How to recognize and recover from the sociopaths – narcissists in your life › Forums › Lovefraud Community Forum – General › Sunnygal: Boston Globe on Defrauding of Seniors
June 7, 2019 at 11:38 pm #52819
Am I missing something, or was there a glitch? You made two posts, one about an article on “sociopathic women” and the other about seniors being defrauded, but I can’t find either of them!
Here’s the one on sociopathic women: useful enough, I dare say, but without much practical advice, and I think the writer got things a bit muddled when it came to analyzing the motives of a “sociopath.” However, it’s the article on elder abuse that especially prompted me to comment:
A couple of quotes:
Seniors who live alone can be vulnerable because it’s human nature to welcome contact from the outside world. “If your phone hasn’t rung all week long, and suddenly someone calls, you can think this is someone who’s going to help you with something,” said Julie Schoen, deputy director of the National Center on Elder Abuse at the University of Southern California.
I can understand how that could be true for an elderly person who’s isolated and housebound especially, who might welcome any phone call, even just as a break from the monotony. Yet it gave me an ironic smile because, sad to say, unless I recognize who’s calling, my reaction to most phone calls these days is the complete opposite: “Oh, no, not one more idiot trying to ‘sell’ me something!”
That makes me want to VENT! These accursed robocalls are a menace in themselves. Naturally I’m on the Federal “Do Not Call” list, but that doesn’t make a damn bit of difference. I get dozens of robocalls every day, many of them the same scam over and over again. The “IRS has filed a lien against you” scam. The “Your Windows license has expired” scam. The “Social Security” scam. Of course they don’t know who’s a senior and who isn’t, so they blanket all of us with calls anyway. Those scams in particular keep cropping up, but there are others. Recently I even keep getting some message in Chinese, would you believe! It’s something about an alleged UPS delivery; I don’t doubt it’s another scam.
It’s such a monumental inconvenience, because it’s gotten to the point where I just don’t answer calls any more from a number I don’t know. That means I might be missing a call from somebody I’d actually want to talk with! Worse still, occasionally somebody I’d like to hear from is not allowed to call me! Seriously! The year before last, my tax accountant wanted to call me to remind me to make an appointment. But she was not allowed to because her own reputable company obeys the law and (since I’m on the “Do Not Call” list) was prohibited from “soliciting my business” without my express permission!–which she didn’t happen to have in writing.
So it all goes to show how this entire robocall business is a disaster, and way out of hand. At least the Senate is proposing to do something about it. Whether it will make any difference remains to be seen, but it’s about time the government did something that’s actually useful!
One paragraph from the Boston Globe article I found particularly interesting:
“Scammers know that the most effective way to defraud someone is to hijack their amygdala, the emotional part of the brain,” said Mike Festa, director of AARP Massachusetts. “They don’t want you thinking, they want you reacting. When you’re dealing with the grandchildren, when you’re dealing with the IRS, people are going to have an emotional reaction.”
Yes, all too often it’s people’s feelings that make them especially vulnerable to predators in one way or another. This reminded me instantly of the point Donna has made here time and again, about how predators of one kind or another “hijack” various systems within the brain, such as the “human bonding system,” in order to exploit their victims.
There’s another emotional aspect too, when it comes to elderly victims of fraud:
AARP’s [Kathy] Stokes, who runs seminars across the country to raise awareness of senior scams, concedes “it can seem like it’s a really scary world out there.” But she remains optimistic the tide can be reversed with unrelenting education that gives older folks permission to “engage their inner skeptic” when scammers come calling.
Being skeptical of sweet-talking strangers “is advice our parents told us growing up,” Stokes said. “Now it’s time for us to remind them to do it themselves.”
Kathy Stokes’s advice is of course well taken. It’s an admonition to engage the faculty of critical thinking before jumping to hasty or panicky conclusions and taking impulsive action. I have to praise the rational thinking of 88-year-old Beatrice Levoy, who nearly fell victim to a scam, until the fraudsters pretending to be from Bank of America asked for her Social Security number–and she “thought they should know that” already! Good for her! Beatrice, we’re told, used to be a science teacher, and she may have been a good one too! Although she must be long retired, she’s never allowed the logical part of her brain to rust away.
However, that cognitive part of the brain can be inextricably entangled with the emotional part, which often interferes with “critical thinking” and with properly considered decisions. One factor that might be crucial is our (instinctively based) sensitivity to threats, which can vary from one person to another. It’s an emotional rather than a logical function. It has political implications too, which I won’t go into here. But as it affects elderly people, the impression I have, whether it’s right or wrong, is that we all as human beings have this particular “sensitivity” to one degree or another, which can operate regardless of the data our logical faculties are feeding us about the reality or otherwise of a given threat. People can be “oversensitive” or “undersensitive” to that.
In old age, it may be that this particularly “sensitivity” can go “out of whack,” the way some other bodily functions (such as blood pressure) do in old age. They can “go wrong” in either direction, too high or too low.
In the same way, it seems that “sensitivity to threats” may go up or down in elderly people. A “well tuned” and moderate sensitivity allows the rational mind to play its part. Is a threat realistic enough to worry about, or not? On the one hand, some elderly people get all curmudgeonly and a bit paranoid. They imagine that everyone is “trying to take advantage” of them in one way or another, and they’re very wary. Though they may be hard to get along with at times, elderly people like that may not be at too much risk of being exploited. They have heightened sensitivity to threats.
However, some elderly people can go in the opposite direction. They become too trusting in old age. It’s as if their alertness to threats has become dulled. They’ll accept what people tell them without challenging it. What Kathy Stokes called their “inner skeptic” has atrophied with age, weakening their defenses against exploitation.
No doubt it’s possible to speculate that these diametrically opposite attitudes are the consequence of reasoning processes. The overly suspicious oldster could be thinking “I’m old, and therefore vulnerable, so I’d better watch out for anyone who’s trying to put one over on me.” Meanwhile, the overly trusting person has often lost the mental acuity to question what’s going on. Alternatively, knowing they’re old and feeble, they may welcome anyone who seems to be trying to “help” them–genuine or not! But it could be a difference in that emotional part of their brain as well, depending on whether they have a heightened or lowered sensitivity to threats. It’s nice to think all they need is “reminding” and “permission” to “engage their inner skeptic,” as Kathy Stokes put it. But I regret to say that may only work part of the time. These scammers need to be suppressed or exterminated.
June 8, 2019 at 5:00 pm #52822
redwald- I also found the article on sociopath women useful. I gave the site but not a link because I don’t know how to post a link on this site. Regarding the Boston Globe article on scammers scamming seniors, I agree they should be exterminated. I got a call yesterday that was in Chinese. It must have been a scammer. I at one time did have a neighbor who spoke Chinese so there are some. I think it is important for people to be aware of scammers so they don’t fall for them. I’m glad the Boston Globe published this article.
June 19, 2019 at 12:47 pm #52930
redwald- I think the article on sociopathic women is really good. Thanks for posting it.
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