Sociopathic tendencies or full-blown sociopath?

(The article below is copyrighted © 2012 by Steve Becker, LCSW. My use of male gender pronouns is for convenience’s sake and not meant to imply that females aren’t capable of exhibiting the attitudes and behaviors discussed.)

What does it mean to say that someone has sociopathic tendencies, versus full-blown sociopathy, and does the difference even matter?

The simple answer is that someone with sociopathic tendencies will exhibit sociopathic behaviors and attitudes sometimes, while elsewhere he may seem to possess (and, in fact, may possess) a somewhat genuine (if limited and unreliable) capacity and desire to respect others.

In contrast, the full-blown sociopath’s respect for others, when apparently evident, is never really deeply genuine, but rather driven more by expediency or, more specifically, by the lack of any immediate opportunity to benefit from disrespecting or exploiting others.

Another way to say it is that the full-blown sociopath will almost always capitalize on perceived opportunities to exploit others for his own gain, whereas an individual with “sociopath tendencies” is likely to be somewhat less predictably exploitive in his interpersonal relationships.

In my experience, to identify that you are involved with a partial versus full-blown sociopath is not grounds for optimism. So long as sociopathic tendencies are present, their “quantity” seems to me to matter little. In the end, the individual’s prognosis is the same—hopeless. He is no less treatable or curable for the comparatively inconstant expression of his sociopathy.

In some respects it may be more disconcerting to be involved with a partial sociopath than a full-blown one. This is because the partial sociopath’s seeming capacity to be a “real,” sometimes (if selectively) attached human being can serve as a sort of tease—one finds the seemingly less exploitive aspect of his nature even more confusingly impossible to reconcile with the more exploitive one. One seizes on his capacity for “selective humanity,” misjudging it for his potential for ongoing, reliable empathy and respect for others.

Of course this is a pipe-dream, because the partial sociopath’s capacity for “sensitivity,” perhaps even for certain forms of loyalty, is ever-presently compromised by the underlying tug, and ultimate grip, of his underlying sociopathic orientation. He will  inevitably, with utter certainty, drift back into his more exploitive mode and exhibit again, at some point in time, the shocking markers of his sociopathy—his defects of empathy in the context of his audaciously violating behaviors.

I want to stress this very carefully: to the extent that someone has sociopathic tendencies, implying that his sociopathy doesn’t necessarily encompass his “whole character” (as in the case of the full-blown sociopath), this is something like comparing two very dangerous, ultimately untreatable cancerous malignancies—the first hasn’t perhaps  “metastasized” fully, but is definitely malignant with absolutely no cure and no chance of   meaningful remission; whereas the latter shows perhaps evidence of a global invasion, i.e. “sociopathy run uncontrollably wild.”

I’ve worked for several years with a client I regard as having clear-cut sociopathic tendencies and find her to be among the more baffling clients I’ve worked with. There is the strangest, most jarring mix of humanity in her personality, a capacity for generosity, yet alternating with a historical pattern of cunning, lying behaviors and a chilling capacity to comfortably disown remarkable abdications of responsibility.

She has exhibited these dizzying, confusing qualities in her relationship with me. She has lied to my face countless times and produced fantastic, absurd, and obviously specious explanations for behaviors that someone fully unsociopathic would feel anxious and embarrassed to assert. When confronted with her dissimulation, she conveys (and seems to feel) little to no shame, just the knee-jerk inclination to perpetuate and elaborate the deceptions.

She is opportunistic and someone who has “worked the system” in a variety of unethical ways. Ultimately she lacks either the willingness, or capacity, to truly own the varieties of ethically dubious, sometimes alarmingly irresponsible behaviors that continue to sabotage her otherwise seemingly considerable potential.

She is a complex person, a very attractive and seductive individual, and I believe she possesses a dimension within her characterized by seemingly real generosity. At the same time, she can be shamelessly manipulative and deceptive, and can be “counted on” ultimately to be only “unreliable.” She seems destined to leave those in her life periodically stunned by the betrayal of their faith and trust in her.

She will never change. There is a sociopathic element in her character that I believes explains these patterns and that leaves her, in my view, permanently untrustworthy.

I’m interested in readers’ feedback on this subject.





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156 Comments on "Sociopathic tendencies or full-blown sociopath?"

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Stevie, mew boy, your C UNNING TURN OF PHRASE always amazes me—Quote!

“a chilling capacity to comfortably disown remarkable abdications of responsibility.”

What better quote to describe a psychopath I can not imagine in my wildest dreams! Wonderful. and bears repeating.

“a chilling capacity” A capacity that CHILLS the blood of those who truly know them and waht they are able to do without remorse.

“to comfortably disown ” To look you directly in the eye and even with evidence of the broken promises on the table in front of them, of evidence of the beaten and neglected child DENY DENY DENY that they had anything to do with it.

“remarkable abdications of responsibility.” UNBELIEVABLE abdications of the things that humans should be responsible for, like feeding and housing themselves, like taking care of their children and I could go on but I digress…or is it RANT?

You also say:

I believe she possesses a dimension within her characterized by seemingly real generosity. At the same time, she can be shamelessly manipulative and deceptive, and can be “counted on” ultimately to be only “unreliable.” ”

While this woman may SEEM to possess a “real generosity” I could counter, Steve, with a paraphrase of Bob Hare’s quote about “the inmates all asked me for money, a loan, and the way I would later tell who the REAL psychopath was was he was the one I gave it to.” In other words, even Bob Hare fell for the con of “seemingly real” emotions from the psychopath.

While I TOTALLY believe like Dr. Simon Baron-Cohen in his wonderful book about empathy that we humans possess varying levels of empathy from Zero to much much more. As Baron Cohen points out, the lower levels of an autistic person would possess ZERO empathy, which he termed Zero +, and the lowest level of a psychopath would also possess Zero empathy, however Baron Cohen called that ZERO-NEGATIVE because while the highly autistic person with ZERO empathy would not be likely to try to manipulate or hurt you, and certainly wouldn’t have any duping delight in hurting you, the psychopath with zero empathy would ENJOY HURTING YOU, Would SEEK OUT people to hurt.

So, HOW do we “rate” psychopathy? Like Bob Hare’s Psychopath Check List-Revised –by their “externally visible manifestations of attitude” and their “observable behavior” —- or do we rate them by the episodes of physical violence or lack of violence ?

Do we rate them on the amount of money they con from others?

Do we measure and test the amount of empathy that they may have?

Do we make fMRI scans of their brains and give that a score?

I think you answer your own questions about her very very well, Steve:

” She seems destined to leave those in her life periodically stunned by the betrayal of their faith and trust in her.”

Many new bloggers here come here asking if He is a “real sociopath? because he does X Y or Z which is a good thing” Hoping of course that if he isn’t a “real” sociiopath because he has SOME good qualities…like he isn’t hitting her ALL the time, some days he even brings home food for the house, or buys diapers for the baby…maybe even there are some days he doesn’t use drugs or force her to have sex with his entire motorcycle gang so maybe he’s not a REAL sociopath? (a little hyperbole here) but the new bloggers are STRETCHING for any indication that there may be HOPE for this person with “psychopathic tendencies”

I think this article is a wonderful WONDERFUL addition to the LF archives because the bottom line is THAT IT DOESN’T MATTER IF THEY RATE A 20 OR A 30 on the PCLR—they are TOXIC and those behaviors will not change. While at some times a person with a “lower level” of psychopathic traits may exhibit some empathy for someone, or act generously to someone it isn’t going to mean that they won’t continue to act in ways that are also psychopathic. Bottom line THEY AIN’T GONNA CHANGE.

SOLUTION TO DEALING WITH THESE PEOPLE: NO CONTACT, get away, as far away as possible. and STAY AWAY.

Thank you for this great article, Steve.

Thank you, Steve for this article. I have been struggling with this exact issue. While learning about psychopathy and reading the stories here, it seems as though the person I was involved with has partial traits and behaviors….the source of my inability to get over it and really believe what he is. I made the mistake of responding when he recently contacted me and feel myself relapsing.

All the “anniversaries” of the relationship are occurring now and over the next few months. Got any suggestions on staying strong?

I commend you for taking on this difficult subject. I’ve only recently been able to wrap my head around it a bit more.

Dr. Cleckley, in Mask of Sanity, describes exactly this conundrum. He was continually being convinced by his spathy patients that they had finally seen the light, they were cured. He described their insights as deep and even more self-aware than the average person. These people could really talk the talk.

So he would release them and inevitably, sometimes in a matter of hours, they would be up to their same old tricks and be brought back to his hospital. Sometimes this cycle would repeat over and over.

I used to think that he was being conned by these people who could parrot back his own words to him, though they did not have any clue what the words really meant. I used to think that they were really adept at figuring out what he wanted to hear and trick him by repeating his own words to him.

I no longer think that is the case. In fact, I think that they really DO get their disorder. And, like Sam Vaknin, they DO have great insight into their behavior. They just don’t care. It’s how they are, it’s how they have always been and they have no desire to change. What they lack, is imagination. They can’t imagine that they could be any better than they are. I also believe that changing, to them, means admitting that they aren’t already perfect. They just can’t do that. It’s too painful.

Before I knew she was a spath, I noted that my sister was extremely comfortable being selfish. Whereas, I’m not. So I asked her, “How do you do it? Teach me to be more selfish.” She said, “I don’t know, I’ve just always been selfish, it’s just the way I am.” Another time, she said, “Skylar, it’s ok to be evil, everyone is evil.” WTF?

I have to add though, that there are still some debatable topics here. For example, what about the borderlines and narcissists who do eventually “grow up” and become more compassionate?

And there is the question of how much a person can really “understand” what they can’t feel?

To say that one understands something intellectually, is not the same as understanding what one has experienced. Spaths, because of their lack of feeling, lack experience.

These people will leave us perpetually confused.
I had a spath parrot back the topic of gratitude to me. I also heard him talking on the phone, using my words on the topic of humility. As it turns out, he was talking to another, bigger spath! So I don’t know who he was trying to impress or con. Probably, me. This person has neither gratitude nor humility. He has no idea what they feel like. His behavior on a daily basis proved that.

Taking Stock – Birthday season a good time to do it.

I’m a 50 year old woman four years out of a six year relationship with a Psychopath who bought a house with me and never contributed money for the mortgage, insurance, taxes, utilities or groceries, slowly drained my resources, managed to get me into debt, & in one fell swoop cleaned out my bank account the rest of the way & left me. He moved to Mexico without warning or ever looking back. I have never talked to him since. I saw him once in court when he sued me for half the house. He was like a stranger. Not even somebody that I used to know. I was at the brink of ceding custody to my ex husband. I fought suicidal tendencies constantly. The judge wouldn’t listen or look at my proof of the financial abandonment on his part of the property and gave him half. I went home and had to seriously think about staying alive. A month later my hair started falling out due to the stress of the situation.

This is me. Look at me now. I am finally claiming bankruptcy. I’m left with a shaken confidence, up & down motivation, & still a considerable amount of anger when I allow myself to dwell on it. I’ve spent 20 months in the last 48 lying down quite frankly. In fact it took me over a year to really just be able to get out of bed. The house is now foreclosed. I want to move on. I’m glad I’m out of the house. I want to be complete again. I really don’t know how to pick up the pieces. In 12 step programs they say one day at a time. Well, in spath programs they should use “one piece at a time.” I’ve tried to pick them up all at once & they slip out of my grasp & land with a crash of even more pieces.

I know that there was nothing I did or didn’t do right or wrong to cause this. But if things happen for a reason I am awaiting that little bit of enlightenment. It’s a random universe and I got hit by a stray meteor that I just didn’t see coming. Am I more guarded. Definitely. Am I less trusting – maybe not. Am I more aware that I am me without giving a thing to anyone or having a thing to my name. Yes. Still here. So far, thank you Donna & Love Fraud members. I still crave to trust human nature. I search for a trusting soul. But my eyes are open. I try and see things for what they are with out judgement or anger towards others or myself. I know there is no changing anyone. I still harbor hatred in my soul for a person that can inflict the type of destruction we discuss on this site and that may be there for a while.

1. Denial: First I denied that it was really ending or that he would ever do such things to me and would come to his senses and return. He didn’t and he did do those things.

2. Anger: Then I got angry for a really really long time. Anger was part and parcel who I was. I was so angry I was paralyzed by it and could do little more than sleep. I stopped caring. I stopped crying. I was astonished by the things I thought I wanted to do in retaliation. I was exhausted by all the anger. I was uninsured so medical care and prescription medicines were beyond my reach. I hadn’t a clue as to who this person was.

3. Depression: Then I got depressed. Numb. Dumfounded. Catatonic. I stayed alive because I had to for my kids. If they weren’t here I don’t know I would have made it thru this time. I didn’t care that I wasn’t working. I didn’t care that my money was gone. I didn’t care that I couldn’t pay my utility bills. I didn’t care that I was hungry or that I was tired. I stayed in my room awake mostly now for days and days and days. Rarely eating. My girlfriend would have a plate of food and I would eat her leftovers sometimes. I knew she was doing this so I would eat something. I did crosswords and read the paper every day. And I just lay there waiting to die of old age. Hasn’t happened yet btw.

4. Acceptance: And then I was at the bottom below where I started from 20 years ago. And I have to wonder how I got there but I accept that I am there. I accept everything I just wrote. I accept that it is up to me again to do something. And I start & stop in fits of doing it. I’m starting over at 50. Well, I thought, I’m 50 whether I start over again or not. I am starting over again now that there is nothing else left to do. If it is difficult for an 18 year old to decide what they want to be, it feels nearly impossible to figure that out at 50.

5. Growth?: I am learning to be generous with myself and not just others. I am learning to accept generosity. I am relearning that it is up to me to move forward. Let go. (never one of my strong points) No one. No one can or will do it for me. I am learning that its okay to let someone else pay the bill sometimes whether I can or not. I am learning that I like being without a man but I do love men. I am learning to date men, not invest my heart and soul into them.

6. Moving on?: Many attempts so far. I wonder if it’s possible to put this entire thing behind me. Maybe that’s the wrong goal. Perhaps this will never be behind me. It will always be a part of me damn it. I was hoping but struggling because maybe “behind me” is unrealistic. Beside me maybe? I love this site. It helped me understand that this wasn’t about me at all. There are people who don’t operate as I do and won’t do the things that I would do and that there are people who will do things I couldn’t imagine doing to others in my wildest rages. But those people can’t define me unless I let them. I can’t ever let them do such a thing again. I have to change that part of me. But I want to do it and not lose my core self. I want to do it but still see a little good in anyone, trusting others but trusting myself too and acting on that part of me.

8. Bargaining: This stage came late for me. I am now hoping in the recesses of my mind that I will wake up in 2002 before I met the spath & it has all been a nightmare. Not happening so far. But if I could only go back again knowing what I know now. If time is nothing but a human construct & everything just may be happening at once I am looking eagerly for the door to the continuum. I will share it here on LoveFraud if I can find it.

7. Forgiveness?: Wow, this is the hardest for me. Mostly to forgive myself for being stupid. You can spath the perfection out of the girl but you can’t take away the girl’s perfectionist beliefs. Forgiving others? Something I read the other day: Never forget three kinds of people: People who left you in your difficult times; People who helped you in your difficult times; & People who put you in those difficult times. Okay forget & forgive two different concepts. I have to work on that some more. Is this crime forgivable? Really, truly? I was murdered. Everything I worked for, dreamt of, earned, loved, gave, & wanted was murdered in cold blood with malice aforethought. How do you forgive someone on death row for your murder? Is it possible? Why do I want to? This is some deep deep stuff I don’t know how to work.

This I know for sure Oprah: I want to be me. I want to let someone love me. I want to love myself. I want to love others. And I will one day when it is time. Right now I’m seeing what happiness can be when it comes from me and not outside influences and that is very very important and the key to a lot of these things that randomly happened to me.

The unseen meteor that hit me in the head left a crater the size of the moon, but time is smoothing it, filling it in with fine sand, and it is beginning to reflect some light around me. I want more light. I want time to bring all of us peace. Love to bring us comfort. Happiness to light our way forward. & may all the psychopaths die in hell. Cheers & here’s to year number 51! Cant wait to see how it goes”… xxx Lillian

The reason I call my mother a sociopath vs. the fact that I call my younger sister a psychoath is that, at times, my mother actually displays feelings of empathy for others. I believe they’re genuine feelings, but who knows for sure.

When the mask has dropped for both of them, they are equally hard, unfeeling, insensitive, and laughing at the misfortunes of others.

Which is the true display of what the person is? What seems to be genuine or what is revealed when the surface is peeled away? I’m not talking about the bogus charm etc. I am talking about what is appearing in seemingly candid moments and thus could possibly be the real thing.

I swear sometimes that my mother is human. I think I’ve seen a little real love and care coming from her, particularly towards my son. Even she has expressed dismay and confusion over not understanding my sister’s attitude and actions.

This begs the question – has my mother done a better job at recognizing that displays of empathy will win her brownie points with the onlookers and thus is perhaps more dangerous than my sister, who couldn’t care less about others and doesn’t hide that fact?

I could overthink this except that I have had no contact with both for about four years now and life is good. 🙂

But I would like to know what the others think might be going on here.


Excellent post. On another thread I was just recounting my experience with a colleague who fell into this category of having sociopathic tendencies. Your description of your most perplexing patient “She is a complex person, a very attractive and seductive individual, and I believe she possesses a dimension within her characterized by seemingly real generosity. At the same time, she can be shamelessly manipulative and deceptive, and can be “counted on” ultimately to be only “unreliable.” She seems destined to leave those in her life periodically stunned by the betrayal of their faith and trust in her.”

This description applied to the male colleague I recently had my encounter with. The man I encountered was very handsome, very charismatic, and definitely played the sexual attraction card. And the generosity he showed me -offering me his place as a crash pad when I was in his town on upcoming family business was certainly unexpected and generous. However, his subsequently saying he’d call to firm things up and not following through, telling me to call at particular times and not picking up has led me to see how unreliable he is and how much chaos he was causing in my life. As you so aptly put it, he can be counted on to be unreliable.

I’m so attuned to the signs a full-blown sociopath puts out I let my guard down on the signals put out by someone with sociopathic tendencies. Now I see that there’s a new game I’ve got to get up to speed with since I – unfortunately – am going to be working with this individual for quite a while.

Thanks Steve. Nice to read you.
“Selective Humanity”.

That is a very great way to express it.
Thanks for instilling some common sense in my head today.


Hey Matt! There’s a blast from the past. I hope you don’t mind my asking, but last time I read from you, you’d met a really great guy. Are you two still together? (If not, please take me to Greece on your next trip. :)) How are you? I will never forget how much you helped me back in the day with writing a letter to my senator re the spath. It helped me so much with closure.

I’ll try this again, I lost a long post to you Matt.

Remember the “Tion” rules (boundaries you had) for dating folks?

Well I think you need to expand on those boundaries a bit. The “tions” apply to the LOWER LEVELS OF PSYCHOPATHS but you are going to also be dealing with the SNAKES IN SUITS like your latest encounter.

If you have Not read SNAKES IN SUITS you need (you of ALL people) NEED to read it.

My boundaries have expanded and expanded but yet are quite simple.

There is an INNER CIRCLE OF PEOPLE I WOULD TRUST WITH MY LIFE. This circle is very small and is only people who are TRIED And TRUE and have stood the TESTS of TIME and FORTUNE. I would ask any favor of them and extend any favor of them, including I would lay down my life for them.

The requirements for entering this circle are HONESTY, not situational honesty but complete honesty. It is RESPONSIBILITY and doing what you say you will do when you say you will do it, not making promises you won’t or can’t keep. COMPASSION for others and COURTESY as well. GOOD SENSE as well. KINDNESS to others. COURAGE to stand for what you know is RIGHT and WILLINGNESS to do it.

Once someone BETRAYS me no matter what the relationship they had with me, or how much DNA we share or how much I love them, they are OUT.

Now that doesn’t mean we may not have disagreements or even become angry with each other but always within the scope of being kind to each other, accepting loving rebuke for our failures, and being willing to be honest even if we know we may hurt each other’s feelings by doing so.

Then there is the outer circle of people I know and deal with in my life—-and in general haven’t seen anything about them to make me mistrust them, but haven’t had a long history with them either, so I am somewhat cautious about them,, and don’t give them any opportunity to stab me iin the back or use any information they might have against me….this would include people I work with. I am courteous with them but not overly familiar.

The extreme outer circle of folks are those I know are dishonest, thieves, or otherwise someone I do NOT want to have any dealings with….but in fact, am REQUIRED legally to do so.

Those people I always do things in WRITING and/or have a RELIABLE WITNESS present when dealing with them so that they cannot present me as doing something or saying something I didn’t.

If you are going to have to work with this guy, I suggest that you from here on out be polite with him, friendly with him even, but very PROFESSIONAL but NOT overly familiar as you allowed yourself to be dragged into his web. However, I would be very careful to not let him KNOW that you think he is a snake…just EASE backwards in the relationship.

Good luck in dealing with him and CAUTION is the word! It is a big part of my life now. Going into the next parole hearing in a few months.


Matt addresses the boyfriend in the “Revisiting Prevailing Myths about Sociopaths” thread.

Skylar- I’m a bit confused by your comment…” I have to add though, that there are still some debatable topics here. For example, what about the borderlines and narcissists who do eventually “grow up” and become more compassionate?”

In all the research I have done about NPD, none of it suggested that the narcissist will grow up and become more compassionate. If anything, they get worse with age because they get desperate.

I guess that’s what you meant by, “debatable topic”. lol

I really am interested in your theory in this. One of my biggest frustrations and heartaches has been the recurring thought or belief that my ex narc/spath matured and treats his wife wonderful. It is a trigger for me because I was treated so badly by him and I felt like his only victim for the longest time. I couldn’t understand why I was the one he chose to treat this way and no one else.

I am still working on getting past that. And, for the most part, I feel pretty good. But when I saw your comment, it sent me back to questioning everything again.

In theory you are right, but God has seen fit to “fix” some people. I know a few. One is an old man, who was an abusive narcissist and he has most certainly changed. He works hard to be a good person and to do it sincerely. Others are people who post here who say they have worked hard to heal though they were at one time diagnosed as BPD. Another is a therapist, I think her name is Marsha Linehan. She was BPD, has struggled and has mostly healed and has created one of the few therapies that actually works on BPD. It’s called dialectical behavior therapy.

Actually, it shouldn’t be surprising that people who want to heal and work at it, are able to. What is surprising is how few of them want to, despite the disaster that there own lives are.

I guess the debatable part is whether those people had the same disorder as those who choose not to heal or if maybe it just wasn’t as far gone. Or maybe there is another factor: God. I know that belief in a higher power is a sign of humility. Maybe that little bit of humility is enough to spark the healing under the right conditions.

Edit: I just realized I didn’t address your issue: that he might treat the next wife better.

All I know is that I waited 25 years for my spath to treat me well and perhaps even marry me. But if I was to learn that he was healed, I would be grateful because that means he is not out raping children and killing people anymore. Don’t imagine that someone who has been evil can heal without a tremendous amount of pain first. It is that pain that makes them so resistant to wanting to heal.

I’m fairly certain that if your exspath was to heal enough to treat his wife better than he treated you, he would concurrently experience terrible remorse for how he treated you.

Well my exspath actually does believe in God and Heaven and Hell, I’m pretty sure, but it has not made a wit of difference. He is still evil and I’m not holding my breath that he will heal.

Sisterhood, He is not treating her any better than he treated you. When you are married to a narcissistic jerk you are only supply, and to rub salt into the wound, you are not even primary supply, you are secondary supply….you are back-up supply, just in case primary supply doesn’t come through. Primary supply are the targets that haven’t gotten past the idealization phase….they still see the narcissist as he wants them to…he is ideal, perfect, fetching, a hero, God-like, even. These are the people he wants to surround himself with, because they are simply willing props in his fantasy world. He WILL keep you on the back burner for a rainy day, however.
His new woman is now secondary supply. She is now the one on the back burner, and will be, as long as he keeps her there, or until she chooses not to be.
They repeat this cycle over and over again.

Seems so clear having read your words, Steve. As a man who’s spent the last five years studying this very thing in my own life – a repetitious pattern throughout adulthood with roots deeply set in childhood – i’ve only recently accepted the truth you’ve written here. Perhaps occasional seeming generosity is genuine on their part. Or perhaps they’ve simply learned it’s a useful behavior for cultivating, disarming, and undermining other’s natural protective instincts. In any event, reading your words reenforces the lesson for me. Much needed, thank you.


Good to hear from you. Yes, I did meet a really great guy. But, after 3 1/2 years we’re in the middle of a pretty rough patch. He was supposed to have relocated to DC by now. I’m beginning to realize that this may not happen and in the spirit of compromise I don’t think he’s willing to move into Manhattan from some god forsaken part of Queens which would cut an hour off our weekly trips back and forth. I love him, but I can’t keep my life in the holding pattern its been in for the last 2 1/2 years. So, I’ve told him that I have to begin to create a life for myself down here. He’s welcome to join it, but I’m done waiting.

Tonight I went to a meeting of a gay ski group. Met a lot of nice guys who live down here and many like me who have relocated down here the last few years. So, I think I’ve found one new activity to get involved with. When I came home my other half had arrived from NY. I told him about the evening and the fact that there were others like him who were not skiers or beginners so he wouldn’t be alone on the slopes. I got some sort of agreement from him, but, like I said in my other post, I’m no longer defining my life by his whims or wishes. This is something I want to do, indeed need to do for myself and it’s up to him to decide to participate. Bottom line is 2 1/2 years of commuting every weekend has pushed me into the corner and I finally decided to come out swinging. Don’t know where things will end up, but I have to say that I so enjoyed meeting new people tonight who share the same interest I do, that I think a line has been drawn in the sane.

OxDrover – it’s funny, but after this experience I found myself thinking today that I need to read “Snakes in Suits.” I got home and heard my text messaging ping. Guess who the email was from, wanting to know all about a person I had met for drinks last night and telling me about his plans for the weekend. All I could do was laugh. I thought “I have been trying to get you to return a call for 3 days and now you pull a sneak attack through texting.” I didn’t even respond.

I agree with your categorizations. I also agree with your advice on how to handle this person. I’ve been around long enough to know exactly how this one’s career trajectory is going to go – he’s well enough connected that I’m sure he’ll advance nicely. Since I don’t think he’s all that bright I’m sure his rabbis will make sure that he stays one step of impending disasters. My goal is to stay out of the orbit of those disasters.

Skylar, BPDs and NPDs that are full blown do not “grow up” and become FUNCTIONAL people…they MAY “rowdy on down”some but for all practical purposes a rattle snake is a rattle snake…and it is gonna stay one. There may be and I say MAY BE some lower level people with BPD tendencies or NPD tendencies who are not fully blown that may learn better ways of acting, but I am not going to take one home for a pet in any case. I am staying the heck away from TOXIC people whatever you want to call them or whatever level of toxic they are. I am going to associate with good, kind, caring, compassionate and honest folks…no one else need apply.

Oxy, I agree completely with you. But consider Marsha Linehan. She was BPD. She’s now the leading therapist for that.

Not saying I would take her home either, just saying that I have seen change. And I cannot explain it either.

I’m not ever going to count on it though. If it happens it will have nothing to do with me and it’s between them and God. My job is to take care of ME.

Good point of view, Sky, absolutely. Just as there are high functioning autistics, Temple Granlin is a perfect example, there are “levels” (for lack oif a better term) of people with psychopathic traits, and with BPD traits and so on….there is the narcissistic person who will eat the last piece of cake knowing you haen’t had any, and that’s pretty crappy, but not enough to send them to prison for…but there are also the Ns who will eat all they can hold and then flush the last piece of cake down the disposal JUST SO YOU CAN’T HAVE ANY. Big difference in attitude there. LOL

yeah, there’s nothing to be done. I’ll just take advice from my favorite band, Rush, in the song “wish them well”

“Thank your stars you’re not that way, turn your back and walk away. Don’t even bother asking why, turn around and say goodbye.”

I love Rush.

Steve, thank you VERY much for this discussion. The exspath demonstrated “sociopathic tendencies” because he was able to appear “genuine,” at times. Having said that, those moments when he appeared to have some level of compassion or empathy were typically tainted with a strong undercurrent of dismissal and intolerance. As an example, when I was in the throes of a year-long rheumatic flare, I returned home from the studio where I had worked and taught for the previous 10 hours. I was thoroughly exhausted and in such a state of pain that I was barely able to climb the 3 steps to enter the house. I entered, dropped my stuff on the counter, and went to sit down. He was sitting on the sofa and turned away from the television and asked, “How are your joints?” I answered that they felt as if they were made of crushed glass. He answered, “Poor dear. What are you making for dinner?”

I also would really like to see more discussion on the “curability” of malignant narcissists and borderlines. My personal feeling is that “socipathic tendencies” don’t minimize someone’s choices of behaviors in comparison to a “full-blown sociopath.” The damages are the same. The collateral damages are the same. And, as in the case of the exspath, once the person with “tendencies” begins to slip down that slope of tolerance (in that people enable and/or tolerate behaviors), inertia takes over and there’s no stopping that boulder from hitting the bottom of the mountain.

I’d LOVE to read some discussion on this. Of course, I am not a qualified professional that understands the psychspeak OR the studies, theses, or DSM definitions. I’m just a layperson that has experienced sociopaths, and my feeling is that “tendencies” vs. “full-blown” is kind of like saying that someone has a tendency to being pregnant. Just because a woman isn’t “showing” doesn’t mean that her pregnancy won’t be obvious, at some point. So it goes with spath “tendencies.” They may not be obviously spath, but give it enough time and every choice, decision, and action will speak for itself, in due time.

Brightest blessings

Wow, Matt, you sound so strong, drawing your line in the sand and putting yourself first like that! Long distance relationships are so difficult – I don’t know many that survive. Your ski group sounds like so much fun (I personally suck at skiing, but it sounds like fun if you like to ski!). I admire the way you are able to be at the center of your own life and not give in for a relationship. Good for you.

I have taken up Zumba and salsa dancing this year, and it has really changed my life, not to mention that I lost almost 20 lbs. But I still struggle with not obsessing over guys I like – I’m getting better about it, but it’s a challenge right now with one in particular.

Take good care and keep having fun :)!

I forgot to say Happy Birthday to you!

It seems as if that is what the spaths force us all to do: start over. First mentally because we become aware of stuff that we just never imagined. Also, financially, because they wipe us out. In just about every way, we end up starting over.

One would think that it would be easier the second time around because we’re older and wiser, right? But that doesn’t necessarily work that way. What I found is that being naive and innocent is what made us optimistic when we were young. Ignorance gave us courage. And I miss my rose colored glasses.

Ah well. We’ll just have to find that courage and hope somewhere in our souls and proceed.

Star: Happy Birthday to you too!

Skylar, maybe, if we’re older and extracting ourselves from the carnages, we’re able to recognize that we “don’t have the time” to rebuild what was so thoroughly destroyed. I’ll never recover from this second marriage, financially. I may “make ends meet,” but my financial stability and investements were utterly liquidated within 3 years, and I do not have any means to “rebuild” that.

And, it could also be that I’m simply fighting to manage the medical and physical issues that developed, and I’m tired.

I miss my rose-colored glasses, too. What I really miss is feeling unbridled joy. I am starting to smile at things and say, “Oh, LOOK! A rose-breasted grosbeak!” But, I am unable to feel that breathless joy and wonder at the sight of a bird or sunset. And, for an artist, this is sort of like walking dead.

OCTOBER BABIES!!!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY – these threads scroll so quickly sometimes that’s it’s easy to miss important milestones! 😀

It’s good to recognize our limitations but also try to focus on what you CAN do. Always see the glass half full, not half empty.

Yes, your years have gone into the past but you did do many things that the spaths can’t take away. You are done with raising kids, and you have at least one good one. You had fun and experiences. You are an artist. So there are less things on your list which need to be done, than there were when you were 18.

The unbridled joy, yep. gone. I wonder if it could come back? I really wonder.

There is no way to predict what the future has in store. I certainly never saw the spath attack coming!

I hesitate to post this link, but because you asked for a discussion about BPD and NPD treatability, I will.
I personally found this article enormously insightful. It is also compassionate. I hope that you find it useful.


You speak the truth. and What wise words.

Like you, my HEALTH has been completely trashed. I am better than before, but some things are permanent. Before, simple tasks were SO simple that I did them without noticing. Now I have to TELL myself to do them and even the STEPS to do them.

I do find, when I feel less than adequate, that it’s most likely a health issue, rather than me being less sharp, less creative, less competent (all the things I feel about myself when I am down.). When I have a fever, I am affected, and when the fever goes away, I feel WAY more engaged, WAY more able to enjoy, and WAY more able to FEEL JOY.

Just wanting to validate you, and say that if you KNOW you previously enjoyed the discovery of a rose-breasted grobeak, then I think you will get to that happy place again. You have the capacity. It took me a LONG time to feel joy again. It snuck up on me, and the moment I realized I was feeling joy, I was overjoyed. How many times did I feel joy and not realize it? It was the realizing that woke me up to the feeling. And b/c you knew what it felt like before, you can recreate it until it’s REAL. Are I being too cryptic? Making any sense? Hope not. Your post was so honest and wise, I was compelled to validate you.


I know you already know this but I’ll say it anyway, for myself, if for no one else. I know, I know, I’m Polyanna. Unbridled joy resides in the present moment. The more you can let the past go, the more lightness and joy you will feel. Resentments and regrets will kill joy every time. I know it’s easier said than done. No you cannot have back the things you lost. There are so many things in life that are unfair, but in the present moment, none of it matters. I lost a lot of money on my condo which was supposed to be my retirement investment. It was the fault of our sociopathic banking system. But there is not one thing I can do about it. I had no choice but to let that money go in my mind. It doesn’t matter. Right now, broke as I am, I have everything I need.

You can choose to be happy just because. Even if you feel sad and down on yourself (as I’m feeling today a little), you can still find joy in the things you have to be grateful for, like your ability to feel sad and down. Even the ability to feel is a gift. Today, I’m grateful that I have 40 people coming together to help me celebrate my birthday. If I’m feeling sad, I’ll be sad, but I’ll smile through the sadness because of the joy of the dancing and connecting with my friends.

Side note: I still think you – and everyone – should do Zumba. You absolutely canNOT feel depressed when you’re doing Zumba. Everyone I know who does Zumba has sudden inexplicable outbursts of joy and happiness throughout the day. It’s probably a measurable phenomenon. It really changed my life.


I hear strength and wisdom in your words. I cannot tell you how many stories I have heard of this midlife wreckage and take down leaving us feeling faceplanted and at the beginning feeling too tired to start over while questioning everything we once believed.

You sound like you can only come up from here. I am in the anger and fighting acceptance with stunned disbelief that this damage has really occurred and there will be no restitution for this crime. I am so mad. I regret the entire events of who and what brought this into my life but then I have guilt as it feels like regret of my daughters existence. I do not regret her and I feel she is here for reasons unknown to me but here nevertheless.

If it makes you feel any better, I have known of women who are clean fanatics who never got out of bed for a year and never lifted a finger to clean for that year due to the debilitating depression and wounds left behind. They are beyond me in the healing department but they don’t give themselves the credit and reflect on the progress they have made so I name what I see and it helps. If there’s anything I know I have had to say over and over is the progress they have made. We tend to try to pick it all up at once and then we do drop it for it to be in a million more pieces. I am impatient and want this all behind me in the moments I cannot deny “it is what it is” and at that moment I want to start at a running pace to clean it up. It overwhelms me as it is too much all at once. I do see me for the first time thinking about Christmas decorations. This was not even on the map for over 3 years. It felt gone forever. I haven’t allowed any pictures to be taken of me if it can be avoided. I never want to see these days in photos as I fear what my eyes will say and the pain I know I felt. It takes baby steps.

I have found for me a gratitude journal is a very helpful discipline and I will only require 3 items but if I come up with more, then it’s been a better day. Some days I forget but I just pick it up again start over. It helps my negative records from playing in my head that have played while I was/am isolated from society. I am having some kind of anxiety disorder which I had a little before but has been exacerbated by this trauma.

Kim Frederick, thank you for the link. It’s an interesting article and I’m still curious about “how much” narcissistic and Borderlines can be “cured.” I don’t think it’s possible unless the individual is of such intent as to be willing to undergo some very, very painful processes.

KatyDid, your response makes sense. I’ve got a lot of work to do. LOL

Stargazer, at the moment, I am pretty much “stuck” in the past. I’m paying quite literally for the past in the form of a dwelling that has a roof and walls. Instead of spending time and effort in maintaining this joint-owned piece of shit, he spent his time and money (AND, my money) on going to a nearby city to engage in some of the most depraved and violent sexual activities imaginable. So, as a result, I have a furnace that needs to be replaced – it does not function and any attempt to use this source of heat could result in catastrophe. I have a hot water heater that died two weeks ago that should have been replaced 6 years ago. I do not have a functional cookstove. So, I am heating water on a wood-burning stove that was also neglected and is rusted in many, many places. I do not earn enough to pay for gasoline to drive to the job that I have.

And, because the idiot exspath just wants to see me a drooling, grovelling, and hollow shell of a human being, he is pressing for a divorce TRIAL instead of a hearing, and is drawing this out for as long as he can. The only reason that I haven’t given up and rolled over to die is because I don’t want to. I know that there will be an end to this bullshit, but getting there is a nightmarish journey that I didn’t deserve to have to take.

And, I think it would be a better approach for me to stop wondering when (or, if) I’ll ever feel “joy” again. This afternoon, I don’t much care. I don’t care if I ever pick up another paintbrush or throw another pot. I really don’t. I only care about heating the interior of these walls and hitting the food bank in another 10 days. 😀

To clarify: Pity Party is over.


Do you know that parable about the person who is paddling their boat down the river and another boat runs into theirs? They get all pissed off, cursing up and down at the inconsiderate, incompetent driver who ran into them. Then they look over and realize the boat is empty, and suddenly they stop being angry. Same boat, same situation. What’s the difference?

In Costa Rica, most people don’t have bathtubs, A/C, or even running water for part of the day. They have hurricanes, earthquakes, and floods regularly. They work for $2 an hour for 60 hours a week just to survive. And yet they are ridiculously happy. When they smile, their smiles light up their faces. Why? Because they do not feel resentment that someone made their lives that way. You could still be happy with a broken furnace, without any investments, and without much in the way of material things. But you will not be happy if you keep falling into resentment about it. It’s a HUGE challenge but this is your choice. If you continue to feel resentment, you will add to your health problems, and you will age more quickly. You will watch the joy and happiness draining out of your life. However, if you let go of the resentment and realize that you have everything you need in the present moment, joy will return to your life. It’s a catch 22, and you can’t have it both ways.

I want to say to you, sure go ahead and take the luxury of feeling anger and resentment for a day or so. Go ahead and have a pity party every once in a while. We all do. But I have to be honest – I don’t do it too much any more because I realize how destructive it is to think like that. Thoughts are things and you will create the things you worry about and the things you think about. If you worry about poverty, you will perpetuate poverty. Thoughts are things, and they are very powerful. We all have immense ability to create. So what are we creating with our thoughts?

My neighbor recently told me he worries a lot about living alone and what would happen if he was sick and couldn’t get to the phone, or if he was choking and couldn’t call anyone for help. I asked him, “Why do you spend so much time thinking about that?” I also live alone, but I spend no time thinking of such things. This leaves me free to think about happier things, like all my parties that people think I act like Cinderella LOL (which I don’t think is a bad thing). I figure when it’s my time to go, I’ll go. Why worry about it? Interestingly, my neighbor who is much younger than me, has a host of health issues. My health is much better than most people half my age. I firmly believe that time spent worrying about health issues perpetuates health issues. Period. I know I will piss a lot of people off by saying that, but I believe this with all my heart.

Stargazer, I read you loud, and clear.

Brightest blessings


I believe our health is affected by our minds a lot. I also believe there are many factors which play into the body as a whole. The environment we live in along with genetics and mishaps of life which are unfortunate. Diet can also play a big part in health issues.

Worrying perpetuates all issues I believe and it is such a useless emotion as it changes nothing for the good. I have to be conscious of this all the time.

I get it, what you’re saying is, that a spath is like an empty boat.
LOL! good analogy!

Kim, thanks for that great link. It was long but really informative.

The part about the borderline being bored once their hunger for love is met, makes sense. They only feel “alive” when they are in predatory mode, when there is a game afoot, when they are competing for something. So this might answer Louise’s question about why they push us away. It’s a game and once they win your affections, they need you to get angry at them, so they can start over. Like Lucy holding the football for Charlie brown.

They like to win, but what makes them feel alive is the game.

It also connects to them being story driven characters. The story has to have a MacGuffin, a prize, which drives the adventure and the plot. At the end, the hero lives happily ever after. But those are empty words to the spath, he needs more adventure. Living happily ever after is boring.

There were many other great points in that link but that one is one that really struck me.

Also, I think that the difference between the spath and the borderline, is that the borderline may not necessarily be aware that his or her machinations are being fueled by this need for drama/games. But a spath is fully aware of it. He/She simply likes to see other people moving according to his whims, chasing his plot devices, exerting his/her power over the kingdom. They can never get enough of that. Though the spath also likes rivalry so that they can compete, WIN and watch you lose, the spath always intended to cheat.

Spaths set us up to play one game while they are actually playing another. The spath was never looking for love or trying to win your love. They only were looking to manipulate and win your acquiescence. Then once they win that, they turn up the heat to see you resist his next boundary violation. If you resist, the game is on again. Until you acquiesce again.

It’s like the dictator who keeps threatening war with a neighboring country. Once you appease the bully, he only comes back for more. That’s why we must never appease them.


You know, I saw so clearly in my spath’s face what you described above. The “alive” look on his face when he was in predatory mode, the game, the competition. WOW. That is sooooo him. You can literally see it. So here’s another question…ooooh, I think I am onto something. So it’s a game to them, right? So as long as it’s just a game and they are getting what they want, they continue. But if it’s not a “game” to them, if they are “serious,” I think they stop. In other words, the OW showed her affections to him big time. He KNEW that she was crazy about him yet he continued on with her for almost a year. But with me, it was very short lived. I guess my cog/diss wants to tell me that’s because he started feeling something for me so he pushed me away and he went back to messing with her again. Why? I think because she was a plaything and that’s ALL he wanted, but in me, he saw something more. There has to be something to that…there just has to be.

You also said, “They need you to get angry at them.” I agree with that 100%. When he was blatantly ignoring my texts, I texted him, “Maybe you WANT me to hate you.” Of course, he never replied.

read Dupey’s link to that song.
It’s dead on. As is Kim’s link. Yes they want you to hate them.

I don’t agree that they stop if you are serious. What you experienced was a triangulation with a spath and a borderline woman. She needed the rivalry because she is also pathological. She provided much more emotional craziness than you did. She was on a rollercoaster of emotion, but you held your ground. You gave no quarter – so to speak — you did not give him your pearl. You gave him sex but you didn’t give your pearl. Louise, that’s why you won. You played on instinct because you didn’t know about pathalogicals, but you still won. You listened to your intuition.

I see what you want to believe: that he saw you as being too serious. No Louise, he saw you as not being in the game. They need game.

When you think of him as an emotional being, you are projecting. He has no emotion, he’s just an infant playing a game. As shallow as a puddle. A cardboard cutout. Louise you fell in love with a mirage. Don’t feel bad, you aren’t the only one.


You are right. He is an spath and she is borderline or extremely narcissistic. She IS pathological…she is a sick woman and he is a sick man. Yep, I didn’t play his game and he got bored. You know, he even asked me, “Why don’t you call me?” I will NEVER forget that. I wasn’t calling him, I wasn’t texting him, but you can bet the OW was ringing his cell day and night and the texts…oh, hundreds of them. Haha, I love it…he got with me and wondered why isn’t she calling me like that other one? Then he told me I was mysterious. Well, yeah…I was mysterious compared to the pathological spaz case. He was feeding off of her big time.

I am projecting and I need to STOP. That is the one area I really need to work on. Thank you for that.

Thank you for your responses, Skylar and Kim.

The link you posted, Kim, was very interesting. But I have to disagree with the tone the author took in regards to Narcissists. It’s almost as if the author was stating the Borderline is worse than the Narcissist. And as far as a narcissist being a “perpetual giver”, well that is a bit absurd to read. My ex-narc was not a giver at all unless it was to make him appear wonderful.

I’m not sure if I was a borderline and now I’m recovered. I don’t believe I ever pushed my ex away when he showed love to me. It was in those moments where I really fell for him. I have always strived for spiritual and mental growth, so I’m really not sure what my state of being was at the time I was seeing my ex.

I can admit that I wasn’t healthy emotionally because of my sad childhood and abandonment issues. I honestly think I was experiencing CPTSD during that time. I was clingy and needy at times in my relationship with my ex, but I attribute that to his constant devaluing and discarding me. I couldn’t understand it so I clung very tight to the hopes of getting him to love me again.

Looking back, I can honestly say that I loved him. I don’t think it was the pain of his rejection that I took for love. I honestly felt I had a deep and hopeful connection with him. I thought he really loved me. I thought I was safe and could let my guard down and really give all of myself to him. I was exposed completely and he knew it.

He almost immediately rejected me when I let my love feelings be known to him. So after reading the article from the link, I am beginning to wonder if he is a borderline. I am so confused to what he is.

I do know that he was cruel emotionally, sadistic at times, haughty, conceited, and always wanted attention from his friends. He always wanted to seem like a good guy or like he was the victim. He used me so badly and I was left in shock at how untrue his feelings for me were.

So, I guess the question is, can someone be a narcissist and a borderline at the same time? I think I am more confused now …

Thesisterhood, when I read the article on the link that Kim Frederick posted, it struck me that entanglements with spaths or ppaths exacerbate pre-existing emotional issues to the point where targets actually begin to develop the personality traits that the spaths have.

I read a thread on another site, recently, where the poster was saying that she felt that she “(has) to manipulate him to get simple needs (met).” Well, this caused me to stop and think about my interactions with both exspaths, and when I was deeply entangled, I resorted to attempts at manipulation for just that very reason – to have basic needs or obligations met because adult responsibility was clearly lacking. Things like utility bills or social obligations or family obligations…..all of these things were not only put on the back burner, but they were dismissed and there was no acknowledgment that these obligations even existed.

Sisterhood, I think that what you “loved” about him was the illusion that he created. I know that both exspaths created illusions that eventually fell apart, and I had to process that fact. I mean, it’s like building a wall out of cooked rice and covering it with plaster. Yeah, it looks like a wall and acts like a wall. But, after a time, the rice either breaks down or dehydrates, again, and the only thing holding up the plaster is the plaster. There’s no CORE of humanity to support the facade, if that makes any sense.

I believe that a person can have multiple “disorders” at the same time. Look at us, for instance. Not a single one of us survivors can say, “I have trust issues, and that’s it.” I have multiple issues and my counseling therapist identified a couple of diagnoses that made sense. I don’t believe that anyone – and, that means anyone – can simply have one, clearcut, simple, and concise diagnosis. Even organic issues (schizophrenia, for instance) have subcategories and additional issues associated with each patient.

Whatever the spath might be diagnosed as doesn’t really matter, at this point, other than on an academic level. Knowing what he is won’t change what he is. It may help you to process some of your experiences, but this academic knowledge won’t undo the illusion that he created, or take back all of the damages that you suffered. Knowing about HIM will become less important as time goes on, and knowing about your Self will become an adventure, of sorts. You’ll be able to apply what you discover to yourself and your boundaries to identify and prevent future entanglements with other potential partners and platonic relationships.

Brightest blessings

I was thinking about this article, last night, and what I find to be consistent across the board is the blatant arrogance that spaths exhibit. It’s not a snooty arrogance of entitled wealth, but an arrogance that centers around their belief that they are the sole inhabitant of their Spath World. They are the Emperor and the only resident, and they know everything about everything whether they actually have practical experience, or not.

The exspath used to say this exact quote whenever he was pontificating, “Are you ready for this?” Wow….as if he had the one-and-only-answer or acceptable observation in the Universe? It’s laughable, now, but it was an unintentional display of his depth of arrogance. And, he would pretend that he knew what he was talking about, and if I pointed out to him that he might be incorrect (I never used the word, “wrong”), he would try to turn the tables around on me and say, “You always talk without knowing what you’re even saying.” He actively attempted to cause me to question my own base of knowledge.

Borderline…..spath tendencies…..narcissist…..WHATEVER. They’re all toxic and draining. And, I can’t abide their games in trade for their acceptance and approval. Ugh and eugh……

Kim, that article has many many very good points to make…it is quite COMMON in fact for two PERSONALITY DISORDERED people to “hook up” together and I call it the FIRE AND GASOLINE relationship because it usually ends up in a BIG EXPLOSION.

Just as there are “levels” of disorders in what is “labeled” BPD, PPD etc. and levels of DYSFUNCTION in us all, I think that many times people who are “labeled” BPD (especially women so labeled) are in FACT not really PERSONALITY DISORDERED (genetically) but more just DYSFUNCTION in the environment in which they were raised. They were not TAUGHT functional ways of interacting.

This is JUST MY OPINION FOLKS, so don’t get your panties in a wad about what I’m going to say.

You can take a dog, just about any breed of dog, and you can raise it in such a way that it will BITE and FIGHT, if you mistreat it enough, frustrate it enough. In other words, it will have a DYSFUNCTIONAL PERSONALITY that is TRAINED into it. Depending on the DNA of the dog (i.e. the breed) it will be more or less dangerously aggressive.

Now, by the same token, you can take other breeds of dogs, and NO MATTER WHAT YOU DO THEY ARE GOING TO BE DANGEROUS AT LEAST AT TIMES and under SOME conditions. You CAN NOT train it out of them.

And there are dogs in between these two extremes. So we (humans) are just the same, we have DNA factors and we have environment factors in how we deal with stress, how we deal with others of our kind, how much we need or desire to be “alpha” in the pack or if we are willing to be “beta” to someone else’s alpha.

A guy at the VA hospital in Little Rock years ago started out with one litter of pups from a reasonably “nice” breed of dog and he bred the most aggressive to the most aggressive and the least aggressive to the least aggressive and in about 20 generations he had TWO TOTALLY DIFFERENT groups of dogs. He had one group that were worse than the worst pit bulls and one group that would wet themselves if you said “boo” all bred from one litter of pups. So DNA does matter in dogs as well as in people.

Unfortunately, with people you can’t generally LOOK at them and say what their DNA is as far as aggression, smarts, truthfulness, etc is. But at the same time, that is the thing that fuels racial prejudices because we want to be able to look at someone else and KNOW something about them….sol people develop prejudices based on physical looks, skin color, hair color, etc. but unfortunately that does NOT work with humans.

One of my husband’s grandsons is a big lover of Pit Bull dogs and he is convinced that it is ONLY how the dog is raised that makes them aggressive. I KNOW he is wrong, but there is no way I can convince him, no matter how many rational arguments I give him, he is NOT GOING TO CHANGE HIS MIND. He refuses to acknowledge that DNA has anything to do with how a dog behaves. Having bred and raised and trained dogs for 40+ years, I know that DNA has a VERY HIGH PERCENTAGE of what a dog becomes.

I also know that in Humans DNA has a lot to do with what we are. How smart we are. How tall we are. What color our eyes are, and how much empathy we are capable of.

The difference is that I can LOOK at a Pit Bull Dog, or a Border Collie and make an INFORMED GUESS at what the dog’s DNA is and what the emotional and instinctive make up of that dog is.

I can NOT look at a human and even begin to make a guess at what the DNA effecting the person’s emotional make up is. I can’t make a guess at how smart they are or what talents they may have.

In choosing a dog as a working dog, I am going to choose a dog that is from a BREED that has the instinct to do what I want it to do. I am not going to get a pit bull dog to herd sheep. I am not going to try to train a Border Collie as a “protection dog” they would be a complete failure as a “police dog.”

I had a neighbor once who raised “catahoula” dogs which are the “pit bull dogs” of stock dogs which are usually used to flush wild cattle or hogs out of the brush in South Texas. I would never use them on sheep, because they would rush in and seize the first sheep and kill it, but for the PURPOSE that they are bred, they are perfect and FEARLESS against a herd of hogs that are trying to kill them. For any other purpose working stock they are worthless and I would also never keep one as a “pet” because of their aggressive nature and unpredictibality.

This neighbor and I had some “words” multiple times about him letting his dogs run loose (on my property) and attack my stock and even once a hired hand, and fortunately they eventually had their place foreclosed and I was able to buy it from the bank, so the problem was solved without bloodshed.

Speaking of two PERSONALITY DISORDERED PEOPLE getting together, I have seen this TIME AND TIME AGAIN and the “loser” in the fight then presented themselves as an “innocent victim”—who then went on to either find another PD partner and rinse and repeat–or they found themselves a TRUE innocent victim to abuse.

Sisterhood, I agree. I think the article is more sympathetic toward the male Narcissist. Also, the Narcissist as rescuing care-giver? WTF? For me, though, after I scratch the surface, it all makes sense. My x couldn’t even take a cat to the humane society….but, he couldn’t spay it either. He avoided the problem of the cat, until we had 22….yes, 22 cats. My 26 year old son still lives with him….hmmm. Co-dependant? Narcissistic? who cares. Trouble.
Me? An adult child of an alcoholic? BPD? C-PTSD? Don’t know. Over-lap, and crazy-making circumstances. I would rather be a C-PTSD survivor, than the much maligned BPD, but, again, it’s all about me taking responsibility for my patterns of behavior and doing every thing I can to make a more productive and happy life for myself. Just say NO to Narcissists. LOL If you aren’t BPD, any prolonged exposure will make you act like one.

Yes, Truthy….they are a legend in their own minds.
Mine suffered from “Walter Mittyism” and I could actually see him slip into his fantastic day-dream. He fell in love, in his dreams. Sigh. It was all too painful to stay in the present, to be in the real with me. Yeah. It was a very painful state of affairs.

I think most of us can say we were the narcissistic rescuing caregiver. Remember, the article is describing two imaginary people. It applied ALL the traits that might appear in these two people for the purposes of illustration.

We were involved with a disordered person because of our own narcissism. Our own emotionally arrested issues. That issue being the need to rescue, fix, save and take responsibility for an adult who should have been doing it themselves.

We were acting from old programming from our childhood where we were taught that we should make everyone happy, then we would be loved in return. puke.

Anytime you are acting from infantile programming, that is narcissism. Even when you have the best intentions, you are still trying to control others. Spaths can smell narcissism. No matter what the type or presentation, narcissists are their favorite food.

The difference is, I think, that an emotionally healthy person exits the relationship….someone with issues, stays, and tries to fix the problem, thinking they somehow have the magic fix, and will eventually succeed. Trauma bond, par excellance.

oh yes, kim…absolutely…
an emotionally healthy person WILL EVENTUALLY
exit the relationship. I see what you are saying
about how someone with internal issues stays…
hence the abusive relationship cycle never ending.
I can see and understand how easily victims can get
trapped into that kind of thinking; especially when there
are threats of physical violence involved. And/or actual
physical violence, itself.

Trauma bond PAR EXCELLENCE: oh yes.
And if you have any other extenuating issues,
that only magnifies it. It’s best to have as little
contact and/or communication with the ppath
as is possible and the sooner the better.

I understand where YOU are coming from too, skylar…
the ‘rescuing caregiver’. Yep, that was me. I admit it.
I was the PERFECT PREY. That’s what “IT” was laughing
at: how charming he is…he can run a con in a blink of an
eye with the ladies…

Very interesting discussion.
Please do continue….

You are feeding my soul.



I also saw the exact thing that you describe…two personality disordered people getting together and then one of them claiming to be the victim. That was the OW.

I posted this on another discussion but some of the comments were meant for the discussion here. So i’ll post again so you don’t think that I didn’t respond in case you don’t go by the other discussion again. Happy birthday to Stargazer, Skyler & Louise!

Also thanks for all your responses. I spent along time reading mostly being in so much despair i felt i had nothing to contribute that would be constructive. So thank you for that too. I’m finally coming around I’d say. xoxo


STARGAZER: I certainly relate to the UNBRIDLED JOY comment. Yes. Resentment puts joy out like water on a flame. Something to remind myself when a moment of joy, and they do now and again, from time to time, in rare moments, pass my way and i do the if only”. and I’m angry again. i think the spath stole my joy. Maybe he did. Maybe he didn’t and I gave it up to him. Nonetheless he is certainly not going to bring it back. Im gonna have to get it back myself i believe. Present in the moment. Present in the moment. The present of joy to me from me perhaps? I want my joy back. I miss my joy.

KIM: The EMPTY BOAT analogy is priceless and oxygen providing. Meaning that if I had heard that earlier in this process it may have breathed some life into me sooner or at least for moments. We have a saying in my industry and profession that we use that’s similar, “ALL HAT AND NO CATTLE,” but its more about power than disordered personalities. The empty boat is an image I can grasp. Not allowing the image of the spath driving the boat or being in charge of anything, & ESPECIALLY NOT ME, just as empty space disempowers him. Puts them into near “figment of the imagination” category. A very bad dream that I can wake up from. Too late to run but maybe as the new day rises I can wake up. I have never liked getting up until the sun is warm so it is clear to me that I have a way to go yet. Thats okay. I picture the empty boat. Adrift on an endless sea. bumping around & into things doing damage but nobody is really there. Eventually those boats beach or capsize. A brief headline & the boat is salvaged for scrap. I like it.

ERALYN: ONE PIECE AT A TIME. I hear Eralyn as she said how she wants to start at a running pace. I now have those fits and starts. And welcome them. Like a very cold engine on a freezing morning trying to turn over, warming the air in the heater and ever so slowly melting the ice and snow from the windows. The car feels warm. I put it in reverse. Step on the gas. Back out of the driveway. Shift into drive and the engine stalls. I should have waited five more minutes as the heat stops and the icy cold immediately fills the air in the car again. Oh yes. Lots of that going on and I lie down and rest. But I have a pretty good idea I will get up tomorrow. And that is progress as I used think I could never get up again. And then when I did, that I wouldn’t and don’t want to do that again. I will instead lie here until i die from old age. Still waiting btw. I have tried so many times to start over on all the pieces all at once & collapse every time under the strain. One piece at a time is my latest strategy.

BABY STEPS. Shit I wasn’t designed for baby steps. Yes I know what to do. But I want to get it over with and for some reason this part of the journey does not allow that. My brain is asking to be rewired a bit and it just can’t be done on autopilot. Maybe because autopilot had something to do with where i landed. No, this cant be done by will power alone. The process just won’t allow that part of plain and sheer determination alone to make it happen.

The need for INTROSPECTION, being present in the moment, dealing with what is instead of what or how I just want it to be is demanded of me from the universe somehow. In hind site it was almost as if I used to have the “will it and make it so” power and that power is on vacation or retired permanently. Only time will tell. But yes, I have to say vacuum, clearly say it a couple times and it can take three days for me to go to the closet and extract the vacuum cleaner, at which point i let it sit outside the closet, the next few days I will tidy up here and there AND clear the floor. Sometime in the next week I may actually plug it in and turn it on.

It’s rudimentary behaviors that need to be prodded and cajoled. Open the mail, brush, floss, shower, answer the phone (I ESPECIALLY HATE ANSWERING THE PHONE), write it down, make a list, return that call, pay the phone bill, see my lawyer, pay my lawyer, fix something to eat, one step at a time, oh get out of bed, get cleaned up, leave the house, it goes on & on & on. Each one of those things can take days or even weeks to accomplish. i at least open the mail now. There were months and months when I didn’t even do that. But I have to appreciate that the thought vacuum even occurs at all. I didn’t used to care if the floor was clean & I do now. Progress. Not leaps & bounds. I am probably the only one who sees it at all since my friends still compare old Lil & this Lil we don’t recognize Lil. They’re all pulling for the old Lil, but we should just as well have a funeral for her. I am forever changed. There is no doubt about that. How I change, what I change to is what’s important & the jury is still out.

I’m working seriously on “PLACE OXYGEN MASK ON SELF BEFORE HELPING OTHERS” right now. I never needed help before. I was the helper. So this is a 180 DEGREE perspective of the world for me. OLD HABITS EMERGE EVEN THROUGH EXCRUCIATING PAIN, BLINDING RAGE, DEBILITATING DEPRESSION AND NEOPOVERTY, AND THEY DIE HARD. In fact we resort to old habits almost always in times of stress. But part of that old me also wonders if after being so helpless that helping someone else even if briefly can’t be rehabilitating as well”.. Or is that my core survival instinct kicking in again saying lets do this. We know how to do that and life could be normal again if we just starting acting like we used to? We being not all of us or the royal we but the old and new Lil trying to unsplit perhaps.

I do reach out now from time to time & say I’m having a truly bad day. There isn’t always a reason. The bad day rolls on for a variety of reasons or no reason at all. It runs over me like a freight train at full speed between stations. I am dragged for miles until I pull the cord & say help me somebody. yes again. I need to get away, out, a drink, a walk, a drive, a movie, a ballgame, anything just help get me out of my head. The few friends I have now know what I’m saying & they do all they can to help. If they are tired of it they don’t say. I try & spread it around so I don’t abuse anyone person. They also know I have a dislike for myself when I do it but they know & I know I have to ask in order to survive.

WISDOM. There’s a lot of that on this site from the various souls who have traveled this journey before me, along side me, the relapses we all incur, the anger, fear, self loathing, hatred we experience, the people who will come after us. I read recently that we should all “USE THE EXPERIENCE OF OTHERS MISTAKES. LIFE IS TOO SHORT TO MAKE THEM ALL YOURSELF.” All building on the knowledge base realtime as we build it. Build it and they will come. And as Donna and Liane & Steve, all the other authors and all of us have done & are doing, we’ve MADE IT SO.

Much love from Lillian on her 51st birthday”.. xoxoxo

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