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Beware The Female Sociopath

Twenty years ago, a newspaper unknowingly helped conceal a sociopath’s secrets by painting the woman as a loving maternal figure. In an interview granted by the publication, she described her “heartbreak” over lack of adequate benefits for her mentally handicapped son. Attached to the article is a photo of the frail looking woman, packing a lunch for him as he looks on in the background. Frustrated with the state’s deficient programs, she is quoted as having “cried many, many tears” because there were such limited opportunities for her son. Little did the interviewer know it was all a ruse to cover the truth: this same mother mentally, verbally and physically abused her son, gaslighted him, neglected him, attempted to drug him, and used his social security benefits to help fund trips to the bar. And she never cried “many, many tears.” I know this because……they were my mother and my brother. And because she often used the “many, many tears” line to manipulate others.

I don’t think anyone doubted my father’s sociopathic tendencies. He looked mean, especially when he was angry. But sometimes it’s the less obvious people who do more damage. Women are not normally suspected of sociopathic behavior because they are seen through a maternal veil. Females are regarded as the nurturers of their brood. I admit: before my mother’s diagnosis, if I’d heard the terms “sociopath” or “psychopath”, my first thought probably would’ve been Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy. This gender-bias helps camouflage some very dangerous people. According to a recent article by the International Journal of Women’s Health, psychopathy research is primarily focused on men, “risking misjudgments of enormous consequence…..[such as] length of prison terms…. or to justify patients’ exclusion from treatment programs.”1 The truth is, sociopathic women can (and do) exhibit similar characteristics as male sociopaths. And most professionals agree that treatment programs for true sociopaths are unsuccessful.

Certainly one would never peg a dainty, grandmotherly figure as a sociopath. One of California’s most cruel women hid well behind this disguise. Living in a quiet gingerbread Victorian house, Dorothea Puente was known for charity work, socializing with local politicians, and caring for other elderly people. She looked like a sweet older lady. She often wore silk chiffon dresses and matching coats. Her appearance deceived many people for years (including county officials, health inspectors, social workers, and the police), despite the strange activities at her house and the foul odors emanating from her backyard. Years later, detectives discovered her ghastly secret: she had murdered the elderly people she cared for and buried them in her back yard. Meanwhile, the victims’ forged social security checks funded her tailored wardrobe and well-kept lifestyle. As forensic experts were excavating her yard for bodies (and after the first of seven bodies had been found), Dorothea – wearing purple pumps, a pink dress, and carrying a pink umbrella – asked officers if she could leave to get coffee at a nearby restaurant. Her demure appearance not only lulled officers into trusting her, but the detectives even escorted her past the swarms of media! She escaped to Los Angeles, where she was eventually captured. Sacramento police later conceded they made an error in judgment.2

I think it is only normal for people to doubt their instincts when faced with something that doesn’t seem plausible. Clinical psychologist Martha Stout wrote in her book The Sociopath Next Door: “Over the years, listening to hundreds of patients who have been targeted by sociopaths, I have learned that within an organization or community, in the event that a sociopath is revealed to all and sundry, it is not unusual to find that several people suspected all along, each one independently, each one in silence.” This passage was especially poignant for me. Many people, myself included, were tricked by my mother – only to say later “I had a feeling………”.

I am not at all suggesting we should become cynical or paranoid. I still believe most people are kind-hearted. Those of us who were duped by sociopaths were harmed because we do care. What I am saying is that we should pay attention to our gut instincts when something doesn’t seem right. We shouldn’t assume a person is trustworthy because outward appearances seem more logical than our intuition. Sociopaths thrive on the fact that altruism often trumps instinct. They count on it.

1. Wynn, R., Hoiseth, M., Pettersen, G. (June 1, 2012) Psychopathy In Women: Theoretical and Clinical Perspectives. International Journal of Women’s Health.

2. Associated Press (1988, Nov 20) Puente Escaped Cluthes of Law Several Times. North Carolina Star News.



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18 Comments on "Beware The Female Sociopath"

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Wendy – yes, it is so important to recognize that women can be sociopaths. They usually inflict subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) abuse on their children.

The reason we, as adults, end up in involvements with sociopaths is because the sociopaths spot a vulnerability within us. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve spoken to people who realize that the vulnerability was created by a sociopathic mother.

We all want to believe that our mothers love us and want what is best for us. But when your mother is a sociopath, that simply is not the case, and you are wounded as a result. It’s a big, deep wound that can affect the rest of your life — until you actively work to recover from it.

My God. It hit me by reading this that my mother probably was sociopathic. She seemed totally incapable of loving. Nothing made her happy…she had no interests. She said odd things and had very old-fashion ideas. She put people in boxes (not literally) and got very upset if they even tried getting out of their box. She sabotaged my relationships with men. As soon as one showed up at our door, she started telling them things that were very unpleasant (and untrue) about me. My own mother! Always putting me in a bad light.

Now here’s something: in the fifth grade all the girls were taken to see a movie about menstruation. They provided us with a pamphlet to give to our mothers entitled: “How Shall I Tell my Daughter?” Simple, right? Give it to your mother and it will make her comfortable about talking about this totally natural event. Instead of her approaching me, my father did (you got that right). He lay on my bed and said, ‘Little girls grow up differently than little boys, don’t they?’ That was it. Because my father said strange things that no one could figure out, it probably was just another ‘Dad’ moment to me.
Later: my mother came to my bedroom. She arrived at my bedroom door, and after saying something totally incomprehensible she put her hand between my legs and squeezed my crotch! That was my ‘menstrual conversation’ with my mother. After going back to class, in order to survive I had to push it to the back of my mind. It was so atrocious. I look back now and realize that I was probably the only girl from my class who had that experience with my parents.

And they would have lied that this had ever happened. I told my older sister years later and she negated it. She said that children imagine things like that. I was infuriated. I should have said, “Ok, Anne…when Laura (her daughter) comes home one day and tells you what happened to her, don’t call me to talk about it…because, as you said…she probably just imagined it.)

Barb,

You are probably correct about your mother. I’m so sorry your sibling was not able to validate your experience. Maybe she and your mother share more than you think.

My mother was a narcissist who’s father was a sociopath. With my mother, everything was about her even when it was about me it was about her. My brother is my mother made over. I can tell him about my experiences with mother and he uses her party line to back her up. Our mother drugged us so she wouldn’t have to parent us. My brother doesn’t remember that he was drugged too. He remembers taking vitamins. When I showed him a letter from the “doctor” we were taken to outlining the side effects of the “vitamins” we were being given his response was that I needed them and look how much better I am today?

Don’t let a sibling’s perspective get you down. She is either masking her own childhood traumas or she could be a sociopath also. Either way, your reality is yours. Mothers are supposed to nurture and care for us… it’s just that not all of them do. As their children, all we can do is learn from our traumas so we don’t end up paying it forward to the next generation. Be happy that you are you and not your sibling. I know I am!

Thanks, Bets

It is very probable that Anne is narcissistic. We would all fall apart if something happened to her. Super control freak.

She walked off with a pair of skates and many clothes of mine. She lied when I asked her if she had them at her house.

It is also very insulting when someone tries to over-protect you…worry, worry, worry.

My spouse and I went to the Caribbean five times without her knowing it. During a Christmas Eve event at my brother’s place, she heard me talking about a scuba diving trip. She interrupted and asked, ‘You mean with a tank?’

I have long suspected that my mother told Anne to ‘watch over’ me after she was gone. Mom told everyone who ever went anywhere with me to watch me. Finally I realized Mom projected her inadequacies into me…always.

Thanks again for your support.

Wendy,

I wish, with all my heart, that more and more people will learn that appearances are just that. They are nothing more than what we see when we watch a movie. Anyone can play a role, whether it is their profession, or to deceive and abuse.

The various sociopaths I have encountered in my life have played very different ‘characters’. Each with their own ‘props’, clothing, life-style, professions, etc…

Some were ‘low-lifes’, who looked like their issues were drugs and alcohol, but were in fact a personality disorder, hiding in AA meetings.

One was a very successful, funny, beautiful esthetician, who was giving her clients Hepatitis C, by pricking their blemishes with dirty lances during their ‘facials’.

One was a groovy guru type, who is trying to be the new messiah…

One was a sweet grandpa, who liked little blonde girls.

Just like the characters in movies these types can play their roles so convincingly that we are just as ‘open’ to them as we are to Mary Poppins.

Now that I have some considerable distance from my last entanglement I believe intuition (or The Gift of Fear, as Debecker? calls it) is our greatest gift with personality disordered individuals. As an adult I knew, every time, that something wasn’t right with them, but I ignored it.

I think most of us were not encouraged to listen to our intuition, because it seems to be common for people to discount it in favor of intellect and what we can see, hear, taste, and touch. But all those sensory things are easily manipulated.

In the case of sociopaths you may NEVER get the real story. Never find out the facts. And, waiting to act until you have those things to validate your gut feeling is dangerous. To heck with the facts. If it feels bad, weird, shakey, strange, odd, unsettling, etc….just get away.

Hi Wendy,
Do I ever know what you mean!!! Our sociopath doesn’t look evil. She’s a red headed, tiny, pixy with an obvious handicap. She is unbelievably adept at using people’s empathy for her position in life as a poor-handicapped-mother to manipulate people and church congregations into providing her services and money to fight us in court while she goes shopping. No one seems to believe that she could possibly lie to them.

She’s lied her entire life. She’s lied to her family about tiny things and enormous things. She’s abusive to those who catch on… like her family who question her. She abused her husband who was trying to portray a happy family while she was creating hell at home. She’s abusive to her own children in that she denies them reality by telling them her alternate version of events. These children have trouble distinguishing between something that actually happened and what is a story that mommy has repeatedly told them. She’s now raising another child in another marriage and we’re watching the past 9 years play out again, this time from the cheap seats.

In dealing with her, I often felt that uneasy, gut feeling that something wasn’t right. It was hard to reconcile that gut feeling with the false face I was being given. This is family looking me in the eye and telling me things that don’t add up, but said so sweetly and sincerely how could I doubt her? It took years for several of us to compare stories to put things into perspective. Now we know. Now we can try to protect ourselves and do the best we can to help her children cope. I cannot worry about the ugly looks and harsh comments I hear from people who are aligned with her. They are drinking her Kool Aid. One day they will start to question why her words and actions don’t seem to be the same. Maybe they will even question how while pleading poverty and begging money to fight us in court she manages to have new furniture, clothes, and shoes. As soon as they do, she’ll suddenly change churches or even religions. There are always more churches full of well meaning individuals to prey on for her.

I’m so glad you have found your perspective. I wish there was a way to identify these predators as early as possible and warn others of the dangers. Appropriate scarlet letters are not politically correct. Sadly, most of us learn by experience the hard way that we should have trusted our initial inner voice and run. Thank you for sharing your experience. Female sociopaths are truly dangerous.

I can relate to everything you said. Our sociopath doesn’t look like crack head, or trashy. She is blonde and blue eyed and for an older woman she looks ok. When she has to look nice she can. But I have picked up the children before and have seen her looking a little scary, no make up. Stains on clothes and like she hasn’t slept in days – her pupils are always really big. Like she is about to attack her prey ( which is probably me). She abuses prescription drugs and stays drugged up for weeks at a time. Then all the sudden for 3-4 days she seems like she is sober and everything is great. She is mom of the year and doing so much. We know she doesn’t do anything. She has other people do things like take kids to dentist and pick them up from school. But she loves to take credit for everyone else’s hard work. And sometimes I think she lies so much she actually starts to believe her lies. She scares me. Because I know how much she hates me.

Oh and I get the same ugly looks from people aligned to our sociopath. And I have really become a stronger person from it. I use to be self conscious and worry what people thought of me. Now I don’t care. The sociopath is making up disgusting lies about me and there is nothing I can do about. So if people choose to believe her – that’s fine. They will be burned by her sooner or later – the second they disagree with her she will turn on them just like she has everyone. She has burned most of her bridges in town. And has been arrested for hot checks. So her reputation is bad. Maybe that’s why she wanted to ruin my reputation. But actions speak louder than gossip and lies. And even tho she spreads nasty lies about me. I try to hold my head up high. And I do not try to get revenge. Karma doesn’t have a deadline. And it never loses an address.. Stay strong

Wow, the more I read the more I see that this is my Mother. We,(my brothers and sisters) have always known she has psychological disorders, but we just could not put a name to it. She plays the victim, the martyr, then turns into the devil when noone is looking. We were abused physically, emotionally, and neglected. I am new to this sight, but am learning so much. Thank you.

CharlieBrown – Welcome to Lovefraud. There are more articles about sociopathic parents in the category “For Children of Sociopaths.” You can find this in the gray menu bar above under “Explaining the Sociopath.”

I am thankful that my mother was not a sociopath. That said, she did enough damage as a narcissist. Between her and my grandfather the sociopath, my path was directed to marry an abusive sociopath 6 years worth and work for a female sociopath 17 years worth. Many years of therapy have helped me figure out why I made the choices I made, excuse the behaviors I tolerated, and make better choices in life. I hope and pray that my hard work benefits my children so they make healthier choices than I made early on.

Narcissists, Borderlines, and Sociopaths all do enough damage in society. I just wish the legal system could catch up.

I agree Bets. It does’t so much matter the label (narcissist, BL, spath…) or the appearance. They all do the same pattern of targeting, love-bombing, devaluing, and discarding. To different ‘degrees’. With different ‘props’ around them. But it is, bottom line, the exact same pattern of relating, no matter the kind of personality disorder you think they might have.

And they don’t all go after the same ‘physical’ goodies. Some are more wanting sex and power. Some are wanting more $ and power. Some want prestige (and, you got it, power). Some cheat, some stay ‘faithful’, some volunteer their time to charities. This is all smoke and mirrors. And it’s easy, when we are first trying to determine ‘are they, or aren’t they?’, to compare THEM to EACH OTHER. But, when we compare their outsides to each other, they can ‘look’ different.

It’s how we experience them, and what our responses are to them that help us most determine what we are dealing with.

At one point I had someone say to me “oh, he’s not a sociopath, just a silly narcissist”. Man, I wanted to punch her in the face. Narcissism is the same in all categories of disorder, and wreaks the same kind of emotional and psychological damage in it’s targets.

When we have nagging doubts, niggling gut feelings, anxiety, insecurity, vacillate between hope and despair, and bouts of utter confusion we can be sure we are dealing with someone who has a personality disorder. Even if they are a little old lady in an Easter bonnet, passing out candy to one legged children, in a foster home.

When running isn’t an option because there are children to protect and you are forced into ongoing relations with a sociopath and their universe, how do people protect themselves? It’s hard enough to deal with the mother sociopath. I find it even more challenging to deal with the supporters of sociopaths. The “Kool Aid” drinkers who believe that those of us who challenge the sociopath’s stories are the “evil empire”… Ignore, turn the other cheek, raise your head higher, let Karma prevail, these are all things I’ve been advised to do, but some days are easier than others – even with years of therapy.

I know what my defenses are. I’m wondering what others do? How do you deal with the the “haters” who support the sociopath? I’m curious how others survive the real world of maintaining your own sanity while surviving the sociopath’s alternate universe?

Bets,

I noticed that you had asked some questions in your comment and would like to share with you ,from experience, some answers.

You asked: “What do others do?” [to deal with a sociopath]

I personally avoid them altogether. Refuse to watch even from the cheap seats. Ignore their group of kool-aid drinkers and move on with life.

You asked: “How do you deal with the the “haters” who support the sociopath?”

I ignore them completely or tell them the truth assertively and THEN ignore them completely. Avoid them and refuse to care about what they’re up to, what they have to say or what they think.

You asked: “I’m curious how others survive the real world of maintaining your own sanity while surviving the sociopath’s alternate universe?”

I don’t allow the sociopath to define me in any way shape or form by ignoring them, ignoring what they’re up to, ignoring what their posse is up to and generally moving on with life.

Meaning breaking all contact with them, their energy and their influence. If I must be in the same room with them? I ignore them completely!

Asserting yourself and not caring about what they think or what they’re posse thinks is the key. There is a great big life to be lived out there with many paths you can travel. It’s your choice.

Don’t make yours a life of watching a sociopath from the cheap seats. Move on.

Hi Bets,

Here’s what I’ve done, and how I’ve thought about it to help me cope with some residual anger and bitterness, and with the sock-puppets of the sociopath.

First, I was able to go totally no contact with spath (no kids, etc).

2. Let go of the $ he owed me. Paid the 10,000+ dollars on my own. This was hard, and I still feel some residual disgust at his total lack of responsibility. But, for the most part this is over, and paid off.

3. Never spoke to him, or ANYONE he knows. Ever. I would cross the street, take a different bus, leave the restaurant. Whatever it took, I avoided the sock-puppets and crazies.

4. Lived with my feelings of anger, resentment/sadness, and they did simmer down. I didn’t try to stop my feelings. I worked with them, and a couselor, to let them live out their ‘natural lives’. Grief and betrayal take time. AND, they never simply disappear, they become part of the fabric of who we are. New griefs can still trigger this old grief.

5. Shared my ongoing frustrations and pains with only those who were completely understanding and supportive. Avoided ALL people who could not relate to my circumstances. This was lonely, but for me was necessary.

6. Thought: ‘there are millions of disordered people in the world, doing zillions of bad things. I don’t have control over them, and I don’t have control over this one who betrayed me’.

Somehow putting him in the catagory as all the rest (who I don’t know, and don’t care what they are ‘up to’) helped me place him in his place of irrelevance. That doesn’t mean I am forgetting the lessons I learned from my entanglement. It just helped me disengage emotionally.

On a personal note I have found out he returned to my city. I am disappointed he returned (more so that he isn’t just dead!). So, I still have these feelings, and likely always will. I am sure his back burner friends and enablers are thrilled that their ‘spiritual teacher’ has returned to them.

But honestly, after 6 years it isn’t a PTSD thing anymore. I feel mostly indifference, and not a lot of fear.

I hope this helps some.

Slim

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