By | August 2, 2010 48 Comments

A cautionary tale: Rock star psychologist gets it wrong

“When the only tool you have is a hammer, every problem begins to resemble a nail.” Abraham Maslow

I have a book in my library by J. Reid Meloy, Ph.D., called The Psychopathic Mind—Origins, Dynamics, and Treatment. I struggled through about half of it, and finally gave up. Meloy is a forensic psychologist, and the book appears to be for professionals in the field—he’s written 10 books and authored or co-authored 180 peer-reviewed papers. Meloy’s specialties include stalking, violence, threat assessment, mass murder, serial killing and sexual homicide.

When mass murders go on a rampage, the media often turn to Meloy for commentary. After the Fort Hood shootings in 2009, for example, ABC news quoted him:

Mass murderers tend to come in two types, according to academic articles authored by forensic psychologist J. Reid Meloy. One type is predatory, premeditated and emotionless. The other acts out from anger, fear, or response to a perceived imminent threat or trigger.

Timothy Masters case

Back in 1999, Meloy testified in the case of a murder that took place in 1987 in Fort Collins, Colorado. A 37-year-old woman named Peggy Hettrick was killed, and her body sexually mutilated. Twelve years later, Timothy Lee Masters, who was 15 at the time of the murder and lived next to where the body was found, was charged.

There was no physical evidence connecting Masters to the crime—the case against him was purely circumstantial:

  • Masters was the first person to see the body lying in a field, but he did not report it. Masters said he thought it was a mannequin, and a prank.
  • Masters’ mother, who had red hair like the victim, had died, and the murder took place close to the four-year anniversary of her death.
  • Shortly after the murder, police searched Masters’ bedroom and found 2,200 pages of writings and drawings depicting violence and gore. Masters said he created them because he wanted to be a horror writer like Stephen King.

But J. Reid Meloy looked at some of those drawings, and testified in court that they were a “fantasy rehearsal” for the crime. Masters drew a picture on the day he saw the victim. It depicted one figure dragging another that appeared to be wounded or dead. The body being dragged was riddled with arrows.

Ignoring the arrows—there were no arrows in the actual murder—here’s how Meloy interpreted the picture, according to

“This is not a drawing of the crime scene as seen by Tim Masters on the morning of Feb. 11 as he went to school,” Meloy wrote. “This is an accurate and vivid drawing of the homicide as it is occurring. It is unlikely that Tim Masters could have inferred such criminal behavior by just viewing the corpse, unless he was an experienced forensic investigator. It is much more likely, in my opinion, that he was drawing the crime to rekindle his memory of the sexual homicide he committed the day before.”

Based in a large degree on the testimony of J. Reid Meloy, Ph.D., who said he fit the profile of a sexual predator, Timothy Masters was convicted and sentenced to life in prison.

Cop indicted for perjury

This story is in the news again because Lt. Jim Broderick of the Fort Collins police department, the lead investigator in the 1999 case against Timothy Masters, was just indicted on eight counts of perjury.

The indictment includes exactly what Broderick wrote in his application for an arrest warrant for Masters about his obsessive fantasies, the impulsive nature of the crime, the fact that the teenager was a loner. The indictment says that although Broderick wrote the statements in the arrest warrant application, he did not believe them to be true.

Masters had served nine years in prison, until 2008, when he was released. DNA evidence proved that he had nothing to do with the murder.

Later that year, Masters filed a civil suit against Broderick and the Larimer County prosecutors in the case—Terry Gilmore and Jolene Blair, both of whom had become judges. The suit charged that they withheld evidence from the defense team and other experts, including Dr. Reid Meloy.

Larimer County settled the suit for $4.1 million. The city of Fort Collins settled for $5.9 million. The two judges were reprimanded.

And now, Broderick may go to jail.

Forensic error

Why did Dr. J Reid Meloy get it so wrong in this case? For one thing, the police apparently did not give him evidence that might have cast doubt on Masters’ culpability. For another, Meloy never interviewed Timothy Masters in person. He based his conclusions on Masters’ violent short stories and crude drawings.

For more on the role that the famous psychologist played in this tragedy, read The Tim Masters Case: Chasing Reid Meloy on

For more about the doubts other police officers had in the case, read Police split over conviction in Colorado slaying, on

Be careful

Why am I writing about this terrible miscarriage of justice? It is a warning to all of us to be careful. If someone like J. Reid Meloy, Ph.D., the respected forensic expert, can be wrong, so can we.

Knowing that psychopaths exist, and being able to spot them, is important. It can save our lives. But we have to be careful in deciding who is a psychopath, and who is not. I clearly remember receiving e-mail from a woman, and a separate e-mail from the man she thought might be a psychopath. After reading the e-mails, I could not tell who was the abuser, and who was the victim.

Personally, I think Meloy’s mistake was that he did not meet Masters. Perhaps if he had, he would have felt that something was amiss—Masters never deviated from his claim that he was innocent, and never deviated from his story.

Our intuition is probably our most accurate tool in evaluating the possibility danger. If we listen to it, without clouding it with preconceptions, it will steer us in the right direction.

But in order for our intuition to work, we need the right input. Whether we’re reading police reports, news stories or comments in the Lovefraud Blog, the information our intuition needs may very well be missing.

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Frank Lee Speaking

I think in the early days of “this experience” we all have a tendency to label anyone who offends us as being “sociopaths”. Some of us become almost evangelical in our quest to expose sociopaths that we in some cases lose the run of ourselves and point the finger constantly. Then a kind of maturing sets in were we are less likely to hysterically scream “psychopath!”, “gaslighting!!!!” or “projection!!!” at the drop of a hat.

I have a relative who was savagely beaten up by gypsies when he was a teenager and to this day hates them all. Although his suffering was real, I do feel that his quality of life has been greatly diminished by holding all gypsies responsible as he is constantly held in a state of low vibrationary fear energy when dealing with them. The ones who attacked him, still are attacking in a way when you think about it. He can’t let go.

I can honestly say myself that the people I thought were sociopaths are indeed without question. No doubt. But for a while I did have a tendency to label every a***hole I encountered a sociopath.

It’s only natural I guess. For a while…

Ox Drover

Donna, thanks for writing about this very interesting case. First of all, before I forget it, CRS, apparently from what I read, Masters mother actually did NOT have red hair, but it was reported that she did.

You are truly right that from what we know, there may be some very important information MISSING.

I have several of Meloy’s books and the last one I tried to read, notice I said TRIED to read, when I got done with it, I went back through it and there is a GREAT DEAL I think of WORD SALAD.

All of his books are “for professionals” but at the same time, he writes I think purposely in DIFFICULT sentence structures, and though I am not a psychiatrist, I am a retired advance practice nurse with quite a bit of mental health experience, and his writings in many cases I think are just that, WORD SALAD and saying “nothing in 10,000 words or more.”

For him to even make a diagnosis like this, from looking at drawings etc. I think is a total miscarriage of justice. I no longer “worship” at the feet of Meloy as this BIG expert. I am beginning to think that he is more expert in his own mind than anywhere else. And I may be misjudging him by a mile, but I’m not stupid, and I do have a college education and post college, I have experience and I have read a great deal on a good many varied subjects and just finished a book on the most recent research on studies of the brain that is being used at the U of Ark for Medical Sciences first year medical students, and I understood them in spite of my CRS and short term memory problems, but I’ve decided a great deal of what Meloy says is garbage and just wordy to confuse the issue and make him appear “really smart” and “expert” when I’m beginning to think he is neither.

I know that everyone makes mistakes and God knows I’ve made my share, and it is easy to be fooled pro or con by a psychopath or disordered person, but I think for Meloy to go off in “all directions” and declare this kid’s drawings proof he was disordered is not something an “expert” would do. I saw the interview with Meloy on the television show about this case.

I have no doubt (making a snap judgment here) that the cop deliberately withheld evidence from the defense, and lied on the stand to make it look like Masters was guilty when the physical evidence showed otherwise. I think the cop is a psychopathic narcissist who had to “prove he was right” and if lying was what he had to do, okay.

Also the cop lied about things that could EASILY have been proven lies, like about the FBI checking evidence when it didn’t. (which to me indicates that he is a pathological liar like a psychopath) I mean come on, he could easily have been caught with his pants down on that one, and was in fact, as that is one of the counts against him, and it is absolutely air tight. If that isn’t an indication of a man who is high in psychopathic traits (even if he doesn’t “qualify” by PCL-R points) I don’t know what would.

Personally I hope Roderick spends day for day in prison for the amount of time that his LIES caused Masters to spend in prison.

He will probably have to spend the time in segregation (essentially solitary confinement) since he is a cop and the other inmates will kill him, or WORSE. But that really doesn’t break my heart either. When people deliberately pervert the “justice” system for their own “reasons” I think the penalty should fit the crime. As for the judges, I think they should be in cells next to him, and right down the row from the one that gave Dr. Amy Castillo’s X husband unsupervised visitation though she had warned the court that he had threatened to kill the children, which he DID as soon as he got a visitation unsupervised with them. I better get off the rant or my blood pressure will go through the roof, but this kind of thing does make me very angry. This case in particular.


Frank Lee, even though your post makes sense, it doesn’t hold water in my opinion. At my age, and going through the experience of working with EVIL folks every day for over 24 plus years, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s easy to do EVIL and be an ash hole. It takes courage to be a righteous person (meaning one who does what is right under any circumstances) and stick to your convictions.

EVIL folks want or insist (by bullying techniques) righteous folks to do evil so they can justify to themselves that everyone will and does EVIL eventually.

That’s the same theory why EVIL folks will promote other EVIL folks … tormenting the righteous folks … unless you buckle under and become EVIL like us, you won’t go anywhere.

I don’t believe survivors of EVIL see EVIL every where because they were victimized. I believe survivors of EVIL see EVIL when there is EVIL to be seen. They are NO longer blinded by the smoke and mirrors of the EVIL ones in this world. And yes, EVIL folks are cowards.

Frank Lee Speaking

I was talking in terms of the early days of the sociopath victim experience when there is often a tendency to declare all and sundry “sociopaths”. It is completely understandable why people in this situation would be terrified and be seeing other potential “sociopaths” everywhere. It’s part of the experience. I have done it.

A part of me believes that the sociopath wants us to feel this way. That “life’s is a bitch and then you die” – they want us in a state of paranioa forever with our emotional state always in a low fearful vibration. They relish the emotional scars they leave in us. That’s why we must work to get out of the “everyone is a sociopath!” stage as soon as possible.

Call me nuts but I sincerely beleive that sociopaths are a different form of humanity and a highly psychic one at that. They use their psychic awareness to find us and hook us and they still use it after we are gone. The someone “know” or feel the anguish which we are going through even when we are on the other side of the world, and out of contact with them – they are loving every moment of our pain.

The proof for me is the day I met my beloved and instantly forgot about the sociopath I check my email the next morning and for the first time in 8 months the sociopath had sent me an email saying she “missed me”.

You tell me that is all by chance. They know about us even when we are nowhere near them. Can’t explain it – but it is true. I am sure I am not the only one who experienced this ‘sociapaths sudden return’ just as the moment when you had forgotten them. Like we are being tested or something.

I think the most painful thing we can do to the sociopaths is; in our hearts is just casually declare them sociopaths without a single inflection of emotion when we do it. That I would imagine kills them. Part of getting to this stage is to focus exclusively on their own verifiable sociopathy and not calling everyone who annoys us “sociopaths”.

The day we reduce our sociopath predator to the level of a specimen, a curiosity, an idiosyncratic spasm of disruption in our life’s journey, that’s the day we win.

Frank Lee Speaking

– The someone “know”-

sorry, I meant “They somehow “know”


I really did , in the early days experience the feeling everyone was a possible psychopath until proven innocent. But I kept it to myself until I sensed my intuition properly…and began to see how it worked.

We perhaps should talk sometimes about the signs of a genuine person…how to spot an empathic normal person too!!

I totally distinguish between someone who kills because they are frightened, emotionally driven to it and someone who murders sadistically without emotion…the latter is terrifying and beyond words…the former is someone I could perhaps relate to given the set of circumstances they found themselves in….but there is a difference…cold and calculating..passionate and impulsive… both murderers….

a sociopathic cop could cause havoc and feel nothing about accusing someone even though they were not really sure…. simply because it fits into their plan….so just think of a vulnerable person being at the scene of a crime being handled by a sociopath cop…merciless..uncaring…devoid of a conscience…that person is screwed….and God puts this situation in front of us time and time again….to wake us up to evil and how it operates.

Back to me….my intuition is a very sensitive thing, it is affected by many things…my mood, my situation, my distractions… but I swear I will listen to it, Act on it and apologise if I get it wrong…

There is a new dilemma now….sociopathic cops and judges….we need to formulate an assessment that will tell us a person is devoid of conscience….it’s a start that has to be made.

back to me….I am suspicious, I am hurting , I am frightened and I make mistakes…judging people in n oversenstitive way….and I am listening to my intuition….and I’m not sure there is anything missing when it comes to pure intuition, whether you meet the person or not… this case I smell a rat and the reality could be a man was imprisoned by a psychopath that’s enough..and that is horrific…and we either learn from it or pretend it didn’t happen if you start doubting intuition because you haven’t ‘met’ a person then you are ignoring the danger and opening the gate to disaster…


Frank Lee,

You are right. I am a bit sleepy at the moment and am having a hard time trying to recall the name of what you are describing. It is like what some folks call the “blue car syndrome”. I am thinking it is similar to the availability heuristic, confirmation bias, or maybe some form of cognitive bias. Whatever we attend to seems to loom larger or more significant than it really is.

When I used to do the work with high risk sex offenders we would witness this anytime a new person was started. They would (among other things) often become paranoid about other people and their actions/intentions for a period of time because they had never before been exposed to this or even given much thought to what they were learning from the offenders.

Or as the AA Big Book might describe it, Magic magnifying mind. That also seems to be close to what you are describing. (I think Wini might like that piece, it talks about it on page 12)


The day we reduce our sociopath predator to the level of a specimen, a curiosity, an idiosyncratic spasm of disruption in our life’s journey, that’s the day we win.

I would say the day you “win” is the day that you become indifferent to them and they mean nothing more to you than some stranger living on the other side of the planet. The more you scratch the more you are going to itch and itch and itch.

edit – Ok where is Oxy with her skillet, I just said basically what you said Frank. I think that is my signal to head off to bed.


Just when I finally and completely conclude I was dealing with a sociopath…

Frank Lee Speaking

I am telling you, these creatures are clairvoiant, psychic, remote viewers, mind readers call them what you want. They may not even know it themselves, but they have it and can read what we thinking of them regardless of distance.


You can bet if they were and could prove it one of them would have already scooped up the $1 million dollar cash prize that has been out there for many years for anyone who can prove they are.


This case has been on some of the old investigative shows. That Broderick was single- minded in his pursuit of Masters even going overseas to follow him in the military I believe. He also lived in close proximity to the body. But what no one followed up on was that there were also sexual offenders living nearby, and one who had a house full of tapes of women in bathrooms doing their business. They never even looked at any other people as suspects because they narrowed in on him from the beginning. Cops and lawyers get shortsighted at times in their zeal to prosecute someone for the crimes.

Ox Drover

I’ve seen the shows, read all the articles about this case and I know that doesn’t make me an expert by any means, but the DNA that cleared Masters was the DNA on the inside of her underware that was her EX boyfriend AND he had supposedly not seen her in 2 weeks.

She was apparently carried there not dragged by TWO people (two shoe prints) none of which were Masters’ etc. And yes, the cop did zero in on the boy from the get go, but except that he lived close by and was a “weird” kid, without a lot of friends etc. there just was NO evidence he killed her, or could have killed her.

The cop hid shoe prints and other stuff from the DA, defense, etc. and LIED LIKE A RUG….and did persue the boy for 10+ years relentlessly. The woman’s BF was a good idea from the get go but was never persued. Now they will never be able to persue him is what I am hearing now even though the DNA was HIS and had no other way to get there than him being the one that mutilated her. The whole thing is such a miscarriage of justice. It is bad enough when a person is convicted by accident but on PURPOSE–that is worse than awful.


Yes he fit the profile although in their defense anyone seeing those drawings would say yes he is capable of committing such a crime. But it just happened to be that he did not commit this crime. Without looking at anyone else, (seeing the whole picture/story) it could appear that he did it. But that is why false accusations are so effective for psychopaths and others who use them. People don’t bother to investigate the other side of the story especially when these psychos pass for charming, sweet, individuals. Back to this case though; we had a kid in our M.S. who wrote explicit stuff in his English class about how he wanted to learn how to kill people and get away with it. Serious red flags, but what could we do as teachers? We did refer him to the counselor, but we are obligated to teach anyone and everyone that is in school. All of us knew it was just a matter of time. Before the year was out he was caught with a loaded gun waiting to kill another one of my students who made a pass at his girlfriend. He being only 14 or 15 was charged with attempted murder, but will probably be released after serving time in juvenile detention with possibly some time in adult jail. It is easy to see how Masters could be zeroed in on as a suspect, but yes have the courtesy to interview him before making an official diagnosis or allegation.

I tend to both agree and disagree that being involved with a S makes you think everyone is one. Ok, back that up…I think it means you see the potential in everyone. I think it makes you look ten times harder at any inconsistencies you may see in someone. It makes any white lie they tell glare at you like a beacon. BUT, that said, people who know about me and the S will sometimes say offhandedly about someone who has lied or who has reacted a certain way to a circumstance in a way they didn’t like, “Do you think they could be a sociopath?” Generally, my answer is, “I doubt it.” Why? Because I came to the conclusion of what my S was after knowing him and his behaviors WAY too well, piles and piles and piles of evidence, and because after I tried and tried to come up with any other reason for his behavior, was forced that his behaviors and personality fit the description of a S and then some. They may as well have his picture next to the description in any journal or dictionary. I didn’t think it of him just because he did something that annoyed me or pissed me off. That said, I’ve met one person since him that set off my S radars. It was because not of one or two lies, but a whole package where I found lies as well as that his behaviors were a little too reminiscent of the S’s. I think yes, you definitely have to be careful not to “diagnose” everyone, because I can see where that would be a problem. But I also think gut is powerful, and letting your guard down when past experience screams NO! at you isn’t a good thing either.

Frank Lee Speaking

BloggerT7165, they maybe are clairvoiant to our emotional energy? – a piece of paper in an sealed envelope gives off no emotional vibration. It’s not alive. We are. You are right though if they could they would. But human emotions are transmitable.

Every single human being is nothing more than a vibrational construct made up of photons. We are like radio transmitters. When the USA Navy took a piece of DNA from a human being and moved it hundreds of miles away, the same piece of DNA would behave to the same responses and triggers the DNA in the person it came from was being exposed to. It happened instantly too. There was no delay.

There is something profoundly uncanny about sociopaths in this respect. It’s more than just visual and liguistic cues or psychological profiling. They can seem to still read us even when we are out of sight. It is almost like when you have sex with them and leave ones DNA in them that they have a homing device right to our emotions forever?

Anyways this is off topic. Yeah I agree with the original article. We have to be very careful whom we declare to be a sociopath. As victims we have to remind ourselves we have a duty not to victimise others who don’t deserve being falsely labeled.

Ox Drover

Teacher, I agree with you 100%—but it isn’t just ONE flag that shows someone with the potential to be violent or that is “working up to it”—like the guy in california who had robbed and beaten and robbed and beaten and then he got nabbed for a $10 theft and shoving the clerk and they gave him 35-life on a 3-strikes law.

People will scream, you can’t give a guy LIFE FOR A $10 theft, he did NOT get life for the $10 theft, he got it for the 57 times prior that he had robbed people and been violent to them, he had “56” second chances and blew them all, he is not going to reform. He is high in psychopathic traits—how do I know? Because he doesn’t learn from his mistakes and he keeps on robbing and being violent, he needs to be off the street. P or not.

I think it does tend to make us less accepting of lies, dishonesty etc. and we tend to quit trivalizing that kind of behaviors, and I didn’t sever the relationship with my son C for the one “insignificant” lie he told me, but for the “57” previous lies he had told and the fact that this was the “last straw” as far as I was concerned. He wasn’t learning. I was no longer willing to overlook a series of lies and dishonest behavior, and he isn’t a psychopath, just dysfunctional and immature. Oh, well….not my problem. I don’t fear him. He isn’t going to try to get even with me, or hurt me, or burn my house down, and if I was in need he would come if I called him, unlike my P-son who would hunt me down if given half a chance and kill me with a smirk on his face.

Two different situations, but I don’t want much more to do with the non-convict son than with the convict psychopath. I’m just DONE with dishonesty. I’m done with people who treat others with dishonest behavior and aren’t responsible for their own behaviors. I’m done with liars.

I’ve known a truck load of people that I WOULD diagnose as psychopaths, people that would score more than 30, people who have killed, beaten wives or others, who have conned people, deliberately hurt others and enjoyed doing so. I’ve known quite a few frankly, but if you stop and think that they are even 1% of the population, how many people do you KNOW? 100? 200? 300? 500? What about if they are 4%? How many do you know, or have known in your life? 10? 20? 30?

Of course I happened to be blessed with quite a few in the family, so that gave me a leg up! And in my professional career I’ve dealt with quite a few….

Maybe some of the people I think are Ps are ONLY ones who would score 20, that’s still the AVERAGE of the general population of inmates that don’t score 30 or above in Dr. Kiehl’s research. Still not folks I want to deal with or have intimate relationships with. Or, God forbid, TRUST!

I live in a rural county in Arkansas where there is a great proportion of what is referred to as “poe white trash” which is the previous name for “someone high in psychopathic traits” and sure they are poor, and they are white, and they are criminals, alcohol and drug addicted, sexually rowdy, steal the nickles off a dead man’s eyes, wife-beating scumbuckets that would on average score 20-35 on the PCL-R in my gestimate. None of them are very bright, and most dropped out before finishing school, they cook meth in their bathtubs and sire kids like rabbits and don’t pay child support or own a car with more than 2 doors the same color as the rest of the car.

They aren’t psychopathic because they are poor and uneducated, they are poor and uneducated because they won’t work or hold a job, because they spend time in jail. So fixing poverty isn’t going to fix them….and educating them isn’t going to work either because they don’t see any value in education because they don’t want to work, they want to steal.

My son is in the top 1/10th of 1 percent of the top of the Bell Curve on the IQ scale, he never finished high school. He doesn’t WANT to work, he wants to con and steal. He wasn’t raised like that, but that is what he became. If he ever did get out of prison he would never have a “pot or a window” because he wouldn’t work or stick to anything, and he would screw anything that would hold still and sire kids that he wouldn’t support. Kids who would grow up poor and uneducated, abused and with a chance of being high in psychopathic traits or at best dysfunctional.

Some Ps manage to “hold it together” enough to get educations and become president or governor or Doctor or Judge, but it doesn’t make them any more caring or kind or give them a conscience. Just better educated psychopaths and they wind up in the corner office at ENRON or become Bernie Maddoff Or Edwards, or Patterson etc. I guess we can add Gore to the list of people “high” in traits as well…at least he is a cheating SOB even if that is his ONLY trait…

So maybe I over react to the term psychopath or psychopathic traits, but I am just fed up with dishonesty in whatever form it takes and people who appear to have little if any remorse for the things they do that wound and hurt others.

If that makes me a judgmental old biddy then so be it, I will wear the label proudly! I no longer dispense trust without it being EARNED and at the first sign of dishonesty I’m taking that person out of the list of potentially intimate friends.

Ox Drover

ps Teacher, “labeling” them publicly is one thing and doing it within your own mind are also two different things. I might “label” someone here on LF (like that cop or a public figure) a P, but I wouldn’t do it in a court of law, though I had the legal authority to diagnose when my license was current, just like Meloy does. Not that I claim to be the “end all or be all” of diagnosis…just like I was qualified to diagnose pneumonia too, but there are criteria for the diagnosis so the person has to meet that criteria and looking at their writings and drawings (especially of a dysfunctional kid) doesn’t meet the criteria to call him any kind of “sexual sadist.”


I’m glad this article is on LF. I get so caught up in using professionals, because they will get it, when in reality they can make mistakes too. The lesson in this is sometimes we can jump to a false conclusion and think the worst because it fits our little puzzle so nicely. This weird kid must have done it because he fits the description to a T.

One thing my therapist has told me has been to not assume anything, sometimes it makes me angry because I need to blame someone for all the crap in my life. Taking responsiblity for yourself means to not place blame without knowing for sure and owning up to your actions.

I used to believe that having a PHD or MD meant you should be respected for that title alone, so not true. Oxy has done her homework on this J. Reid Meloy Phd character and he doesn’t deserve to be respected just because he has a title. Heck, I was inappropriately felt up by a MD as a teen, so gross to think about. I went in for the flu, since when does that mean I get a breast exam?

When in doubt, trust your instincts.


I think it is outrageous that the judges got off with a reprimand. They are just as guilty, if not moreso, than the cop.

Our legal system is seriously broken. Judges and lawyers cover for each other and use the legal system to line their pockets with little concern for truth and justice and in many cases with malice, both in large and in petty ways, against those they dislike.


Hopeforjoy, there are plenty of anti-social personalities in higher degreed people. That’s what the righteous professionals are up against every day of their career. Having to decipher who’s righteous (meaning who does what is right) versus unrighteous characters that hold said degrees.

The best thing to learn is the difference between PREFERRING versus DEMANDING.

Demanding anything allows pain into your life that will and can overwhelm you.

Preferring allows you to stay focus, but doesn’t allow that pain to knock you to your knees.

I learned this back in the 80s. It took me many years to get out of the demand mindset and switch over to the prefer mindset.

I demand this person NOT be an ash hole.


I’d prefer this person weren’t an ash hole, but it’s OK if they are.

At least that’s the basics of the concept.

Finally, Jesus never told us we’d have a smooth life. There will always be peaks and valleys. He only told us that it would be interesting.

No matter what happens to us, good times and bad … He’s always with us. He will never leave us.

Keep the Faith!


Donna, very interesting article and on-time.

The fact that a qualified professional could be 100% wrong simply reiterates the point that we, as UNqualified individuals, don’t have the knowledge to “identify” someone as being a socipath. If they “fit the profile,” that’s one thing, but I personally don’t have the education to distinguish a sociopath from ordinary people.

Having said that, given all that I’ve learned and all that I’ve experienced, I’m beginning to actually pay attention to that gut instinct – if something seems amiss, then it usually is. My boundary issues are also being intensively repaired and maintained. If someone begins to demonstrate any/all of the red flags, I make my departure quietly and without naming soneone AS a sociopath.

Where the spath son is concerned, he was clearly diagnosed by a team of professionals, and he clearly fits the profile.

Brightest blessings.

Ox Drover

Buttons, there is a difference, too, in a “qualified” and “licensed” individual making a LEGAL “diagnosis” or giving an “expert opinion” on a witness stand and you or me or anyone else THINKING “that person is a psychopath”—-

Sure, anyone can make a mistake no matter HOW QUALIFIED they are, and especially in psychology…as there are few if any OBJECTIVE TESTS. Like a blood test for liver failure or kidney failure or infections, or for HIV or Hep A,B, or C. Those can be diagnosed by either one or more tests that are either Positive or negative, either you do have or you don’t have it. Not psychological problems, so mostly we have to go on how the person acts on the outside, what they say, some INDICATIVE AND SUBJECTIVE TESTS and so on.

Meloy uses the “ink blot” tests a lot and he has interviewed a lot of “famous” nut-jobs and killers and done their “ink blot” tests where they look at a blot of ink on a paper (like looking at clouds and seeing animals) and describe what they see.

A lot of the “tests” like this, frankly I have LITTLE OR NO confidence in, and they are so HIGHLY SUBJECTIVE (meaning that the person giving the test has to decide what they mean and two people giving the test might come up with completely different ideas) Like the question. “is it too hot in this room?” you may say yes, and I may say No in the same room. The same with the “tests”—-and frankly as yet there are few tests for psychological problems. They are coming probably, but not yet. The early research is ongoing and I hope will give some clues and objective yes/no tests.

The problem is too, with Ps, some are violent and some are just jerks that you dont’ want to associate with or be married to. One needs life without parole and the other one needs divorcing. LOL

Actually,, though, I think you and many other bloggers here are probably as much as or more qualified to make an informal “opinion” of who is a psychopath and who is not. Unfortunately I know for a FACT that some of the most well known names in psychopathic research can’t recognize a psychopath unless it has on a striped prison suit and has been a serial killer. They do not recognize a Psychopath in the “wild” and are pretty easily fooled by a P with social skills and education.

The boundary issues that WE (I am talking about me and you here) have and that we have discussed before, are the things that you and I need to work on. We need to get our canoes out of DE RIVER DENIAL and plant our feet on solid ground. BTW I am not sure If I missed it or whatever, but WHY did Mike decide to go back to P-bro’s and what happened on that that P-bro said NO you can’t come back?


I think it’s critical that the normal ordinary person in the street who is not be educated with MA ,PhD, blah de blah… aspires to distinguish psychopaths and sociopaths from other categories, with a built in awareness we can always get it wrong… we are NEVER qualified to be infallible….but never ignore that feeling within, that gut instinct…you do not have to have a PhD to have razor sharp intuition…ignore it at your peril….I guarantee that if everyone around that guy listened to their gut and acted on it…Mr PhD would have been prevented from harming another human being…NEVER think that educated people have the monopoly on the the truth…education can be another manipulation tool…another scam…a front…make you think you are less than if you have not got a qualification…Street wisdom is a force I respect more..even though I am educated…I do not rate that as my badge of expertise….it’s the school of hard knocks that educates best of all…ACT on it like you had a PhD

Frank Lee you are so funny with the psychic psychopath idea…I do tend to believe having sex with someone does bond you at a psychic level and if it’s not treated with respect it will attach to you…but WE are in charge of what we do with that…I’d suggest to you to look into cutting psychic cords and get that womans psychic energy off you…it’s like she was a cat and she sprayed you with pheremones that render you HERS….nah not a chance fight back..regain your psychic integrity!!!

kim frederick

I think the best diagnostic tool is to look at the many lives that surround the person in question….if they are damaged, wounded, confused, angry, f’d up, in chaos, frustrated ill, etc. etc. etc…well than that’s good enough for me. In the spirit of Lady Macbeth, Out damned spath…


this is why i continue to study the sociopath, it’s too easy to get it wrong. There are many misogynist racist men AND Women who Hate and behave with malice. Like vampires who have been bitten by a bigger vampire, these are often schizoids who lack social skills, and have obvious narcissistic traits that they don’t bother hiding. This makes them perfect prey for the sociopath who wants to turn them into other malicious sociopaths. I realized this when i was speaking with tim. He seemed to have no problem with the immorality of the evil things that my exP did to women but when i mentioned that my ExP Would often say ” i hate all humanity”, His reply was ,”i know i keep telling him that’s wrong” It was clear that tim thinks it okay to hurt women but not men. I remembered when i met the green river murder, But he did not kill me because i was not a prostitute. Later in prison he would talk about how much he hated prostitutes. In my mind this is not a sociopath this is just someone with a lot of hatred and anger looking for scapegoat to vent his rage on. The true sociopath is my exP. It hates all of humanity but hides it very well. His mission is to spread hatred and suffering. Every part of his life in a lie. And the only pleasure he gets is out of manipulating others. there is no other pleasure for him. But this kind of sociopath goes undetected. He will wear many masks depending on who he is now with. When he is with a misogynist he hate women but when he is with a racist he hates another race. When he is with a gay person he’s gay . But when he is with a gay hater he despises gays. I think the chameleon quality is what defines a sociopath. That is why doctor scott peck called them ” the people of the lie”. It is this quality which makes them the most dangerous. All of the others are just malicious.



your comment on the spath being a chameleon is so true. They change their manner and responses to reflect the audience. Mine is always joking and quick witted. He changes his flavor of humor depending on who is listening. Like he doesn’t have a center, any insides, because he changes to adapt to the situation. A chameleon.


My grandpa used to always say that he graduated from the school of hard knocks, I loved that little phrase. We can’t decipher a spath or disordered until we have actually encountered one. That is why it is so bloody useless to warn their friends, family or next potential whatever, you need to see it for yourself to completely believe it. I denied what was in front of me for so long, it was asking me to believe in the unbelievable. Experiencing people who don’t care about the harm they do, justify it and act like they are the victim? Freaking unbelievable!


Hi all!
Donna, thank you for this intriguing article. It’s a “thinker”. In my case, when it came to my ex spath, I had a long list of behaviors, attitudes, intents and motives that I couldn’t give a name to. Once I read the list of characteristics a sociopath possesses, I felt ENORMOUS relief. There was a NAME for what my ex’s behavior, his lack of remorse, all of it. In my mind, after so many years of watching the same thing over and over again, there is NO doubt what my ex is. His ability to lie over and over again is still staggering to me and clearly reemphasizes what he really is.
The tendency to look at everyone else as a possible sociopath is something I didn’t experience, yet I can see why and how that would happen.

Kim, I agree with what you say in regards to those around the person in question.I have been told my ex has moved 4 times in the last 8 months alone. He, and everyone around him, are nothing but chaos.

It’s such a relief to not be in that anymore! I also reached a point, just recently, where I finally told those who know my ex to please not talk about him. I don’t care what he’s doing, who he’s doing it with, his latest arrest, nothing. And so far, they have respected that. No news truly is good news in this case! 🙂

I want to take some time and go back and read this story in its’ entirety, but I SO appreciate the point that we be careful as to how we label others.


Upsetting as the injustice this article illustrates may be…it makes me feel a bit better the last therapist to evaluate me and my ex-S thought I was the one with a personality disorder and he was fine!

She was no Rock Star…but was relied on to provide an unbiased, professionally conducted and comprehensive evaluation none the less. Turned out she’d seen him for a year about 10 years prior and had completed her evaluation of him before my first appointment. I suspected about 15 minutes into my first session she thought she already had me pegged.

At times, I recall the situation with some bitterness. I do think her assessment was a product of her experience and skills…in which I personally put little stock. Especially when I’ve had a handful of good therapists over the past 18 years help me to understand and navigate being a completely different person then the one she summarized in three visits. I feel let down by her and the “system” that was engaged to protect my four year old son. When that kicks in, I remind myself of how this man was able to manipulate me for three years, to include having his child and marrying him. How easy it must have been to manipulate her, especially after having spent a year in therapy with her and knowing well how I might present myself.

People are fallible…it’s part of what makes us human. I’m thankful I’m not in a position where I must judge AND such judgments have the potential to damage lives…at least in ways I don’t have regular opportunities to amend! In fact, these days, I try to judge as little as possible. Life’s much less stressful that way.



I couldn’t really read what this is about.

I had to get the gist of it and jump in with something totally unrelated, or maybe it is related.

The police showed up at my door. They showed me violent drawings on a notebook page and said my son drew this.

The drawings were meticulous, and showed artistic talent. My son is NOT that at all. My son doesn’t doodle ever. He plays on computer.

The little stick people were carrying chain saws and other weapons. The weapons were perfectly in proportion to the size of the little stick people. The hand that drew the pictures pressed down hard on the pencil and the drawings were thick pencil marks. I didn’t think of that when the police were here. I was so blown away that I believed it cause the police were saying it.

It wasn’t until the police left that I collected myself and I noticed a note my son wrote to me on the front door. My son wrote a grocery list. His print was scrawled across the page. The spindly print was scrawled across the page, and the letters were different sizes. It looked like work of a 5 year old, not of a 15 year old. Meaning it was done in a rush.

This was not the same hand that drew those meticulous drawings.

Here, I was willing to turn-in my old son, just because the police thought he did something.

Shame on me.


Hope for joy
it’s true they are unbelievable
that’s why no 1 believes us when we tell them. It’s so much easier to fit them into a mold that’s more familiar to the average human being. I know from experience that i would never have believed that there exist people who can fool everyone all of the time.
Even people who can pick them out as not being a good person, still have no idea as to the depth of their evil and their empty souls.
Regarding them being psychic, I’m not sure I would categorize them as such but they are more like a force of nature than a human being. They are more attuned to our emotions because, like all infants, this is part of their survival strategy. Infants need to read emotions to survive because they have no other survival mechanism. To me they also seem more at the mercy of external forces than a normal human. Once you know what they are they become very predictable. I know many people don’t think I should study them, but for those of us who are stuck by marraige, blood or circumstance, I hope that my findings can be of some use.
One thing I’ve realized is that they can be handled very much like a child is handled. Do not display emotion, do not fall for their drama, they are only acting , none of it is real, if they are acting human it is just an act. If you were to see them as they really are you would see lucifer -no more no less. Respond in ways that arre unexpected. They don’t know what normal is so they will just add your behavior to their repertoire.

Ox Drover

Jeannie, etc.

I agree that not everyone who kills someone else, even when they have planned it, is a psychopath…and we must look at the entire person to get the picture.

Like the blind men who were led up to touch an elephant, one thought the elephant was like a rope, as he held the tail, another thought it was like a wall as he felt the side, another one thought the elephant was like a tree as he felt the leg, and another one thought the elephant was like a snake when he handled the trunk. They were ALL WRONG because none of them got the TOTAL PICTURE of what they were evaluating.

We must look at the total person, and the circumstances, before we even in our hearts, I think, “label” someone—whatever that label is. I think many of us have “labeled” someone based on the fact that they “love bombed” and Flattered us so “they must be nice people”—I know I have, and those were the PSYCHOPATHS!!

I didn’t look at the entire person before I extended my trust to them because the sucked up to me and flattered me. STOOOOOPID! And I won’t make that mistake again, and neither will I judge a person all bad because they don’t flatter me, but I will NOT give anyone a chance to gain my trust without earning it. If they blow that chance with a lie, or some kind of dishonesty, they will have to work very hard to make me give them another chance.


jeanine – why did they think your son drew them??

romanticfool no more

Where were this kid’s lawyers, I’d be screaming bloody murder (so to speak) that the shrink never met with the kid in person. I don’t believe you can tell by drawings and writing alone. I may not have done the drawings, but my stories would have got me convicted. This was long before Steven King and graphic novels. I was a depressed kid and it was my only way of acting out. Heck, back then they didn’t even show gore in horror movies.

I’m with Frank Lee on being suspicious of everyone I meet, running down the list. I still wouldn’t have caught my NS in the beginning, but I do use the list to mentally check if I want to know this person or not. They may or may not be a S, but too many checks on the list, I simply don’t want to know them. They may have some other personality disorder, but they are NMP (Not My Problem). X cured me of trying to be little Miss Save the World. Now I just save animals.

As to the psychic thing, I want a study done. Seriously. I’m highly empathic (bet most victims are) and I’m addicted to addicts. I could walk in a bar and point out who had a drinking/addiction problem. It’s like a magnetic force. Out of three of my serious relationships, we had some connection (all of who turned out or turned into addicts). One I could even THINK at him (in the days before cell phones) to bring home the milk and he either would, or would call and ask what it was I needed. X was a mind reader supreme in the beginning. Sure, I gave him some of the clues myself, but he was uncanny. And anyone who has been in a relationship with an abusive alcoholic male can tell you how good they are at knowing just when and how to push your buttons.

One thing that always puzzled me about X though. Yes, we did a great job of knowing each other and reading minds. But there was always some element missing, even though it was a better relationship than I had ever had before. I could FEEL my previous husband loved me, although he loved cocaine more and behaved badly. X said the right things, did the right things, looked at me like I was the only woman on earth, but still, there wasn’t the connection. I loved him so much I couldn’t tell that his was fake until I was out of it. Then a lot of things started making sense.

This is the other really, really good reason for the no contact rule. Because they have that weird talent. I’m pretty sure if my X could find me easily, all I’d have to do is THINK about falling in love with another guy and he’d suddenly find a reason he had to talk to me. Heck, when I stopped being miserable on a daily basis over him, finally got to the point where a day went by without thinking of him, he emailed my daughter “accidentally”. It’s impossible to email her accidentally.

I think I’ll go watch some mushy romantic movies starring some of the guys I think are really terrific. Or exercise the MAJOR crush I have on my favorite writer. The one who’s graphic novels would probably have put him in jail. He also writes children’s stories and sweet fantasy movies. Glad no one murdered their ex girlfriend in his neighborhood when he was a kid.

Ox Drover

Romantic fool,

The kid’s father instructed him to “cooperate” with the cops and be a good citizen—-so I’m not sure he had a lawyer at first. The crooked cop pursued him for 10-12 years before bringing him to court for trial, then the judge was about as uncooperative as the crooked cop who withheld evidence.

It was only a loyal group of family and friends who went to EXTREME measures to get the DNA and take it to Europe and have it tested, which proved the kid innocent.

Though I held a pro-death penalty view until recently, I have changed my mind because of the people who have been released because of DNA evidence and proven INNOCENT. Though there are some people so evil that yes, “they just need killing,” I cannot any longer support an IN-justice system that has so many innocent people sent to prison. Even ONE executed would be way too many.

I am acquainted with a man now who has been in prison for over 11 years and has finally getting the DNA evidence tested (The Houston Innocence project is doing this for him) for a murder conviction he is probably innocent of. There are 3 men sitting in Arkansas prisons right now who should be released on DNA evidence and who were tried and convicted (one is on death row) for less evidence than this kid. Look up the “West Memphis Three.” This was a witch hunt here in Arkansas about 17 years ago and the cops nailed the 3 gothic smart assed kids in the area to get a “conviction” of young boys killed and mutilated.

kimfrederick- I talked about this on blog the other day…how I should’ve known something was wrong because his past was filled with too many people who were “crazy” according to him, but they were messed up, lives chaotic, too much chaos surrounded him, etc.

skylar and hopeforjoy- I third the “chameleon” comment. Things he “hated” when he was around me, he “loves” with his newest object of affection. I also second the whole “even people who can pick them out as not being a good person don’t know the extent…” SO true. I met this girl recently who knew mine, and she got eyes as big as saucers when I said his name. She said something like, “trouble.” I was sure she must have stories. I asked her. She told me this story about him staying with her friend and basically mooching off of her too long and outstaying his welcome. I wanted to say, “If you were apalled by that, let me tell you about the starved dog, the “dead” cousin who isn’t dead, the “dead” family who “faked their deaths to avoid bill collectors,” the ex-boyfriend who “poisoned him,” the ex-roommate who “embezzled money from his work,” his brain tumor/heart defect/seizures/whatever the given person’s pity ploy of the day is…”


Ox Drover


GREAT blog!!!! Thanks for the link!

romanticfool no more

OxDrover, while I whole heartedly agree with you, there are times when I think the whole “justice is blind” is taken literally. When there is no doubt they have done the crime, serial killers like Wesley Dodd should be, in his case, euthanized. He ASKED to be hung and the bleeding hearts actually delayed his execution for years. He had actually warned his therapist he was violent before the second killings. I ended up almost feeling sorry for the guy, he knew he was a monster and would kill again. When they have DNA, film, and even a confession it’s frustrating to know they are still loaded weapons.

I live in the Pacific NW, home to way too many serial killers. Hopefully DNA testing will continue to improve and free the innocent. The problem seems to be KEEPING the guilty in jail, as all of us here well know.


skylar hi….hope you are keeping your sanity spath watching….I agree with everything you say and you do say things that prove you have observed them over time…and of course it helps to hear your analysis and point of view…thinking of you out there…alone perhaps and just because I get concerned about what your doing…I strongly disagree that living with them is possible without it eroding mind body and spirit…over time….like watching paint dry…isn’t it at least boring? but I love your posts and hope you keep telling us your experiences, it’s a window of opportunity to hear your point of view and learn from it…I suppose saying ‘stay safe’ is like pissing in a high wind…x


By the way i love your name.
It would be difficult to kill me without getting caught because i’ve told so many people everything that is happening. furthermore ExP knows i’ve done that and so does my current boyfriend. So the only thing left for them to do Is emotional crazy making, but no 1 can do that unless i allow it. So i’m practicing being vigilant And learning to observe Objectively. I still lack the ability to make snap judgments Based on what i know because I still want to believe in the basic goodness of Human beings, unfortunately. I see this as my training in a controlled environment To prepare me for when i have to go out into the unknown. I call it a controlled environment only because i already know the spath in this situation.

Ox Drover

Dear Romantic fool,

Oh, yes, in that case I agree with you as well. The thing is in our JUSTICE SYSTEM the old “confess to murder 2 or we will convict you of murder 1 and you go to the gas chamber” The person innocent person confesses because he is scared, losing all right to appeal. There is just so much IN-justice in the justice system. The real crooks know how to work the system and the non-professional guy just takes the plea agreement, OR he stands his ground and gets the death penalty where the real 1st degree murderer goes up for 2nd or manslaughter and gets out in 5 years!

But in some cases, where the guy TRULY confesses, &/or there is HARD EVIDENCE, not just an “eye witness,” which is wrong in 60% of the cases, and where the person is 100% guilty.

But that is a rare instance of a guilty person especially a psychopath who falls into that catagory.

I DO wish however that those people with multiple viiolent crimes of any kind were KEPT IN PRISON forever. That would be much less likely to convict an innocent person and there would always be a way out if a person were later proven innocent.


jeannie812, Skylar

the chamelion point is so important…they pathologically blend in…

Skylar says:

“When he is with a misogynist he hate women but when he is with a racist he hates another race. When he is with a gay person he’s gay . But when he is with a gay hater he despises gays. I think the chameleon quality is what defines a sociopath. That is why doctor scott peck called them ” the people of the lie”. It is this quality which makes them the most dangerous. All of the others are just malicious”.

Something that I saw far too late…I remember it dawning on me as I watched him in social situations..the blood drains from me…feet faint….He was/is so adept at becoming whatever you want…but it’s not him…there was/is no him just a using machine..I felt truly understood by the love of my life…wrong I was played by a player…the realising of this is traumatic and beyond words

You disagreed with the cops assessment of your son…every right to…you know your son better than they do…but they come along all guns blazing and it’s hard to hold your ground. Well done…I know I have let my own son down within my family of origin…I don’t stand up for him enough. I am learning…they need to see him a certain way…it’s inaccurate and destructive and I’m going to confront it and hold my ground in future. Reading your post reminds me, never to go against my intuition again. Time to stand up and trust what I feel.


@Frank Lee Speaking-

Wow,I really can relate to your comments,and have to agree about the odd,psychic energy that you have witnessed.(I have also witnessed this around my spath).
It is weird.
My spath would even claim to have these “special psychic powers”, but in my case,he has also turned out to be a borderline personality,and was talking to demons at night.(which was my cue to exit stage left ASAP,instead of sleeping next to him with one eye open all night..)

And I also agree with your observation,that people may be too quick after such a terrible experience to jump on the band wagon,and want to start labelling every a**hole they come across,a spath..
One of my thoughts the other night after going through some of the comments and stories,was,”Wow,maybe spath is just another name for what I’ve always termed ‘an a**hole”..

THAT,they are.
But no,not every a**hole is a spath.
The characteristics are similar,until you get to the part about
the spaths having no empathy,or never showing any remorse,etc.
Even a**holes will sometimes feel remorseful,I am guessing..


Ox Drover

I recently ordered the “Psychopathic Mind,” by J. Reid Meloy, that is the book that Donna “tried to read” and I am in total agreement with her, I also TRIED to read this book, and if someone can make any sense out of this book at all, other than the odd sentence here or there, then they have a better grasp of what Meloy is trying to say, and I say TRYING TO SAY here because I don’t think he is SAYING anything. This book appears to be another example of WORD SALAD that is “dressed up” to look like “scientific-speak” by someone who thinks themselves so far above us mere mortals that they have difficulty communicating with us.

I realize there are plenty of people smarter than I am and better educated than I am, but I have a familiarity with this subject that is “above average” at least for the public….if he is going to “educate” anyone about psychopathy then he needs to speak in a language that conveys meaning to the reader. I did not find meaning in this book or enlightenment or education about the subject. Just confusion.

I agree with you Donna.


Oxy, A famous writer,{can t remember who it was now,} said, of another writer,
“He seemed more profound, ONLY because he wrote LESS WELL.”
says it all really!!
Love, GemXX

Ox Drover

Dear Gem, I think you have fenced it in! That sounds like a great description of Meloy’s writing. It may be that more learned people than I can decipher his messages, but I sure can’t see a lot of sense in it.

Are you getting warm down there yet? Oh, how I wish I could come spend the winter in a WARM OZ but at least I am not arse deep in snow (yet anyway) like ErinB! LOL If I was wealthy I would follow the good weather around the world and always live in temperate climates, not too hot, not too cool! Oh, how I wish I had been born rich instead of so good looking! LOL ROTFLMAO !!!!


Oxy, you ARE RICH!
Rich in gifts, personality, warmth, friends on LF, pluck, guts,brains,talent,stickability,common sense.humour.
We on LF couldnt manage without you, you are a SHINING LIGHT!
Yes, we are in Spring, its getting nice and warm, lots of rain and then lovely sunny days. All my zuccini plants are flowering, glorious huge, orange flowers!{Alll in giant pots.}. I also have columbines, galdioli,begonias,herbsa re doing great,bees everywhere. I feed my Lorikeets every day, we have up to six or more at a time feeding. They LOVE chopped apple, cucumber, and lettuce.
Figsa pearing,{but we havent discovered a way yet to stop the bugs getting in them!}
lots of Love, Gem.XX

Ox Drover

Dear Gem, you are right, I am wealthy beyond belief in the blessings I have every day! Would be nice to have some money too, though! LOL Oh, well…LOL

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