Lovefraud receives a lot of e-mail. Usually the people who write the letters are dealing with the trauma of a sociopath, also called a psychopath. They thank Lovefraud for the information we provide, and ask for advice about their personal situations.
Every once in awhile, however, someone writes an e-mail that is less than appreciative, such as this one from a guy named Tim:
I had the misfortune to encounter your website today and must say that after laughing heartily at your story, I find your grasp of mathematics, statistics and psychology to be completely dumbfounding.
Could you please explain how you arrive at the conclusion there are *exactly* 411 psychopaths in the Beverly Hills area? What is it with you and statistics? Reading your assessment of the number of sociopaths, based on the number of internet users in a country is remarkably naive.
Perhaps you should get off the internet and try finding a partner through different routes? I’m sure there are plenty of death row prisoners who would be happy to write to you.
Scope of the problem
First, I’ll respond to the criticism of my statistics. Tim apparently doesn’t like the Lovefraud Risk Calculator. This is a little program that allows you to plug in your zip code (United States only) and get an estimate of how many sociopaths live in your community. It retrieves the population of a community, based on the United States census, and then multiplies the population figure by 1 percent, which Dr. Robert Hare estimates is the number of psychopaths in the general population of North America.
Other experts, such as Dr. Martha Stout, author of The Sociopath Next Door, believe 4 percent of the population are sociopaths. The discrepancies are due to different criteria for diagnosing the personality disorder.
Anyway, the purpose of the Lovefraud risk calculator is to emphasize that the psychopathic or sociopathic personality disorder is much more widespread than we realize. Most people are shocked when they insert their own zip codes into the text box and see how many con artists may live near them. The same calculation is used in the Internet Threat page of Lovefraud.com to point out how many con artists are trolling the Internet for victims—millions.
I don’t claim that there are exactly 411 psychopaths in zip code 90210. The idea is to point out to the people of Beverly Hills—and every other community—that many of their neighbors may be psychopaths. Again, the calculations were made using the lower estimate—1 percent. The problem may very well be far worse than my figures show.
Lack of awareness
More hurtful, of course, was the fact that Tim found my victimization by a con artist, James Montgomery, to be so funny. It’s not the first time people have questioned my intelligence in falling for the con, and I’m sure it won’t be the last.
The reason people like myself get conned is because we are not aware of this dangerous personality disorder. I thought psychopaths looked like Charles Manson or dealt drugs. I didn’t know psychopaths could be smooth and educated. I didn’t know they consciously looked for my vulnerabilities and exploited them. I didn’t think psychopaths proposed marriage. I didn’t know that someone who appeared normal, albeit flawed, could be cruel and deceptive to the core.
I learned the hard way. I also learned that there are far more disordered people out there than I ever imagined (see above). The reason I didn’t know about the problem is because many people, perhaps millions of them, didn’t talk about being conned because they felt stupid.
It was an undertow of silence that was pulling us all down. It needed to be broken, and that’s exactly why I launched Lovefraud and told my story. We need to become aware of these predators. And the only way to increase awareness is for those of us who have experienced them to talk about it—even when we look stupid.
Of course, no one likes to be so heartlessly skewered, myself included. I can only assume that Tim has been lucky enough to avoid a run-in with a sociopath. But for every nasty e-mail I receive, I get about 500 from people who are grateful for the information on Lovefraud. I can deal with a few people calling me stupid when so many are being helped.