Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and the Psychopathic Bond

Many victims  of psychopathic and other kinds of pathological individuals experience Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) both during and (especially) after the relationship is over. PTSD is a manifestation of the immense shock victims experience when they come to realize the relationship with the psychopath was founded upon lies, false promises, hidden lives or other fraudulent activities and sometimes even fraudulent identities.  I’m pasting below an article written by the staff of the Mayo Clinic about PTSD, its causes and its symptoms. You can also find this article on the Mayo Clinic website, on the link below:

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Symptoms

By Mayo Clinic staff

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms typically start within three months of a traumatic event. In a small number of cases, though, PTSD symptoms may not appear until years after the event.

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms are generally grouped into three types: intrusive memories, avoidance and numbing, and increased anxiety or emotional arousal (hyperarousal).

Symptoms of intrusive memories may include:

  • Flashbacks, or reliving the traumatic event for minutes or even days at a time
  • Upsetting dreams about the traumatic event

Symptoms of avoidance and emotional numbing may include:

  • Trying to avoid thinking or talking about the traumatic event
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Avoiding activities you once enjoyed
  • Hopelessness about the future
  • Memory problems
  • Trouble concentrating
  • Difficulty maintaining close relationships

Symptoms of anxiety and increased emotional arousal may include:

  • Irritability or anger
  • Overwhelming guilt or shame
  • Self-destructive behavior, such as drinking too much
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Being easily startled or frightened
  • Hearing or seeing things that aren’t there

Post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms can come and go. You may have more post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms when things are stressful in general, or when you run into reminders of what you went through. You may hear a car backfire and relive combat experiences, for instance. Or you may see a report on the news about a rape and feel overcome by memories of your own assault.

When to see a doctor
It’s normal to have a wide range of feelings and emotions after a traumatic event. You might experience fear and anxiety, a lack of focus, sadness, changes in how well you sleep or how much you eat, or crying spells that catch you off guard. You may have nightmares or be unable to stop thinking about the event. This doesn’t mean you have post-traumatic stress disorder.

But if you have these disturbing thoughts and feelings for more than a month, if they’re severe, or if you feel you’re having trouble getting your life back under control, talk to your health care professional. Getting treatment as soon as possible can help prevent PTSD symptoms from getting worse.

In some cases, post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms may be so severe that you need emergency help, especially if you’re thinking about harming yourself or someone else. If this happens, call 911 or other emergency medical service, or ask a supportive family member or friend for help.


  1. Claudia
    Great info again on the damage that can be caused. If I hadnt found your site and the info you give I would just think that i was pathetic and weak. these people cause lasting harm and you have to seek medical help in order to free yourself and become healthy (slowly maybe) but healthy again. You should not ever bury it and not talk about it, there are people out there that can help.

  2. Lesley, I agree. Kelli said something yesterday that is very much worth repeating: victims of psychopaths and other personality disordered individuals save themselves. Informational websites and support groups, such as psychopathyawareness, lovefraud and others help by providing information that explains personality disorders and the trauma victims experience. But ultimately each victim who finds and is helped by such information has:

    a) seen the red flags,
    b) looked up psychopathy or its symptoms on the internet,
    c) faced the reality about the psychopath and the relationship with courage, enough to do something about it and hopefully end it for good.

    Ultimately, nobody can save you from any addictive relationship or behavior unless you’re willing to face your problems and save yourself. Victims deserve so much credit for taking the necessary steps to save themselves, however difficult that is. Claudia

  3. Most definitely Claudia!
    It takes great strength and courage to leave someone that you have loved with all your heart, no matter how little or how much you have given up for that person. Many a person would stay and try to put up with it and lose their “self” in the process.
    Now I am feeling a bit better I see that I was a very strong willed person, that I refused to put up with me ex’s behaviour, that it was not healthy and not right and much as I did not WANT to leave him (and as you have said before Claudia they don’t want you to leave them..they just want a new contract with better terms for them) you HAVE to leave them and that takes a lot. Especially in the months afterwards when you are dealing with what on earth hit you. Sites likes this, friends, doctors, counsellors, it all helps and makes you able to form a better opinion on what you have been through. No one should be treated the way paths treat people. But you have to indeed save yourself, but you don’t have to go through the pain alone.

  4. Linda, All…

    On the past article post, you wondered why you stayed? Why you wanted him even though he treated you like garbage?

    I think this is an easy one to answer.

    I think the deadliest thing they do to us, is not the devaluing…it’s the idealization. Perfect mirroring of ourselves. It’s like when they begin to devalue, we’re somehow believing that he is taking ourselves away in some way.. It’s also through intermittent reinforcement that we stay. This turns into an addiction. Thomas Sheridan mentions this in that psychopaths have been studying human behavior all of their lives. They know that people’s body chemicals change with the love bombing and susbsequent bullying they do later on. It makes a lot of sense to me. This has to be treated like a heroine addiction. It is simply incomprehensible that this person pretended to love us and morphed himself/herself into what we wanted him to be. It is the biggest lie, the most excrutiating pain when the mask comes off. They are clever in that this happens gradually over time, rarely does it happen right away, but in my case it DID happen right away and the reaction he was hoping for, the groveling and begging him back, worked. This evolved into a ten year cycle or intermittent reinforcement. Sex was used as a weapon.

    When they are idealizing you, they are tapping into your SOUL. This is somewhat narcissistic on our part too, as we all have a little bit of narcissism within……..who doesn’t want to be told how lovely, great, wonderful and soul mate material you are? We fall into love with THAT image. But in reality who else would say those things IMMEDIATELY while luring us into a relationship, except a psychopath.

    It’s the addiction we’re kicking. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life. It”s even more difficult to walk away at first, disengaging, but somehow, we were all strong enough to realize we had to save ourselves, it’s either him/her or ME now. I like to think of things in this way too: If it were SO GREAT, WHY DID WE LEAVE? This is what I’m telling myself over and over. The truth is, that it wasn’t so great, it was extremely dangerous and who the hell wants to stick around for that kind of abuse? We saved ourselves from this disgusting predator. Staying would surely have meant DYING and I’m pretty sure it’s safe to say that each of us found something of ourselves that was worth living and fighting for. I’m trying to focus on why I left, rather than why I stayed so long. Kelli

  5. Lesley and Kelli, I think the hardest step for victims to take is accepting that they have been, for however long, with a complete fraud. However many years they have invested (emotionally and/or financially) in the relationship with the psychopath were largely wasted on a ruse played by a dangerous predator who used them. Because it’s so difficult to accept this reality, many victims continue to hold on to the fantasy and the lies told by the psychopath. It’s not that those lies and excuses are that credible. It’s that it’s much easier to cling to them than to accept the degree of betrayal, and all the years lost with him, and start anew. That takes, as you know, an inordinate amount of strength and is a very difficult process.

    It’s far easier to follow the psychopath’s lead in shifting all the blame on other victims and to accept the smear campaign he launches against them. Because in that case, you don’t have to reject either the psychopath or the relationship with him, however long it lasted. You’re only rejecting strangers and acquaintances whom he’s depicted as worse than him. Sometimes lies are so much easier to accept than truth: particularly when the whole foundation of your life with a psychopath was based on false assumptions and was a lie. Claudia

  6. Claudia, I agree that denial plays a huge part in accepting the truth. However I think that the truth lies in our understanding of Cluster B and the psychopathic personality construct. I wonder Claudia if in telling our stories, we represent our partners or exes as engineering some grand plan from the onset to destroy us, is in some way misleading. Psychopaths and Cluster B’s live exclusively in the here and now; and our needs or feelings do not factor into their needs.
    There are issues that unfold as the dynamic unfolds that predispose us to thinking that the psychopath is dedicated to a mission of destroying as many people as possible. I do not believe in this; psychopaths are by their very nature destructive. Not because of a malicious intent that they possess; but because of what they do not possess. Michael.

  7. Michael, I think that both are true: psychopaths live in the here and now, but they also follow a trajectory of deliberate destruction of others. I’ve witnessed this with my own eyes (and ears): the psychopath enjoyed duping me, his wife and so many others in the here and now. It was very exciting to him. However, at the same time, he’d tell me things like: “our house will be a zoo” (meaning of debauchery, but I couldn’t understand what he meant at the time) and “you’re not ready for this yet” (meaning the mistreatment). There were so many comments he made which, in retrospect, revealed his plotting for the future against me and withholding information to be revealed later, when I was more fully under his control. Not to speak of the fact that for over a year, he led his wife to believe they’d move together to another state and was encouraging her to lose weight and “work” on herself and their marriage, while at the same time telling me he’d divorce her to marry me. Meanwhile, while avowing to both of us commitment, love and fidelity, after talking on the phone each day with her, then with me, he went out each evening to pick up women (and sometimes men too) at clubs, bars, where have you. If that’s not premeditated deception and harm, I don’t know what is.

    As Sandra Brown and Liane Leedom state in the title of the first edition of “Women Who Love Psychopaths”: the psychopathic bond is a relationship of “deliberate harm”. This harm is inflicted by psychopaths with malice and forethought, even if they do live in the moment as well. The two don’t contradict since they enjoy the moment all the while also having the ultimate goal of isolating, harming and destroying their victims. I am very sure of this fact. To think psychopaths act only spontaneously or hurt others out mere callousness or indifference is to misunderstand them. They hurt others with forethought and malice. That’s part of what makes them so cold and calculated when they commit crimes. Sometimes they are crimes of passion; quite often, however, they’re very well planned in advance. Claudia

  8. Michael,

    I too disagree with you. If psychopathic harm was not intentional, or meant to be destructive, than why create a false persona (mask) in the first place with every victim or situation they encounter?

    With my ex, I saw his deliberate enjoyment of my reactions and provoked them constantly. He was unmoved, with the exception of a smirk on his face, when he had caused me pain. The here and now perspective is also accurate, however, this was seen by me with my ex, to be a deliberate attempt to encourage denial on my part, to accept his horrible actions without question. The here and now is also linked to their impulsiveness. They can recall things from the past when it suits them to do so, and more often than not, those events are either filled with lies, littered with little grains of truth, if at all, but the outcome is still the same: HARM AND DESTRUCTION.

    They know EXACTLY what they’re doing. Kelli

  9. Claudia,

    It’s also what makes them so incredibly dangerous. Kelli

  10. My p mom certainly planned for the future, including leaving a very hurtful letter for me to find after she died. And she had to have written it some years ago, because her abilities went downhill. My husband and I returned to her house after the funeral, before the wake, opened a drawer and there it was. It was like a magnet calling me!

    I opened it, read it, fell to the floor, crying, saying “I thought she loved me, I thought she loved me!” (we fool ourselves… I had helped care for her one or two nights per week, despite living 2 hours away) …it was yet another devalue and certainly the last discard! But I quickly recovered and got angry at her cruelty, and finally my husband had me rational again. We have a saying (not original) “How else do you expect a drunk to act? Sober?” And that helps. Of course my mom would leave a nasty guilt inducing, blaming letter for me! That’s the kind of thing psychopaths do!

    So definitely she was planning for the future, to reach up from the grave!

    On a happier note:

    Here’s a cartoon. I think it is a good illustration of a psychopathic bird, empty of everything that makes other birds wonderful beings. You’ll get a chuckle.

    And Claudia, thank you for the kind note yesterday, under the previous article.

  11. Susan, you’re welcome. As for what you say about your mother, it just go to show that psychopaths sow destruction till the day they die, and even from beyond the grave. I like the cartoon. Very funny and also quite appropriate, especially since the psychopath/bird is made of wood and can’t feel anything. Claudia

  12. Michael, I’m not a professional so I don’t know what mix of things the p man that I was involved with was, It may be that he was sadistic quite apart from being a p, but I think it was part of it.

    Once when we had met, I had some photos and poems for him in a little book I made for him. It has obviously taken me a long time to make it. Toward the end of that day, he said, “I’m going to have to rip these up, because I can’t take them home and I don’t want the maid (in the hotel) to see them.” He began ripping up each poem and photo (of us when we were teens) one by one, with him watching my face all the time. He asked “Doesn’t this hurt you?” (So I think he WAS concerned with what I was feeling, and whether or not he was controlling it.) When I said “no, it’s fine, you’re right”, he lost interest in doing it, and just threw the rest in the trash, without tearing more.

    But you are certainly right that their real focus is NOT on what we are feeling, except as proof of exploitation, proof of causing pain, proof of being in control. He was always (in retrospect) intent on making me cry. I’m pretty stubborn about not crying, but there were times he succeeded and obviously enjoyed it…..compared to my husband who gets very distraught if I’m crying. (which is one reason I have the habit of being stubborn about not crying, I don’t want him distraught.)

    Michael, you do raise a good point, I almost grasp it and then it alludes me. One thing I do think is some of them really THINK they are in love, at first…..mistaking intensity and lust as love…and I think sometimes the trigger to a devaluation is us not reflecting 100% that THEY are perfect. We may have laughed at them…or flicked something off their jacket, asked if they would like us to wash their tennis shoes for them, who knows what…and suddenly, they aren’t in love with US, and start seeing all kinds of annoying things about us.

    Anyway, I’d like to hear more about your point, because I feel I’m not understanding as well as I should. Despite the postings I’ve done, I’m not sure that you aren’t right, but that I just didn’t get what you meant correctly. (Oh man, that willingness to listen to all views and try to understand them…..that got me in trouble with p’s plenty of times! )

  13. Susan, Concerning the last part of your comment, not the one directed at Michael (which he may wish to answer himself), I think that the idealize, devalue and discard cycle with a psychopath happens no matter what you do and how much you may idolize him. My psychopathic ex’s wife absolutely idolizes him. He treated her like a doormat anyway: chronically cheated on her, deceived her, manipulated her and used her ever since they were engaged. I took another path and fell out of love with him once I began to see through the mask. He devalued me anyway, and I’d have followed the same abject path as his wife had I moved in with him for as long as I’d have stayed with him (which I doubt would have been very long). I think that psychopaths get bored with all their targets, one by one, no matter what. They are initially excited by new conquests and possession. But once they tire of you and you’re no longer a new toy, you can idealize and idolize them all you want, they’ll still use, abuse and hurt you. Even during the idealization phase what turns them on most is feeding you lies and lines and seeing how you fall for them. These people are manipulative, conniving and malicious through and through, from beginning to end, at every stage of the relationship and with everyone they target as their prey. Claudia

  14. […] relationship ended. A few months after publishing I was re-treated for post traumatic stress. Often post traumatic stress doesn’t appear immediately and can come up when you least expect it. At the time of writing […]

  15. Hi everyone
    Keli, i think that is so true, that the cruellest thing they do can be the idealisation phase, as they put you on such a high pedestal only to not just knock you off it, but then stamp you into the ground. Really, thinking about it, they are cruel beyond cruel from the get go because they do just sell you a pup.
    Its a confusing thought, i think they do “think” they are in love at the start: however, as they do the same things time and again to people, surely, even without the emotional recall they have, surely they remember that the last “relationship” went the same way? Though, they are that delusional that I think they just blame everything on the last dupe and carry on regardless. They have a very blinkered outlook to themselves and their own behaviour.
    I do think that they deliberately set out to destroy people, maybe it is not at the forefront of their minds when they first meet you and decide they want you, but its always there in the back of their mind, they just keep it hidden by their mask, but as we know that soon falls.
    My ex was most definitely calculated in what he did to me and his treatment of me. As a punishment for asking him why a girl was phoning him all the time for work he took me to an AA meeting, stood infront of everyone and told them how wonderful i was, then when we got home character assassinated me over 8 hours. When i said to him that he had deliberately made me think we were ok and we were not going to have an argument and that he loved me so much, to then destroy me and upset me for hours, he said i was the sick one. But that was just another idealise and devalue exercise. To be honest, with mine anyway, i think he knew what he was doing and that he most definitely did take pleasure in upsetting me and destroying me and planned it too. He once said that he should not be around people as they always get hurt. But he was proud of that fact. And that for me speaks volumes.

  16. Lesley, psychopaths often plot and plan by instinct or intuition. An intuition to do evil, a predatory instinct. It’s a natural and essential part of who they are. Sandra Brown MA states that they have a natural “relationship thermometer”. They know how much each victim will take at each point. They push your boundaries in small doses, so you get used to the humiliation, and they reveal themselves only gradually. My ex didn’t reveal himself as an evil sex addict and pathological liar– he upheld his mask of the loving and romantic partner–until he felt he had destroyed my marriage and alienated me from my entire family, who strongly disapproved of him. He miscalculated slightly, but he was still exceedingly calculated in his behavior and keeping his mask on for over a year. He thought I’d be obliged to be with him and do as he says out of lack of alternatives. Any alternative would have been better than being with him, or any sadistic psychopath, even if my husband and I would not have reconciled. At any rate, the alternation between upholding your image and acting supportive at the AA meeting and then berating and humiliating you at home is part and parcel of trauma bonding. It also upheld his image in public as a supportive partner–which is what these psychopaths often do–while being himself (abusive and mean) in private to you. Claudia

  17. Here is an interesting exchange with a psychopath… I know, no contact!!! but its hard with kids. She started in on me about our 11 year old. My only response was “I don’t know what is wrong with you (I do but I have not told her), but you need to stop.” Her reply was “There is nothing wrong with me. You did this all to yourself, I have nothing to say to you.” This is the kind of crap that makes your head spin. She contacted me but has nothing to say to me? I guess if wanting to settle down and be a family is bad then yep I did it to myself. I wonder if she was threatened by me taking the kids school shopping. School started yesterday and it has actually been quiet till then..I think its the contradictory statements that don’t make logical sense is the hardest part of the discard faze, leading to PTSD. Another interesting tidbit. The other day my 11 year old said. “I told mom, see dad isn’t the only one that makes mistakes.” I was taken back, I asked him if mom talks bad about me. He replied, “sometimes.” I really wish I had enough money to hire a good lawyer and bury her. I don’t know I could be over sensitive now and over reacting.

  18. Gary, she wants to manipulate you and have her under her power, even though she can no longer have you under her spell. She’s also using your child as a weapon, as a way to get to you. As Michael says, BPD’s have psychopathy at the foundation of their illness. Sarah just posted an excellent article on wakingyouup about how such pathological individuals turn the blame on you and make you feel like you’re the crazy one. Claudia

  19. Susan, Lesley,

    I think Claudia is making some very good points here and I think that in some ways, believing that We were loved by the psychopath even for a second is a form of denial. This is partly why I say that the idealization phase is the most dangerous of all. It is this phase that is so hard to come to terms with. What is viewed as “Maybe the psychopath really did love me or “I think, initially, he really did love me”, offers a source of comfort for the victims when it wasn’t love at all. The psychopath targets you because he wants something. The “in love” feelings that you may have been perceiving were not love at all, but merely the addictive high of winning and the open door to victimize. To cause harm. I wanted to include this excerpt from the book Women Who Love Psychopaths: “His insatiable need for power and dominance is so non stop that it feel unquenchable to her. Psychopaths hurt people because power through victimization is much more satisfying to them. They are emotionally rewarded by the harm they cause.”

    So when you think of the idealization phase and you “believe” he loved you even for a minute, it is not so. He was “high” off his ability to lure you in, a WIN for him….and another victim to harm. And he will do it, piece by piece, through the devaluing. Kelli

  20. Lesley, If the psychopath’s motives were pure, they wouldn’t need a mask in the first place. He is not presenting a genuine picture of himself in the slightest. He is lying, deceiving, manipulating. He KNOWS he is lying and I know this to be true. He does not care. If he does not capture one victim, he will move on quickly to the next. I saw this in action with my ex while he was trolling dating sites and with his first target. Same story lines, same lies. Had he captured her, she would be living in hell once the mask slipped. But she caught on early, saw the red flags. Obviously the new one did not.

    But he moved with ease, from first target to next. Nothing about any of that of what he presents to us is love, it is calculated, like a game, to win. When the lure is successful, he enjoys the reward of his duping, while he are clueless. ONce he has sucked us dry, or becomes bored, we are devalued and subsequently discarded. It’s the utter betrayal of the original mask that is the most painful. we were completely, utterly lied too and only for the sake of his “winning” and ability to cause pain. The higher he takes you, the further you will fall. Kelli

  21. Claudia, Kelli – It was easier for me to just accept his lies and projections than to extract myself go thru the detox of the bond and move on. I had the mindset of “well its too late now, he has already conned me and I survived it so whats the use” Every contact is dangerous and only causes further damage and we dont realize that until after we remove ourselves. I am very thankful someone else is living with him for ONE DAY it may be 10-20 years from now she will suffer the damage from the relationship – she is being damaged on a daily basis but until she removes herself she wont really see it. He spared me the damage he is doing to her, I guess I can thank him for that.

  22. Hi Keli
    I agree – I now look back and think that my ex never loved me – I KNOW he never for one iota felt anything other than power, control, lust but not love. It really is the ultimate betrayal – he thnks he loves people, or so he says..but he does not and never will. Its a terrifying thought that they can just keep fooling women and ruining lives

  23. Kelli, you’re absolutely right. There’s not a second of any real love from a psychopath, not even during the luring phase. I compared the visceral excitement psychopaths feel when they initially conquer and dupe you to the way my cat trembles with excitement when she spots a little frog or a bird. It’s a predatory excitement which is of course a survival mechanism for animals and an adrenaline rush for human predators, which is what psychopaths are. It has nothing to do with love or even infatuation, ever. From beginning to end, the psychopathic bond is predatory and exploitative. The only difference is that the psychopath usually makes more effort to hide his evil game in the beginning of relationships (the luring or idealization phases), whereas he doesn’t bother doing that so much after the conquest is over (during the devalue and discard phases). Claudia

  24. Claudia,

    In thinking about this more, insofar as the psychopaths machinations early on, the idealization can never last. THINK about it from this perspective. I tell someone I’m a republican instead of an independent. I lie like a dog about my entire past. IN fact, I exlude alot of the affairs that I was caught at, and blame my ex wives because they’re both bitches and cheated on me. I change my religious affiliation from what has been a fundamentalist nazarene for years to catholicism, much to the shock of my own family. My divorce cost me half my retirement so poor me, I have this beautiful home and have to pay my ungrateful bitch of an ex wife child support and she’s living high on the hog. I’m barely making it. My past is shotty and you only know what makes me look good. I have no friendships that are lifetime and the two that are, I barely speak to unless I want something from me. I won’t tell you that I have stolen money, even when I didn’t need it, like the time I stole 150.00 out of my mistress’s wallet, knowing that she needed the money to feed her kids. And I won’t mention that I have also stolen her sleep medication that she had to eventually hide because she suspected I stole it. Oh and best of all, I won’t let you know that I was fired from my job because of my ten year long affair with my mistress that I gave favors too. Yes, that created a lot of debt for me to survive and I had to borrow money from my parents, but I fought the bitch, exploited her and got my job back. I also wont’ tell you that my dating profile was a lie because I’m no longer in management. I got bumped from that due to budget cuts, as well as my pay. But they, you’ll be impressed by my twenty five years of government service!

    Lie lie lie lie lie………….see where I’m going with this? Well, we are CAUGHT with all the lies, and the simple deletions of things that don’t make us look so great. That’s what psychopaths do. NO ONE who might love you would lie to you about anything in their past, or fake a new persona to match yours. Can you imagine lying like that? Knowing that it will take a long time to find out?
    This poor woman will eventually know the many lies he has told. The mask will slip because he’s play acting with the new mask. They get tired of doing that after awhile. Really tired. It’s a lot of energy to keep up the facade A lot. with as many lies as they tell in the beginning, is it not a wonder why they can’t keep track of them all? This is another reason I think the mask slips. They forget the ORIGINAL lies. It’s contradictory in its very nature.

    Unbelievable!! So what we are buying is a sales pitch. And what he does, is win. For awhile. Kelli

  25. Kelli, Absolutely. The “idealization phase” is really somewhat of a misnomer with psychopaths, who only idealize themselves. “The luring phase” is a much more appropriate term to describe what happens in the beginning. They lure you with the lies, the mirroring and the mask, knowing it’s all one big lie: only a bait. Then they switch to their more real, malicious selves, once they think you’re under their control. That’s why books on psychopathy call it the “bait and switch” tactic of the psychopath. Nothing positive about them and the psychopathic bond is real. It’s all a very dangerous illusion. Claudia

  26. Claudia

    I think other elements of the idealization are very interesting and why we get so stuck. Each of us maintains a level of “narcissism”. We get sucked in by the flattery, gifts and over the top affection, sex and attention. I mean who doesn’t want to be WANTED that much? This is why it’s such a poisonous concoction. What we are remembering is the GOOD things about ourselves that the psychopath maximized for HIS own personal gain. To our destruction. I think in each survivors mind, it is very difficult in resolving the idealization phase because it means that the psychopath elevated OURSELVES to an unhealthy degree. Really, when you think about it, what normal person would say you’re their soul mate two weeks into a relatoinship? Or that you’re the most wonderful person EVER when they don’t even know you? That they love you, when they don’t KNOW you? That you’re the best sex they ever had, when they’ve had sex with others? Having good sex isn’t limited to just one person. ANYONE can have great sex. yea SO? But at any rate, he takes us to an unhealthy level of ourselves that is ridiculous. But it makes us feel special and good, right?

    When the relationship is over, it’s the exploitation of our good traits to an unhealthy level that creates so much cog/dis as well as the level of rage at the betrayal. each of us has good and valuable qualities about us but not to the extreme extent that the psychopath exploits. If you really think about THAT, it’s even more maddening, because he didn’t idealize because he believed ANY of that about any of us. It was a lure. A over exaggeration of our good traits with exploitation to get what he wants, then further exploitation through devaluing when he is through with us. NONE of it was real at all. From very beginning to very end. the idealization, just like the devaluation, is the extreme of good and bad. Just like the psychopath, so when the relationship ends and we are forced to look at reality, we see that we aren’t the excessive good that the psychopath exploited, nor are we the excessive bad he exploited, somewhere in between, we find a balance, I think, through healing that is what we truly are. The good, the bad and the gray areas too but not to the exciting extremes that the psychopath uses to create his illusions of us and only then, for himself.


  27. Claudia, Kelli, and all. In an email exchange with Claudia, I think I may have articulated my point / view a little more clearly. Yes Cluster B’s deliberately lie, decieve us, gaslight us, expose us to crazy making topsy turvey dynamics. the overall relationship pattern is always idealise, devalue, and then discard. Yes I firmly belive during the idealisation phase they mean it. I ventured on this in a much earlier post; the notion that they do not target their next lover, and think ok, now I must lay it on really think so I can con them into a relationship then move to phase 2 of my plan and begin to mess with their head.
    They are indeed malicious, and utterly self serving; once they have grown bored and the novelty has worn off, we are then manipulated by them (with deliberation) into a position where they can have their needs met (what ever they may be). I am convinced a psychopath will tell any lie to achieve this aim, regardless of the pain this will cause. Yes they know, but do they feel? For me knowing is not enough, we know and feel. A psychopath makes moves with one person, and one persons interests at heart alone, and that is their own. They would rather you just succumbed willingly to their wishes / will. hence the testing out in gradations what we will tolerate. If we do not tolerate, then they play the manipulation card. psychopaths take great polite in having control; they hate not being in control. the more they sense they are losing or have lost control they will attack with savage callousness, or cut you off with surgical precision and give you the silent treatment. I think there is an understandable danger that we make the same mistake we made when we were in the relationship. We try to threads the beads of reason where really there isnt any. A psychopath has no tethering to reason, compassion, or love. Love is in actual fact beyond their emotional comprehension as much as their psychopathy is too us. They are not tethered to their self; there is in fact no self; just an empty shell or balloon with no substance. If they experienced normal emotion then they would know pain, compassion, sentimentality, remorse, and love. But they do not; they have no frame of referenence. If they did then they would not do what they do. But they do not, and so they just do what they do. I think their primary need is narcissistic supply; but I’m convinced in my research that this goes beyond admiration, adulation, and attention; It is about a futile search to fill their own emptiness. An emptiness that is bottomless, never to be filled. They are insatiable, and forever hungry; nothing is ever enough for them. Psychopaths cannot really see us or feel us. I wonder if believing they set out or orchestrated the whole relationship to harm us is just another way we try to come to understand the psychopath. The truth I believe is that the whole experience was (after we are no longer of USE), utterly meaningless. there was no relationship. the lights are on but there is nobody home.

  28. All, I think an article around is the psychopath evil or not evil would be an interesting challenge. Let me put it this way; their behaviour certainly looks and feels evil to us. But my question looks something like this- Do psychopaths lack compassion, empathy, remorse, and the normal range and depth of emotion, and top of this also have something added called evil, or an evil disposition? or, does the fact that they lack the above mean that they will inevitably behave in vile and repugnant ways that destroy us emotionally, leading to “inevitable harm”?

  29. All, I’m on a roll! The evidence is robust that psychopaths are ego syntonic; they are ok with what they do because they are either a victim in some way, misunderstood, or the outcome of an unfair upbringing; they are never accountable. And becasue they have no real self- they have object constancy issues, memory issues, distortion issues; because they lack all of the above, they cannot literally see beyond themselves, and I mean that quite literally; which means reality happens for them only inside their own heads. But this is well hidden with their mask of sanity- a reflection, a collage, a mosaic, patched together from a hall of mirrors. We are as much a stranger to them as they are to themselves.

  30. MIchael,

    While i respect your opinion, and find it interesting, I still disagree. I know you’ve read Sandra Brown’s book Women Who Love Psychopaths, however, the ENTIRE premise of the book is based on how a psychopath’s deviancy is strongly in relation to INEVITABLE HARM. As with my ex, they target ON PURPOSE, whatever it is that is needed at the moment for them. In my ex’s case, it was money, if there was sex, image, and a cover to boot, all the better for him. To say that what a psychopath feels in idealization stage has anything to do with reality AT ALL, is misleading and further serves to confuse survivors more with regards to the reality of the idealization phase. For example: My ex LOVED saxophones. He played well, but he copied, he could not come up with his own music. EVER. It was merly mechanics and no more. HIs idealization of the instrument and his ability to play was SHORT LIVED to a few years. He also played in a few bands and LOST interest, mainly because his behavior was intolerable. He rarely picked one up in the last few years and took on a “LOVE” for piano. He thinks he plays that better, when in reality, he sucks at it. It’s simple and mechanical and always follows a note off a book of some kind. He can memorize the music, but he cannot CREATE it and he does NOT foster his “love” for it. Yet another idealization, devaluation and DISCARD. He did not “LOVE” the instrument or the playing in any sense of the word, he knew he coudl play and that it would make HIM LOOK GOOD AT CHURCH< but NOTHING beyond that. This, I believe, is how a psychopath views human beings. For what they can GIVE him. They target that which BEST provides for HIS needs/wants at the time. This is malicious, this is PLANNED. When we say "targeted" we are not talking about a mishap here, we are talking about a PURPOSEFUL intention to GET from someone what THEY WANT. There is no love involved, there is nothing. It is a new toy for which to play and then discard, but it IS intentional. I KNOW this to be true from having observed my ex and his "targets". If one didn't work out (the one prior to this one he married had money too), he'll just move onto the next and that's exactly what he did. He did it with precision, with lies, purposeful deceit and deletion of facts from and about his past and swiftly so that she could NOT find out the TRUTH about him.

    Insofar as evil goes. According to Brown's book, MANY, if not all of them women, no matter what religion referred to the psychopath as EVIL, or having some sort of evil presence. I believe this to be true and only the experience of having been with one, makes that ever so much a reality.

    Part of what you say is true with the idealization, devalue, and discard. IT's what they do. That is true. Business as usual. But with INTENT. which is what makes them so incredibly dangerous. IT is also incredibly dangerous to any survivor to suggest that anything the psychopath did during the luring phase was not intentional and in some way real. It was NOT. Kelli

  31. Michael, based on everything I have read about psychopathy–online, in books, in support groups–plus my personal experience with a psychopath, I have NO DOUBT that psychopaths are deliberately EVIL. I have rarely been as sure of anything in my life. They aren’t simply indifferent to their victims, but their intent, from beginning to the end of the relationship, is to use their victims and harm them, to the point of degradation and humiliation. That is the only way they derive a sense of power and pleasure in life. It’s their life purpose, the way caring about their loved ones and successful professional lives are the life purpose of normal, caring human beings. “Inside the relationship of intentional harm” is the subtitle Brown and Leedom gave to the first edition of Women Who Love Psychopaths. It’s a very appropriate phrase and it sums up the psychopathic bond. Psychopaths are natural predators, but because they’re often mentally (though not emotionally) sophisticated they know they’re harming others, they know they’re deceiving them, they know they’re using them, and they know why society considers it wrong: but they do it anyway, and they take a lot of sadistic pleasure in the harm they cause. Pure evil exists and it’s not an exaggeration. If anything, it’s an understatement when describing psychopaths. Claudia

  32. Claudia

    That was beautifully stated and I could not agree more with it. I am convinced of that as well. Absolutely! Kelli

  33. Claudia,

    I think I’m finally able to accept that as the truth. And that will never change in him. Besides myself and his ex wives, and his son that he’s turning into a P, I truly believe, that that will never change, that his victimization will continue, that his core behaviors cannot be changed. That she will experience it and wonder what the hell is going on. I refuse to pay attention to outside faux presentations that he gives or this pseuo redemption he’s putting out for the world to see, using her as a cloak of normalcy and for monetary purposes. What goes on behind closed doors right now, is honeymoon stage, probably while he sneaks up in the middle of night on the computer working on how to “invest” her money.

    I felt evil in him. I felt it in the room. The more I realized whom he was, the more evil FILLED THE ROOM, just as my therapist said and she’s a healthy person. She knows it each time it walks in the door. She shakes her head afterwards and says, “What was THAT?”

    And that is supposedly just borderlines with “traits”.

    Pathology is incredibly dangerous. He/she is toxic to every single life it attempts to get near or destroy.

    I’m still grieving, but I’m so happy to be out of it, so glad I’m no longer a target and I hope the bastard is so busy with her investments that he never gives me a second thought LOL! Kelli

  34. Kelli and Claudia; I was talking to a friend in the pub just the other night; a lovely guy who is into holistic therapies and accupuncture. He told me that I just cannot see the “bad” in people. I wonder if this is true to an extent. I struggle to wrap my head around that so much. Are you saying that at no point during the relationship that your exes ever believed at any juncture what they said to you?

  35. Michael,

    I wasn’t going to say anything to you, but that is the feeling I got from your post. It may be the last stretch in your own healing, to accept. I do believe it is the HARDEST to accept. I think those of us who can love and care, after an experience like this, really struggle with the “there is good in everyone” concept. The reality is, through this experience, is that there isn’t. Not even in any of us sometimes. I’ve been particularly cranky this week LOL!

    But that’s so much different than the psychopath, Michael. He introduces us to more reality in that there are evil people in this world.

    I guess the best way to explain my perceptions of this, in that I believed very much as you do about good in everyone, is that there is some sort of balance that happens when you realize that evil does exist in other human beings.

    If I believe in the concept of good, I also have to believe in the concept of bad. It is black and white when it comes to this. We are good, the psychopath is evil. It exists and it’s devastating the ways in which we find out.
    Michael, I’m saying to you, that at NO POINT during your relationship was there was only evil. She targeted you. From what I gather of your story, this was obvious and with malicious evil intent. To destroy whatever good it was she saw. IT was fake, the idealization. It meant nothing to her and it should be given as much value as the devaluation and discard to follow, which is nothing, because it was never real. Not one minute of it was real.

    But it was real for you. You can hang onto that. YOU are real. You can hang onto that. You can also hang onto the fact that you are NOT evil, but that evil does exist and you encountered it.

    And because of that, despite the disappointment in finding out that there isn’t good in everyone, it can protect you from further evil, help those who have encountered it or are and don’t understand. It can make you a better person than before. It can shore up who you really are, not what the psychopath pretended you were during the luring and devaluation phase. Kelli

  36. Claudia, yes; but i wonder, do they do it in order to try and have their own needs met, and when you do not meet their expectations, which are impossible to meet as we know; they attack. I dont think using the word evil is an exaggeration; what I do think is that the concept of evil is worthy of deconstructing in relation to psychopathy.

  37. Michael, to me nothing can be clearer than the predatory and evil behavior of these psychopaths. Of course there’s no point in the relationship when the social predator was not predatory! Never. From the moment he began dating his wife, my psychopathic ex was also dating an office mate, another woman, and seeing casually lots of sex partners. There was not one honest or faithful minute in their relationship, and he told me this in detail and with relish. His excuse was that he never truly loved her; that he settled when he married her to obtain a VISA, and that he had other mates lined up in case she refused the proposal. I believed at the time that he had been so young that he didn’t really know what love was and married the wrong woman. That was his pity ploy, when he told me he found me and I was the true love of his life; the woman he wanted to marry. While feeding me these lines, from the beginning, he was also stringing his wife along and getting her to set up their house in another state. And, like I said before, after he talked to her each evening on the phone to keep her on the hook, then to me detailing in sordid and unnecessary detail all of their daily conversations and declaring his true love to me, he’d go clubbing to pick up other women each night. Not to speak of stringing along at the same time former mistresses and other current ones, while me and his wife lived in other states and he was luring me into a divorce and marriage to him and keeping her on the hook. There is not an honest bone in a psychopath’s body and the greatest thrill they feel is from predation: the deliberate luring, hooking, then isolating and harming women to the point of total destruction of their personality and lives, if possible. This is, essentially, what he’s done to his wife and this is what he hopes to do with each of his main targets. Claudia

  38. Are you saying that she entered my life and seduced me with the sole intention of harming me? Or are you saying that because of her disorder it was inevitable she would harm me?

  39. There are similarities I can relate too. My ex lied to me around her ex partner, in that she tried to reconcile with him, (and regain her power over him), dating sites, the guy she would eventually discard me for, and then go onto discard him for someone else, and so on.

  40. Michael, I’m saying that targeting victims to use, control and ultimately destroy–in a premeditated yet also opportunistic fashion–is what psychopaths do naturally. Like animals on the hunt, they premeditate finding victims, and when they do they are opportunistic in how they use and abuse each one. When I went into therapy, my therapist, who knew a lot about personality disorders and psychopaths, told me that the most difficult thing for victims to see is that the idealization phase of the psychopathic bond was just as fake as the end. The only difference was that the psychopath hid his affairs, sex addiction and true intentions in the beginning, to get me hooked on him; while in the end, when he had tired of me and thought he had me anyway, he showed his intentions and asked me to post ourselves on dating websites.

    As I mentioned before, he also wanted to put the clause of his right to rape me in our prenup agreement. Who does that except a sexual sadist and predator? We kept his threats to come rape me as well as his specifications for that sadistic prenup agreement as evidence for the police. I showed these emails to my family and they couldn’t believe their eyes. They reflected the perverse and sadistic requests of a man far beyond the pale of your ordinary player or jerk: this guy was actually evil, and he carefully groomed his victims to be, essentially, his sex slaves. We’ve heard similar stories here from Lesley, Linda, Joanne, Kelli, Susan and others. There are no genuine or loving moments with a disordered personality because such individuals are incapable of truthfulness and love. They place no value on them and, in fact, deride them, see them as signs of weakness and gullibility and systematically set out to destroy moral values and other human beings.

    With my therapist I went through a “writing cure” where we went over my memories of every phase of the relationship and exposed all the red flags I ignored in the beginning, when I was falling in love with the predator. It helped me see so lucidly that the relationship–and this man–were exactly the SAME from beginning to end (based on lies, infidelity, manipulation and hidden lives). Only his strategies differed, and became more open and explicit at the end. Since he told me about how he cheated and lied to his wife even before their engagement and throughout their marriage, I know he was the same person with her from the beginning of their relationship to now.

    This pattern of predation just for the purpose of harming and controlling others is the essence of the psychopathic personality. That’s why what they have is not called insanity, it’s not called a neurotic disorder: it’s called a personality or character disorder, which is as bad as it gets and it’s unfixable. I think you’d see the same thing if you went over your memories of each phase of the relationship. You’d see more red flags waving, even in the beginning, than a communist international convention. I’ll write a post about this writing cure, because it’s been very helpful to get me to see and accept the psychopathic bond for what it was–a total fraud from start to finish–and it may help other victims discuss their past with their therapists as well. Claudia

  41. Michael.

    Both. That’s it in a nutshell. The answer is BOTH. Kelli

  42. She saw your good qualities and targeted those for the sake of the lure. Then once she had you on the hook, you were a target again, not to be lured anymore, but to slowly destroy. Kelli

  43. You are right! Good point. There I was again…trying to apply normal logic to them. Doesn’t work!

  44. all, This is a great debate. I wonder if this could be another difference between gender. I did not see anything deliberate or intentional until the devaluation stage began. That’s when things began to become weird. But I think I am dealing with a BPD ex with a dash of psychopathy. I don’t know If I was deliberately seek ed out to intentionally hurt. To be her next victim per say in her hunt. whats hard is what everyone is saying is true and is backed up by personal experience.. I wonder if the truth lies in the middle like the old saying goes. Boy that’s why personality disorders are so tough. and us, the survivors effected by these people struggle to find the answers and stop the head spin. this is a great and very educational thread based on experience not theory.

  45. I truly was of two minds, but you are right, Claudia. My p may have acted like he was infatuated, and then something happened and THEN he set out to destroy me, but sadly you are right. When I look back with clear eyes, it was indeed his intention from the start…at age 15 and 40 years later. And that is consistent with the Emotional Rape book….there is a hidden agenda from the start. And sadly Michael, the more I think about it the more I think, yup, it is there from the start. It is an important point, important in healing.

    Just like when I meet a nice woman, somewhere in the back of my mind I am wondering, could this woman and I be friends some day? That thought is there from the start, whether or not it happens, and whether or not I consciously think it. Almost automatically, I act in ways that would promote a possible friendship.

    I think just as automatically, when a p meets someone, they are already almost automatically thinking, what could I get from this person? Could I get money? Could I bring this successful woman to her knees? And they automatically start adjusting the mask accordingly….just in case.

    The man I was involved in always targeted successful women. But since he also knew me in high school, he wanted to make sure that I was important or whatever after he left. (He transferred after his sophomore year). He kept asking me to bring my old senior high yearbook, and I kept saying, but you aren’t even in it….and later I realized why he wanted to see it, from the questions he asked. He wanted to make sure I was big enough “game” for him, the big game trophy hunter!

    It is a bit confusing, because I do believe that things we say or do CAN and DO change what they do. But NO MATTER WHAT WE DO, their reaction is based on their overwhelming need to control, exploit, to “win” (and they rewrite the game so they never lose, even sitting in prison), etc. And in that way, what we do, does NOT matter. A predatory animal cares what the prey does, and reacts, but the predatory animal’s ultimate goal for the prey remains the same…unless they get too tired and decide easier prey will come along tomorrow…or a bigger meal runs by at the moment!

    It is true that some psychopaths are more openly sadistic than others, some are more openly secretive, some are more openly controlling, some are more openly competitive, some like to toy with the victim, some prefer a quick kill, some lie carefully, some lie carelessly, some are into sex most of all, some are into power most of all, etc. ….but they all have exploitation on their mind.

  46. Claudia: I also concur they are EVIL to the core and fiber of their being. In a past conversation I called as he had just had his hair cut (I cant remember when a year back maybe) and he made the comment his hairdresser was “hot” and I said well there you go Fred, have at it, and he said No she is 25 just had a baby and is all in love with her husband and such, besides he further went on to say ” I am not going to mess with her because good hair dressers are hard to replace” now stop and think about that for a minute everyone and everything in their life is the object of predation but ONLY if it benefits them. So I remember saying to him, gee Fred you can always replace your hair cutter but your adoptive cousin you could never replace, he thought that was so funny. I went on further to say, better not F–k your hairdresser over as you did me, he said, I never F—ed you over I have been very patient with you because I care about YOU. so I started to laugh and ding ding a light went off and I said PATIENT? What are you patiently waiting for Fred? For me to have orgies with you is THAT what you are saying, just how have you been patient with me? I said I have been patient with you as well for all these years wondering why you are still living with someone you said you had nothing in common with – you two must have gone to boyfriend and girlfriend couple counseling huh since those early promises you made with me. He then said something to the effect and I cant remember but it will a comment that gave me a clear impression that the relationship with the GF was NOT what it appeared to be He laughed when I mentioned their relationship as if it was a joke. So there you have it, he actually believes he NEVER did me an injustice and said he was actually very nice to me – I mean you have got to be kidding – this is why I KNOW better than to ever try and tell him what he did to my life he would just laugh I know if his GF died tomorrow in an accident I woud NOT be her replacement for he does not really need her and he ‘never needed or wanted me – he is an EVIL, SICK man that “waited patiently” for me to consent to watching other men RAPE me as he watched my dignity and self being degraded and myself being destroyed. THIS IS WHAT HE PATIENTLY has been waiting for and this is what he shall NEVER EVER GET. EVIL TO THE CORE to ALL THOSE in their life!! Linda

  47. Gary,

    I bet if you think back, you’ll notice the red flags that you missed. Even traits are extremely toxic. I wonder now, given what my therapist said about borderlines, if it’s not just a fancy way of labeling or diagnosing women psychopaths in this way. I’m not sure if one can have “just a little bit” of toxicity. It’s either there or it’s not. Perhaps your ex was able to manipulate you better or you were in denial about her behavior, which is also very common.

    My son is starting to date now. We talked about this very thing tonight. He’s been listening to the Thomas Sheridan videos with me and we’ve talked about psychopathic behavior. He’s very familiar with this and I hope it keeps him as safe as is possible, but we talked specifically about love bombing and some what if scenarios should he encounter this. He admitted that it would be REALLY hard to turn off love bombing, even though he knows what it is!

    I truly believe that the idealization stage is the most incredibly dangerous of all. This is why public education is so critical. I wonder, have any of you actually sat and tried to IMAGINE what it would be like to think like they do during the luring phase? It’s basically FAKING how you feel about someone when they’re you’re target, you’ll have sex with them when you feel nothing, you’ll lie and manipulate and not feel ANY guilt whatsoever. You’ll watch this person fall for you and you’ll jump up and down with GLEE that they’re buying your bullshit. That is so SICK! And a lot of them can do it to more than ONE person at a time!!!

    Think of what it might be like without conscience. when thought of in that way, it helps me to accept it more and more. It was fake. All of it. If I have any good thought of him and us, I’m now replacing it with “It wasn’t real, NONE of it. The good or the bad”. Like Linda had mentioned before under another article.

    Susan I do think you’re right, despite traits that are across the board with all of them, they ARE HUMAN (flesh and blood) and work from different angles, but it doesn’t make them less psychopathic. I appreciate you’re saying that as it helps me much. I have found out that part of my struggle in being stuck is “Well yea, but he wasn’t really a sexual predator”… maybe not like some of yours here, but he LOVED having control over ONE woman. HE LOVED IT. He loved isolating her (He lives in the middle of nowhere), and making it difficult for her to WANT to have family and friends over. When my ex’s ex wife had people over, he rarely sat and visited for long. He made sure SHE was uncomfortable…….enough not to invite people over. He liked it that way. He didn’t want anyone to know how he was treating her. The code of silence is one that infiltrates his family, that I suspect are also psychopaths. Anyway, you’ve illustrated such a good and important point, because it doesn’t matter. He was a psychopath, even if he didn’t do what was “typical” in what other sexual predators do. He’s still a psychopath. And I’m finding healing here as well as in other places where I read or listen to videos or reading. Thanks for putting that piece of the puzzle out there Susan. I appreciate it. I find healing in that. Kelli

  48. Gary, Michael will argue in his book, I think quite convincingly, that psychopathy is at the foundation of BPD. But it’s true that BPD also includes some genuine depressive states, which can evoke sympathy. About psychopathy, the truth is not in the middle though. It’s as crystal clear as it gets. It’s very difficult for people to accept that evil exists and even harder that it has a psychological (rather than metaphysical) foundation. But that is the sad reality. Claudia

  49. Susan and Kelli, just because we’re being love bombed doesn’t mean that psychopaths can love. As you state, for psychopaths, the love bombing is a mode of conquest and acquiring instant power and instant gratification with a new target. That’s why it’s often so fast-paced, a whirlwind romance as they say, before either person can really know or love the other. It’s also a phase of maximum deception. That’s how a psychopath shows he wants you: he invests energy in lying to you and hiding the seedy elements of his life and his true intentions. When he doesn’t want you much anymore, then he doesn’t bother as much with the mask and that’s how you can see him for who he really is (and was all along).

    Speaking of isolation, Kelli, a psychopath isolates his victims from beginning to end. But even this has a false “positive” manifestation in the beginning: that he loves and wants you so much that he wants to spend all his time around you. That you shouldn’t go out with family or friends because he misses you too much. That you shouldn’t waste so much time on professional goals when the relationship with him is so much more important. Then, once the luring phase is over, the love rhetoric changes to what it was all along: a form of stalking, isolation and control. It never had anything to do with love; it was always about his need to have total power over you and to monitor your every move. Claudia

  50. Claudia,

    I know all of these things already. Even when I didn’t live with mine, he was “successful” in that he had ALL of my focus, day in and day out. He had total control. They can even do it from a distance.

    I see that happening now with wife 3. Total isolation, whirlwind romance and instant marriage. I feel so sorry for her. Something is so wrong when you marry someone you met off a dating site within five months of dating. But that’s what they do. It’s sad because there are soooooooooooooooo many targets that are willing to buy into the mask. They are so good at what they do. I just wish there was a way to get the word out more, but I’m glad that we’re finally seeing an elevation in psychopathy education, and hearing it discussed in midstream media too. I hope it takes off. The more authors, information, discussion, the more likelihood of education and less victims. It’s’ so important, because I believe now that it’s the initial idealization that is so incredibly dangerous and the hardest to accept when it’s over, that it meant nothing to the psychopath and none of it was real. It’s hard because we so want to believe that there was even a CRUMB of something good, when there wasn’t at all. If public awareness is aroused in this way about the idealization phase and love bombing, many lives might be spared or saved from these predators. Kelli

  51. OOPS! LOL! I meant mainstream media UGH!

  52. Kelli, unfortunately even those crumbs we wanted to believe were good are toxic. The most toxic, perhaps. Because that’s how they lure victims: with the tools of the idealization phase (romance, sensuality, lots of sex, flattery, gifts, spending all your time together, mirroring you, acting like your soulmate, making promises about everything you’ve ever wanted, etc). The hook of this fake idealization phase is the most dangerous, because that’s what gets into you the deepest, to gut you out, if you don’t somehow wiggle free (wounds, scars and all). Escaping the psychopathic bond is, in the most literal sense, a fight for our lives. Claudia

  53. Linda, what a tell! Saying that he won’t prey on his hairdresser because she’s not expendable. He couldn’t have been more explicit about his MO. Because, obviously, this implies that the women he “messes” with are expendable! That’s definitely how psychopaths think, only they also calculate about levels of using and disposability: how much effort should they invest in the lies and hiding their real selves. How much is each target they want to use worth the effort? Do they want to use her for the short term or the long term? Is she disposable now, or in a few months or years? They adjust their masks accordingly. Claudia

  54. Claudia and all; Your story is truly shocking Claudia. If, as some of the above posts demonstrate, the behaviours are so many and varied, some sexual predation / perversion, others not, can lead us into confusion. do we have a tendency to think “my partner didnt do that so maybe I’m wrong about them” become part of the mix of confusion. I wonder if, although all our storys describe awful and destructive behaviours; there is a more useful way to cut through the confusion that goes beyond comparing behaviours? Any thoughts?

  55. Michael,

    You ask a very, VERY good question. I say that because what had me stuck is the element of sexual predation that most psychopaths have. Claudia’s ex was quite extreme. I don’t think that’s as common with psychopaths. Her ex is like the Ted Bundy of sexual predation. 🙂
    But others here, like Linda, whose ex’s were sexual predators, wanting threesomes and such, was not like my ex at all. I think mine preferred triangulations. The Madonna/Whore complex. I was targeted because he was already bored and withholding in his marriage. Mine was a bit weird in that I always felt that sex was just a tool he used to manipulate that he didn’t really enjoy it. He would often say that he had sex with his wife on occasion to “maintenance” her or rather as maintenance chore. We watched a porn movie once and it bored me to tears. He had no reaction to it. Sex with him was about novelty. And his “novelty” wasn’t anything like I’ve read here. THis caused me to believe that he was not a psychopath because this is apparently one of the most glaring features. This is where the confusion came for me and being so stuck. So I had to think about it more. Other than the sexual part of it, WAS he a psychopath? Yep, and a VERY covert one at that. He hid well and continues to hide well. His behaviors were psychopathic to the max, no guilt, no remorse, no empathy. Mindfucking, twisting language, blamed me for everything. Was the victim in ever marriage and and even at work. ALWAYS the victim. He was mean, berating, gave me the silent treatment, treated me as an object, say one thing, do another. Hurt me on purpose or provoke me to get a reaction to which he would enjoy to the point of wanting sex once he knew he hurt me. I believe my pain turned him on, validated him. The ease to which he moved on and married, all with a new presented persona to his new target, nothing like he professed to be before. Susan made such a valuable point yesterday. They are individuals even though they share the same traits. Some are manifested differently. I believe my ex was not as sexually predatory because sex for him, was about novelty. He would get bored with it after a time. he was more cerebral than a sexual predator. This, I believe is more a reflection of his background which was extremely religious, and fed into the Madonna/Whore complex. I believe once he marries and after a time, he has difficulty having sex once the mask slips. There are many psychopaths who are infamous for withholding sex as a weapon or just as disinterest. I believe it is at this point, when the novelty and idealization wear off, that mine goes looking elsewhere. Either way, he was absolutely controlling, under the guise of “I just can’t get enough of you” Towards the end, his demands to see me and to revolve my life totally around him, were so overwhelming I couldn’t take anymore.

    So just because a psychopath doesn’t show a trait or two or doesn’t do exactly what another extreme psychopath would do in say the sexual realm, DOES NOT mean they are NOT psychopathic.

    I see now how mine was incredibly dangerous. The psychological mindfucking was absolutely unreal. He was so fragmented, in language and in life, that it was easy to see that his neurons were not firing right. But what kept me stuck, was this idea that he could be faithful if he found the right woman, which is what he wanted me to believe. Perhaps that is partially true, at least for awhile, because mine enjoys dominating and destroying and controlling the one woman he is with. Then later, he likes to add another on when he gets bored with the one he has. I can see very clearly now, what my role was in the relationship and how it played out. He enjoyed every minute of my groveling to have him back. There was constantly the threat of the relationship being over if I didn’t do exactly what he wanted me to do. Last night I was reading Sandra’s book again. I read the brain portion of the book, where it talks about the psychopaths brain deficits. I really studied it and found that enormously helpful in tying the knots together. Despite whatever I see as a faux presentation, it is not real. Just like my relationship with him was never real.

    One of the things that is helping me to become clear too, Michael, is examining the idealization phase with a new set of eyes. Ones with clarity. IT has been the MOST painful to see, because it is true that there were red flags/banners waving all over the place. I ignored them. ALL psychopaths give some sort of red flag in the idealization phase and I think it’s important to really examine it against their traits to better understand what your ex did, how she did it, and why it is so difficult to wrap your mind around it. Writing it out helps me tremendously to see it for what it was.

    In conclusion, I think they ALL have observable traits that leaves no doubt about their psychopathy. Whether one is more sexual than another, makes no difference. the BASIC traits are what we look for. Lack of empathy, guilt, no remorse, shallow effect, pathological lying, manipulation. No conscience. and most importantly, the love bombing at the idealization phase.

    I have no problem using the concept of evil to describe these people. None. I believe it to be true. Kelli

  56. Given the wide range of behaviors that are discussed here in all of our experiences with these disordered people, the severity of the disorder varies significantly from story to story.

    I have had this discussion with my therapist a number of times and while the underlying result of my ex’s actions were extremely harmful to me and others, how do we know for sure beyond a shadow of a doubt that every moment of the relationship with the psychopath was systematically intended to harm us? How can we really get into their head and know what they were thinking?

    I do believe my ex did want to change his life yet he simply can’t. In the back of his mind he knows he can’t change yet he still enters into a relationship believing that “this time” it will be different. On one hand there is a deliberate intent to harm because he knows he will fail, yet at the same time he desperately wants what he can never seem to grasp.

    I recall him saying things like “I’m afraid I am going to hurt you” or “I will probably screw this up” setting the stage for himself to justify his actions because he “knows” he will inevitably fail.

    He was not outwardly sadistic or cruel as some of the other stories here portray, yet his behaviors were cruel and did cause inevitable harm. In the end when he left he said things like “I know you tried to help me”, “I have never been able to bond to anyone”‘, or “I tried to love you”.

    My therapist pointed out that the fact that when they confess to you that they never loved you or felt anything for you is not necessarily true. Some of them truly don’t know why they are deliberately defeating themselves and others.

    I do believe my ex was and still is in significant pain because of his inability to make this basic human connection. I have struggled with feeling sorry for him and being angry at the same time because “he knows he is unhealthy” yet he continues to expose others to his toxic behaviors.

    I believe some of the stories here do indicate extreme predatory behavior and are far more severe than what I experienced, and I feel empathy for those of you who have suffered. I have suffered too but believe it could have been far worse. I am lucky to be out of a very bad situation.

    As they saying goes your mileage may vary…


  57. Joanne and Kelli, there’s most definitely a spectrum of psychopathic personality disorder, as Robert Hare’s psychopathy test indicates. But the underlying predatory behavior, exploitative outlook, complete narcissism, incapacity to bond emotionally with others and lack of empathy are still there, across the entire spectrum of this dangerous personality disorder. Each of us has described this underlying pathology of the individuals we’ve dealt with. This is what has led each of us to research various personality disorders and end those toxic relationships.

    Granted, sexual predators, such as my ex, tend to be at the most extreme end of the spectrum, since they target others not only to exploit them, but also to degrade, hurt and enslave them. If you read Women Who Love Psychopaths, you see that a lot of the women surveyed for the book describe their (ex) partners as sexual predators with severe sadistic tendencies. Clearly not all psychopaths or personality disordered individuals are sexual predators and sadists. I had the great misfortune of falling prey to one of those, which are the worst kinds of psychopaths. Fortunately, however, it’s also what has given me the motivation to start this website and to write books that can help other victims of psychopaths. Had my ex not been so extremely deceptive, exploitative, sexually perverse and evil, I may have never looked up psychopathy or escaped from his clutches. Claudia

  58. Going back to PTSD, when I was involved with the p, I went to a psychiatrist (as opposed to a therapist). After he heard my history, he said I had had so much trauma in my life, that he was amazed I was not on medication and apparently didn’t need it. He was hugely insightful,but it took me a long time to follow his advice. I think if he had used the word psychopath I might have paid more attention. What he did say was that any more contact with the bad man, whether positive (in my mind) or negative, was going to be extremely dangerous to me. I didn’t listen for long.

    I DO have PTSD. Shortly after I got involved with the p, my intestines got blocked. Even barium for the tests could not get through. (They ordered a very thin barium that did go through.) My intestines were literally in knots. I had had problems before, but never this severe. I still can only eat about two grams of fiber at once, maximum. Which is to say, I can’t eat most things. And I used to get the runs everytime I thought about the p. And just before I went no contact, I was getting panic attacks thinking about him. That is when I knew it had to end.

    I startle easily. Certain things can take me right back to panic feelings. A p bombed our house when I was at home with my parents, and I was right against the wall that blew up. And our car on the other side of the wall blew up too. He had a military simulator on it to make it sound like an incoming bomb. So if I hear that sound, I panic inside.

    But for me, I figure I can live with the PTSD I have. I’m too busy having a great life to bother with it. And I’m very rural, so it is expensive and time consuming to go for treatment, 2 hour drive, gas, the therapy bill, 2 hour drive home, ugh. I don’t want to give that much over to dealing with the past. I’m very happy, just a little jumpy. 🙂

  59. Susan, like I said before, you’re an inspiration in how you’ve dealt with all the disordered individuals from your past and how you’ve overcome so many challenges in life. I think you have the right attitude. We all heal at different speeds from the pathological relationships and their damage. But the goal for all of us is to heal as well and as much as possible: and hopefully to contribute to healing others in our position as well. There’s no point in wallowing in misery; but if we can help others and make something constructive out of such otherwise negative experiences, then we should. Claudia

  60. Amen!

    Thank you, but I don’t FEEL inspirational, probably because I’m well aware of all the slips and slides on the way. 🙂 There were plenty of times when I was the poster child for the perfect psychopath target. But if you are determined to heal, you will keep getting better and better, and be a strong person who can’t be seduced by lies least not for long! Living your life from a strong inner core, instead of being influenced so much by what others think of you, and knowing what you will and will not tolerate, no matter the consequences, is I think key. And also just realizing there are people out there who want to exploit you, and being on the watch for them.

  61. Sorry for all the posts! I just wanted to add that also key is making sure you are in touch with your needs and that you are addressing those needs, AND counting your blessings. Figure out what the p was offering that was so irresistible to you. If it was love, find lots of ways to put love into your life. There are so many willing to love…people in nursing homes, animals in sanctuaries and shelters, children with disabilities….the list could go on and on.

    I hate to admit it, now that I know about psychopaths, but my husband and I got married very quickly (mailed out the wedding invitations 2 weeks after our first date, were married in another 3 weeks) and really didn’t know each other. It forced us both to grow.

    But here is how it was different than with a psychopath.There was no love bombing.The most romantic thing he ever said before we were married was “I guess by now you know I love you.” We didn’t even kiss on our first couple of dates, and hardly had time for sex before we were married! He didn’t sweep me off my feet, rather I felt he had all the best qualities I had ever seen in my friends, all in one person.

    One thing that really sold me was when a pit bull was snarling at him, and he said, “oh, he does that every time I go by, he’s very cute”. Plus, once his bike was stolen and while he went to report it, he left his stuff with me, and not having good ethics about boundaries at the time, I looked in his notebook. I saw where he had his current budget, and how he was going to sacrifice to have enough money to help me, because he could see I needed to leave home. I had no idea he was thinking of that.

    Of course instead we ended up getting married, (and I later confessed about peeking in the notebook) and neither of us can quite remember how the marriage came about, because neither of us proposed,and there was no engagement ring.Somehow we both just started talking about how soon we could order the invitations.

    All I know was that this was the first man who I didn’t care WHAT he became, because WHO he was…his values and morals and character….were just the qualities I admire most.

    NOW, I would NOT get married fast like that. I lucked out. But even a very fast marriage is WAY DIFFERENT than the luring phase of a psychopath!

  62. Susan, all this is very good advice. The bottom line is: character matters most in marriage, love, friendship and any intimate relationship. Without character–respecting each other, caring about each other and treating each other well–you’ve got nothing. That’s the biggest lesson I learned as well from this disaster. Claudia

  63. All, very interesting and illuminating answers to my question. I agree first off that we cannot know what was going on in anyones mind at all points and at all times; also I think Kelli you get very close to the truth of the matter that what we are looking at is a divergence of behaviours; the underlying traits are there – lack of empathy and so on, and even most of the traits on Hares checklist (I would like to see hares checklist evolve in the sense that he removes recidivism, and invovement with the judicial system in order to break the assoiciation with criminality and the psychopathic persnonality construct; it is confusing and misleading. If you see Cleckleys original criteria, and read the mask of sanity, his findings are consistent with Cluster b traits, nor does he mention involvement with the judicial system. This association occured as a natural by product of sample bias, i.e. those psychopaths who were incarcerated. Is is an important consideration, but unfortunately in my view it has contaminated and clouded the understanding of psychopathic personality disorder.
    Harm ranges from emotional, psychological, finacial, to even lethality as we know; but i believe it is the first two that are the most common.
    Claudia again your exes core traits gave rise to the most repugnant of depravity; that provide testimony to your strength to pull through your trauma. Linda my ex was very much like yours in the respect of what you share. We could debate to the end of time whether they had harm planned from day one al la Bond villainesque, or they decided to stalk our souls later or at some other point. The point is these relationships inevitably cause harm, always and without exception.

  64. Michael, Kelli and everyone, it seems like when we share notes and discuss things, we end up with significant common ground and a similar message: stay away from social predators–people with personality disorders–or you will be inevitably harmed. As for where we disagree–concerning the deliberate nature of psychopathic harm (be it opportunistic or well-planned out in advance)–we’ve all had an engaging and lively debate. I’ve gathered my main points and elaborated them into an article, which I’ll post on the blog soon. Claudia

  65. Michael,

    I think what prevents healing for many survivors of the psychopath is the belief that they were not targeted. it goes against and defies all that the psychopath does during the luring phase. This lack of acceptance, contributes to the continuing cog/dis, confusion and intrusive thoughts, rather the stench the psychopath left behind. This new belief of mine, the feeling of acceptance of it, is more freeing than I can say and has GREATLY reduced my cog/dis. I believe that hanging onto anything the psychopath did or said with regards to the idealization phase prevents true healing, because it is in fact, a form of denial that keeps us stuck and trapped. Evil does indeed exist and it’s intention is to harm, from the get go. It isn’t something that is mere happenstance AFTER the idealization phase, it is cruelly and manipulatively executed. Kelli

  66. Kelli; interesting and thoughtful point. But I am not suggesting that the harm a psychopath causes us is happenstance; whay i am saying is that it is inevitable. What i am also saying is that opening up for debate around our experiences and perceptions of the relationship, is helpful in bringing into focus the difference between the behaviours, and the dynamic. I struggled with my thoughts around the experience of the relationship, and I think it was functional of me to think she had evil intent; now I’m not saying she did not. I’m saying that part of the cog dis symptoms is that we engage in splitting; we cannot reconcile their behaviours and so we split them as all evil. again, I’m not saying that they are not evil; this issue of evil is an issue that cuts across religious, spiritual, and theological disciplines. They may plan from day one, or they may not; that is an issue I intend to explore in my book.
    What i would say is that this splitting reflex that is part of the cog dis symptoms we experience during the aftermath; can often be mistaken for BPD symptoms. All borderlines split, so do narcissists , and would you be suprised to learn that so do psychopaths?

  67. MIchael,

    I understand what you’re saying, however, the victims also need to split to live within the realms of the pathological relationship with all the contradictions and dichotomies the psychopath presents. The split that occurs in the aftermath is no less than what was also in the relationship and deciding, was he all good or all bad, the very dichotomy that plays out when dealing with them. I’m glad you are going to research this. In her book, Women Who Love Psychopaths, Sandra Brown states that women of various religious backgrounds or none at all, refer to the concept of the psychopath as a demon, Satan, Lucifer, what have you. It’s the concept of “Serious spiritual badness”. Spirituality does not need to be linked to a particular religion, dogma or concept. All of us with conscience have a human spirit within, and the psychopath attempts to destroy that spirit. A spiritual soul slayer if you will. As you know, the Cluster B has no conscience and is free from such guilt, remorse or reflection about spiritual badness, thus the fakery with high manipulation, exploitation and deception in the luring phase. This is why the personas are so effective. . They think there is nothing wrong with them. If this is what we believe that they do, then the underlying force of a psychopath is spiritual, emotional, psychological, sexual, financial, physical destruction. There is no good will on the part of the psychopath and his brain deficiencies outline this clearly. There is already scientific proof that his brain wiring, chemistry and circuitry are off.

    The psychopath uses his mask to deceptively lure us into the relationship. There is no other way to view his motives other than seriously purposeful in the destruction that he is about to do in a person’s life. In Sandra’s book it clearly states that psychopaths are emotional rewarded by the pain they cause and cannot, due to their brain functions, overlook a tempting potential for harm, the harm they cause can only be had through relationships. To see the psychopath for what he/she truly is and does from the onset, is to accept that ALL of the relationship was a lie. The idealization phase was created with the INTENT to harm.

    If someone lies to you, knowing they’re lying (and psychopaths know EXACTLY what they’re doing), changes their entire persona to match YOU, in every way, foregoing who he truly is, until the mask slips, this is serious spiritual badness. How can one say there is no intent to harm with all of that in place? You cannot.

    Choosing to view the psychopath as evil, which is what I choose to do, is accepting that the entire relationship was a complete fraud and I was targeted for such destruction. There is, I believe, an element of narcissism in all of us, and the Cluster B targets all of our GOOD qualities and maximizes and exploits them to a ridiculous degree. we all want someone to tell us we are the most attractive, the best in bed, a “soul mate” etc, but none of us is THAT great! LOL! Not to the degree that the psychopath mirrors us to be no less than PERFECT. He knows just what he’s doing (or she), and as has been said on other blogs, by different people in retrospect, from victims, is that the higher he takes you the harder you will fall. It’s a challenge to see if he can dupe you into believing his bullshit, MIchael. It is the same for a psychopathic woman as well. This is the KILL, the reason for the HUNT. And we do buy into it, don’t we? Never has a high been as it is during the luring phase. Like a drug we are INSTANTLY addicted and he/she knows that too, It is done with precision, malice and FORETHOUGHT.

    So in the aftermath, the cog/dis is just as much about ourselves as it is about the psychopath. WHAT? You mean I wasn’t THAT great after all? I couldn’t change him/her? then of course if he/she moves on rapidly, we suffer through the challenge of more cog/dis in that someone else will do better with him/her, etc. ALL of this, results from the idea that the psychopath is human and is capable of even a TINY bit of good, when he isn’t. And he won’t be. Again, this is the hardest of all concepts to heal from in the aftermath. He wasn’t different in his prior relationships, with me and not with the next and perhaps the next after that. I realize you understand the concept of inevitable harm. what about the concept of PREMEDITATED destruction. It doesn’t matter how different each relationship is, the psychopath is the same, always the same. It is the victims that change. Kelli

  68. All – What triggers my PTSD is the THOUGHT of being sexually intimate; I hope with time I can one day disassociate any thoughts of him sexually and view the path as a an extremely sexually deviated person, (which he is) I feel as if he was my pimp that conditioned me to be his sex slave for whatever future plans he had for me. He felt he was nice to me because he was “so patient” for me to give in to his sexual demands; I dont think it gets any sicker than that type of predatory thinking. The sexual Cog Dis is the WORST, we gave ourselves to someone who we thought was experiencing the same type of pleasure but I was only being primed and brainwashed to engage in his world of pimping as I like to call it. I believe a great deal of my PTSD is directly associated with rape; its been a struggle to remember the healthy views I once had on my sexuality because this man tried his best to destroy them. I dont know if I will ever be the same in this respect???? Linda

  69. Kelli, this is indeed true; it is one of the key symptoms of cognitive dissonance that is born out of trying to relate “normally” to someone who is grossly dichotamised, without any shade of grey. the relationship dynamic eventually leads to a perceptual and emotional rupture as we try to make sense of their spiralling contradictions.
    Re premeditated harm; I think we could easily become lost in a circular debate Kelli. Sheridan argues that “contrary to popular belief” the psychopath didnt not mean anything personal, “it was strictly buisness”, they just do what they do. This is not a position I agree with entirely; to be sure I dont know if there is a definitive answer to this question. What i do believe is that through a detailed deconstruction of the psychopath and the relationship dynamic we can shed some light on making sense of why we where traumatised. Maybe it is a combination; for example psychopaths lie with intent, it is premeditated; manipulation is also premeditated, does it depend on what their agenda is with you, it is, I believe a very complex issue.

  70. Michael, Kelli and Linda, I think that psychopaths do have a premeditated design to use people in specific and calculated ways from the moment they target them and get to know them a little. My ex even mentioned to me in one of our first conversations that he conducts a “cost-benefit analysis” of people as soon as he meets them. He told me I’d be a “high maintenance” investment (i.e. very time and energy consuming). Indeed! To seduce me he had to a lie a lot, hide pretty much everything about his evil designs and perverted ways from my field of vision for over a year, and give me constant attention. I can’t even count, Michael, the number of lies I discovered about this man. Almost everything he told me was a lie, and the only thing he said was an actual lie–namely, that he had told his parents for years that he worked at an escort service while in reality he had a decent professional job for a few years–turned out to be pretty much the only truth, given his frequent sexual activities with escorts. For many of his lies, there was no direct benefit for him other than making others uncomfortable and getting them to believe them. Psychopaths lie not just to manipulate you, but to change your perception of reality and unhinge your sense of what is true and what is false. For them, this is the ultimate power trip. He even told me, in case I ever exchanged notes with his wife–he thought his lies and mask way in advance–that his wife had been raped by a man who had the same first name as him. It turns out, as she told my husband a year later, that she had been raped by a man who had the same first name as him because that man was him! He had raped his wife, as he was threatening to rape me.

    If I went over each premeditated and each spur of the moment lie this man told me over the course of our relationship, we’d be doing the “writing cure” I did with my therapist. Going over one year of nothing but lies with only small grains of truth mixed in, as my ex would say,”for realism”, took me two years of therapy sessions. Being intimately involved with a psychopath and witnessing how he acts not just towards you, but also towards others he deceives before your eyes, gives us insight into the psychopathic mindset which supplements what we’ve read from books by experts.

    I’d also witness him tell elaborate lies to his wife while being with me–about being somewhere else with someone else, of course not cheating on her–which he made up on the spur of the moment. The lies were detailed and convincing. I asked him with dismay how he could lie so well and with such elaborate detail. And he answered he prefers to lie on the spot and to mix in the lies with some grain of truth, for realism. He said he lies better when he wings it than when he worries about what to say in advance.

    I think that a lot of psychopathic behavior is not long premeditated in advance, such as these lies and the lines they feed us. Glibness and charm, as you state Michael, come easily and naturally to the shallow psychopathic personality. They have predatory instincts by nature. But the overall design–namely to deceive, to hide who they are from us in order to use us for their selfish and malicious purposes, then to destroy and dump us–is premeditated. Whenever I caught my ex in a big and devastating lie, he’d laugh and say to me: if I had told you the truth from the beginning, you wouldn’t have fallen for me. This is why, Kelli and Linda, the sense of betrayal for the victims–and the PTSD–is so deep and long-lasting. We were stabbed in the back by someone who claimed to care about us and to love us deeply, and who faked that sentiment convincingly and fed us lie after lie for a long time, enough for us to truly believe it and base our lives on it. I think I will repost soon one of the posts I wrote on this subject, since the subject of psychopaths and deception is a rich and plentiful one, given how much they lie. Claudia

  71. One of the most interesting topics in this discussion is whether the psychopath behaves in a premeditated way, or as some people have put it, “is evil.” I believe that those like Thomas Sheridan who say “it’s their nature” or “it’s just business as usual” have completely misunderstood the very common “social predator” metaphor. Robert Hare generally avoids using the term, but does sometimes describe psychopaths as “intraspecies predators,” and that can be a very illuminating distinction.

    Consider the African savannah, where leopards like to prey on impala and gazelles. Although leopards are incredibly fast and agile (they can run up to 58 km/h), a gazelle can sustain 80 km/h and thus can easily outrun them. So the leopard relies on stealth and the factor of surprise, and is quite often successful in having gazelle for lunch. The leopard kills his prey quickly and humanely, ripping out its throat. Death is instantaneous and lunch follows shortly thereafter.

    Look closely at this situation; the gazelle knows she’s potential prey for the leopard, and the leopard does not try to fool the gazelle into thinking he’s her friend. Each animal knows where he or she stands. There is no deceit, no lying, no manipulation, no desire to use or need to harm. It’s all about lunch. Nothing more, nothing less, and the exact same situation repeats itself over the leopard’s lifespan.

    Compare this to our “intraspecies predator,” the psychopath. Although his patterns repeat themselves, he carefully tailors his approach and persona to each individual victim, while maintaining quite another “public” persona. Babiak/Hare’s “Snakes in Suits” has many examples of how corporate psychopaths engineer their upward ascent and design the demise of those who stand in their way. This is completely wilfull and pre-meditated — shall I say evil? — behaviour, specifically and knowingly tailored for each individual victim. …Julian.

  72. Julian, I agree with you. Predation, lying, mirroring the victims, luring them may come naturally to psychopaths and they can adapt quickly to a given situation. Incidentally, to my mind the fact that psychopaths can lie and manipulate us so glibly on the spot makes them worse and more dangerous rather than less so. However, overall, their targeting us, lying to us, manipulating us is part of a scheme taylor-made by the psychopaths for each victim in order to exploit and harm us, which takes them a lot of time and forethought. Both their spur-of-the-moment tactics and their long-term machinations cause the victims incredible harm and it’s intended to do so. If the term “evil” can’t be applied to these social predators and malicious schemers, then it has no meaning at all. Claudia

  73. Julian,

    EXCELLENT analogy and thank you for pointing out Hare’s position on the intraspecies predator insofar as the psychopath. While I really enjoy Thomas Sheridan and have learned much from his videos and soon hope to read his book, I do not agree with his assertion that for a psychopath it’s business as usual,at least in the way that it implies that the psychopath is not acting in a premeditated manner. Either way, Thomas still speaks to their destruction and harm and his trait list is very interesting. HIs perspective is from his experience and coming from observances and I think he’s quite insightful, but he is not coming from a professional perspective, it’s just another important viewpoint about psychopaths that is out of the closet now, so to speak, and informs the public about these predators. Thomas does refer to Hare’s assertion that psychopaths are intraspecies predators. Predation=premeditation.

    I personally had the “privilege” of watching my ex target his victims. he knew exactly what he wanted and exactly how he was going to get it. I was lucky enough to talk to his first target who rejected his advances, and it was very enlightening as he was still supposedly with me. He lied, he told the same exact stories he told me during the idealization phase, he portrayed himself as a victim of his second wife (but neglected to tell her about his first wife and subsequent signing off of parental rights with the first child), this list goes on and on. He also failed to mention his ten year relationship with me. I saw him change his religious affiliation with the wife he has now, as well as political affiliation. the lies are absolutely astounding and from what the first target told me, he lied with ease and had an arrogance and demanding demeanor about him. He also lacked boundaries which is a huge thing with my ex. After she told him no not interested, he KEPT TRYING. When he realized I had spoken with her, he was pissed, but easily moved onto the next target, who unfortunately was duped. If what I saw and heard was not premeditation, i don’t know what is. even the love bombing was directly textbook and meant to lure with a great deal of deception and he used his family to do it too. They are the accomplices in his games.
    Having said that Michael, I had a thought last night while studying the premeditated poses of the psychopath with regards to the idealization phase and why victims hang onto any glimmer of hope that any part of that was real: you already know my opinion in that the idealization phase is the most dangerous part and is part of the cog/dis experienced in the aftermath, the he’s/she’s all good or all bad stuff. On every blog I’ve been on, newbies and even those years out from their experience find that this stage is the most difficult to get through. How someone can purposely lie to you during the luring phase, have sex with you and have it ultimately mean nothing. The only way to get past it, is to understand what they psychopath is and what he/she does. To accept that the entire relationship is a fraud. Start to finish. It’s sad to see so many struggle so much (it’s anger provoking for me too at the pain and damage the psychopath creates for his victims), and feel so hopeless and downtrodden with all the cog/dis…..all a consequence of the idealization phase. As I read story after story last night, it occurred to me that accepting that the idealization stage was the biggest and most dangerous of lies, and that if the victim cannot “get” what a psychopath is and does, and has even a spark of any sort of fantasy that evil does not exist, or that there is good in everyone, they are walking targets for another experience with a psychopath. To really “get it” is to accept that evil exists in this world and in human form and it’s NOT pleasant and is to be avoided in the future. Many think that they are over the psychopath and yet walk right into another relationship with one. I believe part of this is the result of the morality system that our country teaches, even from a young age. we are all special, everyone is good and everyone deserves a chance. As we have all experienced, that is not so, and is more a utopian fantasy spun by society, churches, communities, charities, schools, etc. If one does not accept that the entirety of the psychopathic bond was a fraud and a fake, no matter how painful it is, the chance at full recovery is less likely and the more likely to be targeted again.

    I believe the most important part of education with regards to pathology and psychopaths will be about all the phases the psychopath puts us through, but with an emphasis on the idealization phase and what the psychopath DOES to lure his victims, education about premeditation and targeting. It would be amazing to see this followed up with something like a survivors panel who share their stories of run ins with psychopaths.

    Linda, The sexual part of the relationship with the psychopath, I believe is the most excrutiating part of the cog/dis. At least for me, for others its other things, but I understand what you’re saying. Our sexuality is a very vulnerable part of ourselves, but I also believe it’s the ultimate in a spiritual link to other and the “oneness” experienced in the sharing of that kind of bond. The deviancy and the objectifying by the psychopath, destroys our sexuality and our ability to bond with someone else later on in a sexual/spiritual sense. I no longer care much about sex at all. I still question my own sexuality as well as everything else. This is work that I need to do in therapy. I wonder if you’re seeing a therapist about this? Your psychopath was also extremely sexually deviant. I can’t think of anything more soul murdering than sexual exploitation and I think it’s one of the most severe of the abuses for women in the aftermath. Kelli

  74. Claudia, this is a very interesting thread; I think we are on to something here. There seems to be some confusion around exactly at what point their behaviour became premeditated. Did they plan our destruction from the onset, or did this emerge when we were devalued? You say- “I caught my ex in a big and devastating lie, he’d laugh and say to me: if I had told you the truth from the beginning, you wouldn’t have fallen for me.” My ex said something similar; she told me that she had been seperated from her previous partner for 9 months; when it was in fact 4 weeks. When I challenged her about this, she told me “it wouldnt have looked good if i had told you the truth”!
    Psychopaths jig and tweek reality around when it comes to the emotional realm and their unsavoury behaviour.
    Julian I love your david attenborough approach.

  75. Michael, to my mind the fact that psychopaths premeditate far in advance their overall exploitation of others and the fact that they wing it or “play it by ear” (as my ex used to say) in the lies they feed us on a daily basis is NOT at all a contradiction. They are clearly BOTH tactical (spur-of-the-moment) and strategic (long term, calculated) schemers and liars. In fact, it’s the combination of the two (local tactics/adaptation to us and overall strategy of deception) that makes them so effective in duping us and so dangerous as the “intraspecies predators,” as Robert Hare (and Julian) have aptly stated. I’m going to post next a few more articles about this subject, since I think it’s worth exploring in greater depth. As Linda stated, if we hurt so badly for so many years (PTSD), it’s because of the illusion psychopaths have created to mask an underlying total fraud. Claudia

  76. Michael,

    I would like to ask you a pointed questions. Forgive me if this feels insulting to what is so blatantly obvious to me, but what is your struggle with the reality that psychopaths premeditate their actions while targeting their victims? Is this a personal struggle for you in coming to terms with your relationship?

    there is no confusion at all for me, as to when the premeditation begins, as well as the tactics used during the luring phase for the “kill”. This is why victims are referred to initially, as targets.

    I don’t understand where your struggle is with this? Kelli

  77. Claudia,

    Very well stated. Kelli

  78. Kelli, thanks, and I too have watched Thomas Sheridan’s YouTube videos and found them useful. I’ve recently read “Without Conscience” and I’m now about 60% of the way through “Snakes in Suits” and I really wish I had read the “expert” books before some of the free stuff on the Internet. Hare has nearly 40 years of experience with psychopaths (and was recently inducted into the Order of Canada for his lifelong contributions to the study of psychopathy) and his work is very much worth reading.

    One of the most surprising things mentioned in “Without Conscience” is that psychopaths among us are FAR, FAR more dangerous than those incarcerated in the prison system (and this is coming from someone with extensive experience with criminals!). Hare argues that convicted psychopaths are actually failures who could not ply their trade effectively enough and thus got caught. This flies in the face of nearly everything we read on the internet, where almost everyone implies that everyday-life psychopaths are merely “watered-down versions” of criminal psychopaths. No, the psychopaths among us are far more dangerous because they’re so good at what they do that they might never get caught.

    Regarding “evil,” here is the definition from my iPad WordBook app:

    1. morally objectionable behavior
    2. that which causes harm or destruction or misfortune
    3. the quality of being morally wrong in principle or practice

    Kelli, I’d say you were right all along that psychopaths are indeed evil.

    Michael, thanks for the David Attenborough compliment. I think we should be careful with analogies and metaphors; they can be very useful to a point, but sometimes we push them a little too far and fail to see why they’re not appropriate any more. In this case, some people think predator = on autopilot = not responsible for their actions. Whoooah!

    Regarding where their behaviour becomes premeditated, I think Claudia’s explanation that they use a combination of off-the-cuff tactics and premeditated strategies rings true with my own experience. I would think that they cannot premeditate a response to every possible situation, and sometimes just blurt something out almost automatically.

    I’m thinking that replacing the word “premeditated” with “masked” might help in many situations. We know that it takes a lot of energy to maintain the mask (i.e. premeditated behaviour) but sometimes the mask slips. For example, when I told my ex that I was about to lose my job, she blurted out “How are you going to pay the rent?” Ooops, she forgot to premeditate that one and inadvertently let it slip that all she cared about was my money.

    I would consider the psychopath’s public persona to be a good example of “automatic” (non-premeditated) behaviour. They’ve been wearing that mask for years, and it has become so polished that it becomes second nature. …Julian.

  79. Lesley,

    I’m sorry I missed your post here. Part of understanding the psychopath, again, is that nothing was real. I think it’s really difficult not to assign normal traits onto extremely abnormal behavior, even during the luring phase. Psychopaths do not “want” in the sense that we would understand want. I think the sentence reads like this “I believe the psychopath wanted SOMETHING from me”. Yep, he sure did and that’s why you were a target. They don’t think they’re in love, that’s what they will tell you, but they KNOW they are not. To break this up a bit, to a psychopath, you”re a new “toy”, a new “target”. Part of what the psychopath loves is that he can dupe you into believing he loves you, when it’s anything further from the truth. What we perceive as love in the beginning from the psychopath or want, is really the addictive high that they get when they know they have HOOKED you. To them, we all look like idiots. Love in the real sense, does not begin the way a psychopath idealizes us. At least not a healthy love.

    I’m completely convinced that for some reasons, survivors need to believe, in some small way that what we felt in the beginning was real. It was not. If you really think about it, as you state further into the relationship, why would someone who claimed to love you, when you’re finally hooked (which with a psychopath, the sooner the better) would they repeatedly hurt you doing the same things over and over. The idealization phase causes an immediate addiction within the victims and the psychopath knows this too. This is what makes them so dangerous and the idealization so hard to accept for the fraud it was. Kelli

  80. Julian, good point about how assuming various false personas and lying becomes second nature for psychopaths, so they do it more easily and naturally each time, with each victim. Same logic applies to their luring or seduction techniques: which they practice, as we know, on so many victims. With each victim it gets easier and smoother for them. As they say, practice make perfect: in this case, perfect evil! Claudia

  81. Julian,

    I’m so glad you posted the definitions of evil as I was looking them up! Your post is excellent, I think Claudia is correct in that it’s a combo pack with regards to the targeting. From what you’ve written, we could go into the smaller premeditated issues for which the mask slips. Some struggle with the mask issue, premeditation and tactics seals the deal.

    If you can get through the scientific writing approach of Robert Hare, his books are excellent and he is clear about the psychopath as an interspecies predator. I completely agree with you that psychopaths undetected in society are the most dangerous, thus a dire need for public education.

    It is so frustrating to see survivors struggling with the idealization phase, that in some way it was real. Or we skip the idealization phase because the fakery is too painful to face, as if the devaluation is somehow less painful. Attributing normal characteristics to any extent to a psychopath, is in itself denial and dangerous. I believe this makes it impossible to move beyond the cog/dis and intrustive thoughts many survivors struggle through. It’s across the board. They key to healing, as Sandra Brown also mentions in her articles and book is to accept ALL of it, not just part, in that the psychopaths intentions were premeditated and FAKE the entire relationship. that’s what it is to “get it” about pathology. It’s incredibly dangerous. You are SO RIGHT about how they are much more dangerous when not caught. Kelli

  82. I think that a lot of psychopathic behavior is not long premeditated in advance, such as these lies and the lines they feed us.

    Claudia: I am not so sure about that? Mine actually waited until one of my parents died before he went in for the kill. After my father died he wanted to get together whenever I cam into town to care for my mother in the nursing home but I NEVER CALLED him -6 months later my mother died he was THERE at the funeral and he went after me FULL FORCE, he QUICKLY established the lure of the promise and future with him THE DAY BEFORE HER FUNERAL!!! He wanted to get me ALONE before my family arrived for the funeral knowing he would not get another chance to do this, he even said I wish I had one more day with you before your family comes up, (ya I bet he did to further reinforce that deadly illusion) I asked my counselor once as I was crying hysterically, “why did he do this to me, I have never done anything to him in all the years I knew him WHY ME? of course I didnt fully grasp the behavior of a path at that time and I like to share with this group what my counselor said because he was quite and expert on this behavior; ” Linda, you got away from him 25 years ago but then he was a young, not as skilled path his techniques were not as polished as they are now, you also had ALOT of support groups in your life, your mom and dad were still living and he KNEW (being adoptive cousins and all) that you would tell your parents if he hurt you in the way he did today, too many risks for him he was not able to conquer and divide and isolate you so he moved on and LET you go, let me repeat that, HE LET YOU GO. He went on further to say; his capture of you was most likely the most exciting capture he has had on prey in YEARS, you were a HUGE catch for him the circumstances were perfect; parents gone, abusive marriage, children grown leading their own lives, you had very little support group to fall back on – this man was so calculating in his thinking that when he heard your father died and your mother was in grave condition, he seized the opportunity. They can wait patiently for YEARS he told me for a particular target and they can do this because they have so many others they are juggling constantly, keeping the prize and new victim in close range or keeping tabs on them. He probably was looking forward to raping from the moment your father died and just waited patiently for the opportunity and when the time was right.

    Sorry this is so long … So clearly his predation of me I would say was calculated and planned out on his part for a LONG time. If not then WHY did he appear AFTER my parents died? Where was he in all those years in between? Strange coincidence eh? Wanted to make sure my parents and his parents would be out of the picture, less problems, and I wager to say he heard thru my mother that my marriage was NOT a happy one. They are very careful in selecting their long term targets, I had a bit more value than his hairdresser I would say. ha Still though there are things to this day that still SHOCK me; when he paid his respects at my parents funerals and expressed how much I mourned their passing NONE of that meant ANYTHING to him, he was NEVER there to pay his respects he was there for one purpose only – FOR ME – my own children who were 18 and 16 at the time came up to me at the funeral and said, Mom who is that man over there that keeps staring at you, he has not taken his eyes off you the entire time, “he is kinda creepy” those were their exact words – I told him that is my adoptive cousin – then my husband came up to me and said your cousin just asked me if you are going to inherit all your parents assets – W H A T? WHO ASKS those kinds of questions at a funeral? My husband was rather shocked and said, I dont know the details of the inheritance but since she is their only child most likely, you would have to ask my wife. I think my children saw the predatory stare of a psychopath that day in the flesh!!! There are certain oddities about them I dont think they can entirely hide but I was so distraught during this time I didnt think too much of it. I just wanted to share with everyone the predatory skills of this path. He played his part very well didnt he? paid his respects, acted like the concerned cousin and personally assessed some things in his observations I am sure. Told me “boy Linda you have some pretty good looking siblings there” sure more fresh meat for you to sniff out I thought. So Claudia I DO BELIEVE his predation of me was thought out in advance, maybe not years but many many many months. What a SMART predator planned his rape of my life so it didnt appear to be emotional and physical rape- but it was, and this is exactly why the SMART ones get away with it. Linda

  83. I’m starting to develop a theory. From my experience, I do not beleive my ex set a goal per say to destroy me from the beginning. Being a new student of psychopathy I’m wondering if in the beginning of the relationship they are somewhat sincere. They know what their past holds and look to us as a chance for a new start. Being they do not have a self they do not understand human nature. They know their past. They know what they have done. They feel they cant be honest about their past because of their inability to understand human nature. They do not understand that normal people can be understanding, compassionate and willing to help. Their personality is based on previous encounters with normal people they have mirrored, bits pieces of them have been stole to give themselves what they would call a personality. Of course we all have different personalities. So as the relationship progresses the psychopath uses up the bits and pieces of what they call a personality. they begin to feel left on an island, everything is used up. They begin to feel threatened once again by their emptiness. their natural reflex is to panic, Some may use sex at first. Some may start to devalue and blame you for tapping out their delusional personality..Their emptiness one again overwhelms them, they feel they need to run to the next new start adding bits and pieces of you to their ever expanding personality portfolio. I feel I’m starting to ramble its hard for me to type fast enough to keep up with my thoughts. Dont know if this makes sense I’m starting to think their whole life is based on covering up their mistakes with lies. never taking ownership. Its easier for them to run when cornered than to deal with solutions. I don’t know could a lack of self and never ending search for be steeling their empathy, conscience and ability to love. A form of OCD. Sorry if this doesn’t make sense, need to learn to type faster but wanted to put it out there.

  84. Linda, many many months in advance is very premeditated. But really, as I’ve stated, psychopaths engage in a combination of spur-of-the-moment tactical moves and long-term, well calculated strategic moves to get us. Why does it matter what is the combination of these two kind of moves? Both are predatory in style and malicious in intent. Claudia

  85. Gary, first of all you are not rambling at all and what you say makes a lot of sense. As I asked Linda, I don’t understand why it matters to victims which of the psychopath’s moves to conquer and harm them are premeditated long in advance and which are decided tactically, on the spur-of-the-moment. I notice that this seems to matter a lot to Michael and you, as if somehow if there is less premeditation involved it makes the process less harmful and the psychopath less culpable. To my mind, it’s the combination of plotting some things long in advance and knowing how to react to our moves and manipulate us very well in the moment that makes psychopaths such effective social predators.

    It’s like in war. Leaders of battles that make great overall strategies in advance but can’t react well, to their advantage, during the heat of battle aren’t as effective or likely to win as those that can do BOTH immediate tactics and well planned out strategies. Psychopaths are constantly at war with others. They consider us BOTH their tools or dupes (to be used for their purposes) and their adversaries. They’re out to take maximum advantage of each victim. You and Michael have said that often they believe their own lies and get caught up in the passion of the act. True. But that’s only because they lie so much and adopt so many phony personas, that both deception and masks become natural to them. As Julian indicated, lying and hiding seedy aspects of their lives becomes second nature.

    In addition, psychopaths place NO value upon truth and falsehood. Both are used to serve their purposes; to get them what they want in life. And what they ultimately want is control over others. This control is extremely exciting to them in the beginning of their relationships. It’s new, it’s a rush of power. This isn’t the same thing as a rush of love, even if it can have the same symptoms of arousal. We initially mistake their arousal for falling in love, or desiring us, rather than what it is: the predator’s thrill at luring and catching a new prey. It is so hard to believe that everything about a psychopath is a complete sham that for a long time we try to hold on to some of the “good” memories of the honeymoon phase. However, I’ve come to believe that what is a honeymoon phase (of real love) for us is just the thrill of a new conquest for them. That’s why their excitement subsides so quickly and suddenly after they conquer us and is replaced with a sadistic pleasure in dominating us or, if we’re lucky, with cold indifference. Claudia

  86. Claudia,

    I think I’ve come up on something here as there seems to be a pattern evolving between the men’s experience of women psychopaths vs. women’s experience of psychopaths. I was watching a movie about psychopaths last night. It just dawned on me that they present the female psychopath, with her targeting, as being much more FRAGILE and doing very much the pity play. They’re DIFFERENT in that way than male psychopaths. Women psychopaths also use SEX as the lure. So do males, but the way the female psychopath does, it is in a far more sensual manner, designed to appeal to the male sexuality in general, but overall the premeditation is the same, as it is with the pity play but WORSE.

    This sucks good men instantly. This may be why Michael and gary struggle with the reality that the idealization was as fake as the day is long. The TACTICS are DIFFERENT, but the MOTIVES are the same, as is the premeditation.

    I’ll see if I can’t post the movie link.

    This makes perfect sense to me. Kelli

  87. Kelli and everyone, there may, indeed, be some gender differences. For me, everything became so much clearer when I saw how suddenly the psychopath started being cold and even cruel to me as soon as I asked my husband to divorce so I can be with him. The switch from Jekyll to Hyde was so sudden and radical, after a whole year of romantic luring, that it became clear that it was the conquest that turned him on, not me, not our love. Sometimes I can describe things more clearly or at least with more emotional nuance in my fiction. At any rate, I’ve described this switch from romantic lover to cold-hearted predator in my upcoming novel, The Seducer. Here’s a passage from it, which addresses from a fictional perspective the subjects we’ve been debating on this thread:

    “Yet as she drove back home, Ana couldn’t help but dwell upon Michael’s earlier comment, about dancing for free. It sounded analogous to the popular saying, why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free, which seemed to sum up her lover’s reaction to her news. It also reminded her of a scene she witnessed quite often at the beach, where a man sucks in his stomach when a pretty young woman walks by, only to let it go back to its natural beer gut in front of his own good old wife. Before Ana had been the girlfriend to impress. But now she had become the future wife in front of whom Michael could let all his flaws hang out, his flabby selfishness and unbecoming stinginess. Above all, it was the suddenness of his transformation that made her feel uneasy.
    Ana recalled how one day, early into their relationship, Michael had described to her his game-like attitude towards one-night stands. Before he scored, he explained, all of his energy was focused on seducing a given woman. But after he had sex with her, he lost all interest and didn’t “waste” an ounce of energy on pleasing her anymore. One anecdote stuck out in Ana’s mind. Michael had told her about his date with a girl with wavy, auburn hair whom he had picked up at a bar and invited to a movie. It took him more than half the movie to coax her gradually, kiss by kiss and caress by caress, into eliminating the divide between them, crouch unto his lap in the back row of the movie theater and make love, in the blend of semi-obscurity and public display that never failed to arouse him. But as soon as they consummated the act, Michael disconnected. When the girl tried to caress him again, he moved her hand away with the impatience with which one swats off an annoying fly. Once his sexual desire was satisfied, he wanted to watch in peace the rest of the movie. “But how can you switch just like that, from charming and seductive to cold and disinterested, in a matter of seconds?” Ana had asked him. “Because I was done with her,” he replied with a shrug. “And didn’t you ever become attached, you know, because of the sexual intimacy, to any of the women you dated?” she pursued. “To those sluts? No freaking way! I just used them and tossed them away like a bunch of dirty condoms. Back then, before we met, it was all about the scoring, Baby!” he boasted with an air of smugness that bordered on cruelty.
    In some ways, this episode reminded Ana of how Michael had acted with Karen. Although his relationship with his fiancée had been more serious, a similar pattern of behavior emerged. Once Michael decided he was done with a woman, her needs, her actions and her entire personhood no longer mattered to him. Initially, Ana had felt a certain pride that her lover had placed her in a different category of women, since he had often told her that he had never loved anyone so passionately or needed anyone as much as her. She was the exception that confirmed the rule, he had repeatedly assured her. No doubt, part of her enjoyed the challenge of taming a man who had been so wild with every other woman in his life.
    Yet now that she had observed her lover’s reaction to the news that she’d finally become his partner, Ana began to wonder if she, herself, wasn’t just a score for him. A different kind of score, a seduction of body, mind and soul. One that took more time, energy and patience, but with the same inevitable end result. Once he had won the match, Michael would move on to the next challenge. This idea greatly perturbed Ana, hitting too close to her husband’s warning. For that very reason, she tried to dismiss it. Michael loves me, she told herself. He wooed me for months. He gave me all of his attention and affection. He promised to take care of me and the kids.
    By the end of this rehearsal of Michael’s loving words and gestures, Ana felt somewhat pacified. But a trace of distrust towards her lover lingered. She was now on the alert for any future warning signals. Because she knew that when he was really interested in a woman, his focus on her and on everything associated with her was total and intense. It resembled a powerful beam of light that illuminated only one spot at a time. For almost a year, Ana had been that spot.
    But now she began to wonder for how long she’d continue to attract his undivided attention. Because once Michael’s interest diminished, the light dispersed. Afterwards, there was no energy left in the relationship, except perhaps for the unreciprocated, desperate efforts of a discarded partner: which is to say, a total waste of energy. Emotions poured into a black hole. Although Michael may not have been honest with anybody else, Ana sensed, he always remained true to himself. He lied disturbingly well, with an uncanny glibness and ease. But he was much too selfish and, in that sense, much too honest, about his own needs to convincingly fake interest in someone else. Which is why, despite his seductiveness, deceitfulness and charm, Michael was actually quite transparent if you were willing to open your eyes and take a good look at him. And once you did, you saw the man Ana was beginning to see. You saw the seducer.” (The Seducer, copyright Claudia Moscovici, 2011)

  88. Claudia: I agree, they can predate at the spur of the moment as well as their long term thought out predation and whats the dif? Same result in the end is all they care about. I have to be honest here for a long time I considered them LOVE JUNKIES thinking they actually live for that drug of “feeling in love with new victims” but its not the case at all they NEVER felt any feelings of love in their new conquests it was only their victims that felt those things; what they felt (if you can call it that) was the thrill of the catch for power and control and what have you, and in many of our situations the thrill of turning others into their sex slaves for their perverted sadistic needs – THAT was my x paths drug; sexual addiction and domination over others physically and emotionally, I will NEVER EVER forget the look of excitement in his eyes during some moments of rough sex, choking etc…… that was HIS viagra he didnt need a pill to get him aroused – what aroused him was my attempts to resist what he was doing – when I gave in that was his glory. He always mocked “love”, comments such as, “you were off falling in love with your husband, having babies, etc… uh excuse me I thought those things were kind of normal things to experience, and what were YOU off doing? mmm you were off giving oral pleasure to some man or woman and seeing how many lives you could try and destroy!!! Lets see who is NORMAL here and who isnt? He mocks love because he cant understand it or feel it so he views it as STUPID – but what HE DOES is STUPID, EMPTY and very sick Linda

  89. from Lovefraud:
    M.L. Gallagher said a lot when she wrote this:

    He is the lie….

    From hello to good-bye. I love you to I hate you. You’re beautiful to you’re ugly.
    It was all a lie….

    When friends or my family ask, but what about this, or what about that, I tell them. It was all a lie. There was no truth in him.

    If I spend my time trying to figure out fact from fiction, all I am doing is trying to prove — I wasn’t so stupid. “See, this [part] was true. That’s why I fell in love with him.”

    Truth is. I fell in love with him because I believed his lie.

    When I discovered the truth, I was so enmeshed in his lie, I couldn’t find the truth in me. And so I sank.

  90. I think I found the movie link hope it works, enjoy! Kelli

  91. Claudia,
    I LOVE, LOVE your book. It was so healing for me. The reader knows the truth and sees Ana gradually coming out of the fog. The reader knows the truth and sees Michael’s manipulations.The reader sees what Michael is thinking, versus what he is saying and doing. It will help many resolve their cognitive dissonance.

  92. Lesley,

    You make an incredibly good point, often lost in all of this, but so important. The high the psychopath gets from the idealization stage is POWER OVER. Once you’re hooked, they have you under absolute control. The high you see that seems like love, is in fact a manifestation of his power over you. And you’re right, this is a very frightening thing. It’s what evil does and how it works. Kelli

  93. Claudia, Thank you. I think I am stuck in the idealisation phase. Looking for answers or a solution. The hard part is I know there isn’t a solution. The solution lies in all the posts on this site. Bottom line there isn’t a solution only understanding. I need to learn to except the lies for what they are… Outright lies, no hidden meaning but an agenda. Part of the devaluation phase for me was. If I gave her advise or answered a question, She would not beleive me or take my answer as legitimate. But if someone else said the exact same thing I may have or backed me up, then she would beleive it. That has really effected me. It put me in a situation where I second guess myself all the time. I know this but have a hard time controlling it. Sometimes its like she is Pablo and I’m one of her dogs. She has conditioned me. At times I will ask questions I know the answer, just to here someone else confirm the answer. I never use to be like that. I do need to stop looking for answers for her behavior in a sense to help her, but look for answers to help myself. I’m tired of waffling back and foth and that is effecting the speed of my recovery back to normalcy. A good example of why NC is so important. A simple text message puts me back a couple steps. What I need to do now is take more steps forward and stay ahead of her. I have six years of potential contact left.

  94. Susan,
    I love M.L Gallagher’s writings on LF. I”ve not read them in awhile but I recall this one well, and it so much the truth! Kelli

  95. Gary,

    Having to deal with her increases your cog/dis. Is there ANYWAY at all you can have as limited contact with her as possible in order for you to move through the healing process with a bit more peace and ease? IE: Allow someone else to mediate on your behalf, both in speak and with taking the kids back and forth? Are you seeing a therapist to help you get through this and to deal with her? I understand the difficulty sharing children with a psychopath. I share six of mine with one, but was fortunate enough that I did not have to deal with him for long because he abandoned the children. I often think it was the best gift he ever gave any of us. I’m sorry you’re going through this Kelli

  96. Linda,

    As you write, I feel your anger at your ex for his sexual predations and how he used the idealization phase to draw you into what you thought would be a loving situation, even sexually. It is the BIGGEST betrayal of all, as far as I’m concerned. Mine did the same thing, but wasn’t as “deviant” in what he wanted to do with me, although I got the choking, wanting the novelty, etc. It’s still just as injurious because you are an OBJECT TO BE EXPLOITED. THis is what I’ve decided with all of the great epiphanies I’ve been having this week: HE is the one who should feel shame, but he won’t, right? WHY should I walk around with his slimey SHAME all over ME? I won’t. I refuse to let him have that kind of power in my life anymore. I consider myself to be a born again virgin LOL! And I shall TREAT myself with such respect and WILL NEVER allow another man to disrespect me with power and objectification again. If it means I have no other relationships the rest of my life, I’ll LIVE with that and am OKAY with that, because I’m preserving something of myself that is important and precious to me and is only deserving to be given to a GOOD man. Understanding the evil that this was and is, also has me cautious, but not wanting to be afraid. I will know it when I see it. Even while seeing it in my own son. My therapist is right, pathology fills the room! It is as dark as the day is LONG. Kelli

  97. Susan, I really liked that lovefraud article by M. L. Gallagher as well! I cited it in Dangerous Liaisons, in fact. She writes so well, so accurately and also from the heart. Claudia

  98. Susan, thank you so much. In fiction you can express emotions usually more easily than in nonfiction. And since psychopaths play upon our emotions so much–and our investment in those fraudulent relationships is largely emotional–it helps to capture that through fiction. Claudia

  99. Linda, it seems like your ex was a sexual sadist, like mine was, and like a lot of the predators described in Women Who Love Psychopaths. Claudia

  100. Gary, I think for normal human beings it’s tough to imagine or understand why anyone would treat love, marriage, children, as a game or regard people as possessions (with decreasing value, just like cars). Since psychopaths and other personality disordered individuals can’t love, that’s all they have left in life: owning things and people and playing games at others’ expense. It’s a sad and empty life for them, but they don’t even have the emotional depth to grasp just how sad and empty it really is. Claudia

  101. All,

    One of the reasons that I think I have come to have so many epiphanies this week, involves my youngest son. His father is a full blown violent psychopath that I was married to for 20 years. An alcoholic, addict, lying, cheating, womanizing psychopath. My children were exposed to his pathology, particularly the older children, but my youngest was five when his father left home. He never returned and saw the children only three times after he left, with the exception of my daughter, who is now back to NC after being called a bitch by him because she refused to answer her phone. I allowed my children to make their own choices about their father as they grew older and more curious. It never failed. They always chose NC, seeing his pathology was unchanging. And it continues, unchanged, in fact, if not worse.

    I love my children very much. We have become incredibly close since I split from my ex. I have had some very hard moments in understanding that the impact of my relationship with my ex, also extremely impacted them, even while he was, for the most part, not allowed around my children. My behaviors and reactions to him profoundly impacted my children. Even so, they have all spoken with me about my relationship with ex and the impact it has had on them, but they have said to me that they knew, no matter what, I was there for them and truly loved them, with my third daughter telling me, “Mom, you’re my hero!”. We have had several traumas involving my children since he left, unrelated to my relationship with my ex. Three of my daughters, were molested by a neighbor many years ago. This came out about eight years ago now, when they were much younger, however, I knew something was terribly wrong. One of my daughters was really struggling emotionally and I was putting her in therapy when I got a call from the school counselor one day, telling me she had the police and two of my daughter’s in the counseling office. I learned of the molestation, ALL of what he had done, in detail to my children. This was a friend of my mother’s in the neighborhood and there were many victims, including a little boy who visited us often at the time and was sodomized over and over by this man. I also found out that videotapes were made of the molestations and that his sons had helped make them and one was involved in helping to molest and hide his father’s misdeeds. This was a devastating thing for them and for me. To sum it up, the man is a psychopath, as was determined by the prosecutors office. My daughters and this one little boy (now a man) were the only victims that would step forward and speak to a grand jury about their experiences. There was not ONE time I did not believe them. This man now sits in prison for the rest of his life. His son is being monitored and investigated as molester himself. I cannot speak of the other trauma that was experienced with one of my sons. I have found that in doing so, it has created a lack of safety for myself and my family. But that was just as devastating, if not more so, than what my daughters went through. I stayed faithful to my children and helped them through all of it. The big running joke amongst my children now is “When we say we have a headache, it’s “Well take some ibuprofen!” when we say “Mom, I’m depressed” it’s “Well, time to go to therapy!” LOL!

    When my youngest son turned about fourteen, I started to see significant changes in him. With what happened with his brother, I put him into therapy. Even as young as he was, he lied to the therapist and his behaviors remained unchanged. I just thought it would take some time to deal with the trauma. Despite my misgivings, the therapist deemed that my son was doing well and that there was no further need for therapy. Soon after this, he wound up arrested twice, one time for fighting in school and had to complete an anger management program, which he did successfully. I watched him BS his way through it saying that it really worked for him, but his behavior continued to decline and morph into psychopathic traits. The level of denial in seeing this in my own son has been far more than the denial in seeing it in my ex husband and last ex. He is almost seventeen now. His impulsive behavior is beyond out of control. He has stolen hundreds of dollars from me, therefore from the family for our basic food/supply needs. The amount of money I’ve had to borrow from my foster parents for his impulsive behavior is, well, let’s say I’m having to pay it back in small amounts, far less than the amount that has been taken over time. I also found out my son is dealing, as well as using and he has been extremely emotionally and physically abusive. During this last two years, there seemed to be this aura about him that filled the room when he walked in, enough to make me feel like vomiting. He lies, manipulates and works others around him. The last abusive incident was this last week and I had to kick him out of my house. He was gone most of the time as a friends house where the parents also deal and use. I cannot prove this, but in this state what they are doing is considered “legal”. He is now living there. Yesterday was our weekly family day. I sat down with my other children and told them what had happened and what was going on, even though my two sons already knew. They all breathed a sigh of relief at his departure. He came back home briefly last night to get some clothes. Cussing me out the entire way. I brought him in and told him I was going to put him into inpatient treatment at which he said if I bothered to do any of that he would kill himself. My daughter began to speak to him in the most patient, yet passionate of ways, telling him how much she loved him and wanted him to get help and why and what she was seeing. She began to cry and he just stood there………completely emotionless. His eyes were dead. He asked if we were done, after blaming the family for not wanting to be here. I let him go. My daughter sat down with me afterward and with tears in her eyes, said these exact words to me and it blew my mind: “Mom, each time he comes into the room, he fills it up, it feels EVIL and makes me feeling like vomiting”….

    Could evil be playing out in my son? It could be so. This is reality. This is why I must face the truth. It may mean that I love my son from a distance. He may not be salvageable. This may be genetic. It may also be a result of trauma, but whatever the case may be, evil lives and it can live in your partner, your parents, or your son. Kelli

  102. Kelli, your life has been so filled with hardship and pathologicals, that it’s amazing that you were able to survive and remain such a strong person. I hope that you’re very proud of yourself for that, and for the loving way you’ve raised your children in spite of such difficult circumstances and their father being psychopathic. It’s a blessing to both you and to them that he had so little contact with them. But since psychopathy is in part genetic, it’s not surprising that one of your children–your youngest son–might have psychopathic traits. I hope that he won’t become a full-blown psychopath, but if he does, then going NC with him as an adult might be the best self-defense for you and your other children. Claudia

  103. Claudia,

    Thank you. Throwing him out of my house was a tough love measure. The only way he will be allowed back is if he agrees to treatment. If not, it will be this way, for my safety and the safety of my other children.

    Claudia, as to the hardships and the pathologicals, this is why I believe that they are nothing but evil. I’ve studied this very thing in my own family recently. My father and his mother were the most evil. My ex’s my mother, my siblings. Thank GOD my wiener is NOT pathological, he’s more of a victim LOL!

    Denial is unhealthy. Not seeing my family my ex’s and my son for who and what they are, further poisons my recovery and blinds me to the reality that evil does indeed exist in other human beings, or interspecies predators. . I do believe that the societal morality concepts contributes to the notion that there is good in everyone. This creates cog/dis within the general public and a great naivete when it comes to the realities of evil. I think while in that state, cog/dis is present in everyday life when dealing with those who are truly evil, unfortunately that deep sickness can be with in a family system. My cog/dis was created early on in my life to survive. I realize that while attending catholic schools and church, while being exposed to pathologicals at home, created a cog/dis, or a split within to survive. The miracle is that I was able to somehow understand that what was going on was not right, that it was hugely dichotomous, although I could not label it, obviously and continued to follow the yellow brick pathological road throughout my life because of that. I’m finding that my PTSD symptoms have great reduced in the last few days, other than a lot of crying about my son and the loss and realities of my ex. It’s okay to feel sad at such loss. One of the hardest things to bear is seeing my youngest son in pictures, a happy smiling, blonde haired little boy with a big “I LOVE YOU MOM” sign below his feet that he drew in grade school, while he pointed to himself. He was so very bright and his future, was full of hope. That is the heartbreak that evil brings. But as a family, we are all on the same page about pathology. ALL of my children are well educated about it now. I hope this will help them in their own lives.

    Evil is real. But so is the concept of love and hope and promise too.

    There’s light at the end of the tunnel for us now, despite all the pain.

  104. One trait left out (but implied)in the movie is THE defining trait according to Steve Becker…a willingness to exploit. Probably more than a willingness, more like a drive and automatic response to exploit that is absolutely integral to who they are.

  105. Claudia, Kelli, re the above thread; Claudia you miss understand me re issues around cullpability. I believe that they are responsible and accountable for their behaviour. They have I believe capacity. I think it is important to remember that we can confuse behaviours with psychopathic behavioural patterns. I have said this before, but i think it is worth repeating. How many of us have lied? how many have comitted adultery or had an affair? how many of us have made mistakes? have hurt someone? how many of us look back on our lives with shame (as well as our achievments)? How many of us have done bad things? I think that includes us all. So what is the difference? what is it that sets us aside from psychopaths. Claudia, and other contributers have disclosed horrific stories that are blood curdling. Claudia I like your response to Garys post-

    “Gary, I think for normal human beings it’s tough to imagine or understand why anyone would treat love, marriage, children, as a game or regard people as possessions (with decreasing value, just like cars). Since psychopaths and other personality disordered individuals can’t love, that’s all they have left in life: owning things and people and playing games at others’ expense. It’s a sad and empty life for them, but they don’t even have the emotional depth to grasp just how sad and empty it really is. Claudia”

  106. Michael,

    We have ALL done things, as human beings we are ashamed of. My affair WAS with my ex psychopath. It is a deep regret. There are others here, including Claudia herself, that was involved in an affair with her psychopath.

    Are you serious about the question MIcheal? Ok, this is a simple answer. REAL and GENUINE human beings are capable of remorse, regret, guilt, learning from pain, insight from their actions and growth from it, empathy towards those that the mistake caused pain too.

    The BIGGEST point and answer in all of this and the biggest difference between psychopaths and those of us human beings who make mistakes, including all you’ve mentioned above, is that we are not out for the purposeful destruction of another human being. And by now, you know what all of that entails. Kelli

  107. Kelli; I know it. I just think I have to conceptually understand it in my own way. 🙂

  108. Michael, I”m actually quite surprised that you’re struggling with this. Kelli

  109. Kelli; your suprised I’m struggling with what?

  110. Kelli, you’re definitely spot-on with the female pity-play and fragility observation; this is definitely a gender difference in psychopaths. My ex-girl-fiend (misspelling intentional) used to go on and on about how her soon-to-be ex-husband was so manipulative and dishonest (pure projection, in retrospect) and how her legal fees for the divorce were going to put her in the poorhouse (which is how she got me to pay for her entire mortgage and property taxes every month, plus the cleaning lady). The fiend used the pity-play to live for free at my expense. Do you think she used her earnings to pay for her legal fees? No, she used the pity play on her own father to lend her money to pay the lawyer. She must have tens of thousands of dollars stashed in her mattress or Something.

    I also frequent (oriented more towards male victims of abuse), and in the hundreds of stories there, the pity-play and fragile/poor-me approach are frequently recurring themes.

    For Michael and Gary and the other men who contribute here, I can only recommend to be wary of women who employ such ruses, and especially wary of those who trash their exes. You’re quite likely to eventually get trashed the same way. …Julian.

  111. MIchael, the question of the difference between psychopaths and real human beings and what I understand your struggle to conceptually understand in your own way. I guess I’m surprised that you’re struggling with the conceptual aspects at all? Or am I misreading you here? Kelli

  112. Kelli, I second Claudia’s remarks. You’ve been through so much and yet you still keep your head high and contribute your experience and understanding here. Way to go! …Julian.

  113. Michael, you don’t have to “believe” that psychopaths are responsible and accountable for their behaviour. Robert Hare’s books explicitly point out that for decades, court-appointed psychologists, judges and juries have found that psychopaths (a) know what they are doing, (b) know that what they are doing is wrong, and (c) knowingly choose to go ahead and do it anyway. This has been repeated tens of thousands of times, so I think we can take it as a basic truth. …Julian.

  114. Susan,

    I understand their drive to exploit to be secondary to power and control or as Sandra Brown refers to it as their “Dominance Drive”. I don’t think it’s THE defining feature (in other words, i disagree with Steve Becker on this one), because exploitation can be executed in ways that are very subtle yet very dangerous to where the victim might not understand that they are being exploited. It wasn’t my first thought when I was going through it, in fact, it was the last, the first obvious sign was the controlling nature of his abuse with lies, manipulation demands.. It might take a long time for the victim to see exploitation, let alone what it really means with a psychopath! UGH!

  115. Julian,
    The pity ploy is exactly the ploy I fell prey to. I heard how bad her ex treated her. I would be willing to bet people have been told how bad I am. So every one says you poor thing. My son said something to me that kind of threw me back. He said he told mom that I’m not the only one that makes mistakes. That tells me she is playing the pity ploy on her own kids. Or in ear shot anyway.

  116. Claudia

    This excerpt from the book is very revealing for me with regards to my ex and the sexual elements of my relationship with him. He never lost interest in having sex with me, as we did so right up until the last day I saw him, BUT, in his marriage, he withheld. I’ve heard that narcissists are infamous for this in acting out the Madonna/Whore complex which is what I think my ex definitely had. This is his pattern, I think. Lure in the wife, the first year lots and lots of sex is had, then it drops off completely. It’s’ as if once the honeymoon or idealization phase is over, she is the prima donna, not to be touched sexually, and thus, this is his “calling card” in introducing a triangulation with a “whore” or OW, so he can have all the sex he wants without the hassles of marriage, or out of boredom or what have you. HOw does this theory sound to you? Kelli

  117. Michael, Kelli, Julian, Gary and everyone, I really appreciate your taking the time to articulate your experiences and perspectives. Like I said before, not everyone has to agree or see things the same way. Fruitful disagreements may not change our perspectives; however they do help us understand and articulate our points of view better. So often when I explain what I believe, read or observed to someone with a different perspective it helps me refine mine as well, even if I haven’t persuaded that person or him/her me. So thanks very much to everyone here for your thoughtful and eloquently expressed input! Claudia

  118. Getting back to an earlier topic — the degree to which the psychopath’s behaviour is premeditated — I’d like to offer a fresh perspective. I’m beginning to believe that the psychopath does not enter into a new relationship with the express purpose of idealizing a new person, and then devaluing and discarding them.

    Let’s think in terms of motivation and resulting behaviour. As Susan and Claudia have pointed out, the initial motivation is always one of exploitation. I laughed when I read that Claudia’s ex did a “cost-benefit analysis” on everyone he met. But that’s precisely what they do — they want to know if there’s anything valuable in it for them. If there is, on with the idealization phase! In my case, my ex-girl-fiend wanted to get rid of her husband but wanted someone to pay her living expenses. I was a ripe target, as I was working far away from home and my employer was paying my living expenses. Furthermore, I was vulnerable, far away from my family and friends and my beloved cats — in return for handing over my living allowance, I could bring my cats and we’d all live together as a happy family. What a kind gesture!

    Gary, this may explain your wondering if the beginning of your relationship was actually sincere. For myself, it really did look and feel sincere – but in reality, it was simply an exploit of my situation. And I’m absolutely certain that your ex saw something that she could exploit in you.

    So I think we can safely say that the psychopath’s initial motivation for the idealization/luring phase is simply the personal benefits that they can reap (usually sex, money and power). And this is obviously premeditated.

    What follows for months or years is the reaping of those benefits. But there eventually comes a point where either the victim gets fed up of being used and abused, or as in my case, I lost my job. Then the devaluation starts — motivated by the loss of the expected benefits. For me, it was exceptionally difficult to accept, as I had financially and emotionally supported my ex in her divorce for so long, but when things got difficult for me, I received devaluation instead of support. It was truly horrible; I’ve never felt so betrayed and lonely in my life. …Julian.

  119. Thank you, Claudia and everyone else who has contributed to this discussion. It’s the deepest, most personal and incredibly enlightening discussion I have seen here yet, and makes other blogs pale by comparison. The combination of your knowledge and experience and the contributors’ desire for understanding the psychopathic mind make this site unique and especially valuable. …Julian.

  120. Julian,
    Things are beginning to become more clear. even more so after reading your story in the above post. I was a business owner. I had the money to support her. Her ex left her in financial ruins (which I now beleive to be lies). I found a employee who committed suicide in my place of business. due to the trauma of that event I closed my business. Well to make a long story short. We had to sell our house.. Going through stuff like that generally brings people together. But looking back that is when the devaluation began. Thank you for sharing Julian, in fact Thank you everyone who contributes. It is a big help in untangling this mess. This has been a very good thread with a lot of education.

  121. Kelli, If I read you; i think you are asking me what is my problem with understanding the conceptual aspects of it all. And I think my question was a refining one. Is there a particular aspect of the psychopathic relationship dynamic that from your perspective is alluding me? If your referring to the issue around deliberate and intentional harm from the initial idealisation to the final discard; yes I am really not sure. I think everybodys story of a psychopath is unique. But there are similarities in all our stories. I think psychopaths are still individuals and are not all cut from the same cookie cutter. By this I mean that their behaviours are alaways harmful. But I think at what point a psychopath decideds to cause harm; is a matter for debate.

  122. But whether a psychopath chooses or not is irrelevant. My position is that a psychopath could not choose to do no harm even if she or he wanted to. Harm is inevitable: unless it is a superficial benign relationship that involves not getting behind the mask of sanity.

  123. Gary, I’m very happy that my comments have been helpful to you. I think you can safely assume that 99% of what your ex told you were lies, as psychopaths are pathological liars.

    I wholeheartedly agree with you that traumatic experiences should bring a couple closer together, and if they don’t it’s a sure sign that the relationship is seriously flawed. It’s great that you already understand this, and I hope that your recovery from this awful experience will be faster.

    I wish you the very best, my friend. …Julian.

  124. Michael,
    Given a predisposition from genetics that seems to have played out in my family, I asked the therapist “Why did my brother become a psychopath and I didn’t?” She said, something like “There was a point at which both of you had to choose….do I become the abuser or the abused. All either of you really knew intimately was the psychopathic relationship. You chose to become the victim, rather than to harm others. Your brother chose to harm others, rather than become the victim.” She meant very early, as when we were infants.

    And now I’m free…..and he is still stuck in psychopathic relationships. As the psychopath. But she believes there was a point he could have chosen to go the other way.

    In the book Children Without a Conscience, it has a continuum, with used car salesman (I think I’m remembering right),high risk mt. climbers, etc. at one end and serial killers at the other.

    I do think their brains can’t work right, but I think nurture, including our own nurturing, can effect nature, as well as the other way around.

    They know right from wrong, they know (and some really enjoy)when they are inflicting pain.

    But it may indeed be that harm they will, after a certain window in brain development has been passed. I wish I was going to live long enough to see if someday society physically brands those who lack the ability to process emotions correctly. If you know who they are, the amount of harm they can do is far less, if EVERYONE knows it. At THAT point, when they can’t fool anyone (and they were sterilized and took some anti-violence drug), THEN I might feel some compassion for them for the lousy brain they have.

  125. Michael,

    I understand what you’re saying and thank you for clarifying your position on this. My question to you would be this: Why is there doubt in your mind, that the psychopath was not deliberate and premeditated from the very beginning? Kelli

  126. Susan,

    Much work has/is being done with research and the brains of psychopaths and it’s very, VERY interesting. I think Thomas Sheridan is right in that they have no hard core proof that this is genetic, YET, there are psychopaths who come from very loving families and those that come from troubled backgrounds. The psychopaths that come from good family upbringings SUGGESTS that there is a genetic component to it, but no real proof of it as of present. My opinion is that it IS genetic and can also be environmental, but my opinion is not proof scientific! 🙂

    My son chooses his current behaviors and “lifestyle” if you will, or does he? Why are the rest of my children NOT psychopathic in traits and/or character? I think this is an area where careful consideration and further exploration/research needs to be done because it seems to me that there are many variables that go into whether or not someone becomes a psychopath. I don’t think it’s cut and dry. We are all born with our temperament and personalities that will develop over time. What temperaments and personalities, brain wiring, chemistry, contribute to psychopathy? How is that I can come from a totally pathological home, with no frame of reference for NON pathological behavior and yet not be pathological? Isn’t that the reverse in that a kid is born into a family who has no musical talent, but has musical gifts? LOTS of interesting questions and potential components/elements that need to be examined when it comes to how a psychopath is made. Kelli

  127. Michael, I understand your position is that psychopaths are to be held responsible for their wrongdoings, just that they may be genuine in the beginning. I believe their excitement is genuine, but their motives are terrible: they’re excited by catching a new prey and the novelty of the experience of duping and conquering a new person. They don’t really fall in love, aside from raw sexual attraction and very fleeting and shallow infatuations. They’re on a power trip which is very exciting to them at first and gets boring as soon as they conquer that person or find a new and more exciting opportunity/catch. People are interchangeable to them; that’s why they have so many backups. Having said this, even though we disagree on this point, I really appreciate how honestly you express your impressions and opinions and how much thought and research you put into what you say. All of your contributions have been very valuable to me and this blog.

    Everyone, I’m glad that you’re interested in this subject, since I’ve just prepared two or three more posts on related issues (the psychopath’s manipulation and lying strategies). I think it’s what hurts us most: the sense everything we’ve build our lives upon, or risked important parts of our lives for, is just an empty game for fun and power for a psychopath. Claudia

  128. Linda, you’re so right, psychopaths aren’t love junkies they’re control junkies. Their rush comes from controlling new individuals and becoming involved in transgressive situations, NOT from falling in love. At best, they’re infatuated, but even those infatuations are derived from a sense of conquest and control, not from actually really liking a person. Claudia

  129. Kelli, I think there probably was a madonna/whore complex for your psychopathic ex. However, I think all psychopaths become bored with sex with the same person. Monogamy is meaningless and nonexistent for them, particularly since they can’t bond emotionally to anyone. They always need new people, new transgressive situations, new places, new conquests. Claudia

  130. Julian, I’m so happy to hear this and very much enjoy reading your contributions too! But I don’t mind readers blog surfing either. I know that a lot of people like to do that and think it’s good to have a variety of approaches to the same subject. Claudia

  131. Julian,

    I find your post most intriguing and thought provoking.

    Claudia, with regards to the sexual attraction, do psychopaths really “feel” the attraction? I wonder about this, because my ex was very much “into” me, physically and liked all the foreplay (all about him of course) that I gave him. That was up until the last day I saw him. FOUR days later, he was onto another target, this target was heavier set, and he jokingly made a statement about lowering inhibitions with alcohol. It is my FIRM belief that had she been interested in him, he would have had her in bed, FOUR DAYS after we had had sex. It’s my belief that it doesn’t matter WHAT the target looks like, but more an added benefit depending upon what the psychopath wants from you. In my case, it was just sex and the fun of triangulation. With his ex wife, she was the cover of normalcy and he did not have sex with her as frequently, towards the last few years, not at all (Madonna/Whore complex). I found it amazing that he could switch SEXUAL partners like a light switch. I don’t think attraction in the real sense is a factor, not to mention they can have sexual relationships with several women at one time. Kelli

  132. Kelli, I think that psychopaths are attracted not to people, but to what people can do for them and how they can make them look. So in that sense they may value being with someone who is physically attractive. Then they’ve sexually conquered someone others are attracted to as well. It makes them look good. But ultimately it’s all about them and what’s in it for them. Money may matter to some psychopaths more than looks. Others are attracted to power. Unfortunately, it’s never the individual they’re after for who they are. It’s what that person can do for them and how that person reflects on their image and status. The bottom line is that they always instrumentalize other human beings. That’s part of why their attractions are so fleeting and romantic partners so interchangeable. Many people can fulfill the same role. Many people are attractive or have money. Functions are interchangeable. The only thing that isn’t interchangeable is love for individuals as individuals. Psychopaths are incapable of individuated love. Claudia

  133. Claudia, and/or all,

    By the way, Claudia, thanks for answering that question.

    As you know, Claudia, I was probably my ex’s BEST poison container. He dumped his shit relentlessly on me while he “saved” his “best” for home. I’ll never know whether that is entirely true, BUT this is my question. If a psychopath finds a target worthy of “keeping” why do they abuse? Kelli

  134. Kelli, the answer is because nobody is “worthy” or valuable for a psychopath for very long. Just like I explain in the article on The Psychopath’s Relationship Cycle: Idealize, Devalue and Discard (which draws upon Robert Hare’s Snakes in Suits, by the way). Psychopaths find you worthy of them only for as long as they’re very excited by the novelty of conquering you (and/or your status and money). When the rush diminishes, or your money runs out, so does your worthiness. Then they devalue and–if you still cling on to them even devalued and degraded–eventually discard you. Not for good, or forever, since they still use you as a backup if you allow it. After you’ve been devalued, you’re just put in reserve, to be used whenever the psychopath sees fit and deigns to contact you again. The only thing to do is say “No thanks!,” go NC and block him. Claudia

  135. Gary, you mentioned in a previous post the difficulty and frustration of maintaining no-contact while having to arrange custody of the children. I’d like to suggest a solution for your to consider, (OFW for short).

    Psychopaths (and other high-conflict individuals such as borderlines and histrionics) rely on secrecy to carry out their manipulation and deceit. OFW provides a no-contact way of scheduling custody and also retains the timestamped history of communications. It’s accessible by the lawyers on both sides and the judge, in case you are embroiled in divorce litigation. Perhaps most importantly, OFW removes the key tool of secrecy from the psychopath’s arsenal.

    Not surprisingly, most high-conflict individuals vehemently oppose using something that exposes their behaviour to third-party scrutiny, and you may have to get a court order to force your ex to use it. I didn’t have children with my ex, but others who have used OFW say it’s a lifesaver and most judges readily issue court orders to use it.

    BTW, I’m not affiliated with OFW in any way, nor do I receive any compensation for recommending it. I am simply aware of its effectiveness, hence my recommendation. – Julian.

  136. Gary, you wrote yesterday: “I do need to stop looking for answers for her behavior in a sense to help her, but look for answers to help myself.”

    May I suggest that you continue to seek understanding, and as you say, not to help her but to help yourself. She is definitely beyond help.

    A few moments ago, I was lying on the couch sipping my morning coffee and reviewing the 123 comments here on my iPad, with my beautiful Persian cat snuggled on my chest and purring. I came to the startling realization that my cat actually has far more empathy and conscience than my ex-girl-fiend ever did.

    You see, cats have an armament-to-weight ratio that far exceeds the latest military technology. They’re fast and agile, extremely strong, and have sharp teeth and deadly claws. I have seen a 10-lb cat take down a 70-lb dog with ease.

    Persians have long, thick fur and need regular grooming, especially to remove knots that are beginning to form. That can be a little painful, but when my cat has had enough, she simply jumps off my lap. Never do the claws come out, not even any hissing. She will not hurt me – even though she certainly can – because she has at least a basic form of conscience.

    It’s truly sad that psychopaths are so subhuman that animals exhibit more genuine humanity than they do. I hope this helps to understand that there’s absolutely nothing we can do to help them; we can only help ourselves. – Julian.

  137. Kelli, I understand your confusion and agree with Claudia’s answer. My ex also kept me around for a couple of months, abusing me the whole time, until she found someone else and then I never heard from her again (thankfully).

    One of my epiphanies occurred after listening to an Internet radio episode entitled “Narcissists Don’t Think Like Us.” Perhaps more importantly, the episode stressed that they also believe that everyone else thinks like they do. Suddenly, my ex’s bizarre behaviour all made sense. The biggest mistake we make (and which causes the most frustration) is that we try to understand the psychopath’s behaviour within our own frame of reference, which includes things like not exploiting others, being honest, etc.

    One of the previously-inexplicable abusive episodes that occurred near the end of our relationship was regarding, of course, money. I explained that I had very little, since I was not only paying her home expenses, but those for my own residence 400 miles away. Furthermore, I had some expensive dental work, a lot of car expenses due to my extensive travel, my income tax instalments, and we mustn’t forget her penchant for costly vacations. She angrily accused me of “hiding” at least $20,000 from her, so I sat her down at my computer, generated some reports in my accounting software, and added them up for her to show where all the money went.

    Faced with the actual figures, she got even angrier! She accused me of keeping two sets of books (I don’t), fabricating the numbers for her, etc. Complete insanity, isn’t it?

    Now let’s think like the psychopath. She’s a personal trainer, and so gets paid in cash (or checks made out to Cash), and she declares very little income and thus pays no income tax at all. I estimate she grosses about $80k/yr. She can’t put it in the bank (because that would provide evidence of her earnings), so she stashes it somewhere in the house. In her mind, there is NO SUCH THING as running an honest business and paying $30k in income taxes. It’s just unfathomable to her, so she firmly believes that I’m “hiding money from her” just like she’s hiding her money from me (and the tax man).

    The closest I ever came to eliciting the slightest bit of understanding from her was when I finally said “OK, OK, I admit that I’m hiding money from you. And it’s not $20k like you think, it’s actually $30k. But it’s gone now, because I sent it to the government.” After a moment of silence, she got angry again and insisted that I declare less income. Again, in her mind there’s no such thing as running an honest business.

    BTW, this was the point where I quietly decided that the relationship had to end soon. The screaming level of dishonesty about money meant that any kind of shared finances would be impossible, and would clearly lead to nothing but more and more trouble in the future.

    Do you see the futility in trying to get a psychopath to see something from a different point of view? Without empathy, that’s simply impossible for them, and they’ll deny the truth even when given the hard facts. Since they live in a world of dishonesty and deceit, everyone else must be the same, and the entire concept of honesty is utterly foreign to them. If you try to reconcile the insane world of the psychopath with the normal world everyone else lives in, you’ll drive yourself crazy (I know, because that’s what I did for about three months). But if you try to see things from the psychopath’s point of view, it all makes sense and you’ll absolutely know that you’ve got to get out of there quickly.

  138. Julian; this absolutley true. without any sense of empathy they are devoid of all frame of reference to even comprehend anothers point of view.

  139. Julian, Thanks for sharing with us your insight and the links. And I appreciate and share your love of cats! As for your last comment, one of my favorite (relatively new) songs is Adele’s “Rolling in the Deep”. There’s a line she repeats in it: “We could have had it all” in the midst of her anger towards her ex. It’s a thought probably many of us had at the beginning of the end, after we broke up with our ex’s. And it’s only months or sometimes years later, after the dust settled from the toxic relationship, that we finally understood no, we couldn’t have had it all with a psychopath or disordered individual. The thought that they screwed up through some kind of fraud (a love fraud, a monetary fraud, a phony mask or identity) an otherwise close and beautiful relationship is the last illusion to go. It’s based on a projection of the idealization phase, when the disordered person did his or her best to seduce us. But even that phase was a fraud, to my mind the biggest of them all since it’s when the psychopath was the most phony, the most deceitful, the least transparent. To a psychopath putting an effort into a relationship means putting an effort into constructing the best false facade, telling the most compelling lies, engaging in the most phony, sugary-nice behavior. We couldn’t have had it all, ever. Psychopaths don’t want it all: love, intimacy and commitment. They want to take what they can, then move on and leave you destroyed, at their mercy and as a backup, for when they may wish to return to exploit you further. Claudia

  140. Hi everyone
    God what an interesting and really thoughtful thread on whether they are real evil or not.
    I think they are. End of. Purely from my own experience obviously. I think my ex solely wanted power over every woman (and man). He changed his persona and requirements on how they fitted in with his next interest. One of ex girlfriends was rich and he also told me she was very damaged (though how much of that I now believe now is debatable as its him that is the damaged one) – she was also a psychiatrist. He said he “loved her and got on very well with her” because, and he admitted it, he could control her. It was indeed that, but also because she was rich. His ex before that he said he “should have married her” – he says that because she let him sleep with whoever he liked when he liked. His ex wife he said “he loved her more than anything in the world and probably still does” yet he was drunk for most their marriage and when he sobered up he slept with other women and left her with her with a two week baby as he couldn’t “deal with the pressure”. As he could not deal with the pressure of living with me, because I would not allow him to control me, or at least I tried to put up a good enough fight to not let him treat me the way he had treated others. In the end i was still destroyed. The incredible rush they feel at the start is indeed power, manipulation, total fun and glee at their new game.
    Though my one also used to sit, after he had character assassinated me and he would “cry” over the women he had “lost” – his wife, his ex gf (who he was still sleeping with and who he always told me he was deeply in love with her), his other ex who he loved to bits and even behaved himself (allegedly) and had “normal girlfriend sex” with. He loved them all. So he made out. But that was just another act, another load of lies to kick me when i was down, to twist the knife in, especially when he finished it off with “and i never loved you, I have to admit i got you to move down here under false pretences, I didn’t love you, I just wanted sex out of you” – and there you go. He knew what he was doing from the get go and, as I’ve said before, sleeping with lots of girls, yet he at the same time was telling me he loved me and pressuring me to leave everything for him. That, is far as I’m concerned is evil enough. But to then belittle, degrade, manipulate, resent, be turned off by you because he had to have sex with me and supposedly not anyone else, is beyond evil. The harm my ex inflicted was premeditated without a doubt, but he could also do it as simply as breathing. It makes no odds how they tart it up, whether they think about it and then hit you months down the line with it, or whether they just kick off at you for something you have supposedly done wrong to them at that instant, they are evil and callous and will only ever put their own selfish desires and wants first.
    My ex sent me an email in which he explains his distorted view on how a path sees the “luring” phase through their cold eyes.. I posted it on another article…he states “at the start of the process he is always looking for a life partner but he does not take the time and patience to go for people that possess the qualities he admires and enjoys and therefore finds flaws very quickly which he cannot live with (??!) and therefore whilst he is in the relationship with the “flawed individual” he then starts looking for someone else that has less or no flaws, a person that suits him more..he realises that this is a most probable unlikely task but he will struggle on in the vain hope that one day he finds his “perfect match”.
    These people can rationalise their disorder and their brutal mistreatment of you, their lying and cruelty any way they like. But from my own experience, they are delusional, evil users. As Michael said “nothing is every enough” – which ironically is what my ex said I was like!! mirroring again!
    Sorry have once again went right off the point, so to sum up, I think they are evil, and I have never in my life experienced such a thing and hope I never do again. There is not one true feeling, personality or thought inside them. My ex once described himself as a “heartless cold beast” then he laughed, as he was proud, and sadly he was correct.
    Hope you are all ok

  141. Lesley, I remember that letter you shared with us and recall thinking that your psychopathic ex sounded exactly like mine. It’s as if they were reading from the same script. My therapist stated that psychopaths seek, in their own minds, the fantasy of the “omniavailable woman”: the woman who is always ready for them; always supports everything they do, no matter how wrong and destructive; always idolizes them; always protects them; always serves them. But this is only a fantasy, since, first of all no person is omniavailable for anyone and second even when they get such a highly compliant woman, they walk all over her and treat her as a doormat (as my ex does his wife). My ex said that he was always looking for the right partner, but nobody “could keep up” (with his sexual depravity) and he always had “to settle”(for partners he considered inferior to him). That’s how he justified cheating on, using and lying to every woman he was with, especially his wife whom he put down constantly to me. Of course, at that time he was telling me (lying) that I was “the one,” the exception to this rule. In retrospect, I’m not sure this was a compliment! At any rate, I think Michael is right to say that at times psychopaths believe that they are looking for love and, when in the moment, even in love with a given target. But the next moment they’re screwing somebody else, an escort or new girlfriend, completely forgetting about their so-called love. And they justify this in terms of finding flaws and projecting blame upon their victims. One of my ex’s favorite songs was “I still haven’t found what I’m looking for” by U2. And he never will. Psychopaths’ feelings and infatuations are so shallow and their outlook so completely selfish and predatory that love or even falling in love in the sense normal people understand this (with at least some caring and mutual respect) is completely impossible for them. Claudia

  142. Hi Claudia
    I do think our exes are very very similar. The sexual deviancy for sure.
    I just remembered something my ex said to me, and this also underlines the fact that they do instinctively know how to “connect” with what you are missing in life or is your “dream relationship”, which is I also think, all premeditated. One of the things was that I’d known mine from school, I first saw him at age 12 at a disco, its funny as when I saw him I’m sure I remember thinking that he’d destroy my life one day. But I also thought he was The One. I carried that crush all through school. That was one of the “connections” he made out we always had, like yours did Claudia, that no one matched him but you, that you were The One. Mine actually said it to me in the car a week before he told me to leave, “but you’re The One Lesley..”
    But the one that really does hit home that these paths go for your Achilles heel is when we were splitting up he said “Lesley, I gave you what you always wanted, the attention and love and sex you always wished for but I could not give you enough, everything was never enough for you (!!). I’ve probably given you more love and attention that you’ve had in your whole life and for that you should be thankful” – Aside from the utter audacity he sums up the point that they home in on what you clearly project in bucket loads when you first meet them. He knew my husband and I were more like mates and always had been and that my husband was not of the highly sexed variety and never had been! I’m not saying that sex is everything, it most definitely is not. However, if you are lucky enough to meet someone GENUINE who you do have that spark with and you do get on with and you are lucky enough to love then that is how it should be. And that is what he “sold” to me. It really for me goes back to the evilness and total calculation that they work out in their heads.
    Yes, that song is apt. I think my ex said something along those lines too in his email. That he was still looking….
    Here is a link to a song that, whenever I am feeling sad or missing what he wasn’t, I listen to the words..I think Ms Perri may have dated a path – who knows? The video sums up what they do to targets too, suck the life out of them with coldness…hope you can open it!

  143. Lesley, thanks for giving us the link to this beautiful song/music video. The message of this song fits and the singer’s voice is really good (jazzy and raspy). I had never heard her before. It’s amazing how much music (and especially music videos) can capture the emotions and moods of our relationships. Rational language or logical arguments, though very important, can only go so far when it comes to expressing human pain or emotions. Claudia

  144. Michael: Whats the difference you ask in the mistakes we have made and the behaviors and lives paths live? WE consider them just that MISTAKES, the paths DONT. These mistakes we have made have brought us here today to share with one another – YES I WAS WRONG to become involved and that mistake has cost me dearly – I CARE and have had pain over that mistake afterall he didnt hold a gun to my head, maybe the mask was his weapon, maybe my personal circumstances of a marriage so terribly abusive lead me into the arms of this predator so easily, maybe I just wanted to FEEL loved and cherished – maybe I AM JUST HUMAN. I do know however this was not an act I did to try and hurt and destroy my husband for how he has treated me for so many years it just happened I was easy prey for this type of disordered person. I KNOW in my heart I am a good person that has had too much abuse in my life, I should have confronted the damage that has done to me rather than thinking another person could save me from it, I should have saved me from it. Linda

  145. yes i thought the words were so perfect, who do youi think you are, running around leaving scars…so true.

    Also Claudia, my ex emailed me last week. I thought i’d blocked his emails but clearly not. I’ve not heard from him since May, I had contacted him via email a few times but then stopped, as I felt better when I had no contact with him and the longer it went on the better I felt. His email said “months of relative calm from Lesley…I’m thinking you have found someone else..” – I know he’s just doing it to hurt me, to wind me up. I ignored it. But its when they do these things then go silent again, that is again so deliberate Claudia. As no matter how much better you think you feel, it still hurts. You are just strong enough not to respond. They are truly vile. Thank god I have all of you.

  146. Leslie, you might not believe this, but Jar of Hearts was my ex-psychopath’s favorite song! Go figure, these people are just so twisted. – Julian.

  147. Lesley,

    I LOVE that song and video. It’s a favorite of my son and I.

    Your post was very enlightening.

    Julian, you were very kind to offer that link to Gary. I really hope it helps!

    I’m stumped on something. I was my ex’s BEST poison container, Everything he couldn’t dump at home on his wife, he dumped on me. Every wicked behavior, every single premeditated pain, he dumped on me. I was the BEST, I reacted every time. I would call myself insane during the relationship and suffered much trauma.

    Now that he has wife three, SHE can be his poison container, because he will not have me as an “offset” to dump on. I believe this was my purpose, as well as just sex, since he didn’t want to have it at home.

    Ok, so here’s what stumps me and Julian you made an excellent point about how we can’t think like they do and they cannot think like we do. not verbatim of course, here, but I did understand that.

    My ex always gave me the impression that he treated wife at home well, but that HE was being abused. He said sex was a maintenance chore and he moved out of their bedroom into his own during our relationship. He had it set up to look like an apartment, She was around for window dressing, the appearance of normalcy. But he dumped very stinking drop of poison onto me. The abuse was absolutely horrendous, almost from the get go. I didn’t experience the love bombing you all talk about. The lure was completely different. Mine wasn’t the sexual deviancy that many of yours were. FF to next target that I found out about, he lied about, and that I got the great pleasure of speaking too. He had invented another persona for her. He lied and told her he was really into unusual foods like she was. So their first date, he was out eating kangaroo with her, while I was texting him to find out where he was, blowing up his phone. She said he was checking messages on his phone while he was there with her, with no expression. IT WAS ME!! OMG!! I had no idea he was with her, several states away….anyway, I found out he used the same lines on her that he used on me. He also didn’t mention his ten year affair with me either. He also didn’t mention his first wife or signing off his parental rights either. She was wealthy as well. She saw red flags right away and after three nights of dates with him, by the time he was ready to go home, she knew something “wasn’t quite right”. He was demanding, egostistical and when he met her children, he barely said any words to them. He had no boundaries, only the assumption she was interested and even after she said she was not and was in love with someone else, he still sent an email after being told that she just wanted to remain friends, that invited her to his house for the weekend on new years. UGH!

    He wanted her and NOW. But for the money. It was so weird, it was impulsive and desperate the way he went about it. He spent hundreds on her during the love bombing, along with texts, emails, flowers, calling her and singing to her on the phone. She said when she asked questions he would answer her question with a question. He was evasive. There were some truths in what he said, but overall, it was a huge lie and faked persona that wasn’t real.

    FF to wife three. this time, his persona did a complete one eighty. I do not recognize this person. But the impulsivity was there. Married within a few months of meeting, she’s extremely wealthy.

    But what about the bottom line behaviors? I think it’s probably killing him to be so nice to her and he doesn’t have a poison container at the moment. It is hard for me to imagine that his behaviors, demanding, controlling, egotistical, raging, constant migraines, actually having to sleep next to someone in his bed (he hated that, except on occasion and sleeping with him was a nightmare), having to do everything he wants, his fragmented personality, his raging about his ex and shared joint custody of their children, etc….how could all of those behaviors be “gone”? The target that I talked too, told me, “He’s talkin to me on FB, I can see how he plays games…I’m soooo not into that, I have a headache”….

    HOw could those behaviors change, or are they an integral part of his psychopathic construct, despite the mask? Kelli

  148. My god Julian how strange that it was her favourite!! she maybe thought it had been written for her!! they are so full of themselves you never know!!

  149. Lesley, like I argued in Relationship Boomerang: The Psychopath’s Relationship Cycle, they recycle former relationships when there’s a lull in their lives or they’re bored with current relationships. That’s when they test the waters to see if you’re up for being a backup or just to bother you. Just continue to ignore him, as you’re doing. Don’t give him any “narcissistic supply,” as psychologists say: since that’s all he wants from you. He also wants to finish you off and degrade you some more. No contact, no thanks! Claudia

  150. Kelli, it’s funny that you mention their need for poison containers, since I just saw a show on my favorite channel, Investigation Discovery, where a psychopath would scream and talk to himself words of hatred because he still had to be nice to his third wife, to use her (he was an extreme case and had murdered his two ex wives already). Yes, psychopaths always need poison containers because being nice and sweet is only a mask, so they need to dump their true vitriol on someone. That’s why my ex criticized his wife and his ex-girlfriends so much to me and that’s also why during the year he was so romantic and sweet to me, he was rather cold and detached to his wife. Kelli, since you refuse to be your ex’s poison container he’s probably looking for another one or already beginning to spot flaws in his new wife and become critical of her. It may take a few more months, maybe a few more years, but he will become critical of her. Psychopaths can’t stay nice in intimate contact and as soon as their high of conquest wears off, they start projecting blame on their targets, be it their wives or girlfriends. However, the bottom line is: this is no longer your problem, fortunately! Just continue your NC policy, which has helped you so much regain your poise, and stay out of his life and anyone connected to him. Claudia

  151. thank you Claudia…I find it so upsetting still. Its just a dig and to upset me – and also proves they HATE when you go silent on them i think. but not becaus they care. but because they bore so easily. thank you claudia honestly, been so upset by it. brings back things i wish had been truly good. that’s all.

  152. Lesley, you can find real love with someone capable of it. If you’re still triggered or hurt when your psychopathic ex tries to contact you, it’s because part of you still holds on to the fake good memories of the luring phase and, as you state, wishes they were real. But once you really come to accept that they weren’t, then the psychopath will have no hold on you at all anymore. Because without that hook of the idealization phase, there are no positive aspects anymore about psychopaths and the romantic idealization phase. Claudia

  153. I know Claudia and to be honest I do accept they were all fake and none of it was real. for him i mean. not for me, i think that is why i get upset. But I do know for sure that none of his feelings were remotely real for me. it will get easier with time I know it.

  154. Yuck. After six months of no contact, I just got an email from my ex with a cute cell-phone photo of my other Persian cat, sitting in her lap in the car with her paws on the steering wheel and looking out the windshield. The only text was “Who would think she’d be such a good driver?”

    Before you think that’s a nice gesture on her part, I should explain some background. When I moved out, my ex pleaded with me to leave my cat behind (as I had two) so she wouldn’t be lonely. I was planning to come back in a couple of weeks anyway, as we had booked an upcoming cooking course together.

    Well, she cancelled the course, and kept stalling when I asked when we could re-schedule it. Her very last email to me was in April, “can’t talk now… going to Paris tomorrow night.” She had already found someone new to pay for her vacation addiction.

    Well, she ignored my subsequent emails about when I could come and pick up my cat, and I finally gave up. Suspecting that she was using my cat against me, I mailed her my cat’s medical records, vaccination certificate and her house key. I would rather lose my cat than have her used as a manipulation tool against me.

    So no, the photo was not a “nice” gesture on her part; it was in fact a very cruel one. My first reaction to the photo was one of anger and outrage; I felt quite taunted. Being a polite sort, I even had to suppress the subsequent urge to be civil and at least send a brief “thank you” reply.

    It’s been six months of no contact (including four months of personal hell where I lost 25 pounds), and no contact it shall stay. My beloved cat is gone forever, and I’ve grieved enough – first for my cat and then for the wonderful woman that I met nearly two years ago, but who never existed. – Julian.

  155. Lesley (sorry for misspelling your name earlier), I think you might have a good point there. I suspect that she identified with the lyrics – she was also addicted to psychopathic/narcissistic television shows like Jersey Shore and Celebrity Rehab, and probably identified with them too.

    BTW, I rarely watch TV, and my ex mirrored that perfectly for over a year. But when the devaluation phase started, she suddenly turned into a lazy couch potato, filling her mind with toxic garbage for two or three hours every night. – Julian.

  156. Julian,

    I completely understand how you feel. I felt that way when three days before his marriage, my ex sent me two different e-greeting mother’s day cards. What was the purpose? I’ll never know. But taunting is a likelihood. It’s a terrible feeling. I’m sorry for your losses and that pic that was sent. NC is a good thing and it feels violating when it’s not respected. Kelli

  157. Julian, I’m so sorry to hear you lost your beloved cat to this bad woman. You’re right, she didn’t really want the cat, just as psychopaths don’t really want their children in a custody dispute. She just wanted the cat as a pawn, to play upon your emotions and not lose her hold over you. But I bet she didn’t think she was taunting you though. She thought she was being witty and clever and seeing if you’d fall for her ploys again. I wouldn’t have said thank you for the photo of your cat, but it’s no big deal that you did. Psychopaths don’t deserve even as little as a “thank you” or “hello”. Just: glad it’s over and good riddance! No contact transmits this message better than anything else. Claudia

  158. Kelli, in her book on narcissism “Why is it Always About You?” Sandy Hotchkiss explains that Ns absolutely cannot process nor tolerate shame, and when confronted with a potentially shameful situation, they divert it elsewhere via blame and rage. Hence their need for a “poison container” as you put it.

    I got my first taste of being a poison container when my ex’s drawn-out divorce case finally went to the courts, and they started questioning her remarkably low income versus her fancy lifestyle. That was over a year into our relationship.

    We have a tendency to assume that people’s behaviour remains reasonably consistent, because that’s what we’ve been accustomed to all of our lives. But it’s simply not so with psychopaths and other personality disordered individuals – they can appear consistent for months or years, and then suddenly do a 180 at the drop of a hat. – Julian.

  159. Kelli and Claudia, thanks so much for your support. My ex is indeed witty and clever, and that’s why I strongly suspected she was trying to reel me back in. Maybe that note I sent to her current beau may have had an effect, who knows? And I did not send a thank-you note. Thanks to the valuable material and comments on this site, I’ve learned to watch out for the red flags! – Julian.

  160. Julian, good for you! Your comments, in turn, help lots of readers here too. Claudia

  161. Julian,

    Because I was his poison container, he never had the need to wait that long. The first major devalue happened three months in. I think in the second marriage, it happened after about a year. Kelli

  162. Julian,

    I really enjoy your posts. They’re very witty too! Gives a humorous spin sometimes to what can be, at times, quite painful! Kelli

  163. Lesley, Time does help. Immensely. I can’t believe how much I finally do NOT care about the psychopath I was involved with and no longer feel hurt or angry. One of my birds died this weekend and I was sobbing and sobbing, and then walked around with a huge weight on my chest, or so it felt like. Today (2 days after he died) I feel a little better and coming to this site, it reminded me that it has been quite a long while since crying about some other loss didn’t bring up sadness about what I went through with the psychopath.

    In fact, I don’t think I could cry about him if I tried! The hurt is long gone, replace with great thankfulness for dodging several bullets,(bombs more like) great remorse for what I did and people I hurt, which in turn inspires a great determination to always lead an ethical and honest life now, and to remember the ends do not justify the means in almost all cases. (And speaking of honesty, Susan is not my real name, and I should have picked a name like Healed or something.)

    About him, I think Claudia’s writing helped me finally let go of any image of him mattering a bit in my life.

    It is interesting that the things that are confusing to us, or grab our attention in the healing process often point the way to the next healing step we need to take.

  164. If there is anyway you can change your email account, I would. I know sometimes it is impossible because it is a business email. But many emails allow you to block someone. In some cases, the email doesn’t even go to spam, it is deleted before you ever see it.

    If you can’t block her or change email addresses, and she emails again, then I would send her an email saying “Do not email me again. If you do so, I will have no choice but to contact your ISP.” Then never, ever send her another email. EVER. If she does send you another, send a copy of your email requesting her to never contact you again, to her ISP. (internet service provider) and explain that she is harassing you with unwanted emails. In some cases, they will close that person’s account with no warning.

    Another alternative is to have an “automatic bounce back message” ready to send each time she contacts you….saying “This is an automatic response. The email account you are trying to reach no longer exists.”

  165. PS I realize the last is not honest. But when dealing with psychopaths, I think the rules change. In my job, I have to get innocent animals out from under the control of psychopaths. I do lie then, to save the animals. And then turn the bad guys into the sheriff. One ended up with a 4 inch thick binder of all the documentation against him!Sadly, few of them actually serve jail or prison time.

  166. Susan, it’s unfortunate that we as societies can’t respect animal rights and have a sense of superiority towards them which makes their rights harder to defend. I just saw an excellent movie called The Debt, which condemns Nazi experiments on human beings, as of course anyone should. But my daughter did a school project on animal testing for beauty products, and the kind of tests major companies do on animals are similar in nature to the Nazi medical experiments. I’m so glad there are good-hearted and efficient people like you to protect animal rights. Claudia

  167. Psychopaths and Cluster B’s do lots of projection….so in liking that song I suspect she felt everyone does to her, what she in fact does to them. OR, she is proud of what she does and saw in the song what she hopes her victims feel about her.

    After enough of this trying to sort out why they do what they do, I finally reached a point where I simply didn’t care anymore. It is because they have a personality disorder. Just like when a two year old has a tantrum, since you love them, you may try to figure out what is at the bottom of it, but often what is at the bottom is they are two years old.

    My one friend was so upset that her child was caring his blanket everywhere. She kept trying to analyze why. Finally I said to her, you know what, I bet if you do nothing about it and never figure out why, chances are good that he will not be carrying it at high school graduation anyway!

    But sadly, unlike children, psychopaths never grow up! So there is even less reason to figure out why they do what they do. What we really need to spend our time on is figuring out what red flags we missed AND WHY.

    Just like if you pull a muscle, you know you need to work to strengthen that muscle, if you don’t want the same thing to happen.

    Speaking of projection….I think I shared that at 15/16 the p said he found a girl with a smaller nose and bigger breasts. I could see objectively from bra size that he was full of it on one point, but he made me so self-conscious of my nose, which my husband said is NOT BIG. He got tired of telling me that. Well, when I finally saw the p 40 years later, guess who had a whopper of a nose!!!! I didn’t remember that about him! 🙂 Too funny!

  168. Susan, that is funny! Usually these psychopaths are somatic narcissists as well, so they think they’re way hotter than they actually are. They put others down physically to make them feel insecure; however, all the exercise and vanity in the world doesn’t help them because the dissolute lifestyle they lead ages them pretty badly. Claudia

  169. This video doesn’t speak to me, hallelujah!

    There is still hurt being expressed. The seducer still seems too powerful, not pathetic. The women seem like victims who haven’t quite recovered.

    Now if it was upbeat, laughing at him, saying who do you think you are, and went to a shot of the Wizard of OZ, with the curtain being pulled back to expose him, then I could rock with it!

    I think it does speak to the hurt when you first discover you have been emotionally raped, and are determined to never let it happen again….but I think it will if you don’t get to the point of being disgusted with anything that shows these manipulators as anything other than pathetic and ridiculous, undesirable. As the book “When you love a man who loves himself” says, at some point you just lose your appetite for them….you are no longer even attracted to who you thought they were….the appeal is gone. Because you have filled whatever need it was that they tapped into, and there isn’t a hole to fill anymore.

    Took me from first meeting to healing 46 years…..But from the time I discovered what a psychopath is (and how to spell it) to healing was more like 3 and a half years. Not a fast learner…..

  170. Susan, I’m very sorry to hear about the death of your bird. It’s always so hard to lose a longtime companion, especially given that animals are so incredibly loving and trusting.

    Kudos for your work! I volunteer sometimes for the local SPCA when they need extra staff for puppy-mill seizures. That always makes the headlines, but sadly what doesn’t is the steady stream of unwanted cats – about 10,000 per year – dropped off at the SPCA by callous owners who no longer want them. The vast majority must be euthanized, as there is space for only 200.

    I’m always delighted to meet people who do something – anything! – to help assuage the enormous injustices we humans perpetrate against our animal bretheren. Your short post has really made my day! (on top of hearing that Claudia’s daughter understands these injustices at an early age)

    I truly do understand the need to occasionally lie for a higher purpose. A few years ago, I visited the home of a computer engineer (same profession as mine, which is why I was asked) who allegedly had over 80 Siamese cats in his tiny house. Pulling into the driveway and smelling the stench, I was sure it was true. Yes, I came under false pretenses (and even took clandestine photos as evidence while my accomplice distracted the owner), but eventually he agreed to give up all the cats except three, which satisfied the municipality and the neighbours.

    BTW, shortly after receiving that email from my ex, I logged into my hosting service and blacklisted her email address. I’ll never even know if she sends anything again. But thanks for the tip. – Julian.

  171. Susan,

    I’m so sorry about your bird. I love my dog so much, and he’s been sick on and off with his back issues, that when he goes, I’m just going to be an absolute mess. I’m so so so sorry. Kelli

  172. Susan, you wrote “After enough of this trying to sort out why they do what they do, I finally reached a point where I simply didn’t care anymore.” Well, I can say the exact same thing for myself – I’ve spent months researching personality disorders, read several books and even considered shelling out the $400 for Robert Hare’s PCL-R kit (I still have a burning desire to find out how he’s managed to accurately evaluate people who are notorious liars).

    But like you, I really don’t care about the specifics any more. OK, so I might be better than the average Joe at classifying disordered people, and I’m happy to comment on postings, but what it really boils down to is (a) people who exhibit perverted responses to normal situations are sick and dangerous, and (b) they should be avoided at all costs.

    I feel compelled to add that the learning process has been (along with writing down my bizarre experiences in a private notebook, some of which has already been posted here) a key element in my recovery. It’s like using a ladder to reach the next higher level; once you’re there, you really don’t need it anymore.

    Even though I no longer need the ladder, I still have it and I’m determined to use it for the benefit of those who post comments on this site. Because Claudia’s articles (which gave me so many insights into psychopathy, plus pointers to many helpful books) and the members’ postings here have been so incredibly helpful to me, and I feel that giving back is the right thing to do. – Julian.

  173. At the time I was hurting “You’re so Vain” was the song that spoke to me. It had always made me think of the p since he dumped me when young. And it turned out to be prophetic… he did get together with the wife of a best friend…actually his wife’s best friend, and he delights in the fact that they often all 4 (she’s married too) have dinner together, visit each other, etc….it is a way of totally disrespecting his wife and her husband! Of course he didn’t tell me about that until the mask was starting to slip a little….but soon enough that I should have gotten out, without much harm at all. But I convinced myself there was just something about it that I didn’t understand. His baloney about it didn’t make sense to me, but I thought surely I just didn’t understand. I told him I thought it was awful.

    Now THAT was a huge red flag that should have sent me runnning. He told me just before we were to meet for the first time…like days before…and I think he did it to hurt me and see if my boundaries and ethics were cracking. After anticipating him for 6 months, sadly they were. UGH. What a needy, mixed up person I was right then! Never again.

  174. Thank you for the sympathy about the loss of my bird. They weigh so little but take up so much space in my heart.

    Thank you for the work you do Julian! It is not easy work. It was certainly your GOOD traits that were exploited!

  175. Julian, I’m so glad to hear that you wish to help other victims by continuing to post. Your contributions, as those of everyone here, are important and welcome. Because that’s what support groups are all about. Not only finding support on them, but also giving support to others who need it. Claudia

  176. Susan, dealing with psychopaths–like overcoming any challenge in life–either breaks us or makes us stronger. It’s so clear this experience has made you stronger. Claudia

  177. Claudia -If they bore so easily and jump from one encounter to the next what is the main reason do you believe they keep a “main dupe”? So they are not alone? Image? Mine took
    vacations with his main live in woman and while I was imagining they were off on some romantic time away together I often wonder what the vacation was REALLY like? Maybe he screwed the maid when she was out shopping? ha Its difficult for me to comprehend what a vacation would be like with a sexual predator psychopath> I know he would often call me when he was on vacation with her as I am sure he called ALL of his other women as well to touch base with them. I have had a few rough days, just when I think I am recovered I have a set back – Isnt it horrible to say if I KNEW he treated her awful I would recover faster? I dont wish her any harm as I am sure he does that quite well on his own. Linda

  178. Kelli: Physical beauty is not a priority for a sexual predator – my counselor always told me if he had a choice between having sex with me and two woman or another couple that were NOT attractive guess who he would choose? Ya you guessed it, all they care about is WHAT they are after as Claudia states – my attractiveness was just an added bonus for him but it was not on his list of priorities. I am 5’8 size 10 and in shape and fit but he would toss me away in a heartbeat to have a group encounter if the others offered him a sexually deviated experience. I dont think they really care about a persons qualities either only for image so it makes them look good. Linda

  179. Linda, psychopaths need a main target or dupe, be it a wife or a “serious” girlfriend, because a) it maintains their external image and gives the impression of “normalcy”; b) they need to be loved and worshipped, even though they themselves can’t love anyone; c) they feel like a conquest of body and soul is far more empowering and significant than just physical conquests. But for psychopaths it’s never either/or. It’s alway both/and. From start to finish they’re chronic cheaters. So they have a wife, lots of girlfriends–some of whom they would say are more “serious” relationships–escorts, flings, and lots of other sexual relationships. Every single rapport is mainly about conquest and power for a psychopath; however, more “serious” relationships make them feel more powerful over that person. Claudia

  180. Thank you Susan. I know time is a great thing. In January of this year i could hardly get out of bed, but by July i was off on holiday on my own and, although I didn’t have moments of upset, I had a lovely time relaxing and thinking of me and how relaxed i was without the ex.
    I am sorry to hear about your bird too. I understand that thing you get when, whenever you have bad news, about anything, it brings home all the sadness and nastiness of the ex path. I had just been told last week that my temp job ends at the end of October and once again that brings home to me the devastation he inflicted on my life. I gave up a great well paid permanent job for him (and us as I was, as we all were on this site, truly wanting to settle down with, well the person i thought he was!). However, I no longer cry and wish i could phone him so he could listen to me and talk to me, because, as we all know, they are not interested in anything good or bad that happens to you!! Mine’s used to say i was playing the victim!!
    I am sure in a few months or maybe couple of years i will be much better even still, but I don’t think I’ll ever forget any of it..and that is not a bad thing!
    Lots of love
    Lesley xxxxx

  181. i think all the posts are fab here, apart from that random rocket one..hahaha..Keli I’m glad you liked the song..i thought it was so apt for many of us. male or female. Julian i use a lot of your material when I’m being funny about my ex..i hope you dont mind! hahaha especially the boyfiend/girlfiend one,….genius!!

  182. Claudia: From the moment I realized I was conned and betrayed I have struggled severely with the OTHER WOMAN. It may stem from needing validation and some form of closure that we NEVER get from these relationships when they end. I had all the qualities his GF has, (maybe even more) yet he never wanted me for that role (of course in the beginning he did with all the LIES) Maybe I am not thinking correctly on this that eats at me; could it be I am not examining the reasons closely enough? His reasons for staying with her vs MY reasons for placing me in her role are NOT the same. Please dont read me wrong here I DONT want to live with him but WHY wasnt I good enough to be in that role, why was I only seen as his whore when I have just as much class and refinement as his GF has? I will never know what it was like to fix him a meal, do his laundry, clean his home, share vacations together, go to a movie together, an outing as a couple, I will never be there to greet him after work; he never even heard me play a concerto on the piano – he just hid me away in hotels and fed me empty promises; promising me the future he will ALWAYS share with his GF. What did she have that I didnt have? STOP Maybe I should be asking What did I HAVE that she didnt have that he is with HER? Sorry Claudia this seems to hinder my progress – I dont know if I will ever understand it? Thanks Claudia for understanding – Linda

  183. Linda,

    I’m curious. Are you aware of whether or not he has or has had other OW’s while with the current GF? Kelli

  184. Linda, I struggled with a loosely parallel issue for over three months: my work in the USA had finished, and (I thought) we had to choose if we should remain in the USA or move to my native Canada. It looked like a no-brainer — the US economy was in the toilet and unemployment had reached record highs, while back in Canada, a brand-new gym had just opened only three miles from my house and they desperately needed personal trainers (my ex is a certified PT). A dream come true for her, one would think.

    Yet to my shocked surprise, there was absolutely no discussion at all. She angrily demanded that I sell my nearly-new paid-up house and its contents and use the proceeds to continue to pay the mortgage on her tiny, rotting 120-year-old hovel. When I asked how I could legally remain in the US without an employer to sponsor me, well, immigration laws seemed to be of no concern to her at all.

    It’s impossible to really get into a psychopath’s mind, but nine months later, I’ve tentatively concluded that her overriding need for control eliminated all options. She has lived her entire life in a five-mile radius and has invested an enormous effort in building up an image for and control over her family, friends and clientele (and myself, of course). Rebuilding that effort from scratch in another country was probably unacceptable to her. At least that’s my theory, and I’m sticking to it!

    What is definitely true is that the life of any psychopath is so fraudulent that it’s literally a house of cards, and they have to struggle constantly to keep it from collapsing. Linda, no matter how much “better” you might be than his primary girlfriend, it’s the house of cards that’s the most important to him. To him, you or she are not better or worse — you’re both replaceable if need be. Queen of hearts, queen of spades, it’s all the same to him.

    I know how hard and exhausting it can be to struggle over “what if” and “why” so I sincerely hope you’ll find this helpful. – Julian.

  185. Kelli and Julian: Thanks for your replies!! Kelli he never revealed that he cheats on her, according to him he has been “A GOOD BOY” ha ha what a laugh – I do remember him saying one time that he could NEVER be faithful in a relationship, he said, ME FAITHFUL? ya right!!! But he always acted as if it was just his GF and myself – sorry I think this man has a string of women I feel it in my gut –

    Julian – I didnt mean to sound like I was better than his GF, but more that she is no greater or less than I am she probably is a really sweet loving gal who he has manipulated and trained for all these years, I sense a HUGE lack of trust on the GF’s part in his comments and he went to great lengths to conceal his affair with me from her, I even had to duck down in his truck when we were pulling into his driveway so the NEIGHBORS would not see me one time when she was away visiting family. ( I know I know, I should have NEVER EVER continued the relationship knowing all the problems he told me of his GF were ALL LIES) They lived in separate homes for about 5 years then he built this 500,000 mansion and they moved in together two years ago – nice huh as he was building his love castle for them he was promising ME a life together so a little more betrayal tossed my way. He has never married and said he NEVER would but they live together.

    “A House of Cards” nice way to view it Julian – I like to think of it as pieces of a chess board, was I a pawn or a rookie? Maybe I was a patsy, or patron? Wonder what piece she is in his game? He would actually say things like, Oh my GF wants to go on a cruise but I cant stand the thought of being cooped up on a boat for a week with her and he NEVER goes to her family events, says its BORING and could care less about her “loser” family. I KNOW he cheats on her by his actions and how he snuck around with me, calling up some friend of his wanting to know if I wanted to go on a free limo ride until he got off work, and wanting to set me up with some man who would screw me while he watched, ah NO THANKS but these are pretty good indicators the man CHEATS BIG TIME and has a hidden life from her. He did say to me “why do you think you are in competition with my GF? Because you are NOT and I am not sure what he meant by that. Maybe its what you stated Julian because we are both the same to him, queen of hearts, ace of shits, jack of crap we are just pieces in his game of life and what we are and what we have is of very little importance to the whole scheme of things. I always wonder in the back of my mind does he ENJOY her company more than mine? I just need to find a way to work through this – Thank you for your words of experience and wisdom – Linda

  186. Linda:
    “but WHY wasnt I good enough to be in that role, why was I only seen as his whore” My guess is because he knew that is what would hurt you the most. And hurting you the most is what he wanted to do.

    How telling that he never heard you play a concerto on the piano….his envy wouldn’t allow that, and his desire to hurt you wouldn’t allow that.

    The only way I got out of one sexual act with the p was, when he suggested something during sex that was abhorrent to me, I acted enthusiastic and said “yes, please, please”. And then he said “nevermind, you wouldn’t like it”. Ha! What he meant was I had just spoiled all his pleasure of forcing me to do something. Therefore HE wouldn’t like it.

  187. Linda, your chess board analogy made me smile. My ex had a small end table in the living room with about two dozen framed photographs of family and friends. One day I moved the photos to clean the glass tabletop and didn’t replace them exactly as they were before. To my amazement, this horrified her: “No, no, he goes HERE, she goes THERE!” Just like in real life 🙂 – Julian.

  188. “Why do you think you are in competition with my GF?” Perhaps it’s because YOU go HERE, and SHE goes THERE on his sick little chess board. – Julian.

  189. Julian and Linda, since psychopaths play games with people (and, as Hare puts it, make up the rules as they go along), they constantly use the vocabulary of games. Your ex was quite explicit about it; so was mine. He kept saying “Keep your eyes on the prize,” or “Once we live together we’ll play by my rules”. His prize is conquest and his rules are a form of enslavement of his targets, or at least as close to it as they will allow it. Claudia

  190. ROFLOL!!! Linda!!! The question he asked, “Why do you think you are in competition with my GF?” LOL!!! What an IDIOT…

    Ok, first that was incredibly manipulative. He knows EXACTLY why you feel you’re in competition with the GF because he set it up that way! It’s called Triangulation, Linda, and spaths love that shit. I understand how you feel. I’ve fought those same issues for months now. I think if mine thought he could get away with me being his poison container while having his new wife, he would. The reason you are not in the mess anymore, is because you WON”T play the game of triangulation like a good girl. His purposeful intent to exploit you sexually was planned all along, thus showing what a deviant, evil man he is. He could care less about Gf. Who knows why he has her around. If he loved her, do you really think he’d be cheating on her? Some spaths love to have a partner that will take their shit, ie: BE the main poison container. They don’t like being nice to the GF. Their relationship sounds very distant in many ways. You can probably bet that he’s cheating on her again and will continue too. Men with sexual deviancies like his, are not going to be faithful HOw sad for HER. She’s also willing to put up with it.

    I truly think that what he does to the OW is almost worse than what he does to his main supply source. He treats them a bit better because he needs to keep them around for whatever are their very shallow purposes. But whatever he could not do with her, he will do with us. The infamous Madonna/whore complex. Mine had this one badly. He projects his perceptions of whore onto us, but disguises it with his luring in the beginning. If you feel like a whore or that he was pimping you, that is EXACTLY what he wants you to feel. You took on HIS perceptions of how he viewed you and made them your own when none of it is reality, Linda. NONE of it. If you had shared life with this man, it would have been WORSE for you. She must be okay with his cheating. Denial is a very powerful thing. Maybe you just didn’t have enough of it. From your posts, you seem a very strong personality. Spaths don’t like that when you call them out on their shit ya know 🙂 Kelli

  191. Susan: Its almost as if they only take pleasure in doing things that are the exact opposite of what he knew you would not like. Susan good thing he changed his mind on that sexual request or you would have really been screwed (no pun intended) ha ha I can throw back a perfect example on my experience; mine was always wanting me to have a threesome with he and his GF, (triangulation at its finest) so I told him, OK, SET IT UP LETS DO IT!!!! Guess what? IT NEVER HAPPENED thats because I knew what his game was by convincing me that his GF has orgies with him would possibly get me to do these things with him, it was all part of his sick sick manipulation and brainwashing games – I also told him why dont you and your GF have orgies that you seem to want with me so much he told me, oh because she is too busy with work and such and we never have time, ha ha ya right – see how they work? How they play one against the other behind their backs? My counselor always told me and he was right that his GF DOES NOT do these things with him NO WAY, he keeps her out of that side of his life and for a good reason. I called him once and he answered my call with his GF standing three feet from him, she was making him dinner!!! He said, oh hi how have you been COUSIN? I said What are you talking about and then he yelled to his GF, oh honey put chilli on my hot dogs, I sat there in SHOCK I thought ya I have something I’d like to put on your hot dog, a little ACID!!!! I hung up the phone and I hope I left him there trying to explain why the person that just called him hung up on him, ha ha I mean this is just SICK and he probably got the biggest thrill out of talking to us both at the same time and fooling each of us right before dinner even. I recall him talking to his Gf as he had his hands down the back of my jeans and calling her honey and telling her he loved her as he was about to devour me, I kept pushing him away and I got up to leave and he grabbed me – I could tell you stories that as I now look back on that I CAN NOT BELIEVE I endured for some stupid fantasy la la illusion I could not get out of my head – I mean the FACTS were THERE, the man was unmasked the man was clearly a low life scum sucking parasite sexual predator rapist masturbating FREAK and I was walking around like some zombie addicted to some sick illusion – I just had to get that out sorry

  192. Lesley, you’re most welcome to use anything you wish. And a little bit of humour can go a long way to make a painful situation a little more tolerable.

  193. Linda, because to psychopaths language is just one more (rhetorical) game, they constantly contradict themselves and give multiple versions of the same event. My ex would also say sometimes he’d been faithful to his wife since they married; at other times he’d brag about cheating on her, sometimes with women he found on dating and adult websites. As he put it, he liked to “sample the goods,” not just date. But as every book on psychopaths states, just as they’re never honest, they’re also never faithful. Psychopathy and fidelity are a contradiction in terms. Claudia

  194. Susan,

    How funny,. “nevermind, you wouldn’t like it” I heard that statement sooooo many times for the same reasons. If I wanted what he wanted, then it wasn’t fun anymore 🙂 Kelli

  195. Claudia, thank you. The sheer extent of the game-playing has really hit home with me today. I’ve always thought of games as something you do every now and again for fun – but with psychopaths, their entire life is one big game! – Julian.

  196. And I TOTALLY understand that zombie state. Been there. I can’t tell you how mortified I am at some of the things I did. But my therapist (more than one actually) said “The shame, the blame belongs to him, don’t take it on.” And it is true…without his manipulations of my vulnerabilities I would have never done what I did.

    But I look at it as this: I saw my dark side…..and it isn’t anything that I can’t keep from expressing by simply being very clear about who I am and what I stand for now. The clearer you are on your boundaries, the harder it is for a psychopath to get you into any kind of lasting relationship.

    I was willing to do anything for the dream, the promise, the story, the man I thought he was. Never again. I know who I am and while it is hard sometimes to be clear with someone about something that I know will make them angry with me, I can now do it, and calmly. As the Betrayal Bond books says, it doesn’t matter if at first you set your boundaries too high or whatever or defend them with too much anger….what matters is that you set boundaries and uphold those boundaries.

  197. Julian and Kelli all – How true because we are BOTH just pieces on the board but she is still just a pawn in his game – Thank God he cant use me anymore against his other pieces.

    Your right Kelli as always, he WANTED me to feel like his whore but in reality it couldnt be more further from the truth. I remember the last couple months of our phone conversations were all centered around the topic of how nice my breasts were as well as other body parts – he told me he watched Girls Gone Wild and I should enter a titty contest – GEE THANKS I will scout the area after we hang up and be sure to sign up if I win I will send half the proceeds to you, ya right – Kelli though as I look at my life, my children, my family and see all that I have accomplished I dont think it was my breasts that attributed to these things, I dont think I had much time to WHORE AROUND as I was studying to be a concert piano player since I was 5, it was always me that was practicing as others were out having a good time. I mean I know these paths leave us pretty damn confused but sometimes we need to stop and THINK and I ask myself, REALLY LINDA, a whore, are you serious? I have spent all my married life on my children and husband and a good share taking care of my failing parents, Its just so hard to process what sick sick projection these individuals try to do to us, its so opposite of what we really are – BUT A WHORE? Ok I am laughing here – thats almost as crazy as saying I am an axe murderer its just CRAZY!!!!!

    I have to STOP torturing myself with these thoughts like he WANTS me to, he would be in projection heaven if he knew I harbored these thoughts. The truth being he KNOWS I am not the type of woman to have affairs, its just not my moral style so he was trying to punish me for not behaving as he wanted me to, he did this because he CANT control me anymore, I am too strong and wise to buy into his facade. I showed him I was a better, moral decent person than he could ever be and he HATES me for it. I am trying, everyday I try to remember this is part of the disorder they have x0 Linda

  198. Linda, good point! Psychopaths not only play a dangerous game of chess with you, but also try to use you as a pawn to manipulate and hurt other people. Claudia

  199. Susan, all human beings are fallible and prone to temptation. But those who see that and want to improve their character can do it. Psychopaths don’t want to improve and consider themselves perfect. My psychopathic ex had a saying: “Bad men do what good men dream.” Nooo… Bad men do what good men have nightmares about. Thank goodness we escaped the nightmare! Claudia

  200. All: I can extract him the person, flesh and blood from the whole picture now seeing more clearly how he really was my enemy all these years; How does one recover and move on from the utter betrayal I was set up for from day one? He KNEW how the story would end from our first hello but I certainly was blind to it. I dont quite know how to process and derive at a place of peace knowing another human being betrayed me in such a severe severe way or that I even had the misfortune of experiencing such a betrayal. Betrayal such as this leaves damage and scars – I have no desire for revenge even when I KNOW I could cause some SERIOUS harm to his current relationship all I would have to do is let his GF hear the lovely messages he has left me the past 5 years – I would love to see him deny THAT!!! But what it really undo what he did to me? NO would I walk away into the sunset saying, boy I sure showed him I taught him a lesson he F—ed the wrong person over – would it really erase the wrong he did? Of Course not so its NOT a course I want to take because in the end I would still have to continue on in my recovery and healing and he would just be one pissed off psychopath!!

    All the issues I speak of brings me back to the issue of betrayal; we were going to have a future together, my GF and I are not really meant for each other, but yet I still live with her, built a home we share and we travel together, meanwhile he was grooming me to be his sex slave – that is what the whole encounter was ever about in his EYES – I think that is about the most severe form of betrayal a person could do to another and that is what I have lived through, my heart was tortured beyond what is even comprehensible. It is HE that gets to ride off into the sunset with the sun on his back, it is HE that will never ever pay for the betrayal he did to my life – Seems I am the one that has to pay for the betrayal and NOT HIM when HE is to blame NOT ME Linda

  201. Thank you Julian. I do try most days to inject some humour as it is so awful and painful. Your wit really does help. Some days though, sadly today i found some old emails from when my ex boyfiend was trying to be normal – are more difficult than others. Though having said that, the content of his emails sent latterly when he was trying to use me after we split are so stereotypically psychopathic that when i read them (before deleting them!) i thought Oh my god, you should be dissected and tested upon!! Hahaha.
    Hope you are ok Julian

  202. Lesley, yes a little humour does always help. I’m more or less OK, but like most of us here. I have my better days and worse days. Getting that photo of my beloved cat Minna the other day did temporarily throw me back into the psycopathic loop, but I managed to crawl back out of it. Please take the time to delete ALL of your ex’s emails or move them to an archive somewhere so that they’re no longer in your face. I did that a few months ago, and it was a very healing experience. I hope you’re doing well also. – Julian.

  203. Hi Julian
    Yes i know what you mean. The minute they make contact with you it sets you back, it all comes flooding back in and you start to think too much and get upset. Dont get me wrong I know my ex path now inside out, actually I knew what he was like from about two months after I lived with him. I know seriously that he was capable of anything and that you could bet money that what he said he was doing, he was doing the opposite. If that makes any sense. I know that he emailed me the other day just to wind me up as he’d not heard from me in months and he’d be bored. But it still gets to you but that is why they do it. I remember I once said to him that he wrote lovely poems to me and he said “those? I’ve written loads of poems..they mean nothing to me..” – as I read in Robert Hare’s book, they know the words but not the music. Its such a strange process to get over. You KNOW what they are; you KNOW there is no hope ever, and yet they still manage to get to you. Though, on the bright side mine’s doesn’t get to me as much as he did. I think its also because they cause so much devastation to your life (well mines’ did) that everything for a while is linked to the after effects of their evilness.
    Good days and bad days Julian, then it will be more good days and not so many bad days!
    Haha he sent me an email once of a pic of him and his brothers and him in a new bike jacket (when we’d split up by the way!?) with “thought you would like these” and “see i do buy myself clothesx”– their utter self immersion is quite honestly staggering!

  204. Julian and Lesley, that’s why it’s best not to open their emails or spam emails from other accounts they open to harass their targets. Because even if you don’t respond, reading their garbage is still a form of passive contact which can, at best irritate you, and at worst set you back in your recovery. These psychopaths are irrelevant individuals and we should treat them as such. Claudia

  205. Lesley, my ex began to mirror me in a fake way from the start, just as yours did with the love poems that meant nothing to him. The first “romantic” emails he sent me were the cheesiest I ever received in my life. He thought he was mirroring the love poems and the postromantic movement I had started. But it just sounded like phony crap, and I called him on it. Then he switched to an entirely different, more no-nonsense tone. He tried out different personas and tones on me, to see what works. That’s what they do with every target. Same thing in their cyberstalking, after you break up with them. It’s just trying out different masks to see what gets to the target. The answer is: nothing. These frauds don’t deserve an ounce of our energy and attention. Claudia

  206. Leslie and Claudia, thank you. After six months of no contact, it’s truly a scary experience to get an email from your ex-path. I vividly remember the sudden adrenaline rush (and feeling of disbelief) when I saw her name suddenly pop up in my email program, and then the tingling feeling two or three seconds later as the adrenaline subsided. As if I had just narrowly avoided an automobile accident. Then the anger when I saw the photo of my precious stolen cat on her lap; it made my chest tighten. The incredibly profound physiological reactions to some pixels on a screen still amazes me; it wasn’t even a real-life encounter! And I think this underscores the importance of maintaining no contact.

    As for good days and bad days, well today was a pretty good one. I stopped by my doctor’s office to inquire about some test results (she had ordered an MRI scan just to be sure there’s nothing wrong with my digestive system, as I had lost so much weight), and she exclaimed “Mr. Julian, you look great! You’ve gained weight, haven’t you?” Of course, the last time I saw her about two months ago I was a feeble 128 lbs (my healthy weight is 160) and looked terrible. I’m now at 137, so I’ve still got a way to go.

    She has a kind and gentle sense of humour also – she told me that I’m one of very few of her patients who actually look better with a few more pounds!

    Then I finally admitted to her that I had spent a year and a half with a psychopathic woman (I had been too embarrassed to admit that before), and much to my surprise, she really knew what psychopaths are all about! She actually told me “They’re just so good at fooling people and absolutely impossible to spot – if I met one in a bar or something, there’s just no way I could know.” I’m so fortunate and grateful to have found such a wonderful doctor.

    Finally, I’d like to point out that the beginning of my weight gain coincides almost exactly with the day I found this blog. So I’d like to express my heartfelt gratitude to Claudia and Michael and everyone who contributes here. – Julian.

  207. Somewhere in that last paragraph, I should have added the words “and I don’t think that’s a coincidence,” just to be more clear. – Julian.

  208. Linda, I’ll bet you feel much better after getting all this off your chest. It’s difficult for anyone to post a meaningful reply to such a heartfelt expression of betrayal and frustration, but perhaps I can offer a tiny bit of solace:

    Rule Number 46: Life isn’t always fair.

    This comes from one of my favourite Star Trek: Next Generation episodes, “The Game,” guest starring the enormously attractive (IMO) Ashley Judd as Robin Lefler. More info at (which I think is well worth reading).

    Hang in there Linda, and don’t forget that there are so many people here to support you. – Julian.

  209. Julian, I’m so sorry to read that you lost so much weight as a result of your trauma. I know Susan mentioned it had a similar effect on her, on her digestive system. But I’m so glad that you’re getting better and that your health–and psychological state of mind–is improving. The two are so closely intertwined. We’re grateful to you as well for your input and support. I’m sure you help many people here. Claudia

  210. Having just posted a reference to a particularly excellent Star Trek: Next Generation episode, I thought I should post another one regarding my all-time favourite award-winning episode: “The Inner Light.”

    My motivation is thus: we all know what a totally dysfunctional psychopathic relationship looks like, and I’m sure we’ve all had “mediocre/OK” relationships. But what does a truly deep and loving and fulfilling relationship look like? It’s wonderful at times and really boring at others, as in “don’t forget to put your shoes away.” But even the boring aspects are just so important.

    You can read a synopsis of the story at and I hope you can purchase or find a way to download (it’s not on YouTube) this amazing 40-minute piece of truth.

    The final 20-second scene with Captain Picard playing the Ressican flute will definitely bring tears to your eyes. It’s this final segment that makes the whole episode worth watching. – Julian.

  211. Hi all, I’ve been looking into stress and its effects on the body. seeing that a few people here have had weight loss and digestive issues, as have It seems like (no they do) a path puts us in a constant sense of fight or flight. Bathing our bodies with cortisol. The hard thing about dealing with a path is. If we fight we will not win. If we flight, we can not get away. Our bodies are faced with a continues bath of cortisol. Effecting our sleep, digestion, mood and over all well being. I know in myself I am spent. I have lost about 20 pounds. My stomach hurts, its like my colon is clenched in a fist. Hope that’s not TMI. Anyway I wonder if psychopaths experience any release of cortisol being they don’t feel. Nothing effects them so you would think cortisol would be non existent in their body. I don’t know something that kind of makes you say hmmm. I’ve read how to reduce stress but I bet the writers have never experienced a psychopath. They make it sound so easy. NC, NC, NC. I’m doing the best I can with that.

  212. Gary, great point! With a psychopath the victim is always in fight of flight mode, even afterwards when we experience PTSD. Because we were targeted by a predator, and our bodies know it even before our mind does. Claudia

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