The Psychopath’s Poison Containers

image by Christian Coigny

As everyone who has been involved with a psychopath knows, building a romantic relationship with such a pathological person is like building a house on a foundation of quicksand. Everything shifts and sinks in a relatively short period of time, usually within a year.  Seemingly caring, and often flattering, attention turns into jealousy, domination and control. Enjoying time together becomes isolation from others.

Romantic gifts are replaced with requests, then with demands. Apparent selflessness and other-regarding gestures turn into the most brutal selfishness one can possibly imagine. Confidential exchanges and mutual honesty turn out to be filled with lies about everything: the past, the present as well as the hollow promises for the future. The niceness that initially seemed to be a part of the seducer’s character is exposed as strategic and manipulative, conditional upon acts of submission to his will. Tenderness diminishes and is eventually displaced by a perversion that hints at an underlying, and menacing, sadism.

Mutuality, equality and respect—everything you thought the relationship was founded upon—becomes replaced with hierarchies and double standards in his favor. You can bet that if you’re involved with a psychopath, particularly if he’s also a sex addict, the fidelity he expects of you is not what he’s willing to offer you or any other person. Fidelity becomes nothing more than a one-way street, as he secretly prowls around for innumerable other sexual conquests. If you accept an open relationship, he will treat you as a sex toy or a prostitute whom he pimps to others in a humiliating fashion that reveals his underlying contempt. As the relationship with the psychopath unfolds, Dr. Jekyll morphs into Mr. Hyde.

Because psychopaths need to constantly lure new partners in order to escape boredom as well as to feel excitement and a sense of power over others, they are always in the idealization phase of relationships with several people at the same time. Those are the targets whom they momentarily woe, flatter, collude with, plot against others with and appear to love. Appear is the key word here, since psychopaths can’t love anyone. They simulate love in order to manipulate others, to intoxicate them even, with the potent mixture of flattery, complicity and lies.

Because psychopaths are filled with contempt for human beings, they are also at the same time in the devalue and discard phases with several individuals at the same time. Those are the people they conspire against, criticize, engage in smear campaigns to ruin their reputations, stalk, and sometimes physically threaten or attack. My article on Drew Peterson illustrates this cycle. Each time Drew Peterson was luring a new mistress, he was at the same time treating his current wife as a poison container, upon which to heap blame, insults, threats, slander, and abuse. Then once the new mistress became his current wife, he was seeking new mistresses and treating the wife–or the former mistress–as a poison container for his venom and abuse. As we now know, for him this cycle culminated in murder several times.

Because for psychopaths the image of niceness, caring, true love is always fake–a mask of sanity–they absolutely need to channel their underlying anger and contempt, which are their real, core emotions, upon the targets they have tired of, already used, or who are waking up and starting to realize the horrible individuals they’re involved with. Mr. Jekyll and Dr. Hyde are different facets of the same psychopath: Mr. Jekyll is only a false image used to lure and manipulate targets in the honeymoon phase, and the real psychopath is Mr. Hyde.

Mr. Hyde may be temporarily hiding from casual acquaintances, colleagues, new targets or old allies, but he will always reveal himself in how he treats those he’s already used up and tired of: his poison containers, meaning all the targets that are no longer in the idealization phase. Such poison containers are absolutely necessary for a psychopath who, in reality, can’t stand his own mask of sanity and the effort it takes to fake niceness, to simulate love, or to do things for others in order to get what he wants. 

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction

Our Strongest Chains: The Power of Denial

The Powers of Denial

Sometimes we become involved with disordered personalities because they have a compelling mask of sanity: they hide effectively their deviant natures and abnormal behavior. But we’ve also seen that psychopaths and other personality disordered individuals can’t maintain that mask on over extended periods of time for three main reasons:

a) they can’t keep straight all the lies and half-truths they tell us and other people, so inconsistencies and contradictions in their false stories start to become obvious in time

b) they don’t put as much effort into maintaining the false front since our value to them diminishes once the newness wears off and once they’ve gotten some of what they want from and

c) psychopaths form relationships in order to exercise control over others, which inevitably turns into  increasingly abusive and unequal relationships

It stands to reason that, after the honeymoon phase, something else blinds us to the truth about the psychopath’s increasingly obvious personality disorder: the power of denial. Sigmund Freud coined the term “denial” to describe a situation when a person is faced with an uncomfortable or difficult to accept fact and denies or rejects it despite all rational evidence that it has occurred. How often do people involved with psychopaths turn a blind eye to clear evidence of their lying and cheating? How often do they rationalize the psychopath’s wrongdoings, blame it on others, find excuses for it or accept the psychopath’s lies, projection of blame and (false) justifications? The more emotionally invested a victim is in the psychopath and the relationship with him, and the more he has succeeded in isolating her from others, the stronger the power of denial becomes.

As the Wikipedia explains, denial can take many forms, but all of them are a kind of willful blindness to an unpleasant reality:

a) simple denial: bracketing or failing to see the psychopath’s wrongdoings and bad character

b) minimisation: rationalizing away the importance of the psychopath’s wrongdoings (for instance, by attributing it to his immaturity, or human fallibility, or a simple mistake, or someone else’s bad influence upon him, etc.)

c) projection: accepting the fact of the wrongdoings, but blaming them on someone or something else

In her book Men Who Hate Women and the Women Who Love Them, Susan Forward also explains denial in terms of forgrounding and backgrounding of information. When people become invested in a toxic relationship, no matter how much they suffer as a result of their love addiction to a disordered personality, they foreground every quality they see in the psychopath and the relationship and relegate to the background all the information that contradicts that rosier picture of reality.

What ends up being in the foreground are subjective, fleeting and superficial impressions: such as the fact the psychopath occasionally makes you feel good through flattery or gifts; the fact that, when he wants (something) he  can be charming; the fact that he seems to cast a spell over you and others; the fact he excites you.

All of these “qualities” have nothing to do with what truly counts in a relationship: character. For those who stay long-term with a psychopath or any other personality disordered individual, character becomes relegated to the background precisely because psychopaths lack character. The only way to put up with the psychopath’s constant lying, cheating, manipulation, and exercise of dominance over you is to deny the importance of facts that show what the psychopath IS and focus instead on the superficial impressions and fleeting feelings related to the small (and fake) acts of kindness he sometimes DOES. False image becomes more important than real substance.

Psychopaths do everything in their power to maintain hold over their victims: by lying to them, by isolating them from others, by intimidating them and by rendering them dependent on them. However, the power of denial is the strongest chain that keeps people stuck in a toxic relationship with a person whose evil nature is undeniable.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction

Review of Donna Andersen’s Red Flags of Love Fraud: Information and Insight

Red Flags of Love Fraud

Donna Andersen, the author of Love Fraud the book  and the website/support group Lovefraud.com, has recently published a new book, called Red Flags of Love Fraud: Ten Signs You’re Dating a Sociopath, which I’d highly recommend for anyone who suspects (or knows) they are with a pathological individual. Psychopaths are extremely dangerous because they lack a heart and conscience but they camouflage that fundamental lack so well. They construct a “mask of sanity” by lying to others and hiding their real motives and identities. With their extraordinary glibness and charm, they come on strong to their potential victims, love bombing them, flattering them, mirroring their interests and personalities–essentially, seducing them–then use them for their selfish and malicious purposes. Since they can’t bond emotionally with others and have no conscience, there’s no limit to the devastation they can cause in people’s lives. Experts estimate that between 1 and 4 percent of the population is psychopathic. Since psychopaths are very sociable and promiscuous, this means that millions of psychopaths in this country alone adversely affect hundreds of millions of lives.

As its title suggests, Red Flags of Love Fraud teaches victims and the general public how to recognize the red flags of the psychopathic bondwhich are far from obvious in the beginning. This book draws upon Donna’s own personal experience (she was married for several years to a psychopathic conman and bigamist named James Montgomery); testimonials and research from lovefraud.com readers (conducted with her lovefraud partner, Dr. Liane Leedom), and–last but not least–a lot of her own analyses of psychopathic behavior and insights about the mindset of victims.

Most books about psychopathy focus primarily on explaining what this personality disorder is, the list of symptoms of the psychopath, and persuading readers why it’s very important to get away from such pathological individuals and establish no contact. This information is essential to what I’d call the first phase of escaping the psychopathic bond: realizing you’ve been conned, emotionally and/or financially, by a dangerous social predator and understanding his pathology. Donna’s book does this as well, with characteristic clarity and conciseness. She also includes anecdotes by victims telling their life experiences which make her book that much more interesting and offer concrete examples that readers can relate to.

But  as a professional writer myself, I’d say that the most distinctive feature of Red Flags of Love Fraud is the quality of the writing, both in content and form. Donna’s writing is well-documented and informed, engaging and psychologically insightful. Insight is when a writer manages to probe deep within, to explain analytically what may be only a vague intuition in the minds of readers. Good writing encourages readers to explore  their psyches, motivations and lives. Insight and introspection are especially important for victims of psychopaths.

It’s not enough to identify the traits of psychopaths and see how they behave and how they manage to manipulate and use us. Victims must also be able to look within in order to recognize some of the qualities and patterns of behavior that left them vulnerable to psychopathic seduction in the first place, so that it won’t happen again. This process isn’t about assuming responsibility for all the evil things the psychopaths did, which are unjustifiable and inexcusable. It’s about owning our power of discretion and choice in the future in seeing that, at least to some extent, we also had it in the past. There were red flags in the relationship early on that we chose to minimize or ignore. This book urges us to explore the reasons why we did that.

To offer an important example, one of the most common way psychopaths initially lure victims, Donna explains, is by a combination of 1) love bombing and flattery; 2) persistence, and 3) mirroring our identities and values, to reveal (a false) sense of compatibility. Love bombing is a process commonly used by cults, such as the Moonies, in the initial phases of attracting new members. It’s highly effective for cults–that are often run by psychopathic leaders–and it works just as well for individual psychopathic seducers.

Donna not only explains each strategy used by the psychopath, but also insightfully analyzes the reasons behind victim response. Love bombing is effective because unless you’re very famous, rich or some kind of celebrity, this kind of over-the-top attention is very rare. Few people are likely to tell you you’re the smartest, most attractive, most accomplished person in the world: first of all because you’re not; secondly because it’s rare to encounter another human being who appreciates you so completely. During the luring or idealization phase, therefore, psychopaths often set themselves apart from other people you’ve dated or befriended through a wooing and romancing that borders on worship.

They are also highly persistent, sometimes persevering for years until they catch and hook you emotionally.  Only once you’re emotionally invested in them they gradually–or, in some cases, abruptly–drop the pretense of love and begin the devaluation and abusePersistence pays off, Donna elaborates, because people tend to associate it with love and commitment. If someone persists in proclaiming their love and pursuing us for month after month, or sometimes even year after year, we’re likely to believe that it’s because they truly care about us. Why else would anyone waste so much energy on a romantic pursuit? As far as psychopaths are concerned, the answer, unfortunately, is because they want power and control.

Psychopaths engage in a game-like hunt or pursuit of the individuals they momentarily desire, hyperfocusing on them like predators upon their prey. That’s also why they commonly engage in cyberstalking and stalking, both before and after a relationship is over. Sometimes, the more you evade their grasp, the more interesting the hunt becomes for them. But they never pursue victims because they love or care about them. Their persistence is about the pleasure of the hunt, to possess, consume and destroy their prey.

When you examine, as this book does, both the psychopath’s behavior and the predispositions and vulnerabilities that led you into this dangerous game, you are more likely not only to recognize the red flags of pathological relationships, but also the qualities that predisposed you to ignore them. Knowledge is a process of acquiring  accurate information and processing it with insightRed Flags of Love Fraud offers both information and insight. It is essential reading for anyone who wants to learn how to identify the danger signs in others as well as to confront the vulnerabilities within. You can purchase this book on Donna Andersen’s lovefraud website, on the link below.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction

The Insatiable Longing for Love

Psychopathic seducers, as social predators, target countless victims. But they attach like parasites, for a long time, to comparatively few: only to their most promising hosts. I think that promising victims give off a scent of vulnerability, of unfulfilled desires that are perfect lures for pathologicals in need of control.  However many women they seduce and conquer; however many individuals they con; however much power they acquire, they still aren’t satisfied and need more. That’s because, emotionally, psychopaths are hollow human beings. The emotions, caring, money and time anyone pours into them seeps through them like through a bottomless hole.

Narcissists are very similar psychologically, only instead of control what they desire even more is validation. Narcissistic personalities often become famous artists, writers, scholars, movie producers or politicians. They have the drive and dedication to get to the top, but their thirst for validation is far greater than their periodic success. It is only temporarily satisfied and, in some respects, fundamentally unachievable. Success is fleeting and being at the top of the charts–be it as a singer, producer or best-selling writer–quickly turns into yesterday’s news. Narcissistic individuals often end up in an endless rat race, spinning in place, both emotionally and psychologically, no matter how rich or famous they become.

But even those of us who are neither psychopaths nor narcissists, which is to say, even more or less normal human beings experience an insatiable longing: the insatiable longing for love. This is what I describe in my new novel, The Seducer, through the character of Ana, modeled after my favorite heroine by the same name from Tolstoy‘s novel, Anna Karenina (which, incidentally, remains very relevant and is being launched soon as a film starting Keira Knigthley).  If some of us are tempted to cheat on or deceive those we love; if we are lured by the temptation of instant passion, happiness and commitment promised by dangerous social predators, it’s because within us, someplace, somehow, there’s an insatiable longing for love. This need can be a wound from previous betrayals or trauma, or simply an unrealistic, fantasy-driven yearning that can’t be fulfilled in reality.

Real love takes patience, constant nurturing and work. It depends on commitment and strength. It sometimes takes self-sacrifice. Psychopaths can tempt us with instant fulfillment, instant commitment, instant passionate love that require no work, because we’re “meant for each other,” because this is “the love of our lives”. This promise is not only a false and dangerous illusion, but also rests upon a fundamental repudiation of true love and of reality, flaws and all.

In my novel The Seducer I attempted to offer a psychologically accurate and in-depth sketch of three common forms of emotional insatiability: 1) the insatiable need for control and power over women of Michael, the psychopath; 2) the insatiable need for validation that keeps Karen, his needy and narcissistic fiancee, indefinitely caught in his clutches, and 3) the insatiable need for love of Ana, who represents the force, the need, the empty part that propels each and every victim into the arms of a dangerous social predator.

Any woman can become a tragic heroine like Ana if she gives in to a secret longing that has no realistic outlet or satisfaction. Written in the tradition of my favorite nineteenth-century novels, Anna Karenina and Madame Bovary–but with a contemporary psychological twist–The Seducer shows that true love can be found in our ordinary lives rather than in flimsy fantasies masquerading as great passions.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction

How the Psychopath Manufactures Our Emotions by Peace

* Note: This article is written by a friend who goes by the pseudonym “Peace”

During a relationship with a psychopath, we are likely to experience a range of emotions that we’ve never felt before: extreme jealousy, neediness, rage, anxiety, paranoia, etc. After the inevitable devalue and discard, many of us blame ourselves. If only I hadn’t been so jealous, then maybe he wouldn’t have left me… If only I hadn’t been so needy, then maybe he wouldn’t have left me… If only I hadn’t been so—

Stop.

Those were not your emotions. I repeat: those were not your emotions. They were carefully manufactured by the psychopath in order to make you question your good nature. Victims are often of the mentality that they can forgive, understand and absorb all of the problems in a relationship. Essentially, they checkmate themselves by constantly trying to rationalize the abuser’s completely irrational behavior.

For example, most us probably didn’t consider ourselves to be jealous people before we met the psychopath. We might have even taken pride in being exceptionally easy-going and open-minded.  The psychopath sees this and knows how to exploit it. During the idealize phase, he draws us in by flattering those traits—he just can’t believe how perfect you are. The two of you never fight. There’s never any drama. You’re so relaxed compared to his crazy, evil ex!

But behind the scenes, something else is going on. Psychopaths become bored very easily, and the idealize phase is only fun until he has you hooked. Once that happens, these strengths of yours become vulnerabilities that he uses against you. He begins to inject as much drama into the relationship as he possibly can, throwing us into impossible situations and then judging us for reacting to them.

Most people would agree that jealousy is toxic in a relationship. But there’s a huge difference between true jealousy and the psychopath’s manufactured jealousy.

Take the following two conversations:

Case 1:

Boyfriend: Hey, my old high-school friend is coming into town if you’d like to meet her!

Girlfriend: No! Why do you need other female friends? You have me.

In this case, the girlfriend truly seems to have some jealousy issues that need to be addressed. Assuming he hasn’t abused her in the past, this is an inappropriate display of jealousy.

Case 2:

Boyfriend: My ex is coming into town. You know, the crazy abusive one who’s still completely obsessed with me.

Girlfriend: Oh, I’m sorry to hear that!

Boyfriend: We’re probably going to meet up later for drinks. She always hits on me when she drinks.

Girlfriend: I’m confused. Could we talk about this in person?

Boyfriend: You have a problem with it?

Girlfriend: Nope! No problem. I guess I was just a little confused since you said she abused you. But I hope things go well! It’s nice when exes are able to be friends.

Boyfriend: Jesus Christ, you’re so jealous sometimes.

Girlfriend: I’m sorry, I’m not trying to be jealous. I was just confused at first. Maybe we could talk about it in person?

Boyfriend: Your jealousy is ruining our relationship and creating so much unnecessary drama.

Girlfriend: I’m sorry! We don’t have to talk about it in person. I really didn’t mean to come across that way.

Boyfriend: It’s fine, I forgive you. We’ll just have to work through your jealousy issues.

 In this case, the psychopath did three things: 1) Put the victim in an impossible situation that would make any human being jealous, especially after talking about how crazy the ex is. 2) Accused the victim of being jealous, even though the victim tried to respond reasonably. 3) Played “good guy” by offering to forgive her for a problem that he created in the first place. This places him in his favorite role of teacher vs. student.

The longer this abuse occurs, the more we begin to wonder if we actually have a jealousy problem.

And it’s not just limited to jealousy. To offer another example, many of us may begin to feel needy and clingy during the relationships with the psychopath. But again, it’s all manufactured. Who was the one who initiated the constant conversation and attention in the first place? It was him. Once he’s bored, he will start to lash out at us for trying to continue practices that he initiated.

Again, most people would agree that neediness is toxic in a relationship. But there’s a huge difference between true neediness and the psychopath’s manufactured neediness.

Case 1:

Boyfriend: Hey, I won’t be around tonight because my grandmother wants to get dinner. Sorry!

Girlfriend: Oh my god, I haven’t seen you in three hours. This is getting ridiculous. You better text me the entire time.

In this case, the girlfriend truly seems to have some neediness issues that need to be addressed. Assuming he hasn’t abused her in the past, this is an inappropriate display of neediness.

Case 2:

Girlfriend: Hi, I haven’t heard from you in three days. Just want to make sure you’re doing okay.

Boyfriend: Jesus Christ, I have a life outside of you, you know.

Girlfriend: I know, I was just sort of confused because I’m used to hearing from you every day.

Boyfriend: You’re so needy. I have important things to do and I can’t just drop everything to text you.

Girlfriend: I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to sound needy. It was the first text I’ve sent in three days.

Boyfriend: I can’t deal with this. I’ve never met someone so needy in my life.

Girlfriend: I’m really sorry! I won’t bother you again.

Boyfriend: It’s fine, I forgive you. We’ll just have to work through your neediness issues.

Once again… In this case, the psychopath did three things: 1) Put the victim in an impossible situation that would make any human being needy, especially after the constant attention in the idealize phase. 2) Accused the victim of being needy, even though the victim tried to respond reasonably. 3) Played “good guy” by offering to forgive her for a problem that he created in the first place. This places him in his favorite role of teacher vs. student.

The longer this abuse occurs, the more we begin to wonder if we are actually needy people.

We must understand that in loving, healthy relationships, no one would ever put us in these situations in the first place. Our boundaries were put to the test, and we did the absolute best we could, given the circumstances. In the future, we should never allow someone to tell us who we are or what we feel. Happy Healing to all!

Don’t Give the Psychopath too Much Importance

Lurking in the Shadows

As absolute narcissists, all psychopaths think they’re extremely important. To them, the universe revolves around them and their needs. Everyone around them is either a target they will try to use to fulfill those needs or an obstacle to be eliminated in the pursuit of what they desire. For this reason, psychopaths surround themselves with individuals they can manipulate and brainwash, who idolize them. This not only gives them tools to machinate against others, but also supports the narcissistic bubble, sustaining their false sense of importance.

Imagine that you were raised by such a psychopath in a place where you weren’t allowed out of your house, you weren’t allowed to have friends, exchange opinions, learn, interact with others. Then the tyrant who raised you would assume the utmost importance, no matter how pathetic and insignificant he was in any objective sense. The psychology of cult followers and of those imprisoned by a psychopath has some similarities, particularly in the importance the psychopath assumes in their lives.

For cult followers or anyone who worships a psychopath, this importance seems to be a positive force: they have someone they consider superior to others, who makes them feel “special” and “superior” as well, by association. For those held prisoner by a psychopath, this importance is magnified by fear. In both cases, however, it is exaggerated and out of touch with reality: it is carefully created by the psychopath through brainwashing, intimidation tactics and isolation. For a very interesting and vivid account of how this happens, please see Jaycee Dugard’s account of her imprisonment by a pathological couple:

When their targets no longer idolize them or fulfill their demands, psychopaths often retaliate. They can’t tolerate when anyone bursts the artificial bubble of their complete and utter narcissism.  Psychopaths are bullies. They often resort to intimidation tactics, such as stalking and cyberstalking, smear campaigns and various other machinations. Some former victims feel genuinely terrorized by them and live in a state of fear or even paranoia. They give them a power that they don’t deserve. This is not to say that you shouldn’t take the psychopath’s stalking seriously. Record every incident; report it to the authorities; take actions to protect yourself and your loved ones. However, don’t live in the shadow of the psychopath’s inflated ego or in fear of him. My friend and fellow writer, Sarah Strudwick, recently wrote an excellent article about this. She too has been cyberstalked by her psychopathic ex, but learned how to work through–and move beyond–the trauma, the anger and the fears that this experience has caused.

I recall moments during my childhood when I’d go to bed and  my toys would create scary, large and looming shadows on the wall. The toys that seemed so benign during the day sometimes became frightening during the night. In a way, that’s what psychopaths attempt to do to victims who reject them; to those who do not sustain their distorted, inflated egos. They  project scary, larger-than-life shadows through various tactics intended to intimidate and menace. Take their actions seriously, but not the psychopaths.

Psychopaths are trivial human beings. They don’t have any real human relationships and they don’t accomplish any constructive goals, except as a false mask. When you see the psychopath for what he is–a pathetic, insignificant human being–you cut him down to size. Don’t give the psychopath too much importance because, in reality, he has none.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction

My Interview about Psychopathy and Books in Celebrity Dialogue

Claudia Moscovici: Novelist, Non-Fiction Author & Art Critic PDF Print E-mail
March 11th, 2012
Interview of Claudia Moscovici on CelebrityDialgoue.com
Claudia Moscovici is an American Romanian Novelist, non-fiction author and art critic. Her latest novel “The Seducer” is a psychological story of a married woman trapped in the love of an unassuming psychopath. Claudia is the author of “Velvet Totalitarianism,” a critically acclaimed novel about a Romanian family’s survival in an oppressive communist regime due to the strength of their love.

CelebrityDialogue: What is the basic plot of your latest novel “The Seducer”?

Claudia: “The Seducer,” my new psychological thriller, shows both the hypnotic appeal and the deadly danger of psychopathic seduction. This novel traces the downfall of a married woman, Ana, who, feeling trapped in a lackluster marriage, has a torrid affair with Michael, a man who initially seems to be her soul mate and her dream come true. Although initially torn between love for her family and her passion for Michael, Ana eventually gives in to her lover’s pressure and asks her husband for divorce. That’s when Michael’s “mask of sanity” unpeels to reveal the monstrously selfish psychopath underneath. Written in the tradition of Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina,” my novel shows that true love can be found in our ordinary lives and relationships rather than in flimsy fantasies masquerading as great passions.
CelebrityDialogue: What inspired you to write this novel?

Claudia: I have always been a big fan of nineteenth-century fiction that focuses on the theme of seduction: I’m thinking of classic novels like Tolstoy’s “Anna Karenina” and Flaubert’s “Madame Bovary”. I also read with great interest the libertine novel tradition of the eighteenth-century: my favorite in this genre being Laclos’ epistolary novel, “Dangerous Liaisons”. I think in his depiction of Valmont, Laclos gets the seducer profile exactly right: he is a dangerous psychopath—essentially a social predator who plays games with the lives of others, having malicious fun at their expense– rather than a libertine maverick (as in Casanova) or a tragic romantic hero (as in Tolstoy). I did four years of psychology research of the most dangerous personality disorders—psychopathy and narcissism—to create a realistic and up-to-date psychological profile of the seducer in my new novel by the same name.
CelebrityDialogue: Would you like to introduce our readers to a non-fiction book, “Dangerous Liaisons”, that you wrote in 2011?

Claudia: Although the theme of psychopathy comes up mostly when we hear about (psychopathic) serial killers, it is actually much more commonplace and pervasive, in both fact and fiction. What do O. J. Simpson, Scott Peterson and the timeless seducers of literature epitomized by the figures of Don Juan and Casanova have in common? They are charismatic, glib and seductive men who also embody the most dangerous human qualities: a breathtaking callousness, shallowness of emotion and the incapacity to love. In other words, these men are psychopaths. Unfortunately, most psychopaths don’t advertise themselves as heartless social predators. They come across as charming, intelligent, friendly, generous, romantic and kind. Through their believable “mask of sanity,” they lure many of us into their dangerous nets. My nonfiction book, “Dangerous Liaisons,” explains clearly, for a general audience, what psychopaths are, why they act the way they do, how they attract us and whom they tend to target. Above all, this book helps victims find the strength to end their toxic relationships with psychopaths and move on, stronger and wiser, with the rest of their lives.

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CelebrityDialogue: What exactly is psychopathic seduction?

Claudia: Psychopathic seduction happens when someone is seduced (targeted, lured with false promises or under false premises, deceived, manipulated, isolated and brainwashed) by a psychopathic social predator. Psychopaths are far more common than one thinks. Experts estimate that between 1 and 4 percent of the population is psychopathic. This means that there are millions of psychopaths in the United States alone. The influence of these very dangerous individuals extends far beyond this percentage however. Psychopaths are generally very sociable, highly promiscuous and con countless people: sexually, emotionally and/or financially. They poison tens of millions of lives in this country and far more, of course, internationally.

Claudia Moscovici The Seducer

CelebrityDialogue: Your novel “Velvet Totalitarianism” is about a Romanian family’s survival against communist regime. Since you have Romanian roots, did any true life events prompt you to write this novel?

Claudia: “Velvet Totalitarianism”, which was recently launched in Romanian translation (“Intre Doua Lumi,” Curtea Veche Publishing, 2011), is inspired in part by events in Romanian history as well as by elements from my life and my parents’ lives: including my father’s defection to the U.S., our dealings with the Securitate and our immigration. Nevertheless, I fictionalized both the historical and the biographical elements to give the novel a tighter and more dramatic structure.
CelebrityDialogue: You must have felt proud when this novel was published in Romanian language?

Claudia: I was delighted that “Velvet Totalitarianism” was published in Romania, both because it was written about the history and struggles of the Romanian people and because I have a sentimental attachment and cultural ties to my native country. I was especially happy to see how well-received the novel in translation (“Intre Doua Lumi”) was by the mainstream media in Romania, where it was featured not only in literary and culture magazines such as Scrisul Romanesc and Viata Romaneasca, but also in Forbes.ro, women’s glossy magazines (such as Revista Avantaje), and general interest blogs like Catchy.ro and VIP.net. Since I aspire to being a public writer and intellectual, I wish to reach a wide community of readers, internationally.
CelebrityDialogue: Which are your other major published works?

Claudia: I have published several scholarly books, but I’d consider “major” works only those books that I wrote for a general audience. These include my art criticism book “Romanticism and Postromanticism”, on the Romantic tradition in art and literature and its postromantic survival; my novels “Velvet Totalitarianism” and “The Seducer”, and my psychology book about psychopaths and dangerous relationships, “Dangerous Liaisons”.
CelebrityDialogue: You are the co-founder of” Postromanticism”. For those who may not know, please shed some light on this movement.

Claudia: I believe that art movements are not only diachronic, emerging one after the other, as they tend to be taught in art history, but also synchronic, in that each new art movement borrows from many aesthetic traditions of the past. Postromanticism, the international art movement I co-launched in 2002 with the Mexican sculptor Leonardo Pereznieto, is no exception. It is inspired by several traditions in art history, including Neoclassicism, Romanticism and art nouveau. Postromanticism places emphasis upon beauty, sensuality and passion in contemporary art. You can see samples of postromantic art on my website, http://postromanticism.com.
CelebrityDialogue: Since you write about love, beauty and passion, what does love mean to you in real life? Were you able to find love in your life?

Claudia: Being a novelist and art/literary critic, for many years I looked mostly at fantasy—since, after all, that’s what art and fiction are–to describe love as a romantic ideal rather than as a daily lived reality. But for the past few years, particularly after studying personality disorders, I have come to appreciate much more the pragmatic and ethical dimensions of real love. To me, love implies mutual commitment, supporting one another through thick and thin, fidelity and caring about one another: everything that the wedding vows promise and that my wonderful and supportive husband, Dan Troyka, has offered me in real life for over 20 years, since we met and fell in love in college.
CelebrityDialogue: What are you working on these days?

Claudia: Since my interests are in several fields—fiction, art and psychology—I always work at several projects simultaneously. This “multitasking” keeps me from becoming bored with any one subject or stuck in a rut creatively. Right now I’m researching the psychology of cults, which will be the subject of my third novel, “The Cult”. Since cult leaders are often charismatic psychopaths, this novel will incorporate a lot of the research I’ve already done to write “The Seducer” and “Dangerous Liaisons”. In addition, I have just finished writing the preface for an exciting new science fiction novel called “The Cube”, written in the tradition of Huxley’s “Brave New World” and Orwell’s “1984”, which will be published by my publisher in a few months. At the same time, I’m working closely with the Romanian-born movie producer Bernard Salzman, whom you’ve already interviewed in Celebrity Dialogue, on the screenplay for my first novel, “Velvet Totalitarianism”. Hopefully this will be an American-Romanian production, since a large part of the plot takes place in Romania. I also continue with my art criticism and am preparing for the launch of “Romanticism and Postromanticism”, translated by the writer and critic Dumitru Radu Popa, in Romania next fall. It’s a Latin country so I’m hoping for a warm reception of postromanticism, the art of passion!
CelebrityDialogue: Thank you so much Claudia. It was a pleasure.

Claudia: Thank you for this interview, the pleasure was mine.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction

 

Psychopaths and Justice: As you make your bed so you must lie in it

After the psychopathic bond is over and long after they realize they’ve been duped by a vicious individual, victims are left with a deep sense of betrayal and a lot of anger. One of the things that makes victims of psychopaths most angry is the sense of injustice. Because, truth be told, legally speaking, psychopaths don’t always get the punishments they deserve in life. First of all, sometimes they don’t get caught for their illegal acts. It took Drew Peterson staging a car accident and nearly killing his second wife, and killing his next two wives to finally be convicted and found guilty of murder, many years later. In the meantime he played cat and mouse games with the media, the public and the police and even demanded his own radio dating show during an interview.

Fortunately, Drew Peterson is an example of a psychopath who finally got caught and punished for his crimes. But what about the many psychopaths who get away with their crimes: sometimes quite literally with murder? There has been a lot of public speculation and disappointment with the outcomes of the O. J. Simpson and Casey Anthony trials, and those are only two of the more visible ones. How many other similar cases are out there that didn’t catch the media and the general public’s attention?

And what about the millions of criminal and sub-criminal psychopaths who get away with “lesser crimes,” of duping, manipulating, stalking, raping and defrauding countless victims in ways that are less obvious or difficult to catch and prosecute? How will they pay for their crimes and other wrongdoings? What justice will their tens of millions of victims find? Are their victims, who may be out of their life savings, with broken hearts, in poor health as a result of the psychopaths’ actions to suffer from a sense of injustice and betrayal for the rest of their lives? I say: NO. Why? Because even if the psychopaths may get away with their crimes and wrongdoings from a legal standpoint, they live the kind of lives that no healthy person would ever desire. Their lives are a nightmare.

There is a universal saying we hear in many languages and cultures: As you make your bed so you must lie in it. Even without legal repercussions, psychopaths and those who collude with and support them reap what they sow in life. When you feel a sense of anger that your psychopathic ex seems to thrive in spite of how much he harmed you and others, ask yourself this question: Would YOU want his life? Ultimately, did  you choose his life or a life with him? Would you want to be in his new partner’s shoes? The answer any healthy person would give is: definitely NOT. No healthy person would want to be like a psychopath or with a psychopath.

To offer two relevant examples, since psychopaths are very often addicted to sex and power, especially when the two are combined. If the psychopath is fooling a new victim with his mask of sanity, pretending to be a caring, loving, loyal and committed family man while lying to her and sleeping around, would you want to lead this kind of double life? Would you want to be with a man who leads such a double life, lied to and cheated on by the person you love and trust? You’ve been in her shoes before and you hated that position enough to get out of the relationship. You never want to be in that situation again. You have enough self-respect that you never want to be with a partner who is so shallow, callous and duplicitous ever again. There’s nothing enviable or desirable about BEING like that or BEING WITH someone like that. As you make your bed so you must lie in it.

Suppose now that the psychopathic sex addict leads a life of overt sleaziness with his new partner. Tired of the more virtuous kind of partner from whom he must hide his true identity with all its addictions, sadism and perversions, he transitions to a partner who not only tolerates, but also gladly participates in the sleaze. Suppose they see themselves as being ahead of conventional morality; as libertine mavericks who don’t follow moral norms like sheep (see  my previous article on The Psychopath as Self-Proclaimed Maverick).

Suppose then that the psychopath and his new partner now lead a life of sleaze, of colluding against others, of luring victims, duping them, rating them, berating them, making fun of them, gossiping about them to others, using them and dumping them: all this to boost their inflated egos and to fulfill their perverse sexual fantasies. Couching their sleazy lives in terms of “libertinage” or mores that are “beyond good and evil,” they feed and mirror each other’s narcissistic delusions, engaging in all sorts of perversions: wife swapping, sex parties, group sex, adult dating websites, etc. Ask yourself: what healthy person leads such a sordid life and what healthy partner would put up with it, much less enjoy it? Underneath the mantra of libertinage what you see is a pathetic reality of two narcissistic sex addicts and social predators being each other’s sloppy 10,000 seconds and getting their jollies from preying on other people like them or, worse yet, on unsuspecting innocent victims.

When colluding with a psychopathic sexual predator even willing victims get pimped, swapped, gang banged and debased no matter what pseudo-philosophical or pseudo-literary justifications the psychopath offers for such sleazy and perverted ways. Eventually even their sleaziest partners get used up and tossed away by the psychopath like dirty condoms, when their use value is gone or when a a better target or opportunity comes up.  As you make your bed, so you must lie in it. And if you choose to lie next to a psychopathic partner, then you will eventually wake up next to an individual who uses you, demeans you under the guise of compatibility and love and who will one day callously toss you away to replace you with a new trophy.

Either way you look at it–being a Loser or being with a Loser (or both!)–you lose.  Sure, we’d love to see the psychopaths land in jail for the financial fraud, statutory rape, professional violations, prostitution, drug dealing, date rape, and other illegal and immoral acts they commit. But keep in mind that psychopaths and their supporters DO get justice even if they don’t get punished legally for their crimes and immoral acts. Why? Because they lead the kinds of lives that any normal and healthy person would consider a punishment in itself: their reality is a nightmare. 

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction

The Psychopath’s Bait and Switch

Psychopaths notoriously promise you the moon and deliver… nothing. They target victims who are vulnerable: feeling vulnerable as well as being vulnerable to flattery. They love bomb their new targets: showering them with attention, loving words, promises and gifts. They’re ready to commit instantly, saying that they finally found the soul mates they had been looking for all their lives. Although such behavior may seem positive, as I explained in my earlier article about the red flags of a psychopathic bond, it is actually, all too often, a predator’s lure.

This is how psychopaths attract new victims and make them feel wanted, loved and safe. If this behavior were genuine and consistent, psychopaths would be ideal partners. Unfortunately, it’s not. The flattery, attention, affection, sex and sensuality, gifts, promises of commitment all constitute the psychopath’s bait. Wait a few months, and you’ll begin to notice the switch.

As Sandra Brown M.A. notes in Women Who Love Psychopaths, the switch happens precisely when the victim begins to trust the psychopath and has emotionally bonded with him. Once the psychopath intuitively senses that you have fallen in love with him, believe his lies and false promises, need him and have begun to organize your daily life around the relationship with him, he begins to switch his behavior and enters the manipulation phase of the relationship. By then the idealization phase is over–forever–and you’ll only see again brief glimpses of it, especially when he senses that you are withdrawing from him.

He will start to demand more and more from you and reward you less and less with the phony romantic behavior you enjoyed in the beginning of the relationship. He will ask for more sacrifices of your emotional energy and time (isolating you from loved ones and discouraging your professional endeavors), more commitment, more sexual transgressions, or more money: all depending on what he wanted from the relationship. But the bottom line is that psychopaths enter relationships to use others and to gain control.

So even if what he wanted initially was money, or sex–or whatever else–ultimately he wants nothing less than to control and destroy you. That is, psychopaths use the bait and switch to get everything from you and leave you a shell of the person you once were. If you leave when you begin to notice red flags and inconsistent behavior, you have a chance to escape from the psychopathic bond more or less intact. If you don’t, you risk losing everything you hold dear and, more importantly, who you are.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction

Psychopaths are Inconsistent and Contradictory

It’s very difficult to spot a psychopath from the beginning. Even the international expert on psychopathy, Dr. Robert Hare, admits that it often takes him up to six months to identify a psychopath. As we’ve seen from earlier posts, psychopaths are glib, superficial and excellent pathological liars. They look you in the eye and lie to your face. They make up stories on the spot, with no second thoughts and no regrets. They manipulate other people into covering for them. They put up an excellent front: the mask of sanity. Underneath that mask, lurks a dangerous psychological world, filled with deception, manipulation, sexual deviance and predatory intent. How can you tell then when you’ve been targeted by a social predator? The answer is, only time will tell.

Why? Because psychopaths are unable to be consistent over extended periods of time. In time, they will forget that they told you one thing about their past and say something else, which directly contradicts it. They may tell you they were faithful to their wife until they met you, then weeks or months later boast that they were hitting on other women during that period of time. The more power they have over you, the fewer concessions they will make to keeping you happy, the more openly they will violate their (hollow) promises.

When they commit crimes, they lie to the police and the press with no compunction; however, they rarely keep their stories straight. I watched episodes of Forensic Files where the psychopathic criminals give different accounts of where they were during the time of the murder to different people. When you tell the truth, there’s only one set of facts to remember and tell. When you lie, it’s more difficult to recall on the spot what you said before and to keep all your stories straight.

Psychopaths are not only inconsistent over time, but also contradictory. The biggest contradiction you will notice is between what a psychopaths says and his behavior. He will say he supports you professionally yet do everything to undermine your reputation, sabotage your job or even insist that you quit your work altogether, to focus on the relationship with him. The fewer acquaintances and activities you have outside of the toxic relationship with the psychopath, the more power he will have over you. He will say that he values commitment and mutual fidelity yet chronically cheat on you. Even if you’re involved in an open relationship with him, he may say he loves only you and that the other sexual partners don’t matter, while treating you as a sex object and pimping you to others: actions that reveal his contempt and misogyny rather than his love, as he claims.

Psychopaths also show their inconsistency by stringing you along. They promise you things that they never deliver, without actually letting you know that they can’t or won’t do them. If you encounter someone who keeps postponing fulfilling his commitments or promises, it’s a big red flag. On psychopathy support groups I’ve read so many testimonials about victims who were strung along for months or even years with false promises of marriage, or jobs that didn’t pan out, or promotions that never happened.

People with integrity have a sense of responsibility. They do what they say and if they can’t do it, they tell you. Psychopaths, on the other hand, not only fail to fulfill their commitments over time, but also continue to string you along with false promises, to maintain power over you. When you encounter a person whose actions don’t match his words; who doesn’t fulfill his commitments over time, and who is contradictory in his stories and behavior, disengage immediately, because you’re most likely dealing with a dangerous pathological.

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction