Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy, meeting highlights: Researching victimization

Having spent time listening to many psychopathy researchers, I can attest to many times coming away with the feeling that very critical insights are being missed. An appreciation for the bigger picture just isn’t there yet. For me the bigger picture always includes the family. A sociopath may prey on strangers, but usually that is after a lifetime of practice on family members. The reason this piece is so critical is that the personality disorder, psychopathy is a pervasive disorder of human social behavior that affects every relationship the disordered person has.

Considering what this disorder actually is- a pervasive disorder of human social behavior, the perspective of family members becomes very important. Methods of victimization of others also shed light on the nature of the disorder itself. I think this may be the only psychiatric disorder that would not be present if the affected person was lost alone on an island somewhere. That observation is often lost amid the abnormal brain scans and cognitive tests that are sometimes seen in affected persons.

Without the balance of hearing from victims and family members theories of psychopathy can even miss the central features of the disorder. For example, one new theory of psychopathy called the Triarchic Theory, states that the three traits of boldness, meanness and dysinhibition tell the entire story. The theory is actually better than this sounds but meanness is not what the authors of the theory think it is. If sociopaths were obviously mean, there would not be as many victims.

Given the assertions of the Triarchic Theory it is not surprising that the DSM 5 Personality Disorders Task Force proposed that “acknowledgement and articulation of other emotions (than anger) such as love and anxiety is rare.” Researchers need to put their theories into a perspective that can only be gained through real life outside the laboratory. Therefore it is critical that meetings include work on victims and their experiences, as subjective and “unscientific” as this may sound.

The posters Donna and I presented were an opportunity to challenge researchers to consider their words and assertions carefully. Many came away from reading them doing just that. I had to explain why the language proposed for DSM 5 is wrong, as many tried to defend the proposed statement as true.

There were also two posters from Adelle Forth’s group out of Canada’s Carleton University by graduate students Henriette Bergstrom and Janelle Beaudette on the effects of victimization by a psychopath on victims’ relationship functioning and physical health. This group has identified several themes in the narrative stories of victims, ongoing suffering, transformation and transcendence. But they also say those victims who came through the experience stronger did not really describe how.

This group has identified something I think is very important, that is the question of how to survive victimization and grow from the experience. The fact that a relationship with a sociopath has detrimental effects on psychological, emotional and physical health that lasts for years after the relationship has ended, tells us a great deal about what this disorder is about.

Watch the video: Donna Andersen explains Lovefraud research at psychopathy conference.

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176 Comments on "Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy, meeting highlights: Researching victimization"

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I tell people Whereas we weigh both good/bad before proceeding a decision, spaths don’t b/c spaths can’t feel emotions the way we do, therefore they don’t feel the consequences of a bad outcome, so there is no downside for them. Thus it is the gain they concentrate on.

((((((onestep)))))). Thanks for your vote of confidence. I will pop back in, from time to time to check up on ya’ll, and also to let ya know how I’m getting along.

Thanks, Superchic. I’m glad you’re working and doing well.
I’m not sure if I told you, but I’m so glad you changed your name. You are far more Super than Shabby!!

Mommom, I know you are facing a lot right now. Please don’t give up hope. You will survive this. Keep coming to LF and sharing. These folks will lighten your burden, for sure and you won’t feel so alone. Thank you for your kind thoughts. I’m not gone for good.

Quest – Your comments hit the nail on the head – merchants of confusion – bingo~!
I have retired from LF many times but I always come back – mostly for the funnies now-a-days, I feel like a pest sometimes because I dont offer much insight…but occasionally somebody like you says something and I think ‘Oh yeah, she know’s exactly what I had to deal with.’ I am off to work late this morning because the ladies on LF kept me up to late…..

Kim and Super Chic:

Please do check in from time to time. I will miss you both!!! So please stay in touch on here.

By the way, I am the former little eb.


When you said they have a brain defect…you hit the nail on the head for me. I have said since last year that my X spath is “brain damaged.” There is no doubt.

Hens , I’m a male thanks, and am here because of a FEMALE psychopath . The female ones are more cunning than the male ones . Violence comes to easy for the male ones . When it comes to brain attack, I suspect the female ones are the worst and perhaps more dangerous

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