By | November 29, 2011 127 Comments

It’s Up To All Of Us Now

Wow, last week’s course with Dr Robert Hare was absolutely amazing!  A huge eye-opener on how offending psychopaths are measured and dealt with in the criminal justice system — and also an insight in to the astonishing man who has given so much to so many of us. I’m planning to cover more about that in future posts…

This week I’d like to talk about another subject that came up last week. It was also spelled out loud and clear in the Fishead movie that I know many of you have seen. It’s the point that, even though it’s widely acknowledged that a psychopath cannot ”˜get better’ (and therefore it stands to reason that we cannot change the way they behave) it’s also true that the vast majority of the population are inadvertently supporting these types of people as they continue inflicting damage on individuals and on society itself.

I know”¦ that was a pretty strong statement to make. Believe me, it’s not one I make lightly.

The movie, Fishead, made a point that I found absolutely fascinating. Talking about famous psychopathic leaders, it invited us, the audience, to consider whether it is solely the psychopath who is responsible for the bad things that happen. Couldn’t it also be argued that it is the rest of us who are also in part responsible, because we are allowing the destructive behaviour to continue? Albert Einstein said, “The world is a dangerous place to live; not because of the people who are evil, but because of the people who don’t do anything about it.”

Stand Up, Speak Out

I had to agree — it made perfect sense to me. In particular, I could identify with this from my years of experience working with teams and individuals in my professional career. Too often people will choose to keep their heads down, say nothing or let things wash over them in order to keep the peace. They’ll smile and say that everything is ”˜fine’”¦ Despite the fact that they may be desperately unhappy with a situation or a person they work with! Everything is far from fine. And no, it’s neither OK nor right that people should be expected (even encouraged!) to carry on regardless. This isn’t what the human race is about! This isn’t how we’ve made so much progress! This isn’t how it’s meant to be! My job, in those instances, is to encourage people to speak out and find a way to openly and honestly address issues in a healthy way that benefits them as an individual as well as the wider team. And it works. Every time.

It was the next part, though, that really made me sit up and take notice. Because just a few moments later, the film explained what percentage of the remaining population would need to do something different in order to have an effect on the rest. Before the answer was given, I had a stab at guessing what the figure would be, and felt confident that they would say around 20 — 30%. But you know what? I was totally wrong. The film said that it would take just 5% of the population to wake up and make a stand against the unacceptable — even just the small things — to make sociopathic behaviours that much harder to stick. Just 5% of us”¦ that’s all. Just that small amount to stand up to actions we know are wrong. To say “no” when we’re not happy. To demand a change when something goes against our values. Because when one of us starts standing up for what is right, then it encourages others to do the same. It wakes people up. It gives people permission to speak out and stop tolerating stuff that is harmful or hurtful to ourselves and to others.

“Having good morals” somebody said in the film “is contagious — just as much if not more so than bad morals!”

The thing is, though, while we block our instincts, shut down our emotions, and glide around in a pretend bubble of “everything’s fine” we are providing the perfect breeding ground for predators. They’re free to fine-tune their approach, hone their skills, and continue with their actions against humankind because we do nothing to stop them or at least ”˜call them’ on what they are doing.

Behaviour Breeds Behaviour

Yes, this is a scary world. It is also a world of opportunities and magic. A world where we can make more of a difference than most of us realize. And, in my opinion, the more people who become aware of how little is necessary to make a massive difference, more will join our growing army of fighters determined to do something to stop the predators, warn others against them and help those of us who have already been hurt by them.

It doesn’t take much you know. It really doesn’t. From my own experience, I know that as I have become stronger at simple things like setting boundaries and saying no, then my perspective of the world and, therefore, my experience of the world continues to change for the better. I feel more confident, and more in control. My heart is more open and I can clearly see with love and kindness. Each day I am more joyful, and each day brings more wonderful surprises. Did anything change on the outside? Does it mean that I have managed to rid the world of people who would do me harm? No, it doesn’t. It simply means that what I am now allowing in to my world is a deliberate and conscious choice — and I no longer stand for any kind of nonsense.

Can you imagine what would happen if more of us took the conscious decision to say no to anything that wasn’t useful or pleasing in our life? Can you imagine how inspiring it would be to others? Can you imagine how wonderful things could eventually become — and how impossible it would be for sociopaths to thrive as they have been”¦?

My friend Rachel pointed out when I was telling her all about last week’s course “Well, we can’t keep all the psychos locked up — so we’ve got to learn how to fight against them!”

So I did some simple sums in my head. Granted we don’t know for sure, but let’s say that 1% of the free population is psychopathic. We all do know for sure that these people will all have many victims — most running in to double figures when you take in to account that they may have hurt colleagues as well as friends and family, let alone the mega-sociopath who may have hatched a scheme that defrauds hundreds or thousands! So, for argument’s sake let’s say that if each has ten victims, then at least 10% of the population has had personal experience of a psychopath — regardless of whether or not they recognize what they were dealing with. That doesn’t necessarily matter. What matters is the fact that they have been hurt. That in some way (or many ways) they have experienced the destruction that these individuals continue to wreak on us, their unsuspecting victims. The original nice guys who naturally choose trust over suspicion.

It Only Takes 5%

So, what do you think might happen if just half of those people could learn how to re-set boundaries? How to speak out? How to stand up? How to reclaim who they are? How to consciously choose a life that’s filled with happiness and positive experiences”¦ ? We’d have the 5% that the film talked about and, as I’ve already said, it’s just as simple to copy the happy stuff — if not easier in fact! The good stuff, the positive results, can be hugely contagious. What chance would the baddies have in such a positive environment where people would no longer stand for negative behaviour? Of course I can’t prove it”¦ but I’m pretty sure that they couldn’t survive.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again because I feel it’s important. It’s up to all of us now. We all have the power to heal and to make a difference – no matter how impossible it may seem at times. Yes, I know from experience that it isn’t easy. I also know that we are all at different stages of our journey and I also acknowledge that not everyone will be interested in reaching out any further. It doesn’t matter. Because either way, all of us here have first hand experience of “the dark side” — we know what it means and we understand the dangers. And our numbers are growing.

I believe that we are the ones who can band together and make a real difference. From where I am standing, it is our painful experiences that make us authentic, giving us the hard-earned power to understand and empathise at the deepest level. We’ve been there, seen it and got the T-shirt, and perhaps have more reason than others to make sure that we find a way to stop these people continuing to hurt us and others.

What do you reckon”¦? 😉

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I rekon I’m in!!

Thank you for your insights Mel! Thank you for your dedication to helping others to understand and heal and be less of a potential target for sociopaths. What can I do to help?

This brings to mind the poem “The Hangman” by Maurice Ogden. The poem is usually cited as an indictment of those who stand idly by while others commit grave evil or injustice, such as The Holocaust. I am not sure what to do with what I now know, but I do know everything changed because of my experience with a sociopath and I would love to help empower people to be less prone to the pain and suffering that we here on Lovefraud have experienced.

Mahatma Gandhi: “You must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Another observation IMHO, Mel I have read many of your articles now and I have read posts on your blog. I just want to tell you I am moved and inspired by your story. I see it in others here on Lovefraud also. As I read your blog I was moved by the love you had for your husband. I can relate, as I am sure many here can. I can also relate to the excruciating pain of the reality that it was all a lie and that your husband never cared about you at all… In your writing you don’t even minimize the deep feelings of love that you had for him and the little things that you missed about him. So pure and sweet, you loved him, you cherished him! I can relate to that also, and how it makes the sting of the truth cut even more deeply.

One of things I wrestle with is, how can someone publically share their story in a completely transparent way without providing more n/fuel for the ego of the spath? Should that matter? If our main purpose is to help other people overcome and heal from a relationship with a psychopath how can we, that do feel, and do love, and do bond, not be completely transparent about the depth of the pain of betrayal and abuse?

I think the especially profound part in your story is how you have been transformed, you are not only a survivor, but an over-comer! I think it is a beautiful thing when a person can heal from all of this pain and betrayal to the point that they are not bitter and/or angry any more. I think that is the ultimate goal here, because only then are we truly free of the tentacles of the spath on our hearts and minds. Mel, that is what I see in your story! You are authentic and transparent and very courageous and I hope to be there also someday soon!


I agree. People need to join together and be active about identifying sociopaths and sociopathic behavior, making others aware, and working pre-emptively to protect innocent people.


Yes, I agree that we have to band together against the spaths, but we have to do it WITHOUT EMOTIONS.

Any emotions will feed them. They don’t react to punishment the way we would. They look for whatever we value and use it against us.

The best way to defeat a spath is to NOT PARTICIPATE in anything that gives them power, money, drama or attention.

The phrase, “turn your back on them” is the most apt to describe what we need to do. Silently, and without drama, turn your backs on the spaths. Treat them as though they don’t exist.



Standing up to point out a certain act or behaviour or excuse is wrong or does not cut it can be done without being emotional. Let’s say I see 3 teen girls slap a can of soda from a window to the street and then kick it in front of them for a while. I think that’s wrong, but I’m not emotional. So, when I then say in passing that if they have the energy to kick a can of soda along on the street, they also have the energy to pick it up and throw it in the dustbin at the next corner. If I’m in a Cuban restaurant with my group and I hear them tell us they have ‘sea turtle’ on the menu, I have both the position and morals to point out without any drama that sea turtles are endangered species and that eating it or trying it would only encourage the Cubans to catch and cook them for tourists illegally. There might be some dufus (who also thinks that sex tourism is a sign of libertine culture of which I understand nothing) who then claims that ‘they raise turtles in turtle farms’. And I may have to answer ‘that’s crocodiles… but sea turtles take decades to be big enough the size she signaled’, but I can guarantee there will be no one ordering turtle… and I had 2 tourists in that group who had strange weird morals, narcistic and not very empathic.


Progress is slow, to a point, in most giant endeavors. I think getting the word out about these master buttheads is a pretty giant project.

Seems like most big learnings eventually, as awareness gains momentum, make a leap, where the knowledge becomes part of the greater culture and behaviors. Who knows where we are in that process. I do know I hear narcissisism and psychopathy referenced a lot more in the news and in writing and on TV.

I also hear Sky loud and clear. The other approach to stopping these offenders is to quit feeding them their favorite drug: Our emotional responses. They use our emotional reactions like recreational drugs.

Why do we watch them on reality TV, buy their products, and worship them as better than us? Our society, while becoming aware of these types, at the same time worships them. And we fear them.

They live for our personal drama, both good and bad. They feed off of our authentic emotional responses to affection, sex, compliments, love, and abuse.

I think they get high off our emotions. For any of us here who have taken either legal or illicit drugs we have experienced the mind altering effects. How they release us from inhibition and numb us to reality.

I think this is what is could be like for personality disordered people. They get high when someone has a strong reaction to them. They get giddy and excited and feel powerful. They become more audacious and bold, and take greater risks when they have our undivided attention, and our reactions.

But they are NOT able to achieve the deep and lasting effects from interacting with free/authentic people. They are not able to be awakened by experience, and changed. Everything is a simple and superficial ‘rush’. They keep moving, like sharks, keep moving and preying on the next experience. I don’t even think they see us a people. They see us as a source of their high.

I think the guy who wrote the Five Agreements said something to the effect of ‘don’t take anything personal’. The spaths are good, albeit wretched and despised, teachers of this ‘golden rule’. In order not to give them our emotions we have to depersonalize their behavior toward us. We have to know that they are not treating ‘us’ a certain way. They are projecting all their own hatred and confusion into the world, and in fact it has NOTHING to do with us as individuals.

It is 100% about them.

Let’s call ’em, and starve ’em out.


There is a problem we victims have as far as standing up to the psychopaths/narcissists/bullies. We have no experience.
Most of our experience is centered around believing P/S/N lies, and doubting ourselves or cowering. We need to have “in person – classes” and practice (in a safe environment), talking back, standing up for ourselves, calling them on their inappropriate and/or unconscionable behavior. For most of us victims it has been “on the job” training . . . N/P/S have practiced all their all their lives how to lie, manipulate and dominate us. We must PRACTICE “Talking back and taking our power back” etc. I think there should be COURSES FOR VICTIMS where you role play responses to put-downs, gas-lighting, lies etc. So that when the time comes . . . we feel comfortable doing it, and it’s not the first time we’ve done it.


The hunger strike is ON!! They get no emotion or reactions from me. *yawn*



You said it, call ’em out and starve ’em out!

We are allowed to laugh at them though.

Laughter is one of the best emotions for diffusing drama. That’s why the opposite of tragedy is comedy. And you can watch a movie with accidents and bloopers but still laugh if the director spins it correctly.

That’s why my spath hated it when I laughed. His drama dissipated when I wouldn’t take it seriously. The other thing to do is *yawn*, as Ana stated. I used to say, “whatever.” and it would infuriate the spath. “DON’T WHATEVER ME!” He would stomp. hahahah, whatever.

They want desperately to be important. Don’t give them that. They are not important, they are infants.


I’m going to practice yawing and laughing! Now the kids today make it even worse by saying: whatevs…lol that might infuriate him/her even further!

Ox Drover

How can you “laugh” at Sandusky or turn your back on him? There are some things that we MUST NOTICE, we must STAND UP and fight. Pretending you don’t notice child molestation, or don’t notice that the psychopath like Madoff has ruined millions of lives financially folks.

The recent “drama rama” that has come my way is something I IGNORE, and it infuriated the person trying to get me to respond, but there is no REAL INJURY that this person can do to me, they can talk badly about me, spread lies, etc. and IT DOES NOT MATTER TO ME…let her rant! I could care less, she is not important, but IF SHE WAS HARMING CHILDREN I would have to step up and TAKE NOTICE…or if she was scamming, I’d have to give her attention.

There is a big difference between a garden variety creep high ini P traits and narcissistic and the psychopaths like my son Patrick. I have to notice him and fight him as best I can. Even with the egg donor, I do my best to “starve” her emotionally and keep the drama rama at a minimum, but I have to fight it the best I can, if I ignore it totally It will cost me my very life.

The parents of children that have psychopathic parents, have to fight for every inch to protect their children. Look at MiLo, her P daughter does want attention and files suits and carp about “visitation” just to ring MiLo’s chimes not because she really wants to see her child, but MiLo can NOT “ignore” this or turn her back on the P daughter because when they directly seriously ATTACK you, you must defend yourself even at the expense of “feeding” them drama.

The wife of that coach who was doing the ball boys, I think his name was “Fine” (how’s that for an oxymoron!) SHE KNEW what he was doing, and actually she had sex with one of his former victims after the kid turned 18 (HOW SICK IS THAT?) She was taped on a phone conversation with that kid saying she KNEW and she DID NOTHING….except feel sorry for herself that he liked young boys better than her! THAT WOMAN is a co-defendant as far as I am concerned, and so are those creeps at Penn State, they knew and did nothing, even the assistant coach that did report to Paterno, he let it drop there. Talk about NO MORAL BACK BONE!

Pox on the ENABLERS.



There is no ‘right’ response to spaths, except NC. There are sentence constructions where you can assert to someone else how their actions make you feel (it’s called an I-sentence: make neutral observation about behaviour + give feedback about the consequences of this as in how it makes you feel – and yes it takes courage to admit someone’s behaviour makes you feel as if you’re invisible to the – + tell what you expect instead). I’ve been trained for years to use such feedback boudnary messages to teens, tourists, and people I know in my personal life. Such an assertive response WORKS with NORMAL EMPATHIC people. They will change their behaviour to an extent to accomodate you. It DOES NOT work on a spath.

I experienced several times how I used such phrases to my ex-spath, and before I knew it we had a fight on our hands anyway, because he could not recognize how I felt because of his actions, nor cared about it. Strangely enough, I noticed he was fully able to express similar phrases to me, and I almost naturally and immediately conformed to it.

Sky is right. Spaths -> NC. But Spaths don’t operate in a vacuum. They dupe and suck in people who influence their friends and their friends to the 3rd degree. People have the flexible mind to tend to come to see what they see daily in their lives as ‘normal’. But as much as they can influence others, we can influence them. Not by pointing at a spath and say “that’s a spath’, but by calling bullshit when the victim comes with some excuse.

I just watched fishead. I went to the site, wrote the moviemakers an email to request the password to be able to view it for free online. They paint this picture at the end of the majority of people being good people but passive, living with the belief we can’t do anything really to those sharks at the top of our society’s pyramid. But we can. Just by acting on our morals and call bull when we see it. You don’t need to endanger your life for it, but you can exercise assertivity in your daily life on little stuff.

And what will happen is that eventually through social life you will affect your friends, who affect their friends, etc… and if 5% call bull and stand up against something it’s enough to make the whole society aware and wake them up and realize, “hey, it’s true… that’s not right at all,” and actually create more opportunities and confidence for others to stand up against something. Eventually it does change laws and behaviours.

Smoking is an example of it, recycling, anti-fur movement (is it surprise that this year real fur is back in fashion… well I find it wrong and despicable). The change is not instant, but like a wave, and it does happen, and it can happen in both directions (genocides, dictatorships, wars, economic crashes are examples of the negative side of that).

My example of the sea turtle is a daily example of how I influenced people. I had 2 tourists with dubious morals: one a namecaller and feeling entitled to namecall people, becuase it was only a joke; a second one who pressured his lodge hosts to be pimps for him and arrange prostitutes for him. Was it a surprise that the namecaller showed an interest in trying sea turtle before I and a few others spoke up? Not at all. Was it a surprise that when I explained that sea turtles are endangered species that the sex tourist came up with some fantasised argument to rationalise ordering sea turtle? Nope. Almost half of my group had fallen under the spell of the namecaller. The other half thought like me on their conduct the 3 weeks of that trip. And yet 3 of us spoke against it, and despite the sex tourist’s silly ‘farm’ fantasy, even the namecaller said, “If that’s so, then I don’t think I’ll order it.” Why? Maybe he did not care what I and the other 2 thought of him, but even his ‘followers’ showed signs of being apalled at the idea after I explained. He knew that he would get a bad review if he would order turtle. So, he didn’t, to save face and status.

Eventually that is the dream with spaths… When something becomes such a general amoral issue within a society (such as eating endangered animal species) that even dupes and spath hailers tend to agree that is amoral… then the spaths can neither argue for the amoral act, nor dare to expose themselves. It won’t make them any lesser spaths, but it takes away their justification podium.

What do spaths do? a) they rationalize that under the circumstances their actions are defendable b) and later they demoralize others by surrounding themselves with supporters who parrot the same rationalisations c) to later make everybody else who disagrees think they are in the minority and smear campaign them d) to make the ones who still disagree believe they can’t do anything against it even if they tried… they are silenced.

It happens in microsocieties in a circle of friends, it happens in forums, it happens on the internet, it happens in a country, it happens globally…But we can turn it around too. And it starts with us, in our homes, with our friends, on forums, on the internet, on the street.


I’m no expert on solving all the world’s problems with spaths
(I just play one on TV) 🙂

But here’s how you make fun of Sandusky.

Jon Stewart IS a professional spathinator AND he plays one on TV, too. His method: he ridicules them.

Of course, we also must notice, arrest and prosecute them too. But giving them a dramatic trial like we did for Casey Anthony, just makes them feel like super stars. It all has to be done without drama, cameras, media and attention. Plain, grey, legal proceedings can get the job done.

I guess it’s not what you say to a spath but how you say it that makes a difference. They don’t understand words anyway, they only understand the emotional reactions on your face which go with the words. Believe me, to a narcissist, the very worst thing you can do is laugh at them. It might even be worse than ignoring them. I’m not sure.


Wow, what a post. I really enjoyed reading that esp. the end!

Skylar, LOL



I hear you. I think going grey rock is only one strategy. One that we can use when appropriate.

When it’s time to call someone out and defend innocents, then going grey rock is only part of the picture. The other part is initiating the right protections and alerting the proper people.

Also, there is talking, in general, to folks who are interested in learning about sociopathy. Having good boundaries and a solid value system is also good for keeping the creepies at bay.

There are a myriad of ways to bring the rotten actions of these folks to light, and to keep them away from you, by making yourself unattractive to them. I think laughing at the less malignant sorts is a big turn off to them, and makes you look like a bore and and less a target.

I know you weren’t posting just to me, but I think I sometimes boil things down a bit too much. So I appreciate being reminded to use the right tool for the right job. Ignoring Hitler would not have made him go away. UNLESS everyone had ignored him. Not likely.

Please do not bring up politics on this blog – it tends to start arguments.


Thank you Ana… I felt inspired and hopeful again after watching fishead, and needed to share it 🙂

There have been occassions when my I-messages to my ex-spath worked… never in private… but when he egged me on in public, and he in some way hoped to have me paint myself off as a drama-queen in response to him, that tended to backfire. If the I message meant nothing to him, because they directly appeal to empathy in an assertive manner, empathy he didn’t have, then he must have noticed how it affected the people he used as witness audience, and that it made them look at him through my eyes. He would instantly back off and then seek an opportunity to apologize afterwords, but still with the same audience within earshot for it.

Sky, your comment about laughing at them made me think of that namecalling guy and how his followers ended namecalling each other… especially those girls seemed to think they were proving me I was thin-skinned for pointing out it was improper behaviour before… but now that I think of it: after that one confrontation where I had pointed it out pubically to him, he never ever namecalled me, nor did they. They were namecalling each other… or rather he called them cunts and bitches, they let him and laughed about it. That kinda made them the fools in my eyes, and probaby his too.

On the last day soemthing even more childish occurred. I usually have a joke at the start of a trip… I tell people I have 3 rules for which I remove someone from the group. People are fairly timid at the start and kinda intimidated when I say that. They await my 3 rules with anxiousness. And then I explain that a big no-no are wearing white socks in sandals, or having braids like Bo Derek, or arriving too late at a meeting point when we have to take transport. Most people laugh relieved about it, and that way they remember ‘do my best to be at the meeting point on time’ without me sounding like a teacher (tourists are adults after all).

On the last day in Havana before the end of the tour, the namecaller and his mate told me that oen of the girls was off for several hours and probably would not make it back at the time of meeting, so couldn’t I delay the meeting to go to the restaurant (the one with the sea turtle on the menu). Apparently she was off to do something, she didn’t want me to know about before she returned. So, I asked them, half smiling, “She’s getting braids like Bo Derek in her hair or what?” And my guess was the right one. When she returned, I told her that I didn’t care what she did with her hair. It was her hair after all to do with as she liked. That’s kinda when she started to realize how silly she had truly acted. I wouldn’t be surprised if the namecaller put her up to it.

If I regard that namecaller as a near spath or a spath (he didn’t seem to like women in general, something bad about his ex as well), then I see especially the girls who ended up being his followers as the ones who made fools of themselves, and how he probably thought of them as fools as well, but they were handy to get some support to do as he liked.

Ox Drover

The thing that I hate really is that people “laughing at them” and making light of the heinous things they have done is in a way giving them attention that they crave. If the psychopaths felt TRUE shame it would be one thing, but at best they just want to keep up their FALSE FRONT….well some of them want to keep up that false front, others could care less about what others think of them. I’ve known some Ps each way and some in the middle.

The “garden variety” person high in P and/or N traits but not GENERALLY a true danger to society or to others (i.e. Not Ted Bundy or Bernie Madoff) may be influenced by public outing, because they want to keep up their false front. Former Governor James E. McGreevey is an example of that kind of a “snake in a suit” I think when he was caught and called himself a “gay American” LOL and tried to act like he was so noble to come out of the closet….with his gobsmacked wife standing beside him. COMMMMMME ON!!!! He isn’t likely to kill her, or rob a bank, or that kind of P-crime, and maybe Gray Rock or Potted Plant treatment or shaming him or laughing at him would influence him somewhat, but the Ted Bundys, the Sanduskys, the Hitler, the Stalins, the Chariman Maos, all those people have to be FOUGHT….and unfortunately you can’t always tell what they are, or even that they ARE a psychopath until they have taken over the country, or raped children, or started a program of genocide.

I think Darwin’s mom is right in that we CAN and should stand up for what we think is RIGHT…whether it is not eating endangered sea turtles, or name calling or other forms of bullying, or teachers cheating on ACT tests….good behavior is contageous, but so is bad behavior.

Sitting on the FENCE and watching someone hurt someone else or failing to do what we know is right or speak up puts some of the guilt on OUR shoulders as well.

Pontius Pilate washed his hands before the mob that crucified Jesus, but that didn’t make him any less guilty for what was done. I think we need to HOLD UP OUR HANDS for what is right even if we are the ONLY one in the crowd doing so. Being “right” didn’t make Jesus any more “popular” and it won’t always make us popular, as I found out in my living history group with the jerk that pointed the gun at me as a “joke” and his buddy the president of the group. I haven’t always stood up for what I thought was right, I have failed to do so many times when I SHOULD have stood up, but I am doing my best to do so in the present and the future.


I totally agree with Sarah about there being “in person classes”. boy, could i have sure used some of those lessons.



That’s entirely correct about most them secretly basking in being “outed.” At the same time, there are some like mine who really find it inconveniencing to have their masks removed before family and friends. (Notice, I didn’t say “emotionally painful” – just “inconvenient” – along the lines of an ingrown toenail or some such thing.)

As far as “getting even” I think NC is almost always the best way to go. But there is one exception (for me at least), and it’s this: if you can completely devastate them in one bold and and fell stroke – without any significant consequences to yourself, of course – then my view is one should do it and not look back! In other words, if you have secret info. that will cause them to lose their jobs, families, reputations, finances, etc. (again, without any appreciable repercussions to oneself), I say GO FOR IT!

But then again, I’m a very dangerous and confrontational person when properly roused!

Okay, on that note, gotta run. Have a nice day.


I think the “I” responses that we have been taught . . are totally wrong. I agree with you that the best response is NC. But as an interum measure (if it is safe). I believe that the best response is NOT an “I” statement. But starting sentences with YOU. Like YOU are insensitive, YOU are WRONG, STOP what YOU are doing. YOU are lying. YOU are a “whatever”. Instead of absorbing and acknowledging their demented actions and how they effected you….I think
it is best to put the responsibility squarely where it belongs i.e., . . .ON THEM! Let them know that they are wrong, inappropriate, crazy, demented . . whatever. Let them know THEY are WRONG and they need need to change (although we know they can’t and won’t). Of course, the best response IMHO is NC . . and go on to live a good life without
P/S/N/A or Bullies.



That is true… Eventually, my ex-spath provoked me to use YOU sentences. And it would halt him right in his tracks. It kinda baffled him. But YOU sentences are basically aggressive, and afterwards I felt that I had not just been aggressive to the spath but also to myself.

Another problem was that once I started to use YOU sentences on him, it became harder to use I-sentences in situations with normal people. YOU sentences backfires on normal people, because they are regarded as an attack. And aggression normally gets returned with aggression (passive or active).

So, the best is NC and GREY ROCK with a spath in your personal atmoshpere.


further. . . P/S/N/A and bullies are all about POWER, CONTROL and WINNING. When you let a P/S/N/A know that they have effected you . . i.e., hurt you etc . . you have acknowledged that they were successful in their abuse/putdowns, power and control. (i.e., They were able to effect you), and IMHO you have positively reinforced their abusive behavior. So IMHO . . it is best to take the emphasis OFF of how THEIR behavior made YOU feel . . and put the emphasis on the fact their behavior (and they) are crazy, wrong, evil, inappropriate, i.e., INSTEAD of saying your put-downs, cheating, lying etc made me feel bad… Say YOU are wrong to put-me down, lie, cheat etc. You are demented . . You are crazy . . whatever is correct for the situation. I think those “I” statements that we were taught, do not apply when you are dealing with PERSONALITY DISORDERED individuals. They apply only when the other person is also a feeling, kind, person who “HAS a CONSCIENCE”, and does not put WINNING, DOMINATION and CONTROL above all else. That’s just me.


I agree, Sarah… the reason for that is that an I-message is about changing hurtful behaviour through evoking empathy.

a) spaths don’t have empathy
b) they don’t change

Strangely enough though, my ex spath was able to deliver a perfect I message to appeal to my empathy. It was one of those things that bugged and mystified me when within the relationship, and I consider it a red flag nowadays.


Actually, I think that there is confusion between EMPATHY and COMPASSION. Simply put . . .EMPATHY is KNOWING what someone else feels, COMPASSION is CARING what someone else feels. I believe, that the most sadistic psychopaths have tons of EMPATHY. Inorder to be a successful sadist, and know exactly how to hurt the other person maximally, you have to really have LOTS OF EMPATHY. You must know what will hurt the other person the most. This will also give the N/P/S/A the most power and control, and in their warped mind . . they will win.
The more it hurts, the more successful they were in their sadism. What these sadistic psychopaths are missing is COMPASSION. They don’t CARE that they have hurt someone, as a matter of fact the revil in it. So I believe many P/S/N/A do have EMPATHY . . . but they don’t have COMPASSION.
As a matter of fact I think it is OUR projection that doesn’t allow us to think of Empathy realistically. We know that if WE were hurting someone . . we would stop and feel bad. We are projecting that feeling onto P/S/N/A’s. When in fact . . . if they know THEY are hurting someone they feel powerful, in control, and successful in their domination etc. So, in conclusion, P/S/N/A’s may have LOTS of EMPATHY, but they do not have COMPASSION.


Neurological studies suggest otherwise, Sarah. Empathy provokes an emotional response, and it is this that is shallow to non-existent in spaths. Even their own personal pain experience is not equal to ours, which explains why they take risks without fear, even if that risk involves damaging themselves. Smiling or crying faces give the same response in the brain for a spath as if he was watching a picture with a flower in it.

The empathic impulse and experience can not be voluntarily ignored in the brain. Studies have shown how if someone pricks my finger with a needle, my frontal lobes of hte cortex will alight with a pain impulse in my brain. If I see someone else being pricked with the needle, my brain will instantly respond the same way as if I were being pricked. It is this neurological response that is absent with spaths.

The enjoyment, glee from a spath is the cognitive knowledge they can make the victim respond in a way that proves to them they have control. People can only either do this through dissociation or not actually feeling anything (aka no empathic abilities).

Dissociation is a mental trauma survival tactic, where an individual kinda gets out of their body and cut themselves from feeling. For this to lead to the effect of sociopathic levels the dissociation must be chronic and fixed as survival method for a majority in someone’s lifetime.



I don’t understand – can you clarify?

He sent you a message to provoke YOUR empathy?
Or the other way around?
What was the red flag?


That when I used an I-sentence to deal with his actions that he’d make a scene and just did not respond to them as I’m accustomed to with people normally… but that he was able to make a perfect I-sentence himself when he didn’t like my behaviour. Actually that’s a direct sign of his lack of empathy, but he was fully able to make perfectly clear how my behaviour upset him. This dichotomy is a red flag to me.

The occasions he made a perfect I-sentence to appeal to my empathy and alter my behaviour was when during a fight over the phone I disconnected the phone to time myself out. He called me back asking me to never do that again because he felt so and so and suggested I could at least say to him that I needed a time out before cutting the conversation (and it wasn’t as if he was calling me… we were fighting on my phone bill). He did it so well that I totally understood and agreed to warn him beforehand and at least say ‘we’ll talk later, bye’. And then I was baffled: why the hell, does he not respond understanding to me, when I express myself in the same way (I sentence) to him? The answer is of course, because he lacks empathy


If someone’s going to be a successful sadist (which many P/S/N/A are) . . . . i.e, hurt the victim the maximally, (and thus garner the most power and control for themselves) . . Who do you think would be better . . the person who knows what will hurt and how much it hurt (i.e., has empathy) or the person who doesn’t know?
Just a question . . .

Ox Drover

Athena, I suggest that you read one of the best research books on empathy or lack of it by Dr. Baron-Cohen who works with the autistic mainly, but there is a difference in the way that the two groups DON’T HAVE EMPATHY….both are low or totally lacking in empathy, not really knowing/feeling how the other feels, but also both lack compassion because of this lack of empathy (they aren’t able to comprehend, or care because they have no knowledge,) however, the PSYCHOPATH has something that the autistic person generally doesn’t have, the psychopath has DUPING DELIGHT. They enjoy making others hurt, or putting one over on others. The autistic person may hurt others but it isn’t from WANTING to hurt others (though they may strike back when provoked or bullied) it is a lack of awareness of how their behavior effects others.

High functioning and very smart people who are “highly functioning autistics” like Dr. Temple Grandin (BTW I watched the movie of her life last night and it is EXCELLENT) can still function in society, but I felt like it must be a lonely life for them, not bonding to or connecting with others.

Yet Dr. Grandin hade EMPATHY for animals, and was able to comprehend how they were afraid, and how they wanted to move because they were prey animals. She designed handling faciliteis that are used for more than half of the cattle in the US today. In fact, until recently I owned one of the chutes she designed, after I sold the bulk of my herd I also sold the chute, but kept the squeeze part and will keep it as long as I have even one animal on the place. Dr. Grandin couldn’t stand to be hugged or touched by people, but she designed and built a small squeeze chute for herself so that when she was upset she could get inside it and control the squeeze to calm herself.

When I had been in Africa as a wild life photographer, we were filming a group of cheetahs that had been zoo raised but were being taught to hunt and kill by having live antelope released inside a pen for them to chase and catch, much like a mama cat trains her kittens, and at first the cats were bringing them down from the back and holding them, without killing them and starting to eat chunks out of the live antelope and the antelope would not struggle or show any sign of pain….I was disturbed, but the antelope were apparently calm and relaxed even though they were being consumed. I actually touched the eye ball of one of them to see if they had the corneal reflex that showed brain activity and there was NONE…the squeezing hold the cats had on the antelope (like cattle, PREY ANIMALS) had calmed the antelope so that it apparently was feeling no pain.

I noticed this, but Didn’t DO anything with my knowledge, but Temple Grandin USED her knowledge of prey animals to calm cattle, how to move them from place to place like a good pack of Border Collies without disturbing them or upsetting them and releasing the fight or flight hormones, and HUMANELY HANDLING THEM. And yet, this woman has little empathy in understanding human feelings in others….wow! I’m impressed. She had compassion for these animals and in spite of sexism, abuse, bulling, ridicule and having her truck coated with fresh bull testicles, this woman kept on….seeing each challenge as an OPPORTUNITY, a door to the next GOOD THING!

We have knowledge about how psychopaths work, what they are and what they DO, so it is our chance now to be Temple Grandins and put our knowledge to good use to alleviate the suffering of our fellow humans from the human predators.


Also . . . you said
“my ex spath was able to deliver a perfect I message to appeal to my empathy”. He showed empathy . . i.e., he KNEW what you would feel.

But he had no COMPASSION . . . he was manipulating you, WITHOUT CARING (no compassion) about the effect his manipulation would have on you.


Your post on empathy is interesting but how do you explain this sentence occurring in the absence of trauma (maybe I misread your point? if so, reset my direction?):

“People can only either do this through dissociation or not actually feeling anything…….For this to lead to the effect of sociopathic levels the dissociation must be chronic and fixed as survival method for a majority in someone’s lifetime”


empathy is not the same as knowing what someone is feeling. It’s not even the same as caring what someone is feeling. Empathy is when you believe you can feel what someone is feeling. Empathy can be wrong, too.

My spath could read people like nobody’s business. He knew just how to read their faces and was obsessed and fascinated by people’s facial expressions of emotions. I can’t say he didn’t care what they were feeling, he cared very much. He cared that he could manipulate those facial expressions. What he couldn’t do was imagine how that felt. He COULD imagine that a distressed person might commit suicide – he reveled in that. But he COULDN’T imagine what it would feel like to experience the pain that drives one to suicide. He was obsessed with suicide.

We weren’t intimate for the last 15 years or so. But when we went to a movie, it was usually a thriller and he would say, “honey, put your arms and legs around me so I can keep you warm.” I thought this was sweet, to be so thoughtful. But, I never said I was cold. He was just getting off on the starts and jumps in my body during the thrilling parts. He wanted to know which parts of the movie were the most impactful on my nervous system. With the lights off in the theatre, he couldn’t read my face, so this was the only way to tell.

Some spaths are very good at knowing how we feel, but only by watching our body language. They have no way to imagine what our sensibilities might be except to watch our reactions, because they don’t have any sensibilities themselves. That’s not empathy, they don’t sense your pain, they observe it, objectively – they can be fooled.

We, on the other hand, have empathy without even seeing a person. We imagine that if we were in a plane crash, we would be horrified. If a loved one dies, we would be grief-stricken, etc… When I see someone getting a shot at the doctor, I literally feel pain in my arms and legs. My legs turn to jello, just from watching. That’s empathy. If I were watching my ex-spath get a shot, I would react the same way, but it would be misplaced empathy, because in reality, he would feel almost nothing, except a localized pinch. Therefore empaths can be fooled too but we are mostly fooling ourselves, when it comes to spaths because we assumed that they are just like us.

Compassion is empathy WITH the desire to alleviate pain.


Sarah wrote:
“Sarah999 says:

Also . . . you said
“my ex spath was able to deliver a perfect I message to appeal to my empathy”. He showed empathy . . i.e., he KNEW what you would feel.

But he had no COMPASSION . . . he was manipulating you, WITHOUT CARING (no compassion) about the effect his manipulation would have on you.”

Actually that was the mistake I made… I thought that because he could deliver a perfect I message that he had emptahy. But any I-message of mine would always result in a fight. He behaved himself as if I accused him… exactly the opposite what an I-sentence is supposed to do.

Now, I know that he could make a perfect I message because he could identify his own feelings of anger and narcisitic injury, but that it does not mean that he felt any empathy.

“If someone’s going to be a successful sadist (which many P/S/N/A are) . . . . i.e, hurt the victim the maximally, (and thus garner the most power and control for themselves) . . Who do you think would be better . . the person who knows what will hurt and how much it hurt (i.e., has empathy) or the person who doesn’t know?
Just a question . . .”

I don’t need to hurt someone at all to the extreme to know how much they hurt. My empathy kicks in even with the hypothetical. I do not refrain from sadistic acts because of feeling compassion, but because I can imagine how much it would hurt , all that before any compassion is in the picture. It is empathy which prevents me beforehand from hurting someone wilfully.

Empathy is the ability to almost physically feel what you think others would feel if you were in that situation. Compassion is the choice to act on the empathy. When I walk past a begger at the supermarket I can feel empathy for him, and still refrain from giving him money. When I also take out my purse and give him some money, then I’m being compassionate.

I understand your reasoning… it’s the reasoning I made while I was with the spath… the glee while conning, the bemusement, the appeal to my sympathy, his ability to make me sympathize with I sentences… were they not evidence of him having emotions and empathy? They’re not. Sadism is not even about pain but about control… to make another person do and say as you like to avoid the pain. They find it funny, we would go to these lengths, because they themselves do not know this fear for pain, nor the pain.


I have suffered from dissociation when I was younger. I had feelings, but I could not feel them, except in a blunted manner. I was able to talk about my feelings, analytically, afterwards but not WITH feeling. This was during my ID-crisis, and most of my therapy was targeted to help me experience emotions while being centered. Most of us have dissociated at times during our relationships with spaths… whenever their masks started to slip and they hurt us and we ignored it. If you think back of that hurtful moment, chances are you even see it as if in a movie, from a camera pov outside of yourself. Some of my nightmares in the aftermath involved digging up back some of those moments and instead of having my experience it from a camera pov, those nightmares pushed me back into the moment and my body and recognize how much he acutally had hurt me with his words. That hurt, but it also helped me to deal with that memory and move on from it in a healthy way. Most normal emotional gifted people can dissociate to avoid feeling pain, if needed.

When you read about sexual abusers and serial killers, the dissociation is often mentioned… but the dissociation is at a chronic level that permeats the disturbed personality’s daily life, 24/7. But when we talk about dissociation we still talk about a mental survival method in the brain to deal with painful emotions, and it’s a learned method.

On the other hand, people apparently can be born without having deep emotions. They don’t need to dissociate, since they’re already born that way. One could say that psychopaths are the latter… they don’t need to dissociate from their feelings, since htey don’t have any.

Sociopaths have gone through such trauma at early life, probably involving brain damage as well, that solely dissociation remained as a mental tactic to deal with emotions. The result is the same, observing yourself and others without much feeling, but because of other causes.

And I’m using the terms under the premisse that sociopaths are not disordered because of genetics, whereas psychopaths are.

Ox Drover


You said “Sociopaths have gone through such trauma at early life, probably involving brain damage as well, that solely dissociation remained as a mental tactic to deal with emotions.” but research shows that is NOT the case that it is trauma that causes this “dissociation”, just like it is a MYTH that they “all abuse animals as children” or that “all pedophiles have been sexually abused as children” or that all “sexually abused children become abusers as adults.”

There have been studies with twins raised separately and other studies that show that GENETICS plays a big part in psychopathy just as it does in Autism, bi-polar, ADHD and depression (as well as other mental problems) It used to be that if a child didn’t turn out well it was BLAMED on the the parents. Temple Grandin’s mother was told that her being a “cold mother” was the reason that Temple was how she was, of course NOW we know that is not the case, but at that time in medical history the politically correct belief was that a baby was born a BLANK SLATE and that Environment was 100% of how the child turned out. Of course this was NOT TRUE, but it was what most professionals subscribed to until the OVERWHELMING EVIDENCE was shown that DNA has a huge impact.

Farmers and animal breeders have known for 1,000s of years that the temperment of animals is bred in the bone…look at Pit Bull dogs and Spanish fighting bulls, Border Collies, and retrievers and other hunting dogs bred as well as trained for specific jobs. Of course not EVERY Pit Bulldog is a stone cold killer, but the breed in GENERAL is more aggressive than other breeds because that is what they have been selected for.

Through the years of having cattle, I selected out the ones which were more aggressive or flighty and after 20 years of this, my herd was for the most part exceptionally calm and docile. Every once in a while though I would have a “crazee” one born, and as soon as I realized it was that way, it was “selected” out of the breeding pool and into the meat freezer.

Children are born with an incompletely formed brain (if our brain was completely formed when we were born, our heads would be too big to be born) so the child’s brain grows after birth and environmental things stimulate that brain, the way it is programmed etc. It has been shown that EARLY learning of multiple languages facilitates the ABILITY to learn new languages later in life, and learning to play a musical instrument EARLY makes it easier to learn other instruments later as an adult. So the parts of our brains that are USED grow bigger and those that are UNused don’t develop as well.

TRAUMA in early childhood can also have a negative effect on the development of the child’s brain too, or loving and gentle nurturing can have a positive influence on a child with “poor Genetics” for empathy.

Baby kittens are borh with their eyes closed and they open about age 10 days. If a kitten’s eyes are taped shut and don’t open during that CRITICAL TIME then the kitten will be blind forever because the neural pathways from eye to brain are NEVER FORMED. So there are critical periods for children as well, just like with other animals “bonding” takes place at a CRITICAL TIME (geese bond to the first thing they see move after hatching) wolves bond to their pack/family at age 4-12 weeks (and dogs do as well, but to a lesser extent, so the best age to get a puppy is during those weeks) and if wolves miss this critical bonding period they are not ever properly bonded to others.

Research is going on all over the world in psychology and in studying psychopathology in particular, with brain scans, etc. but there is still a GREAT DEAL to learn about the human brain. I’d love to be around in 100 years to see what mankind has learned.


I think we cross posted, because I added at the end in an edit… “And I’m using the terms under the premisse that sociopaths are not disordered because of genetics, whereas psychopaths are.”

I kinda see brains like a field of acres… development would be the farmer riding tracks in the field to plant with his oxe. Neural pathways are like those tracks. The problem after years, comes when the farmer decided to lay different tracks, but the tool keeps sliding back in the old tracks. Dissociation is one of those developmental tracks.

The question of course is whether a distinction between sociopaths and psychopaths can be effectively made. And another is whether severe dissociation can be unlearned.

Ox Drover

Darwin, there really is not much difference in psychopaths and sociopaths, they are essentially the same animal, just two different names.

We have debated here on thhis blog what is the “best name” for them, the CURRENT OFFICIAL name is “anti-social personality disorder” but even that is not 100% what the researchers are calling psychopaths or sociopaths.

The EXPERTS CANNOT AGREE either on a name or a definition in the DSM-IV or DSM-V which is coming out in the next year or so. The PhDs are like a “committee designing a “horse” and each one has to come up with their own “hump” to put on it and it comes out looking like a 4-humped CAMEL” LOL

If the experts can’t agree how in the world do you expect the public to get a handle on what a psycho/socio-path is? Most people think it is a serial killer, and they don’t associate it with People like former NJ Governor James E. McGreevey, or John Elliot, or Bernie Madoff. They think of Ted Bundy, or Jack the Ripper, and only a small percentage of psychopaths are murderers.

About 20-25% of CONVICTS would score 30 points on the PCL-R which is the check list to determine who is and who is not a psychopath, but the AVERAGE score of ALL convicts is 22, which is VERY high in P-traits even though they are not “officially” psychopaths until they score a 30, you sure don’t want to take an ex convict home for a pet! LOL ANY ex convict is a HIGH RISK to be a very TOXIC person.

Again, though, most of the population of psychopaths or people HIGH in P traits is on the OUTSIDE of prison passing as “human”

Ox Drover


I think the ability to dissociate is inborn in some of us more than in others. Cattle and many kinds of cloven hoofed prey animals will dissociate when they are held firmly. Horses on the other hand panic and keep on struggling, or they run blindly away from a perceived threat. Donkeys on the other hand, do not run blindly from a threat but stop and reassess the direction the danger is coming from and decide whether to fight or flee. If they are tangled up, say in a rope around their leg, they will struggle a bit to get free but if they are unable, they do NOT panic like a horse will and hurt themselves by struggling.

Another thing that I’ve noticed is that some people tend to FREEZE when they sense danger (dissociate) and several times in my life I have literally FROZEN on the spot when I thought I was in danger. My son D (adopted) does NOT freeze,, my husband didnt freeze when he saw the plane was going to crash, but the cause of the crash was an over reaction to a perceived threat by the man flying it, and then He FROZE. If he had kept his head and had turned off the electrical system, there would not have been a single scratch on any of the people in the plane. But because the man froze, it burst into flame. My husband’s efforts though, kept it upright and kept it from flipping upside down and killing everyone. Only my husband died. The man who caused the crash by his dissociation and freezing did recover early enough to break out a window and allow himself and the other two people to escape the fire alive at least, even though with severe burns.

At the site of the plane wreck, I was gobsmacked and in shock, but my medical training did allow me to function somewhat until other help arrived so did benefit the three survivors who were also in shock as well as burned.

Looking back at my life and the various times I’ve been endangered (thought I was not going to get out of a situation alive) I have dissociated completely, gone into almost a shock state where “all was dark” but other times, under similarly dangerous conditions, I have functioned well and NOT dissociated, so not sure why some are different from others.

Denial, and being able to maintain that state of thinking that something isn’t “real” is a protective mechanism for us all and is a form of dissociation for more chronic stress and danger, but long term, it keeps us from ACTING to protect ourselves from the danger, so we have to get out of the denial.

Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s research on the grief process (google her work) shows that the different stages of grief over a loss flow nbut not in a linear way (1, 2, 3, 4, 5,) but in a “random” way of 1,3,5,2,4, etc. until we eventually resolve it and come to acceptance. Denial is a big part of this grief process and protects us early on from overwhelming emotions we are not equipped to handle. FAcing the truth of what we have lost is very painful, but necessary to healing.


Uhuh, I was just thinking of the genetic versus non-genetic forms. The results are the same, but developmental causes are different. It was when I was writing about dissociation that I suddenly realized that may be an explanation. But I’m not sure whether dissociation is still regarded as a cause for non-genetic spath behaviour, and whether it should.

In any case, if one counts chronic dissociation as a cause for the lack of feeling and empathy it still means the potetional for the brain to allow a person to feel is present within that individual… otherwise there wouldn’t be a dissociative reaction.

It is possible the diverging theories of the cause of lack of empathy are the reason why professionals disagree on wether it is curable or preventive via therapy or not.


The dissociaton mode (which I regard as the observational mode) is sometimes a good thing… I’ve always been very good in emergency situations to keep my cool and remain pragmatical.

I had an accident on my bike with a car when I was 14. Everyone around me was in a frenzy, and while the ambulance wa on the way, I was the one able to say… where’s my schoolbag, I need my schooldiary for the insurance papers, since this happened on my way home from school. Even the adults aroudn me looked at me kinda with awe. It was the same thing when oe of the rafting boats on a trip in Mexico had flipped and several people had ended up in the water and were panicking. And again during the hurricane sheltering.

Always I kept thinking, “these people must think I’m cold as hell and unempathic to their panick.”

However, AFTERWARDS, I would retreat and do something very empathic and compassionate (like saving a kitten and taking it further along on the trip and handfeed it), which is a way to reconnect with my own emotions again.

Those are the situations imo to dissociate, if it helps to keep you pragmatic.


You bring up excellent points. I know I do not freeze in emergency situations (my first response is to say OH SH*). LATER I sometimes feel like crying my heart out. I have seen people freeze or look dazed like zombies. I did not know this was dissociation, I thought they just did that b/c they didn’t know what to do in a panic situation. So when I trained new nurses or tech for cardiac interventions, I gave them ONE task they must do in a code situation and I have them practice it. We learned that people didn’t seem to freeze when they were trained to that task. In fact, NOBODY experienced a FREEZE since we started training that way.

So what do you think? Can it be possible that the FREEZE has more to do with not knowing what to do?


I see freezing as a type of panic… I see dissociation as remaining in an analytical observation mode


It depends for me, certain things cause me to freeze up… like my kids doing something dangerous and scary. I will definitely freeze.

If it with me, I will either shake and feel very cold, and not be able to speak, and basically fall apart, perhaps crying.

Or, kick into survival mode and haul arse out of whatever situation is going on.

Ox Drover


The first time I ever experienced the “freezing” I was 4 months preg with my first son, driving a small VW bug, at 70 MPH on a freeway, and my left front wheel slipped off the pavement about 6 inches down on to the shoulder and that wouldn’t ahve been a problem if I’d had time to just slow down and then get back up on the pavement, BUT there was a bridge abutment coming up and I was going to hit it before I could slow down.

I looked and saw it and “said” to myself inside my head. “I am going to die, there is nothing I can do. I am sorry the baby is going to die with me.” GO TO BLACK.

Wake up from BLACK in back seat of overturned car, (no seat belts in those days) What had happened while I was BLACKED OUT was, my husband had woken up, saw what was happening, grabbed the wheel, spun the car around backwards, it hit the bridge BACKWARD then rolled four times down a steep embankment and came to rest on its top. A couple from NJ had seen the wreck and stopped and were there when I woke up out of the BLACK.

I had a broken neck and broken back but NO spinal cord damage

I was taken to a hospital in AZ and put in removable casts like two turtle shells strapped together (those were the days before “halos” which screws the head to the brace to hold it in place, but I did fine actually.

I didn’t know what I did at the time it happened, I just knew that was how I thought and how I reacted. While I was “blacked out” which was well before the actual impact, I did not feel or remember any pain, or the jolts or the injuries I had all over my body. No , but bruised to heck and back.

Another time I was being charged by a rhino in South Africa, and I froze…couldn’t have out run it anyway…but fortunately it didn’t get me…another time was being charged by a cow that was determined to run over me, son D kept his head and threw his hat at it, hitting it in the eye ball with the bill of his baseball cap and turned it off me. At the plane crash I kept on functioning, and at car wrecks and medical emergencies when I was on the rural volunteer fire department I never had any problem, even when once there was a gun involved in a family shooting we were called to where a person was pretty badly shot up.

I think you can LEARN to not “freeze” in some kinds of emergencies, like medical workers…but other times, I think the “auto button” kicks in and you cant’ control the freezing as it is instinctual. The thing the car wreck blacking out voluntarily did show me though, was that the antelope were not in pain, they had “blacked out” from the trauma and the adrenaline overload.


Here’s some explanation regarding dissociation

a common daily dissociative state according to both sources would be when you’re driving the car to work… you zone out during the driving and cannot really recollect the way over to your destination. Auto-pilot is a type of dissociation.


I WISH I could have dissociated during the trauma from my husband, maybe the pain wouldn’t be so crippling.

B/c my husband convinced me that I was a crazy woman, when I left him I wanted to NOT BE CRAZY (my mom was a crazy woman, I did not want to be LIKE HER.). SO I’ve read a LOT of books on the brain, and have had classes in A and P, biochemistry, etc so I have the capacity to understand the books or AMA articles, etc. I am interested in different points of view and yours is one I’ve seen in theory but never read – where S and P are separated into biogenetics vs environmental beyond the theoretical (opinion). Will you share books which form your understanding of sociopathy vs psychopathy? How do they account for anomalies? Boy if we could predict it or test for it, think what that would mean?!! I sure would not give birth to a psycho if I knew my baby definitely possessed that attribute. Who cares what the sex of a child is… I’d wanna know if my baby had the attibute to be a pedophile. I wouldn’t want that kid to be born either.

I met my bff’s MIL when she got married. Then she had a baby who did NOT meet the MIL until she was 8 yrs old. Yet that little girl is a carbon copy of her grandma, all that hysterical response drives me batty. Her dad is not like that, her mom isn’t. But Granny? BINGO. Skipped a generation. Or at least seems to have.


“Women who love psychopaths” explains sociopathy as non-genetic and psychopathy as genetic.

The skipping of generations… when I was a young child, people would often remark that I looked like my mom, but had the temperament of my father. However, when I had my sense-of-life crisis at 27-28 my mom revealed that I actually remind her in many ways of her own father, my grandfather. He was an emotional and dreamy like man, creative, idealistic (he was an architect)… but also the chaotic professor who was clumsy when it came to daily life and administration stuff.

I wish I didn’t dissociate from the hurtful and painful moments (some of them very early on in the first couple of weeks), because I would have been more aware of how hurtful he was. Maybe I would have run sooner. It was only towards the end, the last half year, that I truly started to think it would be better to stop the relationship. I was hurting so often, that I could not dissociate anymore from it. And when he ditched me the way he did, it was so overwhelming that I was able to totally reject him. It’s in the weeks after that, that I started to have dreams of the early weeks and the painful moments then. I would wake feeling gutted. Only then did I realize I was finally feeling the pain he inflicted so early on already, and how painful it had been, enough to even then say ‘run’

Ox Drover

I agree that Dr. Leedom and Sandra Brown described it in that book at the “differences” but that is their opinions, not the way the words are commonly used in research or among professionals and non professionals alike.
Dr. Robert Hare one of the earlier of the researchers prefers psychopath, but because of some political differences of opinion the DSM committee did not go with his name recommendation.

Functionally though “a rose by any other name…..”


What about when someone is already what we call sociopathic or psychopathic, that is without conscious connection to empathy and they have a disconnect from reality?

My husband is def without connection to empathy, but I will say that I can “wobble” him. I say weebles wobble but they don’t fall down. That’s him, a weeble (doesn’t anyone remember those childhood toys?). I can TEMPORARILY knock him off his center of control, and it’s like he short circuits, I call it a psychotic break, except it only lasts for a few hours like 12 -24 hrs. He goes off by himself and comes back centered and in control of his logic again (I don’t agree with his logic that he must protect the BORG, but he does have it, twisted that it is.)


Sandra Brown has credibility issues so while she writes some stuff okay, her conclusions are not consistent with her theories (not logical conclusions based on her premises.) She write Opinion, with a capital O. No science at all. Subjective. I don’t mind opinion when it’s clear logic that gives me a place to begin testing the theory.

What do you think of Steven Pinker?

My collegues BIL is a pediatric neurosurgeon. I’ve read a couple of his books.


When I mention dissociation and serial killers in literature, it’s because I used to be an amateur researcher regarding the Jack The Ripper murders on the Casebook website. I published an article in an Australian Ripper magazine on one of the non-canonical murders, and argued how she most likely was one and why it deviated from the canonical pattern and actually was the learning experience for the serial killer to develop his pattern with the canon-murders. I did this research between 1998-2002.

Often the literature would not go into this from a psychopathic or sociopathic point of view at all, just the serial killer patterns and myths. One of the often remarked states mentioned is that of dissociation.

However, since now I’m mostly learning about psychopathy and sociopathy, for which serial killing is an extreme form of psyhopathy. But I have not seen dissociation mentioned.

So, I’m trying to see how the two can match.

But here’s a link to literature on the mind of serial killers, where dissociation is mentioned.
just type ‘dissociation’ in the search option at the bottom of the screen and you’ll be directed to it in the book. The book is actually a study on literature about serial killers… so it sums up the different researches done and the different point of views and theories.

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