See no Evil: Why is there so little Psychopathy Awareness?

It seems like people tend to research psychopathy and other personality disorders after they’ve been burned. I have decided to repost an entry from last year that examines some of the reasons why there is so little psychopathy awareness in the general public. Ideally, this information can reach the general public, so people can spot the symptoms of dangerous personality disorders before they get harmed.

Perhaps because they’re so dangerous and destructive—the closest approximation to metaphysical evil that human beings can embody–the general public has a morbid fascination with psychopaths. We see them featured frequently on the news. The media seems to be intrigued by men like Scott Peterson and Neil Entwistle, who remorselessly murder their wives so that they can fool around more easily with other women. The public eats up this sordid information. True crime books about psychopathic killers tend to be best sellers. Similarly, biographical works about Hitler and Stalin continue to sell well. Yet, paradoxically, as fascinated as the general public may be with psychopaths and their evil deeds, they’re far less interested in what makes these people tick and how to recognize and avoid them in real life. As mentioned, there are a few highly informative studies of psychopathy, some of which–Stout’s The sociopath next door, Babiak and Hare’s Snakes in Suits and Brown MA’s The women who love psychopaths–are written for a general audience. These books describe clearly and without unnecessary jargon the psychology of evil individuals. Unfortunately, however, such informative works tend to be less popular than the dramatic news coverage of psychopathic killers or the horror stories we read in true crime and thrillers. Why so?

The first answer I’ll offer is in the form of an analogy. When I (and probably most other people too) shop for a car, I don’t need someone to explain to me in great detail the mechanics behind how the car functions. I may read Consumer Reports online to see how the car’s rated in various relevant categories, such as overall quality, safety and gas mileage. Then I look at it in person, to see if I like it and if it’s the right size to suit my family’s needs. In other words, a superficial knowledge of the car suffices for me. That’s how most people feel about the psychopaths featured on the news, in history or true crime books and in the movies. They grasp the phenomenon superficially: that evil people exist and do horrible things to others. But they don’t feel like they need to understand these people on a deeper psychological level. Which brings me to my second reason. We tend to view psychopaths as a form of titillating, if morbid, entertainment. We may disapprove of their horrific crimes, but their capacity for evil fascinates us. Third, and perhaps most importantly, we hold psychopaths at arm’s length, so to speak, in our own minds. I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard people interviewed on the news about a violent murder say that they can’t believe it happened to their families or in their neighborhood. We believe that the great misfortune of being the victim of a psychopathic killer, rapist, conman, spouse or lover only befalls others. Somehow, we assume that our families and we are immune to such terrible things happening to us. Perhaps we believe that we’re too wise, too well educated and live in too good of a neighborhood to fall into the hands of social predators.

If you think about it rationally, however, you come to realize that this belief rests upon an illusion. It may be true that you and your loved ones are not statistically likely to fall prey to a psychopathic serial killer. Experts estimate that there are only about 50 to 100 serial killers circulating in the country at any given moment. It’s therefore rational not to live your life in the fear that you’ll be attacked by one of them. But it’s not statistically likely that you’ll avoid any intimate involvement with a psychopath for the rest of your life. As mentioned, psychopaths constitute roughly 4 percent of the population. This is significant, given the number of lives they touch and the kind of damage they can inflict. Psychopaths are exceedingly sociable, highly promiscuous, have many children, move from location to location and, generally speaking, they get around. Their malady is technically called “antisocial personality disorder” not “asocial personality disorder.” An asocial person avoids human contact. An antisocial person, on the contrary, seeks others in order to use, con, deceive, manipulate, betray and ultimately destroy them. That’s what psychopaths do. They feed, like parasites, upon our lives. They live for the thrill of damaging healthier, more productive and more caring human beings.

Statistically speaking, there are decent chances that you have a psychopath in your extended family. There are even better odds that at some point you ran across one or will encounter one in your life. Perhaps it was a boyfriend who seemed perfect at first but turned out to be an abusive sex addict. It may be a difficult boss who makes work unbearable for his employees. Or maybe it was a manipulative professor who became a minor despot in the department. Perhaps it was a teacher who got too chummy with his students and even seduced some of them. Or perhaps it was a friend who appeared to be kind and loving, only to repeatedly backstab you. Maybe it was a conartist who took your elderly mother’s life savings, or a portion of her hard-earned money, and vanished into thin air. Moreover, any psychopath can cause you physical harm and endanger your life. It doesn’t have to be one predisposed to rape and murder. Scott Peterson and Neil Entwistle were not sadistic serial killers. They were your garden variety charismatic psychopaths who found marriage a bit too inconvenient and incompatible with the new, wilder paths they wanted to pursue in life. Their incapacity to regard others as fellow human beings renders all psychopaths extremely dangerous.

Since empathy, moral principles and the capacity to love don’t play a role in any psychopath’s decision-making process, the transition from sub-criminal to criminal psychopath can be fluid and unpredictable.  Just about any psychopath could easily engage in violent behavior. My main point here is the following: learning about psychopathy is not a matter of technical psychology research or of abstract theories that are largely irrelevant to the general public. This information is highly pertinent to all of us. It’s far more useful than learning all the technical details about how your car works, to return to the analogy I offered earlier. You will never need to rebuild your car from scratch. At most, you may need to learn how to change a spare tire. But it’s likely that you’ll need to defend yourself, at least emotionally and psychologically, from a psychopath who touches your life and aims to undermine your wellbeing. A basic knowledge of psychopathy can save you years of heartache at the hands of a spouse or lover whom you can never please, who never stops lying and cheating on you and who keeps you dangling on the hook. It can spare you a lifetime of struggles to save an incorrigibly bad child from his or her own misdeeds. It can help you avoid being scammed by con artists who are great at their game. It can give you the strength to move on from a job where your boss keeps everyone in terror by constantly oscillating between sugar-sweetness and abuse.

Obviously, such knowledge can’t protect you from all harm caused by evil individuals. Even if you’re informed about psychopathy, you may still have the misfortune of becoming the victim of a random crime or of being part of a society ruled by a psychopathic dictator. But at least a basic knowledge of psychopathy can help those of us who are fortunate enough to live in free societies determine that which lies largely within our control: whom we choose to associate with and whom we choose to avoid or leave. It can help us recognize the symptoms of this dangerous personality disorder so that we don’t invite a bad person into our lives with open arms. It can give us the strength to end a toxic relationship with an emotional predator for good, once his disorder becomes obvious to us. In other words, knowledge about psychopathy constitutes the best defense that the general public, not just those who have been personally harmed, can have against evil human beings: to avoid them whenever possible and to escape them whenever we become ensnared into their webs. Needless to say, even those of us who become well informed about psychopathy won’t be qualified to clinically diagnose them, unless we acquire professional training in this domain.  But we can become capable of recognizing them well enough in real life to want to get away from them. For all practical purposes, that’s what matters most.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction



90 Comments

  1. Another great article and I do think that people should be educated about psychopaths. I had no idea people like this existed until I was actually targetted by one. It took me just over a year to realise he was a psychopath. I was so naive and trusting and never thought for a minute that some one could be so cold heartless manipulative and abusive. Perhaps if I had had some education on this disorder I might have realised sooner and caused myself less heart ache.

  2. Thank you Emily. That’s exactly how I feel as well. I wish I knew about psychopaths and the symptoms of this dangerous personality disorder before being burned by one. Hopefully all the information and websites devoted to this subject will eventually reach the general public, so people can avoid being harmed. Claudia

  3. Excellent article!

    I was frustrated during the Casey Anthony trial when the defense put up a witness about grieving behaviors (and I’d seen those as a teacher [when I was younger]….but they are mixed in with normal manifestations of grief), but the defense put up no expert about pathological liars, and typical behaviors seen in psychopaths. Perhaps there were good legal reasons. And we all know that when telling people about psycho pathetic 🙂 behavior , it is hard for people to wrap their brains around it. They keep wanting to make sense of it from the perspective of a person who has empathy, has a conscience. They think that if they met a psychopath, they would recognize them….that they would know a monster when they see one.

    Through marriages, not bloodlines, the BTK killer was part of my husband’s extended family. He played the cat and mouse games with the police with letters he wrote to them. The BTK killer spent some holiday meals with family, bounced my nieces and nephews on his knee. I never met him, but from the little the family has told me (they don’t like to talk about it), no one suspected what he was capable of. But the wife of course behind closed doors had not had a happy marriage.

    Hopefully people will begin to realize they don’t LOOK like monsters, and often act opposite to what you would expect from a monster. The monster part, Mr. Hyde, is almost always hidden. And that there are villainous acts that are the equivalent of emotional murder.

  4. Susan, information about the psychopath’s mask of sanity has been out there since Hervey Cleckley’s book in the 1940’s, but the problem is that it still doesn’t make it to the general public. It’s mostly victims who bother to look up the psychopathy symptoms, as we have, after they’ve already been traumatized and hurt by psychopaths. I think the outcome of the Casey Anthony trial reflects a lack of general knowledge about this mask of sanity. Psychopaths can look harmless and act sweet, but this only makes them more, rather than less, dangerous. Claudia

  5. Claudia,

    This is an excellent article.

    One of the things that came to mind, reading yours, and Susan’s posts here, is that Susan is right, it”s difficult enough for survivors just to wrap their brain around what happened and who the psychopath IS, what he DOES and HOW he does it. Even in the media, psychopaths are equivalent to murderers, big time drug dealers, gang violence, etc. I do think there is more awareness out there about the corporate psychopath, such as the Bernie Madoff’s of the world and also in politics, but my question is HOW to inform a naive and ignorant public about psychopathy in a way that helps them GET it about them, when they have never EXPERIENCED one.

    I have a hard time trying to educate anyone about it that hasn’t been through it because they put it into terms of a lesser degree, although still toxic, such as alcoholics or domestic violence. There is soooo much more involved than even that when it comes to a psychopath.

    Kel

  6. Kel, I think that the media coverage of psychopaths focuses so much on the financial scammers (big, sensational ones) and especially on the violent criminals (serial killers, infamous criminals) that it doesn’t really educate people about 90 percent or more of psychopaths who aren’t those types or don’t get caught for those types of crimes. Those are the psychopaths that target most people. They blend so well into the general population because the public is not familiar with the symptoms/red flags of personality disorders. I wonder what would be a good way to make those far better known to a much bigger public… Blogs and books do that, however, they still reach mostly the victims who have already opened their eyes as opposed to the potential victims (before they’re burned) or even the many victims being hurt by psychopaths and not realizing that’s whom they’re dealing with. Claudia

  7. Claudia

    that’s correct, so how, as a society, can that be changed? Kel

  8. Kel, I wish I knew. It’s clear that, as a society, we focus on spectacular effects–terrorism, gruesome crimes, and huge financial scams–and not their common denominator cause, which is often the psychology of psychopaths who engage in all these kinds of wrongdoings. People aren’t that interested in examining causes of spectacularly negative events UNLESS it happens to them. When you suffer from them directly, you become obsessed with understanding WHY and HOW this misfortune could have happened to you (or your loved ones). It’s part of PTSD, the constant rumination. Rumination isn’t all bad, because it’s part of what has driven all of us to understand personality disorders better. Without this knowledge, we’d be far more stuck in a rut, wondering what we did to make the psychopaths behave so cruelly towards us. But without the impetus of suffering and pain, we might have never had the curiosity to research psychopathy when reading about terrorism, or evil dictators, or big scammers, or serial killers and rapists. We’d have read about the events and never looked into the causes. I don’t know yet what motivates human beings to look deeper into psychological causes other than what has motivated us, which is personal trauma caused by psychopaths. Claudia

  9. I truly beleive psychology should be a required course to graduate high school or even grade school. A great deal of the course should focus on cluster B personalities, unfortunately that would require the teachers to become educated in the disorder themselves. I think that is where it should start. Educate our teachers so the knowledge can be passed to the children. The hard part even trained licensed therapist and psychologist aren’t fully educated in Cluster B personalities. Their is a lot of talk about depression. We are bombarded by antidepressant drugs on TV and print. I truly wonder if the majority of people are depressed because they have run into a psychopath whether it be a parent, significant other, boss or coworker.
    Another hard thing is most, almost all people are of the mind set “that wont happen to me” Its like drunk driving. people know its bad but still do it. Unfortunately it takes a real life experience to open one’s eyes.
    This is tough, another point. Could educating our children create “super psychopaths” will they become better at
    coancielring the red flags? But if taught young enough would the disorder ever develop? Another great article to make you think Claudia.
    Gary

  10. Claudia, thank you for another thought-provoking article, and for emphasizing that it IS statistically very likely to become intimately involved with a psychopath at some point. At the risk of sounding negative, I do have some serious concerns about the difficulty of raising awareness of psychopathy to a sufficient level to prevent being duped or for self-defense and being able to leave without harm. Sufficient awareness may even require direct experience, much like riding a bicycle. You can read all about and try to understand bike-riding as much as you wish, but you won’t “get it” until you actually get on a bike and try. I’ll offer this story to support my view.

    Several years ago, a friend “L” introduced me to a pretty remarkable woman “P.” She was intelligent, well educated (PhD in music), very shapely and attractive, a concert pianist, and a terrific cook to boot. We went on a couple of dates that were fabulous, but it’s what happened in between those dates that was troubling. For example, I’d call and leave a message, and another message the next day, then wait for her to call me back. Eventually she would, viciously reprimanding me for “not calling enough.”

    [In retrospect, this was “a perverse reaction to a normal life situation” – my now-favourite telltale sign of a twisted person.]

    Fed up with P’s bizarre behaviour, I stopped calling. My friend L who had introduced us defended her vigorously, reminding me of all her positive qualities and insisting that “she was just testing me.” I was adamant about not ever seeing P again, and told L that her level of anger and the malice in her tone of voice was something far beyond mere “testing.”

    Fast forward a few months, and L calls me and tells me in a horrified voice that P had recently run off with her boyfriend and they’re planning to get married in a couple of months. She couldn’t understand why I wasn’t fazed by the news. I simply told her that I sensed something really evil in P right from the start.

    I must add that my friend L is a licensed psychologist and is well aware of Cluster B disorders, yet she had been far more effectively duped than I was (and I had no clue about anything at the time).

    Psychopaths are extremely adept at fooling people, even intelligent and astute people – and even those with extensive training in psychology. Awareness may not be enough to avoid them, however direct experience with them certainly is.

    Book and movies are an excellent way to “experience” a situation without actually living it. Claudia, perhaps our best hope is that your upcoming book will become successful and maybe even made into a film. – Julian.

  11. Gary, I agree with you that early education is key. And when psychology is taught, there should be far more focus on personality disorders and abnormal psychology. There’s far too little focus on them even for therapists, since not that many of them are very well informed about or specialize in personality disorders. I suspect this is not accidental. Personality disorders can’t be cured. They’re untreatable as well, although some psychiatrists treat them with medication to attenuate their symptoms. I think they’re marginalized from psychology education for that reason. But the number of depressed, anxious and unhappy victims devastated by personality disordered individuals is, as you state, probably huge. Most of them can be helped by information about personality disorders, to know whom they should stay away from. Most of them can be treated for the symptoms of depression and PTSD. The fields of psychiatry and psychology needs to focus on them more and that entails offering a lot more education and information about personality disorders. Claudia

  12. Julian, I’m glad to hear that you had a great radar about P and stayed away from her. As for how to spread this information about personality disorders better and to a wider public, it’s something worth thinking about some more. I don’t know if movies or popular TV shows even reach the public in the way that can help. For instance, there have been many good and psychologically accurate movies about psychopathic partners, like Sleeping with the Enemy. Donna Andersen has appeared on an excellent reality show on my favorite channel, Investigation Discovery, called Who the Bleep Did I Marry? focused on people (mostly women) who married psychopaths who turned out to be total frauds. There are also other good shows on this channel about psychopaths, such as Wicked Attraction and Deadly Women (hosted by former FBI profiler Candice Delong). The Huffington Post has an excellent crime investigative reporter, David Lohr, who clearly knows about personality disorders.

    But even such movies, shows and news articles don’t really focus on the symptoms of personality disorders as much as on the drama of such situations and their sensational aspects. If they listed the symptoms of personality disorders and placed more emphasis on educating the general public, they might lose a lot of their target audience. I think the only way this knowledge will become widespread is through those who have suffered at the hands of psychopaths making information about personality disorders mainstream primarily as a form of EDUCATION, NOT primarily as a form of ENTERTAINMENT or NEWS. Because when it’s presented mainly as entertainment or news, as it is in movies, shows and on the news, people don’t absorb it in the same cautionary way that can help them when they encounter these dangerous individuals. Claudia

  13. The Psychopath’s Prayer by Thomas Sheridan from his website labyrinth of the psychopath (I just thought this hilarious and a good start to my day!)

    The Psychopath’s Prayer
    Our God Who is Me.
    Please Protect Me from Detection and Background Checks Today.
    May my Rat-Like Smirk be Hidden and my Pupils Not Dilate
    Please Continue to Allow Me to Woo Victims with Pity Plays,
    Sob Stories about Cancer, Childhood Abuse and other “Poor Me” Fabrications.
    Wild Mood Swings which Happen in an Instant.
    Superficial Social Issues I Can Align Myself with.
    Carry Around Unread Carl Sagan Books to Show what a Super Intellectual I be is.
    May Google and Wikipedia be my Guide.
    My Shifty Eyes, Parasitic Arrogance and Righteous Indignation Prove my Superiority over all.
    Discard Enablers for New Ones in an Instant.
    Let me Believe what I think Others would Like me to Believe in,
    Until I no Longer Need to Fool them.
    Get Married to Avoid Paying Rent.
    Have Children Just to See What it is Like and then Lose Interest.
    Have Sex with Something, Anything.
    Invent Fake Beautiful Admirers on Facebook to Flirt with me,
    To Compensate for the Mundane and Uninteresting Acquaintances I am Surrounded by.
    As I Scream and Rage Internally as Successful and Happy Past Victims use NO CONTACT EVER AGAIN on me.
    Because there is Nothing I can do about it.
    As I Spiral into an Existence of Unfulfilled Fantasy and Schemes towards Banality and Resentment
    And Deliver Us From Red Flags.

    Richard Dawkins, oops I really mean Amen.

    .

  14. Kelli, this is an amusing intro to the psychopath, right up Sarah’s alley. She often applies high dosages of British humor to the subject as well. Claudia

  15. Gary,

    VERY good point! This is why there are so few therapists who understand fully, the Cluster B disorders. While they receive some education in grad school, it is so insignificant to be irrelevant when they go into practice. One of my therapists actually thought there were cases where psychopaths could be “cured”. I’m taking psychology this fall term. The textbook, is one chapter long about Cluster B’s and is FILLED with misinformation. I can’t WAIT to get to that chapter! This will be a time to educate others through experiences I’ve had, and I bet as that door opens there will be others in the class who will recognize their own Cluster B’s. Sandra Brown does a lot of work in educating others about Cluster B’s, therapists, social workers, domestic violence programs, schools, etc. Donna Anderson has started a program to teach teenagers about Cluster B’s and how to recognize it. I do believe this is where it will need to start. Lives can be saved via educational pursuits and with the right materials and instruction that outline the Cluster B disorders. The misconceptions can be very frustrating and prevents survivors from speaking on such a topic. That’s a shame. I hope that that will change. Kel

  16. Claudia,

    Humor helps sometimes LOL! Kel

  17. Kelli,
    My step son started collage last week. He mentioned he is taking a psychology class. I am very interested to see his text book. I asked him if he knew if it covers Cluster B personality disorders. He didnt know what that was, so I took the opportunity to explain a bit of what I know. I did not say anything about his mother. I still don’t know how to address him about her. I could very easily see her turning it all on me, if he was ever to confront her. My hope is this class will shed some lite on his mother in his eyes. I only hope his instructor is well versed in the disorder and spends some time on it.
    Your class will have a very valuble resource in yourself and I hope it opens the door for your class to explore this very sick personality trait.
    Gary

  18. Gary,

    My middle son is taking psychology this term as well. I’ve already asked to see his textbook, and they ran out, so more are on order. I know they will not address the Cluster B and if they do, it won’t be to the extent that it might otherwise be. As with the college textbook I had last year, it is full of misinformation. My children are extremely knowledgeable about the Cluster B’s. My son wanted to take psychology to see if there was anything offered throughout the course to help him “understand his younger brother better”. He believes that his brother has Narcissistic traits. I’m glad they know and we have not held back in many lengthy discussions of it as of late. Gary, this is a great opportunity for you to teach about this disorder by being involved in your son’s education with regards to psychology. I’m not certain that letting him know that his mother has the disorder throughout the educational flow, but I’m betting with ACCURATE information, he’ll connect the dots. children are not as naive as we often believe. They usually know exactly what’s going on and are as afraid to tell you as you are to tell them. Personally, I think telling your children the absolute truth is the way to go, but it can be done with respect. Kel

  19. The Psychological Profession is DIRECTLY to blame for the lack of awareness of the condition. There is plenty of research out there to accurately diagnose the condition.

    The PCL-R checklist, is considered the ‘Gold-Standard’ diagnostic tool for Psychopathy. The checklist is actually very simple. It is 20 characteristics of (10) personality and (10) behavior, that either do or do not exist. The only challenge to identifying them is for someone that understands that these characteristics in this constellation identifying the patterns.

    A personality disorder, by definition, has existed in that individual for their entire life. The patterns of behavior can only be verified and confirmed through credible evidence and witnesses. The words you will hear commonly used to describe the individual or their behaviors are all the same words: ‘Evil’, ‘lying’, ‘manipulative’, ‘unreasonable’, ‘irrational’, ‘delusional’, etc. Check the PCL-R for more of these same words that define the patterns. According to Dr. Robert Hare, IT IS POSSIBLE, to identify a psychopath without an actual interview, if the witnesses and evidence is compelling and verifiable. The person either has the characteristic or they do not. The evaluator obviously, could not rely on the testimony of the psychopath.

    If the disorder can be so easily identified and diagnosed, why doesn’t the Psychological profession take the lead in implementing systems to identify them when they enter the legal system. The disorder is so destructive, dangerous, damaging, manipulative and consumes a disproportionate amount of government resources to controll but there is nothing being done to create awareness in the public or even identify the 40% of criminal inmates that end up in prison.

    Psychopathy is overwhelmingly responsible for far more emotional abuse than physical abuse or violence. Everyone involved with a psychopath experiences emotional abuse simply because psychopaths do not act in ‘good faith’ because their judgement is emotionally deficient.

    As most of us have experienced, psychopaths are not very difficult to spot once you know what to look for. The elegance and beauty of the PCL-R is that it relies on evidence and witnesses. Any one of us can gather the information needed.

    In my personal experience, I gathered a mountain of evidence and witnesses that traces back 40 years or reputation and life history that scores a 36 out of 40 on the PCL-R. The problem I have run into is getting an expert to simply look at the evidence. A ‘conspiracy of silence’, as Dr. Cleckley describes, exists among the legal and psychological profession. The taboo of being ‘labeled’,prevents experts and Judges from ‘seeing the pattern’.

    If you wish to deal with your psychopath legally and you think you need help with the evidence and witnesses, please let me know. I can help.

  20. Another form of education against p’s is just teaching kids and teens to be very clear about their boundaries and not allowing themselves to be seduced by a dream of something better than they ever thought they could get, or something that they have been looking for for a long time….so seduced that they put aside their values about how they want others to treat them, about honesty, etc. Reading true unfinished stories to teens works well….asking them what is the self-respecting choice, and what is the self-betraying choice to get a “dream”…..and then tell them how the story really ended in real life. There is a lot to the old saying “if it seems too good to be true…it probably is.”

    I think teens in particular need lots of examples of people who quit a job over ethics, etc. The teen years are the first time their brains can TRULY grapple with ethical decisions. Before that, they can say the words (like a p) but truly can’t fully digest ethical decisions.

    They probably are going to be a less trusting generation than mine was. They see tons of examples of dishonest politicians, now publicly exposed, not covered up. They hear of priests molesting children. These kids are going to be a lot less seduced by someone’s position. But the culture is so narcissistic they are vulnerable to being seduced by celebrity status or wealth or looks. And young women still read romance novels about cold men, womanizers, who suddenly are tamed by the love of the heroine. Crap.

    The real antidote is strong internal values, that can’t be compromised to justify the ends.

  21. Chris, absolutely, the information about psychopathy is readily available on the internet as well as in books. I think one of the reasons why the field of psychology does not put at the forefront of its studies and research psychopathy and other personality disorders is because they’re incurable and largely untreatable, be it through therapy or medication. I’m not sure it’s a calculated decision, but the focus in psychology seems to be on conditions that can be treated, such as forms of depression, PTSD, and neurotic/anxiety disorders. However, I agree it would help in custody cases to know if one or both parents are psychopathic or suffer from any of the other major personality disorders. Quite often, their behavior–since psychopaths have a propensity for violence, fraud and sexual perversion–gives them away without any psychological tests. Claudia

  22. Susan, I agree, it’s best to start learning about dangerous, predatory or otherwise toxic individuals relatively young, so you can stay away from them as much as possible. I’ve already taught my adolescent kids about psychopathy and narcissism. Of course, they know a psychopath nearly destroyed our family, so naturally they were interested in this information. Donna Andersen has started a program to educate high school students in her state (New Jersey). I think such education is absolutely crucial. As a society, we’ve long taught high school students about health/sex education, to make wiser decisions about those areas. We’ve taught them about drugs and dangerous substances, so they can stay away from them. More recently, we’ve taught them about bullies in schools. It’s time we teach them about the most dangerous predators, who are often involved in bullying, in drugs, in all kinds of evil and illegal activities and whom they’re very likely to encounter during the course of their lives: psychopaths and other personality disordered individuals. Nobody is more dangerous and toxic than these individuals yet, as a society, we don’t teach our adolescents to stay away from them. Claudia

  23. Susan,

    Agreed. My children KNOW about psychopathy and what to look for. My eldest son, my middle son and my three daughters say they can pick it up in five minutes of conversation, no matter the potential, sadly, it’s through education I’ve given them, but WORSE, by my own experience. It was my eldest daughter who brought personality disorders to MY attention about my ex, whom she thought was disgustingly narcissistic. That’s how she “labeled” him. When we discussed that he was a full blown psychopath NONE of my children disagreed with this. This is also what they look for in a potential partner (the ones that don’t already have one) or friend. It’s not just about values, however, it’s about a diehard education. Most kids know right from wrong and yes, are greatly influenced by narcissistic peers and society, unfortunately, however what is taught at home is what will be repeated. The narcissism I see in other parents around me is ASTOUNDING. Education STARTS AT HOME and most of what I have seen is greatly NARCISSISTIC.

    Chris, welcome! I completely, TOTALLY agree with your assessment of the field of psychology. I’d like to take that a step further if I may: There is great FEAR in diagnosing someone with this disorder. I have been BLOWN away by those who understand Cluster B disorders yet are TAUGHT (those that are) that they are somehow curable or that they are WRONGLY diagnosed (listening to the Cluster B in therapy who is aware of what they are or could be, will often “diagnose” themselves as something else or lie about it altogether), and proceed with treatment that is INCORRECT. Science is geared towards CURES for illnesses and diseases, not those that cannot be. This is extremely destructive for the survivors of the Cluster B who often find themselves RE-VICTIMIZED in therapy by an ill informed or ignorant therapist. I’ve experienced this as well and it’s extremely frustrating and invalidating. As we all know, it’s not the Cluster B’s crawling on the floor to a therapists office, it’s the victims of their disorder that do and there are many. Cluster B’s tie up the legal system, lie, manipulate and devastate further the victims. They keep divorce and custody proceedings going on and on for YEARS. These are referred to as “high conflict” cases. It’s absolutely ridiculous.
    Also, if and when the knowledge of the Cluster B becomes more apparent, THEN, leave it to a Cluster B to fuel MORE fear in those around them, knowing they cannot be cured, and using their illness to get AROUND further divorce, separations, restraining orders, custody cases, therapies and the list goes on and on and on. This is one of THE most dangerous disorders on the planet and something needs to be done, on every level in every system to prevent these disordered people from getting away with it. If we cannot cure it, let’s TOSS the fear and find a way to deal with these people that creates consequences and SEVERE restrictions according to levels of damage and continuing harassment of the victims and often their children. What the hell does a Cluster B have to offer ANY child as a parent? NOTHING. Absolutely NOTHING. That child is merely a possession to the disordered and used as a weapon for further destruction of the other parent, manipulation for image projection and that list goes on and on.

    Sandra Brown, in her book Women Who Love Psychopaths says that the BIGGEST part of a woman’s healing is UNDERSTANDING THE PSYCHOPATH, the disorder itself, with what he does, how he does it and what he says!

    This disorder is also a major burden financially to our governmental systems as well. Many women are not only emotionally broken, as well as their children if they have any, but financially destitute requiring governmental assistance to live. MANY women cannot even WORK in the immediate aftermath of the psychopath. She must learn to survive on her OWN without adequate support from ANY system unless she’s damned lucky to find a therapist who GETS the disorder and will help her put her life back together again. Trying to do that when she is NEARLY DESTROYED makes it an almost impossible feat. Many psychopaths drive their partners to suicide. It is disgusting, it is WRONG, it is ANGER provoking for me and should be to society in general. It’s the BEST well kept secret, with the exception of the victims who MUST try to recover. I’ve read hundreds and hundreds of stories. All with the same outcome, all with harm and damage.

    What CAN be done within the mental health community, to educate therapists about this disorder in a way that doesn’t create FEAR about diagnosis? What can be done to validate the victims of the disordered when there is NO diagnosis, but just her destroyed state to validate what he’s done to her? Most are NOT diagnosed. Most personality disordered individuals have VERY cryptic life histories and MANY of their enablers are family and friends that WON”T discuss them.

    Claudia, I truly hope your blog continues to grow, as well as the MANY insightful thoughtful professionals who are using their experiences or their education to help others understand what they’ve been through. Your articles are outstanding and when I google psychopath, your articles and blog site come up over and over again.

    But we need soooooooo much more. There are so many out there suffering and have no idea what they’re dealing with.

    Kel

  24. Susan, without even identifying psychopathy, children could be taught about emotional abuse and what the norms and the violations may look like. As children we are all taught not to talk to or go with strangers. The next step, psychologically speaking, would be to identify and define why those strangers could be ‘bad’. Children absolutely need a baseline understanding of manipulation, gaslighting, emotional abuse and trusting your emotional instincts. Statistically, most children will encounter a psychopath before they encounter drugs.

    Claudia, I think the research that exists today is substantial and is more than enough for psychological and legal professionals to establish protections.

    For example, in Domestic Relations law, it is well established that a severe psychopathology is often found in one or both parties that allow the Court to decide the non-custodial parent’s visitation, rather than a mutual agreement. Fair and reasonable people, acting in good faith, are able to determine a schedule that is in the best interest of the parties. It should be mandatory that both parties undergo a ‘Psychological Evaluation”, not just a ‘Custody Evaluation’.

    Mandatory psychological evaluations would deter the parties from escalating the conflict and abusing the Court system. Ultimately, this would reduce the caseload in the Domestic relations court and encourage that the parties act in the best interest of the children. If the psychopathic or even the non-psychopathic parent insist that the other party be evaluated, they could force the evlauation by continuing the process, which could help to identify and manage these individuals going forward.

    Awareness helps the victims spot the abuses. Ultimately, it is the ability and willingness of the psychological professionals to have the courage to make that diagnosis. They can even call it BPD or ASPD, if they seek to avoid the stigma of ‘psychopath’.

    Advancements in neurlogical imaging are very close to pinpointing the signature of the psychopathic brain. Once that happens, Psychological evaluations can be replaced with an objective fMRI of both parents brains. Felons could also be required to be subject to fMRI as part of their sentencing.

  25. Claudia, I think that one of the major barriers that stands between educating the public is that their is too much of an association between psychopathy, violence, sexual perversion, crime, and so on. People generally are predisposed to believing that psychopathy is easy to spot. Psychopathy is not best understood in terms of a rapist murdering violent whoever. Psychopathy is best understood, or at least more easily understood as a person who lacks a sense of self; meaning an emotional constitution, a conscience, an ability to feel another (empathy), and so on. I think we need to begin from the core root and get to the heart of the issue. Psychopaths cannot emotionally bond with other people. This is one sure theme that will help broaden the potential for education.

  26. Michael,

    I agree with that, however, trying to wrap our own minds around someone who is without conscience or the ability to bond emotionally, is difficult enough in the aftermath, how do you educate someone about that when they’ve never experienced it into terms that would easily identify the predator? The concept of lack of conscience is almost unfathomable without a ton of education. Kel

  27. Michael and Kel, yes, the association between psychopathy and violent crime is the biggest stumbling block to really grasping the realistic dangers of this personality disorder for the general public. The portrayal of psychopaths on the news and on TV shows only reinforces this link. This link is accurate, of course, the only problem is that psychopaths can do so much damage in people’s lives without being violent criminals. And there are so many more psychopaths than there are violent criminal ones. Claudia

  28. Chris, this is a good point, and it may make custody evaluations less subjective (a he said, she said scenario with the child or children stuck in between). Are you in the legal profession, if I may ask? Claudia

  29. Claudia,

    More needs to be done about successful psychopaths. I think there are more of those than any other. If we were to actually get a head count, I think the numbers would soar above and beyond the 1 in 25 currently. Kel

  30. Kelli, I think that Hare and Babiak’s joint book, Snakes in Suits, made some headway in the direction of exposing “successful” psychopaths. I put it in quotes since they’re such frauds and failures as human beings, they really aren’t successful in any meaningful sense of the term. Claudia

  31. Claudia,

    that was a great book by the way. Unfortunately, successful seems to be within the realm of corporations or highly successful private businesses. By successful psychopath, I mean someone who is just like my ex, a social worker, in the same place for 25 years, owns his own home, car, has money (more now with wife 3), and has not been caught in any legal hassles, except for the ethics violation at work, for which he has now redeemed himself. Kel

  32. Chris,

    I appreciate your knowledge about this and you make a great point. My children are knowledgeable about the traits and behaviors of the psychopath because not only did I survive three intimate relationships with such, but I was also raised in a completely pathological home. In school education would be very important as well for children who do not understand what they are living. I wish this was taught in our schools when I was a child. I knew something was very, very wrong at home but not WHAT. I think your idea is a great one with regards to BOTH parents taking psychological evaluations for custody/divorce issues, however, I have a question for you about that. The psychopath is the ultimate actor/actress, the consummate chameleon. They are so entrenched in believing their own lies, they pass lie detector tests. This would be especially true of the successful psychopath who is willing to wage war upon an ex spouse. I do not see a psychological evaluation to many of them based on their knowing exactly what they’re doing and the ability to pathologically lie and change their masks at the drop of a hat. Could I get your feedback on this? Kel

  33. Kel, it’s true, that’s the real banality of evil, to use Hannah Arendt’s term. It’s difficult to expose those kinds of more covert, less spectacular, psychopaths. The only solution I see is interlinking all the websites that deal with psychopathy, including Tru TV, Investigation Discover, Psychology Today, blogs on psychopathy, so that there’s a fluid movement among them and people get to see the connections among these seemingly different sources of information on the subject. I just added a few new links today (to TruTV, Investigation Discovery, aside from the ones I already had to lovefraud, hare.org and other psychopathy/psychology blogs). And I plan to write a post about this subject too in the near future. Claudia

  34. Chris,

    I’ve also read a few studies about psychopaths and diagnosing via imaging. Do you have any links that you might find interesting for any of us to check out? Kel

  35. Can any of you think of a psychopathic encounter where having strong boundaries and values would not have ended the misery very shortly?

    I can, but some were more extreme examples: the attempted murder (the bombing), and 4 rapes/attempted rapes by strangers, and once being held at gun point by a mob. (I know it sounds like I grew up in the ghettos or something, but it was a nice middle class family in a western city in the US….In each case, I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time by total accident, twice in a foreign country) and in those situations, you don’t need any education to know something is wrong.

    Also, as a child, with a psychopathic parent, psychopathic behaviors become normalized, though there were some royal battles where I tried to enforce boundaries! I can vividly remember one when I was in second grade! And I think one thing that helped me immensely growing up was I always had a feeling that my mom was blowing it, not me. I think the Sunday school lessons I had, which focused on strong values, etc. helped me realize she was doing some crazy stuff.

    But it is tricky for a teacher when a child raises their hand (for me it was during teaching about how to treat pets) and says “But my dad always beats our dog.”

    So sometimes, in actual practice, it is again best to use real examples, which can demonstrate a specific technique, like gas lighting….and say sometimes even a good person can do this ONCE or TWICE, out of panic (last piece of cake? I have no idea when it disappeared….maybe that was yesterday and you just forgot?), and hopefully later confess and apologizes…so that you can’t be accused of teaching a kid that their parent is a psychopath.Which wouldn’t go over well with a psychopathic parent.

    But I have to admit that neither pre-education or stronger ethics would have saved me from the idealization and then sudden devalue stage at age 15 by the very charming p, because *I* was a very idealizing person too (but not a devaluer) so I would have been very dis-inclined to suspect him of insincerity. BUT if someone had sat me down and said here is the pattern and had taught it to me earlier, I certainly would have healed faster and not let him back in my life. One teacher tried, I will say that. But all he said was “If he dumped you once, he will do it again” The only red flag I really paid attention to was that his ethics always seemed a bit “off” to me. That was an understatement! But those two things were enough to keep me from moving in with his parents, thank god.

    So in summary, kids probably need both…lessons on having a strong inner core and good values AND knowing some of the common signs of someone who is out to hurt you.

  36. A psychological evaluation could involve an fMRI if the doctor conducting the evaluation wanted to order it, which would be ideal. Even without an objective test, like the fMRI, I think that an experienced evaluator could detect psychopathy. The evaluation would include interviews with friends, family or whomever else is made available to the evaluator.

    Typically, the psychopath with ask the evaluator to speak to the pawns in his or her life, in order to present a positive impression with the evaluator. The way around this is to make sure that the evaluator also speaks to the victims or targets of the psychopath.

    In a custody dispute or a high conflict divorce, it would require that the non-PD spouse be aware of psychopathy and communicate the patterns effectively to the evaluator, thus the need for increased awareness.

    Claudia, I am not an attorney, but I have been going through a high conflict divorce. Over the last three years, I have been to court over 23 times. The Custody evaluator in our case was given huge red flags for psychopathy, which were simply left out of his report and not made available to the Court. My father-in-law was convicted of accomplice to murder and has over 100+ lawsuits. My ex-wife suffered a traumatic brain injury during our marriage. I even signed a release for the evaluator to speak to my psychiatrist, who had been treating me for depression during the marriage. The evalutor left out all of this information from his report and recommended that I have less than 5% visitation with my children, and full custody for my ex-wife.

    I currently have an investigation pending, by the board of psychology into the evaluator. This is actually the second investigation into the evaluator by the Board of Psychology. The Board opened and closed their first investigation without speaking to me, my witnesses or gathering additional evidence. After I complained to my State Delegate about how the Board opened and closed the investigation without following its own procedures, the State delegate forced them to open a second investigation.

    I anticipate that there will be a precedent setting ruling in my case at some point. The patterns of behavior, evidence and witnesses are too obvious and too numerous for the experts and the Court to simply ignore forever.

    My suggestion to anyone involved in a Domestic case with a psychopath would be to simply gather as much evidence and witnesses that can confirm the patterns found in the PCL-R and contiue to express your concerns for the emotional welfare of your children. That is what I have done, although no one seems to be listening.

  37. Kelli,

    Look into the work of Dr. Kent Keihl and Dr. James Blair. Dr. Blair’s book ‘The Psychopath: Emotion and the Brain’ is the best I have read. I will do my homework and post a few links later this week.

  38. Susan, you bring up excellent points. I also believe that having not only moral boundaries, but also a basic sense of dignity and self-worth (protective boundaries) is, indeed, a very important self-defense against the, shall we say, non-accidental psychopaths (i.e., those that we ALLOW into our lives). Moral boundaries help, but aren’t enough because psychopaths LIE so glibly and to everyone. As we know, they claim to be single, or divorced, or separated, etc when they’re married or in relationships. So what individuals need is not only the sense of right and wrong, but also a sense of self-worth: I won’t allow anyone to degrade, devalue and mistreat me. Ironically, during my episode with the psychopathic ex my moral boundaries were weaker than my personal dignity/self-worth boundaries. I entered the relationship because of a breach of ethics, but left it instantly once he began to devalue me because I had a sense of my worth as a human being and not allowing anybody to mistreat or belittle me. I wish, in retrospect, that both kinds of boundaries had been stronger, PLUS that I had known about personality disorders, to realize whom I was dealing with and end the relationship immediately. The longer you stay with a psychopath, usually, the harder it is to escape the relationship unharmed. Everything counts to defend ourselves: 1) moral boundaries, 2) a sense of dignity and self-worth PLUS 3) information about personality disorders. Not to speak of quite a bit of luck, since some of the examples of psychopaths who attacked you or those around you were the “accidental” psychopaths you hadn’t allowed into your life (just were in the wrong place at the wrong time). Claudia

  39. Chris, it looks like you’ve really done your research. It seems like based on what you say your father-in-law was psychopathic. As for your wife, was her behavior strange before her brain injury? What caused the injury? Do you believe she’s psychopathic as well? At any rate, you offer excellent advice, particularly pertaining to child custody cases, and we appreciate it. Claudia

  40. Susan,

    I grew up in a highly psychopathic household in a high class neighborhood. I knew something was terribly wrong but not WHAT. So when I was love bombed by my first abusive psychopathic boyfriend at fifteen, I knew something was “wrong” then too, but overlooking it and normalizing it was, well, normal. I think if a child is lucky not to become pathological as well, those that aren’t and grew up in that pathological environment kind of come up with our own “value” systems. Just simply a gut thing. You just know something is horribly wrong. That comes with conscience, it comes with being highly empathic, too much so, particularly living in the abuse since birth. I was ultra sensitive to abuse of others and animals. Unfortunately, I was a sucker for a great sob story. The pity play got me. Every single time.

    Having said that, I would also like to point out that anyone can be taken in. It would be less likely with education, but there are women who are massively intelligent with degrees, therapists, you name it, who get sucked in. Some have very high self esteem and are quite successful in their lives, but are LONELY and or are vulnerable in some way. This is the psychopaths sixth sense as Sandra Brown says. The only thing I think that would save such a person, is that they wouldn’t stay in the relationship as long as those without self esteem or a pathological background. No one is immune. They lie with ease. There are many more women, surprisingly, after one pathological relationship, that can be caught in two or more later, even with education! I’m living proof of that, so it doesn’t make a person want to try again. Now i can spot it pretty quickly, but I would do things A LOT different than I did before. This last one was worse than the first.
    It took that relationship and 47 years to “get it”. Kel

  41. I think to create a curriculum for teens I would use current music to illustrate the different stages….and then when they hear those songs, it will remind them. And clips of various movies. The p I was involved with was a Thomas Crown type of psychopath….but I bet many watching don’t even recognize Thomas for what he is…and how deliberately cruel he is (at least in the version I remember which is the remake I think) to let his “girlfiend” think the worst, cry on the plane when he could have comforted her and reassured her…his thrill seeking, his grand displays, being top dog, his love of pulling one on over people even though they don’t always know it, the narcissism, the dominating sex, making her feel “special” (the only girl he had brought to that one place supposedly) the aloofness, the secretiveness, the “testing” of his victim’s (girlfriend’s) boundaries.I felt sorry for her at the end…she had just won Prince Harming, not Prince Charming. But I think very few movie watchers see it that way. He got her to ruin her career…I think, I forget now!

    Anyway, not surprisingly, that was my p’s favorite movie. So I rented it and saw where he had copied the sex moves (sans the stairs) from it, only it wasn’t that pleasant. but the best he ever managed, I should have known it was copied. At that time, I was doing some undercover work on animal abuse, and I think he was getting off thinking I was some kind of spy like the woman. I swear, everything he did just about was copied from someone or somewhere.

  42. Susan, I remember The Thomas Crown affair movie, and thinking how dashing he was (admittedly, Pierce Brosnan is one of my favorite actors). It didn’t even cross my mind back then that Thomas Crown represents a psychopath. Let’s continue to exchange ideas about how to spread this information to the general public. You’re incredibly resourceful in doing that about animal rights. I know Sarah has some catchy youtube computer generated songs/videos about psychopaths. But to my mind, the solution involves making the connections (via the internet) between popular articles by crime reports like those written by David Lohr (The Huffington Post) and TruTV and Investigation Discovery–channels and blogs that so many people read–to the blogs and information about psychopathy in particular. People don’t make such connections in their minds unless they’re established among the sites themselves, so they can click on links easily from one source of information or entertainment to the psychopathy links. We need to work together with the entertainment and news industries on this one to get the information across to a general audience, not just to victims who already know something’s wrong. Claudia

  43. Claudia,

    I think what Donna Anderson is doing in reaching out to teenagers in schools is phenomenal and I hope that she reaches many MORE students. She’s on the east coast, but I hope sometime in the near future, they can bring their program to our local high schools in and around the state. I think her approach is so good because it’s up close and personal and she shares her story. What better place to make education happen, then in front of students in the flesh. Would be great to get a panel going that travels specifically to teach about psychopathy and share their experiences in the schools. The more the merrier. I also think the personal touch in being up close and in person has a very powerful impact. More so than any website, movie or radio program. I hope Donna’s program shows great response as it seems to so far. Kel

  44. Chris,

    It is stories like yours, within the realms of high conflict divorces and custody situations that are, by far, the most heartbreaking stories to read. I’m so sorry this is happening and I find it appalling that the court system has completely overlooked even evidence presented. The system has failed over and over, to accurately assess and diagnose psychopathy and they are the reasons for the high conflict in the first place. I cannot imagine the stress, nor going to court 23 times. I have the same questions as Claudia does about your wife, insofar as the traumatic brain injury? Kel

  45. Kel and Claudia,
    Yes, I do believe that my ex-wife was psychopathic before her brain injury. We were in constant conflict and I was always the one who was to blame. There was never any responsibility on her part and everything had to be her way. I used to comment to her how she was just like her father, long befoere I understood psychopathy. Then in 2003, she and I were in the back of a cab, when we were broadsided by a delivery truck. She hit her forehead on the partition of the cab and was unconscious for approximately an hour. After her head injury, she saw three neurologists, including one of the leading experts in the field.

    She was unreliable and gaslighting before the injury and her behavior only worsened after the injury. She would deny that she would forget things or couldn’t remember conversations. Then she would blame me for her forgetfulness.

    It has been completely maddening for me dealing with her and then trying to convince the experts that I am not the source of conflict. All I have ever asked for in my divorce was fair and reasonable visitation with my children. I even offered them a settlement agreement with full confidentiality, which they completly ignored.

    My ex-wife’s father has spent over $1 million in legal fees and has manipulated the Court. The Judge in the case is completely aware of ‘my concerns for the emotional welfare of my children’, but refuses to modify his orders or order a psychological evaluation of my ex-wife, because it would prove that he was manipulated and duped.

    I actually found an article that describes the affect that psychopathy has had on my case and apprently many other similar cases.

    http://safety4parentsandkids.org.au/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=296:charles-pragnell

  46. Another great article Claudia. My friend (and fellow survivor of a path) who is a mental health professional thinks that warning children of paths in school should be taught. He also told me that a lot of mental hospitals woudl not touch paths because they cause so much trouble in hospitals etc. I think society nowadays is also to blame for “celebritising” people who are, quite frankly, evil, twisted and sick and this has a knock on effect to the every day person and how they view and deal with what is acceptable behaviour and what is not.
    I sometimes find that people i know try so hard to be “pc” that they forgive or just brush over people’s terrible behaviour and provide too many excuses for them. I found this when i left my path and was disappointed and shocked at the empathy towards him and his behaviour.
    I think that teaching awareness in schools would be a great way to people at least being forearmed for their futures.
    lesleyxxxx
    .

  47. Chris, I’m sorry to hear about what you’ve had to go through. I’m sure you’d have been much more sympathetic to your wife after the accident, if she had not been psychopathic and tried to make your life so difficult. Thank you for these helpful links. Claudia

  48. Chris,

    I read that article. Seems that the system is as psychopathic as the psychopath him/herself. I noticed that the objective, of course, of hired attorneys is to win. I’ve seen this in many cases in that the welfare of the children, at the hands of the psychopath, even if proven is of no consequence or concern to the court. For those in the court system with conscience who are enabling the psychopath, how do they sleep at night putting children into the inevitable harms way of psychopathy?

    How long were you married to this woman? When did you realize something was wrong? How old are your children? As far as your visitation goes, how often do you get to spend time with them? Kel

  49. Lesley, I agree, we need to teach this psychological self-defense in high schools. As for the media, I think it’s inevitable that the media will “celebritize” notorious psychopathic killers to sell ads and subscriptions. However, if these kinds of sensationalist–or, sometimes, just plain factual–news reports included a link or two to psychopathy websites, then people would also have access to the psychological information as well. This is very doable, since crime investigative reporters such as David Lohr (Huffington Post) and Katherine Ramsland (TruTV’s Crime Library) are very well-informed about psychopathy already. But we need to build more channels of communication–and links–among the various sources of information on psychopathy. Claudia

  50. Hi Claudia. yes i think that is a great idea. When i was trying to figure out what was wrong with my ex i found it so hard to find any links. i looked up AA stuff and sites linked to that. Maybe if there were also links through those sites too as, Especially with my ex, that was why he drank, to hide other demons. Maybe if sites like AA and NA had links to personality disorders etc then that would help too? Though I don’t know if they would be allowed or want to have that link? Do you know what I mean?? If the AA had links to psychopathy when i was looking then I would have known a lot quicker what was wrong with my ex for sure.
    lesleyxxx

  51. Lesley, I just contacted specialists in crime reporting and forensic psychology/forensic science that I recently linked psychopathyawareness to, to see if they’d be interested in reciprocating and adding links to this psychopathy blog/support group. I think that sharing sources of information and establishing connections–quite literally, links–among the different domains that touch upon psychopathy is key to sharing useful information about social predators with the general public. Of course, I already added their links on this website, but it takes reciprocity and them being interested in adding psychopathy websites on their blogs as well for this information (and the connections among the various fields that touch upon psychopathy) to be spread even more effectively. Claudia

  52. Chris: I have often wanted to sue my x path for slander and defamation of character, I HAVE THE PROOF I have a whole years worth of proof in black and white – proof of PTSD, proof that I had to take a medical leave of absence from work, proof I literally had a nervous break down from this experience. Pages and pages of proof my psychiatrist documented in what this man did to my life. Proof of sexually harassing phone calls, messages I have kept and recorded for the past 4 years on my cell phone which would no doubt prove he was with me and that I was not the crazy stalker. I have heard however that the highest amount you could sue for is 3,000 – its not the money but its the principal behind the crimes he committed against me. He did willfully and INTENTIONALLY WANT TO DESTROY ME, so in a legal sense they call it defamation of character, am I correct with this? I could present proof WELL beyond a reasonable doubt in a court of law that this man is a menace and a sexual predator to his community as he hides behind his sheriffs badge!!!

    HOWEVER, and its a big however, do I want to put my life through such an ordeal? Would any amount of money undo what he did to me? NO NEVER!!! Would the principal of what he did to me effect him? NO because he is a psychopath and he would not CARE, I wonder how much he would PAY to save his precious image and facade? How much would he pay to not be exposed for what HE REALLY IS? These are questions I ask myself. I think my best option is to release this revenge I want to seek at times; after an experience with a psychopath it puts a different meaning into “Hell hath no fury like a woman/man scorned” I wasnt just “scorned” I was practically destroyed by his cloaked intent. He locks up criminals who share cells with others and they call they inmates, I call mine an “OUTMATE, he belongs in the cells with these criminals, he is nothing but a rapist himself, just a SMART rapist who gets his victims to come to him. I think its best I dont go fishing in this Sheriffs pond for further trouble and pain in my life, I was just a small fish and he was the shark. Linda.

  53. Claudia: How DO WE promote more psychopathic awareness? Especially an awareness of this nature? I try so hard to remember what my general knowledge of psychopaths were BEFORE this man entered my life and like most of the general public I thought psychopaths were killers, bombers, people that went on shooting sprees in restaurants, universities, etc. rapists, pedifiles, ….. but what I failed to see or understand is the DISGUISES they ALL wear. I doubt the killers walk around with a knife or gun hung around their neck just as mine didnt wear a sign saying, I am going to have you fall deeply in love with me then I am going to try and destroy you; there are NO warnings, there are some red flags that we seem to easily dismiss because we are so enthralled with the ideal image they present to us; You have to think of it as your average hunter that wear clothing to camouflage their existence as they try to lure and trap their prey for the big kill. I never never understood that psychopathy of THIS NATURE existed even when I read or heard on the news of Lacy Peterson and others who have been killed in love triangulations – its ONLY when the KILL that we sit back and say, OH MY GOD HE IS A PSYCHOPATH!!! This form of psychopathy is not a form of physically killing (although it has lead many to suicides and total destruction of lives) this form of psychopathy is very well hidden but it exists as you state in roughly 4% of the population and the majority of us are not aware this exists until its TOO LATE. They are basically criminals( most HIGHLY SKILLED in their pathology) that go around masquerading as something they are not in order to hide the evil they truly are they are smart enough to not break any laws only moral and ethical laws. I am at a loss of words in how we can promote this awareness I can only convey what is required after the damage is done. TOTAL extraction and removal of the individual for the safety and mental well being of your life!!!!! These individuals ARE KILLERS in a sense for how I have lived the past 4 years is NOT LIVING and I have come to realize this with each and every passing day as I move forward. x0x0 Linda

  54. Claudia: I notice once in a GREAT WHILE when I am watching a crime story CSI, whatever the investigators will say, “he is a psychopath he CANT LOVE, or comments related to power and control they seek – I always thought psychopaths needed love so badly but I NEVER NEVER EVER thought there were people that actually CANT LOVE, I thought every human being could love in some way, even as sick or twisted as they were surely they could love in their sick way. Now I know, but of course AFTER its too late Linda

  55. Linda, I think that different fields that have to do with psychopaths, including forensic science, forensic psychology, psychology, support groups, crime reporters, investigative reporters need to cooperate and work together: to interlink or connect their information. Without this information being connected, people won’t draw the connections between criminal psychopaths in the news, a minority among this group, and the garden variety psychopaths that prey on them in their lives. Claudia

  56. Anna, certainly the disordered psychopath is to blame for the chaos he caused in your life. Psychopaths are not even insane–but lucid and calculated about the harm they inflict upon others–although they certainly are abnormal. Claudia

  57. Wasn’t sure where to put this, this article
    just came out. A different way of looking at being “stuck” mentally.
    http://counsellingresource.com/features/2011/09/12/stuck-gears-in-our-minds/

    they also recently had this article:
    http://counsellingresource.com/features/2011/09/08/moving-on-after-toxic-relationship/

    And on this page, you will see under the author’s photo, more articles he’s written He is also the author of In Sheep’s Clothing.
    http://counsellingresource.com/features/2010/06/09/dealing-with-manipulative-people/

    And another favorite author of mine on the website is Carver.
    http://counsellingresource.com/lib/therapy/self-help/stockholm/
    Above his photo you will see a link to an article on emotional memories which is great, for working on controlling disturbing memories. http://counsellingresource.com/lib/therapy/self-help/emotional-memory/

  58. Susan, thanks so much for these links. Claudia

  59. Susan,

    I read the first two articles. The second one was so interesting and something dawned on me: The very things the author says, has been said over and over by various other authors on the SAME subject but in completely different ways. The differing perspectives are so important because where one may not connect with the reader, the other might. I completely agreed with the second article and it was enlightening because of the way the author presents his perspective. It allowed me to think of things about toxic relationships differently.

    It seems to me that perspectives of survivors change the further out they get from the toxic relationship. Where I’m at right now, toxic is just the tip of the iceberg and doesn’t address FULLY, the impact of the psychopath. Reading that article was so helpful to me in that the most important part of recovery from these particular relationships is that I understood, completely, what a psychopath is, what he does, how he does it, what he says, etc. Understanding the nature of the disorder helps to move me forward. The wheels cannot and will not stop spinning, the rumination will not stop, until the comprehension of the disorder is deeply ingrained in the survivors.

    I had an interesting therapy session today. For the first time, I saw my strengths and positives, rather than the negatives projected from a life of pathologicals, but in particular this last relationship. I discussed this blog at length with her. She told me that MANY of her clients consider blogs on personality disorders to be LIFE saving. I didnt’ want to give it that much credit, but it’s true, for the following reasons: 1. Unless you’ve had this experience, another person who hasnt’ WON’T get it 2. You don’t have to explain your experience the way you would with someone who hasn’t been there. It is automatically VALIDATED, something that is desperately needed coming out of these relationships, 3. You learn to form healthy relationships and begin to see healing in that it becomes about YOURSELF and not about THEM anymore. 4. you see honest caring, support, compassion and empathy. 5. everyone gets the aftermath symptoms and you are not told and it’s’ not felt that you’re crazy.
    My therapist told me that she had a client who had lost a twin. That is a unique experience that not everyone shares. She found an online support group for people who have lost twins. Relationships with psychopaths are unique as well. Everything else goes out the window when one of these relationships has existed in your life (I say you/your editorially here), and not any of the simple basic, even toxic relationship rules apply. Personality disorders are an entity, even if an evil one, all on their own.

    I think, as one progresses through the healing experience, it doesn’t matter anymore what the label is, toxic is toxic and that’s it. early on, it’s not that way. It has to have a label, has to be discussed, studied, worked through to get to the point that toxic is just toxic. I understand that now because I’m hypersensitive to ANYTHING that feels toxic or drama inducing. But at the beginning, I had to understand the disorder itself. It had a label and I could go from there and learn.

    The second article was very helpful to me. I’m going to read the rest of them too. I thank you for putting them up for us. I like the author too and his books. Kel

  60. Kelli i can Identify with your position re needing to understand the nature of these disorders. For me, beginning to grasp these disorders enabled me to begin my first steps towards recovery. I’m mindful that I have said this before; but I am absolutley commited to the belief that the road to recovery begins with comprehending cluster b and psychopathic personality disorders.

  61. Michael,

    I’m absolutely one hundred percent convinced that this has to be integrated COMPLETELY before even taking steps to move on. I hope this will be something that you will expound on further in your writings. Not only do I agree with you wholeheartedly, but also understand that repetition is key. I’ve read and read and listened and listened, over and over again, to anything I can get my hands on that helps me grasp the disorder.

    I have a question for you and everyone else here too. I use to be quite the writer. I lost the ability to articulate well while with my ex. Like my brain was somehow seized completely by this relationship. Michael, I’ve been learning through much study, that the psychopathic bond, changes chemicals in the brain, literally. But WHAT chemicals and WHAT changes specifically?

    I’m also struggling hugely with keeping a journal. I don’t know why. I didn’t ask my therapist about it today directly, but rather that I blog and can see from past posts my growth or lack of, and how I’m coming along in communication skills, as that is something else that seems to be amiss.

    I find myself drawing a complete blank when it comes to writing down specific details in what he’s done to me, to keep on hand to fight the cog/dis. I have kept thousands of emails however, but do not yet feel strong enough to read those again to see the dynamics. What is interesting is that there are memories that will come to me throughout the day that will be specific in what he’s done, in fighting the cog/dis. Does this make sense? It comes and goes from my mind. But actually having to sit and THINK about it, I draw a complete blank??? Kel

  62. Michael, I couldn’t agree more! Without some basic knowledge of Cluster B personality disorders, one can’t spot and avoid social predators. Claudia

  63. In the book I mentioned, The Psychopath: Emotion and the Brain, there is a very clear and easy way to explain how to spot a psychopath, bully or abuser. The difference is the way in which people use agression. Normal people only use what is known as ‘reactive agression’. Usually only after the a threat, as a response to danger, or in response to another’s aggession. Psychopaths are the only people that use Instrumental Agression.

    “In short, the existence of two relatively separable populations of aggressive individuals (individuals who present with mostly reactive aggression and individuals who present with reactive and instrumental aggression) is strongly supported.”

    If we explain to children the difference between the two forms of aggression, they can protect themselves. The question still remains, what to do about them once we identify them.

    Here is link to the first part of the book. It is a fantastic book on the neurological and emotional roots of psychopathy.

    http://www.thedivineconspiracy.org/Z5223H.pdf

  64. Chris, thank you as well for sharing with us information about this book on the neurological roots of psychopathy and its link. Claudia

  65. Kelli,

    I was married to her for 8 years. The strange thing is that I knew deep down that something was wrong from the very beginning. I often tell the story of how she berated the waitress on our first date for a problem that originated in the kitchen and was not the fault of the server. I remember how embarrassed I was but I blew it off to a ‘strong personality’. I was always being told that the constant conflict in our relationship would ‘get better when…”. Deep down I knew the relationship was not healthy, but I see now that she was blind to her own faults. She could not see herself or even me as I experienced the relationship. It was her way, all the time. That was before the head injury.

    After the head injury the same ‘personality’ remained, but now I had to wonder if she just could not remember or if she simply chose not to remember.

    She was also a victim of her father. He was convicted of accomplice to murder in 1970. 2 Weeks after we separated, I read on the internet that her father hired a man to kill his childhood friend and business parter, who happend to have 4 children under the age of 10. My father in law was convicted, but lied and when the verdict was read and he proclaimed “I didn’t do it. I didn’t”. The jury, who was responsible for the sentencing gave him 7 years probation, instead of the death penalty, sought by the prosecutor.

    Unfortunately for me, I also uncovered the investigative file into the murder that proved that he in fact, was 100% responsible. That made the the target. Ever since I have discovered those facts, my father in law has spent $1 Million in legal fees to keep me from my children.

    So, to answer your last question, I do not have any visitation with my children at all. I also have no ability to speak with them or monitor their emotional welfare.

    I am building strength financially until I can get the Court to make a precedent setting ruling on Psychopathy and Custody of two children. Unfortunately for my ex-wife and her father, there exists a life long pattern of behavior and personality, identified by the PCL-R. At some point, I will have my attorney make that legal arguement, so that my ex-wife can be properly psychologically evaluated. Because the patterns exist, the evaluator has no choice but to identify the risk to the children for emotional abuse.

    As an alternative, I have asked my ex-wife for ‘fair and reasonable’ visitation, so that I may be the one to monitor their emotional welfare. In 3 years, and over 23 hearings, they have refused to negotiate anything, letting the judge decide in their favor.

    The article on psychopathic agressors is exactly what is happening in my case.

  66. My pleasure. The stuff about Agression is on page 12.
    Read it all if you can.

  67. Chris, I hope you regain custody, at the very least shared custody. Claudia

  68. Thomas Sheridan is Irish and from the same city as myself – Dublin.
    He’s not British.

    But I would like to make a comment on the points on the subject of psychopathy awareness. What puzzles me a lot is that psychopathy seems to be a slightly ‘taboo’ subject? I mean it is not encouraged to make an awareness of it’s existence? I always try to see Dr Phil and The Jeremy Kyle Show (it is British) and never do they mention the word Psychopath – even when it is very very clear that we are dealing with a Psychopath!!?? I really wonder why this is? There is this thing of not ‘LABELLING’ people with any mental disorder or behavior. So they never do. Even when it is clear that these people who are causing havoc and chaos and torment and pain all around them are obvious psychopaths. It is also obvious that they are not going to change and arrogantly walk off the stage – like water off a duck’s back! Why do these ‘experts’ never mention psychopathy? Why is it so taboo?

    I also find that most people dont want to know. They think you are exagerrating your experiences and just over emotional. So it is difficult to change what has been hidden (by the mental health profession I think) from the general public. I myself always thought that psychopaths were murderers. That’s because I was conditioned to believe this.

    So its difficult in the face of opposition to try to make an awareness of psychopathy. Even though I know that the man who almost destroyed me ticks every single box on the Robert Hare list of criteria which dictates that he is a psychopath, I am not qualified to say he is one. Why he has done a course in ‘self development’ given by a highly regarded female Psychotherapist. It seems she has helped him in other areas of his ‘new life’. His new woman is even one of her best friends!!!! Yet I am not ‘qualified’ and she is ?????

    Tricia

  69. Chris,

    I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your putting this link up for us. One of the things that I really desire to do is study further on neurological functions, or lack thereof, of psychopaths. Because I’ve been in and now in school to progress through, a medical program, I have an intense fascination with the brain explanation. Ironically, this kind of research and study leaves no doubt to the psychopaths inability to “willfully” function any differently due to his neurological deficits. I really appreciate your input. Kel

  70. Chris,

    This is a FASCINATING read! I’m still absorbing the Instrumental aggression. I understand that it’s goal directed, however, can it be manifested in a more subtle way. For example, a psychopath is “goal directed” at taking someone’s money, but he marries the person to do it (my ex).

    It was SO INTERESTING to read the four examples given. ALL had violent behavior involved, but what stuck out to me, and it was correct in what I was perceiving, is THE LACK OF EMOTION displayed by two of the four examples, making it easy to see which was psychopathic and which was not. The emphasis on the lack of emotions is fascinating. I’m very curious as to what parts of the brain, are affected. It is noted in many articles and reads that psychopaths lack conscience. THAT is another basis for research all by itself. Where does “conscience” lie within the brain functions and how do we KNOW about whether or not conscience exists? I know that sounds ridiculous, because I know it DOES exist, but it’s often a spiritual notion rather than a basis for scientific research on psychopathy. Thanks for the article. I need to get that book, Absolutely fascinating! Kel

  71. It is a very well written book. It gets pretty deep into the actual connections in the brain that cause the emotional dysfunction. The Amygdala and the prefrontal cortex appear to the source of the dysfunction. From what I understand the executive decision making in the prefrontal cortex does not properly, adequately communicate with the amygdala, where the emotions lie.

    This is evident when they do fMRI studies on the brains of psychopaths.

    The best depiction of that is found in this Youtube video. Dr. Robert Hare points out the differences. it is still unclear how or why this happens.

    The take away line from the Book for me was on Page 14.: ‘The crucial aspect of psychopathy is not the display of antisocial behavior. Instead, it is the emotional impairment.’

    It is the emotional or non-emotional component to thier behavior and personality that define and identify them.

  72. Chris,

    Thank you and that is EXACTLY true!!! Write that down on a post-it note. Could anything be more clear cut? In thinking about my ex and his behaviors, this one defining theme is a constant.

    Thanks for your generous input. Kel

  73. Chris your links support, as does Robert Hare’s research of course, the notion that there’s a strong physiological/neurological basis for psychopathy. Psychopathy has been described as an emotional retardation. That’s also why it can’t be treated. Once a person reaches adulthood, he (or she) can’t develop emotional depth if he (or she) lacks the neurological capacity for it. Psychopaths lack it: for life. Claudia

  74. Linda, Based on my own experience, it will be impossible for you to get a Judge to award you damages. Legally, I think it is possible, but you would need to find an attorney that understands psychopathy in order to see the value in your case. Even if you could be awarded damages, could your x even pay you? Does he have the resources?

    I would encourage you to cut your losses and let him and your experience go. It will be healthiest for you in the long run. Imagine if you went through the process and lost. You would be victimized all over again.

    In my case, I wish I could do the same. I also have children with my ex, so I need some kind of third party intervention. I have to do something if I am ever going to have a relationship with my children. Remaining silent and pretending that there is not a personality disorder is no longer an option for me.

  75. Kelli, as to why you draw a complete blank, that would be good question for your therapist. There are, according to the Betrayal Bond book, there are things that support traumatic bonding (as in toxic relationships)….reactivity (under and over reacting), arousal (high arousal and intensity…sexual behavior, drugs, high risk behaviors, etc.), blocking (satiation addictions), splitting (dissociation or obsession and preoccupation to the point of being in a trance like state, compulsive book reading such as romance novels, having separate parts of yourself you do not let others know about.), deprivation, shame, and repetition (seeking situations that duplicate the original trauma).

    I found it interesting that shame supports the bond. I guess that is why therapists always told me “don’t take on his shame” “the shame belongs to him, the blame belongs to him”

    I first got into therapy when I was having trouble recalling bad things. The psychiatrist said I was dissociating, which he called a “primitive” way to deal with pain. I first learned to do it when as a child my feelings could not be expressed freely. It was so bad that when I was raped at age 12 while babysitting, I blocked the experience except for flashes of it and didn’t tell anyone in my life until I got married at 21.

    But that may not be what is happening with you. Just plain old stress can reek havoc on anyone’s memory!

  76. Great! They helped me too when I read them.

  77. A friend of mine , who knows everything I’ve gone through, and who sees my ex P as he lives in the same area as her, ocassionally has said to me :- ‘but should you not feel sorry for him Trish?’ ‘ He’s not capable of loving anybody’ ;Its not that he doesn’t love you ……..he can’t’ ‘….I’ve seen him looking like a lost little boy’

    She thinks there should be some compassion for psychopaths as they can’t help who they are just as an autistic person cant help the way their mind is ‘set-up’

    I have the odd time in moments of peace tried to imagine being a psychopath. It’s almost impossible to do. I said to another friend who is a great ‘mind-man’- Tom Ryan – ‘He must be happy now Tom with his new young woman. they have been seen skipping around the town like two teenagers’ Tom just said – ‘ He will never be happy – he cannot be happy’

    Tom has helped me through hypnotherapy. http://www.totalminddynamics.com

    Tricia

  78. Tricia, it’s great to hear from you again! I’m glad you found a hypnotherapist who has helped you. It’s kind of like reverse mesmerization since psychopaths use hypnotic techniques to lure us (the eye contact/intense gaze; the low, hypnotic voice and rhythmic repetitions, etc). They’re natural hypnotizers, so it makes sense that hypnosis–along with truthful information about personality disorders–can also help reverse that process and deprogram victims. Thanks for sharing with us Tom’s link. Claudia

  79. Linda and Others.

    As I have mentioned, I am currently entangled in an extremely high conflict custody situation with a very wealthy and extremely psychopathic family. Yesterday, my situation escalated.

    I have repeatedly brought to the attention of the Judge in my case, my concerns for the emotional welfare of my children. The Judge has simply ignored my requests and the evidence of lying, manipulation. I even filed a Petition for a Guardian Ad Litem, which is an attorney to represent the rights of the Children. The Petition was denied and the abuses, lies and manipulations were simply ignored. The Judge recognizes that by bringing in a third party or having my ex-wife have a psychological evaluation, it will expose the psychopathy and the mistakes he has made in the case.

    The facts are that there are undeniable and unmistakable patterns of behavior and personality that match those found on the PCL-R.

    I am now fighting the ‘Conspiracy of Silence’ that Dr. Hervey Cleckley writes about in Mask of Sanity.

    My options are to remain silent or to speak out LOUDLY about what is happening to me and my children.

    I need help, advice, and suggestions as to how to bring this situation to attention of the public, the media and experts. After three years of nothing being done, and Judges and psychological experts being fooled my this needs massive exposure. Two children have not seen or spoken to their father in over a year.

  80. Chris, I think the most effective path is to persuade local and/or state politicians to pass legislation in favor of what you propose. It’s tough to get any changes done without getting on your side some political pull. Claudia

  81. Claudia,

    I absolutely believe the only way to enact change and create safeguards against fooling anyone. I am extremely angry with the Courts protection of psychopaths. The facts are that protections on the law exist for psychological conditions. There is also conditions that must be met for people with problematic behaviors.

    Child molestors have their name and address published for their behavior. Alcoholics lose their licenses and have to submit to breath, blood and urine screens.

    Doctors and lawyers dont get fooled. They choose not to look. Then they hide behind some trianulated

  82. Chris,
    I feel for you brother. It just amazes me how they have absolutely no regard for the children. My ex constantly uses they kids against me. Although she does not have a problem with me having my youngest every week end so she can go out and fulfil her psychopathic dreams. I have been quiet the past few days because she is threatening to take me back to court for more support. which has set me back. Gee her new man must not have enough money to support her. I bet that idealisation phase wont last long… to bad for me. That psycho is completely convinced that I don’t pay support. Funny thing is its taken directly from my check. She must think because the check is from the state its from them. The court commissioner even called her out on a direct lie in our divorce proceedings, underoath I might add. He still awarded her more than she was entitled to. Now she thinks she deserves more. I spend quit a bit on my kids. Not because I have to but because I love them and they are my kids.. I constantly get a break down on how much she spends on them. The only reason she wants custody is for a pay day. I do beleive the courts are flawed. My ex committed perjury, was caught and still was paid for it. I was starting to do and feel better and she has to start her crap again. psychopaths suck I wish you the best of luck Chris and truly hope you set a presidency in the court that will help protect male and female victims. something has to be done. Its way to easy for the courts to look the other way and move on to the next case. Kudos to you for sticking up for your kids and their well being. best of luck to you and your kids.
    Gary

  83. My question for everyone is what needs to be done?

    In my opinion, as the victim of an extremely ‘successful psychopath’, there need to be safeguards built into the law that will identify them, much like child molestors and drunk drivers. Psychopathy is an illness. The medical, psychological and legal community have yet to take any steps to protect the public or create awareness of this very destructive condition. Psychopathy is primarily and fundamentally an emotional dysfunction, with its origins in the brain. The patterns of behavior and personality that manifest from this illness are easily idenified using the PCL-R Checklist.

    If the condition exists and can be accurately identified by using the PCL-R checklist, then what should be done?

    I would love to hear the ideas and opinions of others on this topic. The change that is necessary will not come unless we take action. We will ultimately need the support of the legal and psychological community, but they will not take the lead on this issue. As victims we need to organize, speak out about our experiences and ask for prudent and pragmatic solutions.

    My life has been destroyed because this illness. The most astounding part about it is that told the Court, the lawyers, the doctors, the psychologists were aware of the condition and took no action and have yet to acknowledge that it is a source of conflict. I was met with a ‘conspiracy of silence’, just as Dr. Cleckley describes in his book Mask of Sanity.

    I refuse to remain silent about my abusers or the enablers that simply refuse to see the patterns of behavior and personality or the evidence and witnesses that confirm them.

    What can be done to manage the problems created by this illness?

    If we can get behind an idea or two, I will gladly lead the charge.

  84. Chris, I’ve just spent 20 minutes searching for your post here, and finally found it. I apologize for my tardiness; I’ve been swamped with a lot of unexpected work these last couple of weeks plus the added headaches of month-end accounting and quarterly sales-tax reports. Being self-employed really sucks four times each year.

    I absolutely agree with you, many professional communities must be made aware of the dangers of highly effective psychopaths. My own experience ratifies this view; I had an 18-month relationship with a psychopath of the absolutely most dangerous kind, the type that successfully masquerades in public as an empathic, caring soul while emotionally and financially draining everyone close to her, even her own family.

    I admire your willingness and courage to “lead the charge” on this issue, but I would also like to call to your attention two very sobering issues:

    [1] There is no justice in the American family court system, as it is heavily biased towards women in most jurisdictions. Do some Google searches on “Marriage 2.0” – I’m of the opinion that it has become incredibly stupid to marry a woman in the USA, because you’re entering into a legal commitment that’s completely one-sided.

    [2] There is no hope for justice with a psychopath; the best you can hope for is to minimize your losses. Please carefully read Claudia’s article of August 23, 2011, “How can you win after the psychopathic bond?” The short conclusion is that you simply cannot, so don’t even try.

    One of the most difficult things I had to deal with in detaching from my ex-girl-fiend was killing my desire for justice. I’m a very moral sort, and I DEMAND justice in all situations. But I foolishly kept in contact with my ex for over two months after I moved out, attempting to reach a mutual understanding and retrieve thousands of dollars of personal property including my beloved Persian cat. She used all of that against me, and I had no choice but to accept the injustice and give them all up. Chris, that was the very best decision of my life because it released me from the psychopathic labyrinth where every exit was cleverly blocked.

    The “conspiracy of silence” that you encounter in the courtroom probably has nothing to do with psychopathy whatsoever. It’s far more likely that it’s because it is presently politically incorrect to accuse the woman of ANY wrongdoing whatsoever during divorce proceedings; the man is always at fault. Just look at the disgustingly one-sided VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) or the “permanent alimony” (aka “entitlement”) legislation (which fortunately is recently under reform in some states).

    Chris, please drop any hope whatsoever about having your ex-wife being diagnosed as psychopathic. She won’t be, because it’s not an “official” DSM-IV-TR diagnosis; the most you can hope for is antisocial personality disorder. By far the most likely diagnosis by a court-ordered psychologist will be Borderline Personality Disorder, for the simple reasons that (a) it shares a great deal of symptoms with psychopathy, and (b) it is treatable with medication and therapy. BPD has therefore become a popular “interim” diagnosis, subject to revision only if 1-2 years of medication and therapy don’t help.

    I don’t make these recommendations lightly. My psychopathic ex-girl-fiend spent the entire 18 months of our relationship embroiled in a messy divorce with her ex-husband. She was only married for 6 months, there were no children and no shared assets. It should have been an open-and-shut case, but she dragged it out for [I don’t know how long, and it may still be going on] to continue to exert control over him and fleece him for as much as she possibly could. Please don’t place yourself in the same situation.

    I understand your desire to obtain a reasonable custody arrangement with your children, but I advise you to look at the facts of your situation. Children will eventually gravitate towards the more sane parent, and perhaps you should heed Claudia’s previous advice to direct your energy towards changing the laws governing divorce and custody in the longer term, rather than trying to set a precedent in the shorter term.

    In either case, I wish you the very best in your endeavours. – Julian.

  85. Julian, good to hear from you again and thank you for your great advice for Chris’s situation as an individual. There are a few people who militate to change the laws not just in their particular situation, but for others too. Like the Amber alert law named after a girl who lost her life. If Chris has the disposition and willingness to get politicians, therapists and law makers on his side to make some kind of impact on changing the law, then it might be worth it. But it takes a lot of time, determination and connections outside one’s particular case to make a difference for others and there’s no guarantee of winning. In the case of battling it out with an individual disordered person, however, as you state, dragging out a legal fight is probably not worth it. Claudia

  86. Julian,

    Thanks for your comments and suggestions. I really do appreciate your thoughts. It has been an extremely sobering and frustrating experience getting anyone to consider this illness as the source of conflict in my case.

    I can assure you that the Conspiracy of Silence in my case is unquestionably about psychopathy. I have brought my concerns for the emotional welfare of my children to the attention of the Court in several different filings, including requests for third party intervention. I have presented evidence of physical and emotional abuse that was simply ignored. I am being bullied into silence about this condition, because the Judge does not want his mistakes, that allowed the manipulation, to be revealed.

    It is truly astounding to me that in the course of the last two years, I have been unable to even identify an attorney or a psychologist willing to take on Psychopathy in Court. As the father, I have the right and obligation to protect my children’s future from harm. To be clear, the only remedy I have sought with regards to psychopathy was to have ‘fair and reasonable’ visitation with my own children so that I may be able to monitor their emotional welfare. Alternatively, I would like a psychologist to report on the emotional welfare of the children.

    Because I currently have no visitation with my own children, I have no choice but to continue to fight this battle until I do. My case could and should be a landmark case. The lifelong patterns of behavior and personality found on the PCL-R exist in my ex-wife and her father and my ex-wife suffered a traumatic brain injury to her prefrontal cortex, which she suffered cognitive and memory issues. There is a mountain of evidence and dozens of witnesses that can confirm these patterns.

    It has become obvious to me that something more needs to be done. All of the knowledge and awareness will only get us so far. Legal protections must be available to psychopaths and their victims. In my case in particular, I would love to end the legal battle and move on with my life. However, unless I go back to Court, I will never see my children again. The only way for that to happen is for there to be an agreement with my ex-wife outside of Court or for the Court to reinstate my visitation. Since, my ex-wife and her father have paid over $1 Million in legal fees to deny my visitation, I have no choice but to change the order in Court.

    Without an agreement, I am forced to change the order and go back into Court. Therefore, I plan to also have my concerns for the emotional welfare of my children addressed. This will require an attorney and psychological expert willing to raise the issue of psychopathy with the Court.

    If anyone is aware of a psychologist or attorney with experience presenting psychopathy to the Court, please let me know. In the process of building the right team, I also plan to continue to increase the exposure and awareness of the ‘Conspiracy of silence’ that victims of psychopathy face in Court.

    I’ll keep you posted, but I also am going to need all the help I can get.

  87. Chris, I think Robert Hare himself (the author of Without Conscience) has experience with presenting psychopathy to courts, both because he began his career as a psychologist in the criminal system and because he is the creator of the Psychopathy Checklist. Claudia

  88. Chris, without any visitation rights at all at the moment, you certainly have a lot at stake here. I agree with Claudia, Robert Hare or someone of his calibre would make an excellent expert witness – if you can convince the judge to allow him to testify. This is where a really good lawyer is required.

    I can’t recommend anyone personally, but I can point you to an excellent “find a lawyer” site: http://www.martindale.com/. Using the Advanced Search function, specify practice areas “Family Law” and “Fathers Rights” and you should be able to find a couple of attorneys to call in your area. Those well versed in Fathers Rights are generally much more aware of case-law precedents and recent revisions to legislation, and will probably be able to more effectively convince the court to accept your evidence. Don’t forget to check their peer and client ratings also, and when interviewing the lawyer, ask about his specific experience with high-conflict cases.

    Bear in mind that courts have a scope within which they operate, and you may have to accept an unfavourable ruling from a lower court in order to be able to appeal it in a higher court that has a wider scope. Allow me to illustrate this.

    Back in my days in the corporate world, a colleague of mine plagiarized two years of my research, using it to write a paper (with only his name on it) which was subsequently accepted for presentation at a professional conference. Needless to say, I was outraged and immediately went to see my director, hoping to write up this incident for the Human Resources department. The director, wise beyond his years, suggested that we write this up only in the culprit’s departmental file, as HR would never do anything about it and would only become annoyed and irritated. He explained that HR’s self-declared scope included only hiring, firing, benefits and pay scales, and they didn’t care squat about anything else like ethics.

    So it’s quite possible that the “wall of silence” is because you’re trying to push the court outside of its “comfort zone.” This is where a competent attorney well-versed in fathers’ rights might find the right material and arguments to force the court to expand that zone.

    You might also take a look at http://www.hare.org/ in order to get in touch with Dr. Hare and/or his colleagues. “Please be advised that Dr. Hare does not make clinical assessments, and is unable to provide advice on personal situations” – but maybe one of his many colleagues will. I noticed a book on the home page, “International Handbook on Psychopathic Disorders and the Law” that you might be interested in. It’s $400 for the two volumes, so check out the table of contents and excerpts carefully.

    Best of luck, and keep us posted please! – Julian.

  89. Julian, thanks as always for your informed and helpful comment. I think, as well, that it’s worth writing Dr. Hare since even though he doesn’t make personal assessments, he or his colleagues may be willing to get involved if it’s a matter of changing laws or public policies regarding psychopathy. Claudia


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