Psychopathy can run in families – a possible warning for you

Tattooed hands of a criminal handcuffedLovefraud recently received the following request in an email:

My husband’s psychopathy was never diagnosed as far as I know, but some years after we married and her second suicide attempt that I knew of, he told me his mother had been diagnosed as a psychopathic manic depressive.

Maybe you could give your readers ‘a heads up and how to’ on finding out as much as possible about the in-laws’ medical conditions before marriage, better yet sound them out before becoming emotionally entangled?

This is a great suggestion, so thank you to this Lovefraud reader.

Here’s my basic advice: Understand that psychopathy can run in families. So if you see or hear about bad or disturbing behavior by relatives of your romantic partner, pay attention.

Highly genetic

Psychopathy is highly genetic. What that means is that a person can be born with a predisposition, a genetic risk, to develop a psychopathic personality disorder.

There is, however, an interaction between nature and nurture. Whether a child with genetic risk actually develops the disorder may depend on the type of parenting that he or she receives, or other factors in the child’s environment.

Research has shown that harsh and inconsistent parenting is associated with a child developing callous and unemotional traits, which can be precursors to psychopathy.

Usually, if a child is genetically at risk, it’s because one or both of the parents has psychopathic traits. Psychopaths are notoriously bad parents. So the child gets not only bad genes, but bad parenting as well.

It’s a recipe for producing another psychopath. And it can happen over and over again in some families.

The psychopathic seduction

In the initial love-bombing phase of the relationship, psychopaths can shower you with attention and affection. This person seems to be your perfect mate, the one you’ve been waiting for all your life.

But if the person is actually disordered, the caring behavior is all a charade.

Some psychopaths are capable of keeping the charade going for a long time years, even as long as you are useful to them. Although you may sense that something is not right, you may not be able to pinpoint that the person is engaging in manipulation and deceit. You may doubt yourself, because your partner seems to want you so much.

The psychopath is engaging in impression management. But what about his or her family members?

Warning signs among the relatives

If you hear about any of the following regarding your partner’s blood relatives, pay attention:

• Criminal behavior
• Abusive behavior
• Domestic violence
• Any kind of violence
• Diagnosis of antisocial or narcissistic personality disorder, or psychopathy
• Multiple short-term romantic partners
• Scams or other financial crimes
• Drug or alcohol addictions
• Child molestation
• Prison sentences

Of course, it is very possible for a person with a normal ability to love and a conscience to be born into a family that has psychopaths. In fact, many Lovefraud readers, who are themselves empathetic, have realized that one or both of their parents are psychopaths.

But as the saying goes, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.”

If your partner’s relatives exhibit the traits or behaviors listed above, it may mean that your partner is also capable of the behavior, once the psychopathic mask slips.

Problem children

If your partner has kids, you should also pay close attention to how he or she treats them, and the behavior of the children.

If you see flashes of harsh, inconsistent or other types of bad parenting, they may be indications of your partner’s true nature, and not just that the kids were acting up that day.

And if the children are deceitful, manipulative or aggressive, well, those traits came from somewhere, either your partner’s family or the ex’s family.

Meeting the family

Some families of psychopathic individuals will tell you about their disturbing behavior but some won’t.

The family may be actually clueless about the true nature of his or her personality, especially if they live far away.

Or, even worse, the family may know about antisocial or abusive behavior, and withhold that information. Sometimes the motivation may be innocent they’re hoping you are the person who will get their relative straightened out.

Other times, however, they know all about the person’s deficiencies, but they want you to take the person off their hands. In my research for my book, Red Flags of Love Fraud, one woman told me that on her wedding day, the mother of the groom came up to her and said, “He’s your problem now.”

And if your partner is estranged from his or her family, or doesn’t allow you to meet the family, it could be another warning sign that he or she has something to hide.

Trust your instincts

So what do you do? How do you protect yourself from getting romatnically involved with a psychopath?

Here’s the best advice: Always trust your instincts. You have an internal warning system, and if you get a bad feeling about someone, pay attention.

So if you have a nagging suspicion, but haven’t yet figured out why, it might help to take a look at your partner’s relatives. Bad behavior somewhere on his or her family tree may help clarify your misgivings.


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59 Comments on "Psychopathy can run in families – a possible warning for you"

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Ah yes indeed it is all genetic isn’t it… a little mutation in say COMT and we are not breaking down dopamine fast enough .. MAO gene is bent out of a shape a little bit so serotonin is out of whack and it is all hereditary. And so we return full circle to eugenics again. What will it be? Forced abortions and sterilization like in Indiana and Iowa or the gas chamber a la the Nazi T4 extermination program for the unfit? Or perhaps will you let them vegetate in a haze of drugs for their then relatively short lives because you are so afraid of them? You are an interesting specimen, Andersen, making money off of what you fear I have to congratulate you on that. Or perhaps you are a psychopath yourself, for what better way to tap into victims than to attract those who are prone to abuse? Many of the victims here have a history of falling for abusers one time after the other.

This is interesting to me. Spath#2 has TERRIBLE relations with his children ages 12-30. I suspect b/c he used them as window dressing to get wives #2, #3, and #4 and then discarded when became teenagers…both daughters moved to live with their mom when they were old enough to legally get out from under his thumb. 12 yo son is a mess. Lives locally, but dad (spath#2) conveniently blames step-father and mother for his behavior.

I feel sorry for his daughters as they are acting the same way he did, moving from man to man, having children out of wedlock and living (and raising his grandchildren) barely above the poverty level. And it looks like only son (the namesake for which he is so proud) is a carbon copy of dad.

I pity his children and his children’s children. I’m so grateful my kids only had superficial contact with him.


When I met the spaths mother, I knew right away.
I’m talking 30 seconds and I was certain that the apple was still attached to the tree.
This woman who had 7 children and looked 20 years older than her age bragged about how beautiful she is/was.

Until this meeting I already met the brothers and heard stories of the deceased father who had at least one child out of wedlock was the culprit heck both parents are most likely spaths.
Going forward I listen when I meet new people and I want to meet family members.

I had a boyfriend whose ex-wife was a one of the worst sociopaths I have ever come across. She was ruthless, callous, deceitful, highly manipulative, the list goes on. She wiped this man out of everything he had, and continues to do so. They have five kids together (all adults now). Although I’ve never had interactions with all five kids, the two that I did were definitely sociopathic, and very scary. The oldest daughter appeared normal, but no matter what kind of abuse the mother would dish out, she always backed the mother. When the man was first separated from the abusive wife, his daughter would call him, and no matter what abuse he described, she would always back the sociopath mother. The mother and her would team up and manipulate him until they finally broke him down and lured him back. It was beyond my comprehension. Her excuse was “I want to help”. I never met or communicated with the other 3 kids, so for all I know, they could all be sociopaths. So yes, I do believe that sociopathy/ psychopathy is highly genetic, not to mention all the scientific studies and research backing it. These people appear normal at first. So if you ever meet a person, especially a very charming one, whose family appears dysfunctional, and has the traits of a sociopath…PLEASE BEWARE.

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