By | September 11, 2008 214 Comments

The vacancy of the sociopath

Sociopaths have been described in many ways that, at least, from time to time, might describe some of the rest of us: As glib, manipulative, exploitative, superficial; as seeing and relating to others as objects rather than persons.

Sociopaths, in other words, don’t have a patent on these qualities. You can be a nonsociopath and be glib and superficial. You can be a nonsociopath and be a constitutional bullshitter and sometimes manipulator: Just go visit the used-car salesmen at your local dealership, and see for yourself (sure, some of them may be sociopaths, but not most).

Naturally, when you begin to combine these qualities—especially adding “exploitative” to the mix—and identify them as an individual’s default style of interaction, you’ve entered potentially sociopathic terrain.

In my experience, I’ve found other qualities—but also not in isolation—to be somewhat distinctively suggestive of sociopathy. One—the quality of emotional vacancy—really captures my attention when I observe or experience it.

I’m working clinically, at present, with two male individuals, Allen, 20, who already has a long legal rap sheet (minor criminal violations), while the other, Ted, 31, has no arrest history, but has been fired from various jobs for leaving a string of female colleagues and customers troubled by his sexually invasive behaviors.

Allen has diagnoses in the system as an antisocial personality with a probable earlier diagnosis of conduct disorder. Yet he is not, I’m quite confident, a sociopath.

Conversely, Ted has had no significant mental health diagnoses I’m aware of, yet I suspect he has a touch, if not more than a touch, of sociopathy in his personality. (I suggested this to a team of providers involved with Ted, who hadn’t considered it but were disarmed and intrigued by it.)

What is it about Ted that got me thinking along the lines of sociopathy?

Yes, he is socially facile—gregarious, glib, a schmoozer, described by others as “outgoing.” But while relevant, let’s be honest: this (alone) could describe a fourth of the population.

But what further raised my eyebrows was Ted’s reaction to his pattern of leaving women feeling disturbed by his aggression—specifically, he makes excuses, rationalizes his behaviors; consistently denies and/or minimizes his actions; and tellingly, conveys no empathy for the experience of the women.

His concern, in other words, begins and ends with how these incidents will impact his subsequent employablility; there isn’t the remotest (genuine) interest in his effect on his victims.

This is one aspect of the emotional vacancy—expressed in this instance as a lack of empathy—that I suggest can signal possible sociopathy.

Ted, incidentally, is not cruel, or driven to hurt others. He insists he doesn’t “get off” on leaving women feeling uncomfortable and threatened, and I tend to believe him.

His sociopathic quality, if I’m right, is reflected less in an intentionally hurtful agenda than in his emotional indifference to the unintentional hurt he inflicts in the self-centered pursuit of his momentary needs.

Ted is more impulsive than calculating, more thoughtless than scheming. He sees a woman undressing, for instance, in a dressingroom and he wants a view. He knows intellectually that it’s the wrong thing to do. But he wants the view.

He knows that if the woman sees him peering in on her, she will be upset. As I said, he doesn’t relish, it seems, the idea of upsetting her so much as he cares too little about her discomfort, her sense of violation, to deter him from taking what he wants—a view of her.

There is a second aspect of Ted’s emotional vacancy that I find possibly indicative of sociopathy: When I’m with him (unlike my experience with Allen) I feel that I am not really there for him. Yes, he is inquisitive, wants to know how I’m doing, what’s up with this and that? He schmoozes, as I’ve said.

But it’s a bit like the experience you might have with a politician who, trolling the crowd, looks you in the eye and asks questions of interest and shakes your hand, but all the while you feel like he’s really looking through you, or beyond you, to the next hand he’s waiting to shake, the next vote he’s canvassing. You feel that a second later he will have blotted out the memory of the interaction and, on parting, you.

I have this experience of Ted—nothing malicious-intended. He’s not taking anything tangible from me. Just that, in my interactions with him, I somehow don’t feel completely real”¦to him.

Not all sociopaths are alike, we know that. And I’m certainly not suggesting that many sociopaths, at least for a while, can’t leave you feeling just the opposite—as special, as if you’re the only person in their universe.

But there are sociopathically-oriented individuals who don’t do this well—whose emotional emptiness and soulessness somehow rub off on, as if get transferred into you, leaving you (on the receiving end of the interaction) feeling vaguely as if something’s amiss, not whole, that something was, or is, missing.

(This article is copyrighted (c) 2008 by Steve Becker, LCSW.)

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I’ve seen it in action- to listen is downright uncomfortable for them. If you are of little use to them…their level of engagement is low and, as I have experienced, will swing into outright cruelty to make you cease demands.

I used to think my sociopath was perverted driven by primal needs, BUT NOT plotting, like your Ted. I wouldn’t write-off his “getting off” remember they play to their audience. My psycho revealed his manipulative tactics a few times in retrospect- he state: “Right now she’s figuring out what happened.” Or- the statement:” I expect the police at my door, asking if I know the deceased.” He had no emotional investment in his mistress, but he knew what state he put her in and pondered what she would do. He enjoyed reading about serial killers ( I learned from a family member, he hide this)- though claimed to be so intellectual and above pulp. Often he spoke about his “sins” with relish.

I had the feeling it was the getting away with, duping, that he enjoyed most of all.


If I listed all the different facets of my P’s behaviour, it would be hard to believe I was only talking about one person.
At the beginning I believed 100% that he was kind, gentle, romantic and loving. He was never physically violent so it took a long time to sus out his true personality.
I do remember looking at him once when he had a hard, brooding expression on his face unlike his usual self. I said ” What’s the matter, you look like a completely different person”. For a second he was startled and then his face magically turned into the romantic, loving person I thought he was. I think that for one moment he had let the mask slip.
I can also remember being at his house on many ocaisions and having the really weird feeling that he was sitting in the house alone – it almost felt as if I was watching him through the window but I was actually right next to him. It was a horrible empty feeling.
I also experienced his complete detachment when I was attacked by a goose one day. It was very painful and I was screaming at him to help me. He just stood and looked at me as if he was watching the TV – there was absolutely no reaction. That’s when the alarm bells started ringing.


really curious, everyone.
it occurred to me last night that my ex s/p has NEVER lived alone in his entire life (he’s 40). he moved from his mom’s house, to mine, then to live with the woman he married, then back to mine, now to his new gf. he has NEVER been on his own. probably because he wants everything done for him.
is it the experience of the rest of you that your s/p has never been on their own? is this a trait that is common to them all?
what say ye?

My psycho stated outright he couldn’t stand to be alone- hated it. And no, he is not alone ever.When forced, he said he ‘d sleep with a weapon. So what are we, the victims, proxy weapons? Protectors…or props, a un makes them feel strong?


The Vacancy! Ah yes how true. I used to call it “emotional autism” before I understood what my ex was. Often though he would successfully use that blankness to convey strength and noblesse in times of stress etc. Nerves of steel, serious castagna’s etc.

* months into our final split and NC (after 27 yrs together) I am still discovering that the stress (usually extreme financial- live or die, oh my god what do we do stuff – that had to be discussed CONSTANTLY – at the expense of paying attention to our growing kids, at the expense of living the moment, at the expense of having any feeling of normalcy)

I am now thru much forensics finding that ALL THAT was manufactured for my consumption!. It wasn’t even real. So he had me off base, fearful, dependant, trying to boost HIM UP, standing by my MAN, etc. and was afforded the luxury of looking like the STRONG one, when in fact the crisis itself was manufactured and illusory. And he would just watch. Very flat, stone faced, no emotion as I twisted in the wind.

What a twisted way to get your kicks, but I have to realize that it obviously gave him pleasure. It took a long time but I finally saw the light (or lack of it in him), I finally realized why his ex wife used to have nervous breakdowns, I finally realized why he appeared like a ROCK. But he passed it off very successfully as STRENGTH, supreme self confidence, unshakable optimism in his ability to turn the future around etc, while presenting me with a false reality that only got steadily worse- with brief manic – all is well now intervals. Phew.

I find it interesting how our conviction and belief in the everlasting one and only true love will allow us to paper over all these kinds of disturbing aberations in behavior. But that was then and this is now.

And to Lost in Grief, in my case he also never lived alone. Plus it turns out I was not even the right gender. Just an extremely useful prop.

Others see him still as the rock-tho many know he is a slippery one-he is trying to have the duality right now of being totally broke (at 67 ) and an incredible businessman and deal maker at the same time. And it WORKS. His flat vacant presentation of his poor me story comes off like dignity,unflappable calm.

Peace to all



I always felt that my ex sociopath was a calm laid back guy. It never worried me. Until I was abondoned and he was leaving me whom he claimed his love for, and his unborn son. I was crying, in crisis, and terribly upset. He, on the otherhand, maintained his calm, laid back style. He was not upset at all. I read that “it is not really what the sociopath does that is so disturbing. It is how they do it.”

The alone s/p is a depressed s/p indeed. They are terribly addicted to supply, that they can go into deep depressions when it is totally gone. As much as they despise their addiction to supply and the supply itself, they desparetly need it to maintain their false inflated self.

I think psychos want us to believe they’re JUST perverts driven by lust- but remember it’s control and power. It’s a “kick” to peep in on someone unawares. It is very hard to catch, and I only “got” what my psycho did after-the-fact- though I did call him on one stunt right away. And he acted….like a “dumb bunny.” Huh?

I was privy-unbeknowst to him- to his conversations with others,he knew what was up and in the end wanted to KILL ME…though he’d have me and all around believe he was just emotionally stunted.


Although my ex P had a string of misdeamenors and one felony theft, I really think the criminal part of it is the least telling of his disorder. His behavior and attitudes extended to ALL areas of his life, not just criminal stuff. He could do harmful things to all sorts of people and was totally indifferent, like he really didn’t care or even understand they WERE harmful–like some aspect of it just went right over his head and he didn’t get it at all why it was even a problem for someone. But, on the other hand, he also sometimes deliberately did things and interacted with people in a manner with the deliberate intent of being harmful, although not necessarily criminal, and he got off on it, and it seemed to light up his world.

I do think it is possible to be diagnosed aspd and not be a sociopath, but just a criminal who still has a conscience or can feel empathy or remorse. The DSM, to me anyway, only captures part of the disorder.

On the Ted in the article above, however, I’m sitting here thinkng ya might want to get some of his women’s stories before thinking he doesn’t enjoy hurting women etc. I mean, if he were a soiopath, it isn’t likely he would even view harmful things he did as even being harmful, IMO, anyways. His ex-girlfriends might see things far differently.


And if Ted is not driven to be cruel and harmful to women, then why is he doing it? He keeps losing jobs because of it, so obviously he must be doing something pretty bad in aggressing towards women and getting some sort of pleasure out of it. You say he knows if he watches a woman undress, he realizes she is going to be upset etc. How the heck is this NOT intentional and malicious and not getting a perverse pleasure out of what he is doing to the women and the feelings of discomfort and personal violations he is causing by intruding on them sexually. Just because he SAYS he doesn’t get some sort of malicious thrill out of it, doesn’t mean that he doesn’t. Maybe I need an extra cup of coffee, but I don’t exactly follow your line of reasoning.


I’m relating to everybody’s posts today.

Holywatersalt: If you are of little use to them”their level of engagement is low and, as I have experienced, will swing into outright cruelty to make you cease demands. .. the only time I’ve ever seen cruelty in my ex-bf was to make me “shut up and go away” in the end

Swallow: It almost felt as if I was watching him through the window but I was actually right next to him. It was a horrible empty feeling…. How well I remember that terrible feeling, I had it so many times in the car, when he had to be with me due to a prior arrangement but obviously didn’t want to be.. now I wonder who his thoughts were with at the time

LIG: my ex s/p has NEVER lived alone in his entire life…
Totally.. mine is incapable of living alone, but he can’t be faithful either, and even though he says he really wants to be with me, or did want to anyway, my demand that he prove he can live alone for a while first proved to be impossible for him. He ends up with a string of female “friends” who he lives with and pays for their silence with sex and companionship even though he has no intention of loving or marrying them. If one of them falls in love with him, out they go on the next bus.

Eyes: His flat vacant presentation of his poor me story comes off like dignity.. oh BIG TIME.. his favorite quote is “To hell with me”, but delivered with the puppy dog eyes and the sheepish grin… it’s irresistible

And Bird: The alone s/p is a depressed s/p indeed. They are terribly addicted to supply, that they can go into deep depressions when it is totally gone. As much as they despise their addiction to supply and the supply itself, they desparetly need it to maintain their false inflated self.
So completely on the money Bird

This is all so very depressing. I wish I could overlook some of it sometime, but here it is in black and white.. he is a sociopath… how do I FALL for these guys?


I read the above, then reread the originial article and I see what you mean now. Thanks for the additional information. Jen


Steve Becker wrote: “[Ted’s] sociopathic quality, if I’m right, is reflected less in an intentionally hurtful agenda than in his emotional indifference to the unintentional hurt he inflicts in the self-centered pursuit of his momentary needs.”

Many years ago I had the opportunity to witness my then 15-year-old stepson (son of the S) engage in some very telling behavior. At the time I had already tentatively diagnosed him as a sociopath, although I had not yet diagnosed his father, who was still making me feel very special, as he did for many more years.

(I was aware of my stepson’s outrageous, straight-faced lying. I was aware of how he could make people wrongly believe he had spiritual depth. I was not yet aware of his callous indifference toward others.)

What happened was that we all (my husband and three of our four children–his, mine and ours) were on vacation, visiting my husband’s parents who lived on a river in Michigan.

One afternoon, after exiting the house through a side door, I started walking down toward the river (more a canal). As I cleared a corner of the house, in the distance I could see my stepson–with his back to me–bending over a canoe that was on some kind of canoe-stand in the backyard.

Behind him was my two-year-old daughter. She was laughing happily, scampering about. Obviously wanting to play, she ran up to my stepson who, without so much as a backward glance, reached back and pushed her, causing her to fly away–bounce away really–and land on her butt. Stunned, she sat there crying.

And my stepson completely ignored her. I mean completely. She might as well have been an annoying gnat. He didn’t even look up from the canoe.

That is until he heard me. (It was not my intention to sneak up on him; it’s just that I was walking barefoot on the grass.) He looked up and saw me and then–without a moment’s hesitation–turned to his sister and picked her up. “Are you you okay?” he asked, his voice sounding sweetsie and full of concern.

It all happened so quickly, but I glimpsed it, his COMPLETE AND UTTER INDIFFERENCE.

And now–16 years later–I know that my husband (soon-to-be ex; our divorce is final the 29th of this month) is just the same way. After more than a year of shocking, heartbreaking discoveries, I realize he’s not the caring, compassionate man I thought he was. That was all for show! Underneath–and rarely if ever seen until a person’s of no further use to him–is a horrifying COMPLETE AND UTTER INDIFFERENCE.

He can actually–under false pretext and without any warning–abandon people who love him, trust him, believe in him, depend on him. He can shatter people’s lives. He can drive them to despair. He can even passively murder, i.e., not inform his daughter’s mother that the brakes are shot on her car. (Of course I was a great inconvenience once I uncovered the fact he had slept with dozens, perhaps hundreds, of other women throughout the course of our marriage.)

He can do all this, not because he necessarily wants to hurt people–although obviously hurting people doesn’t bother him–but because he has this chilling indifference. Hurting others, I think, is not his main point, merely incidental to the fact that he is nothing but a ruthless predator.


And as to the S not being able to be alone. Oh, absolutely with “my” S. He has never ever been alone. Never left one primary relationship (mommy with benefits, I call it) without having the next one lined up. Ours is his longest relationship. 18 years. Prior to that each lasted 4. Oh lucky me. I provided too nice of a launching pad.

And in between relationships, in order to hide the fact he’d been cheating, he’d live with some guy for a few months–two or three months would usually do it–before moving in with the woman he’d already picked out (targeted, selected).

Ox Drover

It sounds more like “malignant” Narcissism than psychopathic behavior if he doesn’t set out to hurt them, just doesn’t care when he does. Sort of like the selfish jerk who will eat the last piece of cake knowing you haven’t had any, just because it’s there, not to hurt you, or deprive you intentionally (though he knows it WILL Deprive you of a piece of cake) it just isn’t important how you are deprived or hurt.

I think there are “scales” of this kind of behavior from irritating (to others) to up to and including “tissue damage” or murder. I’m not sure where the “line is” between just being an N or being a “full fledged P”

Good article.


I think this is the “Big” difference I keep thinking of between my first husband and my ex-bf. My first husband is really socially adept and glib, my ex-bf is really a “nice guy” most of the time, not hurtful, but he suddenly gets very cold and withdrawn sometimes, and at those times he can and will cheat, lie, manipulate, hurt and even destroy women that care for him.

He says he “falls in and out of love” but I think it’s that old attraction thing.. when he first meets em he “falls in love” and is very kind and giving to them, but after a while the attraction fades (when he discovers their inevitable feet of clay) and he moves on mentally, which is when the lying and eventual cheating starts. He will not break up with anyone or completely turn from them, but he will let them break their spirits to pieces on his suddenly stone cold heart.


There is an interesting aspect to my S I need to ponder. Although I don’t think he “gets off” on causing others pain, I know he likes to create the impression–among men primarily I think–that he could hurt them if he wanted.

Before he left he told me that when he was a little boy he used to fantasize that he’d grow up to be a really sinister looking man. Big and muscular, dark hair, long sideburns and goatee.

Since he’s moved out of the house, that is in fact how he looks. Of course he was big and muscular before, and had dark hair, but the long sideburns and goatee, they’re more recent additions. Plus now he has a motorcycle–biggest and baddest and loudest of course–and he carries a knife.

Last year he told my daughter and me that–“like all bikers”–he always carries a knife. I didn’t know all bikers carried knives–do they?–but I was disturbed to know my ex does.

When it comes down to it, it’s impossible to know what these creatures are thinking. My husband just about tops Hare’s scale, so I have no doubt he’s a psychopath. At first I wasn’t sure, back before I knew the extent of his deceptions and his plans to kill me and then later to passively let me–and possibly my children–die (the shot brakes).

However I don’t think his motive was to cause pain per se but to rid himself of an enormous nuisance.


Dear kat_o_nine: As soon as I put that golden band on my ring finger and said “I do” … I was never hit on more in my life … all these men buzzing around me wanting to date me. They were every where … coming out of the woodwork. Why? Cause that little gold band let them know that I was married .. and in their mindsets … someone else was paying all the bills … so, hey lady do you want to “?”

Same thing with the selfish jerks that “fall in and out of love”. It’s because they are selfish. Period. Got the conquest … did the conquest … throw the conquest away. NEXT. Now how much more on the topic of greed and selfishness do you need to read about to understand this concept?


Ox Drover

Dear Gillian,

Yea, some of them get off on being “Billy BAd Ass” or “biker” or “cowboy” etc. and if they are big enough physically they can sometimes pull this off. HOwever, God made man, but Mr. Colt and Misters Smith and Wesson made us all

Reminds me somewhat of this old silly country and western song calle the “Winner” about this old man with one eye gouged out and all his teeth broken etc. sitting in a bar talking to a younger man that liked to fight and win bar brawls. The old man tells the young man how he’s a “Winner” and always won every fight, he might get his ear bitten off or his eye gouged out, but he was The Winner! LOL

Of course it does’t meant tha t’Billy Bad Ass” won’t kill you while he is “acting out” his DRAMA role, because he just might do it. I’m glad that you got out of that relationship alive. I got out of the latest one with my son Alive and I am grateful for that. I hope there will not be a “next” confrontation for either of us. ((((hugs))))


My P did live alone and his house was totally empty apart from the very basic necessities. It wasn’t like a home at all and I think it was literally a place to sleep when he couldn’t find anyone to srounge from. His OW paid for the rent anyway.
He didn’t seem to have any emotional attachment to anything when I think about it. Many times I bought him gifts eg clothes, CD player and after he opened them I never, ever saw them again. He probabaly sold them!


I needed a way to describe the intangible/tangible void I felt with my ex-P. And now I have it–emotional vacancy.

The first night that I was with my ex, in a sexual way, was our honeymoon night. I was so full of wonder and promise. I had been abused as a child and my ex-P led me to believe that he would show the utmost care for me because of my sensitivities. And he did the complete opposite. He raped me. But it is the way it happened. He pushed me down on the bed, I could hardly get my wedding dress off. I froze, I couldn’t scream. I said to him, please wait, wait! But the emotional vacancy the emptiness, all the warmth I thought was there was gone.

This doesn’t feel right, I’m not participating? He doesn’t care? Could this be so, why isn’t he stopping? I just took my mind to a different place. I couldn’t comprehend it. So, I told myself he was just excited so that I could cope. That was the beginning of 10 years of a slow death. Sexual abuse from my spouse, bankruptcy, misdiagnoisis (my ex’s manipulation) all the lying. Sometimes I still can’t believe it happened.

I just recently found out that my ex is getting re-married. I can’t sleep. Honestly, I am a nervous wreck. The idea that someone may experience the same horror that I did is impossible to bear. I find myself saying that “maybe he will treat her better”. But he can’t. The penetrating lack of emotion and indifference to the hurt he inflicts on others screams back at me in my mind and soul. I am sick with despair.

Ox Drover

Dear STarlight,

What a horrible thing to happen to you on your honeymoon, that he was such a beast! I am so glad that you are away from him. I’m sorry that he has another victim, but he will always find another victim and treat her just like he treated you. It would be nice if you could warn her, but she is most likely in the FOG at this point and wouldn’t believe you if you had video of him raping 100 nuns!

It must be painful to have so much empathy for her and be unable to do anything about it. At the same time, though starlight, focus on yourself and your own healing. At the times we are healing, our energy is so limited and we owe it to ourselves to take care of ourselves, and let go of the things that we can’t change or fix. At the top of that list is other’s problems. No matter how much empathy we have for the other victim, it’s out of our hands.

Maybe he will be nicer to her on the first time they sleep together, or maybe they already have slept together, but he will victimize her in one way or another, and most probably in many ways. Pray for this woman that she wakes up from the FOG dream and gets out relatively early into the relationship. That’s about all any of us can do.

KNOWLEDGE IS POWER, learn all you can about psychopaths and that will help you regain your power, help you with your healing from the trauma that this beast inflicted on your soul! ((((hugs))))


starlight i can relate i was under the false impression that my ex s was a caring loving man with issues. It became clearer and clearer to me. Now I look back and although he is gone which is good…. im full of such anger….somedays I cary all day long and other days I yell at the celing. This is not a fun place to be. Did others go through this rage? How do you deal with it. i am a good person who enjoys being peaceful….but my peace is gone.

I have thought more on this- yes they have sudden impulses they act on regardless of the victim’s “feelings”… but they seekout the victims, they look for an opportunity.

Why not buy porn? Use that- as abhorrent as I find porn- the women in that are just as objectified, but in some alternate universe an academic can claim the “porn star” consented.

There’s something about the lack of consent- the violation.

I offer the following to further discussion of these important issues:

His sociopathic quality, if I’m right, is reflected less in an intentionally hurtful agenda than in his emotional indifference to the unintentional hurt he inflicts in the self-centered pursuit of his momentary needs.

There are some researchers who say that certain classes of sex offenders are “less psychopathic” than others.

His desire for sexual gratification in a vacuum as opposed to a relationship indicates an unrestricted sociosexuality and is a reflection of his approach to social interactions. That approach is also usually defined by excessive power motivation in men. See my post on Elliot Spitzer.

At what point does sexuality become aggression? In the moment he has an inability to sense women do not enjoy his advances?

his pattern of leaving women feeling disturbed by his aggression

It is important to remember that power motivation is nearly wholely unconscious and cannot be measured by self-report. Power motivation is about control over rewards including sexual rewards. It isn’t only about sadism. Power motivation can really only be measured by direct observation and with implicit measures like the TAT (and also by the way testosterone). I would be interested to see TAT results for your guys!

If you could train Ted to manage his sexual impulses, what other impulses would be a problem for him and others?

Both men have antisocial behavior and psychopathic personality traits. They both have the potential to harm others and I assume would harm others if given the opportunity to do so.

Does it matter then that Allen may feel remorse? His level of remorse has not stoped him in the past- the long rap sheet.

It only matters if Allen can be motivated to use his talents in a prosocial way. To do that he will have to give up some of his habits and prior pleasures.

In any case sociopathy is BOTH a deficit in the workings of empathy and conscience and abberant motivation.


starlight, what a horrible brute he was to you. Classic S, feed you your dreams, reflect back to you your needs, then violate all of it.

Selena, I really feel for you too, I am pretty sure we have all been there, but it does get better.

On the issue of do they get their jollies by hurting others, I know now, that in the case of my ex – he had to have enjoyed it, because he abused me by stealth (lies, manipulation, phony crisis, etc) for many, many years. What possible other purpose for that than to get off on the power he had and of course the control. This while of course paying lip service to us being “partners”, the love of his life etc.

Aside from LoveFraud, and a good lawyer, family and friends, the most helpful thing I have found lately, some of you have already mentioned, is Ekhart Tolle’s books and philosophy.

Basically, to learn, with practice, to realize that the “mind noise” the anger, despair etc, is our own ego’s reacting to being violated and threatened. And THEN to learn that that is not “me” – that egoic sense of self. The ME is the quiet observer- the watcher within. He teaches us how to give that “watcher” that BEING the space it needs – and to learn to observe the mind noise, but give it a wider berth, make room for the underlying peace.

He teaches us that we ALL are protecting a false self – not just the P’s, a false self constructed through our “story”- the hurts and barbs that life has confronted us with, that we believe have shaped us into who we are.

It is tough to paraphrase but there is great depth and meaning there, and also a way out of the pain. Acceptance of what IS. And then a complete and deep focus on the beauty of the NOW. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but connecting deeply the the present.

Our anger and pain is because they (P’s) have taken or wounded a piece of our “self”. He teaches us how to let that “self” go – and find a much deeper space of peace and connection to all. I highly recommend you check him out on YouTube, especially about pain bodies and how seductive they are.

I for one have found his work extremely helpful, enlightening,and empowering in a spiritual way, transformative, liberating.

As soon as I revert back to ruminating on all the injustice and pain heaped on me by him, what he did and said, I am back in a closed loop of anger. Posting here helps a lot, but also practicing the “management” of the “voice in my head” backing away from it, observing it from a distance, realizing it is my own little “me” trying to survive intact – complete with my victim story and my hurts and pain and anger. That little “me” can be as much a tyrant as the EX if I let it.

I have been practicing telling that little me voice – if you want to cry or be angry – go to your room – I am busy – enjoying the NOW.

But first of all, it takes a whole bunch of time and space away from the relationship to work through the pain and anger, I know. I hope a sense of peace comes soon for all of you, I get mine in fleeting glimpses now, but the frequency is up.

I know that many of the LF posters have healed dramatically, are healing and that we all can and will.


Ox Drover

Dear Eyeswide shut,

I am so glad to know that you are doing better, and your advice is so true. We can control that inner voice and make it behave, but we must believe that we CAN. If we go on the premise that emotions and thoughts are UNcontrolable we are like we are in a raft on the ocean without a sail or a paddle, just at the mercy of the waves.

I think a “spiritual” aspect is necessary to healing completely, whether it is Tolle, The Bible, or any other spiritual “rock” to help bolster us up. I think that Humans have a spiritual component, a spiritual NEED just like we need food, air, water, etc. to be “complete” and to live a good healthy life. I think the fact that the Ps have no conscience, and therefore no “spiritual” component over and above “whatever I want, whenever I want it, and there is no right or wrong for me” is the very thing that makes them TOXIC. Without a spiritual component we’d be just like them.


Dear Oxdrover:

Thank you so much for your words. At this point in my life, I am remarried and my current husband actually told me EXACTLY what you said, that my ex will always have another victim.

I don’t know his fiance personally, and even if I did, I know it would be pointless to say anything. She could’nt believe it. I still don’t believe it and it happpened to ME. I am continuing to heal. But it is so difficult because of what I can only define as brainwashing. After a while I didn’t know what was real anymore. My ex-S was able to convince me and my doctors that I was crazy. So I was on psychotropic drugs for many years. It helped him to gain almost complete dominance over me. He never really yelled or screamed. He was mild in his tone as he would tell me how I kept making mistakes and how he keeps trying to believe in me, but I kept letting him down. In addition, the S would tell me how other men would leave me and that even congregation members told him that there would be no shame if he did (which I later found out was a lie). But he would remind me that he loved me so much that why he was willing to put up with me. He would lie about paying bills and then bring me my favorite flowers, and almost immediately take them back and tell me that he will no longer bring me flowers because I don’t appreciate them. And you know I thought he was right! And I still vied for his love while I was the walking dead. I still have a lot of healing, and once again thank you for your reminders and encouragement.


Dear Selena:

It is the hardest thing to accept that he never cared for me at all. I feel he married me because I made him look normal. I came to that conclusion after I read The Sociopath Next Door.

Although my ex S did what he did that first night. I told myself that he was only excited and I tried to bury what happened. My religious faith follows the scriptual admonition that divorce, with the provision or remarriage, is allowable only when one mate commits adultery. So in my mind I just couldn’t get divorced. It had to be a mistake what he did. And so I continued with him.

He would take me on romatic trips and give me surprise parties. So I lived with this duality. Believing in the image of romance while he continued to do cruel things even convincing me and my doctors that I was crazy.

I just couldn’t give up on the image of who I wanted him to be. Those snapshots of love and happiness. And although I got away, there were so many things that I had NO IDEA HE WAS DOING. Like cheating on me, and I found out he was a Computer Consultant and Congregation Minister by day and a pornographic photographer by night. He had stolen money from my parents and had been lying about me to close friends. So often times I am consumed by rage. I feel as though he stole my intimate thoughts and use them as a snare to trap and torment me. Although I am remarried, the feelings haunt me still. I am thankful to my husband becaue he knows first hand about these demons. He himself was also caught in the web of an S. He gives me great assistance because he knows like only all of us can know.


I can so relate to how you feel. One of the worst things for me during the past 2 years has been the torment at the thought of some other poor woman walking into that wolfs lair. I have been so frustrated at not being able to stop him using and abusing others and happily carrying on with his life when he nearly destoyed mine.
To find peace of mind I have had to teach myself to accept that I cannot ‘save’ anyone else. I have warned as many people about him as I can and hope that they take the advice. That is all I can do.
On my bad days, which are getting less and less, I descend into the ‘why me?’ routine and I feel those rages you describe. To get myself out of it I think about all the other targets – past, present and future and remind myself that HE is the one with the problem and that HE will bring about his own downfall.
I’m glad that your husband has an understanding of what you went through – that is a huge help when dealing with this weird, bizarre behaviour. Although you suffered terribly at the hands of your ex, he FAILED to destroy your life and he has no power over you now.


Starlight ,
I forgot to add that emotional manipulation and psychological torture is the most dangerous and the hardest to recover from so the healing process will take a long time.
Like your P, mine never laid a finger on me – he wasn’t that stupid, just sly, devious and sadistic.
To add to that torture I am a married woman and he used me to torture my husband and children. I have been critiscised on another board for letting it happen to me because of that, as if somehow I should have been able to stop it happening but I hope that you can understand that somehow he brainwashed me. I have never, ever thought of having an affair and I still do not really understand how it happened – I became another person. The proof of what he was is the fact that he and his OW walked away with $50,000 of my money. He long term plan was to marry me to get his hands on the divorce settlement. but thankfully I found out about both of them before it was really too late.
Only people who have been caught in a P’s web could understand this. Luckily for me, my husband did understand and we are back together again.

longlostgrief: yes. my ex-sociopath had his last 2 kids with a woman. he told me when she was pregnant with the 2nd one he was just about to split because he did not love her anymore. instead, he decided to stay in her house 6 yrs because he wanted to be with the kids. he did not sleep with her or anything for those 6 yrs. the arrangement was that if and when she found someone else, he would have to leave. so for 6 yrs he lived in the home and slept in the kids room. probably for free of course. then when she met a guy, he had to leave. he came to our town and lived with his brother. then he moved in with a GF for almost 2 yrs. then when that didnt work out he went back to the brothers. then he met a woman he married 3 mos after they were together. she moved in the house with the brother. then he met me and moved in with me. then he met the current gf and was dating her for a yr behind my back and put half his clothes over there planning to leave (which i did not know) and he lived off me another 9 mos. now he’s at that woman’s home for around 4 mos now…for free. yes. he cannot make it on his own financially. he talks about the fantasy of getting his own place but comments “do you know how much rents are out there?” what a LOSER.


Hi Swallow: I hear you … we get played before we even meet them. Well oiled machines … all of them. They are in the highest ranks of government, business (private and public), they are in our schools, churches, under and over the bushes and trees (just joking … cause I’m sick of them). Thank God for Donna putting LF together … just think if this were a 100 years ago and we couldn’t exchange ideas and knowledge. Our poor ancestors hadn’t a clue to what they are dealing with. Just sheep led to slaughter.

So Swallow, you fell, but you’re not down and out. Hold your head high … lick your wounds …. dust yourself off … know that you are a survivor … love your husband and family … that’s will be the greatest and sweetist revenge (LOL).

You know Shindler’s list and the Pianist have nothing on us … it’s all the same … anti-socials hurting/killing the innocents … Me think they are all POd cause they are cowards and sold out so early … NO balls. Who blogged that their EX had big balls … I counter that … they truly have no balls to sell out so early. Yeah, it’s easy to have all the reinforcements of the other devils on your side … come do it solo? Like you forced us to do. Cowards, all of them cowards. But, I will pray for you because I believe in what God tells me to do. I pray for your souls and I pray that you ask to get closer to God.

Peace Swallow. Bless your sweat loving heart. Have a great life with your family. You deserve that.


Another thing Swallow: Think of all the people who he used and haven’t a clue to log onto this site. Think about all the millions of people who are constantly going over and over and over again with the pain they caused, not knowing they can blogg to us. Count yourself, as I do, lucky that for some reason it lead us to Donna’s site.

I can’t imagine not having you folks to blogg with … all various stories … but all the same … That’s how boring they really are … always destructive with the energy they put out … never creating, always destroying. Boring, boring, boring.

Peace Swallow.


Dear eyeswideshut: I too have read Tolle. He really tapped into what’s going on here on Earth. I love his wisdom. He was going to commit suicide due to his pain body … prayed to God and asked God for guidance. He said he didn’t write the book, just put the words of down on paper … it was written years ago. Now (which was actually 2 or so years ago) the book needed to be published. When you are spiritually ready to read the words on the pages, you will. If not, that’s ok NOT to be ready. In everyone’s time frame.

With Tolle’s book and the Bible, we have to comprehend that life is an illusion. Our spirits, housed in human form are experiencing life … all of life. Good and Bad of life. It’s to keep our focus on loving and acknowledging our Creator (GOD) is what counts. All that happens to us here on this plying field aka Earth isn’t important. Our souls are what is important. Always was, always will be. Everyone is created in God’s image … that’s why we are to turn the other cheek, pray for others … we don’t know anyone else’s cross they carry. WE, as humans NO nothing. Only God knows all. We know God’s virtues because it is written for us. We are to strive and become Christlike. In his image. We are to love everyone. Our friends as well as our enemies. If anyone has descovered God’s name and how it is written, then you understand what I am writing. God’s name is written … everywhere … it was lost in translation from the original script used at the time he wrote his name … translated into Latin, from Latin to the Jewish nations … from the Jewish Nations to the Christians … So when you see YHVH … research this translation back to the scripts God wrote his name. You will see and know God and you will understand why we should LOVE everyone and wish the best for EVERYONE.

Peace and harmony for all of you that are healing. Your souls are all beautiful. You are loved by God who created us all.


And P.S. Sorry for all the typos … I’m weary and tired.


Ox Drover

Dear Starlight,

That emotional abuse is so HORRIBLE that if he had beaten you with a baseball bat daily it would have been the better deal than what he did to you, destroying you emotionally and pretending to be the “good guy”–sheesh! My son stayed with his wife for nearly 8 years and it was only after the separation (after she and her boy friend tried to kill my son and were arrested) that I found out just how hard he had tried to hold the “marriage” together for so long. He also believed that divoce except for infidelity was unacceptable and determined to “stick it out” and hold his pain inside. I am glad that she, by her behavior “released” him. He is happy now and healing, though it of course was very painful for him, but he is doing great! It has been only a little over a year since her arrest (August 2007).

She is out of our lives, and thank God they had no children together.

I am so glad that you found this site and that you are on the road to healing from this horrible nightmare that you lived for so long. At one point, heck, at several points, I know I was “crazy as a bessie-bug” no doubt about it.. Just the stress makes us “crazy”—but it isn’t “insanity” it is STRESS, FEAR, etc. that they have planted in our minds—an “ABNORMAL response to an ABNORMAL situation is NORMAL.” No one could endure what we survivors have and be NOT crazy at some point(s) in it all.

Peace and no contact with them helps us all to regain our sanity and to heal from the trauma. I am so glad you have found love, real love, and remarried. Many of us have not. I am a widow, and got involved with a P in my “neediness” and others have not yet gotten to the point that they can trust themselves to date yet. Some people on here are remarried and some are dating, so we are all in different “stages” but each blogger here has so much insight to offer, and support to offer that as long as we all “hold hands” and walk the road to recovery, to healing, we will all get there. No one can walk it for us, but it is sure comforting to have company as we walk it ourselves. (((Hugs))))


I too have experience that with my ex P. Like when we would talk it was more like her talking “at” me then “to” me. I really wish I knew better how to describe it but that is how it felt. Our conversation were kind of rushed like she wanted to move on to the end of it. Not really enjoying that feeling one gets when we contact (bond) in any type of verbal communication. Also many times I would experience the “look”. To me it was like looking into a person’s eyes but never really seeing the person behind those eyes. Not really seeing any type of compassion or empathy in those eyes. The only way I could describe them is like “doll” eyes. Eyes that lacked emotions or true feeling. If that makes any sense?


I wanted to post a comment that a psychopathic (sadist) made when talking about inflicting pain and hurting others:

One sexual sadist defined sadism in the following way: Sadism: The wish to inflict pain on others is not the essence of sadism. One essential impulse: to have complete mastery over another person, to make him-her a helpless object of our will, to become her God, to do with her as one pleases. To humiliate her, to enslave her are means to this end, and the most important radical aid is to make her suffer since there is no greater power over another person than that of inflicting pain on her to force her to undergo suffering without her being able to defend herself. The pleasure in the complete domination over another person is the very essence of the sadistic drive.

I think he hit it right on the head with that last sentence. It is the domination factor (power & control) that is truly the essence of the psychopath.

As to someone being “remorseful” or sorry that they hurt someone. Talk is cheap. If someone is truly remorseful for hurting someone they will stop hurting them. Saying/acting like they are remorseful does not mean they are.

When I was working with high risk sex offenders I noticed something that many correctional/law enforcement folks will echo. The sex offender “treatment/therapy” made some of them better offenders and criminals. They learned just the right words to say, when to say and how to say and how to better use and abuse the system and people.



Yes, I too saw that in my ex P. She never had any real downtime being alone or on one’s own. I still believe to this day that something like that would terrorize her. I believe she “fears” being alone. I also believe this was just one more reason she “needed” children. They were ready made company for her. Objects (her children) to fill the very void she herself felt in her life. This also explains why she has the need to “jump” from relationship to relationship. Strange but I also remember telling her this very thing after she left the children and me. I remember telling her how she just “jump” from one family into her next family. I also remember reading from some books about how they hate being alone.

But on the other hand I also remember how she felt “disconnected” to us. It was like her being there physically but not being there emotionally?? Good example would be how I would get upset when the children were sick or in some type of pain but she would always be able to maintain complete unemotional control over this situation. How she would be embarrass when I overreacted and got upset if I felt my children were not receiving prompt medical attention.


[[selena says:

starlight i can relate i was under the false impression that my ex s was a caring loving man with issues. It became clearer and clearer to me. Now I look back and although he is gone which is good”. im full of such anger”.somedays I cary all day long and other days I yell at the celing. This is not a fun place to be. Did others go through this rage? How do you deal with it. i am a good person who enjoys being peaceful”.but my peace is gone.]]

I am sure with a 100 percent conference the answer would be yes. We all have experienced this emotional “rage”. I hated mine for so long myself. But knew in my heart it was needed at the time and it is just part of the healing progress. In fact I would give (after learning that it is just a normal healthy reaction to a impossible situation) myself a “rage” time or session. I would tell myself, “ok let it all out James and then try to let it go!” Please don’t worry selena insomuch that it does end or at least lessens in part thru the process of healing and understanding.


“conference should be confidences.. Sorry for the typo.”


Swallow: I hear you about the warning others. Doesn’t work. “They” weave their nonsense “devil dust” into their heads that we lost it or we’re jealous, or we’re this or that. Anyways, the newest victims buy it hook line and sinker. What gets me is when the used and abused newest victim gets destroyed and find their way back to us … angry and accuse of us keeping our mouths closed … aka not warning them … then they get disruptive … destroying us for what “they” did to them. It’s a never ending saga. At this point in my life … materialistic things are just things.

My saddest situation was for those I’ve helped through the years … saving their butts from being on the unemployment line … they were the first ones to join ranks with the evil and do me under. That was an eye opener of “divide and conquer at it’s best”. That’s why they pump up the volume over the years since our grandparents days … back then, their lives were simpler and it was what you did with your life and your family and loved ones that counted … so the divide and conquer routine didn’t work and firing them didn’t work … cause they were used to the depression and soup kitchens … so did that, survived, no big deal if I go that route again … so the wall streeters pumped of the volume on the superficial stuff and that you’re only something if you live in this box, and drive those wheels, and honk this horn. Most everyone bought into this fluff stuff over the last 5 generations … and if you threaten to take it away, those that were believing and loving to others … fall real quick … not to loose the superficial fluff stuff that they think, makes them who they are. It’s all pre-planned and well oiled. Do not think this stuff is coincidence and bad luck. We were targeted and no one gets this yet. Not overly targeted, but targeted just the same. Think about it. Think about all the psychos of the world that were nuturred to be the way they are? They could have gone either way … they could have done a time out in youth detention and paid for their sins (crimes) … but oh noooooooooo, everyone around them supported them and turned the other way … let them blossom their sickness and spew it out on the masses …go out there and destroy everyone in your path. It’s beyond ridiculous. Just like my bosses. For over 30 years everyone knew what psycho’s they were and no one cared. Hey, kick all those grunts in the butt … let them go home, kick their spouses and kids in the butt … then the spouses and kids go out and kick whoever in the butt … then everyone is getting kicked in the butt … no one is happy … everyone is miserable getting kicked in the butt and no one stops long enough to look up to see who’s pulling the strings and laughing their butts off. It’s all a sick, sick, sick game and no one is paying attention. I know in my heart of hearts that my situation was pre-planned and deliberate. And, no one cares? I’m the only one that cares and has to live with it. Everyone else situation is most likely radom …. but it happened just the same. Who would think any one of our EXs weren’t doing time already before or after what they pulled on us … but, nothing has happened to them. They let them out in public to dump all over everyone. Then, if you spend your money to get them put away for what they did … you’ve got a 10 to 90 chance of having this happen. Did anyone ever notice the anti-socials are never in the front line taking the first hit? No way … have the person still believing in the creator up front and taking the bullets. Have to keep our home grown alive and kicking to kick some more butts out there so everyone pays attention to their woes, licks their wounds that they may or may never get over … and no one, not a soul, pays attention to any of it … and it really is an elaborate game that’s been well planned for years. Divide and conquer … divide and conquer. What? You don’t think our marriages could last as long as our parents? Can’t have that … give them 5, maybe 10 years tops and then come to us for divorces … let’s split up your family … screw up your kids, teach them baloney in school, drugs out on the streets ….

Peace. Enough said.

Enough. I’m tired and this is way to much for this outlet.


James: Pick up Tolle’s book “A New Earth”. It does wonders for your soul and to rid yourself of the pain “they” caused to you. You’ll heal. You’ll get better and stronger each day. it’s just not a quick fix. Wasn’t meant to be. That’s neither here nor there … but Tolle is on to something. Check out his book … read it through … put it down, pick it up again. The more you heal, the more comes pouring out of the pages.

Check out what was blogged previously and what they have to offer for info. It’s the truth that rids you of the pain.

No quick fixes for this type of hurt to your heart and soul. Good news is … you will get through it. Bad news … it takes a while.


Oh, and why you are at it … check out this site


thanks for sharing.
i understand the ‘disconnect’ you speak of. many times throughout our relationship my ex-p would just ‘space out’ and not even be in the room w/me emotionally. either he was thinking about his other conquests or trying to remember his lies, is my guess! he also mentioned once that he didn’t even feel connected to his children (who he always professed were his ‘heart’). personally, i think s/p’s are afraid of everything. the literature states they have no fear mechanism, but in my experience, that’s just one more front they put on.


Thank you so much for your kind words. I honestly do not know how I would have survived if I had not found LF and yes you’re right, we are the lucky ones who found a light at the end of the tunnel. There are so many struggling with the madness without even knowing they are being played like fish on a hook.
Having people understand and validate our stories is one of the most powerful ways to help us recover and I try to give back the encouragement and wisdom that I have received from good souls like you.
I think I will get a copy of Tolle’s book that you recommend. Many people say they learned a lot from him.
Sleep well and Thank you.


hi all,
so it really sounds like these lunatics just can’t live on their own. interesting, but not surprising. it’s not like they can wipe their own butts without first trying to manipulate someone to do it for them … and THEN give them 10 bucks for the pleasure of doing it!!! (just a little s/p humor) but i digress …
i’m pretty certain my s/p was living with three of us at the same time. his wife (where he went ‘to see his kids’), me (the mommy with benefits) and his new gf (young hot, stylish and new … and now pregnant).
while i’m doing pretty well considering this jerk was the center of my universe for 100 years, i still feel like a complete FOOL for putting up with his lies lies lies lies for SO long.
is my self-esteem really that low? … or was i just hopelessly trying to believe the good stuff (and it was really good — he was the master of deception) was all real?


Iwonder: a-ha!!! now i know where all his clothes went! the two months of our relationship (when he wouldn’t have sex with me because he ‘hurt his groin’ playing sports ), he would leave the house wearing two shirts or take a pair of jeans with him because he wanted to wear them ‘tomorrow … and i can’t stay here tonite’. suddenly i realized half of his clothes were missing. then, when he finally admitted he was cheating and involved with his new gf (and she’s pregnant), he was gone and living with her. pretty convenient, eh? well, the homeless men of new york are now enjoying the rest of his clothes which i put out on the stoop!

lonstingrief: at least your sociopath ex admitted he was cheating. my ex continued to engage in the facade of loving me by not cutting off the sex. then when i found out about the other woman and started chanting her name over and over again to him, he wouldn’t have encounters with me..but this was only 2 days before i went to the other womans house and caught him there. hindsight has 20/20 vision they say. too bad we only put the pieces to the puzzle together after the damage has been done. He was and still is using the other woman. the week before i caught him he left a note on my desk for me to read when i came home from work. he wrote that he was going to stay at his boy’s house tonight (ow’s,) and then the next night go to see a freind to borrow some $. It was her $ he was “borrowing.” he was out of work for 3 mos and just about to start a new job and needed clothes for the job and gas $. she gave it to him. I would love to open this woman’s eyes but he had already layed the foundation of lies to her about me so she won’t believe me. he’s probably told her the same SH.. as when he met me. he was already with someone when i met him but he told me it was over. i found out it was not. but i didn’t find out until the demise of our relationship.

To all who would like to comment: After reading all the posts, I have come to the conclusion that all the victims of sociopaths are nurturing, caring, loving, giving people who give freely out of the love of their hearts. I’m sure we put up with a lot of abuse and crap all hoping the other person would suddenly look at us and realize, wow, this person is so wonderful. i love this person so much. but this never happens. Since sociopaths are so smooth is it ever possible for a sociopath to hook up with another sociopath? each not knowing the others true motivations until they destroy eachother? Hmmm…very interesting.

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