The cardboard cutout sociopath

James Montgomery at a business meeting.

James Montgomery at a business meeting.

My sociopathic ex-husband, James Montgomery, considered himself to be an entrepreneur, the equal of any man who ever built a commercial empire. As he was seducing me, painting a glimmering picture of how successful and rich we would become, he proclaimed that he would be “the next Walt Disney.”

When Montgomery went to business meetings, he wore a jacket, trousers, and a polo shirt. He refused to wear ties, but he always had a silk square in his jacket pocket. He told me that even when he was young, he always dressed up in jackets and cravats, eschewing the psychedelic fashions of the 60s.

So you can imagine my surprise when I heard that he’d been spotted at a train station in Katoomba, Australia, in a totally different look:

He was wearing: red/orange pants, hippie sandles, caftan like long top to ankles in multiple colours, big round glasses with pink lenses, long scarf draped around his neck and over his shoulder nearly touching the ground and a hat which looked like a beanie.  A long white beard probably about 12/15inches long and I would say weighing about 150 to 175 kilos or more.  Imagine a man 6ft 2ins tall 175 kgs and wearing that get up!!!

James had tried to hook up with the woman who provided this description, while he was still dressing like an entrepreneur. She escaped. So when she saw Montgomery, her only thought was to avoid him. She later wished that she had taken his picture with her iPhone. So do I.

Changing his look

When Montgomery was spotted in the clown outfit, he was approximately 70 years old and 330 to 385 pounds. So why would a man who sneered about exotic wardrobes all his life, who never mentioned any connection with the peace-and-love ideals of the counterculture, suddenly dress like an overweight flower child?

Well, it turns out that Katoomba is known for its “artsy, hippie” lifestyle. One of the highlights of the year is the Katoomba Winter Magic Festival (see the wild photos here).

I assure you, Montgomery had no interest that type of event when I knew him. In fact, shortly after we became engaged, I went to the Philadelphia Folk Festival, which I’d attended for 20 years with a large group of friends. Although quite a few potheads in tie-died shirts roamed the campground, it was nothing like the Katoomba festival. Still, Montgomery refused to go.

So what has changed? Why is he now wearing round glasses with pink lenses? Necessity.

There are several hippie communes around Katoomba. I assume they are cheap places to live, and Montgomery who promised me that we’d be living “in the lap of luxury” is now surviving on a paltry pension. He’s probably living in one of the communes because it’s all he can afford.

If James Montgomery were going to live in Katoomba, he needed to blend in. So he reinvented himself as a hippie.

Devalue and discard

How is this possible? How to you change from a globetrotting entrepreneur to a hippie in a flowing caftan? For a sociopath, it’s as simple as changing clothes. Why? Because they are empty inside.

Sociopaths do not have character. They do not have deeply held convictions or beliefs. They do not have roots in their communities or ties with their families. They are shells of human beings, with no substance.

This is why they can walk away from any relationship, even marriages of 20 or 30 years, without a backward glance. Their only concern is what they can get from a person in the present moment. If their partner is no longer a useful sources of supply of money, support, connections, or whatever they see no reason to hang around. It’s the “devalue and discard” routine.

You may have observed the incredible lack of response when someone close to the sociopath, or close to you, dies. A sociopath may appear to be grief-stricken, but it’s an act, all for show. Or, the sociopath may not even bother, saying something like, “They’re gone. Get over it.”

No core

Sociopaths do not have the ability to form deep connections with any person, place or ideal outside of themselves. There is no core.

Instead, sociopaths live from exploit to exploit. When their circumstances change, they adapt. If one business idea fails, they blame someone else and come up with a new one. If one romantic partner dumps them, they already have another lined up. Sometimes they’re not even fazed by getting busted and going to prison it’s just a new place to run their con games.

We may have seen them proclaim head-over-heels love for us and then quickly do something to intentionally hurt us. Or, they may cry and grovel when we kick them out, and the minute we let them back, act as if nothing had happened.

They can do this because there is noting inside them. They are empty.

For those of us who can love, who can make lasting connections, it may be difficult to imagine the shallowness of this existence. So let me give you a visual. Just think of them as life-sized cardboard cut-outs of human beings. That’s really all they are.


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Good heavens Donna, you must feel a universe sized sense of relief when you hear things like this. And I don’t just mean having to hang with a dodgy hippy wannabe guru whos hit the tie dye with mung bean fuelled gusto. I wonder if he is trawling for acolytes? I guess we all go through times of reinvention, discard and growth. I know I have, but you take your core values and soul with you.
Cardboard cut out is a good way of describing them. Sometimes when its like I feel way too much, I almost envy them that. But then I remember I feel love, warmth, connection and joy that way too and I feel lucky


My ex was a Spanish lover to the spanish and now is a chinese lover to the Chinese.He is learning Chinese, with the same gusto as he tried to learn Spanish and put on accents and spanish airs and Spanish cooking to visitors. His house once full of spanish artefacts is now full of Chinese artefacts, according to his contacts at the moment. Once he was in love with Russia, with Patagonia, with Argentina,with Brazil, all was discarded and the artifacts he has thrown about in the spare room, the house is now dressed in Chinese red. Dont ask me to explain better,I hardly understand it, we are all bewildered by changes in his life, I was thrown out like a piece of rubbish, he abandoned the cat at its own devices and went to China, he does not have any relationship with the grandkids.This was my husband of 30 years, I unfortunately got myself involved with another sociopath before finally finding a normal man.

Spath learned some spanish (his first wife was spanish).He does know enough that he can speak it fairly well.He has also learned a few words in chinese-enough to try to carry a conversation.For someone who “acts” stupid-he’s pretty smart.I’m not able to pick up another language!

LL Mequon

OMG–in some ways they are hilarious, right? It reminds me of that movie where Peter Sellers wore all those disguises. LOL!

Omg!I just remembered that spath was obsessed with watching “Columbo”!


Donna Рthis is a great article. Oh my Рhow weird to know Montgomery became a pseudo clown after wearing the fa̤ade of businessman. And all because it maybe benefitted him in the moment.

You wrote:

“We may have seen them proclaim head-over-heels love for us and then quickly do something to intentionally hurt us. Or, they may cry and grovel when we kick them out, and the minute we let them back, act as if nothing had happened.”

This happened to me last year after I had confronted my husband D about the crazy finances and began to make sure he paid me back $1000’s he owed me. I was tired of always paying all the bills while “his money was his own.” No more of that for me. So of course he talked about leaving – easy to leave a 30 year marriage right ? However, his plans to find another target must not have worked out and he said he “decided he loved me after all and would stay” and that I the wife should consider myself lucky. Then he proceeded to ” forget about it and all is well.”

He has done this several times in the marriage – the other times more outrageous and then when his alternate plans did not work out he would “come back” and act like “all is well.” This is all hindsight for me to realize that his coming back was not about his bond to me but rather about his failure to find a “better deal.”

At the time of all these incidences, family and friends told me to “get over it” as they all thought he was so magnanimous for “moving on” and having no drama about his actions. He was fine so why shouldn’t I be fine ?? I fell into the trap of seeing it that way over and over again. A marriage counselor we went to said she didn’t understand why I was so upset about his leaving me every other month since he “always comes back.” Really ?? No attention paid to how unstable he was / is. Everything on his terms all the time.

So – now I am “getting it.” And now I see that his ploy last year was just one more attempt to be impulsive and get out of paying his part of the financial obligations. And one telling statement that he made during that upheaval was that “we need to make sure we don’t say bad things about each other if we split.” His image was much more important than any other consideration. Classic.

I am so thankful for this site and other sites where I continue to learn and feel more confidence in my perceptions. It helps so much to tell my stories freely.

Great article – thank you so much.


OpalRose, I’ve come to realize the insidious covertness of their behavior much after my ex discarded me!!! George Simon calls it “whiplash”….We don’t realize how terribly we are being hurt until much later!!!


So true Imara. Btw I love to read George Simon’s articles. I haven’t read his books yet but have been thinking about reading ” character disturbance “.


I read both his books and frankly liked “In Sheep’s Clothing” better. It clearly outlines the covert nature of much of the manipulation that we are put through….
Liked both the books…read them along with articles written by Sandra Brown, and both these authors helped me tremendously!!! Happy reading!! In the beautiful Pacific Northwest it is definitely starting to feel like fall….


I found an excerpt from In Sheep’s Clothing online and I am definitely going to read the entire book. It’s even better than I expected. The more I learn, the more I’m able to see just how common these behaviors are. Even though I’m happy to have my eyes open now I sometimes feel as if I’m living on a different planet now and am a little saddened by the loss of innocence. Thanks for the advice and Peace to you.


I try not being sad about how pathetic these people are. My ex, the sociopath, has infiltrated himself into a crossfit gym community. It’s sad how desperate sociopaths are to belong only to end up destroying every last relationship they have ever started, one by one, as time passes.

It’s always someone else’s fault, in the end, and they never point the accusing finger in the direction that matters: back at themselves! I’d love to ask one of them, just one of these fools: “If you’re so wonderful and powerful and evolved, why does everyone walk away from you and why do you need to continuously reinvent yourself?”

They wil never understand the differenc between LIVING in the moment and EXISTING in the moment:

1. To live in the moment, you must be fully aware of yourself and respect others whom you affect.

2. Existing in the moment is analogous to a bull in a china shop. That bull is certainly in the moment…a moment of destruction, chaos and utter disfunction.

Sociopaths aren’t really living; they’re existing.

Spaths hate to part with “their” money!He had agreed that if I paid the rent ($301),he would pay the cable.Bundle deal-phone,cable & internet;still far cheaper than the rent!Utilities were included in the rent.

He was in the nursing home for eleven monthes.As he was getting his apt set up,he had one of our daughters call me up and ask if I’d paid the cable bill off!The nerve of that guy!Because of his actions,the lease was terminated on the other apt,and I had to find another one and set it up.Then with half the income,I was barely getting by,and even though my income finally increased after six monthes,food stamps sharply decreased!!!


This explains how my narcissistic ex went from Comcast advertising executive to truck driver when he never showed an ounce of interest in the field and actually looked down his nose on blue collar workers.

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