By | February 27, 2012 56 Comments

BOOK REVIEW: Character Disturbance

Character Disturbance—The Phenomenon of Our Age, the new book by George K. Simon, Ph.D., does two things really well: It paints a no-nonsense picture of how people with personality disorders, including sociopaths, behave. And it explains why traditional psychotherapy, in attempting to understand these individuals, gets it so wrong.

The basic problem, Simon explains, is that classic concepts in psychotherapy, like those advanced by Sigmund Freud, propose that people develop defensive strategies against a cruel, heartless world in order to protect their deep, authentic selves. This results in “neurosis,” defined in Wikipedia as “a variety of mental disorders in which emotional distress or unconscious conflict is expressed through various physical, physiological and mental disturbances, which may include physical symptoms.”

Many, many therapists follow the classic psychotherapeutic paradigm, which Simon neatly summarized. He wrote:

Let’s boil down traditional schools’ underlying assumptions about how people become disturbed, and how you help them heal: People are inherently good and geared towards health. They become unhealthy because bad or “traumatic” things happen to them. They develop fears and insecurities in response to their traumas. They learn to protect themselves, cope with stress or “defend” themselves against emotional pain in less than optimal ways. With unconditional positive regard, empathy and support they can heal their wounds, lower their defenses, overcome their fears, and become naturally inclined once again to lead healthy, loving, compassionate lives.

These ideas have been around for so long that they are ingrained in our culture and accepted as “truth.” It’s gotten to the point that everyone believes the concepts apply to all people. And that’s how we get into trouble.

Sociopaths don’t act the way they do to compensate for some deep internal pain. They are deceitful, manipulative and aggressive because that’s who they are.

Character disturbance

Simon describes disordered individuals, including those with sociopathy, psychopathy and antipersonality disorder, as having a “character disturbance.” He defines them as:

individuals whose problems are related to their dysfunctional attitudes and thinking patterns, their shallow, self-centered relationships, their moral immaturity and social irresponsibility, and their habitual dysfunctional behavior patterns.

Simon spends much of the book laying out exactly how character-disturbed individuals think, behave and view the world. Their characteristics include disregard for the truth, impaired capacity for empathy and contrition, deficient impulse control, impaired conscience, and more. The traits are all familiar to Lovefraud readers who have lived in close proximity to them.

A really important insight is this: Simon says that “the primary interpersonal agenda for aggressive and other character-disordered personalities is position, position, position.” In other words, these individuals always want to be dominant—an idea that’s hard for the rest of us to accept. Simon writes:

It’s incomprehensible for most of us to conceive that in every situation, every encounter, every engagement, the aggressive personality is predisposed to jockey with us for the superior position, even in situations with no recognizable need to do so. The failure to understand and accept this, however, is how aggressive personalities so often succeed in their quest to gain advantage over others.

Why we don’t get it

Those of us who are fairly normal, although perhaps at times unsure of ourselves, and those of us who are neurotic, are at a severe disadvantage when dealing with character-disturbed individuals. Why? Because we don’t understand the extent to which they are different from us.

Simon made several points that I thought clearly described how our lack of awareness gets us into trouble:

  • He explains that we are concerned about how our character-disordered partners are feeling, and why they seem angry all the time, without realizing that anger is not a true emotion, but a tactic to manipulate and control us.
  • He explains that the true reason predators are successful manipulators is not so much that they are good at it, although they are, but that the rest of us are reluctant to judge others harshly.
  • He explains that people who intuitively sense aggression, but can’t objectively verify it, are prone to being manipulated and controlled.

The problem is, we don’t know how the character-disturbed people think and act, but they know how we think and act. Simon writes:

They know the attitudes neurotics hold, and the naiveties that make them vulnerable to tactics of manipulation and impression management. They often know the neurotics in their lives better than those neurotics know themselves.

This book can help you level the playing field. It can help you understand the tactics and games that sociopaths and other people with character disturbances use to manipulate you.  It also explains why adherents to traditional psychotherapy concepts don’t understand sociopaths, and why their attempts at treatment are useless.

Character Disturbance—The Phenomenon of Our Age is available on

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Ox Drover

WOW!!!!! Donna this book sounds great! I am putting my order in today! Might as well order it and put it at the top of the stack to be read first!


This is the book I mentioned in a previous post. It’s an excellent guide for navigating the horrible people we encounter. I like that George Simon calls the horrid creatures ‘the character disturbed’. So spot on. His first book , ‘In Sheep’s Clothing’ is very good too. He wrote some vignettes describing various aggressive manipulations employed in family and business relationships. His are the only writings that explain how I got bound and hog tied in the relationship with the psychopath. I’m neurotic, no question!


George Simon’s blogs are some of the first places I began to learn about NPD and his writing was like a breath of fresh air.
I think the appeal of his work is that you get the feeling that this guy really “gets it”, especially when you are new to understanding PD’s and you don’t have anyone else who believes you.
Here are 2 links to his blogging. I think you’ll love reading it while you wait for your book.
I haven’t read the book but I get the feeling it is going to be one of those books that people will pass along to others in order to enlighten them.

My only tiny issue I have with his ideas is that he says that NPD is not based on repressed fears. It certainly seems that way, but there are many schools of thought that in fact the shameless behavior is based on shame that is so thoroughly repressed because it is unbearable that it comes out like complete shamelessness. The grandiosity is based on feelings of repressed low self worth. and the desire for power is based on feelings of powerlessness, etc… That’s why everything about spaths seem backward. They are experts at deception because they hide everything behind a mask of the opposite – so that you would never imagine the truth.

Still I like Dr. Simon’s blogs because he explains what can be observed so well. For most people it really doesn’t matter why spaths act like they do. Understanding the cause doesn’t really protect us from the behavior. And I doubt there is anyway to fix a spath. The armor is on too thick.

Ox Drover

Well, you will have that same “tiny issue” with me too because I do NOT believe that NPD is based on repressed fears either. I think NPD is a subset of PPD and is primarily genetic with some environmental aspects, just as I do PPD.

Just as Baron-Cohen is finding out that the testosterone levels in the womb seem to highly correlate with the autism spectrum and the way the brain is actually FORMED as well as chemically influenced, the empathy aspect of both autism and PPD seems to be influenced by this T level. Is the T level caused by the mother? or the fetus? They don’t know at this point, but the correlation of the level of this hormone seems to show that the higher it goes the less empathy….hummmmmm. Interesting, huh? So “environment” starts at CONCEPTION not just after birth.

I will go read some of his blogs. I ordered the book already. and I think he is right “for most people it really doesn’t matter WHY spaths act like they do. Understanding the cause doesn’t really protect us from the behavior.”

I do think it is important for scientists to figure out WHY though, so possibly there can be something done to fix them in the embryo or as very young infants. Just a dream I guess, though.


I already knew your thoughts about repressed fears. 🙂

But that quote, “for most people it really doesn’t matter WHY spaths act like they do. Understanding the cause doesn’t really protect us from the behavior.” is MINE not his. That is MY reason for liking his articles so much.

My desire to understand further has more to do with understanding humanity in general, rather than any hope of fixing spaths. IMO, they can’t be fixed.

Still, last night I dreamt that the spath was back and I was trying to “fix” him by explaining to him where all his thinking was screwed up. LOL! I no longer “love” him, but it’s sad to see such a waste of potential, so I guess my dream reflects the regret that he just doesnt “get it” and never will.

As far as testosterone, YES, I do believe there is a definite correlation. A while back, someone on LF posted that the problem was so many boys being raised without fathers. They sited the case of the juvenile elephants that went on a rampage killing rhinos and destroying entire villages after the older males in their group had been killed off, as evidence.

I was “skeptical” to say the least. But then recently, I read some more about that story and it turns out that the juvenile elephants had their testosterone measured and it was thru the roof. Later, when some older dominent bull elephants were brought in, the juveniles became submissive to them and peaceful. When testosterone was measured again, it was MUCH lower. So apparently, the level of testosterone in young males IS affected by the presence of an older adult male. A young male probably automatically becomes submissive as a survival response and the testosterone is lowered that way.

I wonder if it works the same way that women who spend time together end up synchronising their periods….? As in a pheromone response.


Sky, I’m with you on that, I feel such a sense of grief, partly for what I thought I had and never did, but partly for him too, of what he coulda been.

Interesting on testosterone. Or, it could be related th the oedipal theory too.


Ox Drover

Sky, that was me that posted the story about the elephants and they were being reintroduced to an area that the elephants had been killed off in and it was EASIER to move smaller younger males and females than move adults. The result was the young males packed up into “gangs” to go out and hurt things….so they decided to move in the larger bulls (BIG JOB to catch, crate and move them) but they did and it was a total success. The young males settled down. I hadn’t heard about the Testosterone levels being measured in them though. Thanks for that update on the story.

In different animals testosterone had different effects in the womb. Goats who usually have twins or triplets frequently have a male and a female kid, no problem, but cattle who usually only have one calf (twins are about 1 in every 90 births) if one is a male and one a female, the female baby born a twin to a male will never sexually mature or have babies of her own. The testosterone of her sib in the womb messes with her hormones and she becomes a “free martin” (never did know where the term came from though, so don’t ask! LOL) She may look normal or may not externally, but internally she is undeveloped.

It is odd to me that it works different in different species.

In goats, unlike cattle, you can never “breed the horns off” of them and make them naturally polled (without horns) because if a goat has 2 NO-horn genes they will have no horns but will not be sexually complete, if the have 1 no_horn gene they will not have horns but they will be able to reproduce but only half their offspring will not have horns and the other half will have horns.

The reason is, the horn gene is connected somehow to the gene for sexual completeness and the two can’t be separated. Not so in cattle.

So what is true for one species may NOT be true for another one concerning testosterone and its influences on behavior or other characteristics.

Oxytocin (the bonding hormone) seems to be pretty consistent across mammalian species though, and necessary for the mothers bonding to the offspring at the very least. Grooming behavior and stroking also releases this hormone as well. In humans, cuddling or sexual intimacy does as well.


Thank you for the book review, Donna.


Sky and Oxy,

I’m very interested in this hormone stuff, syncing up of periods, and also oxytocin released through grooming/stroking… I honestly think there is so much here that we do not understand about how we affect each other in these hidden ways…

for instance, with the syncing of periods thing, I really am not sure about this, but isn’t there something to do with one of the females being the “alpha” and the others sync up to her? If so… how does the group determine who is the alpha? Or is it the alpha who decides and imposes her hormones on the others?

Kind of like the bull elephants, in that study you mentioned.

I’m wondering… how does doing “gray rock” (a deliberate acting against one’s emotional inclination, perhaps, or one’s hormones) affect the hormones of the spath? Can we consciously manipulate our hormones (or pheromones) and affect the hormones of others?

I know those are off the wall questions. They just came to my mind so I’m musing…


great questions. You are intuiting that there are connections between emotional expressions and the permanent state of our brains (beyond mood).

As a kid, I could see some of my classmates faces and see that they were vulnerable to scapegoating. It made me fearful. I wondered if I looked like that too.

As a little tiny kid, I used to look at my aunt’s face and it scared me because she had a pinched, angry look. When I was about 22, her spath husband killed her with cancer. (you know what I mean) Now I know that she was in constant emotional pain. He cheated on her, he berated her, he was a big fat dick and still is.

Later, I realized that many people who are abused have a certain pained expression on their face. Many of them have auto immune problems even years after the abuser is gone.

So yes, I think spaths have a radar for facial expressions. The question, I think, is a “chicken or the egg” question.

The problem with this question is that most scientists and doctors are not in tuned with it. There is nobody doing double blind studies on facial expressions and spaths. LOTS of studies should be done on spaths and their victims but instead we execute the serial killers and sweep the victims under the rug.

I think that most abusers will pick easy victims. If the face expresses vulnerability they will go for it. My own exspath – is pure psychopath. I do know that he likes vulnerable victims, but I also know that he will go after anything that moves and has money. He likes the challenge of the con. Nobody is safe, not even another spath.


Wow! It’s funny how whenever I take the time to read the Articles on LoveFraud, they totally hit home! Thank you so much for bringing this book to our attention! I was just saying this week, I am so tired of his game playing and trying to figure out what the game is this week and what are the rules. I am going to order this book right now!!! Thanks so much!


Hey Sky,

The facial expression thing you bring up is very interesting and ties into what I was thinking about… namely, the types of hidden communication that go on under our conscious radar, and whether or not we can somehow train ourselves to become aware of this communication (facial expressions, other types of body language, pheromones, etc.) and then manipulate it defensively.

I’m sure you could also manipulate it offensively, if you can do so defensively. But as I always say, I try to “use my power for GOOD.” That is just an expressed intention. I think it is a two-edged sword. And I’m not speaking of magical powers or anything of that sort… just that I think there is a lot of unspoken communication that happens between and among people, that is a sixth sense type of thing, that is entirely REAL but unconscious.

And this speaks to the “hidden” attachment bonds that form between the spaths and their victims. Again… I don’t know WHAT it is; if it is pheromones (like the testosterone of the bull elephants trumping and dominating the younger male elephants; or the syncing of periods) or something else. But I have been wondering how much of this we can learn to recognize, as it is happening or even shortly after the fact, to be able to integrate the experience into our consciousness and then with CONSCIOUS DELIBERATION respond in a productive way to counteract the effects of the (let’s just call them) “pheromones” imposed upon us by the spath.

I am seriously wondering if Gray Rock is a way of doing that. That by deliberately manipulating our facial expressions and body language, are we in effect manipulating OUR pheromones (especially if we can reach a state of mind where we do not FEEL THE FEAR but remain calm on the inside — this is manipulation of our own EMOTIONS which I believe is connected to our PHEROMONES).

And thus… it may not be so much that it is our “facial expressions” that the spaths are picking up on, as it might be a state of mind or state of emotion/feeling.

I have thought for quite some time that the spaths kind of “feed off” of our emotions, like a vampire type of thing (though I don’t really want to get into “psychic vampires” it is one way of viewing it, but I believe there are many explanations — such as pheromones — that will do just as well).

And back to Simon’s book, “Character Disturbance” (which I read a few months ago and YES it is a MUST READ)… the part about “position, position, position”… this ties right into that. I think it is an under the radar positioning. It can be overt, but i think there are things going on with pheromones having to do with being the dominant one.

As I first read in Patricia Evans’ book Verbal Abuse, the abuser is about “power over” the other person… and the victim is about mutuality. You cannot reconcile these two positions! You cannot reason with a person who is from the planet “DOMINATE THE OTHER.” They will NEVER be satisfied with a mutual solution. Their minds do not work that way. They will always look for an edge to give them an advantage… yes, even when it is completely unnecessary to do so.

Isn’t it absolutely exhausting to try to be in a relationship with someone like that? There’s absolutely no point to it, because they will always be working to get you in the “one down” position.

But I truly think that pheromones are involved, and that we might be able to consciously train ourselves to not only not APPEAR to react, but to train ourselves out of the EMOTIONS so that we do not have to fake it — cause I think so long as we continue to feel the emotions, we are producing pheromones that put us in a vulnerable position.

Haven’t you guys ever “smelled fear?” I think that is what this is. I think there are a lot of emotions that the spaths pick up on, and we need to learn how to put up our shields and not give them ANY supply, whether overt or hidden.

And another thought… don’t you think this is one reason so many therapists miss the boat on this? They are either not picking up on the unconscious “pheromone” communication OR they ARE picking up on our pheromones/emotions, but THEIR pheromones are reacting to them, in a way of which they are consciously unaware. And they attribute their countertransference to something other than what it actually is, or misdiagnose it.


I would like to know more about the author’s comment below:

“Let’s boil down traditional schools’ underlying assumptions about how people become disturbed, and how you help them heal: People are inherently good and geared towards health. They become unhealthy because bad or ‘traumatic’ things happen to them. They develop fears and insecurities in response to their traumas. They learn to protect themselves, cope with stress or ‘defend’ themselves against emotional pain in less than optimal ways. With unconditional positive regard, empathy and support they can heal their wounds, lower their defenses, overcome their fears, and become naturally inclined once again to lead healthy, loving, compassionate lives.”

What more does he have to say about people being “inherently good”? That whole paragraph is filled with flawed assumptions. All the implied sympathy for the “tramautized” perpetrators and the implied disdain for those who are unsympathetic or regard them as threats. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

If therapy starts from a flawed base, how can anything stemming from there be accurate? It isn’t just therapists and other mental health professionals who get it wrong, it’s the courts and law enforcement as well because their knowledge of psychology comes largely from the mental health professionals that they work with.

Isn’t this why children are repeatedly returned to abusive parents? If everybody just loved each other enough, the Norman Rockwell family will shine through?

raised by sociopath

Skylar thanks for the insight on the young elephant males.

I have raised my two sons most of their life on my own. I had made the mistake of remarrying to a man with a personality disorder. My sons have the inherent traits from their biological father however; picked up some nutty sociopath traits from their stepfather. I divorced the monster people (except for the people who knew him on a personal basis) had believed to be a nice man.

Children (also non biological) being raised by sociopaths are being groomed through abuse to develop the same sick mindset and treatment of others who are observed to be weak.
Those of us who are not born (fu spon of Satan) sociopaths live in inner turmoil because we’re constantly fighting against what are soul and spirit knows is true and right against; how we were groomed to interact with society. I have spent many years with therapist to be deprogrammed from such upbringing because I chose to not behave cruelly towards others. I deal with depression my whole life thus far.

My youngest was displaying antisocial behavior traits he learned from his sick stalker (use to stalk my son) stepfather who was bullying my sons. My youngest son has chosen to start therapy because he is dealing with depression due to soul/spirit in conflict with grooming to be an antisocial outcast (victim versus predator mindset) all we truly want to be is like those whom been raised in a nonviolent home life who aren’t constantly on guard towards sick (not crime of passion) violence.
Part of our psych turmoil is we go towards being victimized by personality disordered folk to fighting back in an antisocial responses which target us towards behaving like a sociopath. We generally protect the underdogs in society from the monsters in our own personal arenas in life without ever receiving the friendship or thank you from the ones we protect because of our approaches towards fighting back towards sociopaths. Child who are not sociopaths know deep down how to f with a person who is however; the sociopath always wins because our minds and souls are not dark like theirs.
I’m not sorry to say I hate Sociopaths. I pray to God to rid this world of them. The psych wards are full of adult who were raised by a sociopath. They really screw with a child’s mind while they try to murder the child’s soul/spirit.


This thread is very interesting. My X spath had said to me, “I don’t know anything about you.” I must have done a REALLY good job at doing gray rock with him. Don’t you see…he was trying to read me, but he couldn’t. The OW had warned me about him and because of that, I was really holding back and not giving of myself to him; I was very guarded and voila…he wasn’t able to “read” my expressions. He also told me many times that I was mysterious. I think it’s one reason he gave up on me…I was too much work…I wasn’t easy.

Skylar: I am reading “The Gift of Fear” and love it. I am gaining so much knowledge from this book. I am realizing all the very subtle things the spaths use to reel a person in. It’s things we never even think of some of it is so subtle. Thanks a ton for recommending this book! 🙂

sherry winter

My ex-s used to use people’s words to lie. Like at work, someone would walk by and ask, “have you seen so-in-so” and the s would say, “No, I haven’t seen him.” However just moments before we had heard so-in-so walking down the hall complaining that he was late for a meeting.

In the same way when I’d ask if he was seeing someone behind my back he’d say, “no, I see them every time we walk past them,” of course meaning with his eyes. He did that kind of crap all the time, using your own words to disprove your accusations. You had to spell out bit by bit with no loop holes, and then only then would he out and out lie! So he was able to honestly be insulted when someone would call him a liar, after all he hadn’t lied, they simply hadn’t asked the right question!

For all of those who have replied to my posts in the past, I finally found a job away from my ex-s. It’s not what I had hoped for, but it’s away and I can start building a new me, where he can’t continue to trigger the feelings of being a victim.

Over the last 2 yrs I’ve applied for over 80 jobs, some of which were demotions. The panic attacks that would occur when they would ask how I got along with my co-workers was a large part of the reason I wouldn’t be picked. Another reason I lost out on some of the jobs was the fact that after 9 yrs in my field, “6 of which were as the ex-s victim either during our relationship or after it, as a subordinate to him” I had never received a promotion. 6 years prior I was the FAST UP AND COMING, but once I was trapped by him, he was motivated to keep me down. People don’t really want to promote a stranger that their own boss, someone who KNOWS them wasn’t willing to promote. He wasn’t directly my boss, but he was above me in such a way, that any promotion was either directly in his control, or indirectly in his control by his hidden attacks on me in the work place. Other employers just assumed there was a REASON I wasn’t promoted!

I interviewed for a HUGE promotion last month and made it all the way to the final interview, and as they were taking down information for their HR department so they’d know what pay scale to start me at, they asked what level I was at in my current job. I swear that manager turned green right in front of me when I said I was still at the entry level with all my education and years of experience. I wasn’t offered the job because they couldn’t afford to put me in the TOP level, when my own boss had kept me at the bottom level… obviously for some reason. I got my dear Jane letter from them the next week.

I have however found a new work home. I had to take a lateral… not even a 0.01 raise, and I went from a permanent position to a Limited duration that will end in 9 months. I have a future now though. It’s limited duration only to get past our Governors hiring freeze and they have every intention of making it full time and permanent, and there are a half dozen people retiring in the department in the next two years, all of which would be promotions.

I’m a 4 level in my field, and I do the same work or better then the 6’s in my current job… I interviewed for up to 7 positions, and did well, until the “how do you get along with your co-workers” question would come up and I’d start crying, or until they’d ask what level I was at, and assume I was still a 4 because I wasn’t capable of being promoted where I worked because of my skills. I am one of the best in my unit, I simply was trapped with my ex-s undermining me and emotionally attacking me every few months to insure I seemed unstable to upper management… NO MORE!

On March 1st I start a new life. It’s nothing to be proud of, it’s actually a step down when you consider the limited duration thing, but it’s some place I can start building my reputation to MATCH the real me, instead of the unstable personality the ex-s made sure I portrayed by his bullying and gaslighting.

My daughter called to congratulate me… I told her there was nothing to really be excited about because it was in a way a step down, it simply HAD to be done. She asked, “so what does this mean?” I said, “It means I have no reason to cry on my drive to work, and no reason to scream at god on my drive home. It means that when I walk out the door for the last time on Feb 29th, I will have to leave the victim who has been me for the last 6 yrs, forever locked behind that door.” I think that’s a good thing!



I am reading “The Gift of Fear” and love it. I am gaining so much knowledge from this book. I am realizing all the very subtle things the spaths use to reel a person in. It’s things we never even think of some of it is so subtle. Thanks a ton for recommending this book! 🙂

PS: I reposted this from another post I had made as I wasn’t sure you would see it.


sherry winter:

I am so happy for you! Yes, it may be a step down temporarily, but you are away from that evil person and that can only open the door to something better!


Hi Louise,
I’m glad you’re reading it. It’s great! Intuition is the central point of the book and from my experience, intuition is never wrong but often ignored. Intuition comes from the suppressed right brain which processes information in “snapshots”. They say that a picture’s worth a thousand words. So intuition can “see” the whole truth at once. The left brain is more linear and hierarchical and spaths can fool it by lying and making up stories which do follow a path, but it’s the primrose path.

Or should I say the primrose spath?



Thanks so much for this. You know, believe it or not, my intuition is VERY strong. I even have a friend who thinks I am borderline psychic because my intuitions are so strong. So many times I have ignored it, but NOT anymore. I am learning and I mean truly learning to heed these intuitions. Something was even revealed to me this past weekend that confirmed an intuition I was having. It’s too long of a story to get into and kind of embarrassing so I won’t go into it, but it’s something I have felt for a long time, but kept telling myself no, this can’t be true and then I found out this past weekend by something that was said that indeed what I had been “feeling” was true! It’s amazing.

Can I ask you this? Have you ever had a strong intuition about a situation; that you just KNOW something to be true about this situation, but all your friends tell you something different? They all “think” the situation has a different meaning? Just wondering if that ever happened to you and if so, were you proven right in the end?

Hmmm, I wish I could just get rid of that “left brain,” but what else would I be giving up? Haha!


It seems to me that the spaths, lacking intuitive empathy, can’t “feel” our emotions. I think normal people can intuit each other’s emotions but spaths have to “work” at it by watching tv and learning which facial expressions mean what.

If they have a visceral response to another person’s suffering or happiness (the way you and I have), it is so suppressed that they don’t feel it anymore or they might interpret it as a stomach ache. Lol.

By the same token, it’s possible that they are numbed to other things. I did mention to my spath that I can smell fear on a cat. He said, “you can?” He was VERY interested. Well the reason I can smell fear on a cat is because they have scent glands on their butts that squirt pheromones when they freak out and poof their fur out. But spath never noticed this.

Spaths also don’t notice beauty – they are numb to aesthetics. I notice that they have no opinion on what is beautiful, though they DO pay close attention to what others think and then they appropriate that opinion as if it were their own. They don’t understand the deeper meanings of anything and they can only percieve what is on the surface. That is, they perceive with the left brain, in a calculating fashion, rather than with the right brain which is intuitive.

That’s why Gray Rock works. Spaths are the easiest to fool once you know what they are: babies.

Here’s a funny link about evil babies.

As far as being subject to the effect of testosterone from another male, it would be a really interesting experiment to see if it works on humans the way it works on elephants.


here’s a woman who did give up her left hemisphere for a while.

I forgot to answer your question if I’d ever had intuition and my friends disagreed with me. Yes. But I’m very convincing and logical when I argue, so most people – even the spath – will usually admit to seeing my point of view. So, when my spath was pulling the last con on me, and I saw it as clear as day I began to email my “friend” K and tell him all about it. I could not believe his responses!! It was pure word salad, accusations, meandering etc…

I couldn’t understand why he wasn’t seeing the truth in what I told him and why he was turning everything around.

It turned out that he was a spath too and my spath had already turned him against me (using sex no doubt – since K is a closet bisexual just like spath). I figured it out later, by remembering many “tells” and WTF? moments that suddenly made sense.


I read this book last year, when it came out. It is by the same author as “Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing”, which was the first book that woke me up to S/N/A/P’s basic personality.
I am amazed that every time I do defend myself against a bully’s (lies, rages, or put-downs etc) they BACK DOWN. They seem utterly confused.
I’m still not good at doing it “in the moment” . . so I just write them an e-mail (after I’ve digested it) . . telling them to STOP picking on me (or putting-me down, being abusive, lying etc). Then I say (or write) “YOU are a BULLY” . . (because they are, and they know it!).
I find that their accusations usually start with the word YOU, and LIKEWISE I respond with “YOU”. i.e. (YOU lied, YOU put-me down, YOU had a rage attack, YOU didn’t keep your commitment, YOU are a bully…blah blah blah). This book taught me to put the responsibility FIRMLY where it belongs…i.e., on the AGGRESSOR.
And then, get them out of your life (if you can).


Hehehe. Sociopathic babies… that one is a keeper. 🙂

Skylar, you could be absolutely correct about spaths being able to read facial expressions and that’s how they read us and choose to respond to it. I’m not saying I don’t believe you. But I am a curious person.

I’m wondering (really just exploring and musing, here), what DO they feel and what DO they get out of it?

I’m agreeing that they are the center of their own universe and we are just supporting actors, and they cannot put themselves in our place at all, take our perspective, etc. (i.e., lack empathy)

But I think they must feel *something.* I wondering/thinking that it might be some sort of pleasure, akin to a sexual pleasure, some sort of adrenaline (a hormone) rush.

And wikipedia gives this definition of pheromone: “A pheromone (from Greek φέρω phero “to bear” + hormone from Greek ὁρμή – “impetus”) is a secreted or excreted chemical factor that triggers a social response in members of the same species. Pheromones are chemicals capable of acting outside the body of the secreting individual to impact the behavior of the receiving individual.[1] There are alarm pheromones, food trail pheromones, sex pheromones, and many others that affect behavior or physiology. Their use among insects has been particularly well documented. In addition, some vertebrates and plants communicate by using pheromones.”

What if there are spath/victim (predator/prey) pheromones?

So I’m following this train of thought… that there are pheromones operating under our (and the spath’s) conscious radar, affecting our behavior and emotions, and then the pheromones that WE give off, in turn, give the spaths their “supply.”

It’s not the same thing at all as proposing that they “intuit our emotions” in an empathic way that would lead to their having an appropriate or normal response or interaction with normal individuals… but I think, rather, it could be some sort of perversion of the endocrine or pheromonal system… something to do with receptors and addiction, that prevents normal hormonal/pheromonal response.

And Gray Rock may work just in the way you propose. Or, maybe (just wondering) it could have something to do with what PRECEDES the use of Gray Rock: namely, our dawning awareness of what we are dealing with.

I know for me the impact of realizing that my ex-husband was a spath (and all that that meant) created within me a different response to him or attitude towards him. He no longer had the ability to make me “react” emotionally because I saw that no matter what he said or did (Mr. Nicey Nice or the Smirking Liar or the Tantrum Guy) it was ALL a mask. I no longer needed to view any part of him as being “the real him.”

So that made doing Gray Rock a no-brainer. It made complete sense to just be as bland, boring and unflappable as possible.

But I also FELT it. I wasn’t just acting Gray Rock. I was BEING it.

It is very true that by not giving him any facial expressions, that might have been all there was to it. But I am also proposing that there might be more to this emotion business (namely, pheromones or whatever you want to call it) than all of us realize.

What got me wondering was that testosterone bull elephant story. That is really something! Imagine that the presence of another person can affect the levels of MY hormones! And then I got to wondering, did that bull elephant DO anything or FEEL anything in order to be the dominant testosterone male in the group? and what if we can control others’ hormones through something we put out there (whether conscious or unconscious). and if so, what would it be? what would we need to be putting out there (in our defense) and what would spaths be putting out there (in order to gather us into their web of torture)?

Maybe if the spath is thinking, “I want to dominate everyone” then he/she is putting out there some kind of alpha pheromones that affect the surrounding group OR a specific target.

I don’t think anyone knows if this is possible or if so, how it works exactly.

But I like to be open minded. 😉

Ox Drover

Sherry Winter,

I’m glad that you are doing what you have to do in order to survive and thrive. It i s amazing the things that happen to us in the wake of the psychopathic attacks, isn’t it?

It takes a while to catch up. Good luck with your new job!

Ox Drover

Wolves in Sheep’s clothing was a very good book, and I am awaiting my copy of this one, but in the meantime….it is nice to read a book by an author you already respect.



I love the baby link! So true, yeah?

That stroke lady was like wow, how amazing!!! I loved that link…thanks for sharing that one.


20years and everyone:

I had this happen to me. It’s embarrassing, but here goes. On my flight to Hawaii at the end of December (long flight…eight hours), I started feeling very amorous. I just had a lot of that “hormonal” feeling if you know what I mean. I didn’t think much of it other than I had a spike in hormones for some reason. Well, a little while later, I figured it out. It hit me out of the blue…there was a man sitting next to me on the flight and I think I was picking up on the testosterone that he was giving off. He was flying with his family so it wasn’t like he was flirting or anything, but he was a very manly man. So funny!!! So to your point, 20years…yes, I think it is entirely possible for us to pick up on men’s hormones. I think I sure did! 🙂 The more I think about it, the more I think it to be true as I only had that spike in that “feeling” while I was on the flight sitting next to that man.


S-paths = babies… interesting. I was thinking more like toddlers throwing tantrums ;-D

This book sounds like a whole new angle – and I look fwd to reading it.

I haven’t posted on here in years, and only occasionally read them, yet something about this book review triggered the thought of how, having dealt with an s-path partner for 7 years in the past, and having had an NPD father and other partners has likely affected how I stand up for myself in the workplace – I have been the scapegoat on several occasions – it’s as if I attract the worst offenders in a group and they project their feelings about themselves on to me somehow, trying to make me responsible for their pain. I’ve almost always been a top performer in every task, so this also destroys my desire to do well, and makes me feel sullen and almost hopeless, altho I tend to hide my feelings well. I also wonder if being good at my job invites envy – something posted above was a lightbulb for me, that s-paths are all about ‘position’. In fact, I even wondered if their attempts to destroy my reputation [and more] is an effort to make me look bad so I won’t have a voice or an audience (credibility) when I try to expose their bad behavior, because maybe somehow they sense that I can see right through them and will blow their cover. I do see right through them when the behavior starts, and yet by then I have started to fear their tactics, or being jobless…

I really want to get to the source of this issue, and hope that by following some of the posts on here and sharing as well, I can come to some insights that will help. One counselor recently suggested that I learn feedback techniques that call ppl on their negative behavior in such a way that they are disarmed by the neutral place from which I deliver my questioning – “You seem to be angry, and that anger seems disproportionate to the fact that someone has taken your tool – is there anything you’d like to say about this?”, for instance…

Thanks, all, for the time and effort you all put into being here for each other, and ourselves.


I think I see what you’re saying: can people smell meekness and dominance? Do emotions have a smell?

Sex hormones probably do, have an affect that way. So testosterone, being a dominance hormone, very likely does carry a dominence scent. I read about an experiment in which the lowest ranking member of a group of chimps was given a testosterone shot. He beat up each member of the group til he got to the alpha male and beat him up and became the alpha. But when the testosterone wore off, a monkey came along and beat him up and pushed him back to his previous lowest rank. ( Reminds me of the story “Flowers for Algernon” 🙁 )

You asked, “did the bull elephant feel anything or do anything…”
Yep, the testosterone makes him feel entitled. He acted entitled. That’s what spaths do too. It’s amazing how your bearing, your attitude and your audacity can get others to respect you. Especially if those others are SHEEP.

Here’s proof:

You also asked, “what DO they feel and what DO they get out of it?”

Spaths feel envy when they first see the look of happiness on your face. They are envious because you ARE somebody and they are only empty shells. So they attack you. When you are brought down they feel “vindicated” and they say, “she deserved it” and “I’m justified”. This is the scapegoating mechanism in effect. Their sadism is a form of schadenfreude. They also feel powerful because they were able to cause your downfall. It feels cathartic to them.

Rene Girard explains it in “Violence and the Sacred” only he doesn’t understand spaths. He is explaining the cycle of violence in humanity. What he doesn’t get, is that not all humans are that way. Only the primitive ones and spaths.


Hi 2shiny,
I’m sorry about your work situation. It sounds like you’re surrounded by spaths.

The book Violence and the Sacred does explain the scapegoat mechanism very well but it’s a difficult book to read and very long. You can learn as much by googling: Girard scapegoat mechanism. Also, mimetic rivalry. Read as much as you can on that and you’ll see the connections between envy and scapegoating.

According to Girard, it is because people are so competitive and envious that there is violence. In order to avert reciprical violence, they don’t attack each other. Instead, they choose the innocent one, the one who has no violence in them, to attack (scapegoat). This polarizes the group’s violence against the one who will take responsibility for the sins of the entire group. Once they drive you out, they will all feel better for a while.

sick huh?

I think the only way out of it is to NOT participate. Gray Rock them.


Louise, yes! That is pretty much what I’m thinking about. How there is something (hormone-like) coming from the other person, which we pick up on, but without conscious awareness that that sort of thing is even possible, we will misattribute our response to something else, something more concrete, or less to do with a sixth (or seventh) sense and more to do with one of our five senses.

And vice versa.

Sky, that is very interesting about competition and envy as a trigger for attack. And especially the scapegoating part of it. Though where spaths are concerned, I think there is also a pleasure aspect to bringing someone down. I know you said Girard doesn’t get spaths, so does he mention the enjoyment part (as opposed to or in addition to the vindication part)?



In my opinion traditional therpy is effective, though likely not completely developed, for NON character disordered people.

I know I benefitted from the persistent non-judgement, kindness, and encouragement from my therapist, while I examined my past and my own issues and behaviors. The key (to me) is that I was, deep down, a decent and kind person, who was injured by my upbringing.

It was a long process, and painful, bringing up lots of feelings and realizations. It did help me find my authentic self and not just be my ‘reactionary’ self.

Of course this would never work with a character disordered person. There is no ‘deep down good person’ lurking in there.

My therapist explained it thusly: She said I was like an onion and we were peeling layers to get to the core of my difficulties, and expose my ‘true’ self.

She said personality disordered people were like scrambeled eggs. The yolk and the white could NEVER be seperated and put back into the shell. That the ‘disorder’ is thoroughtly mixed into the TOTAL person and cannot, through therapy, be fixed. She did understand.

So some do. But it seems the larger culture of therapy is still to catch on.


Wow, skylar, Girard is fascinating…. lost on youtube at the moment…


Thank you all – what a great blog thread… Pheremones and Gray rock – think there is definitely something in the pheromones and testosterone theory. I am only now beginning to get a wider picture of my ex spath and the long view of ‘our’ life together. I only fully realised what he was 7 months ago and broke all contact then …we are in our second year of divorce proceedings, and he’s still doing the run around …about 8 years ago I did performance coach training, part of which was neuro-linguistics. I recall at the time being fascinated by the fact of body language, facial expressions etc and lying and remember long conversation with the ex s . Around this time his face changed expression, previously when he directly lied he’d shut his eyes when talking to you ( I’d known this man since we were 9 years old and he’d always done this…) but he developed this odd wide open stare where his face seemed inactive and immobile – I laughed and said don’t change your facial expression it still looks like your lying, of course I didn’t know then, he lied about everything but the way he lied was the key – he’d talk in a kind of circle, you’d be confused and in the end it seemed he never really said anything cos you couldn’t pin down what he actually said as it was so circular. So you ‘presume’ you understood what he was getting at and he’d let you believe it without actually saying it and when you found out it was a lie he denied he’d said it – which ironically was true he’d let you believe it till it suited him – does that make sense ?? He also used to watch a tv series called ‘lie to me’ – the programme was a crime drama about a profiler who could work out crimes by watching people and there body language , the ex s was mad about this programme, recorded it watched it over and over – must have been like a class in how to avoid being detected for him, as it showed you how you could tell someone was lying… I passed my coaching, and as you’d expect our ‘relationship’ got worse pretty fast. I challenged all the time about the ‘lies’ – it was bad… We had 4 sons, I thought he was ill. The ex s was in the military, I contacted them saying I believed he was ill. No joy there – ideal place for a spath I realise now. To deal with him, his moods, his aggression even when he then turned on the charm, I didn’t realise it at the time but I went what I now know as grey rock… I showed no emotions ever. Even when he went on tours of duty abroad , I’d say good bye, wave him off. Then sob my heart out after he’d gone. Racked with guilt, racked with worry. But alittle releived the pressure was off. My boys and I would post him mail and parcels, he’d phone and beg me not to leave him, he was sorry – I believed him, it was circular then… Till he came home and it started again. I didn’t know then about the other women a kid with someone else even, debts you name it he did it… 30 years married .. I called a halt two years ago. Our last family holiday I remember well , I was still grey rocking it, he said ‘ You know how I feel about you (?), I don’t think we haven’t got a future (?) I need to know who you really are, your dreams everything, you never show any emotions , do you care? I need to see your tears, I’ll always be here for
you, but you need to let me in..’ on and on he went … I did the cracked record and repeated over and over ‘… At this present time this is who I am, at this present time this is who I am…’ he inevitably lost his temper and showed his colours – I was boring, repulsive, old, unattractive, stupid, physically disgusting, you name it and I just said ‘… At the present this is who I am…’
He couldn’t read me anymore. ‘grey ROCK ON’ He definitely fed off my emotions – I’d have a great day, or the sun would be shining, and he’d come in and it was like someone had turned the sun off – I genuinely thought it was me, only now in no contact do I realise it was him. And pheromones – birds play dead when a cat gets them, cat gets bored walks away, bird flys off safe…my ex s was funny about smells and scents and he’d say something smelt fausty or damp when it clearly didn’t, maybe cos their normal sense of right and wrong have no working function – maybe there sense of smell is heightened regarding pheromones… Just an idea. Sorry to have written such alot. Thank you all so much , you have kept me going in the past 8 or 9 months.


… I should have explained clearer – when the ex s ‘ lied’ it was about silly things, did you eat the cheese, move my book, seen my bag … Hence the, what I thought childish eye shutting … He’d shut his eyes and say no I haven’t seen so and so ( he had had a very abusive childhood and i imagined the silly lies was still an imprint from this.. I guess I thought it was his way of surviving…the ‘ big lying’ was another thing….looking back you realise how foolish you were but at the time – you just can’t see it your sucked into a vacuum…you survive till the seal is broken , and you have to face it all..



It makes perfect sense. My X spath did the exact same thing as far as talk, talk, talk in circles and never said a thing. I think he just liked to hear himself. Yep, let you believe it as long as it suited him. Oh, yes…I have seen it all.

Ox Drover

Welcome Tin Angel, and post away! Glad you have been lurking and learning because KNOWLEDGE IS POWER, and we must take back the power over ourselves that we gave them.

Keep on reading and learning, and POSTING!


20 years,
Girard considers the scapegoat mechanism as a way to focus violence and release it. So the result is catharsis and peace.
That is why the scapegoat becomes a “god” after it has been killed, because it brings the miraculous peace between the rivals who couldn’t find peace any other way.

With spaths, it can take a different form. One spath will pick out a victim. This victim usually reminds him of his mother, who is the actual person he wants to kill but can’t. Then he slanders the innocent victim to get other spaths and fence sitters to join in on the attack. Once he kills his “mother” he feels justified (though he has no idea it is his mother that he wants to kill) for a while. His minions are just sickos with their own infantile feelings of powerlessness. So the spath and his minions were never actually rivals to begin with, they are all just degenerates with a need to blame others for their feelings of worthlessness.

I saw the first of those videos. I’ll have to see the rest. Glad you are liking Girard – he’s awesome.

Tin Angel, your post made perfect sense and it is NOT too long. I loved your broken record, ’” At this present time this is who I am, at this present time this is who I am”’ That’s one for the anti-spath TOOL BOX! THANKS!


I wonder if it works the same way that women who spend time together end up synchronising their periods…?

Have you ever wondered why that happens? It’s an intriguing phenomenon.

Ox Drover

I really haven’t researched WHY it happens but my guess is that the subtle scents that the body gives off influence the hormones.


she becomes a “free martin” (never did know where the term came from though, so don’t ask! LOL)

Being naturally curious, I made the mistake of asking anyway. “Asking” the dictionaries, I mean. You’re in good company as usual, Oxy. It turns out the dictionaries don’t know either! 🙂

They do say “freemartin” is a very old term, dating back at least to 1681, but nobody knows where it came from. The best I could find was in a 1957 paper by Moore, Graham, and Barr, titled The sex chromatin of the bovine freemartin, which had this to say:

The origin of the word “freemartin” antedates the 17th century, when it appeared in print, and its derivation is uncertain. The prefix “free” may be a contraction of “farrow” which, in Scotland and northern England, was related to infertility. “Martin” may be derived from the Gaelic. “mart,” a cow; or it may be connected with Martinmas day (November llth, the day of St. Martin), an important holiday in Scotland and northern England. The word “mart” was used for cattle slaughtered for the Martinmas feast or in the fall around Martinmas day for use during the winter (Ballantyne, ’10 ; Forbes, ’46).

Just the same, it’s all guesswork on somebody’s part!


the studies done on synchronizing women’s cycles were not really conclusive, yet we all know it’s true because we’ve experienced it.

I was on a committee with the evil spath neighbor woman. She is hideous. She looks like a man and the entire neighborhood knows that she dominates her husband.
I sat next to her at one meeting and could smell that she was on her period. (sorry if I’m too graphic.) The meeting was 2 or 3 hours long. I knew it would screw up my period. Sure enough my own period started within the week and it wasn’t due for about 3 weeks.

I think the inconclusive studies might be because they aren’t taking into account the strength of the pheromones and the proximity of the participants during the actual period.

The reason for the syncing could be anything. But it’s interesting that women do tend to be cooperative more than competitive, so that it might be an empathetic response. As opposed to the testosterone of the bull male elephant which suppresses the testosterone of the younger male elephants.


When I finally left my spath, I was a real mess. I could do “normal” stuff, but only in spurts, and then I’d have to rest. I was able to move 2000 miles away but once here, I had to hire someone to move my stuff into the new place and it remained unpacked, I only found the minimal stuff to survive. I hid, I rarely shopped for groceries, only after dark. Never went anywhere. Slept, ate, watched a little tv, mostly slept… for months. And STILL was not recovering but I decided I didn’t want to live that way anymore.

STILL was not able to function normally. So I decided to work on my brain. Understand my brain. FIX my brain. I got books from the library. Some of those brain books were about HIS brain, the sociopathic brain.

Scientfic study after study show that the sociopathic/psychopathic brain is DIFFERENT. It is NOT repressed emotions. The studies show the neurons are NOT firing in those areas at all. The Neurons Do NOT connect. Those tests and books are now on the internet and there are MORE neuro studies and ALL of them validate past conclusions. PET scans show the bio/physio chemical take ups… NO repression. Instead, their brain chemistry is different. EEG shows, NO activity at all in that area of the brain, and that their brain shows equal emotion to horror pictures and violence equal to a pic of a man canoeing on the lake. The following is a small exert of ONE ongoing study:

The corpus callosum is a bundle of nerve fibers that connects the two hemispheres of the brain, enabling them to work together to process information and regulate autonomic function. Raine explored its role in psychopathy for the first time.

There’s faulty wiring going on in psychopaths. They’re wired differently than other people,” Raine said. “In a way, it’s literally true in this case.”

He found that the psychopaths’ corpus callosums were an average of 23 percent larger and 7 percent longer than the control groups’

The rate that the psychopaths transmitted information from one hemisphere to the other through the corpus callosum also was abnormally high, Raine said.

With an increased corpus callosum came less remorse, fewer emotions and less social connectedness – the classic hallmarks of a psychopath, he said.

“These people don’t react. They don’t care,” Raine said. “Why that occurs, we don’t fully know, but we are beginning to get important clues from neuro-imaging research.”

The hippocampus and corpus callosum studies were published in the journals Biological Psychiatry (January 2004) and Archives of General Psychiatry (November 2003), respectively.

There are so many neuro studies and they all validate each other; psychopaths brains are different. It is NOT repressed emotion. It is a brain that does not process certain emotions at ALL. It is a brain that THINKS differently – it PROCESSES INFORMATION DIFFERENTLY. It’s easy to read about all these studies. It’s in laymans language and in Medical Science Journals.

But remember what matters is not how he thinks but how we take care of ourselves. Recognize when we are not respected, and know that ONE time is a dealbreaker. Might hurt, but as we all know, won’t hurt near as bad as a relationship with the buggers. As Oxy says, whether he’s spath or just toxic, we need to get free and live a real life. Please don’t just pursue opinion, Please know there is science research to give FACTS. I like facts. And these FACTS make sense.

ps I was able to fix/change my brain. Scientists have tested and concluded spath brain is NOT FIXABLE/NOT CHANGABLE. P/S truly are HARD WIRED. It’s the way they are, not the way they “decided” to be.


Hi Oxy,

I am the parent of a young adult on the autism spectrum (PDD-nos), I am disturbed by your equating PDD’s with NPD. While people on the autism spectrum often lack empathy it is because they also lack the ability to recognize facial social cues and tend to be rigid and highly reactive to sensory issues in their environments.

While people with PDD’s (not PPD) often lack empathy they are often very caring people who when the fact they did something that hurt someone else (usually from lack of empathy) is made clear to them , often feel very sorry and sometimes distraught by the fact that they caused pain to someone and did the wrong thing.

The lack of empathy in people with personality disorders is somewhat different as it doesn’t come from not being able to read people- in fact it is just the opposite- they are often masters at reading social cues and at mimicking “the good guy”- they then use this to manipulate and use others for gain. This is not true of people with PDD’s, who generally find it diffcult or impossible to manipulate or lie- they lack the skills to do so.


Jim is outta my life. He is now somewhat in my neighborlady’s life. She told me he called her recently asking to use her garage to repair his truck. She said no, and told him he has yet to finish the electrical work.

Jim said he bought her groceries. She reminded him that was a year ago and she paid for groceries. He tried again by reminding her that he bought her tomatoes and mushrooms. She again reminded him it was a year ago and she paid for it.

It appears that Jim’s mind is focused on getting what he can outta you. His mind is not set on making things right with you. Instead his mind goes into manipulation mode.

It is no longer my problem. The only thing that bothers me is that neighbor lady believes everything Jim said about me.

I think I know how to handle this. I will buy a dozen of those cheap Stud finders. Cause neighbor lady is putting out the word she’s on the hunt. I will hand out these Stud finders and tell everyone to let her know when they find a stud.



I cannot speak for Oxy, but I think NPD was used as an abbrevation for Narcistic Personality Disorder. I realize this is confusing since NPD is an official abbrevation for another non personality disorder where people cannot read body language.


Yes NPD is the abreviation for Narcsisitic Personality disorder.

I was referring to her use of PPD, I think what she meant was PDD (which is Pervasive Developmental Disorder) which falls on the autism spectrum. I do not think that people with NPD have the same brain disorder (or any version of it) as people with PDD. Certainly their are people with PDD who can also have NPD.


Dr Simon’s book “In Sheeps Clothing” provided me with the knowledge to spot exactly how my spath was operating as well as the tools to deal with him. I will never forget how the spath finally noticed how i drew myself up tall as I spotted his tricks and declined to accept his manipulation, eventually he learnt to give up as I took that breath! Phenomenal! I hope the new book is just as useful to us all.

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