By | December 12, 2007 28 Comments

Meet the new Lovefraud author: Stephen Appel, Ph.D.

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.

Published author

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.

Posted in: Dr. Steve

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When you say that the speech of a psychopath is not particularly convincing, you are absolutely right. Strangely, I think that’s one of the things that sucked me into the relationship with him. There was a profound disconnection between the sweet things he said and the way he behaved. I wanted so badly to believe what he said that I disregarded the detached inability to achieve the sort of connection he genuinely seemed to want. I still believe that some part of him knew he was broken and desperately wanted the sort of emotional intimacy he saw other people experiencing. Sadly, he is completely incapable of empathy and it makes him very, very angry.


So very true. He told me early on he was leaving on a Friday afternoon to go out of town to check on his subcontractors. I’m also a contactor and I know better, typically if you are not standing over them Friday morning, by Friday afternoon they are long gone. His story, possible but not likely. Two years later I’m asking “how in the world?”

He convinced me first because of his groundwork in the beginning showing me someone who he really wasn’t. I thought that person would resurface. He was such a great guy, he wouldn’t lie that boldly! Arrogance and Grandiosity

Then he was just so busy and had so much to do, please be patient. Sob Story

If that didn’t work, next was anger. How dare I not see the reality of his stressful situation and have empathy. How dare I question him and what he tells me. Intimidation

Yep, been there.

Thank you for Dr Steve’s inclusion. I have also realised that most psychotherapists either refuse to have much to do with sociopaths or they are simply uninformed about the disorder.

Perhaps the reluctance to engage with this disorder by professionals is because the prognosis is so poor. Unfortunately, in terms of general practitioners, there seems to be a very low level of real help available for victims. I feel the time is fast approaching that professionals are going to have to study this disorder in depth so that the VICTIMS can be treated.


I’ve dealt with the lying to the point where I’ve coined a phrase that goes, I’m going to let the lying dogs sleep. Not asking questions keeps me from being baffled and knowing it’s not the truth, but not having enough evidence to prove it. The man in question, when confronted with a truth, will call it an accusation. I call it an observation based on circumstantial evidence. So we would go round and round, me knowing in my knower what is, and him knowing I know, but would never admit that I am right. It’s so frustrating dealing with someone who is a facade. It has made the years of holidays, special days and feelings, all a sham. Playacting. But no one ever gave me the script or would even hold up cue cards. I never knew what part I was to play. I never knew what certain word or phrase would set him off.

I remember the man I met and how entranced I was by him. His voice, his walk, his whole demeanor. All a cover. As I got to know him, I found him multi-faceted, but actually one dimensional. An illusion. An apparition. I wondered when the real man would finally show up. He did. I’ve learned to forgive him, but it hasn’t been altogether easy. There are times when I just wish I knew of something that would get to him. It proves nothing. My best peace of mind is letting go. As long as I’m not around him, he can’t lie to me or use me in any way. That gives me peace. Like I said, I let lying dogs sleep.

notquitebroken – You say, “I wanted so badly to believe.” You’re not going to take on all the reponsibility, right? Irving Yalom puts it well: “Let’s say s/he is 95% to blame; let’s see what we can learn from your 5%.”

Benzthere – He showed you “someone who he really wasn’t.” This is well put – it was an optical illusion. It’s a bit like a magician, isn’t it?

buzzibee – Very true. See my comment to notquitebroken above.

apt/mgr – “Let lying dogs sleep”. This is a great new aphorism! If it’s OK I might use it sometime.


Dr. Steve,
Feel free. It’s just my own twist on words. I’ve tried to make sense of the senseless and sometimes just a few words will do it. As I read the stories here, I’m appalled as to the number of people who have just wanted to love and be loved, only to have it all turn into a nightmare. How sad. All I ever wanted out of life, besides a porch, was just normal day to day living. To work, do, play, and look forward to that snuggling at the end of the day. Never did I think I’d be facing lies, cheating, adults faking illnesses to get attention, exploiting, and all the other idiotic ideas some people have that constitutes a relationship. When my journey started many years ago, I was so looking forward to a fulfilling life as wife and mother. The mother I got down pat. The wife part, almost did me in, then when I was down, I met this man who put me down some more. I didn’t think I could have gotten any more down, but I did. I credit God for helping me maintain my sanity. I took off the rose colored glasses and smashed them, and now I question everything and am queen of skeptics.

I’m amazed at what so many here have endured. What I went through wasn’t nearly as bad, but as I said, it’s the end result. We all had a different journey, but we came to the same conclusion. It’s so surreal. Almost like it didn’t happen, but I look around and do a reality check, and say, yes it did. I keep thinking I should still be that wife I started out as, 37 years ago, but that’s gone. I mean what I say and say what I mean, and thought everyone else did. I feel like all those years were in vain and they would have been had it not been for my children. I look at them and say I’ve been blessed. They escaped unscathed. They have normal lives with husbands who are there for them. God orchestrated all that for me. If I had to sacrifice my own personal happiness for their sake, then it was a small price for me to pay. I’m on the other side and still have some unresolved issues, but it sure is better than it was and just has to get better. I’m in charge now and won’t put myself at the mercy of another person again, unless I’m not in my right mind, then I don’t care what they do. I should have all my money spent by that time!!

Wonderful and interesting comments here. If I may throw a little more light on this concept of the illusion and the magician that Dr Steve mentioned :
My sociopathic encounter found me deeply in the world of New Age Spiritualism and I have learned much through this.

Besides learning, first hand, just how many mind-controlling and false people are becoming wrapped up in this particular belief system with all this “self-help” being very prominent, many latent sociopaths are finding this “world” a haven where they are free to design their own rules because they do not answer to a tangible (physical) higher authority. There is no pastor, priest or rabbi knocking on their door keeping them in check. There is no rule book (Bible, Koran, Torah, etc) to give them guidelines. They are loose cannons, left to their own devices within the creation of perception and the cognition of their own minds. And we all know how vicious and sick those minds are, don’t we? “Come closer so I can slap you again, but I’m going to do it with a smile on my face and make you feel like you are the crazy one.”

We find sociopathy infiltrating all religions, organised and otherwise but the New Age movement is a h a v e n for the sociopath. Of course I’m not saying that every new agey person is a sociopath. I am saying that this “order” has MUCH place for, and encourages, narcissism and sociopathy. The attitude is : “it’s my right to take what I think I should have and because I’m a child of the Universe, whatever I want, is mine.” Make no mistake, they orchestrate control, manipulation, dictation and judgemental superiority with amazing subtlety… and they do it with a sweet smile on their faces that leaves you in tremendous confusion because hey, they are spiritual people and God, The Creator, Spirit (by whatever name you call the higher power) is all about truth, love, caring, sincerity and selflessness. New Agers are not required to even acknowledge their sins and wrongs where Christians are called to repent or Catholics, to confess. New Agers answer to the Universe and this opens a wide door of personal perception which, for the latent sociopathically disordered mind carries as much “substance” as the dust in the wind while giving them free reign.

In the spiritual world there is a term known as Maya. Here’s a very appropriate description of Maya, taken from the Hindu religion :

“This Maya is a sort of jugglery. You are astonished so long as the juggler is not seen. As soon as the juggler is known, the results are known to be unreal; the wonder ceases at once. When you realize Brahman, the wonder of Maya’s working vanishes.”

“Realizing” Brahman is that moment when realization and the acquisition of knowledge hits us and we achieve higher understanding… the penny drops. i.e. the illusion falls away and the truth behind the illusion is revealed. Unfortunately, reaching this level of understanding is hard to come to terms with and agree with simply because the sociopathic illusion is SO great and in a spiritual concept it’s even greater because it is the LAST thing you would expect from a spiritual person.

These people really should be standup comedians because THEY will be the first ones to tell you “beware the Maya” and “don’t be judgemental” and “love deeply” and “there is NO PLACE for superiority in this life we’re living.” They are a contradiction to themselves. So many of them are operating as Healers. Most have read a few pages on the internet and have appointed themselves as Healers of the human body, mind and soul. How scary is that??

Going a step further … because it’s prominent – The world of “self-help” is now in mammoth proportions with Americans spending upwards of Eight Billion Dollars (yes, Billions) a year on self-help books, cd’s and dvd’s and by 2010 it is expected to be around the thirteen Billion dollar a year mark!! Let’s not forget the millions of dollars generated by the latest “fad” – the Law of Attraction, which is currently being disputed and receiving more and more bad publicity for the depths of deception it is creating, not to mention encouraging narcissism. And that’s only in the USA.

There is nothing wrong with positive thought, in fact it’s necessary for man to evolve, but this marketing ploy reaches far deeper into the human psyche and human spirit than most people are aware of. How many of these authors and coaches are properly qualified to guide and nurture the masses? How many have real education in their field? How many are sociopaths feeding their power issues in a world where people are seeking answers??? I’d say at a safe guess that probably 80% of these self-help books are written with a spiritual, new-agey connotation, by unqualified people … and WHO is there to monitor what is being “preached” ??? It’s MAYA, as are so many of these illusory magicians.


thought that Donna and anyone else could be interested…Psychopaths finally made it to the scientific journal “Nature”…
Abnormal neuroscience: Scanning psychopaths p942

Are their brains not wired to feel what others feel, or do they just not care? Alison Abbott joins researchers looking into normal neurobiology through the scope of psychopathy.

P.S. Donna I will be sending you an-e-mail with the attached pdf file because I am not sure how to share that file.

apt/mgr – Psychopaths destroy. But it seems that they can’t quite destroy everything, right?

buzzibee – You confirm something I have wodered about. The lack of regulation, the seeking people, the money, the power – it must be like a magnet for the psychopath!
Something I’ve noticed is what I call: macro warm, micro cold. I.e. People who all kinds of beautiful values, about the universe, the planet…but when it comes to the individual person right before them it’s another story.
Ah, yes, ‘The Secret’. I mean to write a short post on that.

CellStemCell – My guess before reading the article you link: they do feel and care, but in such different ways to regular folks that probably very different regions of the brain are at work.



I love what you say about New Age stuff. I was just thinking about this too. Lately, I have been totally turned off when I find a guy talking about finding his “goddess.”

The Bad Man was a former (ex-communicated) Minister. He was shifting toward New Age stuff when I met him and I thought he had a lot of circular talk that went nowhere and was based on nothing.

These days, I am very wary of New Age thoughts and people and I will admitt, I have some of those books and have seen the movies. Still, something keeps me from really going there.

I just turned down an inquiry on because the guy said he was really into “Warrior Camp” which I happen to know is one of those beat-a-drum-and-skip-naked-through-the-forrest things. (I might be exaggerating a little.)

I am glad you brought up this subject. I do think that socipaths love to hide under the cover of this foo-foo spirituality. You are exactly right too… who do they have to answer to? (I am not saying anything new here that you didn’t already say).

Anyway, just wanted to say “ditto”.. I totally relate. There are many common threads to our experiences.

One thing I have noticed, is that there seem to be so many articulate, eloquent people visiting this site and leaving notes about their experiences with sociopaths. I think this is a good point. Society has certain ideas about what abuse is and what kind of people put up with it. I don’t feel that I fit the profile of an abused woman.

Sociopaths are hard to explain. Being a victim of one is even harder to explain.

Thank you for those welcoming comments on my piece. I thought I’d gone off at a bit of a tangent because I do feel strongly about this

I’ve spent the past seven months in deep research about my encounter simply to find understanding and this research has taken me down a facinating road that has developed into an intellectual interest and a clearer understanding of the depths of the human spirit.

I saw The Secret some time back and I have the extended version of What the Bleep. I found What the Bleep to be incredibly interesting from a scientific point where our environments and our own perceptions affect us emotionally as well as physically, i.e. the chemical changes in our bodies that react and manifest as emotions.

The Secret however, never did quite “sit” with me. I honestly did NOT believe I had “attracted” this trauma and many other trauma’s into my life. I thought “heck, I must be Hitler incarnated into this life, here to pay a huge debt” Then I thought “no ways” … I have genuinely given so much good to people from all walks, in personal associations as well as business dealings so there is no way this Law of Attraction is fully correct. There are issues I can discuss in terms of the nuts & bolts of our lives where yes, we do attract certain things and we do orchestrate and manipulate our lives … but honestly, contrary to what The Secret tells us, the Universe is NOT a vending machine that spits out new cars, big houses, fat bank balances and great lovers every time a ‘thought’ passes through the frontal lobe of our brain. According to the Secret it does and it happens 100% of the time for 100% of the people who “know” the secret …. Heavens alive people, if our minds were all-powerful and all-creating why are we being so selfish? We should be using that power to help sentient beings or heal the source of suffering in mankind!! This new age stuff is trapping people into an oddessy of aquisition (materialism) while breeding arrogance and narcissism … My question now is to ask Ms Rhonda Byrne if she has donated ANY of her wealth (50 million dollars worth) to any worthwhile “need” in humanity?? With all the hype, what’s happening now?…. the latent sociopaths are crawling out of the woodwork because those who were actually keeping themselves “in check” are now given licence to let it all hang out.

Dr Steve, if you’re going to write an artical on this topic there is a blog site that would probably interest you about the depths of the the human spirit and how we are being ‘lied’ to in terms of this shallow self-help masquerading as a deeply spiritual concept. The author, Stuart Davis is a bit “out there” but he’s been practicing Zen on a daily basis for the past seven years and his insight is very interesting. It took a little while for me to process and digest what he was saying in this blog but once I understood it, it was a lightbulb moment that has set me on a path to discover more … and boy, have I !! What is appearing as regulation in terms of information being communicated by people of authority is very much glossed over with all kinds of mental psycho-babble with little substance. What is is doing is increasing the obscenely large bank accounts of the people putting out the ‘stuff’.

Stuarts page, titled The Secret: The Spirituality of Narcissism is at :

Also, search for David Schirmer. There are five TV interviews. David Schirmer is the man who, in The Secret tells you HOW to make the millions the secret promises … he’s the financial guru. Start at Part One where he is ‘conned’ into appearing on live TV show and is exposed for the con artist he is by people he has ripped off to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

If anyone would like to discuss this more deeply they are welcome to email me. I am not qualified to make statements or diagnoses but I am happy to share what I have found.
My address that i use for this work is : [email protected]



I have found it fascinating that as I read comments on the Blogs, I find women who are interested in the same things as me. I attended a Buddhist retreat last weekend with a Teacher that in the past, I felt had helped me tremendously. But now, I see how I applied all this “compassion” to someone that did not give a crap about my well being and was ripping into my spirit, my soul, which I laid completely bare before him, like a rabid dog. The Bad Man often claimed to be interested in Buddhist thought and often borrowed books from me which he would claim he had read completely by the next day and then he would claim to have gotten it all. Then he would use this stuff against me.

Was it you that mentioned the Non-violent Communication (NVC)? Someone on here did and it immediately struck me… I was reading about that too. I think all of this new Age stuff that I was looking at prolonged the pain as I tried to understand the “observations, feelings, needs, and requests” of a psycho that was beating me over the head with his bullshit interpretations.

I will never again put so much energy into trying to understand where someone if coming from if they are being abusive to me. I don’t know what I was thinking.

And as far as Buddhism goes, I left the retreat when the teacher started talking about Karma and telling a student that the reason her father sexually abused her is because she was a sexual abuser in a past life. I have had enough of this crap. I told the woman on a break, “You don’t have to believe that and take that on.” I then told her, “I am not a Buddhist and I don’t believe I ever was an ant nor will I ever be an ant. Karma is here and now.” I could see the struggle on her face. She obviously had been crying. She appeared to want to be a Buddhist so badly. She stared at me silently and appeared to be half disgusted and half relieved. I left after that.

Anyway, for me, before I met the Bad Man, I was going through a very difficult heart break and in retrospect, I was taking way too long to let go and move on with my life (three years). I was searching for answers, I listened to all kinds of “teachers” and finally, I found the strength, armed with all my New Age knowledge, to make a GIGANTIC change and I moved to the islands to start my life over. Barely 10 days after I arrived, I met the Bad Man. In fact, he emailed me via 3 days before I even arrived on the islands. When I think about this, I just feel creeped out. I remember when I landed, I felt like I had the world by the ass! I was so thrilled that I had made this move and tears of joy flowed. I didn’t know that I was about to get the biggest lesson in life, ever.

I do believe we attract things into our lives to teach us our lessons. However, I love what you said about life not being a vending machine. Thank you. I don’t believe I deserved any of the bad that happened. But I did learn from it.

And like you, I read constantly about personality disorders and the issues of healing. In fact, I am in the application process to try to go back to school for a Masters in Social Work and maybe and LCSW down the road. The gift of my own personal trainwreck was that I found a direction that I am passioate about.

I am thankful for this site and the people here because I feel understood and I have a community where I can vent. I was thinking of getting some counseling for myself but I doubt it would be better than being here where people understand what I went through and “sociopath” is not just a chapter in a book they read while in school. In the last few months I have realized that I am not alone at all in this.

I care tremendously about the people here. I wish that we all learn our lessons and emerge stronger than ever. And to take a little piece of Buddhism… it’s not what happened to us but how we think about what happened to us that creates our happiness. That, I believe.

Aloha… E.R.

alohatravler – “Sociopaths are hard to explain. Being a victim of one is even harder to explain.” Exactly. This must be why a certain percentage of people apparently still can’t buy that OJ might be a nasty guy. I guess it’s a sweet naivety to have about human nature – but it can land one in the soup.

buzzibee – Thanks for the links; I’ll follow them up. Keep in touch re your findings about The Secret.


Wow… I relate to so many of the comments here on so many levels. I no longer remember exactly how I case across this site, but I am so glad that I did.

My experience isn’t quite over, and I guess I hope to find some fortitiude here. I think that reading other’s experiences makes me feel less isolated, and helps me finally understand that no matter how hard I tried, I would have had to zombie myself to make my relationship with him work. I don’t ask for much out of life, and think that the measure of sucess is not that one has a luxury lifestyle. Financial success does help cushion one from some of life’s traditional concerns but it does not erase problems or provide serenity. One of the common threads I’ve encountered here is the one that identifies the sociapath as being grandiose, needing to appear powerful even if it’s a facade, and for lack of better terms – gaslighting… you’re overreacting- if you question. Somehow, standing up for yourself- by questioning, and following your instincts labels you as disloyal and a destroyer.

I am a the product of a home where physical discipline from one parent was the norm if one behaved other than what was expected. So you tried to be dutiful, understand, to learn what was expected and do as you’re told without questioning or seeming defiant. But you do question especially if there’s inconsistency, because you really want to understand why you’re wrong, you don’t want to do it again. You think that if you explain your questions, they’ll understand you were not intentionally being defiant. You try to fix. Therein lay the seeds that leave you prey…you think you can fix because from your own experiences you have empathy, sympathy and you try to help. You nurture because you relate to the feeling of an undeserved situation.

Being a “nurturer” is probably both a strength and a curse. I don’t want to lose the side that cares about the welfare of others, but I also know that it is my responsibiltiy to also love myself and care about my own welfare. When someone in my life is incapable of letting me voice my concerns in a way that allows both of us to understand each other’s viewpoint and resolve the conflict, and labels me as a destroyer just because I do, well, it is my responsibility to love myself enough to leave.

I knew I was on the right track being on this site and really spending some time going through the comments when I saw the comments that pertained to the “The Secret”. I can’t tell you how many times well-intentioned have touted it’s power as if it were some talisman … if I changed my outlook, I could change my life. I had a hard childhood, and because of it I used to see myself as flawed. It is because of my upbringing, I am understanding of those who are experiencing a difficulty… and I don’t want to lose that aspect. The man I left has a 1st ex-wife who calls him a Jekyll & Hyde, and I know from personal experience that when it’s good, it’s unbelievable and you think you are the luckiest person on the planet, but when it’s bad, well, it’s very bad. I’ve been in physical danger because of his pretense to be an expert at something he was barely familiar with, caused financial issues, and had to deal with so much DRAMA and woes due to others but no fault of his own. Even though I left him the fun’s not over. Because of this man and his actions, I find myself dealing with possible legal consequences … turns out even if you did not participate but became aware, you’re possibly culpable if you don’t report it. Luckily, a friend’s comment agitated me enough to investigate. The comment which she later felt guilty about, because she has no legal background prompted me into action. Anyway, the fun’s not over and I’m probably trying to steel myself for what’s ahead… the comments here seem really familiar with the joy that confronting this peronality type entails . It’s been comforting to read through other’s comments and see their lives afterwards … that they went through their own horrific experiences and survived. There is solidarity in admitting your fears\pain, and sharing experiences.


From my experiences, I believe when we admit to our shortcomings, we are actually gaining the strength we need to fight the fight of life. I put all this into perspective and say a hearty thank you that I’m not living in another country dodging bombs and fearing for my life in that respect. I have dealt with the shame of being taken for a chump. Even though so many of the ones in question, don’t know how to share, I’m glad I still can. I’m much choosier now. I find I don’t have to constantly give. I don’t give to get, but it makes for a much nicer relationship to share equally. I read where altruistic relationships are the happiest. To me altruism=The Golden Rule. How could one miss on that one? I gave, he didn’t. Only a little bit when he thought he was going to be getting more. Then he quit. He let me see it was all about him and not us. There wasn’t an us. When I bring this up, I’m complaining. I should be grateful he even stops to see me.

As I think of his arrogance, I see him pictured here through all the stories. These men aren’t unique. They are carbon copies of each other. They all have the same lines. That amazes me and comforts me that we all do understand each other. I’m finding the ones I believe are the ones who will tell their story. The ones who don’t tell are the ones who have something to hide. When a person is evasive, the red flags fly. I’m like, here we go again. Not. I now know what to look for and they are there once we become aware. This is a great site. I relive my pain reading the posts, but I’m now glad I’m on the other side. It’s a dark, lonely journey until we reach this point. It’s been so surreal. We’re with a living, breathing human being, who isn’t there. They talk but don’t say anything. But yet they think they are so profound. If only they took as good care of the inside as they do the outside. If only they’d get help. When it’s good it’s very good. Then the ugly kicks in, and the joy is gone and you begin to wonder what will bring it back. Only to find out it’s gone for good and the last flicker, flickered out. You can’t build a fire out of cold ashes. You try, but it’s gone. Not one spark. No breath of life. You’ve been loved and hated almost in the same breath, that you don’t care anymore. The pain is too great to keep dancing to their beat. You want to retreat and dance alone. But it’s so good to share and hear. We are faceless people who can share each other’s pain, but could tell each other’s story. The names have been changed.



OJ Simpson is ABSOLUTELY a sociopath. (I know that is what you meant.) The look on his face… UGH!!! I can’t stand to see him and when he shows up on TV – click. Good Bye OJ! I do not want to hear anything he has to say about anything. OJ Simpson is one of the worst tragedys of our time. I remember where I was when I heard the verdict… a bar/restaurant in Monterey. I was walking by and I saw the TV and they made the announcement and the room was *silent*… But yes, he is a perfect example of gift Sociopaths have to get people eating out of their hands.

By the way… welcome! I have enjoyed all of the comments sparked by your contributions.

Thanks for being here.

Aloha… E.R.

nomas07 – A great term for a sick thing: ‘Gaslighting’ – driving someone crazy.
You name one of the greatest challenges facing so many readers of this site:
“I don’t want to lose the side that cares about the welfare of others, but I also know that it is my responsibiltiy to also love myself and care about my own welfare.”

apt/mgr – This is right except for the word ‘almost’ which I’d omit: “loved and hated almost in the same breath”

alohatraveler – Good to be here – thanks.


Dr. Steve,
It was one and the same. I guess if one can’t determine real love, love and hate are the same emotion. It took me a long time to realize that love is a chosen and not a given in a lot of cases. I chose and choose to love. I can’t understand why would someone hate the one who wants to love them. This part of life sure has puzzled me. I thought we did what came naturally. I actually shudder when I have a reality moment. I have to stop and converse with myself to reassure me that I’m not there anymore and they can’t do anything to me unless I let them. And that won’t happen. I don’t ever want to go through the push/pull of wondering if I’m hated or loved, only to find out they are one and the same. I can actually feel sorry for those whose love receivers are defunct. They are to be pitied.

It’s also good to have a man’s opinions. It’s comforting to know that all men don’t play act. I’m glad for your input and insight.


Hello Everyone and Dr. Steve, too —

My “event” has gratefully passed 14 months since final contact. I still revisit this site and read the posts, although my need to write has subsided.

I am gay and my “event” with the Psycho is quite the same as what I have read here. I met him on an online site. Was a fantastic promising relationship. Strange red flags I ignored. Turned ugly. Turned cruel.

I was vulnerable, yes, but I also believe it was partly just plain old bad luck. I am not a weak lost person. I was probably a bit lonely and under a lot of stress at the time. I think there is an element of bad luck in these encounters that we have made ourselves more likely to come across.

I want to say that even though I have recovered myself from the six months of emotional rape I subjected myself to in 2006, the ordeal remains a benchmark and a reference point for me. I can’t escape that. And, yes, every so often (tonight in fact), I will google the bastard to see what new information might float by. I shouldn’t do that. I shouldn’t care, but curiousity or boredom, or who knows what…sometimes leads me to take a peek.

And…after I have learned what’s new…I always come back to this site, to remind me what the bastard was (and is) and what I went through. He’s still out there just as normal (to others) as ever. He is extremely intelligent (skipped 3 grades).

As I read this site and have pieced together all my layman’s knowledge of the condition, with the help of great cognitive therapist I continue to see weekly, I wonder if what gave the Psycho extraordinary intellectual intelligence (probably of a narrow kind), is also what gave him the strange brain mechanics that created psychopathy.

He is intelligent but has not put it to any use other than felonies, one of which he was convicted of and spent 2 years in a penitentiary (I found out through my own detective work). How sad. A warped brilliance that is evil and sick and misread by most people as “a great guy.”

Yechh. I am stronger for the experience, but it’s disheartening to know there are so many of these people out there. Life is tragic enough without this “condition” in so many of our fellow human beings.

I’m of the opinion that common moral sense rules humanity, not religious imagery and organized religious manmade authority (which more often than not is corrupt with a capital “C”).

Of course, being gay, I am less likely to embrace organizations that view me as inheritantly “sick” and “doomed.”

However, that said, I do believe in spirituality, and its overall presence is obvious to me. And though I agree with what’s written here about New Age gurus stepping in for those that lack a compass, there are still many of us that are not attached to organized religions but have a strong inner compass anyway.

Finally, makes you wonder, how does the spirituality of humankind encompass these psychopathic brothers and sisters of ours? I suppose what I read in so many posts on this blog is a natural desire to understand these people, when they are so difficult if not impossible to forgive.


to laman2:

This might seem pollyannaish, but it would would nice to think we lived in a world where our race, religion, or choice of mate did not define us … that we lived in a world that accepted each other as human beings deserving of consideration, respect, period. Unfortunately, it is true that true that much of organized religion, isn’t as tolerant as it should be… but that doesn’t necessarily make it corrupt…just in need of change, not abandonment. I think religion teaches faith. Faith seems to be a surrending of one’s current condition to a divine power we know ultimately to be merciful to us all. Hold true, stay in the light. Forgive, forget, move on, be healed.

As relates, to my experience, to heal, I intend to focus on myself … my triggers, my reactions. I can only be responsible for myself and my own behavior. It seems most productive to understand myself, hold myself accountable for my own behavior, and to not try to understand another’s behavior before I understand my own. I don;t want to keep trying to understand him, that will keep me tied to him as much as hating him would. Hate keeps you bound to someone … letting go of that releases you. Lets you forgive yourself for your own humanity, and frees you to rebuild your life. Unless, they are some part of your life, you cannot change, let go. I know a dear friend who was consoling me through a break-up, taught me that it was possible to forgive someone, but not let them back in my life. That forgetting them, not caring, was even the greatest, i guess “revenge”. They simply don;t matter to you anymore.

I don;t want to understand him, and actually am not sure how much benefit there is in understanding them. I think the benefit of this site, is the mutual empathy we all provide each other. That we are not reckless, desperate, ridiculous, weak … we are human, we care. That makes us their prey. Sharing of our mutual experiences empowers us to keep moving forward with confidence in what heads and our hearts tell us.


I’ve never blogged before so please pardon any “faux pas” I may make. I am so thankful to have found this site! My husband of 29 yrs walked out of our home and from our 16 yr old son 8 mos ago. I always thought “our” problem was his alcoholism/addiction even though he went to treatment 4 times and was in AA. I’ve been a member of Alanon for many yrs and wondered what was wrong? He was sober & clean (much of the past 12 yrs). His departure was not entirely unexpected or unwanted though it did turn my life upside down! I had surrendered the relationship to God 6 days prior to this leaving and KNEW that God was doing for me what I was not able to do for myself. Even knowing this, I was devastated and ANGRY! After some time my parents introduced to idea of sociopathy. My parents are in recovery (AA & Alanon for 30 yrs). I began googling the subject and was beginning to believe that he may be one. I always thought that the disease of alcoholism was the “problem” and could be “arrested” – not cured. You see, I saw the difference and the miracles that occured in my families life, and other “program” families with sobriety and recovery. I could not understand why this was not occurring in my husbands life. The first book I read on the subject (one that my father was sneaky enough to get me to read) about Scott Peterson by Dr. keith Ablow. I read the book over 2 days and had an emotional meltdown! I could relate to so many of the things about him…LIES, LACK OF REMORSE, ATTITUDE OF ENTITLEMENT, and on, and on…After a few days of feeling the feelings, anger, hurt, rejection, I was able to move on and accept. I then read The Sociopath Next Door and have learned much more. I understand that the best revenge is ME living well BUT I WANT HIM TO HURT! Here it is Christmas Eve and I have spent the morning crying! I don’t WANT him back and I think the tears are ANGER! I want him to understand what and who he is, acknowlege it, and HURT – emotionally. I think that it is so unfair that he walks out the door FREE of any responsiblity to what he has done and move in with the new girlfriend and live a HAPPY life while I am working to recover! Though I know in my mind that he can’t be happy because he is emotionless – it is getting those feelings to my heart that I am working on. I’ve learned that I’ve been grieving not the loss of the marriage – but the loss of the dream that I THOUGHT the marriage was and the man I THOUGHT he was. I am trying to live in reality and not the “illusions” of what my life was. Most days, I do very well and am very grateful to be out of this disfunction but today, Xmas Eve, I am sad and trying to put on a good face for my son and family. Reading your site and blogging is helpful. I am grateful for so many things and am just ready for more joy in my life! I regularly attend Alanon, Church, stay involved in emotionally and spiritually activities, and go to therapy every 2 weeks. I guess I want to know that you folks have moved onto happier, healthier lives and how you did it.



I’m so sorry. You will heal, you will get better. I did and, as you can probably tell by now, so have many others.

From where I stand, I can only encourage you to dig in and keep going. I’d say you are on the right track, searching for answers, integrating the insight on this web site with your experience and absorbing the warmth and care of those here. How fortunate that you have smart and helpful parents as support.

Thirty years is a long time to have endured such deep confusion, emotional trauma and loss. Please give yourself all the space and time you need to heal. You get to determine what’s best for you.

For me, there were lots of false starts of healing with one step forward and two steps back. One day I’d think I had made a breakthrough and the next, I was back to square one. It was awhile before I found this site but once I did, everything made sense and I was free.

It sounds like you may have just started your journey eight months ago. One thing that I wish I had done was love myself, the inner me who had suffered at such callous hands, more through the process. I deserved the kindness of which he so deprived me and in the end, I can honestly say I really do love who I am now – and even who I was.

In one of her posts, Donna very perceptively addressed an unexpressed concern I had and that you mention: that he will give someone new all the goodies we were promised.

Apparently, according to author and narcissist Sam Vikram (?) they NEVER do, they can’t, and whatever treatment you received, is what the new person will eventually receive, too. In my case, that was reassuring to me.

I continue to read this site because I never want to be caught off guard like I had been. Even today, as I put myself in the place of the persona in SecretMonster’s poem posted today, I learned more of the sense of desolation in the life of a sociopath.

You’re on your journey. Take good care of yourself and your son. When it’s all over, I’m almost sure you’ll find the happiness you don’t think is possible again. You’ll be wiser and protected.

Merry Christmas.


Thanks for the kind words and reassurance. Today has been a much better day with much less emotion than yestersday.

This was my 1st Xmas wo/my socio in 30 yrs. Even though
any feelings I have for him now are not pleasant or loving, sadness was overwhelming. I’m afraid that I could not hide my feelings from my son. I was angry and tearful and that made his 1st Xmas wo/his father more sad for him as well. We talked about it last night, I apologized, and we shared the evening w/my family followed by driving and looking at the lights. It maded a pleasant end to an emotional roller coaster of a day.

I intentionally made arrangements for family and friends to come to our home today so that we would be surrounded by loved ones and too busy to be sad. We enjoyed time alone this morning, and guests in the afternoon/evening. My son spent a couple hrs w/his father tonight and I RESOLVED NOT to question him about ANYTHING! I am learning that if I don’t ask questions then I can not be upset by the answer. When I do ask questions, I ALWAYS obsess over the information. It is HARD not to know but I must let go of the need to know. If there is anything I’ve learned from this experience it is that God reveals to me what I need to know…when I need to know.

I have spent much time on this site today and it is helpful. I believe it has kept me grounded and I am learning more about the socio behavior. It’s almost like I read a statement about a socio and it is an AHA moment…I remember when mine did or said the same/similar thing. For instance…I remember his facial expressions at times and thought – HE IS LYING – but I allowed myself to believe his illusions. I remember reading somewhere to listen to your body. When I “felt” he way lying…BELIEVE IT! Don’t let him talk me out of it.

I was given a Gratitude Journal as a gift today. For me, I know that when I am in an Attitude of Gratitude, I feel spiritually powerful, connected to God, and able to ward off damaging self destructive feelings. I’m vowing to write entries into this journal daily. Today, #1 I am GRATEFUL this sociopath is not in my life!

I too read the poem posted by SecretMonster and was impressed by his insight. Than another post stated that the poem is actually lyrics to a song. I felt deceived by SecretMonster.

It is 11:40pm and almost the end of Xmas 2007 and I MADE IT! I am optimistic for 2008!

Please keep up the blogs..they are a comfort to me and very informative. I feel I am in elementary school on this education into sociopathy.


That’s great. I’m glad you were intentional about the way you and your son spent Christmas.

You sound strong and smart and you’ll make it. You may face setbacks especially if you have to have contact with your ex-husband. That has to be hard, but we all face setbacks and then start right back up again. You’ll do that, too.

I think your plan not to ask questions is very wise and keeps you in control – of what information you let into your life, information about him that you really have no control over now.

As for Secret Monster, I personally didn’t take offense that he didn’t credit the artist. Secret Monster already identified himself as a de facto liar and cheat and, by submitting that poem, he shows that he identifies with the poem’s persona. That’s infinitely helpful to me in learning how they operate.

It can help all of us. I think a Sociopath can be like an acquired taste, only in reverse. His mentality is so distasteful that I think learning more about people like him leaves us with such a bad taste in our mouths we won’t want another taste.

Either that or poison oak; once we learn what to look for, we can avoid it.

Unfortunately, it looks like his wife will be a victim soon…and no one can protect or warn her.

You’ve made it through the toughest part. It may not seem like it yet, but you’re really on a beautiful journey. I could not have said that when it was all fresh for me, like it is for you now, but I can see where you’re going and when you get there, you’ll find peace and joy and a stronger, wiser you.

Since you’ve mentioned your faith in God, remember whenever you weaken to keep your eyes on Him and not on the problem. It will keep you focused. I knew it was God in His grace who rescued me when I wasn’t able to rescue myself. I thank Him every day for this gift although I probably would have chosen another way to get where I was supposed to go. He’ll be with you every step of the way in your recovery, too.

Merry Christmas, backtoreality, and may 2008 hold many wonderful and joyful surprises for you and your son. You deserve them.


Thanks for your response eyesopended. I felt as though I was wrapped in a warm, secure, blanket!

I too believe that God did for me that I was not able to do for myself. 6 days before the SP left home, I looked into my bath mirror and surrendered to God telling Him that this reationship was in his hands and I would accept what His answer was to be. While the SP was laying out all the reasons for his departure (blaming me) I was able to remain silent because I KNEW this was God doing what I had never been able too.

Over the past 8mos I have realized that for the entire 30 yr relationship I had that “inner” feeling that this should never have been. I was too fearful to admit it and terrified at NOT being w/this person.

What I know is this…God’s plan for me is so much better than any plan in my imagination. My problem though is trusting Him, Letting Go and Letting Him, getting myself out of His way.

Many times I have to remind myself that God removed me from this relationship and He will not let me go now. I simply wish that I could ALWAYS remember this and not allow my thoughts and obsessions take me away!

When I start beating up on myself for staying in this for so long, I Thank God for my 16yr old son…a product of this relationship.

I saw 2 books listed on this site, written by Dr. Leedom. One is Just Like His Father, and the other Parenting the At Risk Child. Has anyone read these and were they helpful?

My thanks to everyone who posts as it is medicine for my soul!


I know so well what you are feeling. Being told some of the truth after 31 years of marriage, made me feel like all those years were a mockery. It diminished what we were supposed to be. The whole time I was waiting for the man I met to come back, little knowing he either didn’t exist, or he only exists for others and not me. He put on his facade to get me, but once he said I do, his part was complete. I realize now that he was going through the motions of being married and it was his version. We couldn’t share insights like we did to begin with and apparently that was a smoke screen too. But I have my children and if he doesn’t or can’t relate, that’s his problem. I no longer buy into any guilt. I, too, can say, so what?

At least we were given the opportunity of seeing and escaping before we lived our alloted time. We can taste freedom and have the chance to create a new past. One in which we have input. We no longer have to be at the mercy of someone who doesn’t care. And if we try again, we can love that someone like they love. Let them set the pace, but not give our hearts and trust to them. Total trust, to me, is just a license for them to take ownership and do what they want to do. Take them on a trial basis, only they don’t know that. And if we see the old pattern emerging we are already prepared. But for me, I’m glad I have the independence to be able to go it alone.


For those of us who choose to take God’s words literally, He says, through Christ, that He came that we might have life and have it more abundantly. That means to me, I am just as worthy as the next one for having a happy existence with or without someone. Galatians 5 talks about the fruits of the spirit vs the fruits of the flesh, and I think that’s where we find a lot of our problems. So many don’t answer to God and they take all the credit for their life, rather than acknowledging Him. He says in all our ways to acknowledge Him and He will direct our paths. But one has to believe to have faith. I always felt if we were at one with God, we can be at one with each other. So maybe some of what we go through is really a battle of Satan vs God and we are the battlefield. I’m just glad I’m on the other side now. We can all encourage one another and can say, there is a brighter day ahead. At least we aren’t dodging bombs and bullets. When we fight the unseen, it’s a battle of wills and won’ts. I know for me, I’m tired of fighting. I will concede and walk away, the victor!!

Dr. Steve is right, these Ps are not great liars. Often times their lies are so way out there it is clear to everyone it is a lie. My guy continues to give out his favorite lie of owning a pink diamond worth $3.2 million. Everyone knows he is full of it! Even when the liar has been exposed though, do they hold onto these favorite lies? That is what perplexes me. They do weave quite a web of deceit. It is the lying about caring for someone that is vulnerable to them and in love that I believe is most destructive. I think back over the lies that he loved me. When I remember these things I have fond thoughts of being loved, then I am jolted into reality that it was all a lie. His actions proved he did not love me. Why is it that women need to hear the words, but don’t demand the words be followed by the actions? This is what makes us vulnerable to these people. What makes some women this way?

You know, I believe my guy’s lying began when he was a child. He was one of seven children. Perhaps he learned early on that he could get attention if he made up stories. Or, that he could make his life better and avoid punishment by lying. The reason I believe this is he is now very boastful of how he is teaching his 3 year old son to lie effectively to the boy’s mother. He and the child’s mother fight constantly, he now is getting the child to join in his lying to her. Sometimes it is simple stuff such as what the child had for lunch. To me it is sick. I wonder if this is how it starts? or how a P can pass on these traits to an offspring? I am sure there are genetic elements as well as learned behaviors, maybe this is one of the learned behaviors.

The lies often times don’t seem to support anything they are doing at the moment or have an apparent role in current or future manipulation of other people. It is just odd stuff that they will lie about. I often wonder what is sparked in their brain at that moment to cause the lie.

I am glad for this site. I honestly thought I was losing my mind because of this man. I couldn’t make sense of being loved and being treated so badly simultaneously. I worry about the children of these people. I can only imagine how confusing and destructive a P parent would be. Here I am a highly educated, professional woman who is capable in every other way, yet I was completely dupped by a psychopath. How in the world could a child survive, when an adult is no match for a psychopath?

All I can do now is count my blessings. I was never married to this guy or had a child with him. For all practical purposes I got away unscathed. He does have a wife and child, at some point he is going to hurt them in the biggest way. I know his wife already has mental issues and is dangerous in her own rite. The one I feel sorry for is their little boy, he couldn’t pick his parents. It is very sad.

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