Every so often I get down on myself for having believed the lies of a con artist. When I come across stories like The Ultimate Con Artist which recently aired on Dateline, I realize that many who should have known better have been fooled. Before you read the rest of this column, follow the link and watch the video of this man.
Before my own encounter with a con artist, I thought I had personally observed most of the human behavioral repertoire. I had good reason for holding that belief, having trained in psychiatry at a large general hospital that served 4 million people. I didn’t think much of “con artists” in my mind they were simply people who were “good at sales.” The sociopaths I saw were all addicts or substance abusers. I can tell you I never saw anyone like the man portrayed in the Dateline story until I became a victim.
Just to verify that I am not alone, I ran a medical data base search using the term “con artist.” There is simply nothing written by my profession regarding con artists unless one assumes that Robert Hare’s concept of a “psychopath” refers to all con artists. I’m not sure it is helpful to lump people like Fred Brito together with serial killers.
I thought I would share with you my impressions of the Dateline profile of Fred Brito who certainly fits the profile of a sociopath. First, unless you see this man either on camera or in person, you cannot appreciate the positive energy he apparently has. Most people respond to this positive energy with trust and admiration.
This positive energy emanates from a nearly euphoric mood that many sociopaths have when they are not angry. One person writing into Lovefraud recently said that this euphoric mood is the result of not being burdened by guilt or fear, I agree.
The second reaction I had was that this man has an enormous sense of entitlement. Several of his relatives posted comments on the story alluding to his sense of entitlement. One suggested he take a job as a janitor or in a fast food restaraunt. Along with the sense of entitlement comes unshakable high self esteem and grandiosity. This high self esteem was apparent throughout the interview. Many sociopaths have a sense of entitlement and high self esteem. This is why there is a large overlap between the concepts of sociopathy and narcissism.
The third reaction I had to Fred Brito was that his story confirms my assertion that the pursuit of power is the prime motivator of sociopaths, con artists especially. From an early age, this man sought the company of high status individuals. It is interesting that like Brito, many sociopaths lack the desire to use their talents, energy and intelligence to pursue legitimate status. They invest enormous amounts of energy into obtaining phony status (truly baffling).
The last reaction I had to this particular story was that it doesn’t add up. How is it that an articulate, intelligent, energetic con artist has no love life? We know that these individuals are often highly sexual. Fred Brito is the kind of person we would hear of profiled with multiple marriages. I searched the internet for former lovers writing on Brito and found nothing. Perhaps he is the only nonsexual con artist in history or maybe there is more to the story.