By | May 2, 2009 117 Comments

SSSP meeting highlights: Psychopathy in women

The Society for the Scientific Study of Psychopathy met in New Orleans, LA April 16-18, 2009. There were several hot topics discussed at the meeting including how psychopathy might be different in men and women. The general consensus seemed to be that psychopathy is under-diagnosed in women because in women the symptoms are different.

Dr. Edelyn Verona is a, leader in the Society. Her group presented, “An Examination of Borderline Personality Disorder and Secondary Psychopathy Across Genders.” To understand these research findings look at the list of traits below:

Factor 1 Traits (Primary Psychopathy)
• Glib and superficial
• Egocentric and grandiose
• Lack of remorse or guilt
• Lack of empathy
• Deceitful and manipulative
• Shallow emotions

Factor 2 Traits (Secondary Psychopathy)
• Impulsive
• Poor behavior controls
• Need for excitement
• Lack of responsibility
• Early behavior problems
• Adult antisocial behavior

Dr. Verona’s group looked at the relationship between borderline personality (BPD) traits Factor 1 and Factor 2 in women. They stated, “We hypothesized that gender would moderate the relationship between secondary psychopathic characteristics and features, such that Factor 2 would correlate more strongly with BPD in women than in men. We further expected that primary psychopathic characteristics would be negatively related to BPD.”

The first part of their hypothesis turned out to be supported, that is Factor 2 was associated with BPD in both men and women but more so women.

More important though, is that the second part of their hypothesis was not supported. Primary psychopathic features were positively related to BPD and “F2 was significantly more predictive of BPD in high F1 women relative to low F1 women.”

The authors concluded, “In particular, the combination of F1 and F2 seems predictive of BPD in women, but not men. This suggests that psychopathy (which is typically defined as being high on both F1 and F2) is manifested as BPD in women.”
Their conclusions are supported by other studies showing a positive correlation between psychopathy and BPD scores.

I spoke with Dr. Verona about their findings, commenting that many psychiatrists consider BPD to be a mood or anxiety disorder. She answered that the criteria for BPD are not precise enough. A woman with PTSD and/or mood symptoms can be diagnosed with BPD if she is also impulsive. It does not seem fitting to group these women together with psychopathic women, especially since the treatment may be different for those who have mood/anxiety disorders.

What does this all mean for you who have family members or co-workers with BPD? My advice is consider the degree of harm done by the person in the context of Factor 1 and Factor 2 traits. The more a woman or man has BOTH sets of traits, the more dangerous she/he is likely to be.

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No surprises here.

My brother’s wife has every single trait (BOTH FACTOR 1&2).


I know it sounds hysterical, but I think she is capable of killing, or at least “arranging an accident”.

For some reason, society is much more sympathetic to female psychopaths than male.

These women are just as dangerous as the men. When there is a small child involved, they become MORE dangerous because they manipulate/abuse the child for their own agenda.

Watching a psychopath mother care for her child is like trying to get a baby away from a boa constrictor snake. The harder you try to free the child, the more angry the snake becomes, the tighter its grip.


Dr. Leedom, If I understand this correctly, you are suggesting that BPD is the diagnosis often dished out by mental health professionals to women who are psychopaths. Did I read this right?

I was employed by a woman who “buddied up” to me, much like Betty’s situation in her article several weeks ago. She confided that she had been diagnosed as BPD, but I got to watch her behavior over about six months.

She was highly manipulative, glib, charming, a pathological liar, and I watched her fly into “narcissistic rages” and harm everyone around her, including her own grandchildren. I’ve never seen a more malicious individual. I stuck around because she was the one employer available to me at the time. In the end, I’d have been better off with a cardboard sign, begging at the exit ramp of a freeway. She was a psychopath, through and through. All the promises of payment “when the next check comes in” were worth less than the air her promises were written on.

Yes, she was sadistic, and had a predatory stare, that she didn’t use until late in the game. Now I know why all those people before me quit and carried their stuff out of the office in the middle of the night.


There is something “machine-like” about the female psychopath.

You can tell when they are interested in something, because they will do it to excess. They will not know when enough is enough.

For example, no child needs 4 birthday cakes for their birthday party. Some may see this as a loving mother. But it is NOT a loving mother when she is doing it to make HERSELF look good. It is NOT a loving mother when the child has fading bruises under her party dress. It is NOT a loving mother when she does not pay any attention to her child the other 364 days of the year.

There is something cold and emotionless about them. Men are expected to be unemotional. Women are not.

Whether they are making supper or coming at you with an ice pick, their face never changes.

Once you see the mask slip, the “buddying up” becomes really CREEPY.

The CREEPIEST trait is that they seem to have a 6th sense about knowing when you are “onto them”. You have to be very careful.

I have to go into “Psychopath Mode” whenever I deal with my sisiter-in-law. That means emotions are shut down and guard goes up.

It is like going into psychological warfare.


Dr. Leedom: I certainly can be all three… impulsive, depressed, anxious… all at the same time, and you are right, I would not want to be grouped with psychopathic women, or medically treated like one! I don’t have any of the F1 traits. In the F2 catagory I can be impulsive (as I already mentioned) and have a need for excitement, although there is absolutely no excitement going on around here now! LOL. Thank you for your observations!

Jim in Indiana USA

“The CREEPIEST trait is that they seem to have a 6th sense about knowing when you are “onto them”. You have to be very careful.”…Rosa

I think that is a critical point. When you finally “see” what they are, and the mask slips…that is when the F1 factors, hidden when they are “in control”, emerge.

Then, and only then…does the target/victim see the pattern, and then the smear campaign, the pathological lying, is discovered. And the lack of empathy…remorse…guilt.

And yes…I think women are “under-diagnosed”, due to cultural factors.

Thanks, Dr. Leedom.

Elizabeth Conley

Dear Rosa,

“The CREEPIEST trait is that they seem to have a 6th sense about knowing when you are “onto them”. You have to be very careful. ”

It is important to realize that you can be fairly safe, as long as they don’t know you know. Once they realize you know, the gloves come off.

Many of them have very successful covers. They claim to suffer mysterious disabling ailments that are almost impossible to either diagnose or rule out. They play on people’s pity and have amazing explanations for all their bad behavior.

Glib really doesn’t cover it. We’ve got one in the family who sounds so reasonable, you feel like a fool for doubting her. We have a policy of listening to her as seldom and briefly as possible. Crazy, I know! But it’s the only way not to get sucked in to her fantasy world. We’re all better educated, and usually we think we’re pretty smart. Where she’s been concerned, we’ve all been dumber than stumps. Knowing there’s a “stupid zone” rather like a gravity well swirling around her, we all do our level best to stay out of her influence.

Ox Drover

Dear Liane,

WOW! Some great stuff! I have suspected for some time that BPD and Psychopathy were the “male vs female” Diagnoses.

Just as female cardiac patients are frequently UNdiagnosed because the SYMPTOMS IN WOMEN vs MEN are DIFFERENT many times, I think the same may be true in this instance.

There is also the “hormonal” differences in men and women and the monthly fluctuations in women that have to be taken into account as well. The PMS “bitchyness” in women makes me wonder if PMS behavior changes are a part of “BPD” or of psychopathy in women.

I wonder what studies have been done on “PMS” vs viiolent behavior, and then coorelated to a dx of psychopathy and/or BPD?

EC–I love your “stupid zone” comment!!!! You are getting to the level of Aloha with your “right on funny comments! ” Congratulations. I aspire to reach that level! ((((hugs)))))



I know it sounds hysterical, but I think she is capable of killing, or at least “arranging an accident”. (…)

Watching a psychopath mother care for her child is like trying to get a baby away from a boa constrictor snake. The harder you try to free the child, the more angry the snake becomes, the tighter its grip.”

Rosa, you’ve described my mother to a “T”, except that she didn’t have the factor 2 traits for the most part. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the movie “Aliens” with Sigourney Weaver, especially the scene where the alien is going after Newt (the little girl in the story – the only survivor from her family) and Sigourney gets into the “loading suit” to save her? I once recorded that and gave it to my therapist to say that that’s what my life felt like. That the person sitting on the end of my bed at night was that monster. My first mistake was going to a feminist based therapist – I think she thought I was deranged. What she told me was that I was overblowing things: making things up and imagining them; I’m certain she felt that there is no way a woman could be that bad to her daughter. So you have no idea what a gift to your niece your validation of her perceptions will be when she’s older.

I still haven’t been able to figure it out, but I’ve come to the “realization” recently that in some way the presence of my grandmother must have acted like Sigourney’s role in that movie. Neither of them ever mentioned the other, but I had the feeling that my mother was afraid of my grandmother and, even though I have no logical or credible evidence for this, that my grandmother’s loyalty and connection to me kept me alive. For whatever it’s worth, I suspect that as long as you stay silently watching, even from a distance, “accidents” are less likely to occur. I’d always felt that my mother would have killed me if she could have gotten away with it. I think my grandmother’s watchful eye meant that she couldn’t. As I said, I have no evidence for this other than gut feeling. It may sound strange, but my grandmother’s love for and connection with me, even though she didn’t “actively” defend me against my mother, is so powerful in my psyche that it felt as strong to me as Sigourney’s defence of that child in that movie.

I can’t say that your niece is lucky, but she’s lucky to have you in her life.



Hello Dr. Leedom:
I have my own personal theories about why women psychopaths are underdiagnosed, and would be interested to get your feedback.

I’m a big fan of Dr. Hare, and grateful that he’s brought some attention to this, but I agree that there are short-comings with the PCL-R that creates problems for detecting/diagnosing female psychopaths. For what it’s worth, from my own personal experience I suspect that there are different types of psychopaths, that researchers get sidetracked by their initial exposures, and that those traits – which don’t always belong together, have been muddled up into both the psychopathy definitions and criteria – for men as well as women.

I could be incorrect, but from my reading I think that Cleckly for the most part described the casual opportunistic amoral thief/conman type (the one who never met a mark or unattended wallet he didn’t like), and I think his original work has perhaps overly influenced the PCL-R.

I think that Hare, on the other hand, got so blind-sided by the psychopath he met originally who threatened his first session with a knife and later “fixed” his brakes, that the first part of his professional life and research became almost fixated on that particular type of psychopath (that he incidentally also had easy access to study): violent male psychopaths in maximum security prison. I find it odd, however, that the most significant traits that differentiated Hare’s brake-tamperer from Clecky’s criteria didn’t make it into Hare’s PCL-R: namely predation and sadism. If I’m remembering this correctly Hare’s psychopaths, like Cleckly, were opportunistic and reckless – factor 2 charcteristics – but more sadistically violent and vengeful against a particular target, rather than any easy target.

What both of them seem to have missed in my opinion, and this perhaps is why the criteria for psychopathy leads to underdiagnosis of women, are a number of “views” or versions of psychopathy, some of which it seems to me Hare is lately trying to bring some awareness to but which, in my opinion, would require updates to the PCL-R.

For instance, Hare has lately been writing about the successful psychopath (e.g. Enron, Worldcom, Bernie Madoff, perhaps Conrad Black), and yet I suspect the major difference between the unsuccessful and successful psychopath lies in the relative presence or absence of factor 2 traits.

I would also add a category for predatory and sadistic psychopaths;admittedly those could be diagnosed by existing criteria, and yet their most defining traits are not listed in the PCL-R.

And I think that female psychopaths also fit on that same spectrum – some are opportunistic, over-sexed, manipulators. Others, like my mother and Rosa’s sister-in-law, are esteemed professionals who would never present themselves that way. I also think that various incarnations of Munchausen’s by proxy would relate to female psychopathy, and those criteria are missing/absent from the PCL-R. I suspect another difference may be that certain psychopathic mothers get enough of their “supply” from abusing their children that their psychopathic behaviours wouldn’t be as readily detectable, or exercised, outside the home.

I think that there is also a spectrum of psychopathy that relates to either Narcissism or Sadism that isn’t properly captured in the PCL-R. I couldn’t say that my mother was a narcissist particularly, but she could definitely be termed a sadist. I’d be interested to hear your opinons re: the relation between sadism and psychopathy.

Thank you for providing updates from the conference, and for bringing some much needed awareness to this issue.

Kind regards,



You are onto something here:

“certain psychopathic mothers get enough of their “supply” from abusing their children that their psychopathic behaviors wouldn’t be as readily detectable, or exercised, outside the home.”

That is why it is SO frustrating. You have to be in a close, personal relationship with these psychopaths to see the true evil and sadistic qualities.

And unless you see it up close and personal, you will find it unbelievable when someone tries enlighten you.

If it weren’t for my niece, my sister-in-law’s personality disorder would have never been uncovered. I probably would have never suspected a thing. VERY SCARY.

One more tip when it comes to children:

When a child is walking around at age 18 months saying, “Mommy is the monster.” TAKE IT SERIOUSLY. DO NOT LAUGH AND THINK IT IS A CUTE JOKE, OR SOMETHING THAT WAS LEARNED FROM TV.

The first sentence out of a child’s mouth should NEVER be, “Mommy is the Monster.”


Jim, Annie, Elizabeth:

Once I educated myself on the personality disorder of psychopathy/narcissism, my sister-in-law’s behavior was no longer bizarre or confusing.

It suddenly became predictable, and made perfect sense.

People who are operating on the premise of a healthy, normal-functioning human being will never get it.

You need to operate on the premise of a disordered individual.

Knowledge is POWER!

Elizabeth Conley


“You need to operate on the premise of a disordered individual.”

If normal has been ruled out by a pattern of bizarre behavior, then disorder is what’s left. When you make the paradigm shift, and everything fits, you’re probably on to something.

It’s been my observation that peope are what they assume others are. If you go through life assuming others are well intentioned, then you are probably a human golden retriever. If you go through life seeing dishonesty and malice everywhere, you probably harbor a lot of darkness. When we stop projecting what we expect or need to see, and start simply observing, we learn a lot.

If I had realized that people who made ugly judgements on flimsy evidence were probably mean and dark inside, I would have avoided quite a bit of trouble in the past.

Everybody isn’t Pollyanna like me, and everybody isn’t like the S/P/N either. We have to pay attention to what’s actually presented, separate from what we want, need or expect.


Yes, Elizabeth Conley,


We need to look at WHAT IS, and not want we WANT there to be.

That would have kept a lot of us out of trouble, I think.


Professional misdiagnosis aside, if “psychopathy” is the baseline:

The greater feeling (reward dependence, agreeableness) they have, the more BDS they tend to be.

The higher IQ (possibly intellectual novelty seeking, openness) they have, the more Narcissistic they tend to be.

The less audacity (harm avoidance, extraversion) they have, the more Machiavellian they tend to be.

The greater their long term goal directedness (persistence, conscientiousness), the more malignantly narcissistic they can be.

The major differences between successful and unsuccessful sociopaths is intelligence, circumstance, and any mitigating emotional factors which promoted their cause-effect reasoning ability. One ruthlessly grabs, the other ruthlessly grabs with strategic forethought.
Student Of Sociopathy


Of course there are limits to each temperamental variable at the edge of each variables ’sweet spot’ (Autistics are obviously not Machiavellian, but can develop some form of social agreeableness which ensures their survival within their social context, in line with their capability of understanding the benefit of such).
Student Of Sociopathy



“One ruthlessly grabs, the other ruthlessly grabs with strategic forethought.”

What about the one who does NOT need to grab at all, because they have manipulted others to do their dirty work for them?


Poor choice of words on my part. “To obtain or appropriate unscrupulously or forcibly” might have been more accurate.


Hi Rosa, and E1

I was struck by your sucinct phrases:


Once I educated myself on the personality disorder of psychopathy/narcissism, my sister-in-law’s behavior was no longer bizarre or confusing.

It suddenly became predictable, and made perfect sense.

People who are operating on the premise of a healthy, normal-functioning human being will never get it.

You need to operate on the premise of a disordered individual.


How very true – especially in the case of my guy’s STBXW – the Narcissist; her behavior was never bizarre or confusing … TO ME … but it’s been a uphill battle to educate my guy’s perceptions of her behavior. He likes to believe that “Everyone;s doing the best they can…” – Hogwash, I said to him – she’s NOT, she CAN’T and she NEVER will…

I had her PEGGED, by both her actions and attitude as an NPD afflicted individual, confirmed when I met her and spent the initial amount of “getting to know you” time with her.

Now I “PREDICT” her next-steps, and danged if I’m not right waaaay more often than not – he’ learned to trust my assessments and evals and predictions – she thinks she’s still got him snowed and under her thumb – and she HATES me, because I can see through her BS!

He’s got my predictions (of what she’s going to – or NOT – do, next) to act upon – those have come in very handy during the custody battle, which will be ending soon, finally, and in our favor.

Great post, Dr. Leedom – great responses, too, from ebverybody


I have a question to make sure I am understanding- are you guys saying that when we realize that someone (he or she I presume applies here) is a S, that we should never confront them as such, for fear of more abusive, dangerous retaliations? Never call a spade a spade so to speak in this case?

I suspect someone in my family is an S, and am not in position to go NC at this point but I continue to see big red flags. I have commented to this person (male) that I know that he feels nothing for anyone but himself. His emotions are evident only when something dosent go well for him, no direct empathy for others.
Is this a dangerous path to go down? Thank you for your insight. This is a very
interesting and informative blog.



If you are dealing with someone (male or female) who exhibits all of the Factor 1 & 2 traits above, they are nothing to play with.

People with all of the traits listed above need psychiatric intervention on a professional level. They can be very dangerous when confronted.

The more impulsive, vindictive, and lacking in conscience, the more dangerous I believe they are.

My brother’s wife is a psychopath, and she is very abusive to both my brother and my niece. I would NEVER dream of confronting her, because she would hurt my niece, and maybe even my brother. I have warned my brother about her disorder, and I think he sees it too, but not to the degree that I am seeing it.

These people are pathological liars, and they will never admit that they even have a problem. Their defense mechanisms are very strong, so to confront them on your own without any hard evidence is very serious business.

My situation is different, because there is a small child caught in the middle. My main objective is to keep my niece safe right now. So, I keep my mouth shut. But, when my niece is grown, it will be a different story.

If there are no kids involved, and you are dealing with a man, I still would not confront him without having someone with me. And if he has a history of violence/abuse, I would let the authorities confront him. I would not do it myself.



As someone who has dealt with narcissists and psychopaths since earliest memory, all I can say in reply to your question is “It depends.” There is no way to predict what these disordered creatures will do. The only safe bet is NO CONTACT. And that means no confrontation, no conversations, no “letting them known that you know what they are.” It is always safest and best to have no contact whatsoever. If you can’t go NC, then BECOME THE WORLD’S BEST ACTRESS and never let them know you know what they are.

My father was what I’d term a low-functioning S/P. He didn’t have much ability to control his own responses to unwelcome stimuli. He was a drunk and he was violent. He came close to murder many, many times. Once, after a particularly terrifying episode, he quite seriously asked me (a child) for my opinion of him. I didn’t have decades of experience with S/Ps then, and I answered honestly that I hated him.

Well, let’s just say that confrontation was not a good idea.

A low-functioning S/P wants only unqualified admiration and/or fear. One thing they do not want is an honest assessment of their own behavior or personality.

Many years later, I did confront my quite high-functioning ex-husband about his psychopathy. He (being the psychopath that he is) did not outright ADMIT what he was. He instead gave enough weasel-worded, too-clever, word-salad responses to let me know that I’d hit the nail square on the head. And he ENJOYED being “outed.” He LIKED being compared to Ted Bundy. It made him proud to think he was THAT GOOD at his con games and lies. He chuckled with delight throughout the phone conversation in which I tenaciously held onto my contention that he was a psychopath.

With him, it was safe for me to give him my honest assessment of his personality. Because his schtick was not violence, as my father’s was.

Even so, at the time I confronted my ex-husband with my newfound knowledge of his psychopathy, I did not have the full picture. At the time I confronted him, I THOUGHT I had a complete picture of what he was. BUT HE WAS MUCH, MUCH WORSE THAN I KNEW. Had I confronted him THEN with what I know NOW, well, there is no telling what I could have unleashed.

So, it may or may not be a physical danger to you to confront an S/P. Once the scales fall from your eyes, it is always best to disengage as quickly and as cleanly as you can. Because you never know. Any person with NO CONSCIENCE is capable of any terrible act. What was a nonviolent con man on Monday could become a violent rapist on Tuesday. What was a “spade” on Wednesday might become a “backhoe” by Thursday. You just never know.


S’s usually don’t care if they are ’officially, legally sociopathic’ or not. Trying to shame or inspire them to change is a waste of time. In my experience, (S’s at work) they’ve only ’changed’ for me, in order to buy time for themselves and the new plot they were cooking up against me.

Standing up to them can be a tricky matter ”“ I currently do this on a strict case by case basis. Out of the sociopathic Dark Triad, machiavellians are easiest to intimidate. They usually feel relatively normal levels of anxiety and have imaginations to work with.

An agreement with some narcissists might be reached if you leave their ’self-entitled superiority’ alone ”“ i.e. they understand that controlling you in ways you wish to be controlled is far more productive / less painless than attacking you.

Unfortunately, psychopaths are the ultimate moral retards / boneheads. They’re pretty much gonna do what they’re gonna do. No brakes or emotional weaknesses of any kind, with the exception of lack of anxiety inducing foresight (which would keep them out of prison). NC is best, until you’re targeted (while captive). If you’re no fun for them to ’play with’ they might leave you alone. My best current defense is to maneuver them into getting publicly exposed, without their knowing it.


Another thought for D. Leedom,
I’ve seen several cases where BPD’s have publicly acknowledged their affiction, admitted it’s destructiveness, and expressed desire to change it. But never the same with a psychopath.



RFS…Red Flag System.


Change Direction.


Minimal contact …if a family member that means…Hi.. Pick up non-ringing cell phone and say hello and casually walk away mid sentence waving Bye or mouthing (catch up with you next time)…. They are so into themselves they wont even notice the phone never rang. And you are out and away from the sounds and sights of an unhealthy person.

Knowledge is power. Most people have to get it and gain it on their own at their own pace!!!

But once you know – RFS!!! Stop. Change Direction!!!


My last ex P realised i was highly suspectingthat he was a psychopath when i made some casual ” flippant” remarks to that effect! Boy! did he react!! ” Duck, here comes a nuclear weapon”.


Dear Stargazer,

Somewhere in here I read that you are having some setbacks yourself and feeling depressed…just going through a lot in general. I am thinking of you and praying that your amazing spirit rises and shines again stronger and stedfast with each day. I hope youre doing better tonight and that you’re snake is curled up next to you making you smile too!


Thank you all-Tilly, LTL, SOS, Rosa & Tood (sorry if left anyone out)for your much needed advice.

I know your right. I have not been ready to admit ecsept to myself until now, but
I strongly suspect the S that is now in my life is my 20 yr old son. I am just now healing-8 mos N/c with my x husband N/P (not my sons father) And didnt feel like I could even begin to deal with another but since I found out criteria of an S , some 7 months ago, the dreaded signs are there with my son.
As of 2 wks. ago, he is now living in my home otherwise would be on street. I know the dangers of being an enabler, and even more so the dangers of a S- but hard, hard choice to deny son a home for a few months. I’ve made it clear this is only for 3 months to give him a chance to retain a job, and I will give him shelter ONLY if his attitude is respectful and healthy. (what are the chances of this happening?) And he must do his share of work around house and pay $ when able .
He is manipulative, lies, selfish, has rages, uses others,twists words like no other,hates authority, hy of drug/alchol abuse, quit school, was in juvey for failed drug tests/,defiant, has been in jail- DUI, and NONE of it was ever his fault according to him. He blames me or anyone (crazy making) for him being such a victim. He REFUSES counseling, or taking any meds that may help him deal. When we’ve tried counseling, he tries to convince therapist, pastor, anyone who will listen that I am to blame and will lie to “prove” his story. He has been physical in the past with me (shoving)and is definately verbally abusive when angered with his g.f. or me. If any of you were posting this ,I’d say Kick him out NOW. I am on borrowed time till his rages start again I am sure. I have said to him if he does, he will be out with a police escort if necessary. Terrible that this even has to be said. I keep thinking if I can help him (once AGAIN) get on his feet, to where he is somewhat independent, I won’t have to deal with him living with me anymore. I know the chances are dismal and weak that this theory will even hold water. At the same time, I of course love my son, want him independent, but NOT at the expense of myself and my 7 yr old daughter. Thanks for listening, any advice welcome.


Dear Sabrina,

I didnt realize it was your son…Have your read Erin Brocovitchs post to Witsend. And did you happen to see the dear sweet Housie is going through the same realization as you? If you havent had a chance to read Erins post to Witsend…or you cant find it…let me know and will try to search for it too…it may be helpful to you. And Oxy speaks very candidly and openly about her experience and what she feels can be done and cant be done. Hang in there. My prayers to you. ((hugs))


LTL-Thank you for your support. You didnt miss anything in the first post, I just said family member as it seemed too painful to say my son. Its been a slow, gut renching ordeal with him for last 4 to 5 yrs. The only thing making sense is that he is a S. I made myself go back and focus on the marriage of his bio-dad some 20 yrs ago and although I was very young, its very poss his dad is a S.
LTL, I will research that blog thank you so much. I may have been involved in that one, but didnt bring up my suspicions about my son. I feel guilty not only laying on the problems Here at LF with my x N/P AND my son. So many others have emergency issues needing immediate attention. This one is pretty intense, but has been ongoing for so long. Once he ran away at 15 for 2 weeks as I was devastated not knowing if he was ok or not. He called threatened to maybe kill himself, maybe go to another state. When police found him, he seemed oblivious of the devastation he caused me and his whole family.
As much as I hate to admit I am afraid of my son when in a violent rage. I have even made him sleep in basement, locked out of house, with a sleeping bag months ago, instead of inside b/c his anger turned violent and he flipped a chair and grabbed me. True to a S- he acted as tho it never happened shortly after. If he did comment, it is something like , well you made me act out.
I have a deadbolt lock and hotel lock on my bedrm door (b/c of my x ) and when I leave every day going to work I lock it so theres no chance of stealing, or getting into my laptop. Its crazy. With my newfound boundaries, NO ONE else on earth would be allowed to put me into this situation again. My son does NOT deserve my help in light of his past transgressions-too many to get into, but I feel stuck somewhat. I guess I can allow natural consequences to happen, he will get disrespectful and have to be kicked out. I know how to be cautious and when he is ‘triggered” I will take steps to protect myself before it ever gets out of hand. He is pretty predicatable now that I know what to look for.


Oh Sabrina,

More than one or two of us completely understand and sympathize. You know that Judy Collins song “Both Sides Now?” Well, many of us here have looked at psychopathy/sociopathy from many sides. I’m the child of one, the mother of one and the ex-wife of one. NOTHING compares to the pain and heartbreak of trying one’s hardest to reach a child who cannot be reached.

No one understands. It goes against everything we have been taught to believe. Religion teaches us that no soul is irredeemable. Psychology teaches us that with the correct combination of love, parenting techniques, patience and motivation, even the badly damaged can be saved. And sometimes it is just not true, no matter how much we want to believe in the fairy tale.

Within the last year, I too allowed my psychopathic child into my household. Here’s what happened: this child found a way to override the blocks I had put on my phone, and ran up over $1200 in long distance charges. Deliberately wrecked my car (by taking it airborne over a hill at top speed, with my grandchildren as passengers) after I allowed the car to be used to drive to/from a job. Stole from the employer at the aforementioned job. Took my youngest child along on a series of breaking-and-entering crimes (that, fortunately, the youngest child told me about so that I could get both the stolen property and the psychopathic child OUT of my house). Turned my household upside down searching for a nonexistent gun that this child thought I had (yes, I ran a bluff and let this misconception stand, strictly for self-protection). Went through all my paperwork and files while I was at work and had a “cheat sheet” for future identity theft that contained ALL my children and grandchildren’s names, Social Security numbers, etc.,. as well as several very good practice forgeries of my signature, and all my bank account information. AND THAT IS NOT ALL OF IT. There are even worse things that I could write, but choose not to out of utter shame and sadness.

Nevertheless, I STILL pray for this child, and hope that somehow, someday, something will change. I tell myself that “if Saul can become Paul,” then my child could change. I tell myself this, but deep down I don’t really believe it. Because I have tried for 30 years now, and nothing has worked.

I don’t want to discourage you or depress you further, but think of your own safety, and the safety and well-being of other family members. Sometimes you must make the most wrenching decision possible, and move to protect the children who CAN be saved. You can always still pray for the S/P child, but safely, from a distance. As another thread here notes, you first priority is to SURVIVE.


I cried as I read this as I am feeling exactly what you described=nothing compares to the pain and hearbreak of trying to reach a child who can not be reached.
I keep thinking, if he can just be around me and my home where there is peace,and love, maybe he will go in the right direction. I KNOW this is delusional. He grew up here. He had an opportunity and blew it then. Everything you know about S is different when it is your child. I still see glimpses of his beautiful personality, and I repeat stories to him about things he did as a child to maybe show him how much he was loved then, and try to create fun, wholesome things for us to do now. In some ways, I mourn due to feeling it may be my last chance to have him in this home and cherish the “normal” times we have now. The flip side, I know he is a time bomb and matter of time before the masks slips and everything is turned upside down with financial detriment always a factor with a S. No way around it.

Tood, I am so sorry for what you went thru, its as painful as it is financially devastating. Try not to be shamed for what your child has done. I have been thru all those emotions, and continue to, but in reality we are not responsible for their actions. I can so see my son doing EXACTLY what you said. In shock, I thought about my own phone service (he has been using it) AND is begging to use one of my vehicles for transp. to work. I panic that he could be collecting info just as you described for personal gain with criminal intent.
Thank you for sharing your very personal story. For some reason, I had a huge problem admitting it. Somehow in my mind saying it might make it too real to deal with. However, the opposite is true right now. I must take a deep breath, and use all the research and knowledge about S to get in reality with my son.
LTL- I just found the thread where Housie said her son is a S as well. WoW. I had not read it until now. Lord be with us all.


I pray every day for my 5-year old niece who is being raised by my “raging psychopath” sister-in-law.

I have seen glimpses of psychopathic behavior in her. But I am not sure if it is genetic, or if she is acting out what her mother does. I want to believe she is acting out.

I know that I have bonded with this child even if her mother has not.

This child reached for her mother as an infant. It was “Mommy” who did not reach back.

I have already accepted the fact that this child will have psychological scars that will require therapy later in life.

Does anyone know what the probability is that she will turn out to be a psychopath?


Sounds like you and I maybe need to talk. I have a 16 year old son that I struggle with on a daily basis. Because of his age and because I only saw signs of this since he was 15, it
seems to soon to label him. Every day I see another “layer” of him. Everything I see scares the hell out of me.
I see very little of the son I knew just over a year ago. He is almost like a stranger to me now in so many ways.

EVERYPLACE I have turned to for help has pretty much said…. Well he hasn’t broken the law yet…… As I see it, the road that he is on without intervention NOW it is only a matter of time before that will happen. He already has the “blame” thing down to a science. Nothing is ever his fault.

I am sorry to hear that you have just recently come to terms what you see in your son. I really feel for you as there is no worse feeling in the world than a mother who feels absolutely powerless to help her own child. I myself already feel powerless and he is only 16. I have seen a “dark side” to my son that although it is hard to articulate into words it is as real as it possibly can be, when it is experienced.

It is as if looking into the eyes of a stranger when those “moments” happen. And actually wanting to withdraw, away from that look, those eyes….Maybe you have experienced this? I have only experienced this a few times with my son but I will never forget it.


I lived down the street from a teenaged kid, who was a completely good clean confident normal kid, but had an older brother who had schizophrenia. A few years later, I found out that guy himself had become schizophrenic. Very sad. But there seems to be some success with antipsychotic drugs for this affliction, which happens to 0.4”“0.6% of the population.

Lately around here I’m seeing a lot of stories about kids who’ve turned sociopathic in their teen years. Maybe there’s an expert out there who can answer these questions, as this is beyond me:

1. If sociopathy has temperamental roots, how does this thing happen so suddenly?
2. Is this a different kind of sociopathy, when it happens suddenly? And is this form treatable?
3. Why hasn’t there been more progress regarding sociopathic treatment when it is much more common and much more destructive to society than schizophrenia?
Student Of Sociopathy


Dear witsend, I am sorry you are going thru this as well. It is a painful journey. If I had known what a S was when my son was younger-poss 14 yrs old I would have been suspicious then. Teenagers can go thru a very selfish stage where sometimes interest in opposite sex, drinking and drug experimentation alter their behavior. As bad as it seems,I was hoping this was the case and it would reverse itself by now (at age 20). That has not been the case.

Your comment about looking into eyes of a stranger is so true. My son will be in a war of words with me that would make your head spin. I have had to work on my temper more with him than ANY other person in my life. Talk about pushing buttons. Its because he mixes truth with lies with manipulation with paranoia with distrust with cruelty.
Recently, he made me so upset with his crazy making, I cried. He looked at me so coldly, laughed & said Your good at crying, I heard you cried in court with your X just for sympathy. I NEVER cried in court, in fact my GOAL was to keep FROM crying. A complete lie on his part.

Witsend, when my son was 16 (your sons age)he was so out of control as he lived with me,single mom. I went to court and asked for help. tHIS WAS an extremely unpopular move with my sons step dad who had helped raise him, up until we divorced. other family members thought I was horrible to take my son to court so to speak. Later, everyone lived to see this was a good decison.
THe courts appointed a probation officer to do drug testing, keep his curfews, and come to our home to see if my son was following rules. My son failed at this and was put into a Family Connection home for a few months,-in which I went to visit often, as it was structured to repair families & re condition wayward children.

That wasnt enough for him, Boot camp for juvenile offenders was next along with some jail time before the camp was available.
My Son HATED me for “putting him in jail”. He NEVER owned any of the blame for putting his family thru this. My whole family ralleyed to help him-my brother thought I was exaggerating the problems, so he took him (before courts were asked to get involved) as last ditch effort to “straighten him up” with a male authority- My son caused chaos within a few days at their home, had his grandmother in tears as he argued incessantly with her.
Lies and manipulation are his specialty.Oh along with smear campaigns. He had everyone who would listen believing I am a crazy,incompetent mother- think” 8 Mile”- movie about Eminem’s drug addicted mom in trailer park. He told our pastor at 16,that I was “addicted” to rx meds, and bi polar plus many other lies that have NO TRUTH whatsoever!-just lies out of thin air. I’ve never had problems with any drugs or any diagnosis of BP!

In remembering all this, I am thinking OMG! He is back in this house again! There are so many other details, this is just where we started. I hope it may help you in some way.

I will never regret going to the courts to declare my son “defiant.”THe courts explained to me that at 16, my window of opportunity was there. There would be only 2 years to attempt to turn around his bad behavior- AT 18, he is
not eligible to be held accountable as a juvenile- no help from probation officer reeling him back in as a MINOR.
AT 18, he is considered an adult- real Jail, no sealed records.

I had no choice but to try to turn this child around plus I had a baby girl at home that it was affecting. Once at 15 yr. old, I left my son with my daughter (she was around 4) for 2 hours to go to eat with a friend. I called from restaurant to check on them, ordered take out for my son, he said everything was fine. I got home shortly after, to find my son passed out from an overdose of xanax and other drugs.
He had to go by ambulance to hospital,have his stomach pumped. But this was once AGAIN, not his fault he claimed.


Witsend- Did you notice anything when your child was younger to indicate S behaviors? I dont think I ever did. He seemed sensitive and was pretty close to me- always taking him places with NO behavior problems. He played well with other kids without being a bully. I guess if there were any signs, I may have missed them but nothing alarming stands out.



I would say that it is not as common as is often stated by some. Anti-social behaviors are often called psychopathy when in fact they are not. There was a recent article that had the following comments from Hare:

Experts say they see this played out to some extent among adults in prisons where criminals, most of whom are “sociopaths” who, unlike psychopaths, have a conscience, often grew up in harsh environments characterized by factors such as abuse, deprivation or gang violence that seem to play significant roles in shaping their attitudes and influencing their behaviors. Psychopaths might also have had unhappy home lives, but in what seems so inexplicable, they can come from stable homes, too, suggesting more of a genetic influence in these latter cases.

and this:

“The majority of criminals would meet the criteria for antisocial personality disorder but only 10 to 15 percent meet the criteria for psychopathy,” says Hare, who developed widely used psychopathy checklists for determining whether adults and juveniles as young as age 12 show psychopathic tendencies. Gang members, for instance, who kill or steal for their group might be viewed as people with antisocial personality disorder, or sociopaths. But unlike psychopaths, they may truly love and would never hurt their own families, and they also may feel guilt or remorse about their crimes.

So if you go by that there is help and treatment available for those that are not psychopaths.

But there is no treatment that will work, regardless of the diagnosis, if the person receiving the treatment does not want it to work.


Blogger- Thank you for your information, as well as helping SOS, it was beneficial to me as well. My son grew up in stable middle class home , although divorced parents, but with what most would consider privaleged. His step dad raised him with me from 2 years old and was for all practical purposes his real dad with lots of love and attention. However, In thinking back, his bio father is a suspected S.
Explaining the possible genetic connection.

Witsend- Housie and I have blogged more details on NEW LIFE thread re: sociopathic sons. If you’d like to join or read more.


Blogger- I might add, his step father was not a S so he didnt have “learned behaviors” as he had little to no contact with his bio dad.THen when his step dad and I divorced (he was about 15) his step dad continued to be huge part of his life, moved 1 mile down the road ,and my son even lived with him until recently.


Thanks BloggerT7165,
My personal experience with sociopathy or APD involves cases which were observable from a very young age, or evolved from difficult circumstances such as tough ’hoods or abusive parenting. I’m fairly clueless about the teenage onset, not to mention, clueless about why schizophrenia seems better understood than sociopathy. But I’m open to force-feeding conscience growing medications… 🙂 …they’ve done worse with criminal convicts.


Dear Sabrina

I am sorry for my delay in responding. I had to work today away from home.
Today was not a good day in regards to my son and it is posted on another thread so I won’t repeat it her again.

I did want to say however that as they say on LF….Same church different pew???? Did I get that right? I think Matt says that alot.

I can relate to much of what you said.
When you went to the court did you file for incorrigible teenager? Is that what it was called?

I was told to do that by by sons psychiatrist. And like you say, I know that my son will hate me for it. And everyone will think it a radical way to deal with what they look at as a “defiant phase”. However those same people that will judge me are offering NO solutions. Other than logic, & reasoning and you and I both know this doesn’t work with these kids.

The fact is that MOST all teenagers can be defiant at times. Most all teenagers KNOW everything, and most teenagers push the rules….This is a phase.
BUT most teenagers also have the ABILITY to respect boundaries, they really WANT consistant rules (even if they say they don’t), And most teenagers you have the ability to reach them if you “time” it right. Maybe not right during the middle of a conflict over curfew time….But they can be reached. They have emotion (sometimes way to much) AND most importantly when you make eye contact with them there IS someone home.

The lack of REAL emotion, the vacancy in his eyes, and the amount of lies and manipulation, lack of any accountability for ANYTHING, and lack of REALITY, anger, etc, that my son displays on a daily basis is not healthy. My son can have THE look of a hardened criminal. Instantly, he can look like that. If he is angry.
As far as I know he has never even been around a hardened criminal to mimic this? So if this is learned behavior, he should win an academy award as he is a very good actor.

He is young in his looks….A young 16 year old. BUT when he shuts down or GOES there…..Its a scarey thing….He doesn’t look young anymore.

I don’t even care what you want to label it to be “politically correct”. I just want to know if that window of opportunity is there to get him help.

It sounds like you were exactly where I am when your son was my sons age. My son never did have a step dad or male father figure in his life. However…..
He does have an older brother (10 years older)….And when he was younger he had a “big brother” from the big brother big sister organization for several years.

Like your son up until about 15 years of age my son did NOT display anything different than most kids his age. He was sensitive and loving and we did have a close relationship. He also seemed VERY receptive to a loving relationship…..

He told his couscelor today he just wants me to leave him ALONE. He wants his teachers to LEAVE him ALONE. He esentually wants the couscelor to leave him alone.
He doesn’t have a problem everyone else has a problem.
I am going to read what is posted under new life…..

When your son overdosed on pills did he ever say that was an attempted suicide? Or if not, what was his take on this…Accidental OD?


Please tell me what thread the sociopathic sons is on I can’t find it…??? Grrrr


Hi Im new here..I am a victim of a true sociopath..she is my coworker. I found out later on that she is one. When I first started working at my work 6 years ago, I had a coworker who warned me about this sociopath..she told me to watch out for her..she’s evil. I didn’t see what she was truly talking about at first..I thought the girl that claimed that she was ..was actually just being a bitch. I hung out with this Sociopath for 5years. Throughout the years..slowly I noticed things..Shes vindictive to other employees..she even had some fired. She would tell me her deepest secrets so I thought but she’s lied..It all went down when She told me she made her husband buy her an expensive RV ..then a purse for 1000. bucks.then a new car..then another dog. I thought how selfish she is because her husband didn’t want to buy all that but he did it to make her happy..But then This is what really got me..She decided to cheat on her husband with her exboyfriend from 20 years ago..Her exboyfriend has terminal Cancer and he’s married and has children. I told her to stay away from him and stay with her loving husband and be good to him..but then she got wierd..she started to stalk the dying ex. I told her she shouldn’t do that.. then she said she was going away to New York because of stress due from her husband ..she wanted to divorce him now ..(he’s a good man and never did anything wrong to her) She then was dumped by the dying ex. She still stalked him for a bit until she met another guy on her stress leave or shall I say vacation? She then slept with this new guy..went back home told her husband she needed to go back east again to visit her granma..but she was actually going back to see the new guy..she finds out that he has a she stalked him even though he basically told her to get lost cause he chose his girlfriend over her..she stalked him over and over until the new guys girlfriend threatened him.. she stopped for a while ..and now..she has slept with 4different men on after that last guy back the mean time her husband is hurt..devistated because he found out his wife has cheated on him and how he found out was because the new guy back east his girlfriend got the sociopaths number and called her husband. Told him everything. He was soooo hurt..but she the sociopath did not have any feeling about it..she continued to screw him out of alimony and she left him with the kids (thank God) She didn’t want the kids. Her kids were divistated but she says they are horrible spoiled kids that don’t understand that she needs to find herself.. OK

NOW that I told you that part..Finally I realiZe this girl is a sociopath. So I kind of told her that she is not thinking of anyone but herself. She decided to victimize me. She went to my boss and told my boss that Im not to be trusted and that Im a horrible person. Thankfully My boss really likes me and doesn’t care for her. She actually got written up for calling in sick too much. But whats weird, She is so mad at me because I told her how I feel about her sleeping with all these men With NO protection But she’s is acting really nice again to me. But She just told my boss yesterday that I wasn’t to be trusted..She is very vindictive and I know she’s trying to get me fired but It won’t work. I know it won’t. I will outsmart her..I already got a head start. My boss knows everything. This sociopath is a liar. She tells everyone she’s a Registered nurse but she’s not . she’ not a nurse at all. Well its late and Ill be back on tomorrow to see what you all think about her.


I want you all to understand that she really hurt her husband bad and as much as I told her its wrong to leave him when he’s been such a wonderful guy to her and great father. she says I haven’t walked in her shoes. And the saddest part is her kids. They are so mad at her but she says she did nothing wrong. and sleeping with all these men with no protection? She actually slept with a family member of a patient in the parking lot the first night she actually talked to the guy. The one good thing is that her husband did get the house and the kids. She never fought for them and she never will. She did want the house though gladly she didn’t. She does wants half of everything he owns..I feel so bad for him. When men have dumped her..she would get that glazed look in her eye scary. She would text them like crazy..she was so mad that the dying exboyfriend was in church instead of talking to her on the phone.She actually cursed God. One thing I forgot tomention is that she is an alcoholic..she drinks a lot. Plus she takes anitdepressants but how often I don’t know. I never saw her really show any kind of emotion about anything..if anything she would fake tears. one day she was crying about my bird dying but something starteled her..she jumped out of it instantly with the words “hey I gotta go My guy is calling me” Call you later
Now Im wondering what is her next move. Everyone at work is scared of her from her history of vindiction towards many.


oh wow I forgot another sign I found that she is a sociopath..she’s a sex addict. She says she wants a guy to have good sex with and nothing more..she actually gave a longtime friend a proposal and no strings attached. He turned her down ofcourse. He has a girlfriend..she told me that she doesn’t care if a guy is married or has a girlfriend she says that its not her problem..but its the girlfriends problem. I don’t know any girl that wants to have sex as much as she does. Its crazy. Everything that IVe told you when it comes to the cheating all started about 6 months ago. Before that, she was always saying how happy she was in her marriage. Until she saw her ex. Ok ive said tons here..Thanks for reading


HI Slappster:)x Welcome to love fraud.

I hope you are doing things to distance and protect yourself from this woman. People on here have mentioned that it is important that you don’t let on that you have her ‘number’, it could put you in the firing line, what ever she ‘IS’ is not important – just quietly STEP AWAY from the dangerous creature!:)x

[This has made me think – there is something that keeps nagging at me when i hear about people describing their S/P’s with alcohol and drug addictions, sex addictions, promiscuity. The alcohol does not maketh the sociopath, the sex addiction does not, being a promiscuous person does not?… I would not want to write someone off as a sociopath just because the had a drink problem, or had a high libido … my s/p displayed all of these traits though… I need to read more to get my thoughts straight about all this and where it all fits in – thank for the food for thought]

Ox Drover

Dear Slapster,

you X-friend (co-worker) sounds like she displays many traits of a personality disordered person, or “cluster B”–there are several different varities of “personality” disorder as well as there being some contention about the “names” for them, but none of that really matters, she is definitely TOXIC and seems uncaring about her children and her husband.

Since you were warned about her fiove or six years ago it appears that she has been about this kind of behavior for some time and others at work are “on to” her lack of trustworthyness.

Her “sharing” all this information about her activities with you, to me, shows she likes having an AUDIENCE for her bad behavior as well as doing the bad behavior. Quite frankly, I think anyone who was HALF-WAY normal, if they did any of these things, wouldn’t tell ANY ONE, much less tell all of such chaotic bad behavior.

Fighting and “winning” against these people is usually not possible, unfortunately as there is no low to which they will not sink. My suggestion is that you go NO CONTACT with her as much as possible at work and 100% NO CONTACT with her outside of work. Do not take her calls, e mails or texts, and do not speak TO HER OR ABOUT HER.

She may go around tattlling “tales” at work, or other places, but my suggestion on those is to ignore them, and if someone tries to tell you somethign she said or did, just casually, but firmly say “Oh, I really don’t want to discuss that balderdash about ‘Jane said, I said’ it’s not worth my time.” If the person keeps on wantting to talk about it, just look them in the eye and say FIRMLY “I have nothing to say about Jane or TO jane. Period.”

I know sometimes this is difficult when they are trying to “pick a fight” or are “gossiping” about you, but taking the “high road” if at all possible will be lthe ultimate WIN!

Welcome to love fraud, learn more about these creeps, KNOWLEDGE=POWER and the more you know the easier it is to protect yourself from getting involved with them in any way! again, Welcome.


thank you are so right..unfortunatly I have to see her everyday and take report from her. But I keep it strictly business. she tried to ask me how I was doing and such but I kept it simple and said Im fine. I know how she works. SHe is aggressive..she believes her own fears to be real. I have to see her today. but thankfully only for 30 min.


Alcoholism, drug addiction and sex addiction are two different things entirely from being a psychopath. Needless to say, the statistics for being a psychopath would HAVE to be higher for all three types of people.
Unfortunately, from what I have experienced and seen in my short little life, a sober, straight psychopath is ten million times more dangerous than a drunk or drugged one. They are alert, intelligent, cunning, patient and much more unpredictable. They usually live their life without being found out. The rooms of AA and NA and SA are full of them. And I mean FULL.

Ox Drover

Tilly, I was reading some research DNA stuff today and there is a DNA “marker” that seems (has not yet been “proven”) to mark for SEVERE ALCOHOLISM AND PPD. I thought that was an interesting thought, maybe all those “dry drunks” are the WORST of the WORST that are still making it in the free world (i.e. not in prison). I’ve been reading some interesting things on the research of Dr. Kent Kiehl (New Mexico) and some of his research on convict PPDs, convict non-PPDs and non-convicts matched for IQ, education etc with the convict NON-PPDs and using MRI scans of the brains. He is seeing some big differences in the brain’s activities and the way it is made up. Still NO PROOF that is “accepted” that you could just MRI them and “diagnose” but he is hoping that at some point a drug will be found to target those specific areas of the brains in order to diminish their acting out behavior. It would be a godsend if he could do such a thing.

There are also concerns too, of if you could “diagnose” them as “brain abnormal” are they still “responsible” for their behavior legally?

The current research going on about psychopathy (one site said that it has only a little bit of money compared to other mental problems that cause much less “problems” for society) is very interesting to me. Wish i could come back in 100 years and see what all they have found out!

Too late to help most of us thought. LOL

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