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Book Review: The Psychopath Test

Reviewed by Joyce Alexander, RNP (Retired)

I bought The Psychopath Test—A Journey Through the Madness Industry, by John Ronson, based mainly on the title. Jon Ronson is a journalist and author of two previous books that were widely accepted. A movie was made about one of them, The Men Who Stare at Goats, starring George Clooney. The first couple of chapters of this book weren’t all that interesting to me, but before long I was hooked into the story he was writing.

Mr. Ronson looks at the “madness industry” from an outsider’s point of view. He actually took training from Dr. Robert “Bob” Hare in how to use the Psychopathic Check List-Revised to spot a psychopath. Ronson went a few steps further, though, in his learning about commercial psychiatry, and the industry that has grown up around the DSM II-V, defining what is and what is not “madness.”

Dr. Robert Hare, as we know, was the developer of the PCL-R, which is similar to the “cook book” diagnostic manual for psychiatry (DSM), with check lists of symptoms for definite diagnostic criteria to define and “diagnose” what is normal behavior and what is not. There were some interesting discussions documented between Ronson and Dr. Hare about the validity of the PCL-R and where the “cut off score” should be.

Ronson gave the history of the development of the DSM, which has expanded with numerous added “disorders” and “mental illnesses” with each new edition and revision, to where it is now nearly a thousand pages. Though it is intended for mental health professionals, the DSM IV sold many, many more copies, mostly to laypeople, than there are mental health professionals in the world.

Ronson set out to interview and evaluate several people who were “notorious” criminals or well known high-flying and important business leaders and politicians in several countries to see how they fared when compared to the PCL-R. He also was able to visit the inside of the “hospitals” in the UK where diagnosed psychopathic criminals are held, literally “forever,” while they are being “treated” for their psychopathy after their criminal sentences are served out.

Ronson’s faith in the diagnostic ability of the mental health professionals was not strengthened when he studied the famous experiment by Dr. David Rosenhan and several others in the 1970s, who went to several mental hospitals and reported to the physicians there that they “heard voices” in their heads. This was the only abnormal symptom (or lie) that they presented to the professionals. They were admitted to the hospitals, where they never again acted “crazy” or lied to the staff. They behaved entirely normally. It was almost two months before they could “get out” by admitting that they were crazy and needed help. “There was only one way out. They had to agree with the psychiatrists that they were insane and then pretend to get better.”

Rosenhan’s experiment, once published, caused pandemonium in the mental health profession. One hospital challenged him to send in more fakes. Rosehan agreed. The hospital claimed it found 41 fakes the first month. The down side of their sleuthing, though, was that Rosenhan hadn’t sent any fakes to their hospital.

While no branch of medicine is totally objective, (they don’t call it the “practice” of medicine for nothing!) by its very nature, psychiatry is somewhat more subjective (in the eye of the beholder) than physical medicine. Ronson’s book does make the point, though, that putting labels on every behavior imaginable isn’t the answer to improving the practice, and neither is a pill for every disorder.

Psychiatry and pharmacology have both made vast improvements in the lives of many people who are truly mentally ill, but with poor diagnosis and poor medication, some great horrors have also been accomplished as well. Not every bad behavior means a person is psychopathic and not every bouncy kid is ADHD or bi-polar at age three. Ronson does make the point that mental health is a located on a continuum. No one is 100% mentally “healthy,” any more than no one is 100% physically “healthy.”

On the whole, I enjoyed the book, and he makes some great cases and writes in an interesting manner. The only criticism for his writing are the first couple of chapters “The Missing Part of the Puzzle Revealed—”and I’m not quite sure why they were included in this otherwise very interesting book. Maybe somehow I missed his sense of humor, but the rest of the book made up for the start I didn’t get.

I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to learn about abnormal versus normal psychology, and a bit about the “industry” that has grown up around “madness.”

The Psychopath Test on Amazon.com.



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71 Comments on "Book Review: The Psychopath Test"

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Dear Joyce (Oxy),

It was an interesting book and I like your review! The part where Ronson was comparing himself to the checklist was so realistic because I have done the same thing. Wondering if I am a narcissist because I seem to talk about this experience so often.

I would recommend this book as well. Ronson interviewed some famous, very sick, people and compared them with the checklist. I liked his writing style and sense of humor. When he was interviewing the inmate in prision who seemed perfectly normal and the scientologist was trying to set him free, I thought the inmate was chilling because that is how they act. They are charming and friendly and you have no idea of all the crap that they are capable of. I have never seen a better liar then the spath I was married to and he reminds me of this inmate.

Thanks for the review Joyce, you are so articulate! I think this book is still only in hard cover but I was able to read it while I was in Barnes and Noble when I was waiting for my daughter to get out of play rehearsal. It took two rehearsals to finish it (probably 3 hours) and I didn’t feel too bad since I buy a lot from Barnes and Noble.

I also read what you wrote to me on another post, I want to thank you so much for the kind words. You were always there for me and you made a huge impact on my life! Thank gosh the fog has lifted.

Dear Hope4,

I had forgotten about you mentioning reading a book at B&N, (CRS!) and glad it was this one….I bought it USED off the net for just a few bucks, and yes it was in hard cover, but the cost was still minimal. I seldom if ever buy a new book when even just a few weeks after one comes out it is available used for just pennies compared to new cost.

Hope4, believe it or not, I learned SO MUCH FROM YOU…..the frustration I felt when you kept hanging on to your marriage delusions almost had me over the “top”—and then I realized that was a knee jerk response from myself—I was so involved emotionally in wanting to “save” you, to rescue you, and when I realized that it was NOT MY RESPONSIBILITY TO SAVE YOU, it was YOURS….I had an “ah ha” moment or two about OXY’s place in the world, and Oxy’s responsibilities and what is NOT Oxy’s responsibility. It believe it or not, helped me over that hump of “wanting to save” others so much. That “wanting to save” others is one of the things I think that hooks us into giving the psychopaths another chance and another and another.

Even when our intentions are “good” (remember: the road to hell is paved with GOOD INTENTIONS) there are some things that are NOT our responsibility and when we do things for others (or try to) that they should and must do for themselves, then we are unfair both to ourselves and to them. We deprive them of the potential for growth and learning.

It is just like if you never let your child learn to dress him self, you always dressed him– how on earth would he ever learn? Can you imagine an 18 year old that doesn’t know how to put on his own socks because mama always did it for him? We must not be so arrogant that we think we can do a better job, and thus deprive someone else of the opportunity to learn and to grow.

You provided me an opportunity to learn as well and I will always remember it as a pivotal point in my own journey toward healing. ((((hugs)))) and Much love!

Dear Oxy ~ In reading your comments above about wanting to “save” people, I realized that it’s one of the qualities that made us so vulnerable to these s/p sort of people. You are exactly right when you say that we need to remember that we are NOT responsible for other’s behavior.

It’s very hard to see someone struggling and not offer help. It’s something that I have always had a difficult time restraining myself from doing.

Bless you Oxy for being here and contributing so much to the healing of everyone here. I learn something from you each and every time I read your posts. (((hugs)))

h2h

Dear Hope2,

Thank you for your kind words. Yea, I have always wanted to “help the underdog”—from literally bringing home stray and crippled dogs when I was in grade school, to wanting to bring in stray people as well who “needed help.”

Years ago, there was a young woman with a toddler and 8 months pregnant who through my church I met. Her husband was an abusive guy and she was trying to get away from him. I got my husband to go with me and he and I and she drove 800 miles 1-way to get her stuff out of storage and haul it back to town and the church helped us and we got her and the toddler an apartment and put her furniture in it and got her set up….got her on welfare, food stamps and all that stuff…got her a doctor to deliver her baby….and then BANG! The husband moves in and I felt so BETRAYED. So angry.

That feeling of being angry when you help someone and they 1) don’t appreciate your help or 2) waste it and jump back into the flying pan etc. is a TIP OFF TO YOU that YOU have been enabling someone.

When we do something to “help someone” we cannot then put expectations on those people. If we give a dollar to a homeless guy and then watch him go to the liquor store….what is our feeling? Are we angry that he didn’t get food? We GAVE him the dollar, but that does NOT give us the right to put OUR EXPECTATIONS ON HIM as well.

My egg donor wanted to give me money (which I didn’t want) so she could THEN PUT HER EXPECTATIONS ON TO ME. It wasn’t a GIFT it was a down payment on CONTROL.

Just as me giving a homeless guy a buck doesn’t give me the RIGHT to CONTROL how he spends it or the RIGHT to be upset with him for buying booze…..I don’t want to give control over my life to my egg donor by accepting “gifts” from her. (that are not really “gifts”)

Back when she discarded me because I wouldn’t accept her control or her “gifts” she gave “gifts” to the P-DIL and the Trojan Horse Psychopath who then BETRAYED her by using her. She was FURIOUS because she had “bought” their “love” and paid for it and they BETRAYED her! LOL She wanted me back then. NOPE! Not gonna happen.

Just as I now realize that I can’t control anyone but myself—and I have NO RIGHT TO—I can offer assistance, but each person must help themselves. If I give the homeless guy a buck, that is my choice, but it is up to him how he spends it. Or, I can buy a hamburger and offer it to him….again, my choice.

But anything I do for someone must be a FREELY OFFERED GIFT without expectations on controlling how they use that gift.

I had a therapist tell me once, and I remembered this, (just didn’t always practice it) that THE ONLY TRUE RESCUE IS TO PULL AN UNCONSCIOUS MAN FROM A BURNING BUILDING.

I will go one step further with that as well, if he gets up and RUNS BACK IN, we don’t have to follow him back into the burning building.

Dear Oxy ~ wow, your words always resonate with me. I’ve always been a “rescuer”, and yes, sometimes I have been upset or down right angry at someone for the way they went right back to the bad situation they had been in.

I am better now, but still have the tendency. I think it’s because we feel empathy for those in need. It’s so hard to see someone in pain, or struggling!

You just brought to mind an e-mail I received recently. It suggests using egg whites to help cool and heal a burn. Ever heard of such a thing?

h2h

Ox – Your post makes so much sense. Spot on. Thank you.

I feel like the reason I keep repeating that same tendency is because not to puts me in a category way too close to the spaths. Now that I find myself almost paranoid about people’s personalities and motivations, it isn’t lost on me that that is exactly how he behaved. The thing I have to remember every day is that I can judge the help needed and what that help is. I can hold a hand, pray, lend an ear, FEEL for someone’s pain, without crossing either my or their boundary.

Hard lessons learned are usually the ones that last. I would like to remind all who post regularly here to remember how much you have helped so many with your words and insights, whether painful or humorous. You’ve made a tremendous contribution to a lot of people that you might never know or understand how and when. I know that for a fact because you’ve made that contribution to my life and I’ve no way of showing it except to say it here.

There is a reason why we care and it is what we are meant to do for each other. For me, not caring will always feel unnatural and wrong for a very good reason. The difference is, now I know there are many ways to care without sacrificing my self.

Sj

Oxy:

I have a comment about wanting to fix people. Even though I am very compassionate and like to help people, I never in my life felt like fixing someone until I met the X spath. I wonder why??? It still bothers me as I never felt that tremendous pull in my entire life. So I didn’t have that pattern of wanting to fix people and I think that is why I have even more of an attachment to this guy because why him?? I mean, I know now that I have ran into sociopathic people in my life, but never felt like I did with him. Maybe I was/am just at a certain point in my life…I don’t know. Do you have any insight into it?

Oxy:

Also, what a story about that young lady you helped move 800 miles away and then the abuser moves in with her!!!! I would have been livid!! Thank you so much for sharing that story. It’s a perfect example of enabling someone. But you didn’t have a crystal ball…you didn’t know she would do that.

Louise;

I second your comment. The x-spath was the only person I was ever drawn to whom I thought I could fix. Why? I think that because I had some of the issues I saw him him but to a lesser degree, by helping him fix his, I could also fix mine.

Perhaps subconsciously we felt that by “fixing” them, they would then be happy and connect happiness with us.

BBE ~ I think you have hit the nail on the head with this: “Perhaps subconsciously we felt that by “fixing” them, they would then be happy and connect happiness with us.”

I think you have found the commonality between those of us that have been forever trying to fix others and those who only tried to do it with their spath. The desire to make someone happy.

Louise, the point is not what I did for her or what she did, but that I HAD NO RIGHT TO BE ANGRY WITH HER BECAUSE SHE LET HIM COME BACK INTO HER LIFE….AND BOY WAS I EVER ANGRY WITH HER!

The fact I helped her did NOT give me a “Right” to tell her how to run her life or to be ANGRY with her because she didn’t run it to suit me.

So I am getting to where when I “help” someone I do it as a GIFT not a down payment on a “right” for me to get angry with them if they choose to continue with their bad behavior, or go back to their bad behavior. I will always have compassion and empathy for people who are suffering, even if they brought the suffering on themselves. For example, say a friend who has lung cancer and has been a life time smoker. I still feel compassion for their suffering even though their choices of smoking brought it on themselves….or say someone who had a spending problem or a gambling problem of didn’t manage their money right and went deeply into debt, then lost their house….I feel compassion for them even though they brought it on themselves….but at the same time, if I give them money, then they go buy a new TV instead of food, then I cannot be angry with them because I EXPECTED they would use the money more “wisely.” (In MY view of “wisely”)

I DID expect that young woman would not let her abusive husband back into her life, and when she let him back into her life it made me MAD AS HELL that he was sitting on the couch that I HAULED 800 miles, in the apartment that I got for his wife and kids, but in truth, I had NO RIGHT to be angry with that woman because MY EXPECTATIONS were not fulfilled. She had a legal right to make her own decisions….but at the same time, I needed to take responsibility for myself and let her take responsibility for herself.

Just like the old coot “Grandpa” age 83 that lives down the road from me in utter complete poverty and picked up a meth-ho off the streets who shows up the first of each month when he gets his “check” and stays 2 weeks until it is gone…then she leaves him there til the first of the next month. He isn’t “senile” in the sense that he could be locked up for his own protection, but his JUDGMENT IS POOR, he still knows who the president is and so on, so is not “legally” demented. But his decisions are VERY POOR…It is HIS RESPONSIBILITY to take care of himself and he is not doing a very good job of it and won’t let his daughter help him because she doesn’t approve of his meth-ho girlfriend….but I check up on his from time to time the last two weeks of each month, and a while back I found him with NO ELECTRICITY and 100+ degree heat, NO WATER (no electric=no well=no water) and NO FOOD, and no phone, and 2 flat tires on his truck. Whose responsibility was that? HIS of course. But at the same time, I took him 5 gallons of water, and I fixed a meal and took it down to him. I don’t give him or “loan” him money any more, no matter how he cries, and I no longer give him gasoline.

This old man has been a good neighbor and a good friend for many years, and I hate like hell to see his situation now, but you know even though he is now a “bubble off of plumb” he is still responsible for his and I’m not his “keeper” or responsible for him, but at the same time, I care enough about him to keep an eye on him so he doesn’t end up dying for lack of water in 100+ degree heat by checking on him every few days. Yea, he has grandkids that SHOULD be there for him, but they are worthless and have taken a great deal of what little he had before this, but ultimately, HE is responsible for the shape he is in financially, but I have NO expectations he is going to make better decisions and I don’t get mad at him for “thinking with the small head” instead of the one on his shoulders. What little I do for him is a GIFT without expectations he is going to change, and it doesn’t cost me much either emotionally or financially to stop by his house and see if he has food and water.

With the young woman, the EMOTIONAL cost in me getting angry at her when she let her husband move in with her….THAT cost was more than I am willing to pay again.

BBE and h2h:

Ah ha!! YES! I think that’s it…I think I loved him so much that if I could “fix” him and he would be happy, then I would be his HERO. I so wanted to be his hero. I think he is actually searching for one and I thought I could be it. Plus, I never met someone who was a man, but was yet so much like a lost little boy. He had so many problems. I will never forget the day I saw him at work and I wanted to just grab him and take him away from it all. It was very powerful. But he is no good. He battles demons and makes everyone else unhappy. The OW in triangulation with me told me that he told her that he only disappoints people who love him. And that his kids would be better off without him. But this was over two years ago. I don’t know if he still feels this way and it’s not my place to care or want to know.

Oxy:

Yes, I get that. If we are going to help someone in whatever way, financially, emotionally, whatever, we cannot expect anything in return. We have to do it out of the kindness in our hearts and never expect anything in return. Especially when it comes to money…NEVER expect that back! I don’t give people money, but if I did, it would be a GIFT and not a loan. Actually, last year a friend asked me for $50 until her child support came in. No one ever asks me for money and it was only $50 so I did it. I kept hearing I’ll have it for you in two weeks when I get paid and then two weeks came and went, blah, blah, blah. This went on for a few months and then I finally just told her to accept it as a gift from me and not to worry about…told her she didn’t have to pay me back and I sincerely meant it with no malice in my heart. She was like really?? She was so grateful.

You are a good person for checking on your neighbor. It’s a good lesson for all of us in how we can check on someone and help someone without giving away too much of ourselves or getting hurt or losing money or whatever.

You are the BEST!!

Louise;

Funny, even though online my x-spath always goes by some “XYZboy” or “XYZlad” moniker online, I did not really see him as a lost little boy but this in fact is what he is. But I did see him in some ways as somebody I could protect and nurture. He was just like the little Xmas tree I picked out that he dissed so much. A little rough around the edges and small, but with a little TLC I though it would be a fine little tree.

On the bright side, I am no longer worrying about the lost little boy, rather the $40K I lost in the stock market.

BBE:

Soooo sorry about your loss in the stock market. That stinks!!! I hope you can try to make it back.

Louise;

Right now, trying to make it back is the worst thing I can do as that is how I lost it! I need to get a real job. Even if I was making money at it, it is too stressful given that I have had heart surgery. Also, it is lonely and since the x-spath all I have been is lonely. At least a job keeps me not only occupied, but gives purpose.

I need to remind myself that before my last employer and those sociopaths, I actually liked what I did and made a good living at it. They were a bad experience, but I cannot let it taint everything.

BBE:

I understand. I hope you can find something that you will enjoy doing! Let us know!! And keep stress free. That is what I am trying to do. TRYING is the key word here. It doesn’t always work, but I am doing a better job than I used to do.

Louise;

Thanks. Keeping stress free is Priority #1, along with not getting sucked in by another sociopath…

Louise;

One additional thing to consider regarding the x-spath is something that just stuck me when I logged into my FB account. One of my cousins just posted a picture of her and her family. She lives in Georgia and I have not seen her is several years and in this picture she looks just like the x-spath’s sister. I am floored by the resemblance.

He I met him, a plus was that he could pass the “family test.” He was polite quite, unassuming, did not scream gay and what I did not realize until I saw both pictures of hi online and now my cousin, he looks like part of the family.

BBE:

Interesting about the family resemblance. I know what you mean. I think we all tend to think about how a partner will fit in with our families should we get serious about them. I have always gotten along with the families of those I have been involved with. I have been divorced almost 20 years and I still keep in touch with my former mother in law. She still loves me. I think the X spath also could see me in his family. He told me he could see himself with me and to me that meant he could also see introducing me to his family. He did tell me that his mom has never liked his wife…they have never gotten along. And he told me that my personality is the total opposite of his wife’s personality. So anyway, I understand what you are saying.

Louise;

There are a lot of issues on my mother’s side of the family: alcohol and drug abuse, sexual abuse to name a few. Actually, my brother and I, both adopted, are quite tame by our cousin’s standards and my mother is not co-dependent like her younger sister or overbearing like her older one. My uncle on her side was an alcoholic and has passed…

Thus, you can see why I might be attracted to somebody with family issues and I would probably be intimidated by somebody coming from a full functional family…

BBE:

Wow, I can TOTALLY relate! I would also feel inadequate around someone who I thought had a perfect family. I haven’t found anyone yet though who has a perfect family or even a functional one…haha! Seems as if we are all very flawed.

Louise;

Or we just stay away from those who are not!

BBE:

Yeah, good point!!

Even the one externally functional x-bf, meaning the career guy, was a sex addict fond of rest rooms and the internet. He is now merely a workaholic. Classic too, three hours total commute each day plus 10 hour days…

BBE:

Yep, I have found that “addicts” of any kind will just replace one addiction with another. So if he was a sex addict, now he replaced it with work. I have seen it a lot. It looks like my X spath has many addictions…alcohol, sex and work. Geez.

Well, I know the x-spath is still addicted to porn as last week in a moment of weakness I saw he had logged into xtube and another porn site that I think is his profile.

At least I am at the gym.

BBE:

Hmmmm, well yeah, I’d rather be addicted to exercise than porn! 🙂

I’ve always been a rescuer, but I don’t feel so much that way now. Having been raised in a home with a VERY narcissistic, demanding, mentally/physically abusive brother [he was two decades older than me], I felt very much like the underdog. My father was a pharmacist who held many other business interests, so he was gone most of the time. My brother took on his role and lorded over me with tyranny. So for me, rescuing animals and burying the dead ones in my little animal cemetery gave me comfort in knowing SOMEBODY cared for these little critters. I felt like one of them. I think for me, that’s what drew me to the P’s I married. They both had very abusive fathers [and they did, I’ve witnessed it firsthand] and passive mothers, like I had. We were kindred spirits. We bonded. But…..I had sympathy, empathy and they had the P genes that made them bitter, angry and vengeful. We went two separate ways. I’ve heard it said, hard times either make you right or wrong, kind or hard. Time has marched on for me and I’ve come to understand that if a person is hard, no matter what their past; they are reacting with anger, bitterness and resentment. I no longer waste my time trying to turn that person into a kind individual. I have found a pretty solid medium on which to base my feelings/time/effort. Experience has done this for me. So, in many ways, I have come to understand and appreciate what I have learned from adversity. I appreciate my life. I believe that people who have it too easy in life grow dissatisfied, bored and ungrateful. I would not be surprised to know that is many times what lies at the root of drug/alcohol addiction, suicide etc. Rather than all being too unbearable, it’s too easy.

Oxy; I just ordered this book, thanks!

Great excerpt TB!

I was thinking the other day, something my counselor had said to me that I found intriguing: “You two are kindred spirits and that was the bond. That is what made you two so inseparable. You bonded.”

Yes; that made it all the more difficult to let go of that dream IT was mirroring back to me. We were ‘connected’ and as I got sucked deeper and deeper into that ‘bond’ “IT” became more degrading and more hateful and spiteful. The closer we got, the more it actually came to hate and despise and be jealous of me.

Life has become a stranger to me the past five years. Isn’t that odd and strange? I was so consumed by the relationship that I forgot how to live. I was literally held ‘captive’ but inside my mind. I have never had anyone manipulate me this way before and it was very ‘gleeful’, I am sure to see someone so ‘compliant’. I must have been a real joke to it. It’s chilling to realize your kindness and caring has gotten you close to being murdered. That still blows me away when I think about it. “MY BEST FRIEND”. Imagine that.

Duped: thank you! â¤

” The closer we got, the more it actually came to hate and despise and be jealous of me.”
Yes! Very well put…same experience I had! It’s like they want to be US and are resentful they are not!

“I was so consumed by the relationship that I forgot how to live.”
Again, that is so true!!!! I’m having to learn! For well over a year, I kept asking myself, “Who/what am I? I’ve lost me!”

TB;

I was very touched by your post regarding animals. I have recurring dreams about my childhood dog. I get them at stressful times in my life and when I wake up, I feel the dream was something very beautiful and hopeful that a heaven actually exists.

it does seem like many of us have something in common with the spaths: an abusive childhood.

But we made the choice to be more compassionate while a similar circumstance made them choose to lack compassion. What was the difference?

Well, I have 2 spath siblings although my oldest sister and I are empaths. The difference here was that they were chosen by my parents to be “special”. They were spoiled. My sister and I were ignored, at best.

Still, my sister and I became vulnerable to other N’s. The common factor, the abuse, makes us feel for them, while concurrently, it makes them feel nothing for us.
How sick is that? There’s got to be a reason.

Skylar,
Is it possible that you are vulnerable to N’s as an adult b/c as a child, you were made to feel responsible?

I know that is my problem. I was the family scapegoat and as an adult, I find myself fulfilling my legacy. I’m getting better but I do have to learn skills how to MAKE myself be aware b/c ALLOWING OTHERS TO USE ME SEEMS NATURAL. It is my childhood trigger, that if I can serve others well enough, they will appreciate and care for me. Only, that’s not NORMAL, that’s exploitative.

I had to LEARN how to recognize two way relationships b/c of course, one way relationships are red flags for dysfunctional.

Could it be that your reason is the same as mine?

Katy,
you are so right about being made to feel responsible.

Those words don’t begin to describe what it means.
We take on the responsibility of everything, we WANT to carry the cross for others. One day I saw a blind woman crossing the street and I was so glad that I had the opportunity to help her! How sick is that? It is sick because it’s a very narcissistic attitude. It was all about me, rather than her. I understand now how very very sick my upbringing made me.

Learning and feeling are two different things. The programming has to be broken. I work hard on it everyday. It’s very confusing.

Yes, I was the scapegoat too, but it was hidden from me. It took a long time to see it. And it’s complicated because my poor spath brother was BOTH. He was the golden child, given extra care and permission, but he was also punished and shamed severely.

I don’t want to think about my parents as spaths, but the clues are all there. Maybe everyone is tainted with original sin, or maybe I’m saying that as a way to give my parents an excuse. *sigh*

I’m very sad and confused today.

TB: I see a thread of a pattern between them all; do you?
My next question is this: are they by-products of our society? I seem to see this A LOT now, more than ever, if I put aside my own personal feelings. Does anyone else see this as I do?

It’s amazing and astonishing the things we do for love. Isn’t it? I almost don’t think it is worth being consumed for nor over. You all have come to know me pretty well, judging by the things I say and have a ‘notion’ of the kind of person I am, from the things I say. The one time in over 10 years, I let anyone that close to me and wham! Ironic; isn’t it? Or was that ‘irony’ manufactured just like the relationship itself was?

You know, the more I ‘understand’ what has gone on, the more I become STRONGER than “IT”. Seriously. I am not being egotistical when I say this either BUT: I AM STRONGER THAN IT. I will always be stronger than it BECAUSE I CARE and HAVE FEELINGS and REAL EMOTIONS. I HAVE a ‘life’ which is more than “IT” can say for ITSELF.

I was chided earlier today, by one of my counselors, for being so filled with hate when I said that I intend to make IT pay for the misdeeds it has done to me. I asked her what the difference was between vengeance and justice. She told me she felt my hate was off the hook, which it really isn’t. I mean, I haven’t hired a hit-man nor have I gone out of my way to do anything to it, at all. How can that be construed as hate? I don’t hate it. In fact, I, at this very moment, feel absolutely NOTHING for it other than it is a specimen. A specimen of great wonder and amazement and something not to be taken lightly. It is the very materialization of evil to me. That’s what it is.

I fell for the ‘broken wing’ ploy. My bad. I thought in this life you returned kindness with kindness and loyalty with loyalty. Apparently we read different books.

I refuse to fight to care about anyone. I refuse to allow someone to decimate my life and walk away laughing, especially after they have tried to kill me and thought it funny and comical. I don’t see how justice can be construed as hate. I have no hate for “IT” anymore. I just have nothing for “IT”. It tried to purposely harm me and I should let that go? Would you?

No; I feel I am absolutely, 100% correct. I don’t wish to decimate “IT” but it sure tried to decimate ME! And there has been absolutely NO reason for it whatsoever. I intend to follow through with everything exactly as I have said. I am not consumed with hate, but I AM consumed with justice at this point. Maybe stopping “IT” will save someone else further on down the line. Who knows how much UGLINESS my following through is going to prevent?!

I AM JUST AS IMPORTANT AS IT IS. MY LIFE IS WORTH JUST AS MUCH AS IT’S. If I don’t do this, who will? Hmm? Who will be IT’s NEXT VICTIM? Who is to say…

If I don’t do it and make it stand accountable, for it’s actions, WHO WILL? See my point. It’s two-fold, “I” get justification and IT stands accountable. No hate involved. That’s just a matter of fact. Right is right and wrong is wrong and MURDER should be overlooked? I don’t think so. I really don’t think so. Not this time. Not with me. I am sorry. There is no reason nor excuse that will suffice.

I am sorry skylar you are having a sad day. ((hugs))
I just had a glass of red wine, for the ticker…been without electricity half the night due to a power outage.

Have a good night everyone. Thank you for all the words and all the caring you have shown me. I will never forget any of you. This is a big weekend for me. Will it remain quiet on the verge of 3 months NC? Hmm? THAT is usually the limit before IT steps in again. Let’s see if it comes lurking….

Duped

Hey Duped!

How are you? I was reading your post and noticed the part about your counselor “chiding” you because your anger was “off the hook.” It’s hard to say if that was justified, but I suppose it depends on what you mean by “chided,” and what she meant by “off the hook” (does that mean “unhinged”? – haha).

I also liked where you said “because I care and have feelings and real emotions.” – that reminds me of something that I’ll get to in a minute…

But first, I have to say that many of these therapists don’t understand the true depths of horror associated with a sociopathic betrayal. So I suppose we have to cut them a bit of slack if they haven’t gone through it themselves! (If they haven’t then it’s impossible for them to understand except by way of crass analogy and approximation.)

That reminds me: I had an experience five years ago with an acquaintance that nearly drove me to despair. His wife – an unbelievably nasty specimen – cheated on him with multiple partners over many years – till eventually he caught her red-handed. Well, very much against my advice he insisted on “trying to work it out,” and went ahead with the counseling thing. Needless to say, the woman is a classic socio – no doubt about that – but when they went to the marriage counselor, the single guiding principle of the therapist seemed to be that “we musn’t in any way assign blame here”: no, it wasn’t about “blame” (a quaint and out-of-date notion to be sure!) – it was about “underlying causes, relationship structures” and so forth – all of which presumably exempted her infidelity from the dictates of personal responsibility and free choice. Though, alas, it took all but two sessions before the therapist ended up “blaming” the guy for not paying enough attention to his wife!

Anyhow, (and I’m not in any way saying that you shouldn’t trust your therapist – I’m making a more general point here) I see a similar dynamic at work in our society as a whole. That is, in many ways, American culture is ITSELF the pathology (akin to the socio wife in the above example) and the individuals who react negatively to it (in the form of anxiety, depression, guilt, alienation, etc.) are exhibiting what are in reality just inverted symptoms of HEALTH! Indeed, in a society whose highest cultural achievements are Anna Nicole Smith, Charlie Sheen, The Bachelor, Celebrity Apprentice, etc., it’s actually the most sensitive, the most “human” individuals who feel the ill-effects of this situation at their keenest.

In my ten years as an educator, I saw the same dynamic in the classroom on a day to day basis. For example, if any kid displayed above average sensitivities or insights (we might call them the “poetically inclined”) – then they were almost invariably classified as “mentally ill” (ADHD, Bi polar and all the other DSM type of stuff)! In fact, when I retired they had over 12 milliion school-age children in America on psychotropic drugs like Prozac, Ritalin and so forth. (The numbers are probably far higher today, though I haven’t checked the statistics lately.) The point being that when you label 12 MILLION kids as “Mentally Ill” (per the DSM 4) that says FAR MORE about the people making the diagnoses (as well as the society as a whole) than it does about the kids being “tagged” in this manner. I would even submit that it’s a statistical impossibility to have that degree of mental illness in the overall population, let alone in the under 18 age bracket. But that’s getting a bit off topic….

The point I want to make is that there is something deeply empowering when we realize that our negative reactions (anger, guilt, anxiety, what is called “PTSD,” etc.) to these things (i.e. to sociopathic betrayals, or more generally to our wasteland American culture) are NOT pathologies, but rather a defiantly HUMAN reaction to an inhuman state of affairs.

Unfortunately, the culture (and the therapists necessarily reflect the culture in which they live and work) can’t as a rule afford to tell us these things. No, because again, that would be far too empowering for us, and far too disruptive to the status quo. Besides, it’s much more cost-effective to marginalize the dissenting voices by labeling them with mental illness, and then send them off with Prozac and “Survivor” reruns! Of course, if this is what it means to be “neurotypical,” then I think I’m going to have to cast my lot with the crazies!

Alas, Duped, I guess I’m bored at work again, because I always feel like tearing everything down after sitting here for seven or eight hours! Nevertheless, the main point of this is not to second guess yourself when it comes to feeling these deep human emotions. That stuff isn’t a sign of sickness – it is a sign that you are a real person! (And the anger will go away when it has run its course. You just can’t rush these things.)

Very well. On that note, have a great day!

Lots of love,

C.

Skylar,

Sorry to hear you are having a not so good day. What you said about your brother, that is what spath ex does to my son. He elevates him to golden status then demeans him for something that makes no sense. My therapist said that spath was probably parented in this way as well.

I think that parents can do so much damage and not even be aware of it because that is the way they were raised. Like a legacy of abuse.

Hope your day brightens a little, you are a wonderful and insiteful person and I look forward to reading your posts!

one/joy_step_at_a_time

HI Sky – know you are probably asleep now, but wanted to ask what is going on in your life the last few days? I haven’t been reading much and may have missed it, but the question is a personal one for you. if you just wirte everything down that has been happening – don’t think about the significance of any one thing, just write the whole shebang, you may understand what’s going on, and the confusion will lift. xo one joy

one/joy_step_at_a_time

hi hopeforjoy!

Constantine:

Wonderful post…thanks for that!!!

Do you know if your acquaintance friend is still with that spath wife??

Constantine: So happy to read you my Friend. Hope you are doing well and being a part of life! 🙂

Oh yes, I think the counselor was a little off the hook expecting there NOT to be any hatred. No? Am I merely just to tolerate and accept this sort of thing? I think not. Am I suppose to ‘feel sorry for it’ some more? That is what sucked me into all this drama in the first place! I will say in defense of the counselor: this counselor is NEW, having just come through her final internship for her masters. Hopefully, she will never come to understand the effects of this situation, personally. They just don’t ‘get it’. Not really. But THEY ARE doing their level best to understand and guide me. More over, I am actually ‘guiding myself’ and they are adding unto it.

No; I am completely and fully entitled to pursue ANY LEGAL action I am entitled to. NOBODY truly understands what I have been through. I haven’t detailed the most HORRID things. Some of them I can’t ‘touch’ at all for fear of their searing, burning white hot flames! I just can’t bring myself to utter some of the things I have been through. They will come in time. For now, I am just grateful that I have a little ‘foothold’ on life!

Oh yes, our society has reminded a lot of us that we are entitled to freedom and the pursuit of liberty and all that is free. Well, if I wasn’t sort of an educated/learned person, I would have taken extreme ‘slight’ to the comment my counselor made yesterday about my ‘being off the hook’ with my hatred over this.

HOWEVER, considering she IS ‘new’ – (I was her case study) – and she IS geared to counseling ‘public service’ participants, I did address the issue with her and she retorted back, which I appreciate, but I really don’t think my hate is ‘off the hook’. Not considering we are looking at an intentional murder charge. I am sorry, we don’t agree. She was worried about the hate ‘consuming’ me. I reassured her completely, there is no hate involved any longer….NOW, it is a matter of justification. The only way I can do that IS in a court of law and that is exactly where it sits. Period. She will learn on HER journey through this psychopathic maze, sooner or later. I guess in a way, I am happy she doesn’t ‘understand’. NOBODY should have to go through the things I have been through. NOBODY.

So, after she made that remark to me, I asked, in turn: “So, you think I am crazy? Am I insane because I want justice?” She replied: “First of all, you are NOT the insane one and I realize this, after all this time talking with you. YOU are FAR from being insane, which is more than I can suggest for your “IT”. You have been victimized and almost killed by someone you believed was your best friend for 9 long years. Your reactions are understandable, however, you just can’t let this consume your life nor what’s left of it.”

I wanted to shout: “WHOSE SIDE ARE YOU ON HERE?!” But, I didn’t. I explained a few things to her that I am sure she just ‘didn’t get’ and left her with those thoughts to ponder until we see one another again. I reduced my seeing her to every other week instead of every week. She is my ‘rumination sounding board’. They think I am being foolish pursuing legal action because THEY weren’t the one’s almost murdered. And, as I left the office, I asked: “Am I really suppose to just let this pass me by and not defend the very life I was given back? If so, what kind of dignity does that leave me?”

Yes, you must be careful with your counseling. There aren’t many out there, currently, who completely grasp the situation we have and are coming through. I suggest ‘shopping around’ and asking questions BEFORE starting any kind of therapy. Make sure that you won’t only find more of the same due to a lack of understanding by the very same people who are suppose to be LEADING us out of the dark and into that light.

Don’t always believe they have all the answers because I truly don’t believe anyone has all the answers. If they did, they would actively be DOING SOMETHING to rectify this situation; this epidemic, as it is starting to appear to me.

I stand firm on my decisions and am not changing them ‘just because my counselor thinks my hate is off the hook’! They don’t understand what we have lost and what has been taken away from us. They don’t truly understand the emotional and psychological RAPING and DEFILING of our very spirits and when they make random ‘value decisions’ based upon their OWN personal beliefs, that is a HUGE RED FLAG. Just huge.

NO counselor should be making ‘value judgements’ on their client. They should walk the middle line and not make any reference to ‘judgements’ because no matter how intelligent they are; no matter how many degrees they may have, they still haven’t been through what we have. Thank goodness for them! (RIGHT???!) 🙂

I WAS told that I was an ‘inspiration’ and a very ‘strong’ person. And then my counselor said to me: “I look up to you and think you are an amazing person, Duped.” She is just a young girl…LEARNING, STILL. She will know better next time, I am sure. I asked her if she would back me up on this and her reply was this: “There has not been ONE THING you have told me about this relationship this has NOT been illegal. IT has broken laws left and right with you and for a long time. There is no ‘helping’ IT. It is a seriously sick person and one you just need to stay away from. I know what it has done to you and yes, you have every legal standing, however, don’t allow it to clutter up what life you have left.” And, she is right about that…

I refuse to allow it to ‘clutter’ my life and my ‘thoughts’. I have been disciplining myself to change all these thoughts that cause this horrible ruminating and living a lifeless life…it is very difficult on me: changing my thoughts. It takes great discipline. It is like working a 12 hour a day mind job. It takes being SO INTO THE HERE AND NOW. Nobody told me to do this – it is just something I have taken on for myself: disciplining myself and my mind and my thoughts. I am hot on the trail of purging this all from my being. THAT is how much I want “IT” gone.

This constant ‘discipline’ is very consuming. With my heart condition, I must take it easy but yet at the same time, taking it easy means getting this gone from not only my life but my thoughts as well. I am FIGHTING for my life over here. Literally.

They asked me yesterday, if I could describe what it is I have been feeling. I don’t know how many of you have the same symptoms as I do, because I also have some serious PTSD and MDD, so I don’t know how close we all would be at having the same symptoms, but I would imagine somewhere close…

This experience has all but destroyed us and it takes A LOT of courage and A LOT of fortitude and doing what YOU KNOW, not what you THINK, but what you KNOW is best for you. Not what everyone else SAYS because our situations are as unique as each of us are.

I can certainly SEE this issue coming to light and being treated differently, in the long run. I probably won’t see it in my lifetime, but I am sure a lot of you probably will. It is my wish and my desire and my intention to use my situation as a candle. NOBODY should have to go through these things because of a criminal and evil mind. NOBODY.

You are right, Constantine: most people are sheep…believe anything because they refuse to question. I am one of the fortunate ones: I have access to counseling; (some of the best, irregardless of the chiding); I have wonderful, supportive friends, such as yourself and everyone else here. I have the ways and the means to just ‘pause’ for a moment in my life, while I put it back together as best I can. Sometimes I think ‘lingering’ too long on the problem can defeat us. Sometimes I think the only solution is just to JUMP INTO LIFE and start LIVING IT. All horrors aside, it is all we CAN do.

Yes, our culture has defined these personalities yet do very little to curb their unacceptable behavior because they always seem to fly under the radar. That is not a foolish person! That is a very calculating person. And I am to believe that ‘it’s okay’ that I was almost murdered and I am off the hook with hate? hahaha My goodness, this intern will learn. 🙂 I hope not personally. And, no, I am not going to ‘let her go’, I am trying to acquaint HER with all of THIS, just as much as “I” am trying to derive, from HER, HER experiences and education. I will keep her. We need more people to ‘understand’ our plight and the only way that will happen is if we EDUCATE THEM, sometimes.

Last week, when I had my ‘regular therapist’ appointment, she was concerned and worried that I was going to ‘give up’ and just let my heart condition overtake me. In effect, committing suicide through my own fragile medical condition. 🙂 hahahaha

I completely reassured the counselor that I would not be doing so much fighting to get my life back, if I were thinking of ending it. That my life will end itself, when the time comes and I don’t need to help that along. 🙂 No, I fully intend on seeing this through. I will be SOOOOOOOOOOO settled in my life after this. THEN I will have that peace in my life I have been fighting for and to find before I die. I want to find it JUST ONCE. JUST ONCE I want my life to be all for me. All about just me. Just once.

Don’t let NO COUNSELOR tell you that what you have just come through IS YOUR OWN FAULT. WE WERE MANIPULATED. We were used by a criminal type person and these people do need to be stopped. For starters: take a stand. No contact. If there are physically violent issues: make local authorities aware. Even if they refuse to take a formal report from you. GO STRAIGHT TO THE PROSECUTORS OFFICE in your locale and DEMAND to speak with someone if you have been or are in any physical danger or risk. Do not underestimate a sociopath.

The sooner you can get them behind you, the better off you will be. The trick from now on is seeing them coming and deflecting them. THEY are the ones responsible and only them.

I am finished ‘understanding’ and NOW defending myself.
Don’t allow them to ‘toy’ with you anymore. Just take a stand. That is what defines us as individuals and the people we are.

Sure, it hurts; oh my goodness, I know how much it hurts…but they aren’t worth all that hurt. They just aren’t. We need to accept that. No matter how much we have loved them, that in itself was a lie.

Thanks, Constantine for the hugs. I hope you are doing alright.
Once again, happy to read you. Have a great weekend.

Love, always ~ Duped

BBE-thank you for your kindness! ♥ What a nice dream of your childhood dog! 🙂 I have that dream of a dog that wasn’t legally mine, but I loved him as mine. He belonged to a medical student who was gone a lot and he was so lonely. I related to him and spent many days with him outside his pen, petting him thru the wire and giving him licks off my popsicle. He figured out how to dig out, leave the pen and come to my home, where he spent his days and most nights, as the guy was gone long hours. He moved many miles away to a hospital north and took ‘my’ dog with him. Late one night..I heard a pound on the front door-scared us all!..it was ‘my’ dog-he had walked all the way back to me. He was dehydrated, with bleeding paws and collapsed in my arms! I nursed him back to health. The guy showed up and said he knew that dog would come back to me. My dad told him I loved him and he loved me and offered to buy him[my dad was a great, kind man] [dog was a show winning Boxer]. The guy refused and I never saw my bud again. But, I believe in heaven and I believe I will see him again-for what is heaven w/o our animal friends? ♡ HUGS to you BBE! We will see our friends again!

Duped: Yes, the P’s do show likeness, I agree with you!
The answer for me is: they choose to follow evil and I choose to follow God.

C.S. Lewis said: “Wickedness, when you examine it, turns out to be the pursuit of some good in the wrong way. You can be good for the mere sake of goodness: you cannot be bad for the mere sake of badness. You can do a kind action when you are not feeling kind and when it gives you no pleasure, simply because kindness is right; but no one ever did a cruel action simply because cruelty is wrong–only because cruelty was pleasant or useful to him. In other words badness cannot succeed even in being bad in the same way in which goodness is good. Goodness is, so to speak, itself: badness is only spoiled goodness…..Evil is a parasite, not an original thing.”

Yes, TB: They DO follow evilness. I believe it’s true.
Yes, following the “Light” is the only real answer. I agree with you, a thousand percent! Only the Angels have brought me this far. I am beholding for their Good Graces. xxoo

“….Evil is a parasite, not an original thing.”

All we can do is heal ourselves and forget the ugliness.
It is difficult. It is like losing a loved one, I know. But weigh it all out: all the right and good v. all the wrong and ugly. When you sort it out like that, you get a pretty good idea of what the answer is. Let me tell ya. 🙂

Why do they all ‘act’ alike and have some of the very samilar personalities? Don’t you find that ‘odd’ and a little off-centered? I mean, it’s almost like they are aliens sent here to devour us or something. 🙂 I just find it extraordinarily ‘odd’ that they all seem so similar. Almost as if they were ‘cloning’ themselves. (Just a thought). 🙂

The ol’ “HEAVE HO”! 🙂 <—MY solution to end this madness.

(((TB))) Have an awesome weekend. xxoo

Duped

Hey Louise –

Thanks a lot. No, I actually don’t know if the guy is still with her or not, though I think he is. I lost contact awhile back, but the last I saw it looked very much like the spath wife completely triumphed. (So much for the “sociopaths always crash and burn” theory – a nice fairy-tale, but patently false in the real world.)

At any rate, I suppose that “marriage counseling” is by its very nature biased towards “conflict resolution” and “marriage preservation”. Unfortunately, when one of the partners is a sociopath, this is – as we all know – the exact opposite of what needs to be done. Indeed, the only thing “to be done” with respect to a socio. is to sever the relationship utterly and irrevocably. Yet I wonder how many marriage counselors, number one, have the insight to recognize that one of the partners is an S.; and number two, have the moral courage to tell the other party, “The only answer is for you to break with this person uncompromisingly and forever.” – I don’t know, but I very much suspect that this combination is rare in even the BEST and most insightful of therapists…

Be that as it may, I like reading your posts, Louise. You sound like a very agreeable person! I also relate to your anger towards the amoral bitch you have to share the office with! (It would be poetic justice if both she and your ex-spath end up drowning on one of their stupid vacations! -haha, I will have to ask my pastor-friend if one is allowed to pray for such an outcome!)

Has anyone heard from LL?

Hi Duped –

On one level, your therapist is entirely correct: living in a state of constant anger is not only bad for one’s health – it likewise does nothing to harm the person who deserves it!

That being said, I think that sometimes we need to hear from another “insider” – “Hey, I get it, and you are totally justified in reacting like this and feeling as you do”; – as opposed to simply listening to platitudes and “self-help talk” from people who haven’t a fraction of our life experience. Because when someone (i.e. someone who has “been there”) relates to us like this, and acknowledges the validity of our reactions (as a wise and experienced person once did with me), then what ends up happening is that the anger and the bad emotions start to fade of their own accord.

And this really is an “insiders club,” where most people don’t even come close to “getting it.” So when we are challenged by the “outsiders” it tends to make us even more touchy and confrontational. For me, what really raised my hackles was when my family kept telling me, “Just try and appreciate the good times you had together,” etc.” Really?!!! But how do you appreciate the good part of a total lie? How do you abstract and savor any fraction of an utter falsehood?!!! Well, as far as I’m concerned – YOU DON’T! But it doesn’t mean that my family didn’t mean well. It’s just that they, alas, are “outsiders” as far as this is concerned, and haven’t a clue what it means to be “spathed”. So I take it all with a grain of salt. However, when someone finally told me, “Throw the whole F**king thing into the trash! It is all equally worthless!” – for me that was a profound vindication of what I already sensed myself. It was just nice to hear someone else say it!

So that’s what I’m telling you, dear Duped – I DO “get it” and can absolutely say that you aren’t crazy! (or “off the hook” or whatever.) No, Duped, it’s as bad as you make it out to be and then some.

However, I sense from your posts that the anger is dying down, and that peace and contentment are coming back into your life. It will take more time, naturally, but don’t beat yourself up simply because you haven’t been completely “cured” in three months!

On that note, have a great weekend!

Duped: your comment is so positive! I love it!!!!!! Cloning themselves….you do raise a good point and one I’ve really thought about! Have you ever read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis? That’s a look into the world of demons and their MO. It’s fictional-but very applicable.

Thanks, Duped! ((((DUPED)))) Hope your weekend is super too! â¤

Constantine:

I would bet the guy is still with his wife. I agree…they very rarely do crash and burn as much as we want them to do so. They seem to ALWAYS come out ahead, on top. And I think that’s because they make sure of it! They will always do what is best for them so of course they will come out well.

I totally agree about marriage counseling and that it always tries to preserve the marriage instead of REALLY delving into the issues and making a decision in the best interest of everyone involved. Even though I am a Christian and divorce is supposed to be not allowed only in the case of infidelity, I am not against it and do not always think it is best for people to stay together. My X spath’s wife is a believer, but he is not. He told me that they had gone to counseling and as soon as he realized it was affiliated with the church, he walked out. I have no idea if they have gone to counseling since, but I can imagine that scenario…the therapist trying to keep the marriage together when they have no idea what this guy has done or is capable of doing. Believe me, he is so charming, the therapist would never recognize he is a spath. It’s so disheartening.

Hahahaha!! Thanks for agreeing with me about the b*tch at work, but I left there almost a year ago. It is coming up on a year in 10 days!! I got out of there…absolutely could not deal with it. Gave up a great job of 12 years! And he did NOT go on vacation with her. She asked him, but he didn’t go. And they are both married. I am so glad I will NEVER see her or talk to her again. This is a big enough city that I most likely will never see her again and even that is too soon for me. She is the MOST manipulative woman I ever came across in my entire life. Very cute and sexy and boy did she ever use it. It was sickening.

Thanks for your post…it helped me today!!!!! 🙂

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