11 Answers to questions about sociopaths

Man with maskI heard from Lovefraud reader who realizes that she’s been in a relationship with a sociopath. She’s in the phase of trying to wrap her brain around about what these people are, and sent me the following email:

What happens to these people?  These sociopaths?  How do they end up in life?  Do they just go from victim to victim?  Have any of them ever realized the affliction of which they suffer?  Do they ever realize they are not capable of love?  If they are not capable of love, they will never be happy, right?  So…you could present “Red Flags of Love Fraud” to a sociopath and they would not see themselves in it, correct?  Do they ever see the error of their ways?  There is a rather cryptic site called Narcissism Cured, but that doesn’t seem to be possible.

I’m thinking they die alone and unhappy.  They don’t have the capacity to find true happiness if they don’t have the capacity to love.  Chemically, what goes on in their brains?  Is research being done?  Does it run in families?

Many readers, I’m sure, have the same questions, so I’ll address them one at a time.

1 . What happens to these people? These sociopaths?  How do they end up in life? 

Many sociopaths eventually crash and burn. But it can take a long time—decades—during which they create havoc for just about everyone in their lives.

There is evidence that sociopaths die younger than people who are not disordered, due to their reckless lifestyle. Even some so-called “successful psychopaths”—those who ply their exploitative trade in the business world—may eventually face a comeuppance. Think Bernie Madoff.

Unfortunately, the sociopath you encountered may never pay directly for what he did to you. You may eventually hear that his life fell apart, that he’s burned all his bridges and is in trouble and alone, and you may feel like he got what he deserved.

But don’t wait for it. You need to find your own way of getting past what happened, so that you can move on.

2. Do they just go from victim to victim? 

Yes. Sociopaths live their lives by exploiting people. They view every social interaction as a feeding opportunity.

3. Have any of them ever realized the affliction of which they suffer? 

Yes, some of them realize that they are sociopaths. I have heard from people who tell me they’ve been diagnosed with the disorder. Some of them seem to be perturbed—they’re probably the ones who are fairly low on the sociopathic scale.

Others view themselves as superior beings. They don’t view sociopathy as an affliction. Rather, they see it as a competitive advantage.

4. Do they ever realize they are not capable of love? 

Some of them know they are missing something. But having never experienced love, they don’t quite know what it is. It’s like asking someone who is colorblind to describe red or green. They have no frame of reference.

5. If they are not capable of love, they will never be happy, right? 

Sociopaths are motivated by three things: power, control and sex. So when they feel like they have power and control, or when they successfully pursue sex, they would probably describe themselves as happy.

6. So…you could present “Red Flags of Love Fraud” to a sociopath and they would not see themselves in it, correct? 

They may very well recognize their behavior. But they probably won’t see anything wrong with it.

7. Do they ever see the error of their ways? 

Sociopaths feel totally entitled to do whatever they want to get whatever they want. So if you hear words like, “I’m sorry,” “I know I’ve treated you badly,” or “It’s all my fault,” well, they are not expressing genuine remorse. They’re worming their way back into your life so they can exploit you again.

8. There is a rather cryptic site called Narcissism Cured, but that doesn’t seem to be possible. 

All sociopaths are narcissists, although not all narcissists are sociopaths. The difference appears to be in the degree of malevolence. Narcissists are so focused on themselves that they don’t notice when they hurt people. Sociopaths often hurt people intentionally.

Once a sociopath is an adult, there is no proven cure. I think the same thing applies to narcissists.

It may be possible for someone with a personality disorder to learn to control the expression of his or her disorder. But keeping a lid on bad behavior doesn’t mean the disorder is cured.

9. I’m thinking they die alone and unhappy. They don’t have the capacity to find true happiness if they don’t have the capacity to love. 

Perhaps. They may also live by the motto, “He who dies with the most toys wins.”

10. Chemically, what goes on in their brains?  Is research being done? 

There are chemical and structural differences in the brains of psychopaths (the term used by most academic researchers). There are also differences in the ways that parts of psychopaths’ brains communicate with each other.

Research is ongoing. Maybe the scientists will eventually find a way to change the brain to correct the disorder. But will a psychopath submit to treatment? If they don’t believe there is anything wrong with them, why should they?

11. Does it run in families? 

Psychopathy is highly genetic. This means children may be born with a predisposition for the disorder. Whether the disorder actually develops has much to do with environmental factors, especially the parenting that the individual receives.

If a person is born with the genes for psychopathy, if often means that one of the parents is disordered. Unfortunately, psychopaths make terrible parents, so conditions are usually ripe for their children to also become disordered. In fact, some psychopaths intentionally try to turn their children into little Mini-Mes.

That’s why it’s so important to understand the Red Flags of Love Fraud. Becoming romantically involved with these individuals always has the potential of leading to children—children who may also become disordered.

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sad to say; im fairly sure that all 3 of our sons are psychopaths of one kind or another; like facets of a diamond (their dad, my ex). One is the cool, professional/business sounding kind..he doesnt yell or scream, but he’s very cool, at times cold, and very calculating in his dealings with me, his mother. Another son is also cold, arrogant. the 3rd son (youngest twin) is the victim; who comes running/crying to me, when he’s in trouble; and doesnt know me before or after an episode. all 3 have little or no use for me, as their mom; which hurts very much this time of year with ‘family holiday goings on’. and everything is MY fault, when I dont run after them, to do their bidding, and kow-tow to their assessment of my parenting skills. this has gone on for years now; and I see NO hope of change/improvement for the better. it really IS a genetic issue; I shouldnt have been surprised that they turned out like him; but its all 3!


its ok to let them go, there comes a point in life where you have to accept the facts as hard as they are, it is NOT your fault. Do not let them hurt or use you anymore!!! Good luck!!


That is heartbreaking. I am so sorry. I can see how hard it must be for you this time of year. It sounds inappropriate that as adults they are blaming you for anything at all, and criticizing you as a parent. Teens tend to be disrespectful, but adults should have grown out of that. You might consider what course of action is most likely to be best for your well being. Either way is difficult, but it may be that you might be better off minimizing interactions with them. Or it may be that you would feel worse; and continuing to interact despite the trauma is better for you. Either way, it’s painful. You might consider minimizing contact for awhile and see how you feel about it. Without drawing attention to your decision by announcing you’re going to avoid them, you could choose to minimize any kind of contact and interaction, and do other things, give an excuse why you aren’t calling and visiting or whatever. Consider using the greyrock technique to fade away from them for awhile. You can always go back to interacting with them again some time in the future, but it might be useful to you to see how it makes you feel. Being mistreated and put down by one’s own children has got to be the absolute worst feeling for a mom.


thank you Frandee and AnnettePK. I’ve been slowly backing off of reaching out to any of the sons, over several years anyway; as any phone calls/textings/voicemails from me to any of them usually go unanswered or maybe a 1 or 2 word reply (if I was lucky). They post pictures of their doings on my Facebook page, but any comments I make, go unanswered, , so i dont respond to their postings on Facebook anymore. Any contact from any of them to ME, is usually to answer a question or a plea for help of some kind (one twin son does this). Often weeks/ months can go by, with No contact from any of them. I do wish them Happy Birthday, or Merry Christmas, but that usually isnt answered either. So, Ive probably been doing ‘gray rock’.without knowing it. And yet, they still blame me for ALL the failings of relationship/estrangement!! For me, its better to just ‘let them go’, than risk reaching out, being verbally mistreated,or further blamed, for any past/present sins. The oldest son is going through a divorce of his own; I have No idea where he lives now, in Omaha. Their dad and wife ‘snowbird’ in Arizona, and he plans to spend Xmas with them. When they’re at their farm, 17 miles from here, he and his boy visit them; if Im lucky, they may stop by my town and meet me for lunch. He sends me flowers for my Mother’s Day and birthday. Nothing like this from the younger 2. Ive had minimil contact with all 3 for most years of my divorce (almost 20 years) its become easier for me to do this. Im usually better, after holidays like Xmas, or Thanksgiving or Easter are OVER. So much ‘family doings’ going on, and I feel very left out and lonely. I wouldnt wish this on anyone.


It is so sad not to have a good relationship with one’s children. It sounds like you do have some positive interactions, but because it’s not consistent and because of the past problems with your ex, it doesn’t sound like you have a secure dependable relationship, and that can lead to anxiety in addition to the pain. It sounds like things may slowly improve with time. I hope you will find ways to make the holidays meaningful and to enjoy them as much as possible for you. It sounds like you are doing all that you can do to make the situation as good as you can; beyond that it’s out of your control. Consider that you might as well make the best of your resources. If you enjoy yourself as much as possible with people who are available to interact with you, it isn’t a betrayal of your relationship with your children; and it doesn’t mean that you feel any less sad that you’re not together with your own family. There may be some peace for you in making the best of a situation that you can’t change, and to try to take your mind off the way you’d like things to be.


You might also keep in mind that your son’s blaming you is due to errors in their thinking; it is likely the result of their unhealthy experience relating to their disordered father and, as you say, their genetic makeup. Their blaming you has nothing to do with you; it’s about who they are and their disordered thinking. Many adult children feel their parents made mistakes, but most focus on getting along with their parents and don’t bring up their criticisms once they are past their teens. Most people recognize that they weren’t perfect children either!


Number 2- they see every situation as a feeding opportunity.


I remember when I found out my ex was a psychopath, its been several years, my whole world changed, Donna your website helped Tremendously, my ex was not born this way, as a small child he had a tumor that was pressing on the front lobe of his brain, by the time the tumor was removed damage had already been done and the doctor told his mother what would probably happen, Needless to say he died alone of an overdose, after being in rehab and probably feeling “confident” he jumped back into heroine……..he probably thought he could or needed to do as much before rehab as many addicts to and thats what killed him. I do have to see they DO get what they deserve, and its pretty hot there!!! I at least got to see “karma” or now being a Christian I dont know what you would call it, We all have the choice to do right or wrong, they know what they are doing is wrong, they just dont care!! To all the people out there that are just going thru the realization of their ex’s, spouses etc….. are psychopaths, have Faith you will get thru it, I would suggest therapy and even medication for awhile to give your brain a rest from the trauma you’ve been thru!!! And renew your relationship with GOD, he will get you thru it!!! Good luck!!!

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