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By | May 26, 2012 84 Comments

An MRI scan cannot diagnose psychopathy or identify sociopaths

This past week I was talking on the telephone with my student and research assistant when he was mugged by a group of 5-7 thugs. One hit him from behind, knocking him down and another punched him in the abdomen. Ironically, among the items stolen was a copy of “Without Conscience” by Robert Hare.

Yesterday, my student asked me, “Those guys in the group who do have empathy and guilt, how do they feel about doing this? What makes them do it?” To which I replied, “I don’t think they feel a thing. They are likely all psychopathic (sociopaths). No one wants to admit just how many of them there are. So they draw an artificial line based on the PCL-R (a psychopathy test) and say these thugs are psychopaths and these thugs are non-psychopaths. They call them non-psychopaths even though their scores on the test are far from normal. They do this because they want to hold on to hope that most of them can change.”

Dr. Reid Melloy, a forensic psychologist with years of experience working with criminals has a method of classifying them that I think is more correct. He has four groups, not two, based on the PCL-R, non-psychopaths, and mild, moderate and severe psychopathy. I do concede that the thugs that assaulted my student likely had the syndrome to varying degrees; and we know the ring leader is likely severely affected.

That gets me to a recent article that received a great deal of news coverage. In one Fox News article were comments from experts who in the past I have criticized for irresponsible public comments. The article discusses data from a study published in a top journal, it doesn’t give the title but it is, The Antisocial Brain: Psychopathy Matters a Structural MRI Investigation of Antisocial Male Violent Offenders.

The title should say, “the degree of psychopathy matters”. When you see stories like this you have to watch out because my colleagues have rotating definitions of psychopathy that they pull out depending on what they need to fit their data. In some studies like this one, they use a cut-off high PCL-R score. In other studies they separate offenders into groups depending on whether or not they show empathy and remorse. So groups may contain the same PCL-R score but be defined in terms of differing symptoms.

The study basically showed that higher scores on the PCL-R are associated with a higher likelihood of finding a shrunken “emotional brain”. Before you go writing me asking that your ex be forced to undergo an MRI which will prove the presence of psychopathy, let me tell you what is not in the news article. You cannot use an MRI scan to diagnose psychopathy.

A diagnostic test has to be sensitive, meaning that it picks up your ex and everyone else with the condition. Well we already know that there is mild, moderate and severe. So do we want the test to pick up the mild or the severe group? That will depend on what your ex actually scored on the PCL-R. I am sure that a “mild” case of psychopathy, does not make for a good life partner. That is why for the purposes of Love Fraud any comparison between “ASPD” and psychopathy is meaningless.

A diagnostic test also has to be specific meaning that only psychopaths show the abnormality. There is no test for psychopathy that is sensitive and specific enough to be useful. This article only shows us the obvious, that very high levels of psychopathy are more likely to be related to observable changes in the brain than are lower levels of psychopathy.

Since the brain produces behavior, their brains have to be different. The behavior they produce is different. All of the thugs who attacked my student to steal “without conscience” have something wrong with their brains.


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G1S

Dr. Leedom,

Thank you so much for writing this. I imagine you’re going against mainstream thinking in your field. I admire your courage and willingness to take a stand. Thank you for providing us with something else to consider.

I have a few questions.

“They do this because they want to hold on to hope that most of them can change.”

How scientific is this? If we were talking pure science, why would hope be involved at all?

Wouldn’t pure science simply call it as it is?

Isn’t this hope actually the scientists/researchers imposing their value systems on the situation?

There are undoubtedly many people who go into the mental health field wanting to help people and in the process, they want to offer hope.

Hope for whom? Do the Ps even want help? Or hope? Aren’t they pretty well satisfied with themselves?

It sounds to me that hope is for the afflicted, but what about the many affected?

Isn’t holding out hope that they might be able to help “one or two” Ps, as opposed to warning and helping countless people who are adversely impacted by P behavior and end up emotionally harmed or with devastating consequences, rather short-sighted?

Is it selfish? Is this about “publish or perish” and making a name for oneself?

Is it passing the buck? Let somebody else deal with the many; I can feel satisfied helping one or two.

If the intention is to help others, how does the psychiatry field determine who is best served?

Your statement, “They call them non-psychopaths even though their scores on the test are far from normal.” targets the black-and-white thinking that it seems, at least to me, many people want in their lives. With black-and-white thinking, things either are or they are not, and if they are not, then we’ve essentially dodged that bullet and we can go on with our lives.

But as you so rightly pointed out, we haven’t dodged that bullet.

These are not people that would make good spouses, employees, bosses, administrators, teachers, bankers, politicians, or what have you.

Furthermore, these are people who enter our lives because of birth, such as our parents, siblings, or children. At least we can do something about people over whom we have a choice, but it’s very difficult to escape blood ties.

The worst case scenario that I see with this black-and-white thinking and blood ties situation is the courts returning children to abusive parents because this person didn’t score high enough on the P scale to be considered a P and therefore, the person must be normal.

If this person doesn’t qualify as a P on whatever scale is used, or we cannot identify this person as a P via a brain scan or some other medical test, then there is nothing to worry about. That certainly seems to be the presumption to me given how the courts, law enforcement, and even therapists deal with these people. “There is always hope.”

How often do people encounter messages about, “Go back. Give it another try. Try to work things out. If a problem occurs again, we’ll take another look.”

Having been on the receiving end of that thinking, I can tell you that it is tantamount to sending me back to be abused because those other people I’m supposed to work things out with, they’re never going to change.

Isn’t the definition of insanity doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results?

At what point is the psychiatry field going to wake up to “their best thinking got us where we are today”?

Know what? I don’t like where I am today. I feel battered and shattered, a mess of a former self that had potential for such a better life and doing so much more. I’ve wasted too much of my life trying to mend relationships that had no hope of ever being mended. All that energy I poured into fixing something that couldn’t be fixed was lost because it was unavailable for doing positive things for myself or others who would actually appreciate or benefit from my efforts.

Am I a better person for the understandings that I have now? Sure I am, but did I really need to go through hell to get here? A warning would have sufficed. Adequate education or training would have as well. Couldn’t I have become a better person by expending energy on positive things?

I would very much appreciate it if you could provide us with one or more articles on where the psychiatry field stands with respect to these matters.

Are they truly satisfied that they are doing the best they can? Do they even look at themselves and what they are doing? Certainly you can’t be the only one who sees the shortcomings?

If all these altruistic mental health professionals opened their eyes to how much suffering there really is going on in the world, would they take their focus off of their hope that these people, i.e., Ps, can be helped?

Should it be helping the greatest number first and then, after those people are helped, they can concentrate on the die-hard cases?

Do the professional organizations associated with the mental health field, such as the American Psychological Association, even address these questions?

When they discuss ethics, what kind of ethics are they talking about? I figure they cover subjects like, don’t exploit a patient’s confidential information for personal financial gain, or don’t become sexually or romantically involved with a client.

But what about ignoring the harm done to the general public because they hold out hope for “just a few”?

Isn’t that like trying to search for and rescue the handful of people hidden in the caves high up on the hillsides while ignoring the people in the valley who are being swept away in the flood?

I realize that I asked a lot of questions, but any insights to any of the above would be deeply appreciated.

And thank you, again, for speaking up.

G1S

“there is not a lot of evidence for separate syndromes.”

I believe this is where the general public is confused – if A exists, then B cannot. Who is responsible for creating this perception? Who is responsible for correcting it?

“I am very worried the situation you describe could happen.”

I think it happens every day and in overwhelming numbers. In fact, I think it is the norm, not the exception.

While most of us are not experts in these fields, as long as there are politics involved, the social constraints can be changed by the general public speaking out and demanding better.

It’s time to stop rescuing people who are not in danger and have no desire for somebody else’s imposed hope on their lives. It is time to listen to the wounded people crying out for help.

Thank you for your prompt reply!

Liane and Grace,
worst case scenario I can think of is that one of them becomes dictator of a country and kills hundreds of millions…
oh wait, that already happened.

I think the reason that scientists start with hope is because they are human. scientists hope to cure cancer, hope to understand the universe etc.. You’d have to be a P not to have an emotional investment in your work or even your day to day activities.

Perhaps the reason they don’t invest a lot of money warning the rest of us about P’s is because they still don’t have a good grasp on the subject. They can’t even agree on a name for it. They seem to be desperately looking for a list of “markers” and they can’t do any better than the PCL-R, which was only meant for a clinical setting. If an MRI doesn’t work, then what will?

In the end, scientists are looking for “The science of evil”. (as Dr. Baron-Cohen called it)
But it would be unscientific to use the word evil, in his research papers, so he just uses it as a book title to sell books.

The book wasn’t that helpful, IMO, though I enjoyed it. He is primarily a researcher on the autism spectrum. From what I’ve read about his research in that field, I think he is on the cusp of a break through in understanding. His study of people who lack empathy lead him to a theory of the “extreme male brain”. This is (I would assume) a politically incorrect position to take. I imagine that a researcher less respected would never dare to postulate that theory.

It’s not about male bashing, it’s about the role of testosterone in the brain and how it affects empathy. Both women and men have testosterone.

alivetoday

My eyes are open to a whole new world….

I have deleted 3 post that I have just written in regards to this article. At a loss for words, as well as, to avoid writing a book of run on sentences, I believe the first sentence sums it up..

Knowing that some of the people on this site are informed and sharing to us on this site who are walking a new path due to the P experience has been a saving grace to rise with some kind of hope regardless of all the confusion.

G1S

Sky,

For me the issue is a.) do you devote your efforts to possibly saving one P, who may or may not turn into the next Hitler or b.) do you use the knowledge gained to educate as many people as possible thereby increasing the number of eyes capable of identifying Ps, so that they, the general public, does not get damaged or destroyed.

If the concern is a possible Hitler, then would Germans (or the modern day equivalent wherever they might be located) tolerate and accept such a person or with this knowledge, would they be able to identify a P early thereby rejecting the persuasion and manipulation thus preventing the rise of a second Hitler-type?

Where is the hope better applied?

callmeathena

GIS I really don’t think there should be hope to change a spath. I am not a clinician, but I have never heard of a story of a “cure”. If there is a story, I’d love to hear it. But I sincerely doubt it.

The last day or two I felt euphoric again as I go through my life spath free.

A painful lesson learned.

I found this site not long into the relationship – not sure exactly what I googed, I think I was researching personality disorders and finally stumbled here. If I had known that sociopaths were common and were real, I would like to think I would have reacted differently and RUN FOR THE HILLS when I first saw all the red flags. But even then, I kept going BACK to my spath, wondering….”did anything change yet? Does he love me NOW?”….. unwarranted hope. Stupid.

Athena

Grace,
here’s an article, written by Baron-Cohen, which compares Anders Breivik to Hitler.
http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2011/dec/01/anders-breivik?INTCMP=ILCNETTXT3487

It seems to me that all the education in the world isn’t working because we don’t really understand the problem.

It isn’t just Hitler, spaths are attracted to power so most of our “power structures” were designed by and run by P’s. How do we go NC with everyone who is in power? They contaminate everything. They’ve become the norm and people don’t want to see that.

To be honest, I was a worst case example myself, being in complete denial for so long.

I don’t think it’s a matter of either or: Either study the spaths or inform the empaths.

We need to study the spaths SO THAT we can inform the empaths. We simply don’t know enough yet to inform people well enough so that they recognize the spath IN ALL OF THEIR FORMS, in government, corporate, and domestic life.

When I first came here, I was ready to learn all about P’s so I could protect myself and inform the world. It was through learning about them, that I learned about US.

There is a way of understanding emotions (and consequently spaths) which reveals emotions, not as a dynamic inside an individual, but as a social relationship. In other words, emotions don’t happen to a person by themselves, rather, they happen as a response to another. In the same way, psychopathy doesn’t happen to a person alone, instead it is a pathological response to others, a response of envy and rivalry as opposed to friendship and goodwill.

That’s why we study them, to learn more about this contaminating social disease. I think it’s two sides of the same coin.

Athena, that’s great to hear that you’ve been feeling that euphoria! You’re spath free, you SHOULD feel great.

callmeathena

Skylar I like the thinking that emotions are in response to another. The concept makes sense to me. Is the emotion always in response to another human? Another being? Another thing? Another experience? Envy and rivalry.

I wonder how long spaths can go without supply.

But now I am wondering… it’s SUPPLY of what?

I always thought of “supply” as doting, loving attention – that’s what I provided to my spath. Obviously, that is NOT what he was receiving.

Athena

kim frederick

There are some schools of thought that would argue that our feelings follow on the heels of our thoughts. That is to say, we “feel” something in relation to what we tell our selves that something means.
At any rate, our emotions are OUR emotions and we are responsible for them. That means no one has the right to take them away from us, but, on the other hand, WE must be responsible for them. They belong to us. At the same time, others emotions belong to them. We can’t change them, fix them or take responsibility for them.

kim frederick

Athena, I think the term,”supply” came from the research on the personality profiles of narcissists. (All spaths are narcissists, but not all narcissists are spaths, there are subtle differences, from what I understand). Narcissists have such a precarious hold on their sence of identity, that they need others to mirror who they are. That means, they create an image of themselves, and then cling to that image as if it were real. They need supply to continuiously up-hold that false image. They need us to “believe” in the mask they wear. So, when they love bomb us, and we are seeing an idealized image of our perfect lover, we are mirroring back to them, what they want to believe about themselves. The problem is, that they aren’t who they pretend to be, and when we start to figure out that they aren’t ALL THAT, and when we start to critisize or question, or when we get that gut instinct that something isn’t right, their whole sence of identity, and their whole self image is threatened. They become very angry, and that’s when they begin the dread D and D campaign. (Devalue and disgard) At this point we have out-lived our usefulness, to them, and we become a hinderence. When the mask slips, things get nasty.
Yes, supply is adoration, adulation and loving concern. It is all those things that normal people give to another that they love. The problem is, that N’s aren’t who they think they are, or who we think they are, and when we figure it out, they seek out new supply. They can only pull the wool over a victims eyes for so long.

kim frederick

I read a library book last winter, and I can’t tell you how much it triggered me. I felt like I was on the verge of tears for about a month. The name of the book was, “Eraced” and it may have had a sub-title. I can’t remember the name of the author. Sorry. But, it told the story of Scott and Lacey Peterson, and also the story of Mark and Lori Hacking, as well as some others.
It was about narcissistic (psychopathic?) husbands that wanted to erace thier wives…and did.
It took me back to a time when I was coming out of denial, and yet clinging to it with white knuckles.
I remembered standing on the side of a cliff with x hub, and having him step behind me, and the hackles raised up on my neck and wriling around to look in his eyes….I really had the feeling that he wanted to push me. I had another memory of x hub taking my car for a business trip, and leaving me the old station wagon to get back and forth to the University. It was a 40 minute drive, up and down through the hills, and we had a snowstorm that weekend…
the brakes didn’t work…..or was it just the ice?
I remember, about 2 years into my marriage, hearing about a sexual assault in our area, and I just wondered….
where did these intuitions come from?
Even if my husband wouldn’t have murdered me, I am very aware that he wanted to erase me, like a bad mistake.
Skylar, I even try to remember if I was sick, much. Did he ever try to poison me? I don’t think so. All I know is the wish was there. That I would just disappear. The greek or is it latin roots of the word, “abortion” is, to make disappear. He even said that to me….that it was time we did something about our abortion of a marriage. He told me that he thought he should take me out ion the back-yard and shoot me, to put me out of my misery….this, shortly after my Aphgahn hound disappeared. I had made the comment that I was only staying because I didn’t know how to get my dog home with me….We lived as far away from my home as is possible in the continental US. After my dog vanished, he said, “you can go now.”
Yeah. My husband wanted to erase me.

Athena,
sam vaknin said that narcissists don’t have enemies or friends, they only have supply. That means adoration or hatred, they are both supply. They both fuel the drama.
Supply then would be a cast of supporting characters and an audience, anyone who enables the “show to go on”.

As Kim said, they need people to mirror them. That’s what an infant needs. Their very existence needs to be affirmed. Without other human beings they don’t exist.

Yeah, I wonder too what a spath would do on a desert island. Most spaths I know need to have the TV on all the time.

Personally, I think the emotion can be in response to an animal or anything that they can have power over. Otherwise, why would they kill and torture animals?
They envy everyone and everything for having an independent being.

Kim,
it’s important to have a definition for the words emotions and feelings.

Donald Nathanson (as cited in Carnes & Adams, 2002) explains the difference between the words affect, feelings and emotion:

Affect is an instinctive response to stimuli.
Feelings are the awareness of that affect and the meaning we attach to it.
Emotion is a memory of all those feelings when we experienced the affective states.

For my spath, I know he had virtually no affective response to stimuli. He felt nothing when others would be startled. Action thriller movies didn’t have any affect on him.

He therefore had no feelings. He couldn’t attach meaning to something that had no affect on him. Although when his stomach felt acid indigestion or his heart sped up, he attached the meaning that he was “sick” rather than nervous or anxious. So that response was being bypassed elsewhere.

As far as emotions, I’d say he was definitely living in the past. Reaching far back into his childhood when he WAS able to feel, he took all that resentment toward his mom and attached it to me. Every person he met, he envied just as he did when he was a child. He told me he “hated humanity”. To me that tells me he envied all human beings.

He’s beyond sick.

kim frederick
kim frederick

Skylar., and somewhere I read that psychopaths don’t have freinds they have victims and accomplices.

Kim,
eww. I know exactly the feeling, but your words still gave me chills.

erase. Yeah, my spath had a hangar at the airport. 2 hangars down was a former US marshall. He told me that the marshall’s job had been as an “eraser” in the witness protection program.

Then my sister got engaged to get married in 1999. They wanted the wedding in hawaii. Unbeknownst to me, her fiance was a minion of my spath. A cop that had been a meth addict a decade before. He was part of the gang rape from 1991.

So anyway, my spath being as controlling as he was, didn’t want me going to hawaii, but what was he gonna do?

So he said he would never ever speak to either my sis or her husband again. He said, “And I know just the wedding present I’m going to give them.” He got 2 tee-shirts from the US Marshall. The shirts said, “Federal witness protection program – YOU DON’T KNOW ME.” He said that as far as he was concerned, he didn’t know either of them anymore for offending him by taking me to hawaii for their wedding.

Crock of shit. It was a tell. When my BIL saw the shirts, he grinned from ear to ear and even had me take pictures of him and my sis holding up the teeshirts. We all thought it was funny, but only spath and he knew what the tell meant.

fast forward to 2009 and I realized who my BIL was. He’s very distinctive looking.

Eraser. yep, brings back memories.

callmeathena

So your spath was full of envy that you went to Hawaii?
How ridiculous.

So the supply is adoration or hatred. They feed on either.
That’s important to know. And that’s why gray rock is effective, more so than simply no contact, which they might interpret as hatred.

Hmmmm.

kim frederick

No contact is no supply. They can’t feed off you if you withdraw all emotion from them. They need to know they hold emotional control over you. Thet get a nut over enotional control…any enotion is supply. If youy swoon, they are powerful. if you feel anger, they are poweful. if you are confused, they are powerful, if you feel remorseful. they are powerful. If you are sorry, they are powerful. If you are jealous thet are poweful/ If you feel hopeless, they are poweful. They need to make you feel something….anything,,,,,to feel they have any influence at all.

Back_from_the_edge

That’s right – no contact is no supply. They can’t feed off your emotions and/or use you and manipulate you anymore. If you just refuse to participate and gray rock them, they lose their power and control. They DO get great pleasure in throwing people off their balance and PSYCHOLOGICALLY messing with you.

So, the ONLY REMEDY is no contact at all.
Good bye. Done with the ‘roadshow’; adios; have a nice life…
Bye bye now…

They love making others HURT over them and they do get off on it. They do. THEY LIVE FOR THE DRAMA.

Dupey

G1S

Athena,

There are some mental health professionals who think it is possible to help a P via a number of things, primarily therapy at an early age (I think that’s it, but don’t quote me.)

What troubles me about that, a lot, is the ability that Ps have to adopt behavior, mirror back expectations, and then fool everybody. So, what’s the point in all that? To make a P more “normal”? What, in that case, is normal and whose criteria are used to define that? Really arbitrary stuff, in my opinion, and horribly scary.

Kim,

That is absolutely appalling what you husband did to you. I am so sorry that you were subjected to such mind games.

Sky,

I don’t think there is much education on the subject of Ps at all in this world so I don’t understand how you can claim that the education is not working.

Most people don’t know what we know here. They’re still seeing Ps are shifty-eyed, creepy people who are serial killers and murderers.

Except for enlightened places like LF, where have you ever seen a major push (or pockets of people understanding and therefore getting it) that Ps are charming, likeable, and posses traits that we admire which is why they get away with so much? That’s only part of the education. The other part is the devastation that they cause and how they achieve that.

At least for me, when we start seeing those themes in offerings from the entertainment industry or these points are mentioned as a matter of routine in news reports, then I will say OK, now we have the education in place.

But it isn’t there, which is my point about these researchers and other mental health professionals. What are they doing offering “hope” regarding Ps? What on Earth are they talking about?

What I said before, and I’ll say again below, pretty well sums it up for me.
—————————————-
“Hope for whom? Do the Ps even want help? Or hope? Aren’t they pretty well satisfied with themselves?

“It sounds to me that hope is for the afflicted, but what about the many affected?

“Isn’t holding out hope that they might be able to help ‘one or two’ Ps, as opposed to warning and helping countless people who are adversely impacted by P behavior and end up emotionally harmed or with devastating consequences, rather short-sighted?…

“…what about ignoring the harm done to the general public because they hold out hope for ‘just a few’?

“Isn’t that like trying to search for and rescue the handful of people hidden in the caves high up on the hillsides while ignoring the people in the valley who are being swept away in the flood?”
————————————-

Like Athena, I kept going back with the hope that maybe this time something had changed. I had that hope because I was told that was possible – by the mental health professionals.

Now, I can maintain no contact and I have no expectations of anything changing on their end ever. I’ve stopped expending any energy towards that. My life is so much richer and fulfilling now because I am not blindly following advice that was offerring a hope that was absolutely worthless. With NC, they don’t know what is going on with me. My hope is they will eventually forget about me entirely except as a distant memory of whatever happened to what’s her name?

G1S

Sky,

I lived in Norway for four years. I’ve been following the Anders Breivik matter in the Norwegian newspapers.

That one psych evaluation that Baron-Cohen wrote about was trashed by most of the Norwegian mental health experts. He (Breivik) was not exhibiting paranoia schiozophrenia. If you read what was reported in Norwegian, the Norwegian experts faulted the evaluation on a number of levels. There were Norwegian experts already saying that Breivik was a P.

It was very irresponsible for Baron-Cohen to have written what he did.

As for the Norwegian newspaper that contacted him for a quote, I’ve never heard of it. It could have had a circulation of 10 for all I know. Whatever it was, it wasn’t one of the major newspapers in Norway.

Grace,
You must be reading a different link than the one I posted.
Baron- Cohen did NOT say Breivik was schizophrenic. He said that some psychologists had evaluated him to be that, but then he goes on to say, that it made little sense considering the very LUCID manifesto.

You can go NC with your mom and sister, but the P’s in charge of your government are still out there. They start wars they poison our environment, NC won’t stop them.

As far as LF being the only community of people who know a P when they see one HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

We have P’s on here all the time and everyone is shocked to find out that they were later on.

Sometimes only a few of us in the community find out. Since I’ve been here, I’ve seen at least 6 that only a few knew about. Of course I won’t slander anybody because I’m not a psychologist, but these people dropped their masks and disappeared.

Truth is, it’s very difficult to spot a P in the wild. Not because the clues aren’t there, but because we are still in denial most of the time. We don’t want to suspect everyone who behaves erratically. We wonder if it’s PTSD etc…

But anyway, I will reiterate my point: you can’t protect yourself from what you don’t understand.

Truthspeak

Liane, thank you so much for this article. What I find so interesting about the “psych-speak” is that it (along with all other “professional” languages) often befuddles the layman – the anacronyms and behavioral references zoom over the heads of individuals who are not a member of the club. I don’t use that terminology, nor do I “know” about tests, studies, etc. What I “do” know is that your insight is spot-on, as far as I’m concerned. Sure, a whole-lifespan picture of one’s behavioral choices can help in assessments. It’s not only irresponsible to make arbitrary claims, but it’s arrogant. Nobody can (or, will EVER) come up with the litmus strip that turns fuscia when dipped in sociopath urine – it’s just not going to ever happen.

Skylar….”you can’t protect yourself from what you don’t understand,” is a pretty good point. For me, I don’t think that I’ll ever “understand” sociopathy or psychopathy. For me, it’s more important to familiarize myself with the symptoms and to stop living in denial that sociopathy simply “IS” and there’s no amount of understanding or research that’s going to alter that fact.

Brightest blessings to all….

darwinsmom

Liane,

Good point! The ex-spath showed paranoia tendencies too. For me this followed from his projecting and not wanting people to know what was behind the mask. And it makes sense: if someone is devoid of affective empathy and full of envy and hatred for others, then it would be hard for the individual to suppose others not being governed by the same ultimate drive.

I wonder whether it also motivates them to make their victims accomplices in their amoral actions… it would be evidence for them that ultimately we are all amoral and evil, just like them.

G1S

I think the paranoia aspect should be taken into consideration as well.

I’ve seen my P sister come up with some very bizarre conclusions that are so off-the-wall to me that they sounded like they leaned to the paranoid side of things.

Sky, your point is the same as mine just worded differently – you cannot protect yourself from what you do not understand therefore, rather than holding out hope for changing a teeny number of Ps, wouldn’t humanity be better served with these behaviors being used to protect the bulk of humanity?

You said we are in denial. How about we’re just clueless and don’t know what we’re up against? That’s my position. The experts have failed to inform the general public. They’re too consumed with possibly saving one or two Ps from themselves.

The Norwegian articles that I read about Breivik pointed out that he was missing as substantial number of indicators of paranoid schizophrenia so they, although they covered themselves by saying that they did not have firsthand access to the patient and his records, based on what these clinicians did release about Breivik, they weren’t seeing the paranoid schizophrenia. For starters, he has never claimed to hear voices and yes, his writings are very lucid.

Breivik, from all the accounts that I have read, hasn’t come across as paranoid. He is narcissistic.

He’s angry. He feels entitled to the Norwegian way of life prior the recent influx of immigrants and he sees these immigrants taking that way of life away from him. That’s why he wanted to send a message.

He wants the immigrants out of Norway and he doesn’t care how that it achieved up to and including murder. He killed the kids on the island (who were attending a liberal political summer camp) because he thought the liberals in Norway were being too lenient by letting the immigrants into the country. The liberals added insult to injury by accommodating their needs, which diluted what he considered the Norwegian way of life.

He appointed himself Supreme Overlord (or something like that) of all of Norway because only he has the superior knowledge to know what is best for Norwegians and an acceptable way of life.

They also said that his mother was seeking help for him at a very young age (I forget exactly, I think it was about 5, 6, or 7) because she couldn’t handle his bizarre behaviors.

By the way, Breivik doesn’t want an insanity defense. He wants to be perceived as sane with a valid position. His defense attorney is not using an insanity defense.

Sky, I never said nor implied that LF was the only community that could recogize a P. I never came close to saying that. All I said was it was it was an enlightened community.

Perhaps I should have clarified “enlightened.” I meant that LF readers have a different (and more realistic) perspective about what constitutes a P. They know how prevalent they are and they know that a good number of them do not fit the Hollywood stereotype of easily recognizable scumbags who are serial rapists and murderers.

I haven’t been active on LF long enough to have any idea what you’re referring to about Ps being present here. I certainly wouln’t make a leap that just because somebody came to this site, they could easily identify a P or identify one at all. There is no way for me or anyone else to know who comes here. What is there to keep a P out?

Paranoia. That’s a very interesting subject. Paranoid personality disorder is definitely something I noticed in my spath and in every spath I’ve ever met.

I could not understand the need to be paranoid of ME! I am such a harmless person, who only loved and cared for him, so why did he tell me that I was capable of harming him and he needed to keep secrets because he suspected I might try to hurt him. Well, I figured it out at the end.

It’s because he had every intent of hurting ME and expected retaliation. So that’s the complication to attributing paranoia to a spath. It’s not paranoia if people really do want to hurt you, and spaths, having every intention of hurting others, are simply being PROACTIVE in their seemingly paranoid behavior!

It might be true that they actually HAVE paranoia, but how can you tell, when they have set themselves against all of humanity? Protecting yourself from your enemies is a practical step to take. If you intend to hurt others, it makes perfect sense to have an exit strategy.

Spaths only look paranoid until you understand what they are doing, what they have done and what they plan to do.

Edit: Despite the above examples, I still do think they are paranoid because they try everything they can to make us feel paranoid. The betrayal, when the mask comes off, is the ultimate attempt but there were so many before that.

He would come home with stories of people trying to hurt him, cops were set up to stop me for crossing the center line even though it hadn’t happened (right after he told me that cops would stop me for crossing the center line even if it hadn’t happened.) He was constantly pointing out the hazards in our lives and how people could so easily die. Then there was the government conspiracy theories of being spied on.

My BIL got a job setting up hi-tech cameras in his police department. He showed me that he could set one up across town and watch a window in a condo miles away. It was his way of showing me how much POWER he had, as a cop, and how he could see anything.

So the fact that they try to seed paranoia, DOES seem to point that they have paranoia they’re trying to slime us with. It’s just that, with spaths, nothing is ever straight forward.

Ox Drover

Liane, Good article and I hear the frustration you must be feeling in your article.

I am reading a book about a high level political person who I think is a raging psychopath. This person (who shall be unnamed) had aspirations for the presidency in 2008 and they wrote a book about their life…literally reinventing themselves…presenting a false mask.

One of the things the author wrote was about the paranoid thinking of this person and comparing them to Nixon. Anyone who didn’t agree with them was an enemy, and therefore was subject to attack for perceived wrongs.

I think that paranoia to one level or another some very high and some less so is a definate criteria in psychopathy. Hitler was very paranoid, so was Mao, and many other highly psychopathic dictators.

My son Patrick, for example is quite paranoid. He assumes that anyone who is not for him, that does not think he is the smartest man on earth is out to get him, and therefore should be knocked out of his way. 20+ years in prison have made him more paranoid as well….I imagine with good reason. In a visiting room on a contact visit he cannot make eye contact, but instead is constantly moving his eyes to watch the room. Only in a case of a non-contact visit where he is locked in a glass telephone booth type arrangement where he is secure from all unexpected attacks can he make eye contact with his visitor.

callmeathena

I see the paranoia in my spath, but not in the “N”s that I know. I wonder if paranoia is a point of differentiation between the two?

My spath was extremely paranoid. He stockpiled massive food and water for, when, you know, the bomb hit. Seriously. Locked up his piece of shit house and alarmed it.

I think while a “N” is terribly selfish, a sociopath knows that he can’t be trusted, and therefore trusts nobody. And therein sets the paranoia. They’ve probably also been backspathed a few times in their lives by victims, so they have good reason to be afraid.

Athena

Back_from_the_edge

callmeathena: you said: “..And therein sets the paranoia. They’ve probably also been backspathed a few times in their lives by victims, so they have good reason to be afraid.”

Isn’t THAT the truth? Hm? That remark made me smile….
And then it just keeps perpetuating itself in them.

If they weren’t so ugly they wouldn’t have reason to be paranoid, now, would they? Hm? That is THEIR CHOICE, the way I see it.

Dupey

Paranoia also ties in with their need to create a rivalry and win. They are always playing their game. My spath called it chess. He said, “I’m really good at playing chess.” I just thought: WTF? I’ve never seen you play chess ONE time in 25 years. How would you be good at it?

It was a different kind of chess he was referring to.

G1S

Could the paranoia be stemming from their feeling that they are different and might have missed something?

I keep seeing my P sister’s face in front of me during those times that she struck me as being paranoid/where-did-that-come-from?

She’d jumped to dire conclusions. “That means they’re doing X.” Huh?

Could that be because she lacked the human insight into what people with normal feelings, e.g., compassion, empathy, would do under those circumstances?

Lacking those feelings, she had to guess at what people might have felt and therefore, she took wild stabs at what people might do or what the outcomes would be.

It seems to me that was what was happening with her.

Has anybody noted anything along those lines with the Ps that they have known?

My son’s father, who is also a P, never did that. He couldn’t have cared less about the consequences.

I think my P sister expended a lot of energy into attempting to pull off that she was normal and maybe her fear was she had no idea what that was and if she was achieving it. However, that was not a constant. It happened infrequently, but when it did happen, it was noticeable because it wasn’t within normal behavior and conclusions. Most times, her arrogance and certainty were overwhelming.

Ox Drover

On the paranoia, I think that they think everyone thinks like THEM, (mean) just as we think people think like us (nice) so of course they would be paranoid.

One time son D and I were visiting Patrick,, and I went to the bathroom and Patrick looked at D with that “evil LOOK” and said “I know you, you are just like me!” He had been trying to recruit son D to be his minion and to control me. It didn’t work, obviously, and he was trying to frighten D I think. He was frustrated that D wouldn’t buy his line of BS. He also thinks I think that D is out to get HIS (patrick’s) rightful inheritance. Well, I am here to tell you that there is no RIGHT to an inheritance from anyone. It is a GIFT not a right.

Yea, I think their own evil intentions are what they think we feel so that WOULD make them paranoid. Make them want to get us before we get them.

But he thought

Grace,
that’s a good point about them not being able to “feel” our good will toward them. That could be fuel for their paranoia.

It seems like we all agree that there is paranoia, but we still can’t be sure where it is rooted. I can tell you though that the spath HAS succeeded in making me MUCH less trusting than I used to be. It’s not exactly paranoia, but it’s a very distrusting nature that I have now and I miss my innocence. He slimed me with his own distrust.

I know a man who is very charming, a bit theatrical, displays a lot of emotions. I don’t trust him. Something about him puts me on edge, but not while he is there in my presence. It’s after he leaves, that I feel…strange… as if I’ve just been mined for my emotions.

I wonder if it’s just me, or is there something “off” about him. I don’t like how he talks about his wife. According to him she is a horrible woman but he didn’t leave her because of the kids: he didn’t want to pay child support. He is now getting ready to leave her. I just find the whole thing… strange.

Back_from_the_edge

I think their paranoia comes from all the nasty stuff they do to people. That’s where I think it comes from. That is enough to make them scared and paranoid, wondering who is going to do something back to them.

Oh yes, skylar, I can relate about distrusting people now, so very much. Slime is the right word for it too. My therapist keeps telling me that I need to force myself out in the world and just start living again. I don’t know how to do that.

This ‘man’ you speak of…remember your gut instincts, girl!!!
Obviously, there must be something ‘off’ or you wouldn’t be noticing it. It sounds like a very strange acquaintance. I would be careful lest you get bit again, Dearest.

G1S

Hey, Skylar, no, I don’t think it was you.

“It’s after he leaves, that I feel”strange” as if I’ve just been mined for my emotions.”

Is that how people usually leave you feeling? I doubt it. If people usually leave you feeling this way, there wouldn’t have been anything unusal to note about this guy.

If it were you, you’d leave feel liking you just had a normal, typical encounter.

You didn’t do anything out of your normal behavior, did you? There was no reason on your part why the encounter should have left you feeling off, was there? If you didn’t do anything out of the norm, then how you felt was due to what he did.

Your gut is sending up warning flares.

One another matter…the lame, insulting excuses and blame…

Doesn’t want to pay child support? Why not? Aren’t they his kids? Does he feel responsible to his children or not? This isn’t about the wife getting the money. It’s about taking care of his children. Big red flag right there.

I’ve heard the argument before. “But the wife will spend it on herself, not the children.” Really?

You’re saying that she neglects the children? Well, Mr. Responsibility/I am a saint, why haven’t you intervened and gotten you poor, neglected children out of that environment? Then you can make sure that their needs are met and your money is going directly to supporting them, because that’s what you want, right?

I’m supposed to buy how much you care about them? Gee, there are fathers who take their kids under their roofs and raise them on their own. I believe them when they say that they don’t think the mother is fit enough or decent enough to mother their children.

Can’t go that mile? Why not? I thought you care so deeply about the welfare of these children. Sounds to me that you’re only caring about your wallet.

Wife is horrible, but he has to stay. Really? Why?

Well, I certainly hope that with such a shrew for a wife (or however it is that she is being horrible) that he’s got those kids in therapy and spends gobs of time with them so they can have an emotionally healthy parent for a role model and some stability in their lives. No?

You don’t do that? Oh my. Why not? It would mean sacrificing too much of how you’re living now? It would cramp your style? Better that your kids suffer than for you to do without? That’s teaching your kids about priorities.

You can pick up their therapy bills later on in life when they struggle over why they feel they don’t matter. No? Not going to do that one either? Because they’d be emancipated and no longer your responsibility? Yeah, your concern for your children is overwhelming. Gag.

So you’re telling me that one of their parents is horrible and the other is just what? Selfish? A whiner? Or maybe you lied about their mother? Many red flags there.

The sexes in the above scenarios are interchangeable. I’ve heard the same argument for both sides of the fence and it never flies whoever is spinning the tale.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

Back_from_the_edge

you said: ‘ I think their paranoia comes from all the nasty stuff they do to people.’

Hundreds of Buddhist Lamas are clapping in agreement. In Buddhism anger is considered to be a root emotion, which breeds other states of mind (whereas we generally talk about fear causing anger).

It is believed that being in a state of anger all of the time causes fear and paranoia in our minds.

G1S

Oxy, they would think that everybody thinks like them if they weren’t aware that they are different. My guess there must be some who are like that.

But, I suspect that my P sister is aware that she is somehow different, but doesn’t know why or how. I think that’s why she paranoid. It’s like trying to fix something you know is broken, but lack the tools or know-how entirely for doing the fixing.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

Sky, talk about an oxymoron: ‘he didn’t leave her because of the kids: he didn’t want to pay child support’

HA! didn’t want to leave her because of ‘his’ money. I never trust anyone who speaks that way about their spouse. I am at an age that if someone tells me that things are bad at home, I say, ‘get out of there.’ but if someone tries to feed me crap about their spouse, i say, ‘get out of HERE!’

kathy0707

My comment to this (and forgive me I am writing this before reading the thread, as I have very strong feelings on this), is that you can SEE the differences in brain spects among normal brains and those that are not. I’ve seen them myself. If you’ll google on Amen spects you can plug in preferences (or at least it was this way) and look at brains that are depressed, after years of substance abuse (and I’m only talking coffee and nicotine here and there are holes in those brains). So I DO believe it’s possible to predict, based on brain spects, just what is going on and who is a likely candidate for sociopathy. JMHO.

OneJoy, Grace and Dupey,
he is a guy who occassionally works for BF. I suspect that he was involved in a robbery a few years ago. Not that he did it himself, but that he sent his “friends”, because he just disappeared right afterwards, for about a year.

Thing is, there’s nothing and no reason for me to suspect anything except for his relationshit with his wife and the fact that he’s sooooo charming. These are red flags, imo, about other possible disordered attitudes.

But they are such little things and he’s soooo nice, that I feel bad thinking this way. BF refuses to believe that he’s anything but a “good guy”.

one/joy_step_at_a_time

sky – YOU know better. i can hear the sing-song of ‘fall asleep and don’t mind meee while i slit your throooat’ in what you just wrote.

and AHEM, when is disrespecting ones partner not enough to brand one as bad news? ask bf that. his standards need to be raised up.

G1S

Skylar,

I don’t think the things that you described are little things. I think they are Big Red Flags.

One/joy is so right – when is disrespecting one’s partner not enough to brand one as bad news? And your BF is OK with that?

Grace,
he gets conned all the time. It’s cognitive dissonance.
He knows just as much about spaths as I do, but for that reason, (I guess) he thinks he can see it (like 2 horns and a tail), but as soon as the love bombing starts, he goes completely blind.

For me, it’s become second nature to suspect anyone who is always “on”, like an actor.

callmeathena

Dr. Leedom

I am not a clinician, I can just tell you what I think.

Spaths are very very shallow and selfish. We all agree on that.

I think the paranoia is also rooted in shallowness and selfishness. They tend to think that other people are like they are – which means, people who lie, cheat, steal, and hurt others. My spath had food rations and barrels of water in his basement “just in case”. He also had a large stock pile of weapons and guns. He had a house alarm and used it constantly. All drapes were closed. All windows were locked. He would tell me all the time that I am too trusting because I trust people and I don’t lock everything. He lies constantly, and he thinks other people are lying constantly. It’s nuts. I believe TRUSTWORTHY PEOPLE TRUST PEOPLE and the REVERSE IS ALSO TRUE.

Spaths think other people are just as nasty as they are and they’re trying to protect themselves.

It has nothing at all to do with having a conscience.

Athena

callmeathena

One Joy

I love what you said!!!

“Get out of here”! That’s a re-quote and keeper!

Athena

Liane,
They are fully aware that what they do is evil. They just feel entitled to do evil. My spath sister said, “Skylar, everyone is evil, you’re evil, I’m evil, A is evil, D is evil. Everyone is evil except mom.” (she’s an idiot, btw)

Then my spath neighbor said, “Skylar EVERYBODY lies.”

And my spath frienemy said, “Skylar everybody uses everybody. I use you, you use me, D uses you and you use him.”

All three of these encounters left me in a WTF? moment.
Now I understand that these people like wallowing in the mire of shit they create. It’s a game to them. Conscience is not one of the rules, except to say that anyone WITH a conscience is fair game to them. Paranoia is just a side effect of playing the game in which there can only be one winner.

witsend

Liane

My two cents is that the paranoia is just a direct result of them being “so full of themselves” all the time.

After all the evil deeds and wrong doings they have done to so many, it is kind of an expected thing at some point to become paranoid and be looking over your shoulder all the time…

It has nothing to do with conscience. It isn’t about others or concern about what they have done wrong. It is all about them.
Their minds are always working in SCAM mode. They envy others, and feel entitled to anything/everything that doesn’t belong to them.
Chances are that because they hold themselves in such high regard, they think others WANT what they have.

It is a delusional “frame of mind” of self preservation.

Back_from_the_edge

I agree Liane: it’s not conscience based. It’s from a fear that they are going to have something done nasty to them for all the stuff they have done to others. That’s what that paranoia is all about. They are always looking over their shoulder because they know what they did was wrong but they just don’t care. Unless it starts to hurt THEM, then they care.

They know what evil lurks inside them. Believe me, they are totally in touch with their ugly selves and it makes them nervous because they discard people without straightening anything out before they move on and try damaging the next person. They would rather evacuate than deal with their responsibilities.

No, everybody does not use everyone else. That is not what life and/or friendship or love is about. Right, their minds are ALWAYS in ‘scam mode’. ALWAYS. Just my opinion from my experiences. There is no conscience to it at all.

Dupey

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