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

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How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, the Freedom Not To

Almost every victim of a psychopathic predator deals with the burden of anger and resentment. We feel betrayed by the lies, by the cheating, by the constant manipulation, by the entire mask of sanity. Everything about the relationship that we considered real and based on true love turned out to be a sham. The person we thought we knew and loved was not the person we thought we knew and loved. We ended up loving an illusion, a mask and ultimately only a fantasy of love, not a real person, not a real relationship. So feelings of anger and betrayal are natural in the aftermath of a toxic relationship with a psychopath. Natural, but burdensome. It’s difficult to carry around so much anger. We’re often advised to forgive, if not actually forget the experience. Forgiveness is presented as a religious and ethical ideal, akin in some ways to the equally ideal notion of unconditional love. Dr. Janis Abrahms Spring, author of How Can I Forgive You? The Courage to Forgive, The Freedom Not To (HarperCollins, 2005), argues that forgiveness, like the notion of love, can’t be automatic. It is something earned, based on a reciprocity between a truly repentant person and the person who forgives. Since psychopaths cause intentional harm and lack conscience–and therefore also lack any meaningful sense of remorse–how applicable can the notion of forgiveness then be to a relationship with them, to what they did wrong? In the article below, How Can I Forgive You? as well as in her book and in her seminar (www.janisaspring.com), Dr. Abrahms Spring offers a more meaningful understanding of forgiveness: one that is earned. Please welcome her guest post below. 

Claudia Moscovici, psychopathyawareness

Dangerous Liaisons: How to Identify and Escape from Psychopathic Seduction

Almost everything that has been written about forgiveness preaches to hurt parties as to why they should forgive: Forgiveness is good for us; and good people forgive, is the common refrain. But in my clinical practice of over three decades (mostly working with couples recovering from infidelity), I’ve found that when someone acts in a hurtful way and isn’t able or willing to make meaningful repairs, hurt parties choke on the mandate for them to forgive. This makes sense to me. Why are we preaching to the hurt party? Why not turn to offenders and ask them to earn forgiveness?

When hurt parties are pushed to forgive an unrepentant offender, I find they often react in one of three ways:

1)    They refuse to forgive and insist, “Forgiveness may be divine, but it’s not for me.” They’re then left not forgiving – hating and hurting and living in a grudge state – and we know this isn’t healthy.

2)    They’re taught to forgive, they try to forgive, but inside, they often feel cheated and disingenuous.

3)    They say they forgive, but often even those people who describe themselves as the forgiving type, actually forgive less in reality then they’d like to admit.

To me, there’s a missing option in the work of forgiveness, or in the work of healing from interpersonal wounds. Something the lies between the fluffy, inspirational concept of “pure” forgiveness (asking nothing in return), and the hard, cold-hearted response of not forgiving.

I’ve developed a radical alternative which I call “Acceptance.” Acceptance is not forgiveness. Acceptance is a healing alternative which hurt parties accomplish for themselves, by themselves. It asks nothing of the offender which is good because in this condition, offenders have nothing to offer. I say, when an offender is not sorry, when they are unable or unwilling to make meaningful repairs, it is not the job of the hurt party to forgive them. (I call this Cheap Forgiveness). But it is the job of the hurt party to heal themselves. This is the work of Acceptance and in my book, How Can I Forgive You?, I spell out 10 steps hurt parties can take to heal themselves. (One step involves choosing a level of relationship with the offender that serves their best interest. This can range from cutting off to full engagement. A second step would be de-shaming the injury).

What I call Genuine Forgiveness is reserved for those offenders who have the courage and character to make meaningful amends. Again, in my book, I spell out exactly what offenders must do to earn forgiveness, and what hurt parties must do to foster this process. Acceptance is intrapersonal; Genuine Forgiveness is interpersonal.

The work of Genuine Forgiveness operates like that of love. We can love someone alone. (We’ve all been in those relationships). But doesn’t it feel more genuine, more satisfying, more embracing, when we love someone who deserves our love, who treats us with tender regard?