BOOK REVIEW: The Inner World of the Psychopath

Inner world of the psychopathAs you read the list of key symptoms of a psychopath, you feel like you’ve been punched in the gut. Check, check, check the individual who has been making you crazy has all, or almost of all, of the traits.

In shock, you realize that you have a psychopath in your life.

You’ve seen the individual’s glib and superficial charm, lack of empathy, lack of remorse. You knew he or she was deceitful, but now you suspect that every statement this person ever made may have been a lie.

“How can he do that?” you ask. “What was she thinking?”

Steve Becker, LCSW, a longtime Lovefraud author, has just come out with a book that explains what goes on in the mind of a psychopath. It’s called, The Inner World of the Psychopath a definitive primer on the psychopathic personality.

It’s the best analysis I’ve ever seen of how a psychopath thinks.

Becker has worked as a licensed clinical social worker for 25 years. During his career, he says, he developed a reputation “for working skillfully with antisocial, aggressive, and manipulative male clients.”

So he’s seen lots of diagnosed cases of antisocial and narcissistic personality disorder, up close and personal. After years of dealing with this population, Becker has gathered a lot of insight into their motivation, behavior and attitudes.

Becker acknowledges that women can be psychopaths, but refers to males throughout the book. In Chapter 1, he identifies a core aspect of the psychopath’s personality:

“He doesn’t just want things; he feels that he has rights to go after what he wants. This means that if you have what a psychopathic individual wants, you are at great risk of his targeting you to take it from you whatever it might be. But the psychopath won’t merely feel comfortable or justified taking what he wants from you; what cements his truly psychopathic tendency, as suggested above, is the indifference he will feel about the harm his taking from you or his violation of you causes you.”

Then, in a series of very short chapters, Becker describes different aspects of the psychopath’s thought processes as he goes about violating others. Here are some examples:

“The psychopath sees things along these lines: If you are vulnerable to exploitation or make yourself vulnerable to exploitation, then he isn’t to blame for exploiting your vulnerability. You are to blame for making yourself vulnerable.“

“The psychopath’s grandiosity is best expressed in his underlying faith that there is virtually no limit to what he can get away with. However advanced a manipulator he may really be, his grandiosity propels him to greater and greater risks, in a flaunting of his contempt for others’ boundaries and dignity.”

“The psychopath sees others as just so stupid, so naïve, so vulnerable, and so exploitable it’s almost funny, while perceiving himself to be just so smart, so canny, so clever, and so adept at playing the system and playing people it’s almost funny.”

Becker says psychopaths are profoundly lacking in empathy, and because of this, their transgressions against others are even more painful. Here’s how he explains this:

“Psychopaths routinely leave their victims with the double burden of having to heal from the original wound of their transgression and the subsequent wound of their shocking remorselessness.”

So how do you get over the pain inflicted by the psychopath? Understanding what the disorder is all about helps. That’s where Becker’s book comes in.

For all of us who are not psychopathic, it’s really, really hard to comprehend how these individuals can do what they do. We keep thinking that maybe therapy would help. Or maybe if we had behaved differently, the psychopath wouldn’t have treated us so badly.

Becker’s book makes clear that the psychopath does what he does because he wants to. No counselor, and nothing we do, will change who and what this person is.

The problem is the psychopath. By viscerally understanding this, we free ourselves.

The Inner World of the Psychopath is available on



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5 Comments on "BOOK REVIEW: The Inner World of the Psychopath"

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Steve, thank you for writing this book, it looks very interesting & the title catches your eye for sure. And no doubt will educate so many. I use to think I would like to get in the head of my ex h when we were married because his thinking was so far off from a normal mindset and wondered how/what his thought process was like inside his mind. Now a days that would scare the HELL out of me now that I am educated fully on the subject.

Steve, For you to know or have the impression that a sociopath was sitting in your therapy room did that not scare the heck out of you?

There are so many victims in this world at the hands of these evil people but no one ever thinks “hey, I think I’m dating a sociopath!” because no one knows how common they are among us and how easily the blend into society. It would be great for a future book title that would take the average person with no knowledge on the subject to really grab their attention at the book store…something like “HEY, you could be dating a sociopaths” or “Are you confused about your partners behavior but can quite put a finger on it? you might be dating a sociopath!!”.

Steve, how do you work skillfully with a sociopath? Do you know in advance you’re dealing with a sociopath when they step into your office? How do you protect yourself?

I do believe that some people have a larger more effective BS detection system. Boundaries and self esteem both high simultaneously. That said, an incarcerated psychopath would be easier to work with than a so called successful psychopath who has honed wolf in sheep’s clothing skills.
I think when we learn that they exist (even on a spectrum)and we internalize that these @#[email protected]% use the same darned tactics to weave their sorry manipulations, then we can detect them sooner and deal with them based on what we know about them.
When I worked in community mental health many moons ago, I would always include during the initial intake session the condition that at all times Both the client and I must feel safe. Sessions are concluded and clients referred if there is any breach of safety… both emotional and physical.
On a professional level I have experienced and worked with many Axis 2 diagnosed clients. They are difficult but I have never experienced hurt from those relationships. In my private life I had rose colored glasses and my ex husband’s pathology was not on my radar. I was broken for a long time.
Those critters of harm exist everywhere…once you have healed and know better you
do tend to be much more effective at protecting yourself.
Steve??? Thank you for the resource. Will read it and refer appropriately….

Reading this, I just could not help but think how normal such attitudes and behaviour have become in the modern society among people who are supposedly mentally healthy.

I just finished reading Steve’s book and it is GREAT! Just so well written and concise. I loved this book.


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