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By | October 14, 2007 21 Comments

Telling the truth about being conned, even when I look stupid

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.


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2good2btrue

Tim obviously has been fortunate not to encounter a sociopath. However, I have had 5 too many in my life. (maybe Tim can’t recognize the traits in himself) None were from the internet. 3 from work, 1 from church and the 5th through a mutual friend. I would like to thank each of the people who regularly write on this blog. It has helped me in many ways and I look forward to each new blog and the comments every week. Keep up the great work. I agree with you…”I can deal with a few people calling me stupid when so many are being helped.”

alohatraveler

Thanks for this post, Donna.

I definately felt stupid and shameful when I talked to people about what happened to me. As I explained it, I even felt like I sounded stupid to myself and that was frustrating.

It is difficult to explain the level of manipulation we all went through. I find that the only people that truly understand and don’t judge are the ones who went through it and who can feel what I am talking about in their bones. In fact, there is an essay somewhere in the Blog about how hard it is to explain this to people without sounding like a pathetic abused woman which is something I don’t relate to. I am a smart, loving woman and I didn’t know about Sociopaths. Now, I know.

LoveFraud has been one of the MOST CRITICAL elements of me healing this wound. I think it was in April of this year that I stumbled onto this site and it helped me to turn the corner.

I come to LoveFraud because I feel understood here even if I don’t tell what happened to me.. I just know people would get it. That is important to me.

Keep up the good work. Also, I think you are quite SMART!

Fleeced Ewe

When I first read his words, I immediately realized that he sounds like a sociopath himself. I have found, that they are the first to cry: “Hog Wash!”.

Sociopaths are masters at turning insight into something that is, “obviously ridiculous” (since “they” know so much more than their victims would ever hope to know), seems to be his whistle, just as it was my ex-husband’s.

I’m sorry that he fears being exposed.

beastflow

Donna

You’re being too kind to this guy. He’s ignorant, insensitive and has nothing better to do than poke fun at people’s anguish. He’s a loser. Carry on providing a great service.

Fleeced Ewe

There needs to be a Court of manipulation offenses.

coukno

Donna,

Tim would not be so critical if he didn’t probably feel he is a psycho himself. He showed this in his email with the lack of sensitivity, knowledge , maturity and most of all he showed ARROGANCE. And we all know what that means.

Beside what was he doing on the site anyway? Sounds fishy to me.

beastflow

guys

Whilst I feel it’s important to get a grip of sociopaths, I think we must be careful not to patholagise every mean person as being a sociopath. This guy who’s written this rude comment could just be another one of the countless mean people that walk this planet…however, is meanness the same as sociopathy? I know countless unpleasant people that I don’t feel are psychopaths.

alohatraveler

I do agree wtih beastflow. We have to be careful not to label everyone a Sociopath. There are mean people and then there are people that are beyond mean.

That being said, I think Tim is just someone that doesn’t know anything about Sociopaths. Lucky for him. Hopefully he will never need to know. He thinks this could never happen to him. I never thought I could be manipulated the way I was either until it happened.

The hardest thing to explain to people is the level of manipulation we have been through. I find that the more I try to explain what happened, the worse I feel and the dumber I sound, even to myself. But the part I can’t seem to put into words is the part that makes this possible under the right circumstances. I can tell people how he lied and manipulated the truth, how he made himself look like a victim of me, so much so that I started to doubt my own perception of reality. Again… that’s something I never thought possible, actually, I never even thought of IT, until it happened.

People don’t get it unless they have been through it. All we can hope for is that the people that need this information will find it. It made a world of difference for me so let Tim laugh. I really don’t care. :o)

Thanks Donna for your honesty and this wonderful site. Your work is appreciated.

jmb

I agree this guy Tim does not understand what a sociopath/ psychopathy is. It has been hard for me to get anyone to understand. Even when I explain the behavior and they can see some of it, they still can’t really understand.

That’s why this site is so important. I would never have understood it before it happened to me. Sociopaths were invisible to me before–they were just a bit odd or had high energy or a peculiar stare. Now I get it. Unfortunately…

gr8ful70x7

First, I am one who espouses that sociopathy occurs at an increasingly an alarming rate. Martha Stout’s estimation may be low today. Her book was published in 2005 and most books are written two years before the date of publication. (4-5 years have passed.) Moreover and more importantly, Stout indicated that the rate of sociopathy is increasing and the velocity is indeed disturbing. She noted an increase from approximately 2.5 to 4 out of every 100 persons across a period of 16 years. In my opinion, we are headed for even more sociopathy as our culture deteriorates.

The sad fact is that as we “embrace diversity” and devalue our own culture; we are creating a tremendous amount of “role confusion” which results in increased stress which results in increased mental illness and increased mental aberration. Bundle with this the fact that we are “cultivating criminality.”

(Just look at the illegal alien situation: “the Mexican Problem” and our ever burgeoning prison population. FYI: at the rates of incarceration prevalent in 2005, by the year 2030 one out of every two adults in our country will have spent time in the Big House, the penitentiary. We are fast becoming a country of felons.)

And we can continue to see an increase in sociopathy. Consider that the Japanese suffer from a rate of sociopathy that is several fold less than what we in the United States observe. In my estimation, this is due to the fact that the Japanese culture is homogenous and their culture is relatively intact.

More to the point, it is imperative that we do not equivocate “love fraud” with sociopathy. For one, not all sociopathy is expressed by people committing “love fraud.” “Love fraud” and “Sweetheart Scams” our special subtypes and expressions of sociopathy. Con artists typically are not “novices.” Although they undoubtedly started out as “apprentices,” they must be regarded as “journeymen,” that is, they are highly skilled craftsmen who understand completely the tools of their trade.

By the time one has become an accomplished love fraud con artist, one has most likely been honing their craft for at least 15 years. This means that most of the love fraud con artists began learning their “trade” during their teen years, their adolescent years. This also corresponds to the time when we believe that “personality disorders” are crystallizing.

It is rather advanced in the field of psychology, but we have known for at least 20 years that personality disorders may begin in early childhood and may actually be diagnosed in late childhood and adolescence. While the DSM-IV-TR in general recommends that a personality disorder may not be diagnosed before the age of 18, it does not completely preclude the diagnosing a personality disorders before the age of 18. Only advanced competent psychologists understand this possibility and the possible early treatment and intervention that may be effective in preventing the development of full-blown personality disorders.

Nonetheless, sociopathy may be treatable, but only after we come to conceptualize it and its etiology as being behavioral, that is, learned. This is light-years ahead of the crowd and I don’t think society, much less this particular group is ready to have any compassion for this group of demented people that causes so much harm and so much damage. Moreover, it will be very hard to motivate an accomplished sociopath love fraud con artist to change. In my opinion, it will require hard consequences in which the individual is confronted completely with their game and it is made quite public in a court of law with harsh consequences (incarceration) in order to “motivate” such con artists to change.

Sociopathy must occur upon a continuum much like AD/HD and autism or even bipolar disorders and schizophrenia’s (and even sexuality and sexual orientation). The fact is we don’t have very good data nor do we have very good science. We have only begun dialogs regarding these phenomena and it is extremely difficult for those who have not been victims to understand what has occurred. While I am confident that sociopathic con artist love fraud perpetrators are completely aware of what they are doing, most of us victims never realize what the hell has happened.

I liken it to back pain: as a child when my grandfather told me about how serious back pain was, I had no idea of what he was talking about. It didn’t matter to me and I certainly don’t recall demonstrating any sympathy as a child towards those with chronic low back pain. It was only after rupturing a disk in a motor vehicle accident and then when the disk was finally fragmented on a chiropractic table, that I understood how serious back pain can be.

I’d say Tim’s comments are grossly insensitive and, moreover, his e-mail message tells us more about himself than it does anything else. For one, I think there are probably a minimum of 1600 sociopaths in Beverly Hills and, who knows? Maybe even several fold more than that just based upon the opulence of the place.

Yes, Tim, you are correct in that we remain naive and we certainly were once completely naive. And I’ll bet there are plenty of death row inmates who would love to write any woman on the outside and have any contact with anyone on the outside, but I can’t help but wonder:

How did you find the love fraud website? What did you put in your search engine? And what is it you are after? And to think that you actually laughed at Donna’s story? Who is naive? Get a life!

I want to add my comment to this discussion to again thank Donna for her website. Yes I was naive when I became a victim of a sociopath; but it was knowing others had been through the same thing that helped me through it all. Ultimately it was that help and this site that allowed me to move forward, and to leave the sociopath behind me. Your strength gave me strength to stand up and be counted as well.
I initially got comments through the media in the UK, people who would rather ridicule and blame the victims because it makes them feel safer. If being conned or abused is the victims fault then the people ridiculing us are not at risk! However, in telling my story the attitudes changed and I no longer get comments like that, or at least very rarely.
I do not think Tim is necessarily a sociopath, though I do wonder what he went onto the site for. Ultimately though I do not care. He is nothing; the website and the people on it are worth something and make a difference to a lot of people. So thank you Donna, for everything you have done!

Mary

Well, it’s nice that we’re all so ethical and compassionate and willing to give the benefit of the doubt to Tim. Not wanting to “pathologize” him just because he feels compelled to take the time to write a note to Donna, implying she’s is stupid and her information is worthless.

We don’t have to pathologize him to wonder what he gets out of this. What is going on with this guy when he grabbed his keyboard to whip out that less than supportive and encouraging little note? Let’s try a little empathy for him. What is he feeling?

Lately I’ve been studying non violent communication, and I highly recommend it. It is a discipline developed for conflict resolution, where you listen for other people’s feelings and then try to understand the needs behind them. (Visit cnvc.org and check out the “needs” page. It’s very interesting. Did you know that there is a human need for authenticity? Or to matter? Or to be effective in our lives?)

If I listen to what I’m hearing in Donna’s reporting of the letter, he sounds … well, irritable. Resentful maybe. Maybe trying to mask fear with arrogance.

Does this mean it’s our job — as the nice, generous. compassionate people we are — to fix him? To process him through his anger and his fear? I don’t think so. He didn’t ask her to help him out. He didn’t ask her to explain what didn’t make sense to him. He just made her a target for his fear and anger. He didn’t really see her at all or understand her. (Another human need is to “understand and be understood.”) Instead, he made her an object in his own internal drama of experiencing weakness in people and maybe danger in the world.

I sometimes think this is the underlying framework of the sociopath. And I’m teaching myself these days to stop engaging with people who are living in that drama. This may be a long way of saying that responding to insults or defending yourself is just agreeing to enter someone else’s drama.

Donna, like all of us, has a right to her own inner landscape, her own methods of logic, her own choices about what she thinks is important to say and how to say it. Does she risk being “unique” or a stimulant for debate. Yeah, and so what? Does she want to debate or share herself with someone who starts a conversation by saying “You’re stupid and irresponsible”? Again, I don’t think so.

We don’t have to “pathologize” Tim to judge whether he’s offering something that’s worth our time.

alohatraveler

To Khatalyst,

Now I am going to tell a smal tidbit of my “story.” I took the Bad Man to hear Marshall Rosenburg speak in person about Non-Violent communication. After that, the Bad Man decided he was now an expert on NVC and sent me a laundry list of the: Observations, Feelings, Needs and Requests of his male member. He also said quite often, “Oh, You are soooooo VIOLENT!” everytime I called him on something… or his favorite, “I’m not going there!” Thanks for the flashback.

I too am interested in NVC but I would be very careful with it now. There is a context in which it is fine to explore and try to figure out what the other person is feeling. But beware of analyzing abuse too much. I did this with the Bad Man and now, I really don’t care what was going on for him. It was inappropriate for me to care about the internal process of someone that was on a path to destroy me emotionally and psychologically. In this case, my willingness to be kind and understanding was really something else… I had no Boundaries.

NVC is great but doesn’t it make you wonder about why you and me are interested in such a practice and we each had an episode with a Sociopath or NPD/BPD? I am still interested and I have my book sitting right by my bed but you can be sure that I will not be willing to explore someone elses emotions and internal workings if they are obviously not caring for my well being. That was my biggest mistake and I can honestly say that it was my interest in things like NVC that prolonged my tolerance of abuse. I am sure that that is not what Marshall Rosenburg intended.

Anyway, thanks for the comments… I really relate to you.
Aloha…… E.R.

CZBZ

Having opened my whole life to being as honest as possible about the Narcissistic experience, it’s never easy to be laughed out, diminished or mocked for having loved someone with a personality disorder. While sociopathy and narcissism differ, basic elements remain the same: the inability to reciprocate trust, good will, commitment and empathy.

We grow a thick skin in the hopes of helping other people who need to hear our voices. Most of us nearly drive ourselves mad trying to understand what WE are doing wrong that prevents an intimate partner from being responsible for hurtful behavior. The relief we feel after learning about PDs on the Internet, is a miracle. We start our own healing journey recovering from the negative effects of a crazy-relationship.

Some people, unfortunately, witness a second victimization by those who lack understanding or wish to continue minimizing the negative impact of undiagnosed PDs. They daresn’t speak themselves for fear of being criticized. Or minimized. Even a preposterous comment such as you received, Donna, can silence those who need to speak their truth in order to begin a long healing process.

One Narcissist or Sociopath not only hurts his or her intimate partner, but ALL interconnected relationships. The secondary travesty of our situation is Social Denial. People really do not WANT to know what they NEED to know. Rather than face their own vulnerability to manipulation by a sociopath or narcissist, they pretend they are somehow invulnerable to “walking in our shoes.”

Psychological research points out the natural tendency of all human beings to Blame the Victim; thereby fooling themselves that we are somehow different than they. Au Contraire! We are ALL in the same boat together. But we can shout from the cliffs or shine a spotlight on the problem and perhaps…the only ones who hear us are the ones who already know.

We can however, take comfort in knowing there are a great number of us who are gifted with the freedom to talk about our experience with those who are willing to listen with their hearts. It’s a great miracle, this World Wide Web. I cannot imagine how my life would have been without finding people who cared.

CZBZ

Your grasp of mathematics and statistics?? Notice how that one thing is focused on? Followed by the put downs as if the comment about the math somehow justifies the other comments??

One really does have wonder where we have seen THIS before???

It’s not worth defending yourself against Donna because quite honestly, anyone actually reading through this whether they had it happen to them or NOT would clearly have compassion unless something ELSE were going on there.

Isn’t it very interesting what goes on once you can see it happening right under your nose with eyes open?

It is VERY hurtful to tell your story and not be believed. The bystanders, new in the sociopaths life who think YOU are the crazy, mean, wrong one. Uh huh. I’ve been in that place, trying to warn others, tell them what happened, why it is so serious and not JUST a “relationship” thing. I’ve had them defend him like tigers too. Aren’t they good at getting the “new” people to see what they project??

Tell the truth, it will win out. I applaud your bravery AND determination to keep this site up here. You probably will never know the people you have helped, soothed, saved, warned in time.

I believe you because I know how easy it is to get in over your head with a sociopath before you know what has happened to you. The people really at risk are those who believe it could never happen to them.

Keep telling your story. I applaud you!!

nightmare

donna, thank God for your site…. when i found out my entire relationship with my ex was a big lie. i was in shock and i had to make some sense of it. i typed in google. ” PATHOLGICAL LIAR” your site came up as i began reading . it clicked that this was him. ” a sociopath” i would have never put that together on my own without this site. and would be thinking … what was wrong with me. your site is a life saver……. THANK YOU

apt/mgr

I, too, was conned and anyone who scoffs at the distress of another, needs to have it done to them. I’m 57 and for many years of my life I was on the receiving end of idiocy, called love, for lack of a better word. I knew deep inside this couldn’t be what love is all about. There should be a certain freedom with love. I had no opinion that counted. I was good enough for sex and being the strong one, but otherwise, I was used and thrown away. That’s not love. I don’t love that way, and neither does God.

I was taken in first by my husband, then I met a very handsome, clean, etc., man, who I thought was a God send. I’ve since learned that God wouldn’t do that to me. I had my head messed with so badly. He had to lay awake at night thinking of ways to get to me. For a long time I blamed myself, until I stood back and observed it from a different perspective. I also talked with others who had more experience with life and men, and they told me this was so far from the norm. About this time, I was introduced to the computer and internet. I started putting in words in Google, and the sites that came to me, helped me finally put a name on such horrible behavior. This behavior coming from a very civilized, sophisticated man, almost left me in shambles. But reading other’s stories, gave me the strength and boldness I needed to confront him, and basically turn the table on him. I was able to tell him that anything he could do I could do better. For every action there is a reaction. He tried violence with me. Nothing such as being beaten, but he shook me, and twisted my arm, but all it did was make me even stronger. I think he was trying to beat me down, but I don’t know what his ultimate goal was, but I am free and will never be that needy again, to put myself at the mercy of a mere man.

I think something happens to them when their sex drive kicks in. They can be normal with the everyday person, but the one they are using for sex, becomes an object for them to use as a battering ram. There seems to be a correlation with that part of their life. They are emotionally retarded, but to hear them speak, they have it together.

I am thankful for these sites, because they gave me so much insight. Misery really does like company. I thought I would have to live in the quagmire of negativity for the rest of my life. Through my prayers and devout belief in God, He worked a work in my life, and stopped the idiocy and has given me freedom and a boldness, to be able to say, I refuse to take anything less than what I give. If I don’t offer negative emotion, I don’t have to take it. I have learned to guard my heart. I didn’t do that, and that’s why they were able to cause me so much anguish. I refuse to live that way anymore. I don’t tell my story to make them look bad, but to show there is a way out. They all need to be put in their place. To use someone’s love and trust and exploit it to benefit them, has to be one of the lowest forms of an expression of their definition of love. That isn’t love and doesn’t even come close. I don’t want it. I won’t accept that kind of behavior anymore. I will go alone it that’s the only way I can have true peace and harmony in my life.

I do thank you for these postings. I sure gives one a guideline. Some of these men should come with instructions. But we can know what to look for now. How I wish I had this 37 years ago, when I embarked on the sea of life and matrimony. I could have saved myself and my children a lot of grief and wouldn’t have accepted the blame for my husband’s behavior. I look forward to other’s opinions and stories. Not that I want that for anyone, but it’s always good to know that someone else found freedom.

Nievity

What can I do when my husband is trying to get past my affair with a sociopath (who is also married, and she has been warned), but the guy is still bothering me, making me look guilty even when I am not? Is there any way to get a restraining order? If I write a letter or email, than the guy can make it look like I am the one doing the harasment. What can I do to prove to my husband that I realize what I fell into, and that I NEVER want to go there again!?!

Bé

Oh Donna, I so understand how you feel. My x-husband not only conned me, but also my children, especially my middle son, who believes that I’m the person to be hated and disrespected. He told me so in so many words. I love this son of mine so much, but I don’t know what to do. I always tried to present a good picture of their dad to them. He, on the other hand, must have succeeded in presenting the worst you can to a child about myself. My son is already 33 years old! He’s not bound to change his mind.

Bé

Gr8ful70x7 says: While I am confident that sociopathic con artist love fraud perpetrators are completely aware of what they are doing, most of us victims never realize what the hell has happened.
This is so true. Thanks for this web site, Donna. It is such a heartwarming feeling to know that someone would actually believe what you’ve been through. And yes, I also think Tim is a psycho himself.

Fleeced Ewe

Nightmare, I know you speak from experience because you were asking at one point,
“What is wrong with me?” This is the FIRST SIGN that you are in the company of a SP’s,PSY’s, or NAR’s (I think mine was a Narcissist but not finished studying yet).

My guy jumped on the religion wagon, at the time I became a TRUE BELIEVER.
He used scriptures to manipulate and guilt me. Since I believe the Word (I was an Atheist), I sucked right into his plans for me.

Of course, since the Bible is FULL of great verses for tyrants to use to control their victims.
I was pretty much done for. Until God intervened without me even knowing it, and is fixing him good.

Hugs and best wishes in all that you discover…
F.E.

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