Just Like His Father? (available through this site) was released in October, 2006. At that time I fantasized that the audience for the book would be single parents or grandparents raising the children of personality disordered individuals. I thought that most of the disordered parents would have abandoned the family and want nothing to do with the kids. While we still do not know what percentage of personality disordered parents abandon their kids, I have come to believe that that those who do not are a much bigger social problem.
Within 6 months of the release of the book, people who were trying to co-parent with severely disordered former partners began to write me. At first I did not believe the stories because they so contradicted common sense and my clinical training. What sane person would believe that the family courts would grant unsupervised access or even custody to severely personality disordered abusive parents? Well I discovered that is just what they do, and since that discovery have been working obsessively to change things.
If we are to change the insane system the first thing we need is valid, objective reliable data regarding how it operates. We also need valid, objective reliable data about the parenting and intimate behavior of people with cluster B personality disorders. I have set a goal to collect that data not for a “pop psychology” book but for its scientific value. That has meant Ethics Committee (IRB) approvals, funding, questionnaires, interviews, research assistants and statistics. I am still collecting this data from former partners and adult children of disordered individuals but have made substantial progress (send Donna an email if you want to consider providing data).
Last year I was teaching a research methods class to graduate students in counseling. We were discussing qualitative and narrative research when one of the students raised her hand and said she enjoyed reading autobiographies of people who had unusual experiences, a light bulb went on inside my head. I looked at her and said, “See me after class.” Last summer that student, another student Emily, Linda who blogs for Lovefraud, and I read and analyzed using modern qualitative methods 18 memoirs written by former partners and adult sons and daughters of psychopathic individuals. I am happy to announce that one of the papers generated from this research is now available.
The paper provides substantial data that might be useful for women who are trying to protect children from a psychopathic father. The paper also explains to professionals how and why women get into these relationships and the damage the relationships do. Here is the abstract:
This is the first in-depth study of the influence of psychopathy (as assessed by the PCL-R) on the intimate relationship behavior of men. Using well-established qualitative methods, Leedom, Geslien, and Almas examined the published memoirs of 10 women who had long-term relationships with psychopathic men. They also examined articles, videotaped interviews, forensic evaluations where available, and author feedback. The authors determined that these relationships consist of four phases: induction, commitment, disengagement, and recovery. All of the women they studied had been conned, manipulated, or coerced during all or most phases of the relationship. The data from the 10 memoirs have been triangulated with that of a memoir written by a woman who had been kidnapped at age 11 and held 18 years by a psychopathic man, and with a case well known to the first author. Although the resulting data are qualitative and come from a limited number of cases, they have enabled the formulation of a model to explain the relationship between the facets of psychopathy and intimate partner experiences, exploitation, and abuse. Psychopathic men may occasionally demonstrate “affectionate” behavior and express concern for children, but psychopathy is not compatible with a healthy relationship or a nurturing home environment for children.
You may obtain the paper from The Civic Research Institute
I am unable to provide data regarding the experiences of men because there were no memoirs written by men. The paper presenting the data from adult children has not yet been accepted, but that paper contains data regarding psychopathic mothers.
I hope to continue to do the very difficult task of objectively collecting and reporting data while at the same time advocating for social change. This paper is a start.