By | October 7, 2010 349 Comments

Reconsidering the Essence of Sociopathy

When I think sociopath, I think this: as a pattern, he is willing, with awareness (hence, with intellect intact) to hurt people, or leave them feeling violated, in order to pursue his  gratifications and interests which, for him, are always more important than the pain his pursuit of them inflicts on others.

Malice (as I’ve written about elsewhere) may or may not be a motive or factor. It’s true that for some sociopaths the gratifications they seek are predatory-based; for these sociopaths, the process of exploiting others becomes central in their violating behavior.

But this isn’t true for all sociopaths, many of whom are not driven, primarily, by a malicious or sadistic agenda. 

For many, if not all, sociopaths, the core motive driving their behavior is to satisfy a present impulse, desire, or felt need. But the problem with sociopaths—and surely one of their distinguishing, defining qualities—is the alarming indifference they bring to the collatoral damage they cause others, about which, at least intellectually, they have awareness.

This speaks, of course, to the sociopath’s deficient empathy and tendency to callousness. But again, the deficient empathy by itself isn’t so telling; more telling are the empathic deficits in connection with the pattern, and the sociopath’s intellectual comprehension, of his grossly violating behaviors. 

I stress that it is this confluence of the sociopath’s intellectual awareness of the damage  his pattern of violating behaviors causes others, coupled with his striking emotional indifference to his damage-causing behaviors, that seems to announce we are dealing with a peculiar personality called “sociopathic.”

For the sociopath, interpersonal commitments can be maintained so long as they don’t interfere with the pursuit of his targeted present gratifications, or relief. But just as soon as the sociopath perceives a commitment or agreement to interfere with his present agenda, it becomes, for him, effectively null and void. The previous commitment and agreement are now utterly discardable and meaningless.

Whereas the nonsociopath would feel some shame, some uneasiness, to suddenly, unilaterally blow-off, and render nonbinding, a commitment he made to someone else, the sociopath feels relatively untroubled doing so. Why?

One reason is this: Whatever, in the sociopath’s mind, emerges as interfering with his present, immediate interest(s)—be it previously accepted obligations, commitments, responsibilities, and, yes, relationships—these become experienced, for the sociopath, as presently obstructive, and thereby antogonistic to his current agenda.

Therefore, he now feels the right, in effect, to protect himself against the assault of intrusions and unwelcome constraints to his agenda, whatever their source. He protects himself (and his interests) by, metaphorically, flipping his middle finger at these unwelcome disturbances to the pursuit of his immediate interests.

The sociopath feels entitled to do this! In his mind, things, or you, have gotten in his way. This makes him, in a sense, the victim, and you, or whatever now obstructs his agenda, his victimizer.

Yes, this is an extremely narcissistic position, and yes, the sociopath embodies narcissism in its most virulent form.

Let’s look at an arbitrary example: If you were to ask a sociopath, “How could you have just, blatantly, without shame, left your ”˜date’ waiting at that restaurant, where you arranged to meet at 8 pm, and never showed up, and never even called to say you weren’t showing up,?” here are some things he might say, versus what he might have really been thinking:

He might say, “You are right. That was inexcusable. I should not have done that.” (Reflecting his intellectual awareness of the social inappropriateness of his behavior.)

But he might be thinking, “I left her there because I had a chance to go out with that cashier I’d been scouting at the CVS for the last couple weeks; and I sure as hell wasn’t gonna let that opportunity pass. I wasn’t gonna let her (my date) stand in the way of my pursuing a better, more exciting opportunity.”

Or, he might say, “Yeah, I should have at least called. That would have been right.”. (Reflecting his intact intellect)

But he might be thinking, “Calling her would have taken time out of my life at that moment, when I was concentrating on my present priority, which was to impress and seduce this cashier. I did not want to be hindered in my present agenda. I should never have to be hindered in my agenda, and anything, or anyone, that hinders me by introducing inconvenient expectations of me is obstructing me and antagonizing me. So if she was pissed off and hurt that I blew her off, too bad. She became a nuisance.”

When the sociopath feels the need to rationalize—and he is so narcissistic that he may not even feel the need to do so—this is the kind of rationalizing he does. His present needs are always preeminent, and he feels little, if ever any, conflict about this. He is comfortable making, experiencing, his present needs as preeminent regardless of what this means to the needs, and expectations, of others around him.

In a split second he is willing, if necessary for his own, latest chance at gratification, to devalue and ignore his obligations to others.  And he does this from the sense that this is his most basic privilege; it makes absolute, comfortable sense to him.  

(This article is copyrighted (c) 2010 by Steve Becker, LCSW. My use of male gender pronouns is for convenience’s sake and not to suggest that females aren’t capable of the behaviors and attitudes discussed.)

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“Satisfy a present impulse, desire or felt need” EXACTLY!!!! And who cares who get’s run over by the bus.

Great Article – Thanks




This is the first time that it has clicked for me. I totally see where everything he did fits into this. I had such a hard time accepting it because I didn’t think he set out to hurt me. He didn’t plan to hurt me it just didn’t matter that he hurt me because he needed what he needed.

I feel like I want to cry rejoice all at the same time. Somehow getting this for the first time is a bit overwhelming!!!! It REALLY wasn’t me….I REALLY couldn’t have done anything more to help him!!! IT WASNT ME!!!!!!!!!!



I always find Mr. Becker’s posts very helpful. This one was particularly helpful to me. I believe that the sociopath in my life did not intend malice, but he certainly didn’t bother to lift a finger to stop it. I am still reeling two years later.

While I know that other people find it helpful to call names (malicious, callous, or ridiculous), I find that thoughtful essays such as this to be much more helpful to me.

Thank you.

Ox Drover

Dear Steve!!!!!

This article is so right on I want to shout TOWANDA!!!! A thousand times over.

Some are malicious, and some are not. Some enjoy the pain caused, and feel a sense of WINNING when they accomplish a put down! Others just don’t even notice when they see the emotional “blood” flowing from the throat of their victim. They don’t even feel the wheels of the bus go “thump” as they roll over the victim. As long as they are in the driver’s seat, it is all ahead forward, damn the torpedoes!

GREAT ARTICLE. I actually think this is one of, if not THE, best article on LF or anywhere else that “explains” the psychopath! THANKS!!!!


I think that some do absolutely feel the “thump;” they just don’t have the capacity to act in any other way than the way they do. No skills with patience or with public embarrassment (or even chagrin).

I don’t ever doubt that he felt the thump and intellectually knew his actions were beneath contempt. For him, there was *no* other option.

That’s quite different from the previous assessment that comes with violent metaphors that are so distracting and destructive from the thoughtful article.

Ox Drover

Dear Missgoth,

Unfortunately, sometimes the psychopaths ARE “violent metaphors….and destructive….” there’s no other way to describe them.

Fortunately, not all of them are physical killers–but killing the soul in my opinion is sometimes more destructive than killing the body.


WOW, this is truly the sum up of what sociopathy is! I have always said he had no real malice..just 100% selfish intent without concern or thought for the effects of his immoral, selfish and devestating ways. He simply KNOWS no other way..

I am 2 + months out…and working so hard on staying strong..he just reached out.. so nonchalantly …asking me how I was..and if I wanted to get together with him.. now, that comment alone just shows HOW incredibly sociopathic he is..with all that we had been thru..the abuse he inflicted, his cheating and lying ways….my ending the relationship d/t my awareness..and he even remotely thinks I would say, ‘YES, im fine..lets get together.’


But i agree this is truly one of the best, if not the best article on LF.. it simply sums up what we have gone thru. why the experience with a sociopath is so perplexing, unreal and truly traumatizing….and why NO ONE, can remotely understand the suffering we go thru in the aftermath of their wake…


I know that the unintended consequences are severe and more harmful than violence. That is why I object to your violent metaphors. They confuse the issue and are cliche.

Ox Drover

Dear Missgoth,

I’m sorry if my “violent metaphors” offend you and are cliche…specifically, which ones?


I had to come back and say THANK YOU again!!!! I can’t even begin to explain how freeing the article was to me!!!

After reading this I believe I will be able to forgive. Even my spath would tell you that I was one of the most forgiving people he’d ever met. But when I found out everything and he continued to refuse to acknowledge it…to blame me…to rip me open time after time after time by seemingly moving on with no acknowledgement of the destruction he left behind. I couldn’t begin to forgive!!! Now I can…now I see this is a defect in HIM…it does not excuse what he did…what he continues to do. BUT I can now take a few steps down that road of forgiveness because I can accept what he did and accept that is just who he is….it had nothing to do with me!

Thank you again Steve!!!!! REALLY you have no idea what this article did for my healing!!! I feel like for the first time in almost 6 months that I will survive this!!!


Hi everyone!

I took a little break from LF only because I need a mental break from thinking about Spathiness for a bit, and feel I’ve made some serious headway in putting my experience behind me, but I still continued to read and know that there seems to be a lot of newbies. Welcome. There is no better place to process your experience from the type of personality that brought you here.

As usual, Steve gets right to it. Hard to believe that someone with no personal experience with a sociopath can nail it with each and every post. Thanks Steve! You’ve been more helpful than you can possibly fathom. Steve’s explanation and description of the sociopath’s “intact intellect” and their intellectual awareness of what they are doing literally gave me goosebumps. In my case, I confused my X’s intellectual awareness with an emotional correlate–that he was actually sorry and motivated to make changes. I think that’s what was so confounding for me and kept me hanging on far longer than I should have. (well, and that he was intentionally telling me what I wanted to hear) What always astounds and fascinates me concurrently is that they just do NOT think like us, and we find their way of thinking to be incomprehensible. Even when we can intellectually understand it, I feel like it’s so beyond our capacity to relate, which makes it more difficult to process and then move on. Another statement that gave me chills because it so aptly described my X, is this:

“When the sociopath feels the need to rationalize—and he is so narcissistic that he may not even feel the need to do so…”

I had another AHA moment when I read it because I did hear my X rationalize some, but I think Steve once again nailed this so well pertaining to my own experience. I think my X IS just that narcissistic that he really didn’t give a flip about rationalizing to anyone.


Ox Drover

Hi, Hopeful, glad to see you back!!! Yep, you got it!!!! I agree with you that they ARE that narcissistic…this is a great article isn’t it!!!!

Each step we take in the right direction, each AH HA moment is another page we turn in our healing and learning processes.

BTW, I think you have come a long way since you came here! This is an awesome place, isn’t it! Peace!


steve, you always hit it right on the head. they always play themselves as “the victim” and rationalize that their behavior is actually them protecting themselves..i remember catching him in a lie and he said “you are not to be trusted” i can’t be trusted..the next lie i caught him in was “i hate you for doing this to me” you bleeping bleep. this is all your fault. yeah, ok my fault you can’t ever tell me the truth and most of my days were spent in the search of truth. my search of truth was “hurting him”. His lies and behavior, some days i’ll call, some days i’ll acknowledge your alive never hurt me. when i would block his number because i was so disgusted with his behavior his response was “why are you doing this to me? i feel stupid to keep calling you and my number is blocked” i asked him how it felt to have the tables turned..i have been 3 months of no contact. none. not a word and i have never felt better. my anxiety is gone. my depression has lifted. i am enjoying things for the first time. i was the victim but, that’s over now. i am the victor because i know what he is and he can’t change.and now i don’t have to keep trying to change myself to his liking. steve, your articles are so insightful and have tremendously helped me. i carried some with me, especially in the beginning…”it’s not you it’s him” , “the silent but deadly treatment” name a few..thank you for your contributions and perspectives


Hi Oxy!

Missed you on here, but sometimes I just need a break from it all. I’ve been so fixated on Spathiness and Spathisodes, I was emotionally drained from it all.

And thank you SO much!! I do feel like I’ve come a very long way. A part of me feels like I may never be the same, but perhaps this is a good thing. My promise to myself is to trust my very strong intuition. If somethin’ don’t feel right, it means it ain’t!

And yes, I love Steve’s articles in particular. So very astute and compassionate!

I promise to keep visiting. I think another user, Chinagirl, wrote me a post responding to an older post of mine, and I meant to write back, but I just never found the time. I’m in school and kinda tired at night. But I’d love to stick around and keep learning and hopefully helping some newbies!


Ox Drover

Dear Hopeful,

It really gives me a lift when I see people coming here and I can almost FEEL the strength grow in their posts, and they start reaching out to others who are newer and the “paying it forward” goes on with each of us helping others.

I’m glad you are in school, that’s a good thing for a recovery–it focuses you on something that you must learn and accomplish and gives you something to think about BESIDES the chaos.

You may have told me what you are studying but I have forgotten (CRS!) but I’ll ask again! No short term memory. When son D and I got home tonight AI was watching Gray’s Anatomy and it was a reepeat—he said it couldn’t be I said it WAS—turned out it was, and then the regular new episode came on after it—He wasn’t gaslighting me, I knew I had seen the show (actually I’m suprised I had that much memory of it) bu8t it6 was driving me CRAZY that he was SURE I couldn’t have seen it.. It wasn’t any serious thing, but it sort of triggered me back to the X-BF-P, he HAD TO BE RIGHT about everythin whether he knew anything about it at all. (fortunately Ds not like that and wasn’t intentionally doing me that way) turned out I was right and something had changed and they reran last week’s episode and then the new episode for this week so I got two shows back to back. But did make me for a while question my “sanity” since son was declaring there was NO way I could have seen the snow.

I think even now I am somewhat subject to be gaslighted in some circumstances, but the differences now, is that I will stand up and protest, it won’t go on and on ab out “yes, dear, yes, dear” I will prove myself either right or wrong! LOL

Well, hope to see you around again soon! (((hugS)_ Oxy


Miss Goth – the abuse meted out by psychopaths is (whether intentional or not) psychologically and emotionally violent and destructive. Whether they plan to hurt or not the outcome is the same for targets – extreme pain, isolation and confusion.

I fully believe my ex intended to drive me to suicide so he could then wash his hands of any responsibility and say to others “See? I told you she was crazy – all the problems were her fault.”

You don;t get any more violent than that. It is an attempted destruction of the psyche and soul of the target.

What has been your experience with sociopaths / psychopaths ( the name is often used interchangably even by professionals)?? And how are you managing after your encounter?

kim frederick

MissGoth, It’s all about what works for you. Or, what works for me. Or what works for anybody else on this site. We are a diverse lot, and while we have a sociopath in common, that may or may not be the only thing. We all identify more with a couple of other posters than we do with the rest. It’s normal and it’s okay. If you disagree with someone, it’s okay to disagree, politely, as you did. There’s always the option not to respond at all.

We are at different places on the path. Some folks are in discovery…they are still aghast at what they’ve dis-covered.
The mask has slipped and they are staring at a monster….
Everything about their lives is in turmoil…nothing is as it seemed…the very foundation they built their belief system on, is torn up…like a jackhammer tearing up the concrete of a sidewalk, they are shaken and confused. Amazed and unsure.

It is an experience of extreme violence.

Others are working on recovery. That is when you begin to put the peices back together. Where you begin to reestablish a foundation, and figure out where you stand.
This is where you pour new concrete on your path, and work at moving on down the road.

Your path may not be my path, and perhaps we’ll never meet again, beyond this crossing, but we all have something to gain, and we all have something to share, and as long as one person is helped by something I say, then it’s a good thing. God Bless us, Every-one.


Super Article !!!

It hits home so deeply because I never detected MALICE in any of his actions or deceit. Even now, when things are as bad as can be – I still don’t get a sense of in your face malice – CONTEMPT yes – but not malice or intentional harm.

Your article brings home to my head and heart that he just CANNOT or WILL NOT see past his own needs , wants and desires to allow someone else to come first – not his wife, not his own children.

Just that blank LOOK when you are trying to get him to see how selfish he is or how he is affecting the children .

It does seem he has put the other women and his current G/F first – doing all the right things at least on the outside.

But – as you state – his behavior is a means to an end – he knows what he has to do to get what he wants.

My question is – is this all automatic in their personality or is there deliberate conscious PLOTTING that goes on ? Maybe both ??

This divorce is 29 months and counting – just submitted my final proposal – I need a miracle , I know.

It’s still hard to fathom that the wonderful, soul-mate I first knew was all a fake – but I am watching him make all the right moves again with her – and sad to say – hopefully I get to see her unravel eventually. No one deserves it more – guess they both deserve each other.

Thanks, Steve – you keep us headed in the right direction !!!

Ox Drover

Dear Steve, your thanks made me gawruff (belly laugh in surprise) at your “accusing me of ” “CONCISE ELOQUENCE” LOL Concise—me????? the queen of the novel-length post? and Eloquence??? ROTFLMAO –Yer damn tootin’ I’m eloquent! LOL

Thanks Steve, I really DO think this is if not THE BEST then surely one of the top 5 articles on here!!!!! The clarity—and the simplicity of it—SPEAKS VOLUMES!!!!!!


Kim F and Polly-and Steve-
First, Steve, thanks for the article. It describes my experience exactly. I love the way you are able to concisely give a picture of what we have been dealing with.

Polly-I, too, think my ex wants me to commit suicide for the same reasons…to prove that I am the crazy one! always he was setting me up….picking a fight with me, bullying me, raging and then when I’d do something like ask him to pull the car over and walk home to get away from his crazy he’d then run to our friends and say “I am SOOO worried about her. She did ________” and make it out to be that I was acting bizaare and he only had my best interests at heart. I have had moments where I have felt suicidal….but I am stronger than that and would never do that to my children…plus whenever I am feeling my lowest I think suicide will let him win! NEVER!

Kim-your post is a great description of the fact we are all in different phases of discovery and getting out of denial. We all have different feelings and have put up with various kinds of betrayal and abuse. Mine was very much emotional abuse with a lot of raging. I think, however, it was a matter of time before he hit me. he couldn’t handle it when I became assertive and stopped the what I call “wench” behavior. Waiting on him and foot, not caring if he left me at the camp site for 12 hours. Some of that was due to my use of vicodin…escaping through vicodin and not caring…but when i got into recovery I realized I had given all my power away to him, and others, and when I changed my behavior he was none too pleased!

It became obvious to me that when the idea of my infertility became a reality that he was ‘done’ with me. I was discardable as Steve says in the article above. I have only realized that lately (the discardable thing) and it really makes sense to me now. I couldn’t understand what changed. Why during so much emotional duress of four miscarriages and infertility that he was meaner to me, not more loving. of course I didn’t know then that he has no empathy. He even admitted that, which seems surprising. He also would act like he wanted therapy, that he was willing to change. But after the 2nd year of therapy and no changes were made (except he took me off all the financial accounts! which was another coup for him) and beginning to talk about separation or something more drastic (the therapist said that if he were to go on the porn sites again that he would have to move out for 3 months–oh was he TICKED OFF about that. He then said to the therapist ‘well, then she should have to move out if she watches tv’!!! what? First, why is watching tv so bad, second I asked him if I was supposed to take my toddler to a motel? nutcase). He would then throw my recovery back in my face saying he stuck by me. I’d say well, I changed my behavior, that’s the difference. Nothing has changed with you. And he’d reply, “I am working on it”. That was his standard reply. So I supposed three years of I’m working on it was supposed to mean he was changing? He had no intention of changing because it was all me!

Looking at all of that history with him seems so insane now. I love what another poster said, can’t remember if it was this thread or a different one, but today she described her experience of slight loneliness of being alone, but that she hops into bed with her cocker spaniel and has freedom, peace from the nightmare of the sociopath. the way she described it was heaven to me! I feel some of that now, but I am still fighting against the set ups and the lies and slander from my ex and my spath brother. But, I am feeling more calm and stable internally then ever thanks for LF. I look for solutions and don’t stay in the problem which is where I was for 5 years…no wonder my ‘friends’ left me. I was a stressball, not able to see the positives or be grateful for anything. I like what OxD said to me the very first day. Start with gratitude and be grateful I have clean water to drink. It put things into perspective!!


Hi Hopeful! don’t worry about responding to my post to you…I get the need to check out of the site for a while. i do that, too, when I get overwhelmed by thinking too much!

Ox Drover

Dear Chinagirl,

I saw on the left that you responded to a comment I made on another thread….my computer connection is acting out again today and will only let the SHORT threads load completely so I can get to the “post a comment box”—so just wanted to let you know I saw the first 5 words of that response, but not the rest….I’ve got to get up from here and go to WORK some today…and quit focusing on lack of all the food I WANT!!! BS doing wonderful now just need to burn some adipose tissue (that’s FAT to the rest of you but sounds better to say “I have an excess of adipose tissue” than to say “I’M FAT!” LOL

Catch you guys later when I take a break!


Wow. This took my breath away. Says it all really. This probably describes what everyone involved in one of these relationships can identify with, even if each of our circumstances are different.

It certainly hit home to me. Thanks Steve.



And Ox, I agree, your posts are brilliant and very supportive of us less concisely eloquent individuals, lol 🙂

Thank you continuing to give your support across the board.

LJ 🙂


I just had to post this:

If you’ve been following the New York state governor’s race, it seems the Republican challenger to sure-thing Democrat Andrew Cuomo is talking out his rear end about Cuomo’s supposed infidelity to former wife Kerry Kennedy. (Yeah, Kennedy.)

Well, meet Kennedy’s “other man,” Bruce Colley. Sounds quite spath-tic!

And guess what? All mention of this twist to the story — that it was Kennedy, not Cuomo, who fooled around — is blacked out from the New York Times and other current coverage, in spite of the fact that the Times mentions it a couple of times as an “ugly, public divorce.” You can’t even find original reports of it (July 2003) by doing a New York Times archive search — you have to go through links posted elsewhere.

Paladino’s ridiculous remark is currently the biggest story in the New York media — but there’s no backstory given. Obviously, even Cuomo doesn’t care to re-hash this event, even if he could score political points. (He’s scored some since without even going there.)

No kidding, spaths have power. The Kennedys have power. Bruce Colley has power. Cuomo . . . not so much, but it doesn’t seem to matter.

Ox Drover

Dear Sister,

Is it a surprise to you that the media TWISTS things? (that was a rhetorical question!) I am so disgusted by the politics in political stories and the slanting of stories by the media.

Unless it is simply a report on the weather, a flood, or anything less political, the “slants” give it are exciting, but not even close to being true! In an election year! I think the politicos AND the media reporters are ALL LIARS! We do have a “free press” FREE to slant it anyway you like if you own the press! UGH! That’s me grinding my teeth!

Thanks ellejay, if my posts are so great, why can’t I save the world? (that the enabler in me wanting to fix everything!) LOL


In this case of media TWIST, there are not even any “comments” to the Paladino/Cuomo stories posted online. In other words, we are forbidden to set the record straight.

Ox Drover

Dear Sister,

Yep, “new truth” production by erasing “old truth” that is uncomfortable for someone who has power to effect “truth modification”—or is that what we USED TO CALL A LIE BY OMISSION?

Not sure what the new way to say that is without hurting someone’s feelings and calling them a LIAR–but gosh what a nasty word…maybe we should just say “truth changer” instead of that ugly word “liar” (as in “LIAR, LIAR, PANTS ON FIRE”–to quote judge Judy. LOL But then, she wasn’t the first to use that phrase, I heard it on the play ground when I was a kid, we used it often! LOL

Ox Drover

ps..oops, I forgot, we already have a word for that, GASLIGHTING! How CRS of me to forget that! LOL


It’s an intriguing case of how spath behavior affects public matters. I even wonder if Carl Paladino is secretly a Cuomo supporter masquerading as some Upstate loose cannon.

I mean, there are some dumb Republican hayseeds up there, but this guy is intentionally brain-dead at a time when a smart Republican would be welcome even by some Democrats.

First, Paladino gets accused, accurately, of having a 10-year-old “love child” from an affair. Instead of just letting that go away, he pumps it up, making up a Cuomo affair with no substantiation at all. And then the media play up just how stupid that was and make it the top story, without giving any backstory about Kerry Kennedy’s affair, even though they say it was an “ugly, public divorce.” If public, then let’s hear the details, which have now become quite relevant to current events. But nothing.

Checking the Cuomo campaign finance database for those Paladino contributions. . . . Maybe some dumb Republican hayseeds aren’t really Republicans. They just play them on TV. Maybe the whole thing is a spath’s game.

People here are not exactly displeased with Cuomo, but more than a little irritated that he gets to run unopposed, with no real issues coming out of it. Paladino was supposed to be that opposition, but I wonder if he’s throwing the game. Losing on purpose.

Gaslighting? Sure. On a statewide scale. You think Kerry Kennedy had an affair? You must be nuts!


This is ABSOLUTELY UNBELIEVABLE ( I mean BELIEVABLE)! If I hadn’t read it with my own eyes and experienced it to the fullest, I wouldn’t have believed it!

I broke off my relationship with Spath cuz I could no longer deal with the mentality of a “teenager”. I broke away and with professional counseling am on my way to FREEDOM!

My spath sent me a text saying “I LOVE YA YA KNOW”. Please, are you serious?!!!!! Then “THIS FEELING WILL NEVER GO AWAY”! Come one, can’t he get a better line? He’s been using that one for 7 years on me!!!!

Ladies and Gents, let me tell you that he is texting me this all the while he is living with his ex-wife trying to make things work. Give me a break. Now that I have read and learned so much about a Spath, I laugh at his texts. I know his game!

He has no control over me or my emotions and that is killing him! He will give up eventually when he finds another that will be flattered by all his BS romantic rants!

When I read that what they say compared to what they are thinking, it is exactly what I went through. His actions NEVER represented what he was saying! GREAT ARTICLE! I AM GOING TO POST THAT ONE ON MY BATHROOM MIRROR!!!!


And to just add to what I said….I AM on my way to freedom! Every now and then I get the “why me” feeling. But as soon as it hits, I remove any positive thoughts of him, like our lovemaking, our laughter, the good times WITH he’s a liar, cheater, DID NOT LOVE ME, SICKO…..and so on.

It sure helps to replace the good time memories with the negative times and to do it very quickly as to immediately remove any excitement from my mind or heart and replace it with utter disgust!

Ox Drover

Dear schnoodle,

Welcome to LF!!! Glad you are doing well, and glad you are here! There’s a lot of great information here and great support and even a few laughs and occasionally some tears!

Knowledge is power, so take back your power!!!! God bless!


Way to go Schnoodle!! The idea that you immediately think of something negative to replace the positive of spath is fabulous. You sound like you are on your way…I wish I could have found LF 5 years ago.

I always said the same thing to my xspath-actions speak louder than words. He didn’t get it.

I, too, felt like I had a teenager living with me. Another child to pick up after, take care of. it wasn’t like having a partner who was my equal who I could count on. it was either me having to take care of him like a maid or nanny or HE was putting me in a child position, trying to make me feel as if I was incapable of handling finances or anything else..he did a good job putting me down, and I’d doubt myself over and over.

Glad you are able to “kick him to the curb”!


Oxy – I love to quote Judge Judy – another good one here is – “I wouldn’t believe you if your tongue came notarized.” Perfect

Ox Drover

Yea, Judge Judy is the video “Ann Landers” of today! LOL It is always good for a laugh! I still use some of Ann Landers’ quotes even today! “And you asked that why?” (for when people ask inappropriate questions you don’t want to answer)

How are things going MiLo, how is the P dtr going with the attempt to get custody? You are in my prayers.


Oxy – thanks for asking – while it is still too early to buy everyone a beer, things are looking good. Typical – she found out she was going to be responsible for half of the GAL’s bill and has decided she never really wanted custody. Now she is attempting to settle for visitation. Typical – she wants to work it out just between us, Mother and daughter, because she has missed me soooo much GAG GAG Verbal Vomit all over my shoes. Only thanks to sites like LF and Aftermath and all the insight I have gained, I am simply wiping off my shoes and saying No – let’s do this in court. My grandson is refusing any contact with her and a forensic psychologist is now reviewing whether there should EVER be contact. So things are looking up. AND this time around it is going to be done right and we should not have to deal with this again. Now all we have to do is put my grandson back together again. Oh, maybe this will be a good time to ask for child support, something we have never done.

Thank you for your prayers.

Ox Drover

Actually, I think she SHOULD pay child support, so MAYBE if she thinks she might have to do so she would “sign over” 100% of the rights to the child forever in exchange for NO CS. It works with some other parents, might be worth a shot. You know you’ll never get a dime anyway so what’ya got to lose?

Glad you are doing better though. In order to put the kid back together YOU have to be in one piece as well, so it is okay to take care of you! In fact, it is very important to do so! God bless.


Thank you Steve for another great article that explains and VALIDATES the experience I had.

“confluence of the sociopath’s intellectual awareness” right on!!! as it explains why they re-writte history and use stealthy gaslighting in order to justify their behavour.



Thanks sooo much for one of the best pieces I have read on this site.

When you mentioned “alarming indifference” displayed by the spath, I immediately resonated with this statement because it was exactly that which raised the hair on the back of my neck when I was dealing with the spath I was involved with. He was so incredibly indifferent and that alarmed me. I knew then he was weird.

I was not getting the lovebombing that I was reading about rather, he was so cold it scared the bejesus out of me (of course, after he had me under his spell-initially he could be quite charming). Thank you!!!


Wish I could remember who said this about a spath in their life:

“a serial killer without the murder”.

I am a pacifist but I can get that quote. It is so chillingly accurate to someone who has had the very life and soul sucked out of them by an emotional vampire. I would not wish that feeling on my worst enemy. That is what my ex husband bipolar/spath/narc did to me.


Hi there Oxy,

Boy, I was tired last night. I fell asleep while thinking about responding to your response. tee hee! After I read your post about being triggered slightly with the AT thing, I thought, isn’t it amazing that we can be long out of something and yet our bodies have “memories” about such things.

Anyway, it means a lot that you’ve noticed how much stronger I’ve gotten. I not longer obsess over Spath, bitch’ about whether he’ll “change” with someone else, bla bla bla. Had a great conversation with Steve a few months back and it was part of what snapped me out. I think I had “hit bottom” and finally realized how much time I had given this, in Steve’s words, “permanently damaged and damaging man”, and finally acknowledging that there’s a whole lotta life for me to live. What’s funny, Oxy, is that others are “sensing” my new mindset, ’cause I’ve become a GUY MAGNET!!! hahahaha!! Hell, it’s been a long time coming and I deserve it. No one special yet, but that’s alright. I seem to e getting a lot of attention now. And what is great is that I’ve been able to have lovely conversations with a couple genuinely nice men, whom I’ve know for a couple of months. It’s nothing beyond going out and enjoying their company at this point, but my point is that they are NICE, authentically!! And I can’t help but compare my X, and how not nice he was to his core. And I will never again fall for the neat little package of good looks, charm, and intelligence. Spath had those in spades, but there was absolutely nothing to back it up. Just a shell of a man. Anyway, I’ve been rambling.

Oh, and to answer your question, I’m in school for Psychology. Don’t really know what I wanna do with it yet, but I’ve been interested in psychology since I was pretty young. I remember reading M. Scott Peck at age 14-15. I initially thought I’d get into clinical stuff with adults, but I’m not sure, because research is looking all sorts of interesting! And, truth be told, I’m a bit of a walking contradiction of sorts. I’m pretty gregarious and mostly outgoing, but possibly due to life experience, I’m somewhat of a misanthrope. I don’t tolerate bullcrap from many people and I’m very direct. Funny that I would end up dating a couple of sociopaths in my personal life. And although I do like being social, I also love me some alone time….’cause as it turns out, I’m pretty cool. 😀 No idea where I would fall on the Meyers/Briggs although it’s kinda fun to ponder. Anyway, I think I read somewhere on LF that you are/were a nurse and at one point you were working with psych patients? Interesting stuff and you get kudos. Not very easy to do, and many people don’t have the temperament to handle that.



Hi Chinagirl!

I’m so sorry it has taken me so long to respond. When I first found LF, I could not get enough!!! There are such incredible people here, willing to offer support, and who truly care about the newbies that come here. I’m sure you can feel it, as I did and do. Moreover, as you can see, we have a incredible group of professionals/writers who offer such illuminating, and ultimately healing information in their writings.

I’m going to try to come on more often, at least once a week, just to check in. I’ve come a long way. I was raw and bleeding (figuratively speaking) for so long, but there is an end to it. I’ve been able to read a bit of your story, and it is truly heart-rending. I know how much more complicated it must be when you have a child with such a destructive person.


Ox Drover

Dear Hopeful,

I’ve done a lot of things, last 30 yrs or so was an advanced practice nurse in various areas, including psych, family medicine, ICU, ortho and rehab, as well as admin. I’m becoming very intolerant of arseholes myself! LOL

Rsearch is interesting but since the plane wreck I’ve had such CRS (can’t remember stuff) that my short term memory precludes me from doing much in the way of technical stuff—I’ better but about as good as I will get I think…doesn’t keep me from having a good time but sure sucks when I try to do anything technical. Word finding difficulty, like black holes in my brain–but still seem to get the “big picture” so am functional on a personal if not professional level. Life is better.

If I was 20 years younger and having to make a living or raise kids it would be a b1atch for sure…fortunately I was of an age to retire and still have beans and rice and keep the lights burning. I have so much respect for those of you younger gals and guys who keep on working and raising kids along with trying to heal the PTSD. I know it isn’t easy!

Yea, your new-found strength does resonate in your posts! Keep it up!!

Thank you for this article. It helps me understand how I was cast as the victimizer so often — which was so confusing!


Thank you for never running out of thoughtful and thought provoking topics. I always look forward to reading your articles. And – this one too, was very thought provoking.
Why have we stopped calling them what was their rightful name in the first place: Morally Insane. It isn’t that they don’t know right from wrong, it’s that they are capable of splitting these any way they choose. Morals mean nothing.
I now recall the way he played with my head. When meeting a new person from my surroundings: “she is wonderful. She is so caring. You are lucky to have such a friend”. Two weeks later, it could be: “did you see the way she looks at you? I don’t mean to sound callous but that envy in her eyes… She sees how gorgeous you are and she is sure giving out the negative vibe…” Three – four weeks later it was: “She was trying to hug me, and of course, I moved away…” thus, months in only, I found myself quite isolated from my previous supports. It was not that he wasn’t astute, and maybe there was the envy and maybe there was the vibe, but in fact, there were plenty of other things, that he “seemed” to be able to substitute for me totally. That is, until I found myself facing a demon who said to me that everyone will leave me & I will forever be alone, and that I am horrible and impossible, etc.” Mind games… 2 years into recovery, I am still affected. My judgement is impaired. Yet, I am lucky that I lost no real friends, my family stood by me and my life is ever so much better now without the lies and the drama. Morally Insane – that’s a good name for a Psychopath.


Thank you for this post. It resonates with me, as I too did not sense or experience malice nor was I subjected to any overt physical or verbal abuse. That was the most confusing aspect of my experience with a sociopath. As I began educating myself on womanizers (I was not fully aware or ready to accept that my partner is a sociopath) I am recalling the incredible frustration I felt in what seemed to be the most immature, emotionally unintelligent responses from a 60-year old man. What I am now realizing is that he was studying what he *should* have been feeling, simply by listening very closely and watching my responses to some outrageous situation he chose to share with me. He was very, very quick to pick up on the key words such as guilt, shame, etc. and apply the appropriate response to them. Your example of the abandoned date in a restaurant completely connected the dots for me.
So this was yet another “ah-hah” moment (man-I am tired of those!) and yet another piece to my personal puzzle and recovery. Part of the reason he kept coming back to me, even when I did not provide anything toward meeting his need for housing, money or sex, what that I provided a very good training ground for him to experiment emulating what a “normal” person with integrity would do in a given situation.
I believe he is working on elevating himself to attract a more discerning type of woman, because at his age it seems he would need to up the ante for himself to keep it all edgy and exciting—

Ox Drover

Dear Enigma,

Welcome to LF, and you seem to be grasping the reality of the psychopath very well. It is a great [email protected] Amazing that at age 60 he is still “educating” himself on the right words to say, but they never learn the music. (as Dr. Bob Hare says so well!)

Again, welcome!

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