By | February 7, 2012 43 Comments

The Ducking Stool

This week I’m inspired to write after receiving a distressing email from a friend of mine on Saturday night. This particular friend of mine is, like all of us here, someone who knows what it’s like to be conned and manipulated. Like so many of us, she struggled to make sense of what had happened — the explanations coming just as hard to herself as to her friends and family. Particularly, of course, those who had known her sociopathic husband and had also been taken in by his charming lies.

This particular lady, though, rather than hide herself away or hope things would just disappear, instead decided to write a book about her experiences. Now translated in to several languages, her story has helped and inspired people all around the world. To this day she continues to receive emails and letters thanking her for speaking out and giving others the courage to break free. To this day she also works tirelessly to help others understand the threat of the ”˜everyday’ sociopaths who live among us. And to this day she still remains baffled as to how some people continue to be so judgemental about her situation — people who, it’s quite clear, choose to pass criticism from a point of ignorance. Because for all of us here who know what it’s like, we understand the torture. We understand the diminishing self-esteem. We understand the manipulation. And we understand how difficult it is to explain to others. Whereas other people don’t — yet they seem compelled to share their hurtful words and opinions.

My friend is Mary Turner Thomson — she is a huge supporter of this site, and you’ll find her story in the blog section. Her book “The Bigamist” is a best-seller and at the end of last year it outsold every other Random House e-book in the USA. It’s a huge achievement and I believe it goes to show how relevant her story is today.

So what prompted her to send me an email on Saturday night? She had been made aware of a comment that had been placed on regarding her story, and it had cut her to the quick. This is what it says:

“Although i found it a little repetitive and long-winded in parts, the story was still compelling and should be compulsory reading for anyone in an abusive/manipulating relationship or in the dating scene. Having said that, I’m still finding it hard to believe that this story is true! Yes, you can be blinded by love, conned etc but to have a man who works for the government and has no money for food?? Who year after year comes up with dire, life-threatening reasons for urgent large amounts of cash?? To never actually meet any of his family in 6 years?? 6 YEARS OF THIS?? I found it eye-opening and informative but at the same time I found it almost impossible to feel any kind of empathy for this daft, gullible woman. I’m sorry but anyone that stupid for that long is just asking to be taken for a ride….it’s just plain sad. And to liken it to the abuse suffered by rape and molestation victims in terms of not being ashamed to speak up…pfft…there is no choice in rape or molestation, whereas the author did have a choice and more or less allowed herself to be a victim…and that IS shameworthy.”

I know for a fact that her story is true. I also know that her ex, Will Jordan, is still at large in the USA and is still spinning the same tales and entrapping more women in similar situations — it seems that “the powers that be” have no power to stop him. I know as well that Mary has offered support, guidance and friendship to his subsequent victims, who have tracked her down as a result of reading her book. She also helped me in the early days — openly, honestly and with love, although at the time I was a stranger and she had no reason to trust me or welcome me in to her life. I am now proud to call her my friend.

So far as I’m concerned, that kind of behaviour demonstrates that Mary is far from being a person who could be described as  ”˜a willing victim’. Far from it. She is feisty, sassy, accomplished, independent and (as I’m sure you can guess) one of those lovely people who just likes sharing and giving to others. Is that such a crime”¦?

Armchair experts and a baying crowd of critics can swap allegiance and have their opinions swayed by the smallest of changes. And yet these easily influenced people can sometimes hold the power between life and death. Remember the gladiators in the Roman Colosseum? The crowd’s chants could pressure the emperor’s thumbs up or down — the life of a man quite literally hanging in the balance.

Ignorance Is Bliss”¦?

Now, I’m all for people having an opinion — of course! What saddens me, though, is when a damning criticism is forthcoming from the basis of ignorance. It tells me how much further we have to go in order to educate people against the dangers of psychopaths and sociopaths among us. Yes, of course I understand that for those people who have never been entrapped, the story we have to tell can seem unbelievable. But that’s because, as we know, they’ve never been there.  As I’ve said many times before, it’s because as a human race we tend to judge others by ourselves — we see things not as they are but as we are.

That’s how a charming, manipulative, ruthless sociopath can keep ”˜normal’ trusting people in their clutches. As we know from personal experience, it is not the ”˜stupid’ or ”˜gullible’ people who are targeted. Yes, OK, once it’s all out in the open we might beat ourselves up and think we must have been naive  (“how could I have been so blind? How could I have been such a dunce?”) but that is a natural reaction from anyone who’s been a victim. I was told by a physiotherapist that this is the common response from people who’ve been in an accident. Guilt, shame and self-beat up — as if they could have done anything about it in the first place!

I know how hard it is to speak out. I understand how painful the process is to step back, reassess and make sense of what happened — whilst also maintaining a level of personal dignity, and eventually finding self-esteem and confidence. I also know how much those of us who do choose to put our head above the parapet after such an experience can indeed help others to pull through. I also understand that by doing so, we are opening ourselves up for criticism and blame.

In some cases it feels a little to me like the Ducking Stool favoured in britain during the middle-ages — have you heard of this? In the days where women were hunted down for being witches, a crowd would tie the accused in a chair that they’d then hold over water — the village pond or similar. The poor creature would then be ducked under the water to find out whether or not she was indeed a witch. If she didn’t drown it was perfectly clear that she was a witch. So she’d be taken off and burned at the stake on the grounds that they had proof of her satanic powers. If on the other hand she did drown, well then she obviously wasn’t a witch so they’d made a mistake. Oops! Damned if you do, damned if you don’t eh?

I Salute You

Well, in a way, you could say the same about all of us here who are choosing to speak out — in whatever format we may choose. We’re once again holding ourselves up for public judgement — often by those armchair critics I mentioned earlier, who judge from a place of ignorance. Harsh words may sting, and pointing fingers may hurt”¦ But you know what? I reckon it’s worth it. Because for every badly informed comment or response, there are many more who I know benefit from shared experiences.

The Ducking Stool may be an ancient relic, but the ignorant and fearful critics remain. That’s ok. Because little by little we can help to educate them about these dangers — and hopefully save them from having to experience it for themselves before, like us, they can fully understand what it means to be trapped by a sociopath. It’s easy to point the finger at those who stand up and speak out — and Mary, my friend, remember just how many thousands of people you are helping, just by being who you are.  There is nothing’ shameworthy’ in what you did then, nor in what you continue to do now. I for one salute you.

There has been a picture quote doing the rounds among my Facebook friends this week, and I thought it would be relevant to share it here: “Don’t change so people will like you. Be yourself and the right people will love the real you”

With love and blessings to all here at Lovefraud — I salute you too. Because without you, there would be many more people (myself included) who might never have discovered the truth. Thank you.

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Ox Drover

Dear Mel, thanks for this article about Mary and the comments of the uninformed.

I have only recently dropped my cover and come out from behind “The Ox Drover” screen name…and it was scary to do so. I too know what it is like to NOT BE BELIEVED…even my own therapist after my intake interview had me bring in a witness and documents to prove I was not making up all this paranoia! That my entire family WAS trying to kill me. It is funny now, and at the time then I even laughed when I realized why he was asking for a witness and documents.

When I first came to LoveFraud, I had been on another site, actually one owned and controlled by Sam Vaknin. LOL Where I had been abused by the moderators….and coming here I found acceptance and most important of all, I found bright, intelligent, educated men and women who just like I had, had been hoodwinked and conned by psychopaths. I wasn’t dumb after all. I wasn’t an idiot after all. I was just someone who had been lied to, used and abused, tricked and conned.

It was the summer of 2007 when I found Love Fraud and I’m still here…still learning every day. Still growing and moving toward Healing. Enjoying the journey and living each day! Thanks to Donna, and Liane, BloggerT, Aloha Traveler and the many many bloggers here who have shared this journey with me. I’m glad you are here as well, Mel, you contribute a great deal to LF! God bless us all.


This made me think of a WONDERFUL message from Joel Osteen about what to ignore. There is not enough energy in the world to deal with all the naysayers. Please see this. It is a WONDERFUL message we all need to hear.

Let’s add up all the comments we can find on this book. Let’s get a percentage point for how many people leave comments on par with this one. Let’s see if the number is about 4%. Just a hunch.


Oooo, Panther, well said! I was wondering, too, if these highly critical comments come from people with sociopathic tendencies. Hmmm….


Lovefraud IS a very nice community.

Here’s what I’m thinking about victims of sociopaths and victims of domestic violence. (I fall into those categories — so I’m speaking for myself).

Speaking for myself and what I’ve witnessed among other victims… you know, I bet the majority of us are “feisty, sassy, accomplished, independent… lovely people who like sharing and giving to others.”

I truly know not one single victim who is an “oh, poor me” type, or a dependent type, or an idiot of any measure, or weak in any way. The adjectives above were written with respect to a woman, so I’m sure they can be changed to be more masculine-friendly, for the male abuse victims.

We are all STRONG PEOPLE. Nothing wrong with us.

And I think that is the hurdle to overcome in the public perception. It is discomfiting to think that victims are JUST LIKE YOU.

Much easier to judge as different, as deficient in some way — for “asking for it” in the first place, or being “too stupid to see it” in the second place, or even “too pitiful to leave it” in the third place.

I say…. we DID get away. That is why we are here. So… we might just BE the strong ones… or further along that path.

But I’m not going to say that the ones who haven’t awakened yet are weak. Maybe they will wake up, too.

Also… if you are targeted in this way (by this mean review or mean comments), do not cower or turn away. Bore your eyes deep into it, and see it for what it is, and allow it to slink away. Then turn the other cheek (your butt-cheek as you turn your focus towards a brighter future and leave this waste behind)


That was very well said and much appreciated.

Thank you.


Ox Drover

Years ago when I was working in a rural health clinic, I did pro bono health care for the women and children at the DV shelter….I was so frustrated at so many of the women, some of whom had been beaten and hand bones broken, sick snotty nosed kids who were anxious and scared, and these women would GO BACK to these men…and I wanted to THROTTLE THEM. I wanted to do something to make them see what they were doing.

I stood there in my white coat and I thought “I would NEVER DO THAT, THEY ARE SO STUPID.”

Actually, I WAS doing that….only not with a man who beat me, but with a son who had used and abused me since he was in high school…..he broke my ribs and I took him back, he stole my car to haul the loot he stole from my friend’s business when he broke into it and took all the computer sand shut it down…I kept sending commissary money to his account even after he was arrested for murder, I got out of my hospital bed and drove 350 miles to go to visit him on a walker….I cried and cried and took his thousands of dollars of telephone calls to listen to his lies.

There is a story told by Jesus about two men in the Temple praying. One was a Pharisee who was one of the elite religious “holy” sects who did everything they could to keep the very difficult Law of Moses…the other was a Publican, a tax collector who worked for the Romans and who was totally despised by the people and by the Pharisees. The Pharisee stood there, lifted his eyes up to heaven and said “Thank you God that I am not a sinful man like that Publican,” I do this and that and I’m so holy. The Publican by contrast, threw himself on the floor of the Temple in humility and said, unable to even lift his eyes to heaven, “God have mercy on a sinner like me.”

The funny thing is I had heard that story 1,000 times, but eventually it dawned on me that I was just like the Pharisee….only I said “Thank you God that I am not an egotist like that Pharisee.”

Now, while realizing that these poor men and women who are involved in these abusive relationships need to get out, to learn to take care of themselves, and their children, I DO have some understanding of where they are and why….and compassion for them as well and I NO LONGER FEEL SUPERIOR TO THEM because I have been where they are.


“Bore your eyes deep into it, and see it for what it is, and allow it to slink away, then turn the other cheek.” What a gorgeous prescription! I love what you wrote so very, very much. Thank you, 20years.

Your bum-cheek, hee! Turning the other cheek just became more fun!


parallelogram: bum cheek LOL!


Someone asked for us to give a guess about the true number of sociopaths we believe exist.
Society says its 4% of the population. Another reader of Lovefraud suggested 25%.
I don’t think its that high. However I did read on one website it could be as high as 7%-10% since many victims are afraid to come forward and admit they’ve been had. I would put this percentage 7%-10% the true data.
Any one else want to take a guess at the true percentage?


I would say you are probably right, or close, Joanie.
I do know that from a WHO worldwide survey, it was concluded that on a scale of zero to 10, with zero being the least compassionate people surveyed and 10 being almost GOD LIKE regarding caring and compassion…I read in that study, which people from all parts of the world, in various socio-economic status’, were asked questions regarding caring and compassion and the majority of the people surveyed rated on that scale about a 4, if I recall correctly. I don’t have the study in front of me but I am sure it can be found somewhere on the internet. I know for sure it was a World Health Organization Research Study.

If that is true, lets say, for arguments sake, that 4% of the people who are alive, score so low on that scale, do we also include those who are perhaps not advanced as our modern societies? See my point? The answer to that was that the various people from these different parts of the world were presented with information that they were a tuned too or familiar with. So that the study actually did cross all boundaries.

I thought it fascinating and it’s been a while since I read it. But, if someone would really like the BIG BIG PICTURE, you may want to look up this report. I don’t remember when it was conducted, but not too many years ago, I am guessing.

Just a thought, since Joanie was tossing her thoughts out there…

When I finally started exposing my spath….. my family was so shocked. They could hardly believe someone like me, a white collar professional with a Master’s degree, 3 kids who are all exemplary kids in the community could’ve possibly put up with what I did.

Friends went so far as to say, “Wow, you were really holding in a lot. Or, “Do you think she REALLY didn’t know he was seeing another woman?” They think they for sure would’ve known. That is what can make “US” feel stupid, duped, HAD, deceived, tricked.

“Regular” people have no idea of how the spath can have a grip on us. My hairdresser has said, “You let THAT go?” I knew in my rational mind that I was putting up with some things I NEVER would’ve had this been a boyfriend, but I felt TOO far into it with kids and a family that I didn’t want to give up. It forces you to travel down a road that has good days and bad days – which you assume that everyone and every normal marriage go through.

Until bit by bit, it becomes unmistakeable that this is who this person is. Not one more excuse is believeable. They act out EVEN more, the chaos grows, the confusion….. but I finally just knew what I had to do to survive.

I finally knew I could no longer live like I was living. That I would have to admit that things had gone terribly wrong and yes, I was putting up a facade to the neighborhood and community. Most of us that live with spaths aren’t wearing our emotions on our sleeves.

As 20 years says…………………. most of us are….feisty, sassy, accomplished, independent” lovely people who like sharing and giving to others.”

That is part of our personality to be empathic, but tough.

oh and don’t forget… one of the trademarks too of the spath is isolation. He would rarely visit my family. If I went and took the kids it was “private time” for him.

Even though I did have my own life, people would say he was hard to get to know, but what I did see was a nice guy (charming) but my family found him distant.

His family never had a “real” conversation.


I love waking up early to see what people have posted while I’ve been asleep! 🙂

It is interesting to think of where folks might lie on a scale of compassion, or a scale of good boundaries… I don’t know if this has come up before on this forum, but I’ve been interested in a long time about the message(s) in Shel Silverstein’s book, The Giving Tree. My interpretation of the book’s meaning has changed over time, as I’ve awakened more with regard to boundaries and sociopathy. I’m curious what others think of it.

honestkindgiver, you are right on!!!

Oxy, I loved your example above about the frustration and judgment you used to feel towards the women at the DV shelter. I have often thought on this topic, something along these lines… “sure, these women are pitiful, weak creatures… NOW… but I wonder what they were like before they met this person who abused them?” I realized, I really don’t know, and I also realized, I bet that stereotype is waaaaaay off.

This actually made me realize (and made me angry!) that this perpetuated stereotype (the “type” of woman who is an abuse victim) was one of the very big reasons I DID NOT RECOGNIZE THAT I WAS BEING ABUSED. Because my experience did not look like what I’d seen portrayed… anywhere. I saw myself as a very strong person, a very kind, caring and compassionate person, with a good sense of humor, with a strong ability to assert myself when my husband was disrespecting my boundaries. I had a history of being this person, for 30 years before I met him. But you see, he is not normal. so the normal boundary-asserting I would do with him, which would work with a normal person, didn’t work with him! It worked *sometimes* or seemed to, and that’s what kept me hooked. Other times, though, it failed badly. And so I just mistakenly assumed that I wasn’t doing it “good enough” and I needed to try harder. This was NOT due to low self esteem. Rather, it was because I saw myself as a compassionate person with very good people skills, and I thought I could just keep trying and it honestly never occurred to me that HE was doing this. Randomly messing with me. (after awhile I figured it out… thankfully I was not TOO isolated… so I was able to maintain and continue some friendships outside of the marriage, where my “good communication and people skills” still worked quite well, thank you very much!).

So I began to see that it was maybe NOT me, NOT my failure to communicate or be compassionate or empathetic enough (to be able to read his mood well enough to know exactly which shape to twist myself into, so as not to spark a rage attack from him).

I was always SO calm around him. But inside, shaking. And occasionally… I’d go off and hide in the back of the closet and cry.

Wasn’t that nuts?

Thank God I got out. Thank God you guys did, or are getting out, too.

But what DO you all think of the book, The Giving Tree?


20 years, good morning.
I’ve always liked the story, The giving Tree.
The boy is selfish and the tree is selfless and never tires of giving. Interesting though, is that I always felt the moral was that we should be giving like the tree, so as not to be selfish like the boy. But I also thought that being like the tree was too giving, because the tree ended up being a stump. Yet, it’s like the story is only giving us 2 options: be selfish or be a stump. I chose to be a stump. It never occurred to me that one could just be a tree that says no.

I’m not sure that my interpretation of the book has changed. I’d be very interested in hearing how your interpretation has changed.


Good morning, Skylar!

When my kids were little and I was still living in my fantasy of having a happy, intact family, I thought it was a “beautiful story” of the selflessness of the tree, like the type of mother I thought I should be. Always giving, helping, sharing, nurturing.

It seemed to me that there was a sacrificial aspect to being a mother, but all I needed to do was “surrender to” that. And all would be cool. In fact, a book came out around that time, “Surrendering to Motherhood” and I thought it was a good book that applied to me. Another book, “The Sacrificial Mother” — anyway, let’s just say I gave Very Deep Thought to how to be the Very Best Mother to my children. And I was open to allowing the process to unfold. But I always wanted to be “exactly right” — I didn’t want to raise spoiled children! I didn’t want to raise neglected children! I wanted to do it “just right.”

I didn’t have a great role model in my own mom. She did the best she could, of course, but there were missing pieces. That’s just to say, I had to invent myself as a mother, taking a piece here, a piece there, and always with the very best of intentions.

Over time, I began to HATE the book, the Giving Tree. I started to see the stump aspect. I thought — how on earth could I ever have seen this as a good thing, something to aspire to? You know, a sainted Holy Mother of selflessness to the point of utterly disappearing, with ungrateful children who couldn’t even see that they’d turned their mother into a stump! (and the mother had allowed, even encouraged it!)

But now, I have a more benign view of it. I think the book is BRILLIANT. I think it is a cautionary tale, of how the impulse to be loving, kind, generous, giving, selfless can tip over into becoming a stump — if you are not vigilant.

it’s not good to be a stump. It’s not good for YOU, and it’s not good for your CHILDREN.

(I don’t want to set the example for my children to one day become stumps — right???)

So… for me now the message is that it is good to be giving, but it is neither good for the giver nor the receiver, to have it so unbalanced that one is always giving and one is always on the receiving end. I think it is my duty as a mother to teach my children that I am a human being, and they need to learn the joys of giving as well as the joys of receiving.

I also think that I was not taught this as a child. And that is why this is such an important book.

I am interested in how different people get different things from the book.

I was on the path to being a stump. No longer! 🙂


Hurray 20 years on not being a stump! Me too.

That’s a great interpretation.
Yes, it’s a sad story that’s for sure. A sad story about an unhealthy relationshit. For people who didn’t have healthy upbringings, and no guidance, it would have been better to make that more clear so that we can see that we don’t have to be one or the other.

For people raised by spaths there seems to be only two choices: enabler or selfish spath.

Kudos to you for realizing that your kids need balance. The sacrificial mother is the one with spath kids, especially if they had a spath father. As I learn more about this dynamic, I’m convinced that I would have been the WORST mother, with the most screwed up kids on the planet. With no boundaries, an enabling mentality and the most evil spath as a husband…only God could have saved my children. I’m glad that I didn’t have any. The spath didn’t want any and I’m grateful now.


What astounds me, though, is how many people think The Giving Tree is a lovely example of what TO do.

My kids attended a parochial (Christian) school in middle school, and once a year this book was trotted out and read in chapel to all of the kids, as an example of the “wonderful love” between the boy and the tree. I would nearly barf! But my interpretation was not the common one.

But I didn’t get the irony of the story when my kids were very small… and Shel Silverstein IS a very ironic writer anyhow… so I’m surprised I missed it!

Except that… I had been raised to be self-sacrificing and enabling and didn’t realize it.

It’s subtle stuff, at first. And then it is loud and clear. Took me awhile to catch on, though.

I think there are a lot of very subtle and profound messages in the book. For example… it starts off saying something like “the boy loved the tree… the tree loved the boy…” so it is clear that they both DO love each other. It’s not like one or both are evil.

I don’t think the story ends up necessarily with either of them being evil. I think they were just very misguided. Both of them.

But the tree is full of what it thinks is love and good intentions, and ends up screwing up badly because of those qualities.

I have found it so interesting that so many people can think that the tree turning into a stump at the end, is a HAPPY ending. That it’s like, you know, a “cycle of life” thing, like we are supposed to allow others to feed off of our energy until our souls and lifeforce are depleted, sometimes causing our deaths. A death of one sort or another.

Not good.


Unfortunately, dying is a part of living – an inevitability that cannot be forestalled or bargained away. Life is full of “deaths:” either outright passing of a loved one or the disintegration of an important relationship. All of these experiences can teach me something positive if I choose to remain open to learning.

The reference to others feeding off of our energies is a good example of a possible Life Lesson: are we really supposed to allow others to consume our Life Force from us, willingly? If that were so, then wouldn’t a sociopath be the “perfect” organism: no remorse, no conscience, no feelings, no regrets, ONLY existence? I cannot even conceive of how empty their lives are – I cannot wrap my head around the concept.

Interesting thread………..

Ox Drover

This is a very interesting story and about an interesting book.

I can see a Christian school trotting this out as an example of how we are supposed to be….all giving and no taking. But…for what it is worth, I do NOT think that is what the Bible teaches.

Even about “forgiveness” we are told by many “Christians” that we must restore trust and must restore relationship with these people, but in fact, I think the examples in the Bible given show just the opposite, until there has been TESTING of the person’s remorse or repentence. The story of Joseph and him finding his brothers decades after they had sold him into slavery in Egypt. He is now a high official, second only to the king, and he recognizes his brothers but they don’t recognize him. He has long ago forgiven them (gotten the bitterness out of his heart toward time) but he wants to know WHAT KIND OF men they had become in the decades since he had seen them. He TESTS them by accusing them of crimes, throwing them in prison, then releasing them, until he saw what kind of men they had become under adverse circumstances and that they would now sacrifice their own freedom and lives to save his younger brother Benjamin and to prevent his father’s grief over losing Benjamin as he had lost Joseph. The brothers show they have changed, grown, and are not the same evil men they had been. So all ends well. But it is about restoring TRUST before we restore a close relationship.

As for the giving and giving….I think we need to under most circumstances take care of ourselves so we CAN continue to give SOME to others. If we give it all, we have nothing left to give later…or to take care of our own needs. I think we are encouraged to SHARE with others, but not to give everything and leave ourselves nothing.

This whole concept is similar to agape love. I wrote in a different post that I think agape love probably works best in children. If you take a spath as an adult/ someone past the age of 18 (or probably younger) and they have been raised in an environment that wasn’t loving, nurturing, open & honest communication – I truly believe that only so much can be done. I look back now and I KNOW I perceived the man who became my husband to have been “hurt” in his childhood. I knew that. I thought if I just showed him love, lead by example of how I’d like it to be, it’ll all work out. Well, it did for awhile. He was drunk on my love for 3-5 years. It was magical. Then little by little, very insidiously the fits of anger and rage would show. In the beginning – I must admit that I found them rather scary. In the midst of fight or flight, I flew.

I got the hell away from him. The weird thing is 12 hours later it was like he had amnesia. I tried desperately to have what I considered a healthy conversation about “the behavior.” It never happened folks. I’m hear to tell you that in 22 years of marriage…. it never happened.

What would happen is that he’d clean his act up for 3 to 6 weeks or so…. so who can really complain when all you have is a little blow up every month or so. Then they start coming closer in occurance and more bold in the bullying. Then before you know it. You feel trapped and yes….. Now you’ve become a stump that got whittled away at.

No matter how stridently I tried to lay down a boundary line, I think it was too late. If I returned love for hate, he probably laughed his a$$ of thinking, let me eat some more of that foliage.

Yes, I’ve read the Giving Tree, but 20 years, you are spot on. Balance in all, boundaries, communication, honesty are all necessary to have a good life. Very easy to be the tree that gives and gives, shows beauty, get pruned to far back, grows back then gets pollarded. Look up pollard in the dictionary if you don’t know it. That one word is worth a poignant picture.

And as always, unless you’ve lived through this experience like we have, you can hardly possibly believe this kind of evil lurks around in public in broad daylight.

Ox Drover

Dear Honest, you made some good observations there…that push/pull, love bomb/rage back and forth is why a dog will stay with an abusive master….or why we are able to get an animal or a person to stay with us even though we have occasionally abused it….back and forth. It is the TRAUMA bond because we keep hoping that if we just hang around long enough the love bomb will return.

It is why slot machines work to get people to put money in to them. The INTERMITTENT REWARD…which is what Dr. B. F. Skinner figured out about rewarding dogs. Works every time, with every species.

Yep, I forgot the term Trauma Bond.
I called him my on again/off again friend for awhile.

Then Jekyll/Hyde

I was addicted to him. I had Stockholm syndrome. I was in love with my captor. Ha ha, I laugh now, only because I am free of the oppression. Never ever again.

I would love to find love again, with someone (in addition to myself) and now what I worry about the most is this:
Not to expect perfection
Allow a human to make mistakes, but discern REAL regret
Giving a *reasonable amount* of benefit of doubt
Who is for real? genuine?
I thought I was a good judge of character, values, morals, but turns out that NOPE, I’m not – or at least I wasn’t. I believed when I knew better. My gut said Nah, but my head and my heart wanted to prove otherwise.

How do I not get duped again? Never date? never take a chance?

I read this somewhere (maybe LF)…. if someone lies once, consider it could be a misunderstanding, if someone lies twice, consider giving them the benefit of doubt, if someone lies thrice….. guess what…. they’re a liar. Move on baby!!

Ox Drover, I found this from another post. …… It was exactly what happened to me and what I lived.

I not only tried to be “reasonable” with the psychopaths, but I also tried to placate them, to make them see, by being extra nice to them and not “bowing up and fighting back,” that I wasn’t trying to hurt them. I wanted to be “friends” and get along.

Of course, when a prey animal tries to get along with a predator animal we know what happens, don’t we? The prey animal gets the worst end of the deal. Yep, I did get the worst end of the deal trying to “make nice” with the psychopaths, but again, I didn’t learn that a psychopath is a psychopath is a psychopath is a predator! Rather than generalize this hurtful behavior to a class of people, I saw each one as an individual person with “reasons” and “excuses” and the “potential to change” and “see the light” when there was no chance that they were going to have any empathy, much less sympathy, for the pain they caused me or anyone else.

I come to LF to remind myself not to let my guard down and stay NC with him. He’s basically quit trying now, but I still feel tense at the thought of him. Yoga has helped that some.

Oxy – you’ve helped a zillion people. Bless you.

Ox Drover

Thank you, Honest, being here at LF has helped me the most and continues to every day. No telling where I would be emotionally without LF, it was there for me when I had nothing else. I hope that I can pay it back for those that were there for me.

Stay strong, you are right, they are predators and they never change. Making nice with them is gonna get you run over! Or worse.


“…push/pull, love bomb/rage back and forth is why a dog will stay with an abusive master”.or why we are able to get an animal or a person to stay with us even though we have occasionally abused it”.back and forth…”

Let me add that in addition, sociopaths very effectively employ mirroring — they quickly read us and present themselves in such a way as we think they are a soulmate. Mirroring can be so effective that it overrides the intellect.


The first thing Mary Turner Thomson needs to tell herself is that as a published author she’s going to need a thick skin. Although hers is a very different kind of book, I hope she might find inspiration in J. R. R. Tolkien’s Foreword to the second edition (1965) of The Lord of the Rings. In part, Tolkien wrote:

But even from the points of view of many who have enjoyed my story there is much that fails to please. It is perhaps not possible in a long story to please everybody at all points, or to displease everybody at the same points; for I find from the letters that I have received that the passages or chapters that to some are a blemish are all by others specially approved.

So there’s lesson number one: We can’t please everybody, or expect everybody to approve of us, either as human beings or for anything we’ve done. That includes writing a book.

This lesson deserves highlighting because I can’t ignore the possibility that Mary is particularly sensitive to disapproval and strives hard to win the approval of others. That’s one trait that can leave some people more prone than others to getting stuck in a relationship with a psychopath, or with other abusive types. It’s well to realize, as Tolkien pointed out, that we can’t please everybody no matter how hard we try! Even if we change something to please one person, somebody else is bound to disapprove of the change!

There will always be critics, and many of them aren’t worth worrying about because they’re probably messed up in some way themselves. That can certainly be said of the reviewer named “Blitzen” who criticized Mary so harshly. More on that later. Meanwhile, immediately before the passage I quoted above, Tolkien had written:

Some who have read the book, or at any rate have reviewed it, have found it boring, absurd, or contemptible…

Harsh criticism indeed! Yet Tolkien didn’t let it bother him, as he went on to say:

…and I have no cause to complain, since I have similar opinions of their works, or of the kinds of writing that they evidently prefer.


Apart from that, there are at least two issues concerning Mary’s book, and they do need separating. One issue is how clearly (or otherwise) Mary succeeded in explaining why she continued for so long to fall for this gigantic con.

I can’t possibly comment on that myself because I haven’t read her book. For all I know, Mary may have done the best job anyone could ever do of explaining her reasons. If that’s the case, it’s not Mary’s fault if some people out there in the world are still incapable of understanding why.

Still, it is a question worth asking. Out of 34 reviewers of the book on, at least ten expressed some degree of incredulity about why this charade went on for so long, when it seems to them as if anyone should have started to see through this bigamist’s deceptions. That’s not to say these reviewers were pointedly rude and scathing in the way that “Blitzen” was, but it does indicate that nearly one third of readers still had difficulty understanding why all this happened, even after finishing the book.

Are there aspects that might be explained to people more cogently? I can’t tell, but three points occur to me offhand.

One is that this deception was permitted to continue in part because Mary was clearly “in denial” (as the stock phrase goes) of what was really going on. That was obvious from the phrase one reviewer quoted: that “you believe the lie because the alternative is too awful.” Well, that is an explanation! However, I wonder if it’s an explanation that needs expanding on for the benefit of those who have never been in such a situation—or alternatively are more “hardheaded thinkers” less apt to let their feelings tempt them into ignoring reality.

That leads me to the second and larger point: that the reason why many reviewers “don’t understand” is not just because they’ve never been in such a situation themselves, but simply because they’re different from Mary and others who have. They “think differently,” “feel differently,” have different personal histories, different values, different personality traits and so on. I’d wager that a good many reviewers who “just can’t understand” how anyone could fall for such a con would not in fact fall for it themselves, or anyway not as badly. Some might in spite of themselves, but many would not.

That involves a whole discussion of what factors leave some people especially prone to being targeted by a psychopath (or any other kind of abuser), while others are not. It’s far too big a topic to discuss in this post, but it may be one that needs addressing when trying to explain matters to people who have trouble understanding because they themselves are not so “victim prone.”

The third point is a minor one, and specific to Mary’s book. This is about how the conman succeeded in making himself appear so credible. One of the reviewers who did make intelligent comments was Dr. R. W. (“Bob”) Leslie of Glasgow. Remarking on this bigamist’s “elaborate attention to detail” in making his story look convincing, Dr. Leslie mentioned how “others were enrolled to support the story.” However, he added: “What I, and, I’m sure, other readers, would like to know is: who constituted his back-up team?… someone must have been helping him set up his intricate deceptions. And to what extent were his family involved?” This sounds like an intriguing and unexplored aspect of the tale. Did this bigamist have accomplices? If so, who were they, what did they do, and what motive did they have for helping him in his deception? This could be one more point. however small, that might help to better understand the depth of the deception.

The other issue regarding Mary’s book is about the value judgments, negative ones especially, that some reviewers passed on her. Those value judgments are a separate issue from whether or not people understood why she acted as she did. Some readers had trouble understanding, but didn’t seek to criticize her on those grounds. Conversely, other readers might understand, more or less, but ridiculed or her actions anyway.

Just the same, when people don’t understand why someone did what they did, they’re more likely to criticize or condemn it. A negative value judgment is an essential element in what’s called “blaming the victim,” because “blame” implies a negative judgment. And there’s no doubt the reviewer Blitzen, unlike most others, was outstandingly guilty of that.

But when anybody says anything nasty, we’ve always got to “consider the source”! What kind of person is this reader named “blitzen prancer” who made these rude remarks?

I suspect this writer could be male, though I haven’t found any proof of that. Anyway it’s convenient to refer to Blitzen as “he.”

He’s also quite young, probably not much past his 20s, if that.

From his use of the word “daft,” I’d say he’s unlikely to be American, and more likely to be British, or possibly Australasian. (Sure enough, it turned out later that he’s an Aussie.)

But whether he’s a thirtyish male from Australia or a great-grandmother from Zanzibar makes little difference compared with what kind of personality he has. Judging by what he’s written, I feel safe in saying one thing at least. This guy (if it is a “guy”) is a sourpuss. He doesn’t much like anyone or anything!

Out of seven books he’s chosen to post reviews on, five of them he gave only one star and two star ratings. His comments: “Disappointed.” “Waste of space.” “Hmmm…” “Revolutionary bore.” And “Should have trusted my first instinct” (that the book in question would continue just as badly as it began).

The one book he describes as “one of [his] fave novels” only rated four stars rather than five, and the comment “Interesting.” This guy is nothing if not lukewarm in his admiration for the work. I’m tempted to think that, like Ernst Stavro Blofeld, his highest expression of praise is the word “Satisfactory.”

So in Blitzen’s eyes, Mary Turner Thomson’s The Bigamist was actually rated quite highly compared with the others. At least he gave the book three stars, said it was “Worth a read” and called it “compelling,” “eye-opening” and “informative.” He ranked it in second place out of the seven, just below “one of his fave novels,” a well-known classic. Mary has a right to feel proud of that much at least.

With book after book, Blitzen complains of being “bored.” “Boring,” “tedious,” “drawn out,” “longwinded,” “repetitive,” “I was apathetic”: this is the theme that constantly recurs in his reviews. He is also a misanthropist. He doesn’t seem to like the world very much, or the people in it. He remarks on one book’s “real and honest portrayals”—of the flawed nature of human beings.” Another book’s “commentary on society” is to him “horrifyingly” realistic, suggesting Blitzen has a negative view of both humans and “society.”

I could be reading too much into those remarks alone, when humans are “flawed” to some extent—some of them badly—and “societies” of course are inevitably “flawed” in one way or another. (What kind of fantasist could possiby expect the jumble of human beings we call a “society” to be perfect?) But it goes beyond that, when time after time Blitzen complains that he “does not like” or “could not identify with” the characters in a book. This is even true of that “fave novel” of his. He has learned to enjoy the book although he “despised every character” in it!—which may be why he downrated it to only four stars. The novel in question? Wuthering Heights.

Can that truly be because every single character in Emily Brontë’s novel is so utterly despicable? Or does beastliness, like beauty, lie in the eye of the beholder? There may be a clue in Blitzen’s review of another classic novel, Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Amazingly, this famous horror novel, so highly rated by other readers, only earned one star from Blitzen, who confessed himself “disappointed.” He explained that the novel was “tedious” and “there was no time that i felt any emotion, be it fear, horror, tenderness or any other.”

Oh, really? I have to wonder how much of this deficit lies, not with the books in question, but with Blitzen himself. Of course it would be unreasonable to presume to “diagnose” anyone on the basis of a few brief book reviews. Just the same: a tendency toward intolerable boredom, an attitude toward the world that could hardly be called genial, a dislike of many people due to an inability to “identify with” or “feel empathy for” them—all of this rooted in an apparent difficulty in feeling emotionally aroused by anything, even a horror novel. Now where have I heard of symptoms like those before?

Read Blitzen’s other reviews here


that was an outstanding analysis of the review and the reviewer! amazing! thank you. You pretty much assured me that this person who is always bored and hates humanity, is probably somewhere on the spath continuum.


love your post and analysis, Redwald. Not the evidence for a professional diagnosis, but enough red flag comments to make you not be bothered about him.

Ox Drover


Great review of the reviewer! LOL You never fail to surprise me with your analysis of things! Great article and great way of looking at things! LOL

The points about the book adequately explaining the “why I stayed” point are valid I think, though I too have never read the book, need to put it on my list of books to read. I think too, you need to look at WHAT KIND OF PERSON READS THAT KIND OF BOOK. What kind of person would read Donna’s book?

Now, I realize that not every person who reads a “true crime” book is either a criminal or a victim of crime, but I think that most people who read “self help” books are INTERESTED IN THAT SUBJECT, and ditto for reading a autobiography-type book must have some INTEREST in the subject. WHY otherwise read such a book? We read books to try to understand something about the subject we are reading about. Why are we interested in THAT subject unless we have been exposed to something about it?

I have wide range of interests in reading, and read everything from Ann Rule, to research on psychology, and even J. Reid Maloy (who I think is one of the WORST writers as far as his “word salad” sentences, that I think mark him as a narcissistic author who writes to sound imposing rather than one who writes for clarity)…but that’s just my opinion. Because of my interests in various subjects I read about THEM…I have read many books about prisoners of war and political prisoners, hard survival stories, and 19th century sailors, and their ordeals, because it interests me to know how people respond under extreme stress and duress.

Now I have 15 feet of book shelf space taken up by books only on psychopathy, another six feet of books about felons and rehabilitation (or not) and more space on self understanding and setting boundaries as well as shelf after shelf of spiritually oriented reading. Then there are others on abuse victims from Mary Jo B., to Donna’s book and many others.

What kind of man (?) is Blitzen that he would even read Mary’s book? What made him interested in (or not) her tale of woe and abuse?

Also, Your point, Red, about how some people would NOT be taken in by the victimhood that we were….they had different boundaries. Plus, some of us that were taken in by scam artist B would not be taken in by scam artist A because we would not fall for Scam A as it did not appeal to us. For example I would NEVER have allowed a man to hit me and then stay in my life…..well, not a spouse or BF, but I FELL FOR MY SON DOING IT and gave him another chance, and so on.

I wouldn’t have fallen for the get rich schemes raising worms or ostriches or emus, I could see right through those, no problem, but obviously not everyone could see through them. I was safe from THOSE scams…but not safe from a man (the P BF) who was going to wipe out my grief from my widowhood and make me happy the rest of my life and be there for me.

So I have difficulty understanding how the worm growers or the emu growers could be so stooooopid and put sooooo much money into it….but I KNOW in my heart they were/are just as delusional as I was and stayed in denial as long as they could.

It does hurt to admit the truth that you’ve been scammed, but getting out of denial is the only way out of the scam. Mary did it and I’m proud of her and for her…..Blitzen can go back to OZ and shut his negative yap!

I have read Mary’s book, plus I interviewed other people who were taken in by Will Allen Jordan. As I said in my article on the topic, this guy was very, very good.

He did have accomplices, although I don’t know if any of his victims discovered who they were. He was adept at psychological manipulation. And he had superior IT skills. He was doing IT work in the office of a high-ranking British official – this was true. He created facsimiles of online banking websites that showed his accounts to have millions of dollars in them.

So he was manipulating his targets, getting other people to vouch for him, and showing evidence of his claims. I think he could have convinced anyone.

Furthermore, I also think anyone can fall for one con or another. I have seen con artists experiment to see what tactic will work on a particular target. They just keep probing for vulnerabilities until they find one.

Look at all the people who fell for Bernie Madoff.


Oh yes, Donna: very masterful and very skilled.
I have seen it the past ten years I have known this “IT”.

Oh yes, they all have ‘accomplices’, even if they are only ‘minions’ in the ‘good little worker bee army’…what they don’t realize is that as soon as “IT” is done with them, they get thrown away too!!!!!!!

Yes, anyone can fall for a con, one kind or another, but you have to look out for the red flags and they aren’t easy to spot. Someone earlier, in this thread, asked: ‘what is the answer, then?” Do I not date; do I not associate with people and stop looking for companionship?

I would say that I am quite happy being on my own, not in any relationship. I have my medical issues that keep me quite enough of company! Trust me.

Right: look at all the people who fell for Bernie Madoff…
prime example of one of the largest scams in history, ever!
And, ppaths and spaths are even more skilled because most of them has had this ‘difficulty’ from childhood on…

I was scammed in love and a little bit in money and a whole lot medically. They are just foul people with no appreciation for anyone but themselves nor do they have appreciation for life.

If a person wants to live that way, then,by all means STAY with them; if you foresee something other in your future than lies, being constantly confused, lied to and manipulated…THEN GET OUT and DONT LOOK BACK at these losers as soon as you are on to them because it never changes.



Now I have 15 feet of book shelf space taken up by books only on psychopathy, another six feet of books about felons and rehabilitation (or not) and more space on self understanding and setting boundaries as well as shelf after shelf of spiritually oriented reading. Then there are others on abuse victims from Mary Jo B., to Donna’s book and many others.

WOW, Oxy, that’s a LIBRARY! Fifteen feet of books on psychopathy alone! I wonder if even Dr. Hare has that many himself!

Your point, Red, about how some people would NOT be taken in by the victimhood that we were”.they had different boundaries. Plus, some of us that were taken in by scam artist B would not be taken in by scam artist A because we would not fall for Scam A as it did not appeal to us. For example I would NEVER have allowed a man to hit me and then stay in my life”..well, not a spouse or BF, but I FELL FOR MY SON DOING IT and gave him another chance, and so on.

Yes, I do agree. Individuals can be very different, and the kind of person who would fall for one kind of predator may avoid another kind of predator entirely. Looking beyond outright scams, I’ve often suspected for instance that the kind of person who would be taken in by a psychopath might be rather different from the kind of person who would end up with certain other kinds of abuser. Then too, one person might find themselves partnered with a jobless addict and out-and-out loser who constantly leeches off them, while another person might end up with partners who are far more competent in life but still oppressively controlling or abusive in other ways. The first type, obviously, would appeal more to someone whose weakness was “looking after needy people” and trying to “fix their problems”; the second, possibly, to someone who was looking for “security” of some kind, even at the cost of being mistreated.

Still, I’m sure there are some traits that make certain people more vulnerable across the board to the machinations of any kind of predator or abuser. One such trait is the tendency to doubt oneself and one’s own judgment—or conversely, to put too much trust in others, or in an intimate partner at any rate.

Another such trait is in the excellent article you wrote just a few days ago, about “saying yes to others” too often while ignoring one’s own needs. I suspect it’s the relative absence of healthy self-interest and self-caring that’s behind it all. If more people who are so absorbed in “doing” for others would stop and ask themselves “What is this doing for me?” and “What am I getting out of this relationship?”—or possibly “How will this affect me if such-and-such happens?”—then fewer people would end up being victimized.

Ox Drover

Yea, Red, I’ve compulsively studied psychopaths and everything I could get my hands on about how they work, how they think, research into the brain and how it works…etc. and still I wonder about things….even read J. Reid Meloy (or tried to) to the point I finally came to the conclusion that the problem with me understanding his writings wasn’t with my understanding it was HIS problem with “word salad” and him trying to sound “imposing” with his 50-word sentences that didn’t make a lot of sense. I’m the queen of run-on sentences myself. In any case, I think his narcissism is a bit much for me and there was only one of his books actually made sense. LOL

It is also interesting that many of the “experts” or PhDs anyway who specialize in “studying” psychopaths don’t seem to recognize one unless it has on prison stripes. I won’t go into how I came to that conclusion in this forum but I’ve personally experienced an episode where an “expert” didn’t recognize the psychopath that spit in their eye.

As for my own falling for spaths….I have several shortcomings that left me vulnerable to the various cons, lack of boundaries with those within my “close” family and friends is only one of them. In the meantime, I keep on trying to learn what those short comings are, and to also learn to spot them “in the wild.” (learn the red flags if you will).

It’s all a learning process I guess, learning about them, but also learning about ourselves.

sharing the journey


There is a book that you may be interested in reading-perhaps you have already done so. It is by Carol Pearson and is called ‘The twelve archetypes-awakening the heroes withiin’ and comes from a spiritual/psychological viewpoint.

I haven’t read it in a while but one example is the Caregiver archetype. It gives the shadowside which is enabling and rescuing and the light side which is to ‘give without maiming self and others’.

You may find it interesting as well as others who are on a spiritual/psychological path.

Just thought I would mention it as I found it quite a healing book when I needed it.

It also expalins the psychopath in the villains category.



I have heard of the book and would like to read it.
The website you linked is pretty interesting too. thanks!

sharing the journey


The reason I recommended it to you is because I KNOW that you are a fellow intuitive and may be interested in archetypes.

Hope you don’t mind-the caregiver-as I know you to be because of your family history made me think of you.

Take care



yes, you’re right. I’m an INTP and I fit the caretaker. I also like the idea that we don’t have to stay in one archetype.

sharing the journey


I also think you are heavily influenced by the sage and the creator.

I fluctuate between the orphan-caregiver, creator and sage.



I also resonate with the magician. there is a need for external and internal transformation.

sharing the journey


pre spath attack I identified with the magician-not only for what you said-but also the ability to turn negative into positive.

I am back working on this-so it can be said I am invoking the magician archetype to manifest in my life.

Take care



This whole discussion is brilliant, especially regarding The Giving Tree. That book always disturbed me… Oh, the irony…

kim frederick

INFJ myself. The wounded healer. but the extroverted-intorverted were pretty close.

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