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Sociopath, psychopath – Lovefraud’s proposal for naming the disorder

One reason why many of us found ourselves victimized by sociopaths is because we did not know that dangerous personality disorders existed.

We may have heard of crazy people, but we assumed that we could spot them because they looked and talked crazy. We may have heard of psychopaths, but we assumed they were serial killers or some other type of obviously hardened criminal.

We did not know that people existed who could convincingly proclaim their love, cry tears of sadness, and make glowing promises for the future, all simply to exploit us. We did not know that these people were called sociopaths and/or psychopaths.

In my opinion, a big reason for the public’s unawareness of, and confusion about, this dangerous personality disorder is the lack of agreement in the mental health profession about naming and defining it. How can you educate the public about these social predators when you can’t even decide what to call them?

Range of names

Research psychologists in major universities use the term “psychopath.” The main reason is that they run their studies using the Psychopathy Checklist Revised (PCL-R), developed by Dr. Robert Hare.

The PCL-R is recognized as the gold standard for evaluating the disorder. The instrument includes a list of 20 characteristics. An individual is rated 0, 1 or 2 on each item, and the points are added up for a total score. A person must score 30 to be diagnosed as a “psychopath.” For more on the PCL-R, read Researchers minimize the psychopathy problem.

Psychiatrists and other clinicians follow the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, now in the 4th edition. At the moment, the official term in the manual for this malady is “antisocial personality disorder.” Psychiatrists use the term “sociopath” for short.

Currently, the DSM-IV recognizes 10 personality disorders, divided into three clusters—A, B and C. Cluster B covers dramatic, emotional or erratic disorders.  It includes antisocial, borderline, histrionic and narcissistic personality disorders.

All of this, however, is in the process of change—the 5th edition of the manual is now being written. A year ago, a draft of the new manual was posted on the Internet, and the public was invited to comment. For the most part, the diagnostic criteria were much improved, but Dr. Liane Leedom and I had problems with a few of the descriptive statements. Read our views in Lovefraud’s comment about sociopaths for the DSM-5.

My biggest problem with the revision is that it creates yet another name for this condition, “antisocial/psychopathic type.” Personally, I think this term is ridiculous. I don’t even know how it would be used in a sentence. Do we say that someone is an “antisocial slash psychopathic type”?

Selecting “sociopath”

When I was first developing Lovefraud.com back in 2004, I had to decide which term to use. After some informal market research, I selected “sociopath.”

The main reason was that “psychopath” was just too scary. Hollywood and the media portray psychopaths as deranged serial killers. I worried that people would not believe they had a psychopath in their lives, because he or she had never killed anyone, and would therefore dismiss all of the information about this disorder.

My reasoning was supported by last year’s Lovefraud survey. The survey asked the following questions:

Before your involvement with this disordered individual, what did you understand the term “sociopath” to mean?

  • Criminal: 19.2%
  • Serial killer: 19.4%
  • Someone who was delusional: 6.4%
  • Person without empathy or a conscience: 19.7%
  • I didn’t know what it meant: 35.3%

Before your involvement with this disordered individual, what did you understand the term “psychopath” to mean?

  • Criminal: 15.0%
  • Serial killer: 51.2%
  • Someone who was delusional: 13.4%
  • Person without empathy or a conscience: 8.9%
  • I didn’t know what it meant: 11.5%

Fully half of the 1,378 survey respondents believed a psychopath was a serial killer. I think it’s safe to assume that this level of misinformation pervades the general public.

Overlap

So the experts argue over terminology. I’ve even had two college psychology professors contact me to tell me that I’m using the wrong name. Although they didn’t seem to be aware of the disagreement in the field, I am, and I summarize the disparate views on the Lovefraud.com page, Psychopath/sociopath.

In practice, the behaviors and traits exhibited by individuals diagnosed with psychopathy, sociopathy narcissism, and even borderline personality disorders overlap, so it’s hard to tell where one ends and another begins. Many Lovefraud readers simply describe the individual they were involved with as P/S/N, for psychopath/sociopath/narcissist. Others say that the individual has a “cluster B” disorder. Of course, no one knows what that means, but it is less prejudicial and more likely to be believed.

Proposed name

I propose a solution to the name problem. I propose that “sociopath” become the general term for a social predator, someone who exploits others.

In the general category of “sociopath,” there can be subcategories that reflect the different types of exploiters. “Psychopath” can be defined as someone who scores 30 or more on the PCL-R. “Narcissist” can be someone who uses others, but doesn’t necessarily set out to cause them harm. “Antisocial personality disorder” could describe the people who are worse than a narcissist, but not as bad as a psychopath. Other subcategories can be defined as the experts see fit.

“Sociopath” has the advantage that it is already in the lexicon, but does not carry the cultural baggage of “psychopath.” People are generally aware that the word has something to do with bad behavior. But, as our survey pointed out, the largest number of respondents didn’t really know what “sociopath” meant, so they could be educated.

“Sociopath” could be analogous to the term “cancer.” There are many types of cancer—lung cancer, skin cancer, colon cancer—but we all know that cancer is bad and we take precautions to avoid it. We don’t smoke. We use sunscreen. We eat fiber.

Here’s a key point: For many people, the harm caused by sociopaths is completely avoidable, if we take precautions.

Some of us were unlucky in that we were born to a sociopathic parent, or into a family that contained sociopaths. We were stuck in those situations until we could find a way to get out.

But the rest of us invited the sociopaths into our lives. If we knew that these predators existed, if we knew the warning signs, we never would have done it. We could have avoided the trauma that they caused.

In my view, settling on a clear name and diagnostic criteria for this disorder is a public health issue. People have learned how to protect themselves from cancer. With education, we can learn how to protect ourselves from sociopaths as well.


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180 Comments on "Sociopath, psychopath – Lovefraud’s proposal for naming the disorder"

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Agreed – however, a psychopath does exist, and they are as prevalent as sociopaths. The word psychopath sounds yucky, I agree. But, they are more damaged/create more damage often than sociopaths and calling them a sociopath, for me, is just NOT ENOUGH.
There are a ton of women victimized by psychopaths every..single..day – most women never recover from psychopaths. It’s a problem that needs to be addressed for sure.
Not saying one is worse than the other really – both are damaging as hell. But often, a psychopath is a different experience – as well as a sociopath being a different experience.

I agree with the rationale presented here by Donna. In discussions I have had with others post-spath, “psychopath” has consistently elicited comments about the movie “Psycho” and about serial killers.

Interestingly (but in a repugnant way…), not all serial killers are psychopaths/sociopaths – some are psychotic, which is a VERY different thing indeed. To be psychotic is to be mentally deranged and not fully in control of your thought processes. Those of us who have tangled with the spaths, know how very aware they are of what they are doing. We know that their actions are deliberate, their manipulations are cunningly planned and their words are scripted to con, scam, maim and kill.

I caught a movie from the 80’s this week on TV – “A kiss before dying”. The review stated that “a psychotic man kills his pregnant girlfriend and marries her twin sister so that he will inherit their father’s wealth”. It was not my usual fare, but I made myself watch it because the description given sounded more like a spath to me than a mentally deranged “psychotic” individual. I was right. The entire evil plan was thought out in elaborate detail and executed methodically and without emotion. The goal was power and wealth and the lead character did not deviate from his meticulous purpose.

The movie’s review, however, clearly demonstrated the major ignornace and misunderstandings that are out there….

While I agree with much of what Donna has said here in regards to clearer and more specific descriptions of these disorders, I do not agree with that we “invited the sociopaths into our lives”. I feel that this wording may possibly give people who don’t know about, or who have never been involved with a person like this the wrong idea – that WE KNEW what these people were and just ignored it, leading to the possibility that they may believe that it can’t happen to them.

I feel that people need to realize and understand that we did not “invite” these people into our lives – these N/S/P s purposely TARGET the people they desire to use and then CON their way into our lives. They PURPOSELY present a false persona (at least at first) of a wonderful, kindhearted, giving, and loving person so that we will feel comfortable ALLOWING them into our lives, and by the time we realize (if we ever do) what they really are, the damage has already been done.

Because of the constant and never ending emotional abuse, manipulation, pathological lies, and brainwashing/gaslighting that “my” spath used on me in order to keep my eyes closed, it took 12 years and a serious crisis before I was able to get my eyes open enough to see that the problem was NOT ME (like he always insisted it was), and another 7 or 8 months of hit and miss web research before I came to understand what the problem was.

I have come (due in a large part from reading articles here) a very long way from the woman who wanted so badly to end the pain that she considered suicide, but I still don’t fully understand what happened. I really don’t think I ever will because no matter how hard I try, I just cannot wrap my mind around anyone being able to live as such a conscienceless and heartless entity as the spath is. It is almost impossible for me to believe that anyone could really desire total and complete emotional destruction of another human being, but that is what mine wanted. He still does, and is still trying, the only difference now is that he has to use other people (even some of my own family) and the court system because I have been “N/C” since last summer, and even with NC, I feel sometimes like I am just barely holding on to what I know in my heart.

I know that for the most part, I am probably posting to the already experienced here, but if I can shed light for just one person that is lost in this darkness like I am, please understand that these people are EXTREMELY dangerous and destructive. They will stop at NOTHING to get what they want, and REALLY do not care who gets hurt in the process. Some of them (like mine) even thrive and get joy out of knowing how much pain they can cause to others.

Please, please don’t allow yourself to be fooled – these individuals will target ANYONE, and they are not stupid, as a matter of fact, they are extremely intelligent when it comes to knowing what buttons to push and what words to use to get you to lower your defenses and allow them to get inside your emotions, so much so that it is not a case of “if” they can it’s only a matter of “when”.

This is a good argument, Donna, for the term “sociopath” and I agree with you in many many ways. The IGNORANCE of the general public, the media, and even some professionals is HUGE. It is not something that will be tackled or fixed any time soon.

In order to “diagnose” any disease in medicine there has to be some agreement on a NAME FOR IT. DUH! I mean, come on.

The “many” variations of the “disease” with multiple names that psychology has given to the “personality disorders” is outrageous (at best!) It is like “left handed individuals that lie a lot and are self centered are ASPDs” but RIGHT handed individuals who lie a lot, are self centered and over 6 ft are histrionic.” DUH! Come on folks! GET REAL! “anti-social personality disorder” sounds like a HERMIT who doesn’t like cocktail parties.

Unfortunately, I think the psychology professionals are trying to “rule by CONSENSUS” which ends up being a HORSE DESIGNED BY A COMMITTEE= A CAMEL. Everyone has to put their own hump on it.

I’m going to disagree with Donna (and am hopeful to not get banished for it!)

I think many of the victims descriptions I read about here on LoveFraud sound like narcissists, not sociopaths. To say a narcissist doesn’t intend to do harm is like saying an alcoholic doesn’t intend to get drunk when he has a drink. There is NO such thing as a non harming narcissist; INTEND? He doesn’t care ifharm is the outcome and would not alter his behavior to avoid harming others if it conflicted with his goal. But that doesn’t makehim a sociopath.

But Oxy has made an excellent observation, (somewhere in one of these posts), that a person doesn’t have to meet the criteria of spath, psychopath, or narcissist in order to be someone’s worst nightmare. And I think that’s the education people need, how to know when that line is crossed…

For ex: lots of little betrayals happened that were hurtful but not severe enough to end my marriage; however those betrayals were indicators of a contempt that eventually revealed that my entire marriage was a fraud and a waste. With that knowledge I would have made different decisions rather than waiting to leave when the murder attempt failed (the obvious indicator!). Because I was unaware of the meaning of the little betrayal indicators, I remained trying to fix my marriage.

I’ll bite and play devils advocate tonight. I disagree, in part, because of what seems to me to be a basic misunderstanding. The diagnosis (and the DSM) is not being written for, nor is it meant to be used by lay persons.

One of the reasons this all gets so murky is that this seems to be forgotten by some of the professionals actually putting these things together.

When is the last time you heard anyone complaining that they did not like the wording used in subarachnoid hemorrhage? Do I want a group of neurosurgeons to get together and seek out public input when they come up with new diagnosis? No. I would expect public input about how it effects them, their lives, family, ect.

But again the DSM is not meant nor deisgned for lay persons. I would expect the clinician to explain what X diagnosis is in terms people can understand much like they would explain what a subarachnoid hemorrhage is/means.

Another thing is that the term itself, psychopath(y), (I would include sociopath with that as well) is a very perjorative term with real life consequences. Give someone that label that should not have it and there is real harm being caused. Just look at some of the comments on here about the terms, i.e. evil, untreatable, etc.

Not to mention there is still a good deal of controversy around the whole issue of psychopathy as well as the PCL-R.

For many people, the harm caused by sociopaths is completely avoidable, if we take precautions.

I think that statement is both true and false at the same time. There is no 100% in this no matter how much we know or how many precautions we take. This is what makes this very scary/uncomfortable for some people, the knowing that there is no certainty here. You can reduce the odds of this occurring but you can never, ever get to a point where it is completely avoidable.

Which leads me to this comment:

But the rest of us invited the sociopaths into our lives. If we knew that these predators existed, if we knew the warning signs, we never would have done it. We could have avoided the trauma that they caused.

Again both true and false at the same time. There is never any 100% protection and thinking there is 100% protection is itself a vulnerability that could be exploited. Anyone can be conned.

Many, maybe most even, people who were preyed upon were not stupid or ignorant or any number of things. What they often were was vulnerable in some way for a brief windown and during that window the predator found them and took advantage of that vulnerability.

Often times that vulnerability does not or did not seem like one at the time because it was a persons strengths that the predator targeted rather than a weakness because many people are aware of their own weak areas and get a twinge when someone goes there. So the predator, at least the really skilled ones, go after the vulnerabilities that come from a persons strong points.

It is not like a predatory person gets every person they go after. It is more like door to door sales in a way. If you try enough people you will eventually find someone who is vulnerable at the right time and place (or wrong time and place for the soon to be victim) for them to con. Many many intelligent people who should know better have bet got for this very reason.

I would also argue that many people “know” that using drugs or smoking or any number of things is bad for them, they know the warning signs and yet do these things anyway. So simply “knowing” is not enough and not the key. It is one piece in a very complex puzzle that is human relationships.

I personally think that we need to be the other way for the public and focus on harm/abuse. if you are being abused/harmed it does not matter what it is labeled, what matters is that it stops. By placing so much importance on a label we get harm occuring in 2 directions. 1) is the harm occuring when someone who really is a psycho/socio/whatever but is not labeled as such can be seen as not being as bad as they really are. 2) is the reverse when someone who is not a psycho/socio/whatever but is labeled as such is seen as being worse than they are. Both 1 and 2 have possible drastic consequences in real life for the public.

Is being abused by someone with a psycho/socio/whatever label somehow more traumatic than being abused by someone who does not have that label? The correct answer can be both yes and no.

So why focus on just this one piece for the public end rather than focusing on ending abuse period. Because the kicker in many situations is that there is almost no way to know for sure in the begining if the abuse if being done by someone who is a psycho/socio/whatever or someone who is not. And for those people whose strength is a resolve/committment to making relationships work this can be a killer while they mentally spin trying to determine if the person is or isn’t (fairness being another strength that applies here) all the while allowing the abuse to deepen and stretch on.

Finally I would say that the whole we can avoid it by knowledge thing is a two edged sword. It is and can be helpful but it can also provide a false sense of security. If we reach a point where we tell ourselves something like “I know all this information about psycho/socio/whatever and so I can’t be harmed/conned by one again” then we need to kick ourselves for the lie we have just told ourselves. Many many people like simple black and white answers to these kind of issues but the truth is that these things are extremely complex.

Now I think I am gonna go complain about my doctor using the term cephalgia 🙂

Katy,
if I may, I’d like to restate your post more succinctly:
How damaged do you want to be?

Hows that?

I don’t disagree with Donna, about differentiating between the degrees of narcissism. But at the same time I agree with you. How much damage is acceptable to you? All N’s are toxic. Even knowing what they are doesn’t save you. If you must deal with them, you have to acknowledge that you will be damaged and you have to be certain that you will gain more than you lose in that contact.

Here’s the bad news: I think they are more than 50% of the human race. Most not so bad as others, but all have damaging potential.

Thank you BloggerT, those are some interesting points. I also think, though not likely to happen any point in the foreseeable future, that spaths will have to become sneakier, stealthier, more manipulative if “victims” become smarter. You know, the way antibiotics became so effective that bacteria had to become resistant to it, and started growing in new and more virulent strains ie “superbugs”. One of the lessons learned from the early days of HIV/AIDS was that if behaviors are stigmatized, they don’t go away, but instead are driven underground, and when they resurface, are even more malignant.

It can be hard to find the right balance between “creating awareness” and “pointing fingers”.

You are so right, it is complex!

Blogger,
your post was very insightful. I was ready to argue each point and could not.

There is only one thing I could add. You said, “I would also argue that many people “know” that using drugs or smoking or any number of things is bad for them, they know the warning signs and yet do these things anyway. So simply “knowing” is not enough and not the key. It is one piece in a very complex puzzle that is human relationships.”

What you described is narcissism. It is someone thinking that they can “handle” the drug or habit. I’m guilty as charged on some of those and also innocent with regard to coffee and spaths because I didn’t know they were drugs!

Narcissism is the problem AND the key. The P’s and S’s prey on our OWN narcissim.(thinking we can handle anything) They know it so well because it is their own life. Teaching people about narcissists, why it’s dangerous and how it can ruin you, is the key. It’s also very complicated. How do we teach children whose parents are potentially narcissists, to stop adoring their parents? The kids would run for the hills! Then Dept of Social and Health Services would be overwhelmed. (in many states, that agency is overrun with socios too!)

Seems hopeless. I guess it’s one person at a time.

Well Skylar a problem is that a small degree of narcissism can be and often is a healthy thing (no I am not saying healthy narcissist). You are right though in what your saying but language so often gets in the way. You could also call it self delusion, hubris, or various other things. Self-deception is something that 100% of the people on the planet do to various degrees throughout their lives and is a healthy thing. One problem is when the balance is not maintained and we go to far one way (vanity, hubris, etc) or to far the other way (feeling worthless, hopeless, etc).

But again semantics get involved and people argue over words and sometimes lose track of the real issue.

Some predatory people prey on other’s narcissism. Other’s prey on people’s feelings of worthlessness. Still other’s prey upon people’s good intentions and kindness.

Even humble people can be targets of a predator. That is one of the many reasons why this really is very complex. There is no formula that says A+B+C=Safe! Having worked with, and still working with, a good number of predatory people and their victims one of the things I see most is what I mentioned above, people being preyed upon through their strengths. Though I would give a nod to you and your comment and say I also have seen a good number of people victimized due to their own narcissism as you call it, or a lack of critical thinking skills.

It can be easy to mistake self-confidence for something else. I know a woman who is very self-confident, very smart, great employee, kind, charitable, great with her family, etc. But some people see her as being “uppity” or acting above them, or various other names. Is she really? Well to those people she is and to others she is not. So the answer could be both yes and no. In reality I think she is not she just lacks a little in the social skill piece towards relating with others that are very different than her.

In some jobs if you are not a cocky somewhat overly self-confident think, think you are the best of the best, you will do horrible or possibly die. Fighter pilots for example are one group that is allegedly known to be like this. Does it mean they are narcissists? Nope. Though when they are doing their job it would be easy to think they are. But of course a small percentage will be so that will reinforce the notion that they all are to those that want to think that.

Also some abusers are extremely insecure and not narcissistic at all but they put on a front that looks like it though.

So in my ranting here I guess I would sum up and say that much of life is about balance and maintaining it and learning how and when to adjust that balance in different ways at different times in ones life. To much arrogance/pride leads to disaster as surely as not enough self-confidence and self-worth will.

Blogger,
you are right they target anything they can get. What is important is to stay ahead of them. Humility is the key. We can be grateful for our talents but not take credit for them. Then the spaths have no hooks.

It’s not an easy thing to do, and not the magic spell either. We need a formula or algorithm that will completely neutralize the spaths. Well, I can dream, right?

It never hurts to dream and such a good dream too. 🙂

I’ve been reading this blog for a while and I made this account to comment on this post.
I see it in the world today, and its very popular, this sense and desire that you can protect yourself from eveyrthing; that you can be “smart” and side step every mishap. Well, in the case of sociopaths its not the case.
Yes they take advantage of everything and anything, but trying to learn to behave in a way that protects you from sociopaths is kind of like making yourself a pseudo-sociopath. The way they work themselves into your life is to seem as normal as possible. There is no protection because you would end up being hyper vigilant to normal behavior and which would then infect every area of your life, making you the sick person.
You’re best bet for dealing with intimate contact with a sociopath is to find some sane context to put the events of your relationship in. You weren’t stupid, you weren’t weak and 9 times out of 10 you weren’t their first. You were in love with someone who is/was very sick. Hope they get better, don’t beat yourself up, and don’t expect it to happen again with another person.
Personally, I don’t think Sociopaths are like Peadiophiles. I don’t think they are born that way and I don’t think they can’t be helped. My expierence is that “love sociopaths” (and I think there are different kinds) have insanely tragic traumatic backgrounds from a very early age.
I’m gonna shut up now. This subject gets me really worked up for reasons which may be obvious. Thanks for reading.

Blogger T

I don’t think “healing” is possible for these freaks.

Where I’m at right now (negative) not sure it is for ME either.

I’m done. Just tired. The whole spathy thing just wears my ass out.

I think I’d rather be sunning my plumbed up, wrinkling ass on a beaach on Cabo.

So there ya. Negative nancy HAS arrived!!!

LL

Skylar,
If you’re still on, your question didn’t make sense to me. “How damaged do I want to be?” Don’t understand why you’d ask such a thing. I don’t want to be damaged at all.

My point was there is damage from people who aren’t spaths or narcissists. But that what we need to educate pre-teens and teens about is that while incidents aren’t a reason to break off a relationship, PATTERNS are. We need to teach how to recognize an escalating abuse PATTERN.

The pattern was there in my marriage, but b/c the abuse was emotional and covert (at least at first), I only saw his abuse as inconsiderate or thoughtless, rude and hurtful. It took hindsight to see it was a pattern of contempt. And it was a physical assault that woke me up to the real danger I was facing. I was lucky but I could have been too late.

Let’s look at the current choices, starting with root word meanings:
Path or Pathy = suffering, feeling, sickness
Psych = mind
Socio = social
All these word-parts and combinations thereof are far too generic to be comprehended or taken seriously as accurate terms for this malady. As for “psychopathic”, it IS too often interchanged with “psychotic”, the meaning of which is worlds apart.

Then there’s the DSM definition of Anti-Social, 1 of 4 Cluster B Personality Disorders, which takes into account merely behavioral manifestations, omitting criteria that would define a diagnosis of either sociopathy (if such were possible) or psychopathy. Plus the term itself is fraught with misconnotation for the obvious reason (i.e., ANTI-social, really!?). Then there’s the matter of Cluster B overlap to add to the confusion.

One school of thought is to better educate professionals and the public as to the proper meanings of all these terms; another is to use terms that require less explanation. There are pros & cons to either way of thinking; unfortunately the debate appears to polarize those who would otherwise unite in an effort toward eradicating the problem.

This devastating disease has gone through a diverse variety of name-changes through the centuries, and for good reason, as it’s been a perplexing phenomenon to pin down. So I hesitate to suggest that a new name be proposed, however, perhaps that is the answer to end this controversy, maybe once and for all.

It is tough on those of us seeking knowledge and understanding, much less spreading the word in an effort to enlighten others, to have so many words and meanings swirling around. To add insult to injury, using one word with some who thumb their noses to it and another to those who may take offense just leaves the target who is trying to heal in yet another, sometimes debilitating, quandary.

Ineedayadira –

“My expierence is that “love sociopaths” (and I think there are different kinds) have insanely tragic traumatic backgrounds from a very early age.”

With respect, that may have been YOUR experience, but it is NOT the experience of all, or even most, according to the extensive research on the subject.

My own ex-husband, the Superspath, was the second spath I had married. I can tell you with absolute conviction and after many years of close contact with the immediate families of BOTH of these monsters, that NEITHER of them were EVER abused in any way, shape or form. They are the only ones in their respective families who are not non-abusive, normal, loving, healthy, well-balanced human beings. From my point of view (because I always check out the families for clues), this only helped to conceal their true natures.

Oh yes! I just spoke of this to a sociologist, and a psychologist. They know science uses different terminology. It is painful because I don’t think professionals know what it really is, in my experience. Many do not believe that Criminals are just Criminals. Their head is filled with nature or nurture. They should forget with the why and start with the now. I believe I have been abused by profesionals in the psyche/system because they are in denial about the Sociopaths. They will diagnose a wife with a horrible diagnosis rather than believe her husbands shiny exterior of a sociopath is a con-game. It is free will. It is a choice.

ILOVE SocioSib. Thank whoever made that up!! I am a SocioSib. Glad to know you are out there and I am not alone.

“Psychopath” is too close to Psychotic. Actually people who are completely Psychotic, are out of touch with reality. But they can come back. They can be very nice and never harm a soul. Stop letting Sociopath’s hide behind a mislabled diagnosis. Stop letting them give Mental Illness it’s bad name. They are mistaken for ADHD and other benign diagnosis’.

“Criminal Mind” is what Stanton Samenow calls it in his book, “Inside the Criminal Mind.” Forget the WHY and CURE for now. Of course his description of a cure is a long arduous process. The Sociopath probably won’t want to do it. But the book is a great one on learning about Sociopaths.
I need Healing and Hope for the future. Peace

Donna, your “refined thinking” has helped “refine” mine!

I wholeheartedly agree that labeling it at all ”“ and agreeing on a label ”“ will go far in aiding education on the subject. That is why it is so frustrating and confounding that the “name” controversy exists, as it hinders the cause.

The explanation you put forth, comparing it to the general labeling of “heart disease”, makes too much sense. It would behoove those adamantly sticking to “psychopathy” to take note of the point.

Still, both words are problematic, as one is easily confused with “psychosis” and the other has no mention in any references acknowledged in the field (i.e., the DSM (any number) & PCL (any version)). Plus, they are each general words when analyzing the roots, and carry historical, controversial baggage.

Maybe something more descriptive would work, such as “exploitive” (a word you used well), or “disempathic”, or something else, as that mainstream umbrella under which Psychopathy and any or all the Cluster Bs would fall.

Disempathic Disorder?
Pervasive Exploitive Personality?
Disempathic Exploitive Syndrome?

Edited to add:

A case can certainly be made for keeping both “psychopathy” and “sociopathy”, using the former as the professional diagnosis using the PCL and the latter as an umbrella term encompassing a myriad of exploitive & disempathic traits or diagnoses, since both terms are currently in use, and so much time & effort has been put forth by learned & dedicated individuals & entities to educate professionals and the general public about them.

Whoa! I am not comfortable with Donna’s conclusions at all.

First off, nothing is further from the truth than, “Here’s a key point: For many people, the harm caused by sociopaths is completely avoidable, if we take precautions.” Bull – and double bull. Let’s just dump the blame right back on the victims. When the experts, who are trained to recognize the behavior, can and are fooled by the perpetrators, a statement like that can cause tremendous harm on the lay person who never saw it coming and is still wondering what hit them.

The public and Hollywood’s perceptions of what constitutes a psychopath are wrong. Don’t add to the burden by proposing new definitions. Educate.

I am not convinced that all narcissists will use others. There are some who are worlds unto themselves and just move on if someone doesn’t agree with their viewpoints. They also don’t necessarily inflict harm on others.

The DSM exists, in part, for insurance purposes because insurance companies insist on labels and diagnoses.

I understand the desire for one term to define it all, but this is an extremely complicated subject matter and it isn’t going to be possible to shove that peg into whatever hole currently exists.

It’s going to take a lot of work, but education is the key – and it is going to require a hurclean effort.

I think the similarities between “Psychopath, Narcissist, Antisocial Personaility Disorder, and Sociopath” are much greater than the differences between them . . “Proven by the fact that we can’t agree”.

It’s like saying “women, female, gal, lady”. The reader knows!
So I really like using S/N/A/P or N/A/P/S or S/P/A/N or maybe just ///.
Since they have no soul (or conscience), just call them ///.

Dear Sociosibs,

Your “new terms” are well thought out—and I agree with you that they actually make more sense than what is currently in use. “anti-social” personality disorder sounds to me like a HERMIT who doesn’t like cocktail parties or lives in the woods, or the Unibomber.

It is also unfortunate that psycho-path and psycho-tic are so similar in the mind of the general public which, unfortunately is not all that well educated about physical medical problems, much less about psycho-logical ones. How can we expect the general public to understand if the experts can’t agree on a NAME FOR IT, much less a diagnosis? LOL

Katy,
“how damaged do I want to be?” is the question to ask when we are on the brink of a relationship with a selfish person. The degree of selfishness is the degree of damage. I avoided the term narcissist in that sentence because it is the selfish aspect of narcissism that causes the damage, I believe.

I recently read an article that said that having fat friends makes us more likely to gain weight. Your perspective on what is normal weight changes by what you see most often. The media flashes images all day long to create what we consider our “culture”, aka “what is normal”. And so it goes, being exposed to certain beliefs, brings us to eventually see them as normal. My point is that being around a person who believes the world revolves around them and that they should come before you, after a while, that seems normal and you no longer notice their egregious sense of entitlement. You know like some kid’s of a N-mom will say, “that’s just mom”. No that’s not just “mom”, that’s an evil malignant narcissist.

When I first started cleaning my cats’ litter box it was disgusting, but after a while I got used to it and it no longer bothered me. But shit should always be disgusting. So should malignant narcissists. It’s that normal sense of revulsion that should protect us from them. If we allow ourselves to be exposed to it too long, we do adjust that line of what is appalling and what is acceptable.

As far as this fascinating question as to what to call them, Psychopath from the Greek, “soul sickness” would be great, if we all spoke Greek. That term, for better or worse has taken on the connotation of a knife slasher. Malignant Narcissist is pretty good. Selfish, is one that everyone gets, but it does the range of behaviors a disservice. Soul Sucking Parasite, gets more to the heart of the matter but doesn’t describe the Dr. Jeckyl and Mr. Hyde aspect. Predator does address it but doesn’t say why. That’s why I vote for “emotionally arrested infantile drama addict.” It tells us the behavior to watch for, “drama”. It explains why they do it: they have the needs of an infant. And consequently it also tells us what else to expect: all types of tantrums, charm, and pity ploys. And it’s in English!

For those posters who said that they could not possibly have seen it coming. YES you could. Not to put anyone down, because I didn’t see it coming for 25 years either. But the truth is that these parasites insert their tentacles in slowly and you CAN see it happening but you don’t know the words for it. They do what they do right before your eyes: charm, pity and rage. It’s unfortunate that we ascribe those behaviors to normal adults because we watch so much DRAMA on tv PROGRAMMING. It isn’t normal, it’s infantile and if we were taught that, we would know an abberation when we see it BEFORE it’s too late. I would be surprised to hear that there were no WTF? moments in anyone’s relationshit with a EAIDA. There HAD to be because they test, they tell, and they push boundaries before they ultimately strike. This is how they hook us. All the while marching us up the steps of that pyramid where they precede to tear our hearts out and tumble our lifeless bodies down the steps.

Skylar,

Your analogy about cleaning the cat box and what is “acceptable” and what is “normal” and how we learn to tolerate the NOXIOUS slowly is pretty right on.

I’ve been ruminating a bit on your going to see your dad because if you don’t he will “cry”—-and how you really don’t want to do it, but you are anyway because if you don’t, HE WILL CRY. I know your feelings about him are sort of “mixed” and you seem to think he is pretty much an N and your mother is more cold and distant and disapproving—I can relate to the doing things that I don’t want to do, that I really DO NOT WANT TO DO in order to “keep someone else from feeling bad/crying” etc. but then RESENTING doing it….and that is ENABLING behavior I think….it is giving in to EMOTIONAL BLACKMAIL of “come see me today or I will cry and then you will feel guilty and feel bad” and so we give in and give them what they want, but WE RESENT it. I’m done doing that. I’m done giving in and doing something that I do NOT want to do in order not to feel “guilty.” (Now I am not talking about something that is my responsibility to do)

Though there are things I do do FOR A REASON, for example. My first cousin who is my egg donor’s POA and I have not seen in months and months called me and came over for a visit yesterday because he won a paid for “get away weekend” at a fancy resort near here and wanted me to keep his dog for the weekend. I really didn’t want to keep the dog but I agreed to keep the dog FOR A REASON—because I wanted to suck up to him for my own reasons, NOT BECAUSE I CARED that he only came to see me because he WANTED SOMETHING. I no longer give a big rats arse what he thinks of me, I KNOW he really doesn’t care about me or he would not have not even called me for months and months until he NEEDED SOMETHING. And, the last time he was here was because he needed something THEN TOO. I’m willing to DO the something, not because I care about him any more either…but as a “manipulation” because I know in the future I will NEED HIS COOPERATION for my own safety and he does have the POA for the egg donor.

I think Erin B would call this a bit of “back-spathing” (not that I think my cousin is a psychopath, because he isn’t—he’s just an enabling and dysfunctional son of a psychopath who abused him as a child). I am simply recognizing that my cousin is not an emotionally healthy man, he is still deeply involved with the denial and enabling and “let’s pretend all this never happened and be friends” family dynamics which I no longer want to play. However, it behooves me to be realistic though, and obtain his cooperation in dealing with the egg donor, if the time comes I need his cooperation for my safety. So, I’ll keep his dog for the weekend, but it isn’t a “favor” for someone I want to do something nice for, it is an “advance payment on his later cooperation” because now he OWES ME ANOTHER ONE.

Yes, Oxy, I do have reasons.
One, they took me out for my birthday.
two, they take care of my cats.
three, I take advantage of each meeting to continue to enlighten them about sociopaths, hoping that they will eventually see how disgusting the sociosibs are.

And thanks, I will use that litter box analogy when I talk to them. Every analogy/comparison opens up their minds a bit more. But it’s their gut reaction that has to be fixed. I was just like them before the Spath attack. Well not just like them, but I was willing to overlook my sister trying to put my brother in jail – I mean, WHY would I overlook something so diabolical? What does that say about ME?

There is forgiveness and there is ridiculous. You can’t forgive those who aren’t sorry and now she denies it even happened. She denied it in front of all of us. So she has proved that she isn’t sorry, she has added insult to injury with her blatant, bald-faced, audacious lies. gonna be sick just thinking about it…

Sky, Your bro is a psychopath that lives in your parent’s basement, and your sister tried to put him in jail…now denies that she did that. Your parents are an N or worse—and you are going to ENLIGHTEN THEM? ROTFLMAO Come onnnnnnn, Sky. You know that you are NOT going to get them to see the light that their darling children are Ps or that they are!!!! ROTFLMAO That’s like me trying to “enlighten” the egg donor that her grandson who has COMMITTED MURDER FOR GOODNESS SAKE is a psychopath—or that the Trojan Horse Psychopath a convicted kiddie sex offender is a “bad guy”—-LOL EVEN WITH EVIDENCE AND A MUG SHOT AND DATES AND CRIME NUMBERS she refused to believe me, thought I made it up on my handy-dandy computer, all faked. LOL ROTFLMO

Your parents are NOT going to buy one item, your brother will stay there in their basement til the cows come home, and your sister will continue to lie and deny….and daddy will cry if you don’t go to see him when his birthday comes around. Well, if they take care of your cats for you, at least you are getting something out of it…but PAAAAALEEEEEZE don’t think you are going to educate them….NOOOOTTTTTT GONNA HAPPEN! (((HUGS))))

ps I did try to educate my cousin too—-even though he had SEEN his father (my Uncle Monster) hold him and his sibs and his mother at GUN POINT for hours on end and scream at them and beat his mother etc. he still played the game of “let’s pretend none of this happened and all get along.” One of his sisters refused to play hard ball with that, but the other sister actually had daddy-kins come and give her away at her FOURTH wedding, and cousin used to come up here for visits with Daddy-kins at Christmas and so on. But he just didn’t GET it—-he doesn’t get NC and he asked me “how can you two (me and egg donor) work it out if you won’t talk?” I told him I had TRIED TALKING but she just wanted to sweep it under the rug and pretend none of it happened—and he thought that was an OK way to handle it. Nope, she REFUSED to discuss any of it….refused to acknowledge anything except that we would “just pretend none of this happened”—when she said that I KNEW. I KNEW what I had been doing for so long. I knew what the FAMILY DYNAMICS WERE. I also knew that even if I changed, they were NOT GOING TO DO SO. Especially not at nearly 80 years old in her case and 50+ in his. It was too painful for them to change to start with and CHANGE IS PAINFUL. Learning what you have been doing your entire life is dysfunctional is PAINFUL. They are not willing to put that much work into something so painful as CHANGE.

Oxy,
I tell them about your stories all the time. They listen intently and with fascination. They know that their children are a danger to THEM. They know this because they have seen parental abandonment by other distant cousins, they’ve seen family feuds over properties. They are seeing that I’m the only one they could ever hope will take care of them when they get old (they are as young as 15 year-olds right now – amazing health!). So they have selfish reasons for wanting me around too. They know all about what exP is about, so I just need to get them to see that exP is no different from trojan P and P-sis and P-bro.

PS, I wish you could visit them and boink them! 🙂

If we find ourselves presenting the ‘S info’ over and over…..it’s falling on deaf ears……
Stop.
We are being tuned out.

If someone is open to receiving the info……they get it.

If they are not……it’s becomes a ‘story’ that is just WAY over their minds and realm of ability to grasp….and chances are…..they will NEVER get it…….

I’m one of those who have always felt Hare’s differentiation between the terms psychopath and sociopath is significant, meaningful and useful, and an important distinction – at least in regards to prevention. Particularly since his definition of psychopathy has proven to be statistically significant when practically applied in law enforcement. http://www.psychiatrictimes.com/dsm-iv/content/article/10168/54831?verify=0

But I have to say that I’m finding a fair bit to agree with in Donna’s argument – particularly her bit about coming up with a layman’s equivalent along the lines of ‘heart disease’. But I think that argument pushes us away from using the label ‘sociopath’ and more towards the type of term she used at the end of her post: “exploitative personalities”.

This is a fascinating topic, and a lot of good comments here with some extremely valid points. I have to admit, when it comes to this topic, my thinking goes ’round and ’round in confusion and rarely seems to settle.

However, the one point that remains clear for me amongst my otherwise confused understanding of this topic is that I don’t believe we have a scientifically valid understanding or naming (by the ‘experts’) of what I believe to be separate and distinct disorders and conditions, with separate and distinct causes and consequences. And I believe that what we do have is largely ineffective because its drivers are all too frequently labelling, stigmatizing and ‘rent-seeking’ by the psychiatric and mental health communities. Too much to do with funding and furthering entrenched power systems, and not nearly enough to do with public health and the public good. When I look at all the P/S/A/N’s I’ve known – both my mother and very corrupt professionals in the healthcare and financial services industry – NONE of the terms I’ve researched fit precisely, or even adequately. And I don’t see anything in the justice system, the public health system, the social services system, or the political system looking to even begin to address that.

I’ve often said that a very big weakness with Hare’s original research (and Cleckly’s too btw) is that he concentrated on the demographic population where he first encountered that personality type and where his research opportunities were greatest. He then created his definitions and diagnostic criteria – which was fine as far as that limited situation was worth. But he and others then inappropriately extrapolated the findings from that research to the general population. Two of the obvious weaknesses were that he didn’t study women (inside or out of the prison system), and he didn’t study non-convicted offenders. So we’re left with a ‘common’ understanding where, even today and on a site as informed as this, many people in the general population feel completely free to (egregiously in my opinion) exclusively use the pronoun ‘he’ when discussing ‘whatever this condition is’. And we’re left with the situation re: individuals on Wall Street and Financial markets throughout the world where the only time we ever consider use of the name for ‘whatever this condition is’ is when they enter the justice system.

So, considering all of the above, Donna’s approach to come up with a layman’s term along the lines of ‘heart disease’ has some validity but, as bloggert says, it comes with some possible consequences that we shouldn’t overlook.

UnOccupy:Psycho:Paths

My two cents…..

We are not here to diagnose and treat these disorders.

As participants of this blog, our most valuable goal is to educate the potential victims. Largely, the people who end up here have already been victims trying to figure out what happened to them or what is happening to them.

Disorder, does not necessarily mean a bad thing. You can put lettered wood blocks in a disorder entreating your child to put them in some order as a fun game to build skills.

So ‘Personality Disorder’ is not necessarily something to be avoided. Over the years I have developed scripts that I go through to shave and to shower. I am a obsessive about it, and I had to redo everything when I decided it would be advantageous to combine these two activities. Re-scripting was necessary. What I do during the process does impact anyone but me. But, I can’t believe I am this obsessed with this activity that would make me develop such an elaborate routine.

There are those who do negatively affect other people.

If I may pull a quote from Donna from one of her above posts “ The point is that we were involved with a toxic person,”

‘toxic person’-ality.

If anyone were to describe to you, some food that was toxic, you immediately will avoid it. Containers of unhealthy materials, ‘toxic’ have special labels (icons) indicating poison or toxins in very non specific ways. We avoid these when we see then and do not quibble about what kind of toxic materials are contained within.

Unlike all the other labels we have discussed, toxic needs no immediate explanation. Perfect for a sound bite audience that does not have time to get a degree in clinical psychology yet may benefit from the immediate understanding of a toxic personality. It is harmful. Stay away.

My comments on the other choices:

too clinical:
path ”“ nondescript, you could be having an enjoyable hike or walk on the path
sociopath (socio, comes from social, many positive connotations ”“ someone was sociable.
Psychopath -too associated in larger culture with serial killer, violent criminals and criminals in general
spath ”“ layman will not understand and it does not have much bite as a word

Cultural:

Narcissist ”“ Some guy dreamily fawning over his reflection in a pool of inviting water (enough said) I always make sure to say ‘high level’ narcissist to overcome this erroneous mythological being when refering to my ‘N’ brother.

Letters?

N
NPD
P
P/S/N
Cluster B
WTF? (please pardon my French)
Sometimes it is hard to read this blog due to transcribing the acronyms (lackronynms)

If you want a pop culture shortened label, I like ‘Tox’.

Many great comments in this thread. Thanks!

Just my thoughts.

UnOccupy:Psycho:Paths

Toxins are something you must get near and injest or otherwise be exposed to. It’s not like someone coming up behind you with a syringe and pulling a Dexter on you…..

Donna

“I do not believe it is sufficient to simply say, “avoid abusive behavior.” There are situations in which abuse is an aberration—perhaps the person behaving in an abusive way is under extreme stress, and once the stress is resolved, the behavior stops. This is vastly different from a person who lives his or her life by exploiting others. There needs to be a name for the disorder.”

I absolutely one hundred percent totally and completely agree with this statement. What a GREAT clarification!

I do think it’s true, that the label IS important, and as long as there is one to DEFINE it, then the content of the label can then be dealt with.

Really great comments and interesting posts!
LL

LL,
Completely agree with your post above re: Donna’s distinction between reactive and exploitative abuse.

Hare called psychopaths human “intraspecies predators”, and yet failed to include predatory behaviour as one of the defining attributes of this condition.

I think that ‘exploitative’ is potentially too mild a term for the lived experience and the harm it causes. My vote would be to include the term ‘predatory’ somewhere in the definition. Seems to me that’s what most of us here struggle with – having been the victim of predatory behaviour. And that’s a pretty easy sound-bite for ‘not yet’ victims to understand that they need to defend against.

Annie,

Your point #2 is astute and well-phrased. Would be useful in helping folks see the problem and focus on the predator as the predator so successfully gets away with placing the focus on her/his target. Thank you.

As for coming up with other ways to spot a corporate predator, there may be a good read in “Snakes in Suits” by Drs. Robert Hare & Paul Babiak, if you haven’t already availed yourself of that tome.

Cheers,
SS

Lotta great posts here, beginning, but not ending, with Donna’s.

One of my favorite descriptive terms as I spread the word to inform others of this ailment is borrowed from Dr. Paul Babiak (another “psychopathy expert”):

Parasitic Predator, or sometimes, Charming Parasitic Predator

Starting early with these words in explaining the affliction helps paint a vivid picture and tends to inspire immediate recognition and understanding from those with whom I’ve used them.

Whether one side or the other “wins” the word debate, or whether a new term(s) springs up altogether, I sure do wish there were a settled-upon term or set or subset of terms ”“ preferably accurate & adequate and simple to share ”“ so that we could move on more smoothly and with greater opportunity for collaboration in our movement to enlighten the world.

Annie,

Thanks for your post! It’s amazing how many windows of opportunity for healing this site presents. You clarified it even more and that helps me a lot. A LOT!

I see that my behavior is REACTIVE abuse. That is EXACTLY how I functioned in my relationship with my ex. It’s almost FREEING (although PAINFUL) to see that. I’m encouraged that I recognize this and that I can CHANGE it. It’s such a relief!

It’s another reason I think these distinctions are SO important!

Not just in identifying particulars in behaviors and motives, but also for the victims of these people in understanding their responses and reactions to having lived or been involved with one.

I would agree with you that exploitative and predatory are two terms that seem, to me, to be absolute in definition.

Great post, Annie! Thanks a bunch!

LL

My personal beef is the professional emphasis on violent and criminal behavior. This is why I favor a two term diagonsis:

Psychopath – the more “traditional” view with violent and criminal behavior as a defining characteristic.

Sociopath – nonviolent, non-criminal individuals who are predatory, manipulative and act without guilt or consciousness.

Thanks for the lovely words LL. But really, all I was doing was rephrasing what you’d already said. You and Donna were there at the idea before I was. So thanks to you for bring that up in the first place!

But one thing your post brought to mind for me: healthy people are reacting in ways THEY DON’T WANT TO BE ACTING, and need assistance and teaching re: how to avoid those situations, and how to recognize and get out when they’re in one. And one of the key indicators, it seems to me, is whether or not you are acting in ways that you feel OK about. Psychologically healthy victims don’t feel OK about acting out and would LOVE to change, but haven’t yet figured out what to do in their current situation. Given the slightest opportunity they become reasonable again, and better people resolved not to make that mistake again.

Predators, on the other hand, are there because they want to be there and have no intention of changing (except to refine their predation skills).

To Lesson Learned: I saw your prior blog and totally agree – they are freaks that cannot be healed and we are the victims..

Yeah, when I met my ex – before Thanksgiving years ago and he said he was going to his brothers house, and he said for Xmas through New Year’s he would be in Florida helping his other brother fix his house due to the hurricane – I had no reason not to believe him. Found out he LIED from the start – he was with his girlfriend in Maryland – but he gladly took the Titanium Seiko watch and the hot air balloon ride that I gave him for Xmas real easy….. I overheard him years later say – hey, she wanted to give me that – so I took it… Yeah, if I knew what a lying scum bag he was – he never would have gotten into my house…

So he played, lied, cheated and took my heart and money…

He and all others should be held accountable – they are con people… Con people when caught do jail time – these pieces of scum should also – he knew what he was doing to me….

Annie,

EXCELLENT point and so very very true. I really appreciate your post. I didn’t recognize it while I was in it, but boy do I see it now. I think it’s easy to feel confusion about responses and reactions to an exploitative personality. Education is key for sure.

I think it’s also a definitive idea about change as well. “Psychologically healthy victims don’t feel OK about acting out andn would LOVE to change, but haven’t yet figured out what to do in their current situation”. SUCH a great point! This is currently my situation and I’m just out three months now. I WANT to change my reactive behavior, my ex does not. I see how important that distinction is too, both with regards to the sociopath and the victims of such.

Wow, Annie, you’ve given me something more to chew on. What about the idea that educational information can be given to victims or those not yet victimized, in understanding responses of others who are in relationship with one of these people or themselves getting out of such? There can be a lot of self hatred inside the relationship as well as in the recovery process and a lot of acting out.

Lots to think about there. Another great post Annie, thanks for sharing your insights!

LL

cz,

I think you’re right and there’s another distinction to be made too.

What THEY did to US, was a CON. THEY need to take the BLAME for that…..but then there’s the idea that our vulnerabilities got us caught in the first place.

That distinction is super hard in finding the balance in what was my responsibility and what was not.

It takes two to tango. A predator is not going to be able to con anyone without a victim. So where does this particular distinction lie in presenting the label and the content of the information about Sociopathy?

I think initially, bombarding victims with the idea that they are to “blame” in part, is a dangerous one. It could lead to “Oh well, then I can change and maybe he’ll change and…blah blah.. You get the picture. Maybe blame isn’t the right word. Responsible. It still doesn’t take the meaning and feeling away about where the blame belongs, at least initially at first, I think…..

As I process all of this, one of the things that you bring up is so very true and perhaps is also a good distinction: HE KNEW WHAT HE WAS DOING. Absolutely.

More to chew on. So many great posts and arguments for and against labels. Interesting, insightful and helpful too.

LL

BBE

That’s a great idea too. Then the defining factors as content to each.

There’s a difference too, not only in violent P’s but also the degree of parasitic.

My exP was a hard worker. Still is. But he was also a major alcoholic, drug addict and incredibly violent. He wasn’t a clean guy, kinda dirty and never cared for himself physically.

My ex spath was incredibly clean, neat tidy, wore really nice clothes, drove a really nice car, lives in a really beautiful home, and shares joint custody with his ex. Has worked in the same field for 25 years now. He was much more difficult to discern for me than my OBVIOUS P.

Not all are without jobs, cars, money. The ones that do have all of that, I think are better able to hide behind their masks for awhile longer.

LL

Hi LL,
Re: your last point. My husband and I (while I was still working) work in an audit/governance area. We’ve been throwing around ideas re: how to tell if there is a predator in any new ‘group’ or department you have to work with, investigate or report on.

We’ve come up with two indicators so far:
1) the old LF standard “drama”. Groups without a predator may have fuss, anxiety &/or confusion around busy or stressful projects, but they don’t have *D*R*A*M*A*. If there is drama, its almost always because someone is ‘stirring’ things somewhere, and that’s a red flag warning to tread carefully when interacting with anyone in that group.

2) As I wrote to someone recently “looking for odd “panicking” behaviour in any individual in a group is one way to spot if there is a predator lurking amongst them quietly instigating behind the scenes.” And the dangerous person isn’t the one who’s panicking.

@BBE, I share your beef re: the “professional emphasis on violent and criminal behavior”. Drives me crazy and lets the majority of perpetrators continue to skate. And don’t get me started on the prejudices society employs to define whether or not something is “criminal”. I don’t know your story, but it sounds like you are well aquainted with non-“criminal” type of predator.

Re: the definitions. I think, as well, the *capacity and propensity* for intentional violence (including psychological violence i.e. personality annhilation) is important here.

Not so sure that we don’t end up down a rabbit-hole however with the constant defining/redefining of socio/psycho. I think that’s partly how we got in this mess in the first place.

SS,

I’m curious as to how you define Parasitic Predator and Charming parasitic predator while sharing this information with others?

LL

@SocioSibs,
Thanks! Snakes in Suits was the book that opened my eyes to this whole subject area (and in many ways saved my life to boot). Not a huge fan of Babiak, but I love your reference to his terms :”Parasitic Predator” and “Charming Parasitic Predator”.

You’re exactly right. I would imagine most people would immediately get what that means with little ambiguity.

Annie,

I’ve not read Snakes in Suits. I think it’s another read I need to get.

LL

LL,

The expressions, “Parasitic Predator” & “Charming” same are brief definitions in and of themselves.

If you mean what else do I say to elaborate on the definition while explaining it, then it depends upon the audience. I may say nothing more or much more, or anymore in between. The angle I take and words I use are geared for whoever is listening, the mood & environment, and to fit any time constraints.

Cheers,
SS

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