By | January 14, 2013 106 Comments

BOOK REVIEW: Kevin Dutton’s “Wisdom of Psychopaths” is a disservice to society

Kevin Dutton, Ph.D., is a fabulous writer. Unfortunately, in his new book, The Wisdom of Psychopaths—What saints, spies, and serial killers can teach us about success, he uses his prodigious skill with words to promote a fundamentally flawed thesis.

What is the thesis? That psychopathy, “in small doses,” is good for us. Here’s what Dutton writes in the preface of the book:

Psychopathy ”¦ can also be good for us, at least in moderation. Like anxiety, depression, and quite a few other psychological disorders, it can at times be adaptive. Psychopaths, as we shall discover, have a variety of attributes—personal magnetism and a genius for disguise being just the starter pack—which, once you know how to harness them and keep them in check, often confer considerable advantages not just in the workplace, but in everyday life. Psychopathy is like sunlight. Overexposure can hasten one’s demise in grotesque, carcinogenic fashion. But regulated exposure at controlled and optimal levels can have a significant positive impact on well-being and quality of life.

In the pages that follow we’ll examine these attributes in detail, and learn how incorporating them into our own psychological skill set can dramatically transform our lives. Of course, it’s in no way my intention to glamorize the actions of psychopaths—certainly not the actions of dysfunctional psychopaths, anyway. That would be like glamorizing a cognitive melanoma: the malignant machinations of cancer of the personality. But there’s evidence to suggest that psychopathy, in small doses at least, is personality with a tan—and it can have surprising benefits.

Kevin Dutton has a Ph.D. in psychology. He’s a research psychologist and an honorary affiliated member of the Calleva Research Centre for Evolution and Human Sciences at the University of Oxford, England. In writing The Wisdom of Psychopaths, he interviewed all of the top experts in the field of psychopathy. Then he cherry-picked the information to present an incomplete and lopsided view of psychopathy, emphasizing the “positives” and ignoring the negatives, such as the fact that psychopaths live their lives by exploiting people.

Persuasive writing style

How did he do this? Dutton used tried-and-true techniques of magazine journalists and direct mail copywriters (both of which I am).

The difference between writing for magazines and writing for newspapers is that while news articles are supposed to be objective, magazine articles are unabashedly subjective. (By the way, there is no such thing as objective journalism, even in the newspaper business. Simply selecting which facts to include in a story is subjective. Complete objectivity is impossible.)

The purpose of a magazine article is to convince the reader of the author’s point of view. When I studied magazine journalism at Syracuse University, I was taught to not give equal weight to opposing viewpoints. I was taught to acknowledge opposing viewpoints, then present an argument to prove they were wrong.

For example, Dutton wrote above that he didn’t want to “glamorize the actions of psychopaths,” but then he goes ahead and says psychopathy can have benefits. He spends the rest of his book glamorizing psychopaths, and creating an illusion that psychopaths can be “harnessed” and “kept in check.”

The most dangerous thing Dutton does is employ a direct mail copywriting technique called verisimilitude, which is defined as “the appearance or semblance of truth.” (The comedian Stephen Colbert calls this “truthiness.”) For example, on page 11 Dutton writes:

Psychopaths are fearless, confident, charismatic, ruthless, and focused. Yet contrary to popular belief, they are not necessarily violent. And if that sounds good, well, it is.

The way Dutton describes psychopaths is technically true. But he neglects to mention the most salient characteristics of a psychopath, at least according to Lovefraud’s research: Deceitfulness and manipulation.  He also doesn’t include traits like exploitative, irresponsible, aggressive and reckless.

So what would happen if he told the whole truth? Well, here it is:

Psychopaths are fearless, confident, charismatic, ruthless, focused, deceitful, manipulative, exploitative, irresponsible, aggressive and reckless. Yet contrary to popular belief, they are not necessarily violent. And if that sounds good, well, it is.

What do you think? If Dutton wrote the above paragraph on page 11 of the book, would you believe any of the rest of it?

Twisted research

He quotes a multitude of experts and research studies in support of his points, giving the impression that these experts and studies prove what he advocates. Which, in a way, they do. The problem is that Dutton tells only half of the story, uses the experts to support the half that he is telling, and totally ignores the rest of the story.

For example, on page 61, Dutton talks about the work of Scott Lilienfeld, who developed the Psychopathic Personality Inventory, a comprehensive questionnaire designed to work with both criminal and non-criminal psychopaths. Dutton quotes Lilienfeld as saying, “We reasoned that psychopathy was on a spectrum.” Then Dutton writes:

Lilienfeld’s notion of psychopathy being on a spectrum makes a good deal of sense. If psychopathy is conceptualized as an extension of normal personality, then it follows logically that psychopathy itself must be scalar, and that more or less of it in any given context might confer considerable advantages. Such a premise is not without precedent in the annals of mental dysfunction (if, indeed, psychopathy is dysfunctional, given its benefits under certain conditions).

So Dutton quotes Lilienfeld, and then transitions into the statement that more or less psychopathy “might confer considerable advantages.” I wonder if Dutton studied elementary logic, because one statement has nothing to do with the other.

On page 121, Dutton describes a conversation with James Blair, in which he asks, “Does it pay to be a psychopath?” Here’s what comes next:

Blair was cautious. It’s a dangerous road to go down. “It’s true that if bad things are happening the individual with psychopathy might be less worried about it,” he told me. “However, it’s not so clear that their decision making in such situations would be particularly good, though. Moreover, by not analyzing levels of threat appropriately, they might walk into danger, rather than away from it.”

In other words, if we could somehow defrost the reasoning a bit, take some of the chill out of the logic, then yes, psychopathic traits may well confer advantages. Otherwise, forget it.

I did not interpret Blair’s quote to at all signify that “it pays to be a psychopath.” But Dutton brazenly twisted Blair’s words around to suit his own argument.

Cavalier statements

This book is filled with cavalier statements that ignore the essential truth of psychopaths: They are lying, manipulating exploiters who cause considerable damage to almost everyone around them. For example, on page 106 Dutton writes:

Ironically, the rule-bending, risk-taking, thrill-seeking individuals who were responsible for tipping the world economy over the edge are precisely the same personalities who will come to fore in the wreckage.

Hello? Yes, research has indicated that the recent world financial collapse was likely caused by psychopaths. Dutton doesn’t consider this to be a problem?

Then there’s page 163:

Was psychopathy a “medicine for modern times”? Could taking it in moderation, twiddling those dials a little to the right on our respective psychopath mixing decks—at certain times, in certain specific contexts—actually be good for us?

And page 192:

Not all psychopaths are saints. And not all saints are psychopaths. But there’s evidence to suggest that deep within the corridors of the brain, psychopathy and sainthood share secret neural office space. And that some psychopathic attributes—stoicism, the ability to regulate emotion, to live in the moment, to enter altered states of awareness, to be heroic, fearless, yes, even empathic—are also inherently spiritual in nature, and not only improve one’s own well-being, but also that of others.

Regulate emotion? Has Dutton ever witnessed a psychopath flying into a rage? And by the way, this last quote was in the section of the book entitled “Saint Paul—the patron saint of psychopaths.”

Déjà vu

I was married to a psychopath. My ex-husband, James Montgomery, personified the traits that Dutton extols: fearless, confident, charismatic, ruthless, and focused. He also personified the traits that Dutton ignored: deceitful, manipulative, exploitative, irresponsible, aggressive and reckless.

As I was reading The Wisdom of Psychopaths, I felt a disturbing sense of déjà vu that mounted with each page. About a third of the way through the book, I realized why I was uncomfortable: Kevin Dutton’s writing was very similar that of my ex-husband.

Montgomery was exceptionally proud of his skill with words. Verbally and in writing, he could paint shimmering pictures with his words, glistening images of our lifelong happiness, his future entrepreneurial success, or whatever he was selling at the moment. Sometimes I’d be aware that Montgomery’s statements seemed a bit off, but I was distracted by his vivid descriptions or elegant turns of phrase. Or, there was enough truth in his words that I couldn’t say he was lying. Or, he had neglected to convey full and complete information, which I didn’t discover until much later.

Unlike when I was dealing with my ex-husband, I am able to reread, annotate, and analyze Dutton’s words. I find them to be full of holes, mischaracterizations, distortion and omission. This book is a disservice to society.

I feel sorry for anyone who reads The Wisdom of Psychopaths without a prior understanding of the disorder. Because of Dutton’s flashy writing and extensive references to scientific research, the uninformed reader might actually believe what he says.

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Hi Donna,great article!!I saw an interview with him on dutch TV recently,it annoyed me very much,it was exactly how you described him in your article.As if it is something to be proud of,I guess that’s what they temselves believe.I
left my N/P 16 months ago,after 28 years,still in the healing-proces,and the interview made me feel very uncomfortable,couldn’t believe it.They indeed ( try to )destroy everything and everybody around them,been there-done that,and I wonder why they left out the most important info about Psychopaths,therefore I will not recommend the book,unless someone is very well informed about Psychopathy.I think this is disinfo,and not to be believed.It is hard enough that lots of people around us don’t have a clue,most don’t even believe us,or don’t want to know.
Thanks for all the great articles(especially all the comments are a great help too!),your blog is a blessing to all of us,a great help in the healing-proces.


Donna, thank you for the “headsup” on this book – I don’t intend to read it.

What I find in the language being used, today, is that there is a host of excuses and “reasons” that sociopathy is “acceptable” in that most CEO’s and major financial hitters are probably spaths – and, it’s excusable for these people to engage in the things that they do because they run “successful” corporations. Now, this examination doesn’t go on to include the run-of-the-mill sociopaths that the majority of our LoveFraud community have experienced. Joyce’s types of experiences with her son, Patrick, aren’t even on the radar of this work, apparently.

The only thing that I would find even remotely plausible about sociopathy having ANY virtue in existing is that my experiences with sociopaths have deconstructed my whole self, on every level, and left me bare and raw so that I must choose to RE-construct myself, in every way, to be a hard and no-nonsense woman to avoid being exploited, ever again.

Perhaps, Dutton is a sociopath, himself, and feels some vital need to explain why it’s such a service to mankind for him to be so. I don’t know. But, such blatantly FALSE information is truly a disservice to society!

Brightest blessings

I tend to agree that Dutton sounds like a spath himself,who is trying to ‘get the glory’ while sounding very glib on the subject….and yet from your article,Donna,it sounds like he’s trying to ‘stay on the fence’ and not offend anyone….afterall,he wants to sell his book!The flags are flying!

Ox Drover

I bought the book and read a few pages of it but not all of it….actually I can see that some professions would benefit from a person high in P traits—like a military dictator, or a mafia don, a prison guard, or prison warden, or in some cases a brain surgeon, but that doesn’t mean the person is a good person or that they would have good relationships with people around them. It only means that they can make decisions based entirely on what their desires are and not what the decision would do to other people, or how it would hurt others.

In fact right this minute I am reading a book on American history of Teddy Roosevelt and how he MANIPULATED the press and the secret deals he made with the Japanese that eventually lead to WWII, there is NO doubt in my mind after reading the truth of his administration and about his and other racially biased “white males” (and there are plenty of quotes and facts in this book to back up the claims) whether it is the murder of men women and children at Wounded Knee or pushing the survivors of the native Americans into “reservations” as “wards” of the “white males” who were the only ones smart enough to control the government. I have no doubt that Teddy Roosevelt was most likely high in P traits in order to do what he did, illegally, and legally, or that Taft, who was his buddy in much of this political use of force in Asia was also high in P traits…they could not have done what they did without being to some extent lacking in empathy. Maybe it was “cultural” in that they had been trained to look down on dark skinned people as inferior, but whatever the reason they did not see anyone except white males as “worthy.”

I have always distrusted politicians and the more history I read the more I distrust them, and I think that they must have high P traits in order to get where they are—the high number of governors and senators and presidents who have been shown to be “high in P traits” I think bears my thesis some validity.

I think I will pass on reading the rest of the book.


Think I’ll skip this one. I’ve already heard all the grandiose reasons these types have to offer for themselves. I don’t need to read a book about it, I lived it.

My take on this is that there are lots of N’s who think they are psychopaths. Because they are selfish and lack empathy, they imagine themselves as better than everyone else –like my spathy sister who said “It’s okay to be evil.” But these N’s are NOT pure psychopaths, because they care about some things, wealth, status, certain objects and certain people whom they view as possessions. They have attachments.

A true psychopath doesn’t care about anything and has no attachments. He may, during a game, strive to attain things, but he doesn’t care about anything, not even himself. For a true psychopath, life and existence is completely meaningless. His “focus on the game” is because he is desperately looking for something to keep him from disappearing. He only exists when the game is afoot. He could win a million dollars and burn it in the next game. It’s only play money after all.

I think Duttons is an N and he doesn’t get P’s at all.

Tea Light

There’s currently a major assessment of the research ‘outputs’ of universities being carried out in the uk by the government and there has been even more intense pressure than usual for academics to get publication deals because this is kex to securing government funding. A book like this was probably cynically pitched by the author to a publisher who could see it as a kind of “sexy” motivational book for a non academic audience. His head of department’s happy, so’ll he be with his royalty cheques. Shame on him.


Clearly the author doesn’t understand his subject matter. Maybe if he lived with a spath (oh, and also worked with them), he’d get a better understanding of what these creatures are like. They are everywhere, wreaking havoc in people’s lives. Everyone that I’ve talked to who has an understanding of these people has been burned by them in some way.

wouldn’t it be great if we had a “spath on a leash”? Sort of like Dexter from the TV show. Except this spath doesn’t kill, he just goes to live with people who don’t believe us.

Dibs on the patent/trademark for spath on a leash!

And I know just the spath too. She also goes by the name, “Houseguest from hell”.


I have not read this book. I don’t expect to. But I picked up a book a couple months ago, “Split Second Persuasion: The Ancient Art and New Science of Changing Minds”.

I think if a person wants to call it a trigger or pushing my buttons, I can admit to being predictable with some subjects. Talk about pedophiles and I get sick. The books by Robert Greene affect me too. I tried to read them, to get insight into what was done to me and I couldn’t. I felt overwhelmed with grief.

I felt that way with Kevin Dutton’s previous book. I picked it up at the library, expecting to find insight on how to understand the buying process of clients, how to capture their sale by with certain words or info, and compete in a new way. Instead, another book that made me sick. It was about sliming people, a word for word, sentence by sentence how to manipulate, not how to communicate. Not about how you have 3-5 seconds to capture the imagination of a perspective buyer and show then that my product is a better solution than any they’d find elsewhere.

What a slimeball. It was not an exercise in logic. It morphed into a lovefest. The book ended by gushing about the benefits of being a psychopath. SO NO surprise he took that theme and wrote a whole book on it. I had the thought that he was justifying HIS existence.

EWWW. Since I am adverse to trainwrecks, tragedy, and trauma, I am betting this is NOT entertainment, this is pornography. Tell me I’m wrong, that it’s not like his previous book, and I will read it.


Wanna make a bet that some spath uses this book in court? “See, we’re not so bad, this book by Kevin Dutton, Ph.D says we’re good for society. It’s my crazy ex wife who’s to blame, not me, she should be locked up. I’m the victim here.”

This book makes me ANGRY! ARRRGGGGG

The author is clueless and misguided. If he has a heart and has a close encounter with a spath, he’d change his tune


By the time I Stopped reading his previous book, I had the STRONG feeling he was spath, that crowing attitude of SUPERIORITY, the WINNING, the diminishment of all others who were NOT spath….

No, I did not see heart, I saw the ABSENCE of empathy and compassion for what damage is done by spaths. HIS tune, I suspect, has one note: MEMEMEMEeeeeee.

Ox Drover

The old “how to win friends and influence people” concept that was sold as a great way to learn and how to be a great salesman, to me was MANIPULATION at its best.

Yet when I was growing up we were told this was GREAT and to be used to help us in life.

It’s just an early version of the “48 laws of power” which is the psychopathic play book.


I suspect you’re right about him. Just writing this book means he has an empathy chip missing. I have no desire to read any of his books in full because it will surely trigger a bad reaction in me. He is negligent at best.

My ex’s first job was as a salesman, his mom told me he could sell a set of encyclopedias to an encyclopedia salesman. It wasn’t a skill that he needed to master or read a book on, it was a totally innate skill. Like breathing.


I have How to Win Friends book in my library. I just now went and looked at it again. I had gotten to pg 48. The sales book and genre I prefer is how to deliver WOW customer service, and Customer Focused Selling, Understanding customer needs, building trust, and delivering solutions.

I HATE being sold. Reminds me of those days with momma, where I expected to suck up and if she decided I didn’t suck up enough, I was totally rejected b/c what I had to offer (love) was not valued. I prefer sales people to LISTEN to me, I am pretty direct. I do NOT buy a car based on the paint color. I buy based on reliability and my needs. So I try to engage people in the same way that I prefer. No, I am not a top seller. My husband was. He could get people to invest in his projects, and they’d give him hundreds of thousands, in unsecured loans. Me? I refused to loan to him, and I was his wife. But then again, people said that was proof I was not supportive….(but i was born POOR, an unsecured loan was NUTS to me, esp when I KNEW the unspoken risks in my husband’s house of cards, plus his 85% debt to equity ratio.)

No I don’t sell big, but I do have steady loyal clients. And they ALL have turned into friends over the years. So I won’t ever be rich, but I do have enough to pay my bills.

Ox Drover


“Salesmanship” is to a certain extent manipulation, and getting the person to have a NEED and you fill that NEED. There is “hard core” sales and just putting your stuff out there for people to buy if they want it.

I did well when I sold things for a while when I was young, but I never could sell something I did not BELIEVE IN…so I wasn’t able to manipulate people into buying something I knew was a rip off.

I have managed departments in large health care facilities, managed personnel, and patients and their families and I know that meeting the needs of the client and listening is what keeps people happy with the services you provide. It is the same in ANY business, and I expect businesses I do business with to meet my needs and be honest with me, and I am well aware of how to (usually)get satisfaction out of the business if I have a problem.

Vicki Kuper

He sounds like the prison counselor of the psycopath who stalked my family.


To jump on the other side of the fence, I have to agree that the positive attributes of a psychopath are awesome characteristics. The charm, spontaneity, and the sex are amazing; better then with any other at the time. I havn’t read the book, but if he fails to also address the fact that these are disordered people who have brain damage of the frontal lobe, then he is grossly glossing over the disorder and seeing it with rose colored glasses. The frontal lobe helps with planning activities, which the psychopath has a very difficult time with. They are impulsive because they don’t have the ability to plan, and they really can’t get anything done unless they have considerable help; they know this and they manipulate for it. I believe their difficulty in planning contributes to their lying, they tell lies even when there is a large chance they will get caught; the normal person has the ability to plan lies out and determine if there is a chance of getting caught and weigh out the reprocussions. Due to their brain disorder causing them to not be able to plan, they can’t learn from their mistakes, making them impossible to rehabilitate. I don’t believe most people would like to live with a brain disorder if given a choice. I think most people like their ability to plan and make plans and goals. Psychopaths can only focus on the now with instant gratification without planning for reprocussions. But on the flip side, they can be a lot of fun; we fell in love with them for their positive side, and they can have one.


perhaps what you wrote may be so. but not with my X! spath. you may have fallen in love with them for their positive side. I fell for a different reason. thus the need to share and validate and commisserate on this site.

take care. katy



You just described the one I knew to an absolute “T.”

Ox Drover


I think SOME of them CAN plan…look at the dictators and military men, Hitler, Mao, etc. they MANIPULATE and plan–but others are very impulsive , many have ADHD and/or bi-polar and some do not, so I think those “dual diagnoses” have an influence on how each individual psychopath functions in the areas of planning or impulse control

They do have a LOT of things in common, but just as WE have a loot of things in common, but there are some differences as well among individuals.

Just like all dogs, or all horses, or all cows have some things alike, but they are not identical…if that analogy makes any sense.



Yeah, mine COULD plan, but even that was skewed. He really is a minimalist. He only does what he needs to do at the moment to satisfy whatever situation he is in. That is why he is an executive…he doesn’t really have to do anything…he just tells everyone else what to do. He wouldn’t be able to handle it any other way.


Ox I still don’t think they have the ability to plan. Hitler had considerable help from people who could plan, so I think they are only as successful as the people they manipulate. Some sociopaths are master hypnotists, and through manipulation and deceit can charm the pants of massive amounts of people who help them carry out their strange dichotomies of ideas. I’ve even read that their left and right hemispheres of their brains don’t communicate properly which is why you can have two opposing ideas in the same sociopath at the same time. Planning is at the top of the list of which they have a hard time doing; their activities are usually spontaneous with no thought of the future reprocussions; which is why they will engage in activities that will cause their own demise as well.

Bird, mine could plan. He told me once, “I’m really good at chess.” I thought he was an idiot at chess, but he was referring to his “other” pawns.

He will tell each of his pawns a different story. They will each know the other pawns (to some extent or another) but they will each think that ONLY THEY are privy to the “truth”. So each of them, feeling sooooo special and excited, never reveals the truth to the others. Each minion is set up so that they can become the patsy if need be. And each is set up so that they are just guilty enough that they won’t open their mouths.

In his last con on me there were about 20-30 different minions playing different roles. Do you think he took a few months to plan this? Try 18 years, of patiently placing each piece on the chessboard until it was time for action.

He made one mistake though. He never understood me. I guess I was too boring, I don’t know. He couldn’t anticipate what I would do next. Near the end, he asked me, “When did you stop respecting me?”



Oh, dear…you know mine very well. That’s what he does…surrounds himself with all the people he has manipulated to do everything for him…his poor wife (I can’t imagine what she has been through) and his minions at work. I’ve seen it…I saw him in action and I was one of his dupes, plus I’ve seen him dupe others. He only keeps those around who he needs. Once he no longer needs you, you are gone…finished…he is done with you.

When you said “hypnotists” I got the strangest feeling because I felt like I had been hypnotized by him. There is no other way to explain how I fell for him and still can’t forget about him after three years. His accent and that soft voice does hypnotize. He does everything on a whim without thinking of consequences. That could only explain a man who would come to my desk and look for me…didn’t he wonder if people would think it was odd that a man in his position was looking for me?? He didn’t care. I have always said he was brain damaged. He has a tic, too. I know when you hear a tic you probably think of some weirdo, but the tic actually was charming…hard to explain, but it was part of his charm and it ONLY happened when he was perturbed about something.

tell me about the tic please. I’m curious, did he pull on his collar?



No, he did not pull on his collar. It was an involuntary jumping of his whole head…I can’t describe it or duplicate it…I have tried. I didn’t even realize for the longest time that it was a tic, but it is definitely a tic. I researched tics and he has one.

Did yours pull on his collar? Mine did pull on his shirt sleeves though…hmmmm.

No mine had no tics whatsoever. He was as dead as a door nail, as cool as a cucumber.

I know another guy, more of an N, than a spath. He has some weird tics, he pulls on his shirt front when he’s nervous. He grabs it right above the chest, close to the collar. I’ve also heard that the spaths bite their nails to the quick. I know another N, that does that.



I just looked up tics again and it said that a complex tic could mean pulling on clothes…haha…yep. When I said a jumping of his head, I should have said twitching as Google put it, but it was more like a jump and it was not voluntary. And he only did it when he was upset or stressed or anxious about something.

Mine is either an extreme N or a mild spath. Mine didn’t bite his nails to the quick, but his nails and hands were not taken care of. As a matter of fact, he told me once about OW offering him lotion for his hands because they were so bad. I never noticed that and I do notice hands. He said, “Why is everyone always trying to take care of me?” and he was annoyed when he said it…WTF?

So yours was dead and cool, huh?? Mine was too in a lot of ways, but then in other ways, he was very anxious…very confusing. He is a Gemini though…two faces.


Failure to plan, or impulsiveness, is one of the definitions in the DSM when diagnosing antisocial personality disorder. I think failure to plan is part of the root cause in the other DSM definitions for antisocial like lying, not learning from mistakes, Disregard for safety, and irresponsibility. I think it’s all related to failure to plan. The brain scans of confirmed psychopaths shows little to no activity in the frontal lobe. Frontal lobe lesions or damage are responsible for human planning activities and emotion regulation. What psychos are left with in their brain is their limbic system which is responsible for sexual drive and other pleasurable activities.

I can’t even describe how calm he was. The only time he displayed emotion was when he was manipulating. I get that now, but I didn’t then. He could charm, cry or rage, but it was an act. The only “emotions” he was ever feeling was a sense of glee when he conned and a cold rage he felt when he was killing or planning to kill.

I think that yours was pretending to be annoyed at people taking care of him. Spaths all love it when they get attention. Any kind of attention will do. But I think they like mothering the most, because they hate their mothers and a woman who mothers makes a perfect victim.

Some spaths can play cool for a while, but the anxiety gets to them and they display tics. Those are probably more like N’s, but it is a spectrum/continuum. Either way, they are all toxic and should be kept behind glass where they can’t be fed anything except their zoo rations.


Alternatively, Lesions on the limbic system is related to Alzheimer’s. So because the limbic system is functioning in psychos, they can function in normal life and pretty much go unnoticed except for a few who get to know them well. Frontal lobe disorders can cause a person to have anxiety.


mine was a master chess player. and he was contemptuous of people who were impulsive. to not maintain control was a sign of inferiority in my spaths opinon. i concluded of him that he was able to fool SOME of the people ALL of the time, and ALL of the people some of the time. he also runs scams that are decades old. people die and still hadn’t figured out they were scammed. i’d say i knew more about him than anyone b/c i was the ONLY person in his life 24/7 for over 20 years, but even that, i didn’t know ALL of him, not at all. learned all i ever wanted to know though, there at the end. 🙁


Bird, some spaths have an inordinate ability to plan, as the exspath in my situation did. He planned and executed a very long-con, and was finally in preparations to cause my untimely demise (either by deliberate action, or by proxy) when I finally discovered what I had been living with for over 14 years.

Impulsivity can be a “Red Flag,” but it can be mistaken for spontenaety, as well, as in my situation.

Quite frankly, any little thing that puts me “off my feed,” so to speak, is a “Red Flag” for me. Whether a person is spath or just a jerk had no bearing on their level of toxicity for me, personally. I just no longer tolerate toxicity, on any level.

KatyDid, we never really “knew” who these people truly were, and even identifying WHAT they are only gives us every reason to protect ourselves from their machinations.

If someone had told me what the exspath was 18 months ago, I would have responded that they were insane – his facade was THAT clever. Once I discovered what he really was, there was no discussion about what he was, or wasn’t. At that point, it was just a matter of “How Do I Divorce This Thing?”

Brightest blessings


Skylar, YES!!!! 100% spot-on! The exspath despises his mother, and I played the part of “nurturer” to a TEE. And, he was able to recognize this desire to nurture and exploit it to the Nth degree. In fact, he would refuse to take the lead in any important things (like, applying for a mortgage) and always would say (and, I quote), “You’re the ‘Mama,’ and that’s YOUR job.” When there was any “confrontation” with utility providers or financial issues that needed to be resolved, he neatly and cleanly put the responsibility in my lap with a disingenuine smile and assertion that I had the ability to deal with the issue.

Yes, the instinct or desire to nurture can be a very, very powerful exploitation. EUGH…..

Brightest blessings


Louise, no such thing as a “mild” spath, sweetie. Some just go to greater lengths to suit their needs. A lack of remorse and empathy is a lack of remorse and empathy.


Brightest blessings

Tea Light

Bird , you said ”they really can’t get anything done unless they have considerable help; they know this and they manipulate for it. I believe their difficulty in planning contributes to their lying, they tell lies even when there is a large chance they will get caught”

This resonates with my knowledge of my abuser; I couldn’t figure out if his attitutes to women were dependency of some kind due to a genuine inability to function in terms of cooking and cleaning .

Now we all know many men will try that game to manipulate into not doing their share but with him , it seemed more pathological.

He wants extreme submission in a woman and very strict gender division of roles in the home. He refuses – simply refuses – to cook meals for himself. He told me he has lived that way all his life. His first girlfriend would cook for him when he was a student and if she was away, he ate in the canteen.

His wives were and are compelled to cook him lunch and dinner, one meal must contain meat. His mother lives two minutes away from him and his wife. When his wife escapes to her country for holidays with their son, to visit her parents, he eats at his mother’s EVERY day that she is away. TWICE a day.

He tried this with me the first week I spent with him on a holiday in France. He started telling me all this – that he expected this from me when we lived together. ( I still beleived at that point he was seperated). I thought he was joking and teased him. He became very agitated, it was the first time his mask really fell . It was quite a shock. ”I MAKE BREAKFAST ONLY ” he said angrily, as if I was stupid not to ”get it”.

I became ill that week due to the assaults and the realisation I was alone with a very sick man. My mind was in total turmoil and panic. I was stunned, basically. One night I said I didn’t have any appetite and needed to go and lie down. There were plenty of things to eat in the fridge plus basic meals he could have made like spaghetti.

Instead, he elected to eat a strawberry tart some chocolate biscuits which he insisted on in the supermarket – a brand aimed at kids, like a treat for French kids after school – and a yoghurt. And he left all his mess on the table, for me to clear up in the morning, a huge ”you don’t get it do you? You mother me, I cannot take care of myself, if you don’t cook me a meal I am going to eat cake and chocolate and make a mess like a child”.

This man is 49.

Anyway my point is that as Bird suggests, I began to wonder if his disorder makes him genuinely unable to cope without very high levels of support from women. Maybe that inability is pathological, rather than a factual inability, but still. It ran very very deep in him. And explains some of his infidelity. There must always be a back up, in case the encumbant wife decides enough and throws in the towel / escapes. His mother is in her late 60’s, I think I was ”back up”.

Tea Light

Louise, the hypnotism resonates…I had this man’s voice in my head every minute of the day, due to the ceaseless phoning of me – I took out an international calls plan with my phone provider about two months in, thinking we’d talk maybe two or three times a week in addition to emails. The plan cost me relatively little and enabled him to call me at no charge up to 50 hours per month. I remember laughly saying when I explaioned the plan to him, as if we are going to talk for 50 hours! . Well, he started ringing me three or four times a day.

In Aug, Sept, Oct I received more than 60 hours a month of calls from him. It was relentless. I became programmed to go into a strange submissive obediant state when I heard his voice. I lost my mind listening to that damned voice hour after hour day after day it never left my mind

Addon ….Just thinking about some very creepy man I read about in a magasine who writes books on how to hypnotise women into having sex – he runs popular workshops on this. Also thinking about NeuroLinguistic Programming, I knew some women at work who attended a course on this and they got very , almost cultishly into it; it seemed to me the man running it was manipulating them financially and possibly sexually using what seemed to me like hypnotism



Really? I thought there were continuums in these disorders?



I think you are exactly right about him pretending to be annoyed at people trying to take care of him. He loved it.


Tea Light:

I really have no doubt about the hypnotism. I truly think that’s what happened to me and the No Contact is the only way to break that addiction from the hypnosis. It’s been awful.

By the way, sorry I still didn’t tell my story. It’s so long…I have to be in the right frame of mind to type it all.

Tea Light

Lou, whenever and only if you feel like it would be useful to you, I’d be happy to read you. Hang in there, day by day, hour by hour. x

It’s not that they NEED help, they just like to have servants.
I’ve observed this in spaths over and over, not just in men.

The crazy husband stealing spath, who is a bank manager, told me that she doesn’t like to do things for herself, she likes other people to do them for her. She said she didn’t know quickbooks so she needed me to help her do the bookkeeping for the neighborhood association. She IS the treasurer AND a bank manager.

My spath brother watched my elderly parents, in their 70’s, labor in the hot sun last August, as they put in a brick patio BY THEMSELVES. He would walk by, though he lives there RENT FREE, FREE CABLE AND FREE INTERNET. The neighbors were aghast to see how hard they work, so one of the guys came to help. Then he stopped. Later he told them that my spath sister had told him NOT to help them!

My spath wouldn’t help me build a room in the upstairs loft. I had to drag drywall up a flight of stairs ALONE. Later, when he needed help with something on his computer, I didn’t help him. He had the audacity to say, “When someone is good at something, they should help out and do it for someone who isn’t good at it.” I replied, “It’s good for someone who can’t do it, to learn how to do it.”

This love of watching others do labor goes as far as loving to watch their wives exercise their butts off to look good FOR THEM, while they do nothing strenuous at all.

Before I learned about spaths, all this behavior was going on right under my nose and I just had no idea, that there were people who love seeing others labor. But I should have known because in the old days, they were called SLAVE OWNERS, the ultimate spath.


Louise, there are general continuums, but nothing is written in stone about disordered people. There are patterns of behaviors that are glaring to the “educated” person – that would be someone who has experienced spath entanglements and are in recovery.

This is where the “professionals” are failing so abysmally – they are placing specifics on symptoms, but not even considering the peripheral damages that the disordered create.

With the second exspath, “impulsivity” could easily have been viewed as his just being “spontaneous.” It would depend upon whom you asked whether it was one or the other. He was also adept at planning as long as those plans were based specifically upon what HE wanted. Vacations, spending, etc., were ALL planned exceedingly well by him when it would benefit him, solely.

For instance, he was able to “plan” groundwork to deceive me, live a compartmentalized deviant lifestyle, relieve me of nearly 300K, and either kill me off (by his own hand, or by proxy) and skip away from the marriage without having suffered anything more than the cost of burying me. In fact, he was planning future “vacations” that would have had him “hiking” some trail with me “meeting” him at various points along the way. Of course, he would have been hiking with his mistress, whomever that would have been at the time, but he had every detail ironed out down to the penny and mile.

Although they all share the same behaviors – bait, lure, snag, abuse, discard, they aren’t all created from the same pattern, if that makes any sense.

Hope that clarifies, to some degree. 😉

Brightest blessings


Skylar, 100% spot-on. Having others “do their bidding” relieves them of responsibility and accountability. “I never DID that,” is a common warcry among these parasites.

Tea Light

Sky, yep. He actually said that to me in the last lovebombing phone call I took on 29 Dec. ”Oh darling blah blah I think all the time of our moments together your face your expressions blah blah HOW I LOVE TO WATCH YOU WORK IN THE KITCHEN” . Really you’ve got to laugh.


TeaLight, this may offer you some encouragement because I never believed that it would happen to me, personally, but it DID.

At some point, after being N/C long enough, spath machinations actually become a source of morbid hilarity – I mean that it’s actually laughable after some good recovery.

Brightest blessings

Tea Light

Truthy, that’s why LF helps me so much – the predictability of these people, who walk around in this delusional state that they are so unique, so special, and I come here and others are just basically confirming for me my abuser is cookie cut from the same batch of psycho dough as thousands of others. Lol!


Let me clarify further; inability to plan and impusivity involves not being able to look at the future. They can do things and complete tasks because their limbic system is functioning properly. They can plan a wedding in the present time if that is what they want to do in the present; they can even get the catering and the band together. They can complete tasks. But does this mean the sociopath will be there at the wedding in 6 months? It’s a toss up, because they can’t plan that far in advance with a frontal lobe disorder. They can say they will marry you and be faithful in the present, but if months down the road they have the opportunity to cheat and they want to; then they will. They live in the moment and have a difficult planning the future with any accuracy. If they say they aren’t cheating on you when they are standing in front of you, they aren’t at that moment. Part of the reason they are so devistating to our lives is that we make major life plans with them only to leave us high and dry; and it’s hard to recover from. Why do they do this? Because they are spontaneous and they can’t plan properly. But we can and it really messes us up when they change their plan last minute; or change their mind; or don’t do what was apart of the plan. We are left wondering why they got the band and caterer, why did they ask for your hand, why did they act excited if they had no intention to show up at the wedding; well guess what, something else came up in the present, and they made different plans.

Ox Drover

Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen’s book about empathy being like most things, being “measured” on a BELL CURVE _/\_ with most being in the middle, and a few toward the left end (zero) and a few toward the right end (too much) is the same as anything being measured in humans, IQ, height, etc.

Autistic people tend to be toward the left side of the curve, toward zero empathy, and psychopaths as well, but Baron-Cohen shows that while the AUTISTIC people may have little or no empathy, they do not try to HURT YOU, so he labels that Zero+ and the psychopath he labels zero NEGATIVE because with their lack of empathy they also ENJOY hurting you.

All the P traits, whether it is empathy, compassion, impulsivity, narcissism, etc can be measured on a bell curve at some level, so a person who is a P can have more or less empathy than another, more or less compassion, impulsivity etc so even though there is a PATTERN of high in P traits, it may vary from person to person to SOME EXTENT. It takes the WHOLE picture to show the psychopath for what s/he is. Plus, some are also bi-polar and also ADHD so add in those problems of mania, or depression and the ADHD, and you have some other aspects as well. Then if you factor in the culture and environmental aspects of violence, or the level of IQ of the psychopath. They are not specifically smarter or dumber than average, so there are some that are retarded, and some that are geniuses and the majority in the “normal” (average) range in the middle.

Just as there are some things in common with us (victims) there are also some things in common with them, but there is still a VARIETY in us all, and in them as well.

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