By Fannie LeFlore, MS,LPC
Since she founded Lovefraud.com in 2005, Donna Andersen has heard heartbreaking and horrendous stories from people across the globe who’ve been victimized by sociopaths. Her new book does what we’d hope parents and schools do on a routine basis: Better prepare people for the complexities of real-life relationships and social interactions, whether business, romantic, family or friends. This requires, as uneasy as it may make us feel, acknowledging that some human beings simply are not interested in being decent, but actually seek to cause harm to others as a way of life.
Red Flags of Love Fraud—10 Signs You’re Dating a Sociopath, released in Spring 2012 by Andersen’s publishing company in New Jersey, goes where few books go in calling interpersonal abuse the evil it really is, and is backed up by Andersen’s extensive research combined with the depth of personal knowledge from having experienced a sociopathic ex-partner, first-hand. The book’s examples from diverse people who completed Lovefraud.com surveys explore the human degradation, pain, confusion and loss caused by exploitation, deceit and manipulation within personal relationships. The stories of those victimized by sociopaths show just how far people can go in attempting to destroy the lives of others, often on multiple levels, far beyond the norm of what we think when defining dysfunctional relationships.
As hard a pill for many to swallow, Andersen makes it clear that extricating oneself from a relationship with a sociopath is the only path to recovery and healing, despite how tempting it can be to buy into fairy tales that love can help anyone grow and change for the better. As many who’ve suffered severe harm know all too well, this kind of hope may not be based in reality, since not all people are willing to honestly face and work on their issues. Less known is how false hope can also disable those who are victimized, clouding their thinking and preventing them from becoming clear about the need to let go of a damaging relationship and take responsibility for taking care of themselves.
That’s also why, as a mental health professional, I appreciate Andersen venturing into brave new territory by issuing a clear challenge to the mental health establishment to make sociopathy fully known as the serious personality disorder it is. Sociopathy reflects a deep level of moral insanity that is most evident among those who focus primarily on controlling others, beyond reason, without regard for consequences, without regard for reality.
For every sociopath out there, multiple lives are at risk physically, mentally and spiritually in large part because the general public has a Hollywood-sanitized perspective, with misleading stereotypes and sound-bites that provide only surface awareness of sociopaths.
Andersen’s book offers far more than mainstream media provides, in very clear language and terms that demonstrate visceral understanding of the depth of depravity among the human predators who are hard to identify simply because they look like the rest of us.
Fannie LeFlore, MS,LPC, is a psychotherapist who served as editor of “The Road Less Traveled and Beyond,” by the late M. Scott Peck, MD. Contact: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Red Flags of Love Fraud—10 signs you’re dating a sociopath is available now exclusively in the Lovefraud Store.