know a thing about it….

    Today my heart grieves deeply for her. For our friendship. the time lost the children’s hearts so broken, her health……all due to one man who had no control over his desire to take out the lives of many, when his life of one was completely meaningless without the ability ruin and destroy the lives of others.”

    My ex best friend ran off with my ex P as our marriage was crumbling. I was also beginning involvement with my now ex P bf. What hurt so much about my ex best friend doing this with ex P, was the lies he told her about me. About the children. One of the things she did, while believing his monumental LIES about me was this: She called on the phone one day and talked to my girls, who were older at the time “I can help your daddy, don’t want you want someone who can help your daddy?” They were sickened. I was distraught. I hated her then. I absolutely HATED her. They were in honeymoon phase. He lied to her and lied to her…and even his family believed that I was a torturous bitch. the lies he told her about me, spread out over years so she wouldn’t leave…yet he quit his job so she would get one and take care of him. He drank, was severely alcoholic and his “job” was to watch her granddaughter during the day. He abused HER daughter that came to live with them, as she abandoned her four children to be with him. our lives and families were ripped apart. Devastated. All due to his lies….

    So today, as she asked for forgiveness, heard all the lies….and he even used ME as the lie…”I’ll always love Kelli…I will never love a woman more than she”…..that was a LIE to make HER feel insecure……….

    I forgive her. My children and hers still love one another very much. They were brought up together virtually on a daily basis for years and consider one another “cousins”.Because of the bitterness and his LIES, they didn’t know if they could talk to one another. Some of them are. I dearly love her children. Today when I visited, they hugged me and had big smiles on their faces…..they remember and have not forgotten…..I still love them too….it is my sincere hope that through all of this, we all can find healing.

    But that remains to be seen.

    My point here is, that I’ve played on both sides of the fence. as wife and as OW. Neither is a happy one. For both, I threw away my moral compass. When I was married to my ex P, I threw away my moral compass for “fathfulness and God”. I neglected my children emotionally, and their pain, I neglected my friends. I blew off others who knew the truth. There was no virtue or morality in being his wife. I believed the lie. Morality didn’t exist when he asked me to look the other way, even though it was unspoken. As the OW, that’s less politically correct, yet asked me to throw away my moral compass but in a different way. Others were hurt, just as they were in my marriage. And that’s what a psychopath DOES to others. There are miles and MILES of heartache and grief for every survivor who lives through it.

    I still maintain my heart and my compassion and I thank GOD for that right now.

    Julian, I disagree with the idea that I hang onto victimhood.

    I hang on as a survivor, but I will never AGAIN, EVER, do what a psychopath has asked me to do, time and time again: Neglect, ignore and BLOW OFF what is natural to me as a thinking, feeling human being. I feel GREAT sadness now. My mistake was made in NOT feeling it at all.

    Never again.

    Kelli

  46. Michael
    Once again your writings are so clear and sum up exactly how the situation is and how these types make you feel. Yes, my ex made me feel love like nothing else. It didnt help that I have been crazy about him since age 12 and he made me so sure that he felt the same (saying oh i’ve never forgotten the first time i saw you when we were 12…saying all the things that you had felt at that time.) when I thought he had NEVER noticed me…so when we met when we were both 42 i thought that maybe, we were meant to be together. He even said that he’d inwardly said to himself..”this time Lesley, you’ll be mine..” – in one of my last conversations with him he said that “meeting you and taking you away from your husband was the biggest mistake i made in my life…I am not the type to be able to deal with that kind of responsibility”…he also said that he does not know what he felt when we first met up again, why he did what he did…he said “IF it even was love I felt for you, I think it was just all sex to be honest Lesley..I think i just lost my mind for a while as it was craziness getting involved with someone like you” – note the blame inflicted in all those quotes. The only thing he ever admitted was that he “pressured me to leave my husband”..but he always added a caveat of “he shouldnt have involved himself with that situation..”
    So Michael, what i’m trying to say is yes..they hit you with the full force of their “love” for you..they are everything you ever wanted them to be, and in the end everything you would NEVER want them to be. I think what sums my ex up to me is the song by Neil Young Hurricane, i want to love you but I just keep blown away. Ironically my ex sang that song in the band he was in…and i am sure he knew that it was how he treated every single girl that he ever decided he was going to destroy.
    Lots of love to you and please keep writing your posts. You and Claudia are great.
    lesleyxxxx

  47. sorry should read “i want to love you but I just keep getting blown away..”

  48. Tricia, I agree with what you stated, its the cruelest thing you could do to another loving human being, to FAKE your feelings for another person, have sex with them as the other person is loving them deeply and sharing themselves in such a personal intimate way, while the whole time the psychopath you were with felt NOTHING for you, this is where I felt RAPED – I was raped by him for years and never really understood that he really felt NOTHING for me, he was probably testing me like some pimp.

    Truly truly disordered and very sick and disturbed individuals and while I know it was nothing I did to warrant this treatment nevertheless I was still a victim of a psychopath. When I think of the word victim the word CRIME comes to mind which is fitting because they are criminals. Linda

  49. I also was on a forum for a few months and while it was initially a great help, after time I decided to pull back a little. It seemed that many were there for a long time and still had not moved forward very much. Many were mothers who helped each other with tips on how to behave when they meet their P to hand over the child. Should they wear sunglasses , not to make eye contact etc. I just found that I was getting a bit annoyed because I felt the main issue was should they be handing over their child AT ALL to their ex P! I also felt and have seen with my own ex P where the child is used by BOTH but for different reasons!

    My ex used the child to get attention from new women (what a lovely man – he’s so good with his daughter) and it worked wonders for him. The mother of his child used her to keep up the contact with him because she couldn’t bear to have no contact and still remains a chief enabler as does another ex. Also all of their friends wave to him and seem to think he’s great so it doesn’t seem like his ex’s are bad mouthing him?? I put an article from this site up on my facebook wall and one of his ex’s put up a notice on her wall :- ‘STOP PSYCHIATRIC LABELLING’

    I feel i could be lynched by them for him and they will never warn the new woman. His power is unbelievable. i really am alone because I didnt have a child with him. All the other Mothers (x3) are in contact with each other. Of course these women are also waiting for his Mother to die (as he is) and gain from his inheritence.

    Now he uses that child to look after the New Woman’s six year old daughter!! Oh and he was big into Teen Porn!!
    Yet people tell me not to warn the new woman?? ‘Let her find out herself’, is what most people tell me. Im so puzzled as to why we should not warn them. If you saw somebody about to jump into a pool and you knew a shark was in there, wouldn’t you say something? Help me here?
    Im sorry for rambling , it seems to be part of the cog. diss.?
    I sometimes think my mind has been damaged badly.
    Tricia

  50. Tricia, in the future I’ll write a post about the subject of warning others as well. In a nutshell, I think it’s something to handle with great caution, unless you’ve been defrauded and are taking legal action against the psychopath. Donna Andersen’s situation, as she describes it in her book Love Fraud, is a great example of when it’s a good idea to warn other women. Then in getting in touch with other victims of psychopathic fraud you’re both helping them and strengthening your case. You also have legal grounds for your allegations.

    In other situations, however, I’d be very careful because you may hurt yourself while not helping others. A small subset of the people psychopaths collude with are disordered and potentially dangerous as well. Others may be too much under the psychopath’s spell to even listen to you. Just ask yourself: would you have listened to ex-girlfriends or ex-wives whom the psychopath already ran a smear campaign on?

    I know that several of my friends who knew the psychopath warned me repeatedly against him, describing him to me as a really sleazy guy with no scruples, which is exactly what he was (only far worse than they ever imagined, since they didn’t know much about psychopathy). But during the luring phase I didn’t believe them; I believed his lies instead. Even my parents thought he was the lowest of the low, and I didn’t listen to them either, except once he thought he had me under his control and started exhibiting his true personality traits (the cheating, the manipulation, the pathological lying to get what he wanted from others but also just for kicks, the sex addiction, the sadism, etc). Basically, I think it’s tough for victims to believe negative things about the psychopaths during the honeymoon or luring phase. It’s easier to see them after the mask of sanity comes off, but by then the psychopath opens your eyes anyway.

    However, each person decides what’s best for themselves. It’s commendable that you want to help other victims. Some individuals can’t live with themselves in good conscience without warning others. But in those situations, keep in mind there are so many people to be warned, since these psychopaths have so many simultaneous relationships and are very promiscuous. It would probably be a full-time job to keep up with a psychopath’s liaisons and warn each of them. And it does keep you involved in what the psychopath is doing and with whom, which means at the very least a passive contact. “No contact” is impossible in such circumstances. Claudia

  51. Trish,

    What a sad situation. The inheritance factor. They all keep in contact with one another? Um, that”s a bit sick. THREE ex’s with his children? BLECH!!!

    I think that’s rather unusual though. My ex had two children from his second marriage, one from his first, that he abandoned and signed off parental rights two. The second two he has joint custody. I often think that his second wife doesn’t get the disorder. I’m so glad I didn’t have a child with this man, although I desperately wanted too when we were first together. I think when the psychopath still has contact with his ex or ex’s as it were, they are less likely to listen to you or be warned. There are various reasons for this, but I think I’m understanding that in some way, they are still under his spell and they are because he plays disneyland dad and gives them the impression of “I was a shitty husband, but I’m a GREAT DAD”

    The sad part of that is, especially with joint custody, she is still blinded to a degree that her children are exposed to pathology and she believes it was just the marriage that didn’t work, but again, he’s such a great dad. When he is buying their love, yet exposing them to his pathology through his behavior without her knowledge, she is less likely to protect her children. Most pathologicals show themselves eventually for the “true” parents they are. But some never believe it. It isn’t until their children are grown and experiencing the aftermath in their own lives, that the ex begins to understand that what he was doing was manipulative and disgusting, if she ever sees it. You’re right, these men have great power. But if you’re luckyu enough not to have to have that kind of exposure, know it’s a blessing I can’t imagine having to co parent with my ex jerk. What an absolute, totaly nightmare! Warning a woman who already has children with him is probably counterproductive. Her children will pay in the end, but it’s not up to you to tell her. She’ll just paint you as crazy. Live your own life. His karma will come. Kelli

  52. Whenever I wanted to get revenge on the psychopath – and believe me I wanted to do this for a LONG time, Mari – I tried to stop myself by thinking of it as a tug of war. If I let go of the rope, yes, I will lose, but he will probably fall hard on his ass.

    Now that I have more distance I can see that in many ways he does win. He didn’t go through the absolutely awful painful times that I did. He didn’t go through the lack of knowing who he was, the depression, the internal struggles, the guilt, the remorse, the cog dis, the “stuck-ness”, etc…In fact, he went on to find more willing victims, continued to have a duped narcissistic wife, and did not change his behavior one bit, except to mimic other victims. But he wins at his game. Now that I am further along, and closer to who I was before, I can see that I play a completely different game. My happiness, also fleeting, can come from doing good, being a positive influence in life wherever I can. And trying to be better at this every day (although some days failing miserably at it, but that’s ok). The fact is that I am affected by oxytocin and I do get high from doing good and being loving. He does not.

    So I go on playing my game – the oxytocin game – and he can go on playing his (the dopamine game?). And I can win at mine, and he can win at his. So yes, you are right, he will not suffer like we do, but he will also never feel the great natural oxytocin high either.

  53. Hi Claudia..sorry just noticed this reply to me from you. Yes “dogging” over here (GB) is when you go out in your car, find a quiet place, usually a wood or remote car park and men and women (mostly men or couples) turn up – the couples usually perform lots of sex acts and men stand outside the car and well..you know..! my ex used to go to them constantly, without me i hasten to add. He would, if a couple where there – go home with them and several other guys and watch the couple have sex in their bedroom or whatever whilst they got off on it. He also still takes his ex gf and a f*ck buddy and has them perform whatever he tells them to do. It is all about exhibitionism and all about them at the end of the day. In one of your articles you said that they always want sex with you at the start, anywhere, but it is not about you, or desiring you, but about them and their love of an immediate thrill. My ex was most definitely that way. However, once he got bored with me it was all flung in my face – when he wanted me to be his “thrill” now that he is seeing someone he said “girlfriend sex is boring”….he so summed up in that statement the gigantic swing in the paths mind of one minute you are boring then when they leave you and get someone else then they are boring and you are not…or you are thrilling for only that moment.

    Claudia you also mention on one of your comments re “the dangerous lure..” that you left your husband for your ex path. My ex husband was lovely, we were a great team but we had some problems, and the path homed in on them and well, the rest is history. I am not saying I do not take the blame for what happened, as I know the issues that I and my ex husband had. However can I ask you…I have a lot of sadness with the guilt I feel, the guilt that I left his man who loved me, who let me go as he thought i’d found more happiness, for someone who really ruined both our lives, mine’s to a greater extent granted, but ruined both of us all the same. How do you manage the crippling sorrow and guilt as in path cases you cannot vent to them what they have done, the mess they have left you with, the pain they have caused to so many lives, you have to deal with it internally most of the time. I just wondered if you had any helpful advice on this.
    lesleyxxxx

  54. Lesley, I think this horrible experience with the psychopath made my marriage a lot stronger. There was a lot my husband and I took for granted and didn’t nurture over the years. Also, I was too invested in a fantasy of romantic passion that is fine for fiction and art, but is risky and sometimes pathological when it happens in reality. As we know, psychpaths know what to say and do to lure victims. They appear to be ideal romantic partners, but only because they tell us lies, hide their wrongdoings and make false promises. They have little or nothing invested in those words; to them, there is no risk to lie to us. On the contrary, it’s part of the fun and the challenge.

    My psychopathic ex even used this phase to describe our “romantic relationship”: “to see how long I can make it last.” The “it” he was referring to was not a relationship but rather the high from conquering and duping me as well as, correlatively, my blindness since the idealization in our relationship was necessarily predicated on my blindness to his sadism, severe sexual addiction (which I believed, as he originally told me, was a thing of the past, not fast and furious during our relationship as well), chronic cheating and belief in his large pile of lies. That dupery never lasts forever in the psychopathic bond. Even the victims who want to believe the lies and don’t wish to see the truth about the psychopath eventually are confronted with too much evidence of his wrongdoings to be able to remain blind.

    Even the psychopath’s compliant and idolizing wife opened her eyes eventually to what he was and called him a psychopath. It’s just that she accepts the pathological relationship as a result of an emotional dependency on the psychopath which, for whatever reason, she cannot overcome. I call it emotional dependency because, to my mind, love is reciprocal and the psychopath can’t love anyone. The best he can offer is dominance bonds and possessiveness. He has the attitude that he owns the people he dominates. When he needs them for any purpose, he charms them and tells them the lies they need to hear because the truth would be too painful or because they don’t want to accept it. This is the most he can offer them or anybody. I didn’t have this emotional dependency on the psychopath. I had an emotional investment in the loving person I originally thought he was. When I realized that person did not exist and that I was in love with a fraud, I was no longer emotionally connected to him or to our past. It was a very painful realization nonetheless. It’s difficult to tear ourselves from what we perceived to be real, a foundation of our lives and from a person we once loved, even if, as is the case with psychopaths, that wasn’t really who that person was.

    The opposite process (and realization) took place in my marriage. I recognized in my husband a person who loved me deeply, who was loyal to me and our family, who is brilliant, who has empathy, and whom I love and respect on a much deeper level than I even knew before this experience. My husband is the real deal while my lover was just a fraud. This realization has rebuilt my marriage rather than weakening it. I think even if your marriage did not survive the blow by the psychopath, you can transform the guilt into a reminder of the person you never want to be again to anyone you love (a person who colluded with a psychopath, who cheated on a loving spouse) and be a better person in future relationships of love, which you will have again once you heal. Claudia

  55. Thank you Claudia. No sadly, my husband found someone else within weeks (ironically on a dating website!!) of me moving out our home to a rented flat, so really, i do try to hold the thought that there were things wrong with how he viewed me and our marriage really, that he was capable of moving on so quickly. Though I do think men are different from women in that way. I do not know if he regrets his actions now, as his gf is pregnant and living in our home, however I am happy for him if he is happy. I suppose I wish he had been stronger with me when it first happened, but therein was one of the downsides of our marriage. Thank you again for your advice and help. It is hard going some days, as all of us on this site and others know.
    lesleyxxxxx

  56. Lesley, ironically, the psychopath I was with became open about his desire to look on dating websites for other targets only a few weeks after I agreed to divorce my husband because I told him that my husband was trying to move on and starting to look at dating websites (though he hadn’t posted a profile yet). I told the psychopath, without thinking much and with visceral honesty, that my husband would find a decent partner faster than any of us (me, the psychopath and the psychopath’s wife) put together. The psychopath immediately took this as a challenge to beat my husband on the dating website as he had in cdonquering me from him. I then realized this whole charade of romance, love and fidelity with me was only a game with my husband as the adversary and me as “the prize,” as he himself phrased it. At any rate, I’m sorry to hear that your husband moved on so fast. It was probably a sign of his resilience but also of the fact that your relationship with him was ready to break anyway. Because in a stronger relationship it’s tougher to move on, even though it is healthy to try to do so if it becomes clear that your spouse prefers someone else. In my situation, my husband and I fortunately realized how much we love each other and that we were the right partners for one another all along. Claudia

  57. Claudia,

    “Relationshit!” What a perfect word to describe an encounter with a psychopath! I am happy to hear that you were able to save your marriage and even make it stronger. You are very lucky!

    Mari

  58. Mari, a few people use the apt term “relationshit” to describe the psychopathic bond on lovefraud too. It’s where I first saw it. Claudia

  59. hahaha relationshit…that is genius!! hahaha i must use that term! that is wonderful that you and your husband are stronger and realised what you had together. something good to come out of something awful. its funny, my ex path wanted us to go on a swingers website though of course only put himself on it…they always just look for more adoration and attention, its never enough to have one person love them, in fact my ex said he would find it easier if women didnt fall in love with him…they truly are a total contradiction in terms and these contradictions are constant.
    lesleyxxx

  60. Lesley, by definition, dominance bonds are never exclusive and that’s all psychopaths want and have in life because they’re incapable of love. They want to dominate as many individuals as possible, some only physically, others emotionally as well (and that’s when they claim to love those individuals and commit to them, since most of us want reciprocal love). Claudia

  61. Thanks Claudia and Kelli for your replies. I spent ages replying back the other night but some how after a couple of hours writing it all disappeared!! So maybe you were spared more ramblings!

    But in reference to ‘his’ Karma I dont know if I believe in it. I certainly hope it is true. So far it hasn’t happened – ’40 years a screwing'(another possible book title).

    He was seen skipping hand in hand with his new love towards my friend last week in the town market! Do you think this was done because he knows she communicates with me? Just so it would get back to hurt me? My friend said they don’t look happy – she thinks its all just for ‘show’.

    He has no way of knowing about me although I have been getting some silent calls – usually on Fridays.
    I also got a fake viewing for my home which is for sale about six weeks ago. He knows if Im going down to see my friends most likely it would be on weekends. The fake viewer kept me busy preparing the house but never arrived or was heard from since. That was the weekend he ‘brought her out’ into the world ‘openly’!!!!! I feel he was just making sure there was no possibility of me being around.

    I also got a guy from down there writing to me via a dating site. I had not been bothering with the site but decided to reply. He was supposed to be very interested in me and my profile(I have no picture up ) and we had a lot in common – art etc. I replied stating that I had friends down there and I sometimes visit the area and about my interest in art etc.
    That was about two weeks ago and not a word since.

    Maybe Im being paranoid but my ‘gut’ tells me now that it is all him.
    Oh , and his ex before me is very interested in communicating with me. She gave her number to my friend. She said i was so good to her daughter and she has plenty of stories to tell me about him!
    But Im a bit wary. I would love to talk to her but Im just nervous it might all get back to him. What do you think? I would appreciate advice on that. Should I call her?

    Can i say also that this term ‘ Crazy Woman’ is an amazing tool invented by Psychopaths to keep us under control – and it works everytime. Dont you think it’s time to examine that term?

    Best wishes and love to you all here

    Tricia

  62. Blaming oneself is especially painful when the psychopath has alienated you and duped your family and friends to turn against you.

  63. Hello, I am new here. I find this site very insightful and thoughtful and am glad to have come across it!

    I have only gotten halfway through the very insightful posts but felt compelled to post and ask a question. I am 6 months out of a nearly 20 years relationship with either a psychopath or malignant narcissist (we were very young when we met).
    My main worry is my child. I have no proof that my ex is a psychopath. As other people have said here he seems charming to the world and I only got to see his bad side. Thankfully my family were not turned against me (despite his best efforts), but he did a good job of turning “mutual friends” against me. And to them I am the crazy one with the pathologies because after all I was the one who ended up on a psychiatric ward.

    I am feeling very down and misunderstood even by my family. Friends have drifted away because they cannot understand the intolerable pain and destruction that one has to endure. And I have heard stories about how he is moving on so effortlessly. For once I missed him during the week and cried because I found it so difficult to understand his mechanical seamless effort to move on even though I know what he is! So I guess I still have cognitive dissonance. Whilst I on the under hand am a mess.

    Now I have read a lot about psychopathy and Cluster B personality disorders. I understand the rule of no contact. But what about when you have a young child that you care deeply for, who you know is being hurt emotionally by their dad, and who is used as a means to keep the contact with me to torment me? The laws on harassment in my country are not strong, but I do have an attorney who i know will fight for reduced access for my child.

    How do you remain detached and try and move on with your life, when you are left penniless (i was halfway through college and cant afford now to finish it YET, but I plan to), i live in one of those countries that has very high unemployment (so I am unemployable), and worst of all, he is doing his damn best to control me through our child (and of course money).

    BTW I will be going through the courts to get officially divorced but I expect most of the money is well hidden away if not gone.

    Sorry I am emotional I am repeating myself. My main question is how do you detach from a psychopath/NPD person when you have a young child that you want to protect at all costs? I am an emotional wreck as my young child is starting to tell me that they do not want to have “sleepovers” in daddy’s anymore. My child has been hit which has already been reported to child protection services, but it is not enough to get access reduced. I am at my wits end, worrying about my child, whom I know my ex does not have the patience to care for. And i constantly receive stupid texts from ex which I am recording for my attorney.

    Part of me wants him to find another woman so he will leave me alone, but then that makes me worry for my child (and ironically the other possible woman).

  64. Trying to move on, the situation with the psychopath is obviously more difficult and complicated because you have a child together. If you are quite sure he has the main symptoms of psychopathy, then it’s not in the child’s best interest to have contact with him. Get an attorney specializing in family law and explain to him or her your situation, including some general information about his abuse and how it ties in with his psychopathy symptoms. Definitely don’t communicate with him directly, since he’ll use that contact to manipulate you. He can communicate with you via your lawyer. Psychopaths can’t love anyone, not even their children. They view everyone as a possession or a potential possession. And because they have no moral boundaries and are quite often sex addicts, they often engage in sexual abuse of their own children. So trust your intuition, which is telling you to find a legal way to get full custody of your child. Claudia

  65. Tricia, if there’s one thing that the bad experiences with the psychopaths has taught us is to listen better to our intuition and red flags. We had red flags and intuitive misgivings about the psychopaths and we ignored them in favor of the positive vibes and momentary excitement. This time, I’d say it’s better to trust your red flag signals. If they’re wrong sometimes, then you may miss out on an opportunity or relationship. But if you don’t listen to them, then you risk getting burned again. This guy may be your psychopathic ex harassing you by using different emails or it could be a new person. It doesn’t matter. What matters is that you have intuitive misgivings. Listen to them. It’s better to err on the side of caution. Claudia

  66. Dear Claudia,

    Thank you so much for your reply.

    I am not sure if he has psychopathy or NPD, but I am sure he has one of them. I was actually a psychology student and I remember very well the lecture on psychopathy. The lecturer that we had actually worked for years with Dr. Robert Hare, whom as you know is one of the exerts on psychopathy. I will never forget that lecture. One thing I do remember is that the lecturer said that pyschopathy is on a spectrum/dimension, so you may be high or low on the characteristics of the spectrum. Is it possible that a person gets worse with time or is the mask just slipping ? My ex got worse as I caught him out more and more on his manipulation of me. We did have a long term relationship, that is one thing that seems to be different between me and a lot of other people here. As for affairs, I have no idea. I wouldn’t have dreamt that he did, but he had me so fooled for years, nothing would surprise me now!

    What shocked me when I left was that I felt like I just woke up and realized I had been sleeping beside a psychopath for years, if that makes sense

    To give you a little background on him. There is a history of “mental illness” in his family, and I don’t mean depression. I mean identifiable brain illnesses like autism and very specific forms of dementia, which initially manifest as lack of insight and empathy. His father was always cold and distant and could not show any affection. My first attorney when she heard me describe my ex even described him herself as “slightly autistic”. But to me he is much more than that.

    You mentioned sexual abuse. Well, for some reason, (maybe the fact that he has been sexually abusing me for years but I normalized it), I have had sick feelings in my stomach that one day he will abuse our child but I don’t know would he really do that. My counselor says it is because of what I have gone through with him myself. At first I was worried about the psychological impact my ex would have on my child, but now as i have said in the previous post he has hit him, but there were no bruises and this has been reported to the child protection agency by my counsellor. This counsellor by the way has described him as a psychopath on three occasions, but that is not evidence for court. She has not met him, so how could she give evidence to say he is one? She can only say that he has “undermined my confidence in myself”.

    Here are sone of his traits:
    In the earlier years of our relationship he would:

    put me on a pedestal which lasted for a few months. The honeymoon phase I guess.

    We had a number of breakups.

    Flirt openly with girls in front of me, and blame them, which I naively believed. Thus I was alienated from the girls in his class in college and pitted against them.

    He demeaned me in front of other people

    He wanted to have sex in inappropriate places like behind dirty old buildings, or in toilets

    He was arrogant and rude and often said inappropriate things to people

    He then became more charismatic and learnt new ways to manipulate me and others. He stopped demeaning in front of other people and kept it to behind closed doors.

    Therefore he appeared very supportive of me to the world.

    He called me mentally ill and a whole host of other character defects I apparently had and played the role of the victim to anyone that would listen.

    He tried to turn some of my friends and family against me.

    Getting into an argument with him was confusing to say the least. I would always be blamed. He always managed to twist things so that it was my fault

    He sexually abused me by coercive sex.

    I became a former shell of myself. I tried to take my own life because I felt like I was going crazy. After this he treated me with utter contempt and distain and told me I could not function as a normal person. I basically felt like he decimated me as a person and I am now trying to find my way through a black cloud of depression and anxiety. After this I felt I was discarded

    After I left I had panic attacks for 5 months

    He still tries to control me through our child and money

    Thats just tipping the iceberg.

    I am going to talk to my attorney about my concerns.

    Any thoughts on that?
    Thanks for reading if you got to the end!

    Thanks

  67. Hello, TryingToMoveOn. I’m a guy, and I’m also six months out of a toxic relationship with an NPD/psychopathic woman (neither the gender nor the diagnosis really matters). I certainly understand your feelings of isolation, loneliness and frustration – psychopaths do a remarkable job of making themselves look great to everyone and making their victims look like the crazy ones. Yes, the psychopath moves on effortlessly, but that’s because he cannot form any sort of deep emotional bonds like the rest of us.

    I agree completely with Claudia’s recommendations for not allowing your ex to manipulate you via your child, especially since she seems to be at a highly impressionable age where her father’s confusing behaviour could cause permanent damage. I would like to add that there’s a useful website – http://www.ourfamilywizard.com – that’s very helpful in arranging the details of shared custody while maintaining No Contact with your ex. It’s quite inexpensive (US$99 per year per parent), especially when you consider that lawyers usually bill in 10- or 15-minute increments; it pays for itself after two or three phone calls.

    Bear in mind that your ex is likely to strongly oppose using the OFW system, since it puts all custody-related correspondence out in the open where lawyers and judges can freely inspect it. This avoids all the “he said / she said” squabbling and, more importantly, makes your ex *accountable* for everything he says and does regarding your child. He’s certainly not going to like that, so OFW works best when a judge issues a court order requiring both of you to exclusively use OFW and not bypass it by telephone, texting, instant messaging or personal contact except in emergency cases. There are examples of such court orders on the website.

    You asked “How do you remain detached and move on with your life?” in spite of difficult financial and child custody issues. Well, I think you’ve nailed Question Number One quite precisely; this is the most difficult thing for all of us trying to recover from a toxic relationship. For me, the most important thing was trying to recover my ability to think clearly; for the first two months, my mind was constantly swirling with obsessive thoughts about what had gone wrong and why, from morning ’til night, and I just couldn’t deal with anything more than the most simple problems. “Cognitive Dissonance” is such a dry and technical term; I felt more like I had serious brain damage.

    One beautiful sunny morning, I realized that I had been neglecting my flower garden, and it had become severely overrun with weeds. So I went out and began weeding, and realized that this simple task completely cleared my mind, if only for a short while. Since then, I’ve started each and every day with a 30- or 40-minute gardening session, and it sets the tone for the rest of the day. This, plus some professional therapy, the passage of time and a lot of research and learning about NPD and psychopathy, has helped a lot in my recovery. Needless to say, the flower garden is just beautiful.

    I believe that being able to have just a little peace every day is very important. Maybe gardening isn’t the thing for you; perhaps jogging or meditation or yoga or Tai Chi? Anything that helps start the day with some precious peace. Once the emotional whilwind subsides, it will be so much easier to effectively deal with the financial and child custody issues. I wish you the very best. – Julian.

  68. Trying to move on, he sounds exactly like what you said he is: either a psychopath or a pretty bad narcissist. Even if you have no evidence of sex addiction, he may just have hid it well. My psychopathic ex would too: from his wife. He’d drive her to work and go to her office when she worked overtime on weekends. That was to control her and gain her trust. At the office, he’d put several screens, like for real estate, which he’d pretend to look at while emailing me (I was his mistress) and probably other women as well. He got his kicks out of waving his infidelities under her nose and no doubt mine as well. The fact a psychopath sticks like glue to his main targets to control them leads them to erroneously believe he does it out of love and that he has no time to cheat on them. Both assumptions are false. He sticks to you to monitor your activities and finds plenty of time for other sexual partners. As for the way your psychopath treated you, everything you describe sounds like he was trying to humiliate, belittle you and establish dominance over you. He is now using your child to maintain power, since he has less of an effect over you directly. Cut all the ties that you can with him, legally, or he’ll remain in your life and your child’s for life, to wreack havoc and cause unhappiness. That’s what psychopaths do best. Claudia

  69. Claudia, your writing is the perfect combination of analysis and sharing of just what and how the pain evolved for the victim. My own struggles have to do with my ideas of “choice” and taking responisbility. As I look at this, I know I am also tackling my crisis of faith AND my new found awareness that I must look more for answers WITHIN than always try to find the “help” from without. An interesting place to find oneself. I am most assuredly NOT the same person I was before this being came into my life. I have looked at the concept of codependency and don’t believe that it can be as simple as so many therapists wish to facilitate. Because this was such a total surprise to me – not the upsets along the path with the narcissist – but that I got into the role of playing the foil. Thank you – this site is incredible with the validity you supply to the ordeal we have experienced and the very alien nature of this energy.

  70. Becky, thank you for your comment. Yes, the concept of codependency has its limitations in describing the victims or targets of psychopaths. Although the psychopathic bond is as addictive if not more so than any substance or behavior, the main difference are that a) you don’t willingly choose a psychopath (usually) the way you choose to engage in an addiction and b) that the dependency is fostered by something akin to force (the inculcation of fear, isolation from loved ones, implicit or explicit threats, emotional abuse and sometimes physical violence). No drug would do that to anybody. Codependency on a psychopath or addiction to a psychopath needs to be understood on its own terms, not only as an analogy to substance addiction or codependency with a drug addict. Claudia

  71. Ok, I need some postive support and encouragement from my friends here. It’s been a tough week for me with some family issues and a close friend’s Mother’s funeral yesterday.

    Today I am missing my psycho friend so much and I don’t know why he is on my mind, can’t get him off of my mind. I am still NC, this morning I was fine and as the day wore on thoughts of him came flooding back. Are they pyschic or what? He has not contacted me either. I know he is bad news now and I should not even think about him at all.

    I am not tempted to calling him, because I know the drill of him not answering or calling me back if I left a message. Maybe it’s because I am at home alone.

  72. Donna, whenever you feel like contacting your ex, just read a few articles on psychopathy websites or chapters from books like The Sociopath Next Door or Without Conscience, and the urge will pass because you’ll be reminded of the reality of the psychopathic bond. Remain strong, as you are, and resist the temptation to return to any idealization of the psychopath or his relationship with you. Because any urge to return to a psychopath comes from the nostalgia for the idealization phase, which is based on empty flattery, false promises and a whole lot of lies. Claudia


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