By | March 24, 2016 17 Comments

Sociopaths: Setting The Stage For Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde Behavior

Dr J. - Hr. H.

Below is an edited excerpt from my book that spotlights how my ex-husband’s, subtle, consistent, insidious devaluation of me throughout or marriage helped set the stage for his Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde behavior.

Devaluing Everyday Tasks

One of “Paul’s” favorite chronic erosion techniques was to devalue the need to do a task. If I went ahead and did the job, he showed no appreciation. Instead, he ridiculed me, because the task was clearly unnecessary. This technique not only got him off the hook, it had the added bonus of devaluing much of what I did.

Help mop up the basement? Just turn on a dehumidifier. Help shovel snow? His car could easily plow through it. Why did I even need to leave the house today, anyway? Help clean up the house before guests came over? It looked clean enough to Paul. Pick up cough drops for the kids? They didn’t seem all that sick, and I was just being an over-protective parent. Insist that Paul pick up cough drops? I can be sooooo controlling. It was a win-win for Paul and a lose-lose for me.

No Longer Able To See The Forest For The Trees

If Paul had done this to me early in our relationship, I probably would have left. But I had grown used to being dismissed and minimized, so I could no longer see the forest for the trees.

My perspective had become so warped; it was as if I was clinging to a branch that was so small I couldn’t even see the tree in which I was trapped, non the less see the surrounding forest.

Lacking a big picture perspective, was I going to divorce my husband just because he wouldn’t pick up cough drops at the store or clear his plate or put his socks in the hamper when he was (apparently) working past midnight every night and throughout the weekends to provide for our family?

Once They’ve Hooked You, Sociopaths Invest Minimally In Relationships

Once sociopaths have you hooked, they invest as little as possible in maintaining the pretense of normalcy, and their true, uncaring, selfish selves become more apparent. Given all the manipulative techniques the sociopath has unleashed over the years, the sociopath’s victim is well trained to accept his or her toxic life, too exhausted to resist and all too practiced at rationalizing the sociopathic partner’s behavior without even knowing he or she is doing it.

Attending a teacher conference, helping with “Daniel’s” physical therapy, and taking “Jessica” to a sports practice or music rehearsal were all way too pedestrian for Paul.

Yet, while playing less and less of a role with Daniel and Jessica, devaluing my volunteering efforts in any arena (“They’ll never appreciate your effort—why are you bothering?”), scolding me for helping the kids with homework (“You’re too involved. Let them figure it out themselves.”), spending too much time with them (“I can’t believe you guys are watching those stupid science shows again. Oh, just kidding!”), or getting after me about my work (“Why are you bothering to work anymore? I’m making enough money.”), if we were in front of Paul’s family or my family, he treated me like a princess.

The Good-Guy Persona For Adoring Fans

When his family came to visit, Paul made amazing dinners, cleared the table, washed and put away the dishes, put out the trash, and was affectionate to me as if we were giddy teenage heartthrobs.

Early in our relationship, I was thrilled to have a break from being the one accountable for everything around the house and gladly relaxed as I chatted with his family while Paul cooked.

Paul gently rebuffed all of my offers to help, creating the impression he was a caring, accommodating, and truly wonderful husband.

Warning! Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde behavior is characteristic of sociopaths. The reason is obvious now that I know who and what Paul is. The nice behavior was all show, and he didn’t bother with the show when alone with the kids and me. He already had me in his pocket and so eroded that I no longer trusted my ability to perceive accurately and to have feelings that made sense. However, he had to maintain the charade of being a great guy in front of the other people he needed in his life.

Not Knowing About Sociopaths, I Ask The Wrong Questions

For someone who was brought up to be helpful and to please other people, the contrast between Paul’s private and public behavior did not trigger the question, “I wonder if Paul is a sociopath?” Instead, it kept triggering the very self-destructive thought, Paul is so nice to other people and can be so nice and considerable and loving to me some of the time. So what am I doing wrong most of the time?

It would take me several more years to understand that I was being played. It was that simple. The “nice” Paul was not real and never had been.


My own cautionary tale of unwittingly investing almost twenty years of my life into a relationship with a sociopath and sometimes diverting from the best path, is chronicled in my book Husband, Liar, Sociopath: How He Lied, Why I Fell For It & The Painful Lessons Learned (available via, just click on title above). As I don’t get a “do over,” hopefully some of my painful lessons can help others impacted by these toxic people.

 Identifying names, places, events, characteristics, etc. that I discuss here and in my book have been altered to protect the identity of everyone involved.

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I agree with you. As Donna has said in other articles they pretend to be nice sometimes to keep us hanging on. IF they were bad all the time, none of us would stay with them. We think the nice side of them is the real side & we do everything in our power to see more of that. I have never thought about it as you say “So what am I doing wrong most of the time?” But I agree – this is also what we do. We think if we did this or that better we would see more of his nice side. But eventually you realise it doesnt matter what you do or not, they will still be the same. Thank you for your article and I will be looking at your book. Best of luck to you.

Hope Springs

Another excellent post.

These posts always resonate with all of us that have had a SP in their lives.

Thank you, as always.


“Instead, it kept triggering the very self-destructive thought, Paul is so nice to other people and can be so nice and considerable and loving to me some of the time. So what am I doing wrong most of the time?”

Yes, this resonates with me so much too. Add into the equation that the P in my life was constantly pointing out the things I WAS doing wrong (you know, like not magically knowing he wanted me to hang certain photos in the house, or reading his mind in a thousand other ways). I thought for a long time I was the problem and even started therapy to “fix” myself. It seems ridiculous now and it’s so hard to explain to anyone who hasn’t been victimized by a P/N/S, but at the time I was so completely brainwashed. You do such a good job explaining that in your articles.

Rosie Jackson

My mother called him “Street Angel / House Devil”

She nailed it.


As always, another great, spot-on article! Thank you O.N.Ward!


Yup. If he couldn’t hijack my work and take credit for it, he would trivialize it. He trivialized EVERYTHING, my feelings, my accomplishments, my desires, my child, my looks, and of course, my work. Then when he D&D me, he expected to retain ALL our community assets b/c… I hadn’t earned anything and didn’t deserve anything… trivial little nothing that I was (to HIM).


I love that you have been able to break down your relationship with ‘Paul’ with such accuracy and clarity. I am more glad that you were able to get away from him.

I also, like everyone here, experienced the public ‘show’ and the private reality. I was confused by it too. Just not for very long.

Luckily for me the last guy, who opened my eyes to personality disorders, had a really quick cycle.

This meant it didn’t take long at all for him to enter the devaluing phase, with serious breaches in our private relating(which resulted in my stopping contact with him).

The types that do the LOOOOOONG Con kind of blow me away. I am not sure how someone would get away, quickly, from these sorts because they are so good at (initially) hiding their sickness.


Yes, the LOOOOOOOONG Con is very creepy…I was married nearly 18 years, and it has taken me about four years to feel grounded again. EXCEPT, that he swindled all my money, foreclosed our home, hid money, accused me of fraud, harassment, and terrorized me.
NO ONE WOULD HAVE EVER BELIEVED THAT MY NICE, KIND, SUPPORTIVE HUSBAND would one day be exposed as a monster–except, of course, all the people he kept very far away from us!

A professional psychiatrist told me that he had planned, likely since the day he met me, the precise ending he created–that he had planned it for many years–and that such planning is very typical of sociopaths and NPD with traits for sadism.

I often wonder if he is hiding far bigger, darker secrets.

Rosie Jackson

Did we marry the same freak?

I bought you book and listened to it today on my kindle as I drove. Great book; but I think you missed a few things. You never fight a sociopath alone, as you cannot win, but there is an army of people willing to help you. The “other woman” Ann Marie was just as much a victim and slave as you were; she was Paul’s banker. Paul recruited, seduced, and then exploited her after she got pregnant with his child, just as he did to you.(and he probably has more children with other women that you don’t know about). The love of money is the root of all evil as the saying goes, and the army to fight Paul with in this case is the IRS. He obviously has millions hidden and every state in which you lived as well as the federal government is due taxes and will hunt his hide down for you. The war with a spath never ends until the day that they die and they will use children to spy on you, so you must practice privacy with your children and not let them have access to you room or private papers. One reason he moved you to Utah is so you would not be able to talk to his employees and thus figure out his business dealings and fight against him financially. And finally, he uses slander against you, telling everyone he knows that you are crazy but that you controlled the money and discouraged them from talking with you; you won’t see this until you start talking with people he has associated with and find out exactly what he has said about you to them, and then you will be able to then enlist their help against him in recovering unpaid wages no doubt.


Thank you, O.N.Ward for putting in to words that are easily digested an experience that seems to defy words.

He would pick up the poop in the backyard for the gardener, (so the gardener thought he was a great guy), but never seemed to notice that that the dog water bowls were empty.

I bought and watched Gaslight, the movie where the term, “Gaslighting” comes from. I laughed out loud when I saw the scene where he is seemingly asleep on the couch, but really awake. I can’t tell you how many times my Spath looked asleep, accompanied by Oscar worthy snoring, but as soon as I went to bed, he was up and awake! They are such pretenders, at every level of their life.

I have never shared this with anyone. But I need to get it out. When we were first married, about 14 years ago, we went sailing in a rented sailboat in San Diego Harbor. I had taken the sailing classes, but had no real experience. He was an accomplished sailor. This one time we took my brother and his girlfriend with us. There is a place where you can dock your boat and go ashore to eat. When we got back on the boat, I don’t really remember how it happened, but I fell into the water between the dock and boat as it was leaving. I can still see it in my minds eye today, in the slow motion it happened in at the time. I grabbed the side of the boat, my brother rushed forward and grabbed my arms.

And there was my Spath, he didn’t help. He didn’t even move. He had this grin on his face. He was enjoying the human drama in front of him. I said to brother who was helping me on his own, “Help me!. and with all his might, he pulled me into the boat. My Spath, then rushed over. I should have seen it then. I didn’t. I was so groomed from childhood to be a target, to be used. I never when sailing again. On some deep level, I knew I was not safe with him. How crazy is that? To deny a deep truth that when you needed them most, they just watched. I knew something was wrong at the time. I was very unsettled, but I didn’t know what was wrong. Part of the reason that they are so effective at using people is that most people can’t conceptualize that there are people capable of being like this. So the mind tries to find another answer. If someone had told me at that time, that he had watched instead of helped because he was a Spath, I don’t think I would have believed them. It would have been like they were saying he was an alien from Mars. Too unbelievable to be true. But it is true.

Every now and again I read an article on this website that just so resonates with me and here’s another one. I want to tell you something down with that2: my former spouse and I were fairly athletic. He often wanted to do swims” Open water swims. We live in the San Francisco Bay area and one of the swims that’s common to do but very challenging is called the Alcatraz challenge. You take a barge out to Alcatraz Island. And you swim to shore, about a mile and a half. I trained very hard for this he often acted like will do this “together.” Now mind you I knew and had enough sense that in these kinds of things you have to rely on yourself . But when we jumped off the barge he was slightly in front of me and he turned around and looked at me and the look in his eyes just said you’re on your own. I don’t exactly know how to explain it, but it had a cruelty to it. That was getting toward the end of when I knew I really couldn’t take being around him much longer and I knew he didn’t have my back for sure. And I thought I can’t go into old age with somebody who when I might be the vulnerable one has no concern for me . Done done with him. The kids tell me he just had surgery for cancer


Honestkindgiver, I have walked in your shoes. You were more awake than I and realized on your own that you needed to leave, that he wasn’t someone you could grow old with. I had to be told, but once I was told, I did see it. I am so glad you got away from him. I am in that process now.

It is in the eyes, isn’t it? How many times I have looked in his eyes and and they were blank mirrors. He was scanning me for the response he believed would be what I want. What makes us human? Isn’t it our empathy, our ability to give of our heart and be truly present for another? Certainly, it makes us humane. Who knew that there were people who were not complete people out in the every day world? Pretenders, actors, con men/women. Why aren’t we told this early on?

I watched the new movie Brooklyn the other day. In it is the perfect example of a Spath. The lady who owns the store the Alish works in. I won’t give it away, but she is a sight to behold. I am sure everyone on this site has at one time, met this woman. And Alish’s mother. You know, I used to think that Cinderella’s step-mother was mean because she was a step-mother. Now I know she was mean because she was a narcissist.

And yet I remember that all of this serves me in some way. Understanding the truth about the reality I have been living is painful but liberating. I know and can feel that I moving closer to the reality that I prefer. One where people are empathic, gentle and kind. That is what we all deserve. To receive back what we give.


I too am one who put up with a Narc/Psyco-Sociopath for far too many years in marriage (15). Then it took almost 10 more to realize that he was much worse than just a mean person. Still trying to heal.
I truly appreciated this comment from the article: “Given all the manipulative techniques the sociopath has unleashed over the years, the sociopath’s victim is well trained to accept his or her toxic life, too exhausted to resist and all too practiced at rationalizing the sociopathic partner’s behavior without even knowing he or she is doing it.”

Hope Springs

This is true and explains EVERYTHING.


I love this website. I wish it had been around when I was with my husband. I knew something wasn’t right but couldn’t put my finger on it. I thought it was me. I tried everything to be the perfect wife. I worked out at the gym, etc. while being a mom and employed full time. I was still devalued and compared to his many extramarital lovers. Looking back, I see he had some very serious problems. I ask myself, “What kind of person would do that?!!” He lied about paying the bills (using my credit cards as well as his many girlfriends’ cards to finance his escapades). He was with a 16 year old AND her mom. He had women in the house while I was at work, etc. etc. He didn’t pay taxes (we were filing separating after the first year) and the IRS garnished MY wages for over $10,000. I’m just appalled that he got away with so much moral turpitude. He seems to be fooling the world, though and still charming everyone around him. He is working out at the gym with the pastor of the largest church in his area. He lives 20 min away from our children and grandchildren in a million dollar house with his new family. Life is perplexing, but know it will all catch up to him someday. I don’t warn people any more because he has convinced everyone (even our children somewhat) that I’m the one with the problem.

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