By | June 11, 2006 0 Comments

One woman’s story of near-destruction by a sociopath

I am an abused woman. I don’t look it. I smile at the world from behind big brown eyes. I work, I speak to friends, I function. I am not battered and bruised. I do not sport visible scars of torture. I am well-educated, intelligent, creative, successful, attractive. But, I am also an abused woman.

This is the opening paragraph of a new book called The Dandelion Spirit—A True Life Fairytale of Love, Lies and Letting Go, by M. L. Gallagher.

The Dandelion Spirit tells the true story of how the author was seduced by a sociopath who dramatically proclaimed his love for her while he played on her sympathies. It then tells how the author slipped into his web of deceit, and by the time she learned it was deceit, was so broken that she thought the best she could do was commit suicide. Luckily, the sociopath was arrested, and Gallagher was able to begin her healing.

Story, essays and insights

The book gives an up-close-and-personal look at how a sociopath manipulates his victim. Gallagher describes her initial encounter with the predator, called Peter in the book, in a business meeting. She had been referred to Peter by an associate, called Graham.

“Hi. I’m Peter Penni. Graham told me you were pretty. He lied. You’re stunning.”

Their encounter began with that handshake. Her father had always said that you could measure the stature of a man by the firmness of his grip. Peter wasn’t big in physical stature, but he carried an aura of strength. Of confidence. He filled the room. And his handshake was firm. Not a big hand. But a warm grip. A grip that held onto her for just that moment longer than was necessary. A grip she missed the minute he let go.

Along with the story of the seduction, The Dandelion Spirit includes essays Gallagher posted on the online support forum for victims,, under the screen name of Ellie. The essays, all poetically written, describe her state of being as she fell in love with the predator, during the depths of her despair, and as she recovered. The first essay in the book is about the heady days of her new romance:

Awakening to the tenderness of his first kiss, her heart beat in rhythm with his and nestled into the inviting warmth of finding its home within him. Safe within the arms of her one true love, her heart burst open to welcome him. Without hesitation, he filled her life and settled in to claim it as his own. She offered him all that she was and he kept taking her deeper and deeper.

The book also includes what Gallagher calls “insights”—resources that explain red flags, psychological causes and effects, and tactics used by sociopaths. One of the insights is the How to Spot a Con page from (reproduced with permission).

Towards understanding

Victims of sociopaths, along with their families and friends, are always trying to figure out how the predator succeeded in manipulating them. Why did they believe the lies? Why couldn’t they just throw the bum out?

There is no succinct answer, but there can be understanding of how it happens. The Dandelion Spirit describes the extreme steps a sociopath will take to assert control, and the emotional destruction of the victim. It’s a worthwhile read for anyone trying to make sense of a devastating encounter with a sociopath.

For more information, visit

Posted in: Cases, M.L. Gallagher

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