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Red Flags of Love Fraud goes beyond surface in explaining the danger of sociopaths

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: fannie@leflorecommunications.com.

Red Flags of Love Fraud—10 signs you’re dating a sociopath is available now exclusively in the Lovefraud Store.


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Scared Mom,

You might want to read an article that Lovefraud recently posted on Forgiveness:

http://www.lovefraud.com/blog/2012/03/29/another-view-on-forgiveness/

darwinsmom

BBE,

I’m from Belgium.

Oxy,

That is exactly the reason why I do not want an anonymous donor. And I’d rather give my child an actual father if I can.

scaredmom,

Sounds just like a textbook spath. Skylar’s advice is spot on I think. I would also suggest that you master the grey rock tactic.

darwinsmom

Scaredmom,

They really know how to pick their long term victms. Because a short episode of contact with my ex-spath as well as the girlfriend he switched to last year, I gained some VERY important clue on the gf’s character and upbringing. Her parents have always adopted and fostered children. That is very commendable, absolutely… but conlude she definitely has a saviour complex. And seeing her parents foster and adopt and seeing those kids saved, that’s how she got sucked into my ex’s trap, believing in the same myths, but inclined to work even harder and blame herself for him being his worst enemy than I was.
That he stayed a decade with your daughter is a sign that he feels she can still provide in all his needs, and that she wholeheartedly believes she has the responsibility to care for him and save him.
I suspect that those trips though are affairs he has. It might be worthwhile to gather hard data on that with a private investigator.

callmeathena

ScaredMom

I met my spath when he was divorced from his wife. He ended up going back and remarrying her.

In any case, my spath knew I knew he was a spath. First, I just wondered out loud, “how can you lie like that? Have you no conscience?” Eventually I used the label “sociopath”. He has never denied it. He told me repeatedly that I “knew” him better than anybody else in the world, even though we only saw each other once a month or so. I didn’t “know” him better, but I “SAW” him better. I saw the themes, or the trends.

In any case, his re-wife does not see it. I struggle with that all the time. Should I send her a book? Can I write a letter? What will help her see?

The re-wife seems like she has a good heart, and brushes off his lies. He blames his habit of lying on his mother, he claims his mother always told him he needed to “fit in” and to do whatever was necessary to “fit in”. And lying became a part of it. Re-wife doesn’t see the spathiness. She sees his lies and lack of emotion and that he trusts nobody. But it doesn’t register. His daughter says, “I don’t know if he doesn’t know the difference between right from wrong, or he knows, and just doesn’t care”.

So they see, but they don’t REALLY see.

I have no idea what to do to help them open their eyes.

I’m right there with you.

Athena

clair

ScaredMom,

I’m so sorry to hear of your predicament. I think many, if not all, of us here on LoveFraud can relate.

I know what it’s like to have an SP in the family and watch him lie, use & suck the life out of another family member. But, your daughter (D) is the key here and you are in a “secondary” position to help her, whether she decides to stay or leave him. I was in that “secondary” position too and here are some of the things I’ve learned:

The conflict is between SP husband and your D. It is not your conflict, even though you feel dragged into it because you love your D. So, please learn about “Boundaries”. This is what boundaries may teach you: One the one hand, you do not have to get involved in their relationship problems at all, you can still love your D and your grandson, but stay out of their drama. It’s their relationship, not yours. On the other hand, you could totally involve yourself in their relationship drama and thereby engage in a “drama triangle”. Please read about the “Drama Triangle”: http://www.mental-health-today.com/articles/drama.htm.

Also, please realize that you have no control over the choices that your D makes. They are her choices, not yours. You can help her, but whatever she decides is up to her, not you. When I came to this realization, I felt better because it gave me some distance & detachment from their drama & I felt emotionally freer.

IMO, I think it’s best if you assist your daughter, but stay out of the drama of their relationship and that’s not an easy line to draw. So, next time something happens with them, ask yourself “Am I placing myself too deeply in their relationship drama?”

I completely agree that you should NOT expose the SP husband. I think the best solution would be if he left/divorced your D, so he would be out of your lives. He sounds like he could become desperate, so please be careful with him. Try to tread as lightly as you can and stay safe.

I think it would be very helpful for you to get some counseling. Perhaps contact your local Women’s Shelter. Also, read as much as you can. Donna’s book and this web site is excellent.

Hope I haven’t been too pushy with my opinion. Wish you all the best.

clair

Hi Athena,

This is what I recently learned about helping others to open their eyes. One of the wisest people I know just told me this a few weeks ago: “It is not for you to open his eyes”.

If we’re talking about an SP, the SP will probably never change & see the light. If we’re talking about the victim, then it’s up to the victim whether they choose to open their eyes and see the light. In either case, we cannot make anyone open their eyes and see the light.

I have found that helping a victim to open their eyes is a slippery slope, especially if they resist. In my situation, I’ve mentioned a number of times about the SP, but the victim resists, so, I’m not going to say anything anymore. Evidently, this victim needs/wants to go thru whatever process or karma she needs to go thru and that’s her choice. I can’t force her to see the light and it’s a waste of time & effort. Better I should spend that time & effort on improving my own life & not tinker in the lives of others. This issue really goes to the heart of Codependency.

Ox Drover

Clair, Your comment:

“I have found that helping a victim to open their eyes is a slippery slope, especially if they resist. ”

and about boundaries is the BEST advice that Scaredmom has gotten from all the posts including mine. You put it very concisely and precisely and very very well! thank you for that post.

You are right, it is not for us to “open someone else’s eyes” especially when they are not interested in having them opened. They will RESENT it and frankly though we want to help them and love them, if they are an adult it is not our business to tell them how to run their lives. though we might want to have them make different choices like Scaredmom about her daughter and her grandchild, it is not her place to do so.

Even sometimes when the person comes to you and asks for advice and you give it, you may offend them as well.

It is difficult for us to observe when we see someone we love under the influence of an abuser. Looking back at my son C’s marriage to his P Now-ex wife, I knew from the get-go that she was BAD NEWS, that she was a gold digging mooch and she had found a patsy. It was tough, but I kept my mouth shut for 7 years (believe it or not). she knew I knew what she was, we were like two big dogs who took each other’s metal upon first meeting and that was where we drew the line in the sand. We never openly fought until my egg donor had given her the “power,” she thought, to stand up to me.

After she was arrested she wrote a letter to her daughter and addressed it to my egg donor’s house….the envelope was unsealed so we read it and even though SHE was in jail for trying to kill her husband after he had caught her having an affair with a 3X convicted child molester, and stealing $24K from my egg donor, she said to the effect that “just keep in mind what a piece of work Joyce is” and then went on to say “well I did some things wrong, but I’m not the only one.” LOL Then told her daughter about the GREAT Bible study they had at the jail.

I was, as my son c later said, “a prophet” on that one but I picked my own psychopath after my husband died, so I can’t “crow” about my ability to “spot” psychopaths too much. It is always easier to see them in someone else’s partner.

clair

Oxy,
Thank you so much. It means so much to hear that, especially from you! 🙂

I’m so sorry to hear about your doggy and your foot. Hope you do something very nice for yourself and feel better soon. xoxoxo

clair

“Even sometimes when the person comes to you and asks for advice and you give it, you may offend them as well.”

Oxy, this is very true. So, what do we do? Well, before I give advice, I check in with my heart and boundaries: Why am I giving this advise? How far should I go? What words should I choose? Don’t use words of blame. Try to be emotionally detached when expressing the advise and have love in my heart when doing so.

Then, if the victim resists & resents, I will know that I came from a clean place & didn’t give advise as a means to engage in the drama. Also, if the victim resists & resents, I just let it go and won’t speak of it again unless perhaps the victim brings it up. Also, I pray for all the folks involved, that the victim will see the light and make better decisions. The victim has a higher power & I ain’t it!

Ox Drover

Clair you were right! And as an enabler and as a willing partner in the DRAMA TRIANGLE (my favorite position is rescuer) I want to jump right in there and rescue/help the poor victim….and I must STOP myself from doing so. It is hard when I have been raised like that from childhood. Scaredmom is in the same position, she wants to RESCUE her daughter and get her away from that mooching creep and I understand why. she loves her daughter, but the daughter is also a RESCUER/VICTIM and obviously has been an active participant in the drama triangle.

In order to stop the family drama Scaredmom has to step back even when the daughter invites her to participate in the game which she was doing by requesting that her mom participate with her in the therapy/confrontation sessions with the priest and the therapist and if she does participate in it, it is gonna get ugly pretty quickly.

You took the problem head on, whereas I danced around it. You cut to the chase and went directly to the core of the whole thing, the drama triangle. That’s progress. That’s good advice.

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