Psychopaths are not necessarily great liars. That’s the premise of a series of articles Dr. Stephen Appel, the newest Lovefraud Blog author, has recently posted on his website, The Top Two Inches.
“The Top Two Inches,” in case you’re wondering (as I was), refers to the head, but means the mind, brain and thinking. Dr. Steve’s website is devoted to contemplating “the mysterious workings of the mind.”
In Myth: Psychopaths are great liars, Dr. Steve agrees that psychopaths are pathological liars. “They are pathological, they are chronic tellers of untruths, and this dishonesty is tied up with their pathology,” he writes.
But according to Dr. Steve, research shows the speech of a psychopath is not particularly convincing. So how do they manage to be so deceptive? It’s everything else that they do—their arrogance, grandiosity, sob stories and intimidation—that mislead listeners into believing them. It’s not the words; it’s the show.
Dr. Steve is a psychotherapy practitioner, clinical supervisor and educator. He is editor of Psychoanalysis and Pedagogy, a book that looks at education through the lens of psychoanalysis, and vice versa.
Dr. Steve has authored scientific papers as well. One paper, The Heritage of Disorganised Attachment, describes people who relate to others in a way that seems to change moment by moment. They’re cheerful, they’re complaining, they’re angry, they’re depressed—all within an unpredictable matter of minutes. This disorder arises in childhood as a result of maltreatment or living in a frightening environment—conditions a child of a psychopath might experience.
“Psychotherapy with a disorganized client is demanding,” Dr. Steve writes, “but can be life-altering.”
Interest in psychopaths
Dr. Steve has an intellectual interest in psychopaths, and a personal and clinical concern for those they prey upon. While he believes much is to be gained from understanding the psychopathic mind, he is deeply skeptical about the merits of doing psychotherapy with psychopaths.
On the other hand, those who have had their selves distorted, corroded and emptied out by psychopaths need to repair themselves and may benefit enormously from working with a mental health professional.
The Lovefraud Blog welcomes the insights and contributions of Dr. Steve Appel.