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Sex differences in antisocial behavior can teach us about sociopathy (part 1)

Recently, there has been some discussion on Lovefraud about the relationship between antisocial behavior and sociopathy as a disorder. It has been argued that antisocial behaviors are learned by some people and so not all people who are antisocial are sociopaths. The idea is that behavior that is learned may not reflect a person’s underlying personality, and can therefore be unlearned. Many people also believe that personality features such as low empathy indicate sociopathy more than does antisocial behavior.

The above issues are important because if pervasive antisocial behavior is reflective of a deeply rooted personality profile as opposed to “social learning” then there are many more “sociopaths” than if there are a large number of antisocials who are really nice loving people underneath all that nasty behavior.

In the past three months there also has been discussion here about sex differences in violent and antisocial tendencies. These two discussions often become one discussion because there are some who believe our society teaches males to be violent and antisocial and that again “social learning” (as opposed to personality features) accounts for sex differences in antisocial behavior.

I am teaching a university course in “The Psychology of Gender” this semester. Due to the lack of good unbiased texts for the class, I am teaching from original research papers. In that context I discovered one of the most amazing books I have ever read. That book is Sex Differences in Antisocial Behavior, by Dr. Terrie Moffitt and colleagues. Anyone who wants to understand sociopaths/psychopaths should read that book. It is well worth the $20.00 – $25.00 price.

The book is not an opinion driven textbook. It is a report of years of very thorough research — The Dunedin multidisciplinary health and development study which prospectively followed about 1500 men and women born between 4/1/1972 and 3/31/1973 in Dunedin, a provincial capital city on New Zealand’s South Island. The book covers the first 21 years of their lives. These individuals have been studied at age 32 and that data is reported in other sources. I obtained all those other sources and will share them with you.

The study collected comprehensive health data on all subjects; antisocial behavior was just one aspect of the research. They collected information every year or two by interviewing parents and teachers; and as the subjects got old enough they completed self-reports and brought friends and romantic partners in for interview. The researchers also accessed government and school records. The assessment tools used were well established valid instruments. They answered the following questions which also have implications for the etiology of antisocial behavior (ASB):

• Do males show increased ASB in all circumstances and in every antisocial activity?
• Are there sex differences in the developmental course of antisocial behavior?
• What is responsible for observed sex differences?
• Does ASB have different consequences for men and women?

In the next few weeks I will summarize and discuss their results in the context of other recent research. If we accept the 1 percent figure for PCL-R psychopathy in their population, we would expect about 15 psychopaths. Antisocial personality disorder has about a 4 percent prevalence rate so we would expect 60 sociopaths based on that figure. Keep that in mind as I go through the findings.

To give you an idea of this comprehensive study here is an outline of the assessments made:

  • Parent reports ages 5, 7, 9, 11 parents completed the Rutter Child Scale- (items include tendency to fight, bully, lie, disobey, steal, truant, destroy property, irritable temper). At ages 13 and 15 parents completed the revised Behavior Problem Checklist.
    • Teacher reports done at 5, 7, 9, 11 and 13 (Rutter Child Scale)
    • Self-reports were done at ages 11, 13, 15, 18, 21 (items included age appropriate antisocial and illegal acts).
    • At ages 18 and 21 Study members were asked to nominate a friend or family member who knew them well to answer 4 items (problems with aggression, doing things against the law, alcohol, drug use).
  • Results

  • Males were more antisocial than females at every age.
    • The smallest sex difference was seen at age 15.
    • Sex effect sizes ranged from d=.15 to d=.48 and indicated a small to moderate sex difference.
    • The largest age difference in antisocial behavior was at age 21.
    • Official records revealed a significant difference between males and females for every variable examined.
    • Drug and alcohol use was most similar, but was still more common in males.
  • When they pooled the data on antisocial behavior they got results similar to those reported by psychopathy researchers including Dr. Robert Hare. These researchers say that “psychopaths” are responsible for a disproportionate amount of violent and property crime in our society. In the Dunedin study most juveniles had broken the law but only a small number of juveniles were responsible for the majority of offending for both males and females. 50% of 64,062 “offenses” in 21 y/o males were reported by only 41 men (8%). 50% of the 23,613 offenses in women were reported by only 27 women (6%). The most active females were less prolific than their male counterparts.

    There are several take-home messages given by the researchers:

  • • High rate offending is concentrated among a few members of the female population, but even the most active females offend at a much lower rate than the most active males.
    • Males’ antisocial behavior is more often serious and is more likely to be sanctioned.
    • Throughout the first two decades of life males consistently emerge as more antisocial than females with two exceptions.
    • Males and females are most similar at age 15.
    • Males and females are most similar in alcohol and drug use patterns.
  • To summarize then the Dunedin study identified a group of antisocial males and females whose pattern of antisocial behavior, beginning early in life resembles that of “psychopaths.” Most psychopathy researchers say that the disorder begins in childhood. The number of antisocial males and females identified by the researchers is very close to the number predicted, but was larger than expected. The researchers also collected personality profiles of all participants, data on intimate partner violence perpetration and data on whether subjects qualified for the diagnosis of conduct disorder. Kids with conduct disorder are considered to be “psychopaths in the making.” I will share those results with you in the next weeks.


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    134 Comments on "Sex differences in antisocial behavior can teach us about sociopathy (part 1)"

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    I’m getting a bit cranky here.

    How much research must be done in order to figure out that

    1. Behavior isn’t nature or nurture, it’s nature and nurture.
    2. Neglected and abused infants fail to thrive on every level, including the psycho-social.
    3. It’s never too early to start treating a child well,
    4. but it can be too late.
    5. Troubled teens are sometimes ASP, and sometimes the victims of crappy parenting.
    6. Kids who are the victims of crappy parenting usually pull themselves together by age 25.
    7. ASP disordered people almost never recover.

    I personally know adult victims of crappy parenting who have an extremely hard time figuring out how they feel, much less how anyone else feels. Empathy? You gotta be kidding! That doesn’t mean they treat people badly. It just means they live more deliberately than the touchy-feeling crowd. They learn to be observant, and ask the right questions in the right way. So no, empathy or lack of it doesn’t may a person behave badly.

    The only useful nuggets I’ve seen recently are:

    1. Bullies get pleasure from the suffering of others.

    http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/11/081107-bully-brain.html

    If it’s as easy as doing brain imaging on a “conduct disordered” child to figure out which ones are future ASP cases and which need shelter from crazy parents, what are we waiting for?

    2. We can identify kids in need of from bullying and cronic abuse.

    http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2007-05/ps-sct051507.php

    Given 1&2, we can objectively prove that the presence of the bullies is very hard on their normal peers. It effects the normal peer’s ability to learn, sleep, concentrate in class and experience joy. Not just at school either, but 24/7.

    So why is this still OK? Why are targets still at the mercy of bullies at school?

    Why keep on studying what conduct disordered kids say about themselves, what their parents say about them and what various authority figures say about them.

    Let’s take action based on what we know about bullies, and apply behavioral sciene to correct the behavior.

    People are getting hurt.

    Can anybody else say “Class action suit”? Personally, I’m looking forward to it.

    The first two paragraphs are the most intriguing to me! Are you going to go into more detail and answer those questions with this study?

    I heard someone say something similar just this week,”I know underneath it all (lying, manipulating, cheating, smearing, etc.) there is a really good person inside.” Is that just something we WANT to believe? We want to have hope or have always been taught/conditioned that way?

    Looking forward to next Friday, you are keeping us in suspense!

    onajourney,

    “Is that just something we WANT to believe? We want to have hope or have always been taught/conditioned that way?”

    Yep.

    Children dealing with crazy parenting often develop behaviors like lying or manipulating that work fairly well in the dysfunctional home. After they leave home, they pull themselves together and ditch these habits. That doesn’t mean that they might not revert if they go home for a visit. Many a confused spouse has said “I don’t like you when you’ve been around your parents.”

    If you’re dealing with an adult who lies, manipulates, cheats and smears consistantly, there’s no “good person” inside. Transport them into a new environment, and they’ll continue to act badly. Ask them how many places they’ve lived, how many jobs they’ve had, etc. All those 2nd chances, but no turnaround? Pulease!

    Dr. Leedom – Interesting article. One of my questions would be

    “Kids with conduct disorder are considered to be “psychopaths in the making.”

    – WHERE IS THE RESEARCH AS TO WHATS CAUSING THE CONDUCT DISORDER IN KIDS??????? NURTURE (OR LACK THERE OF) VS. NATURE (GENETIC)…

    My nephew is 8 months younger than my son. My sister had post partum depression following his birth…for the first 3 months of his life she was wandering around in a shell of herself…she didnt know how to comfort him, often he cried himself to sleep or at best she fed him and put him down and walked away… once I became aware of the severity (she hid it for a while) until it became physically noticeable in her as well as her actions, moods, etc. We checked her into the hospital, I had her son for two weeks. His sleeping habits changed, his entire temperament was different by the time he left my house. To this day, her parenting is much different than mine (I have no problem with that but I would bet my life on the fact that she lacks the maternal instinct along with the atmoshpere he is in has greatly contributed to his personality and conduct disorder) but her genuine love for her child is off the charts – the way she parents him is another story…he is a conduct disordered child. He has issues in school, he has been removed from the baseball team, etc.etc.etc. Nature or Nurture. BOTH BOTH BOTH. Alot more times than solely a result of genetics.

    I’ve had it. I woke up today– yes- not job yet– with major anxiety and blaming myself.
    square one.
    seeing a psychologist today.
    no wonder I feel hopeless. I lost everything.
    I will never know what would have happened if I had not angered him in such a bad way that nite. never! His mom was dying as we were arguing– suddenly dying– out of nowhere (from alcholoism)—
    If I had not said or threatened what I did—
    I am in a bad way.
    Help me Lord please.
    Okay– Oxy said– He is a lie. He is a lie. He is a lie. Must remember this.

    Elizabeth –

    If dealing with an adult who lies, manipulates, cheats and smears consistently theres no good person inside..

    I do not believe this to be l00% true. Just transporting them to a different environment isnt going to stop them from what they know to do, have learned to do, conditioned to do. They are a victim of themselves. Genetic and environment…

    If there was some kind of therapy, medication, intervention, training, awareness that there very well may be a reason for their altered behaviors – AND WE TREAT THEM – perhaps we could make real progress in the research.

    Problem is none of them see themselves as being disordered.

    My mother certainly NEVER did. Granted she wasnt diagnosed an S/P. But with therapy and medication – her beautiful soul shined through, there was a good person in there, a beautiful little girl who shut down, stopped growing, learning, trusting at the tender age of 16.

    I wholeheartedly believe there is much to learn from the non-criminal S/P’s and what shaped their lives and need to “protect themselves” and survive …and then create their life based on their survival system. A dysfunctional survival system.

    Akitameg = Good for you. Thats a huge step in the right direction. You have been through sooooooooo much Meg. Its alot for any woman to have to deal with. Im so glad you decided to get to the bottom of it.

    Dont limit it to “that night” … Im sure there were so many nights before “that night” — If he loved you and cared about you – no amount of anything you do would cause him to treat you the way he did, let alone make you believe its your fault.

    Take a deep breath Meg – you are a good person – you were protecting yourself that night – you were hurting 0r uncomfortable and you stood up for youself. Something you need to do more often and not question it.

    Its your right to be who you are. You dont have to change or hide your discomfort or remain in a bad abusive relationship. You are a good person. You need time to talk about Meg… and find Meg again!!!! Keep us posted. My prayers are with you!!! Youre a fighter… youre going to be OKAY!! xoxo

    Dear Meg!

    Good for you for getting some therapy! I am not going to boink you or make your write any more sentences in detention hall! (((hug))) Smile. You got down the HE IS THE LIE!

    I also think you are clinically depressed, and the obscessing is part of that too. I strongly suggest you get checked for depression and consider taking some meds. Your ER visit is typical of ER visits and you very well may have had “anxiety” but under the circumstances THAT IS NORMAL.

    Depression is normal too when you have suffered a huge loss and the accompanying grief!

    Believe me, Meg, my brain didn’t work well either under all the stressssssssss STRESSSSSSS and more STRESSSSSSS. So getting the basic concepts intellectually (though not emotionally) is at least the first step, now moving on to the next step, and that is some professional help is a great idea! I did and it was difficult for me to accept to “be on the WRONG side of the CLIPBOARD” but I did it cause I knew I had to have it or NOT HEAL. ((((hugs)))) and my prayers are always there fo ryou!

    LoL and Oxy–
    you have brought tears to my eyes with your support–
    and I have not cried since my second week on this Prozac.
    Thank you–
    I cannot do this alone.

    You know what– from reading above- my N– both his parents were major alcoholics– both died last year of it in their 60’s and the richest family in SC. Betty Ford– went to all of them. and they still dies of thir dis-ease.
    So– it would make sense that he and his sibblings are personality disordered. manipulating. Then again– they admittidly had everything handed to them– even had the servants and each got 500,000 dollars as a wedding gift– and that was on top of their million dollar homes– for which they never paid– and being on the payroll all of their lives.
    I need to think of me now– right LOL. The hell with mr. Bundy and why he is what he is. But– I literally have lost my life– job, career– great reputation in Charleston, performing, health–
    So– it is no wonder– that — like an addiction to anything else– when I have to face the reality of my reality- of my aftermath–
    that my thoughts go back to the last thing and person that made me feel good. Damn all of this.

    LOL–
    I love that you wrote–
    don’t limit it to ‘that night”–
    oh my gosh. How right you are!!!!!! I need to tattoo this on my hand or something. 🙂

    Dear Meg,

    The trick is to focus on what you STILL HAVE and not what you have lost. After my husband’s death I was a basket case. I focused on the loss of not only my husband by my “life” with him as well. We were so happy and I had everything in the world I wanted, but when he died, I lost that—-and I fell apart thinking of the LOSS. I didn’t focus at all on what I still had. Ditto with the P-attack, I lost it ALL, even had to leave my home with no assurance I would be able to move back here for YEARS. I even had to leave Fat and Hairy behind because I couldn’t care for them after I ran, no place to put them and no money to buy or rent one.

    The time I was gone from here was so devestating and I was dependent on someone else to let me park my RV on their land. I know that feeling of not being able to totally take care of yourself and being responsible for yourself is very anxiety producing. BUT YOU CAN get out of this spot, it will just take time, like it did for me. Hang in there sweetie. You are stronger than you know. And, you STILL HAVE YOU!!!!!

    akitameg…we’re all praying you get “through” this and beyond…stronger. The therapy and medication will help.
    I look forward to the time when you sing again…with strength, peace, and joy! You’re not alone. God bless you.
    And Oxy and learnEDthelesson, too.

    Meg – Your job, your reputation, your singing skills, they aren’t YOU, no more than your clothes are a part of your body. If your clothes are soiled, it’s time to clean them, mend them, or find some new clothes. You are worth something as a human being without all that. Once you get emotionally and physically healthier with the help of medication and therapy you’ll have more energy to devote to making those other things better too. Baby steps.

    Midnight,

    You are a smart cookie! Good analogy!!! So TRUE!!!

    Thank you, Oxy.

    thanks Midnight and Jim and Oxy and LoL

    Baby steps. Really tiny baby steps….

    learnthelesson,

    I’m glad your mother has proved to have such beautiful qualities.

    You all have been through so much hell with your P/N/S mates that I can barely imagine. I feel very lucky to have gotten rid of my P roommate so quickly even though he was still trying to get manipulate me into his bed.

    One of the most disturbing things that happened when he still lived with me was my attempt to extricate myself from the push-pull emotional attachment he’d sucked me into. I still hadn’t slept with him and he was trying to make me jealous with other women. I called an old boyfriend, a guy who considered himself a master Pick Up Artist. I asked him if we could get together that Sunday and he told me that he was very busy going on so many dates that he just didn’t have time for me what with all of his dates and his busy life and did he mention he went on a lot of dates? But I could see him at a party if I wanted to be “friends”. Please don’t think that I am minimizing what you go through with these subhumans, but in my opinion you can’t reasonably expect a psychopath to displahy empathy, kindness and consideration. After all he is a psychopath.

    Now, my ex is not a P and while perhaps a bit narcissistic never showed any signs of a personality disorder. However he CHOSE of his own free will to fashion his behavior with women after that of psychopaths! His favorite book is that psychopath training manual “The Art of Seduction”!

    I now feel confident that I can (usually) spot a psychopath if I look hard enough but I’m worried that a man with enough empathy and emotion not to give off the “psychopath warning signs” but not enough to treat women humanely will slip by without my noticing. There’s a man at work who loves to flirt with all the girls, and since I love to flirt with all the boys you’d I’d usually be quite happy to flirt at the watercooler, but now I’m worried that he might be setting me up to fall in love to feed his ego or trawling for an affair. He’s far more functional and responsible than my P roommate ever was and seems like a decent guy but I’m paranoid.

    Penelope,

    They PRETEND to have empathy, they HAVE NONE. They learn the physical and verbal responses to “emotions” but they are incapa ble of feeling much besides glee and rage or anger.

    Learning to spot the “red flags” is the key to being able to detect them and to hone your “P-dar” skills. I suggest that you read the back archives ARTICLES (leave the blogs on those articles for now) but go through thearchives and read them ALL. The thing is that KNOWLEDGE=POWER and the more you know about them and the signs they do give off, “red flags” we call them, the better able to spot them that you are.

    First off one of the things is that when you first meet them they “love bomb” you—theyare soooooo good and too good tobe true. You think you have met your soul mate. Love opera? Well, guess what he does too. Love rodeo? Well guess what he does too. Love sex? Oh my gosh does he EVER love sex, and you are the sexiest woman he has ever met. He just can’t contain himself. YOU ARE PERFECT!

    Then, when you are hooked, and not before, you start to see the feet of clay and you become “not quite so perfect” etc.

    But no sense in me retyping all this stuff, you go back and read them all. The education you will get there will be PRICELESS, ABOVE PRICE!!!! More valuable than gold in a depression.

    Penelope,

    The gentle art of flirtation is one of life’s joys. Have a good time with the flirtation. The witty exchanges and kind humor are a time honored way of gaging whether the gentleman is fit company.

    Don’t hurry it. If it goes nowhere, you’ve both had fun. If it eventually leads to a date, well that’s nice too. Flirtation should make you both feel good, and doesn’t have to go anywhere.

    I enjoy flirting, although I find gentlemen of 70+ years are much better at it than the younger crowd!

    “They PRETEND to have empathy, they HAVE NONE. They learn the physical and verbal responses to “emotions” but they are incapa ble of feeling much besides glee and rage or anger.”

    Oh, I know. I just meant that Ps can’t have empathy and if they could they’d no longer be Ps, and so ordinary people who can be empathetic but who choose not to are more frightening to me than Ps. I’ll read all the articles and resolve that P roommate is the last one who lasts longer than 5 minutes in my life.

    Elizabeth. Thank you. I honestly wouldnt have believed it, if it werent for witnessing her on medication. IMHO she “checked out” of life as a young teenager – was there a genetic link to it also ? – maybe, probably. Was the situation she faced just too much to deal with, did she loose/ shut down/shut off trust, respect, emotion ? – maybe, probably. THE STRESS, THE INABILITY TO DEAL WITH, HANDLE, AND FUNCTION ADDED TO THE MIX..

    To everyone reading, I have zero expertise on this subject. I only have hands on experience. I saw what medication and therapy did for my mom. And she was not, to my knowledge an S/P… but there were lies, manipulations, cheating and smears consistantly. Once medication was on board, there was some semblance of sanity, two-sided conversations, emapthy and focus on others around her, someone who was WAY WAY more balanced. Noticeably in every way.

    Elizabeth you said something in a previous post that struck me… you said “When I broke contact I was cold as ice, because I had no emotion to spare for the S” – IMAGINE THAT EMOTIONLESS COLD AS ICE FEELING THAT YOU HAD HAPPENING TO A YOUNG CHILD WHO DIDNT KNOW HOW TO PROCESS IT, OR IT HELPED THE CHILD DROWN OUT/DEAL/COPE/GET THROUGH WHATEVER THE TRAUMA WAS IN THAT CHILDS LIFE…IMAGINE THE TRAUMA CONTINUING THROUGH THE YEARS — ISNT IT POSSIBLE THAT CHILD COULD CONDITION HIMSELF TO OPERATE THAT WAY, CONSCIOUSLY OR SUBCONSCIOUSLY SHUT DOWN, BE COLD, ACT OUT BEHAVIORLY, ETC…. WHERE AS YOU ONLY FELT THAT WAY TOWARD THE S BECAUSE AS AN ADULT YOU WERE ABLE TO PROCESS THAT IT WAS LIMITED TO HIM AND YOUR INTERACTION WITH HIM.

    SOME LF BLOGGERS EXPRESS THAT THEYVE BECOME PARANOID AFTER THEIR EXPERIENCE WITH THEIR S. IMAGINE A CHILD BECOMING PARANOID ABOUT OTHERS AFTER THEIR TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE…DEPENDING ON THEIR GENETIC MAKE-UP, SOME CHILDREN MIGHT COMPARTMENTALIZE IT TO A PARTICULAR INCIDENT AND MOVE ON… ANOTHER MIGHT STRUGGLE, INTERNALIZE AND STRESS AND INSTEAD OF COPING.. CHOOSE TO SHUT DOWN, SHUT OFF ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING FROM EMPATHY TO HONESTY.

    ANYONE OF US FROM OUR ADULT S/P EXPERIENCES (DEPENDING ON THE SEVERITY) COULD BECOME SEVERLY DEPRESSED, PARANOID, DISPLAY LESS AND LESS EMPATHY TOWARD OTHERS, BECOME SELFISH (SELF PROTECTIVE), WE COULD CHOOSE TO LIE TO OTHERS ABOUT HOW WE ARE FEELING (CO-WORKERS AND FRIENDS BECAUSE THEY DONT UNDERSTAND) WE CAN CHOOSE TO DISSASSOCIATE WITH WELL INTENDED BEINGS BECAUSE WE DONT TRUST THEM…AND THE LIST GOES ON…BUT, WE DONT, WE SEEK HELP UNDERSTANDING, WE LEARN AND GROW FROM OUR EXPERIENCE…JUST IMAGINE WHAT A CHILD MIGHT CHOOSE TO DO FROM A TRAUMATIC EXPERIENCE WHO CANT RECEIVE EMOTIONAL HELP, CANT LEARN AND GROW…AND HOW THE CHILD MIGHT GROW UP TO BE A FULL FLEDGED S/P.

    AND LASTLY, I ALSO VERY MUCH BELIEVE THAT THERE ARE SOLELY GENETIC REASONS FOR THE SEVERELY DANGEROUS S/P’S IN THE WORLD. THEY WERE BORN WIRED THAT WAY. AINT NO AMOUNT OF LOVE, ATTENTION, DEVOTION, THERAPY, MEDICATION (WELL MAYBE MEDS??) BUT AS WITH ANY GENETIC DISORDER/DISEASE .. THERE ARE SO MANY UNKNOWN ANSWERS/RESOLUTIONS.

    ALSO, I MAKE NO EXCUSES FOR THE S/P’S IN THE WORLD. FOR MANY IT MIGHT HAVE BECAME A CHOICE, A PROTECTIVE WAY OF LIFE… FOR OTHERS THEY SIMPLY JUST NEVER HAD THE CHANCE TO “FUNCTION”IN A HEALTHY WAY –THEIR LIVES WERE COMPLETE AND UTTER DYSFUNCTION AND THEY DIDNT QUITE “LOSE THOSE HABITS FROM HOME” ONCE THEY LEFT HOME..AND FOR OTHERS THEY WERE BORN INTO THE WORLD WITH BAD WIRING.

    BUT TO SAY THAT THERE ISNT A GOOD PERSON INSIDE SOME OF THESE PEOPLE, IS SOMETHING I JUST CANT SUPPORT. IT DEPENDS ON THE PERSON AND THEIR INDIVIDUAL LIFE EXPERIENCE LITERALLY FROM THEIR FIRST DAY OF LIFE AS IT RELATES TO NATURE AND NURTURE.

    Respectfully Penelope,

    Ps aren’t the only people who don’t have empathy. It’s been claimed that autistic people don’t have empathy either. That being conceded, autistic people usually behave ethically, and rarely break laws. Tell them what the rules are, and they try to follow them. Tell them you feel sad, and they generally try to cheer you up. Tell them they’ve done something that’s made you sad, and they’ll generally try to make amends and not re-offend.

    So empathy is only one piece of the puzzle. There’s a growing body of evidence to suggest that some people with ASP disorder experience pleasure when others are hurt. At best, it seems they couldn’t care less if you are hurt.

    Empathy is the emotional equivalent of a resonance to a frequency of sound. ie, a tuning fork will vibrate if the correct tone sounds in the vicinity. An empathetic person will actually feel sad when they receive cues that another person is sad, or feel angry around an angry person, or shock and stress in the presence of an injured person. If you find yourself taking a quick indrawn breath and feeling a prickle of raised hairs on your body when you see someone else get a paper cut, you’re relatively empathetic. Most people are to some degree, some more than others.

    Clearly, empathy is helpful in understanding others, but it gets in the way of performing well as an emergency medical technician. The correct balance must be struck in order to be healthy.

    Learned the Lesson,

    I’m glad you retain optimism, and I’m overjoyed that your mother recovered to the extent she did.

    I’ve dealt with severely depressed family members, and one whose condition was diagnosed and rediagnosed ever 3-5 years since the age of 15 or so. Another diagnosis and treatment plan, more pain, more chaos, more chrisis. When someone we love recovers from a mental illness, it’s like a new birth in the family. It’s so good to have them well.

    May my cynicism eventually fade, but may I never lose the wariness. There’s simply been to much pain, and far too much risk. We’re lucky we weren’t harmed worse by the cluster Bs in our lives. All of them harmed other people far worse than they harmed us. My family and I have been warned!

    Elizabeth – what if , as a child, youve had your hand intentionally burned by someone… and as an adult you see someone else get a papercut… and you dont take a quick indrawn breath or get a feeling of raised hairs on your body when you see that… does that mean you dont have empathy? – or does that mean that your empathy is now on a whole different dysfunctional level than someone who was never abused as a child. And to add to this thought, the child who was burned (abused) – may not have the ability to have empathy for others because of the dysfunction that child was exposed to.

    These are just questions I wonder about. How can we draw conclusions based on the fact that people have come from so many different backgrounds, life experiences. And how does each and every person come out of their own individual experience…some for the better… some for the worse…

    Thanks for listening and allowing me to express…

    learnedthelesson,

    I think there are plenty of people who don’t experience empathy for the reasons you describe, plus many other reasons, all due to experienced that resulted in a desensitization.

    I could write volumes if it were 0500, but it’s not. This isn’t my “chatty time of day”!

    All I have to say is that I don’t believe people should be made to feel ashamed of lacking empathy. We can’t be held responsible for having or not having empathy. That’s largely beyond our control.

    We’re responsible for our behavior – period. End of story. No BS!

    My ability to experience empathy has risen and fallen in response to various circumstanes and environments. I don’t see that there’s been any correlation between this emotional resonance and my ethics. Empathy an important aspect of the human experience, but it isn’t the be all and end all of existance.

    Sigh,

    I’m a morning person. What I meant was:

    …all due to experiences…

    Elizabeth… true that – empathy isnt the be all and end all of existance! But it is a beautiful trait to behold and be able to maintain throughout ones life… unfortunately desensitization and/or genetics dont always allow that to happen.

    Elizabeth Conley,
    You are right about autistic people being unempathetic but unmalicious. I think that people focus on Ps lack of empathy because it is so galling and hurtful to realize that someone you considered a trusted friend can’t feel your pain at all.

    learnthelesson,
    EC is right when she says that people who are for whatever reason unempathetic shouldn’t feel bad about it. Some people are none too empathetic but still treat people well. Personally, I find that I’m least empathetic when I am am wrapped up in a problem or issue of my own. When I am not self-focused I am much more empathetic and happy.

    Elizabeth – I enjoy your posts and also admire your parenting techniques! I learnED from YOU to set SICK DAY RULES…for my teenagers! LOVED THE IDEA and the responsibility that is shared between myself and my kids on these days.

    Regarding my chatty time … depends on the topic! LOL Thanks for your responses.. 🙂

    Penelope – I agree. My comment was more from the angle of why/how someone becomes unempathetic consistently (A Sociopath). We can all agree that S have no/show no empathy (other than mirroring others, etc.) but sometimes my question/curiosity is beyond what their behavior is – and more why?

    Akitameg: I’m catching up, but you said, “I will never know what would have happened if I had not angered him in such a bad way that nite.”

    Sweetie, it would have been the same outcome. He didn’t even need an excuse to “have an excuse.” The fight may well have been engineered by him for zero reason. He wasn’t capable of TREASURING YOU AS AN AMAZING HUMAN BEING!!!

    I have also “lost everything.” I wish I could reclaim 20 years to be “only” in your position now. I know that your pain is consuming you — but NEVER think that you might have done something different that would have changed the outcome. He is who he is, and he is NOT someone you want to give more years of your life to.

    I am revisiting past relationships and realizing how many years I gave to men who just could not love. They gave an appearance of “love” and I settled for that. Those are years I can never reclaim.

    This may sound harsh, but be grateful that he showed himself this early to be what he is. It would only be worse if you were still “in love” and he was “in love” with you, and you were about to be trapped in a brutal loveless marriage with a horrible pre-nup and a predator husband who could now demolish you over time.

    I feel for you. And I encourage you to realize that the greatest gift you got out of 2008 is that YOU ARE NOT WITH HIM!!! In spite of everything you’ve been through, you have been guarded by angels because you are distant enough that you don’t have a bad divorce right now, you don’t have children with him, and you are young enough to put all your compassionate energy into loving yourself back to health.

    Oh my gosh– just say SLumdog Milli0naire. hated it. Excuse my spelling.
    It could be part of the depression. Not enjoying much. And– going to a movie. Used to go wit him all the time and felt like the luckiest girl in the world (Before discard, etc.)
    How am I supposed to start over at 39? In eery area of life. I am back in VA. I hate it here. Freezing– but I have nowhere else to stay right now. How do they get away with this?

    Rune– just read your post!!!! THANK YOU SOOOOOO MUCH!!! Wow!!! I want to keep YOUR TAPE playing in my head.

    dear learned,

    The differences between your mom and the psychopaths is that your mom had a TREATABLE MENTAL ILLNESS. It was primarily genetic and resulted when the chemicals in her brain weren’t in balance,, distorting her thinking.

    The psychopath, while they have a chemical make up different from ours, is not “Sick” it is just DIFFERENT. Your mom’s was a sickness, the psychopaths’ behavior is motivated by a TOTALLY DIFFERENT PROBLEM.

    I am short. That is a genetic as well as influenced by how I was fed or not fed as a child, how much exercise I got, etc.

    You ( the universal “you”) had the genetics to be tall, but you were starved as a child and so you are not tall, we are the same height.

    Our friend had the genetics to be tall, got a good diet as a child and is 6 ft tall.

    With the psychopath, they have the genetics to make decisions in how they behave. They are not out of touch with reality. Your mother was out of touch with reality because of her brain chemical imbalance. Environment played a part in it but it was mainly genetic so the “good person inside” was kept from emerging.

    The psychopath however, never had the potential to be a “good person inside” they never had those hard wired neurons for bonding, your mother obviously did. your mother’s mental illness which is treatable with medication (but many times the people don’t realize that the medication helps them and it makes them feel bad so they quit taking it) The psychopath ENJOYS hurting others, this is a CHOICE.

    I wish I could think that there WAS a good person down under that combination of genetics, environment and CHOICE. It would be comforting to me to believe that, but research and common sense have shown me that it is TOXIC HOPE, malignant hope, that keeps us (victims) bound to them searching for that splinter of human feeling in them, when it is NOT there.

    My son is a psychopath, I had to acknowledge that finally, and realize that my son, the little boy I loved, is DEAD, and though his heart still beats in the chest of a murderous convict, MY SON IS DEAD. GONE. CANNOT RETURN to this life.
    Doesn’t WANT to return. He likes things like they are. He sees nothing wrong with killing others because he is angry at them, or for gain (as for when he tried to have me killed).

    I read a book written by a minister who was connected with Jefrey Dahmer after his incarceration. Jef played with this man just because he COULD—he pretended to “find jesus” and went though all the motions, but at the same time, he was running pen-pal relationship with 14 different women all who were his “true love” etc. The poor minister couldn’t understand WHY Jef did this. I KNOW WHY HE DID. Just cause he could! and it helped break the boredom of prison life to have the CON GOING. I am sure he laughed and laughed at these poor pathetic women who had “fallen in love with” the good person down inside this monster and eater of human flesh. The poor minister was so concerned for Jef’s soul and gave his love and compassion to this “penitent sinner” but it was ALL A CON. There is no “good” in them, they have chosen the “dark side of the force” and if they ever had a soul, it has long since withered.

    Getting that through my head is all that has saved my own soul and sanity! (((hugs)))))

    Oxy – I tried to express in my posts that my Mom was NOT an S/P.. and that the medication was able to help her NOT S/P’s.

    And also tried to relay that I know very little about the whole nature/nurture aspects except what I experienced with my Mom and my ex-tox.

    About my comment about the potential “good person” inside a non-criminal S/P…I didnt mean to the extent that I could befriend them, forgive them — I meant to the extent that underneath the dysfunctional non-criminal S/P – and one who POSSIBLY might have an environmental reason for being an S/P… there can be traces of a good person in there. Just never on the surface and certainly never when triggered. And in all honesty Oxy, maybe Im referring to personality disordered people, not S/Ps..

    Basically, dont know enough to be making such statements, but from what I do know, I believe its not necessarily all genetics all the time even for non-criminal S/Ps.

    Your son, the Dahmers of the world, etc. are the extreme end of the spectrum and I agree genetics robbed them of any potential for ever having “good” in them and the dark side of the force was not only their choice but their genetic destiny.

    I am hundreds of books read behind you, and light years away from obtaining the knowledge and power you have created in your life. I admire you Dear Oxy, for all that you have become from all that you were given in your life…both unhealthy and healthy. Thank you for the continued insight… (((((hugs)))))

    Learnthelesson and Oxy: Dr. Stone’s show keeps repeating the Dahmer story on TV in my state. Dr. Stone’s observation goes something like this: Dahmer’s parents divorced, they were so concerned who the youngest sibling would live with … they completely forgot about Jeffrey (being older and assuming he could take care of himself). Anyway, dad moves out and on with his life, marrying a second time … mom moved to another state … leaving Dahmer alone in the family home … no food, no money, no way of supporting himself (makes you wonder who’s the selfish folks in this scenario … MOM and DAD and the new WIFEY DOODLE!).

    It was at this young time in his life (I believe teenage years) that Dahmer got obsessed with people leaving him behind (oh, really?) and couldn’t connect with people (oh, really again? … go figure, uh?). His victims were his way to experiment in trying to keep people he found attractive … to never leave him alone again.

    I think Dr. Stone should follow up with his father, mother and his dad’s new wife … along with sonny boy youngest son to get the rest of the story of how selfish this entire family is. Come on, youngest brother doesn’t realize they left the oldest brother behind.

    Give me a break with all these selfish people in the world.

    Piece of cake, piece of lemon pie.

    DEar Learned,

    I don’t mean to indicate tht I think I know everything there is to know about these monsters, that’s for sure. Some are MORE toxic than others, just like POISONS–some a single drop will kill you and others you can drink a gallon and it will just make you sick.

    I don’t think it is 100% genetic, but I do think that there is a great big genetic component. It is definitely there in animals so we are animals. Plus, the identical twin studies where the kids were raised apart shows that there is a big genetic component in it.

    HOWEVER, THAT SAID—I do think they have CHOICES on how they behave. I do not think there is some “programming” like a robot that they are compelled to be “evil.” I think that people who have the genes to be alcoholics have CHOICES, they can NOT DRINK when they see the results of their drinking.

    While there are some people who do not know right from wrong, and those people are not morally or legally held accountable for their behavior, the psychopaths (by whatever name you call them) KNOW it is wrong to kill, steal, lie, etc. but they simply do not CARE. They refuse to accept that society’s rules apply to THEM. They think everyone else should abide by these rules, but it is UNFAIR when they have to. LOL A choice.

    My P son when he was 17, stole MY car out of my yard to haul the computers he stole from my friend’s business and put them OUT of business for months—but it was WRONG for me to turn him in to the cops. 21 years later he still holds a terrible grudge against me for that BETRAYAL OF HIM by me.

    He knew it was “wrong” to steal, “wrong” to do what he did, but he does not internalize it or have any empathy or sense of remorse. He does NOT even see that killing the girl he killed is what put him in prison, it is because I turned him in to the cops when he was 17 in response to trying ANYTHING to save him from a life in prison (which I obviously was unable to do.)

    I don’t doubt that I was able to pass on the genes, and yet, I am not a psychopath, I don’t behave like a psychopath. I also passed on other genes that are not expressed in me either, such as male pattern baldness. Both my natural sons are bald. Of course that has a hormonal link, but you get the idea.

    The first signs of the P behavior were at age 11, and at the time I didn’t think much about it as being a sign of dark things to come. All kids lie sometimes, and most of them will “take things” that don’t belong to them. No big deal, you just deal with it. His was a bit different though, he denied, denied and DENIED he did it, even in the face of evidence that was not to be denied. Then he ran away from home. He was ENRAGED at me over it. He expressed no remorse. The behavior went undergound for a while as far as I can tell but he started to show some disordered and “odd” behavior out of character to his usually cooperative attitude about 15 when puberty hit all of a sudden and he grew to be a man in only a few months Full beard and all. He morphed into a monster. When I couldn’t handle him any more I was going to turn him in to social services and he ran again, and my egg donor took in the “poor abused darling” against my wishes, so I didn’t see much of him for a year and a half, until he decided he wanted to come home. We negotiated a return home and for a while he was “good.” By seniior year in high school, he was back stealing again and down hill from there. Apparently he was stealing the whole time he lived at my egg donor’s house, even stole from them.

    Since he has been in prison this time, since 1991 for murder, I have let my love and my pity for his incarceration and his verbalized “changes” dupe me into being supportive of him (READ: Send money and visit)

    A couple of years ago though, the mask slipped, and I cut off contact. Then he sent in the trojan horse-psychopath to rent a house from me and “become part of the family” and circle of trust to get close enough to kill me. Didn’t work out that way, but the Trojan horse did enough damage that the time was totally chaotic and crazy-making.

    To make the choices he did and still does is what he lives for. The excitement, the thrill, the risk taking.

    Just like lots of people who are Ps do these things—bernie Madoff, but more “socially acceptable” because he doesnt’ do it with a gun. But there isn’t a big difference in them and my son, or ted bundy either. They all do wht they choose and decide to do harm but don’t care what it does to others.

    There is no crying little abused child in there, there is no spark of God in there….they have turned their backs on goodness and sold their souls to Satan for instant gratification of their twisted desires. Just as Satan tempted Eve—not for what he got out of it, but just to see her FALL. I think the story of Eve and the Serpent is the first story of a psychopathic con recorded. Eve may have been naive, but the serpent’s purpose was obvious to us—her down fall. His glee at seeing it, causing it. They are all like that and that is what their motivation is. If they also get some money or status along with it, fine, but the main thing is the con itself.

    leaarnedthelesson:

    A great fiction read on the “development” of a sociopathic personality is “The Bad Seed.” The first time you read it you’re focused on the daughter, who at 6 is already a full-blown S. When you read it the second time you realize that it is really the story of her mother coming to the realizaton that her daughter is a S, and there is no hope for her.

    I grew up with a N mother, a S father and a conman brother who is a S. Witb the knowledge I have today, I can remember seeing all the signs in my brother early on. Once that train pulled out of the station, that was it. No therapy or anything else was going to help him.

    My ex-S, from what I”ve gathered, was the same way. Already as a little kid knowing how to deliver the perfect verbal daggers, a perfect liar, a perfect thief, a perfect manipulator.

    My brother, my boyfriend, cut from the same cloth and leaving trails of wreckage behind them.

    Never saw any evidence of a “good” person trying to get out. Matter of fact, they were both perfectly happy with their inner landscape.

    “Eve may have been naive, but the serpent’s purpose was obvious to us—her down fall. His glee at seeing it, causing it. They are all like that and that is what their motivation is.”

    Mine was like that. He was hypersexual, but conning women was the real thrill and sex was the means to an end. They see relationships solely as a way to control people and would otherwise just be single since they don’t fall in love.

    I told my therapist about my experience with P roommate and how glad I was when he left but how heartbroken I was when the house was empty and how I still wanted him back etc. and she told me that I needed to look at this experience as part of my larger distrust of men. That I rejected him sexually enough so much even though I wanted him and that when he did leave I was sad when I should have just slept with him while he was there if that was what I wanted.

    That really pissed me off. I tried to explain how scary his eyes were but she told me I shouldn’t take his behavior personally because he treats everyone like that and I should look at my reactions as part of trust issues stemming from my mom’s treatment of me. She doesn’t seem to realize that, if anything, my mom’s treatment of me was good training for how to deal with a P. Angry, suspicious rejections are bad with normal people but the only way to deal with Ps.

    Oxy

    “There is no crying little abused child in there, there is no spark of God in there”.they have turned their backs on goodness and sold their souls to Satan for instant gratification of their twisted desires. Just as Satan tempted Eve—not for what he got out of it, but just to see her FALL. I think the story of Eve and the Serpent is the first story of a psychopathic con recorded. Eve may have been naive, but the serpent’s purpose was obvious to us—her down fall. His glee at seeing it, causing it. They are all like that and that is what their motivation is. If they also get some money or status along with it, fine, but the main thing is the con itself.”

    – You have given me more to think about… while you and so many know alot about these monsters from personal experiences, there are still so many unknowns and so much research to be done…

    Matt – the development of a sociopathic personality – thats what intrigues me most. Can Donna start a LF bookshare site… my list of books to read is going to make this summer fly by! Currently reading The Gift of Fear…and will add The Bad Seed. Thanks Matt.

    Oxy, something tells me there is more to all of it than even the best of the best researchers have begun to unfold. But that you hit the nail on the head when you said, GENETICS, ENVIRONMENT AND CHOICE play the greatest role in ALL aspects of life.

    DEar Learned,

    I agree with the last statement—the question is “which came first, the chicken or the egg?”

    My egg donor has at saying tht is intersting –“the same sun hardens the clay, and melts the wax.”

    In other words, the same conditions will have different effects upon differnt things, depending on what they are made of.

    So two children raised identically (if such a thing were possible) woudl respond differently depending on their genetics etc. And identical genetics, raised seprately would respond pretty much alike—as the twin studies proved.

    So, my take on this is that there is a BIG genetic component (and I see that in animals over generatons) and after all, we ARE mammals. I very much believe in a creator, but I also believe that we have evolved and been “naturally selected” to various climates and conditions. (Look at the body shapes of the Inuit, they are round for best heat conservation with large waists, the Bushmen have big behinds which conserve and store water, much like a camel’s hump.)

    Some people do better in one situation than in others. Look at the native Americans. They had no alcohol, so they don’t have the gene to quickly process it, and tend to become alcoholics if they drink. Before the white men, they did not have a high fat diet or high carbohydrate diet, and now with a “modern” diet they are developing diabetes at a high rate and tooth decay and heart problems, etc.

    Many people from Africa and the middle east do not have the enzyme to digest cow milk lactose, so they cultured the milk and were able to consume it or drank goat milk, mare milk, or sheep milk. I am losing my lactose tolerance as I age and will change bck to goat milk as soon as the goats “freshen” and start to milk. My husband and his mother also lost their lqctose tolerance for cow milk about age 65. My son has never been tolerant of cow milk, but has lost his lactose tolerance at age 37.

    Our genetics and our environment both make us what we are. We do start out with a ball of “clay” on which environment turns on and off various genetic components depending on the conditions in which we live. Stress is a good example of how environment effects us. Some people freeze solid with a startle response. I am one of those people and the few times in my life when I thought “I’m a gonner” I froze for about 10 seconds, THEN responded with flight. Just like a deer in the headlights.

    The donkeys are kind of doing the same thing when they stop to examine something. They are unlike a horse and when startled, do not just immediately start to flee “off in all directions” but examine the situation to see WHICH WAY TO RUN or decide to fight.

    In some condidtions freezing to assess the situation is beneficial, but in others, freezing is FATAL. My husband was so calm in an aircraft that he never froze no matter what was happening. His student that caused the crash reacted badly, saw he was reacting badly, and FROZE instead of turning off the electrical system as my husband took over the yoke (steeriing sheel of a plane) and kept the plane upright. If he had NOT frozen, but kept his wits and turned off the electrical system there would have been no fire, no injury etc. No one would have had a scratch.

    My son D, does not freeze like I do and the student pilot did. My freezing renders me helpless for a few seconds. Those few seconds might be critical in some situations. In others they might protect me.

    My training in trauma, fire fighting, and medical emergencies, where we are scraping people up off the highway, etc. allows me to continue to work under high stress situations, and even when it was my family in the crash, I went into “auto pilot” and functioned, triaging the wounded, but not as well as I would have if it had not been my family, becasue there was so much stuff going through my head about my loss. I still was able to do the essential things though.

    Son D’s calm head saved his life and probably the lives of the other two burned passengers in getting out of the plane after the crash. My husband’s calm head and actions saved them all, except himself, by keeping the plane upright for the crash instead of upside down.

    The first time I was at a death, a car wreck, etc etc. I had a big adrenaline rush, but after many of them, though it was always a rush, it wasn’t a paralyziing rush, I concentrated on what I had to do, like in a “code.” You become somewhat desensitized to the trauma around you and just function. It takes practice.

    Men who have been in battle sometimes panic and don’t function. Many guns during the battles of the civil war were muzzle loaders and frequently the men would load the gun, not fire, load it again, not fire, etc. until the bullets and the powder were to the end of the barrel. They were panic’d and not functioning, just going through the motions of a drill procedure. IN a panic once to get away fro what I thought was a charging rhino, I “ran in place” up next to a big fence.

    So all of us are programmed to respond in a crisis, and training can help, but when we are stressed to the max, we are not really functional, just go through the motions.

    The psychopaths I think sometimes panic us to the max with the crazy making, the confusion and the chaos and we do things that don’t make any more sense than me just “running” in place up against a fence, or a man in battle loading and reloading his gun, but never firing it.

    Fear, panic, excitement, confusion, anxiety, grief, all these things cause us not to be able to make good decisions. I can testify and I think most people here can that they have felt all those emotions connected with the psychopathic experience, and they have kept our judgment clouded.

    The psychopath, unlike the rest of us, though, thrives on that kind of chaos, the risk taking, the manuvering for position and control. Getting away with his/her lies, pulling the wool over the “sheeple’s” eyes.

    Aloha’s description of the dodge ball game is a perfect analogy of where we are, there are missiles coming at us from all directions and the rules are changed by the second. We don’t know which way to flee or if we should stand and fight, and fight at what?

    Learning about how the psychopaths think, how they operate, and many times we have joked here that they work from the “psychopath’s play book” whether they are murderers or Bernie Madoff—the level of violence may be different and they may be educated and socially skilled, or they may be Bruno of the Hell’s Angels, or the Crips, but the PLAYS are the same, the stakes may just be a bit different.

    It is all about control and power. Ego and greed. No remorse and no empathy for their victims. But they DO know what we consider “right and wrong’ and they do know that if they get caught there might be consequences—so they lie when the truth would fit better.

    Learning the red flags protects us somewhat, but we all know we CAN be fooled, and smarter people than I am have been fooled, so I must be cautious with relationships. Use good sense. But not live in terror of either them or of my own judgment being bad. I have to learn to trust myself to know who to trust and continually be cautious. I lost that trust in my own judgment, but I am gaining it back.

    There is a lot to learn about them and what makes them tick. I am glad that there is research going on. I hope that someday there will be found a cure or control, but in the meantime I hope that society wakes up to the fact that the ones out there that ARE violent and predatory should be controlled by SOME measure.

    Penelope & Oxy: you said, “They PRETEND to have empathy, they HAVE NONE. They learn the physical and verbal responses to “emotions” but they are incapable of feeling much besides glee and rage or anger.”

    I even wonder if they feel “rage or anger.” I think it is all about manipulation. Take a look at “Betty’s story” about the professor who manipulated her and the narcissistic rage that flipped on and off as if it was attached to a switch.

    I believe that the desire to manipulate overwhelms everything else, and of course that is the DOMINANCE drive. Every time I look at behaviors that seem incomprehensible, I end up looking at the dominance drive as the key factor.

    I just watched someone come into a coffee shop — a drunk transient with his drunk “friend.” The guy fumbled in his pockets until the barista just decided to give him coffee for the $1 he pulled out. He told his “friend” who wanted to leave — “Oh, no problem, we can stay!” As if he now owned the joint for paying half the price of a cup of good coffee. Everything inside of me was screaming “psychopath!” And this was the “normal” looking guy, the “nice” guy who paid for the coffee (at $1 for a $1.60 cup!). I saw the whole behavior pattern played out in five minutes. He tried to play the situation. He got his coffee for half price. And if he was looking to rob the joint, there were two too many witnesses to get away with it. Remember– in any “negotiation” with a psychopath, be sure you have witnesses.

    At no point in all of this did the “nice” guy show any real emotion. I really believe he was casing the place, in his half-way opportunistic fashion, and he “scored” by getting a coffee for cheap.

    If we can educate ourselves about these patterns, we will see them faster and we will be less likely to get sidetracked by the notion that they “feel” anger, sorrow, remorse, or any other usual feeling around a situation. We will be better able to act appropriately and protect ourselves and those we love who are also capable of love.

    Learnthelesson: You have experienced so much. I treasure these lessons of experience. You said, “something tells me there is more to all of it than even the best of the best researchers have begun to unfold. But that you hit the nail on the head when you said, GENETICS, ENVIRONMENT AND CHOICE play the greatest role in ALL aspects of life.”

    I have experienced many layers of this. I am also a parent of a psychopathic son. I know the untold amount of love and attention I gave him, the nurturing, the precious attention. I know how he responded, and how different his responses were from his siblings, and step-siblings. I also hope for a “cure” while being realistic about our ability to effect a cure on our “partners” in love relationships who are psychopathic.

    Good point, Rune.

    I talked to a friend of mine by phone today (she and her husband are on vacation) my sons are house sitting for them. They have been the victims of a “dependent personality disordered” woman, that I spotted from the get-go.

    My friend is a sweet woman, but she is a chronic “fixer” and tries to help people who are “down and out.” This woman has played her like a fiddle!

    As I have gotten to know more about this woman’s history and have observed her, I picked up on the passive aggressive body language and my friend was totally oblivous to this woman’s intentions. It was very subtle but I could tell as she was just puttering around the house while my friend, who had just recently had shoulder surgery was sitting on the couch talking to me.

    My friend had tried to help this woman by buying a car (an older one but one that was servicable) for this woman, trying to help her get medical care and mental health therapy for her “anxiety” etc. and help her get a job and give her and her dog a place to live.

    A few weeks ago I tried to “gently” warn my friend what was going on with her “rescue” who was making no effort of her own to take care of her own basic needs for transportation, food, shelter, medical care or anything else. She had never worked enough (lived off one man or another) to get SS or anything else. She was “totally helpless” and it was all because one of her 4 or 5 husbands had died, and the last one had become controlling and the marriage had only lasted 1 or 2 months.

    My friend was not appreciative at all that I had “diagnosed” this woman as dependent personality disorder and let me know that this woman was a functioning, strong woman who would get it together. So I backed off.

    Now this woman has another “new love” (a friend of my friends) and will be moving in with him. My friend caught this woman kicking her puppy (my friend’s dog) and several other things. So there was a scene. (of course) and so now my friend is out to get this woman and her dog and things out of the house and gone….much financially lighter than when the woman came there.

    I talked to my friend by phone tonight and she still doesn’t see the pattern in trying to “help” people vs. “enabling” them. I can so relate to that. I can always see it in others, but not in myself, so I am having to retrain myself about doing for others. The hand UP vs. the hand OUT.

    Psychopaths and Narcissists are not the ONLY variety of personality disorders, there are a covey of “cluster B” problems, and just because you have one doesn’t mean you can’t also ‘overlap” with others in the Cluster B disorders.

    My friend thinks this woman is more a narcissist than a dependent personality disorder, but she has 8/8 of the markers for dependent personality disorder, but who knows she may also be narcissistic. I know she sure feels entitled for others to provide for her, tell her what to do and then do it for her, and then be dissatisfied with the result. She is also an angry woman when she doesn’t get what she wants, or is anxious about losing her “meal ticket.” Always on the look out for another meal ticket in case one goes sour. I feel sorry for the man she has targeted next, but I don’t know him except by sight, and I am not sure he would listen to even his friend, my friend, if she warned him about his “new love.”

    They move on and on, picking up the next victim with regularity like a good watch. This woman’s looks are about to go though and at 50 she looks older than I do at 62, and I look at least my age, so it will become more and more difficult for her to find people to provide for her as she gets older and less able to attract men. BTW, her kids are NC with her and have been for years.

    Dr Leedom,

    As you know this is an area that is of interest to me (female offenders) and I would say that the research has its weak points due to the bias and subjectivity regarding gender differences and the problems associated with self-reporting by parents.

    Female offenders are often very much under reported in many crimes just like domestic violence and child abuse used to be thought as being rare. For example One in six adult men reported being sexually molested as children, and — in a surprise finding — nearly 40 percent of the perpetrators were female, a new study found. You can read on my site the transcripts from a show the BBC did about sexual abuse by women to other women and see how those that had been sexually abused by males reported it but did not report being sexually abused by women. In the film When girls do it they talked about roughly 1,000 men who reported being abused by a woman yet only 4 ever reported it. And in another study 86% of those who reported being abused by a woman stated they were not believed. Even ABC did a story which you can view at http://whataboutwhenmomistheabuser.blogspot.com/2008/12/video-reaction-to-women-abusing-men-in.html in which you can see how societal views can bias such research by the way people view this.

    Here are two more examples of what I mean:

    The idealization of women: its role in the minimization of child sexual abuse by females (research study) – http://www.sciencedirect.com/science?_ob=ArticleURL&_udi=B6V7N-3VM719W-5&_user=10&_rdoc=1&_fmt=&_orig=search&_sort=d&view=c&_version=1&_urlVersion=0&_userid=10&md5=a9a80182ada78d82ad116fde3a719797

    The above study abstract states – Conclusion: Individuals are urged to suspend their disbelief about female perpetrated child sexual abuse. Denial of the phenomenon may result in it continuing to be under-reported and trivialized. As this persists the price will ultimately be paid by victims of on-going abuse and survivors of past victimization whose suffering will be compounded by disparagement of the issue.

    And then this recent article from Canada about an incident –
    http://www.cbc.ca/canada/newfoundland-labrador/story/2006/10/04/turner-report.html

    In that one this piece jumps out “The fact that a whole organization could be so out of touch with the reality everyone else was wondering about is baffling,” she told reporters. I dont think it is baffling as it is often seen by those who have been victimized by women.

    And if you want to see the case about Zachary and the possibly psychopathic mother (a doctor) who killed him you can buy the DVD of a documentary made about this case:

    http://www.dearzachary.com/

    BloggerT: I have a friend who was married to a woman I believe is highly psychopathic. She got him to adopt her three children and then proceeded to spend through a windfall inheritance that he received from a family member while they were married. Many, many issues other than that, but a highly toxic marriage. He is now divorced from her, and three years later his adopted children (2 out of 3) would rather be with him than her, and she has cried DV and NO CHILD SUPPORT and has his A*&^ in a wringer. (No offense to Hairy and Fat.) In addition the court-ordered therapist for DV counseling (a woman) charges $40/hr. whether he shows up or not, and she changes the appointment time without telling him. If he misses an appointment, he gets no credit toward discharging his court-ordered therapy. She decided that he had to come in to talk with her about how he needed to extend his DV group therapy — another charge of $85 for “private consultation.” When she “broke a tooth,” however, she popped a DVD of “The Secret” into the player and charged her two hour-long group therapy clients for watching the DVD. At 10 clients per hour, two hours, that probably paid for her dental bill nicely.

    Now, while you, dear LF readers, are wondering about whether this guy is or isn’t an S/P, consider that the court-ordered “therapist” is busy “treating” how many other men who are, by my reckoning, seriously disordered and highly dangerous, and she will likely give them some certificate of completion, while continuing to make my friend’s life hell. And the true S/Ps in the bunch will be far more convincing, while my friend will be trying to figure out how to take jobs and feed children — his ex’s, not his, while all his time is spent in “therapy” or court or looking for work and not getting it because of his ex’s accusations.

    There are perpetrators on both sides of the gender issue. Courts, lawyers, judges, et al., are absolutely unqualified to make these decisions. My friend was clearly bamboozled into taking on a legal liability to pay child support to ultimately support the psychopathic ex. Meanwhile she is destroying his ability to earn any money whatsoever with trumped up charges of DV and ensuing costs of “counseling,” etc., etc. (I am not in any relationship, other than observer, and I’ve seen enough to make a fairly educated judgment, including witnessing the strong desire of the children to be with step-dad versus mom because he is “safe” and she is not.)

    BloggerT, you may have thought of me with one particular agenda, but I see many sides. Because of my own experience I may strongly disagree with you on some issues, but I know that gender bias exists, and I have witnessed this situation at close hand.

    Oxy: I’m wondering if the whole “Cluster B” grouping could just be summed up by “malicious manipulators.” I have been musing on the way a psychopathic con can use pity one minute and “a great business opportunity” the next. The “heheheh” to themselves when they’re around the corner and think no one is watching should be a diagnostic clue written into the DSM.

    I spent some time musing on someone who had a diagnosis of “agoraphobic” and I though — well, that’s hard to prove, it’s very subjective, and it lets someone “make” someone else buy them groceries, drive them around, etc., etc. What a GREAT platform for a CON! Real agoraphobics exist, and they suffer real pain. But a “Cluster B” could adopt that “identity” in a nanosecond and make a lot of mileage off of the pity play.

    Oh, my oh my. To my mind, the worst of it is that the real down-and-out-but-trying folks now have to pass through a screening process that could well eliminate the worthy people from consideration and only leave the highly convincing psychopaths to claim the help!

    Send this to a friend