Realities only family members know

Research into sociopathy/psychopathy has made a great deal of progress over the last 30 years. Even so, there is much that research does not address. For example, sociopaths are described as callous, lacking in empathy and without remorse for their hurtful actions. These sterile descriptors always fall short of really conveying the evil of the disordered.

A good 6 months before the Madoff story broke, I began a project to connect with the family members of professional con artists. The purpose of this project is to document the within family behavior of con artists and to link that “profession” to psychopathic personality traits. I have had good success connecting with family members and the exchange of information has been healing all around.

One con artist is in prison for affinity fraud- the use of a church, or other social connection to perpetrate fraud. This man was good at pretending to be a great “Christian” and used his church affiliation to swindle people. There is no doubt he is highly psychopathic as this is his second prison term and the descriptions given by his ex-wife are that of a classic sociopath.

Like many con artists, this man also has children. One of his daughters is the same age (within a couple of weeks) as my eldest daughter; she just turned 18. I spoke with this young lady with the permission of her mother and have had an ongoing dialogue with her. She wanted to talk to me because she was taking psychology in high school and had figured out on her own that her father is a sociopath.

This young lady is such a gem, so I’ll call her Gem here. She is smart, lovely and kind-hearted. In her own way she has been coming to grips with the reality that her father is incapable of love. He wasn’t physically violent but he has been callous, lacking in empathy and emotionally abusive toward everyone in the family. There I go with the adjectives that describe a sociopath.

Researchers are puzzled by the phenomenon of empathy in sociopaths. Although sociopaths seem to know all too well what others are thinking and feeling, they don’t respond in a normal way to what they know. Instead, they use their knowledge of others to manipulate. When the manipulation is perpetrated on a child or vulnerable teen/ young adult it is especially evil.

Gem shared with me the birthday communication she received from her imprisoned father. With her permission, I share it with you. She and I both hope this example will help other family members heal and move on. When I read the card, I was outraged and knew immediately the effect it had on my young friend. Without a lengthy explanation, a person ignorant of sociopaths would never “get it” regarding the manipulation I saw as blatant manipulation. Here is what the card said:

” My sweet baby girl, I miss you and love you very much. Happy 18th birthday. It seems like yesterday I held this little tiny baby with the biggest most beautiful eyes. I have so many great memories of you, handfuls of dog food, pretty little dresses. You played soccer but hated it. You danced and laughed your way into everyone’s heart. You are all a father could ever ask for in a daughter. I pray for you every day. May you find the best in life as you begin your adult life. I hope your dreams come true. You’re wonderful, beautiful, and always will be my little girl. God bless you.
Love Dad”

OK an ignorant person reading this would say, “What a sweet, nice card, to get from a father.” This communication might also be cited as an example of how hard it is for the kids of the imprisoned to be separated from their loving parents who made, “mistakes in life.”

A person who really knows sociopaths would react with outrage as I did. I know that just a few short months before this card, the father in question stole money from his ex-wife. Money she was using to take care of Gem, his little girl. Furthermore, all during Gem’s childhood he was conning people including family members out of their money. He never had any real connection to Gem. She never felt he loved or wanted her. This card in my view was pure evil, why? because it preyed upon this beautiful Gem, a young lady who always wished for a real father.

When she sent me what her father had written, I responded, “I am speechless over that card, it must represent everything you wish he would have said to you your whole life. I hope you keep it and believe in your heart, mind and soul that this is what YOU DESERVE always and forever from your parents and your boyfriend/future husband.”

Here is what Gem said in response to my interpretation, “it did just trigger something in me that just made me cry. I couldn’t help but break down and cry after reading that because I HAVE always wanted to hear that from a father-figure but now… it’s too late.”

This con artist, bored in prison is writing cards, hoping for some entertaining responses, while his family is working to heal, make sense of it all, and move on. The words of the card, if left unchecked by reality, delay the moving on that is so important. Gem is off to college next fall and is moving on to a great life that she will make for herself.

It is only my personal knowledge of sociopaths and how they operate that enabled the correct interpretation of the birthday card. Please feel free to share your own examples of a sociopath’s manipulation of your emotions. Particularly useful are examples of a sociopath’s use of words that are superficially appropriate, but very inappropriate given the specific circumstances.

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237 Comments on "Realities only family members know"

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I think it also becomes a BIT easier when your healing journey becomes more about you than it is about him.

When the questions are not all about why he………(fill in the blank.

Once the questions change and you start asking yourself the hard questions and focus on you, some of this “addictive” part of what your experiencing now will ease up a bit. And from there it will get better.
The begining phase of this is always ABOUT them….So you are right where your suppose to be. Don’t beat yourself up about that….Just don’t allow yourself to get stuck in this part.

Sara, what witsend and Oxy are saying are the key but I could have written every word you are saying. Apart from the fact that the S/P I knew didn’t even seem to like the sex! It was the weirdest sex I’ve ever had and I used to wonder what he had to think about to even stay able, cos it sure as hell wasn’t me. He could hardly bear to look at my old bod! I think it was a power and control thing with him. It made him feel like a big man that he could make me into a quivering wreck.

With the clever and rational part of my brain I know how to get better, and I will one day, but the child part of my brain that only believes what daddy told me about myself, I still want him to care about me, tell me I’m beautiful and love me. It ain’t gonna happen for any of us with these P’s. It’s the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through but I’m a lot better than a year ago and I just have to keep making the wise part of me the bigger part and helping the little girl in me through this the best I can. She doesn’t need any more hatred, she’s had more than enough.

Sara, I know exactly how you feel, I promise. We made their words the truth, but they weren’t the truth. They were sheer manipulation. We filled in the blanks and it was never who they were. The person we wanted them to be WOULD NOT have done this to another human being. Hugs to you Sara.

The answer to the question of “WHY” does not always give you the satisfaction you think it will.

Several years ago, a classmate of mine was murdered in the parking garage of his condo by two thugs who followed him home.
They killed him for his car (a Porsche) and his watch (a Rolex).
He would have handed these things over willingly, but they killed him anyway.

That’s it. That’s WHY this bright, intelligent, promising young man was murdered in cold blood. Because someone wanted his car, his watch, and the cash/credit cards he was carrying.
That reason did not make any of us feel better.
In fact, the pain of losing someone that way is a searing kind of pain, because there is no excuse for it.
It’s just a waste.

The same is true of sociopaths, I think. They are a waste.
If you ask a sociopath why they hurt you, the answer may very well be, “Just for the heck of it,” or “for the power”.
Is that going to make you feel better, and give you the closure you want?
For some of us, it may. Some of us, not so much.
That’s an individual thing.

I think we normal people always want to know WHY so that we can understand.
But, we are not always going to understand everything that happens in this life.
There is evil in the world, and we are walking around, brushing shoulders with some very disordered people.
And, some of them, find a way to creep into our personal lives.
That’s the bottom line, I think.



hmm, I think the answer to ‘why’, if asked of the spath of my acquaintance, would be ‘but I didn’t hurt anybody’, NOBODY cared for ME’,…..
……so my struggles and fake death mean nothing. (or the fact that they have all been dealing with a collection of sock puppets).

Everyday i do my best to not ascribe ANY normal reaction to her.

It helps that she presented me with a charade of characters, some nice, some horrid, NONE OF THEM HER.

The spathiness IS the ‘why’ for me…it IS MY ANSWER.

So, I keep learning more about spaths and reinforcing THAT IT IS MY ANSWER TO WHY SHE WOULD PULL THIS SCAM, AND WHY SHE HAS NO REGARD for those she hurt.

….and everyday there are thorns to pull out – like ‘why’ did she say she was sorry sorry sorry . BECAUSE SHE IS A SPATH AND SHE IS TRYING TO MANIPULATE THE SITUATION.

one step

Wow…..this was a great article. Reminds me of my spath son who made the offer of a very expensive gift after his father (ex spath) dropped dead and money was in the offing:

Spath son: How much does that (equipment) cost for your studio?
Me: Quite a bit.
Spath son: I’ll be getting some money, soon, and I want to buy you one.
Me: I appreciate the offer, but I’ll purchase my own equipment.
Spath son: Really. I want to get this for you. You deserve it.
Me: Again, I appreciate the offer, but I won’t accept it. That money is meant for you and your brother and to settle your father’s affairs. I don’t want to know anything about it.

And, I became quite forceful until he dropped the subject. This conversation took place less than 1 week after his father died. How f*&^ed up is that???

When my mother was in the process of dying, the ex spath refused to allow our 12 y/o son attend her funeral because he was deemed “too fragile.” In the same sentence, the ex spath says (and, I quote), “So, when’s (my mother) supposed to die? Because, I’d like to send her a little something.” I held the phone away from my face, stared at the receiver as if it were a gila monster, and said, “Well, they’re trying to work her in between Mr. Rosencranz and Mrs. Miller on Tuesday at 10:38 am” and hung up the phone.

What was he going to send her? An apology for shattering her trust? Some of the tens of thousands that he bilked her out of? A water balloon??? Holy cow…..

Please feel free to share your own examples of a sociopath’s manipulation of your emotions.

I would like to do this, but could I write this privately Dr Leedom? I wouldnt be surprised if the elder DSMer reads this site (she did after all introduce me to her disorder via projection and knows how ptsd works via her interesting specific comments that will likely trigger a slow growth in the stress disorder) It actually had the opposite effect, in helping me to google what she meant by x, y, z (!) – I wonder if she was trying to get me to research sociopathy as a a form of abuse? Getting me to SEE the reality, when before I was comfortably shrouded in ignorance. I didn’t hit bigtime painuntil I actually became enlightened. Hmmm…

Dear outlier,

You can find Dr. Leedom’s e mail address under the lovefraud authors’ link.

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