By | September 23, 2010 197 Comments

When history is a predictor of future behavior

When is history predictive of future behavior? Who can change? Who will change? Can sociopaths change? What is meaningful versus unmeaningful change?

I would argue that history is most predictive of future behavior when the mindset of the individual—especially the motivational mindset of the individual—remains static. By this I mean that short of a radicalized mindset, one can assume that the individual’s historical behaviors and attitudes will not change, at least not meaningfully.

So motivation goes directly to the question who is likely, or unlikely, to make changes in historical behavior patterns. One must ask, what is the individual’s motivation to change previous behavior? 

This isn’t always easy to answer for several reasons—one, we can disguise our motives;  also, we can want to believe that someone’s stated motive is their true motive, when it isn’t (sometimes against our better judgement). Plus, as change-intenders, we can also deceive ourselves about our own motives, further complicating the task of ascertaining the true motive(s) behind an intended change.

In the case of the sociopath, we can be quite sure of this: His motives will be self-serving (which alone isn’t necessarily a fatal problem).  What makes the problem “fatal” is that the sociopath’s motives will be exclusively self-serving.  Sure, he may be motivated to please you, but it will be, exclusively, to benefit himself (from his pleasing you).

This means the sociopath won’t be looking genuinely to benefit you with his change, but rather, principally (if not entirely) himself.

And so sociopaths, if motivated enough, can make changes. But one can’t stress enough that their motives to change will be shallow. Now it may not look like this on the surface—that is, a slick sociopath can seem to want to change with convincing, genuine intent. But eventually, often much too late for his partner, the underlying, dominating self-centeredness of his agenda will surface.

This is a fancy way of reminding ourselves that the sociopath is manifestly out for himself; thus any changes he endeavors will be pursued with the aim to protect and advance his interests, his gratifications; not yours.

Let’s consider the case of the abusive personality—more specifically, someone with a significant history as a serial emotional, if not physical, abuser. Can this individual change? And, if so, under what circumstances?

If he’s a sociopath, we have our answer—no. The sociopathic abuser is a flat-out hopeless case; he will never stop his abuse in a permanent, reliable way. The reason why is that he’s lacking an essential motivation: to want, genuinely, to cease his role as a cause of his partner’s suffering.

In the sociopath’s case, he lacks this motivation permanently because,  basically, he lacks love and empathy for his partner. This is the sociopath’s essential defect—his incapacity to love and empathize maturely. He is primitively, functionally deficient in this respect. Consequently, he has no intrinsic incentives to sacrifice himself meaningfully (including to make meaningful changes), especially in the long-term, for others. 

Can the sociopath cease his abuse temporarily? Yes, if the short-term incentives are strong enough. The sociopathic abuser can sometimes suspend his abuse just long enough to recapture what he wants (like renewed sexual attentions), or just long enough to avoid losing what he’s unprepared to lose (like a doting partner who makes his life convenient in many ways).

But bear in mind the shelf-life for his changes will be temporary; also, i think it bears repeating, these changes will be driven to improve his, not your, sense of security and comfort.

Conversely, where you have an abusive individual who is capable of feeling love and empathy for his partner, it is possible that he may reach a point of recognition that he no longer wants to be a cause, through his abuse, of his partner’s suffering. This is where the kernel of hope lies and where the work begins–from the recognition that one can no longer justify, or rationalize, being a source of suffering to another. However this requires a capacity to empathize; and where one feels love, as well as empathy, for one’s victims, then one has a chance to begin to work through one’s abusiveness.

Unfortunately chronic abusiveness is often associated with, and supported by, a highly narcissistic mindset, in which capacities for mature love and empathy are limited. This explains why it is often very difficult to treat successfully chronic relationship abusers.

(This article is copyrighted © 2010 by Steve Becker, LCSW. My use of male gender pronouns is strictly for convenience’s sake and not to suggest that females aren’t capable of the attitudes and behaviors discussed.)

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Frank Lee Speaking

This is a very good post. I would hope that maybe when these articles are posted from now on that the automatice assumption will stop being implied that only men can be sociopaths.

Putting “he”, “his” etc in this articles is almost like a form of NLP which just further entrenches the misguided notion that sociopaths are male and the victims; female.

Repsectfully I would like to see “He” etc replaced with “the sociopath” or “he/she” – although to be honest in an ideal world if should be really “it” and “that thing”.

Ox Drover

In light of this article, Steve, it brings to mind the “redemption” of many convicted murderers as they face the time of their execution. Particularly one executed Thursday (yesterday) and how SHE had “found Jesus” and a “purpose in life” and plead for her life to be spared because she had “found redemption” in her death row cell.

It is the rare inmate facing death who does not claim to have found redemption on death row! Just as my own psychopathic son claims “redemption” in letters he send to various people claiming such great concern with “what would Jesus do” but comparing these letters with the ones he wrote to his co-conspirator in his plans to take over the family assets by eliminating first me and then the others…there is no doubt that his “redemption” is false.

While “change” in behavior and change in thinking/attitude is possible, even in people motivated for changes in these things I think is extremely difficult. I can look to my own attitudes and behaviors as an example of how difficult it is to change thinking, attitudes, and behavior–especially against one’s own “will.”

I quit smoking cigarettes. It was extremely difficult, especially at first, and though I knew the behavior was bad for me, I wanted to continue to engage in that behavior because it brought pleasure to me. It was my “drug of choice.”

Right now, I am on a restricted calorie food plan (read DIET) and though I know it is imperative that I stick to this food plan for the sake of my health, I do NOT want to do so, because I get pleasure from food. My body is accustomed to more food than it is now getting and it is “complaining” that I am starving it which it is genetically programmed to do by eons of my ancestors who survived because their bodies continually urged them to seek more food.

Change is difficult even in a person who is MOTIVATED to change thinking and behavior, whether it is to kick a drug habit, change eating behaviors (that’s why diets don’t work, it is only a CHANGE in eating behaviors and attitudes that does work).

To DEPRIVE yourself of something that is pleasurable to YOU for the “greater good” of OTHERS (even ones you love) is not an attitude or behavior that comes easily or naturally to many humans, and not at all to psychopaths.

I read an interesting quotation today by a Chinese man about the Chinese version of charity. He said “If you have a cup of water, you keep it for yourself, if you have a barrel you share it with your family, if you have a river, you share it with everyone.”

While this pretty much describes general mankind I think, the psychopaths are not even satisfied with having the river, and don’t want to Share, and the Mother Theresas of this world give away the cup of water they had.

While the psychopath is not going to be motivated to change his selfish behavior of “everything for me,” we on the other hand, having been on the other hand too empathetic, too giving, reserving too little for ourselves, need to find the motivation and strength to change our behavior to reserve some of our caring and empathy for ourselves.

TRUE Change of attitudes and resultant behavior, under the best of conditions, is difficult. For the psychopath, change is impossible because he has no motivation and sees no benefit in depriving himself of whatever he wants, whenever he wants it.

In the meantime….gosh I am hungry! LOL

kim frederick

Hey, Oxy, Did everything go ok at the Dr. appointment?

Ox Drover

Well, let’s just say I am on a STRICT change of EATING PROGRAM, you can’t “quit cold turkey” with the eating like you can with cigarettes or booze, but you definitely only need SO MUCH FOOD per day and I’ve been over doing it.

Got more tests scheduled, I made my doctor laugh when I told her “Well I guess this is the dance they call the DOCTOR TROT” She said “What’s that?” I said “that is when old people trot from doctor to doctor to find out what’s wrong or fix it.” LOL

Nothing serious at this point except I DO have to get my weight under control—so I am now OUT OF DENIAL, and taking ACTION that I don’t necessarily want to take, but realize I MUST TAKE. I’ve just let the weight creep up and creep up until now it is no longer a case of joking about being a “fat old lady” I now QUALIFY and it’s NO JOKE…soooooo…had a 100 cal. yogurt and a banana for breakfast and it is about LUNCH TIME now! YEA!!! but i t is still 10 hours or so before I can go back to bed and sleep on my empty stomach!

Remember when you had to eat your veggies because of all the “starving children in china?” Well tonight when you go to sleep, think about the STARVING OLD LADY AT MY HOUSE! LOL ROTFLMAO

kim frederick

I’m sorry you’re hungry, but very glad there’s nothing serious going on.

I really should see a Dr. too. As I’ve shared before, I put on weight really fast after leaving the spath, hit menopause two months later…but I’ve never been overweight untl now…It’s all in my middle the bad kind…due to stress? And I’m hungry all the time. I’m afraid I might have developed diabetis…my feet twitch and tingle and zap me, too.

I hope you aren’t feeling hungry, tonight…but I’ll eat a little extra for you. 🙂

Ox Drover

Dear Kim,

I spent a great deal of time in little clinic rooms teaching diabetics how to change their eating habits…and knowing this, and having type II diabetes in my family, I didn’t change my own eating habits lately and have gained weight and gained weight….and yes I have the beginning of diabetes type II…probably not for a long TIME yet, but still it is there. You are describing the Signs and symptoms of type II Diabetes and I STRONGLY SUGGEST you get to a doctor and get tested.

The test is called HA1C And is now used to verify diabetes –it has actually been USED to verify it for a long time but can now be “legally” used to do so. I used it for years. It is actually the AVERAGE of your blood sugars for the last 3 months.

Mine is only VERY slightly raised but it is like being preg or dead, you IS OR YOU AIN’T!

Diabetes is now not really a separate disease from heart problems and blood pressure etc. and is called METABOLIC SYNDROME so GET THEE to a doctor Kimmie. 99% of diabetic treatment is not medication it is SELF CARE with exercise and food intake and monitoring.

I used to tell my patients I was the COACH and they were the TEAM and it is a “do-it-yourself” treatment plan. So now I am going to have to pull my canoe out of DE RIVER DE-NIAL and get serious about my food and exercise. So come on Chickie, Let’s do it together (ps. my added weight is 90% around my middle too, STRESS is a big cause but eating too much is the main cause!)

Get on the American Diabetic Association web site and look at the food programs (but DO go to the doctor and get tested, you might need medication at least for a while, pills usually do it in type II and are not expensive)

I am doing 1200 cal per day x 2 weeks and then will reassess. Eating 3 times a day and small snacks in between and chewing GUM! in between too.

Hey, if we can kick the chemical addictions and kick the addictions to the Ps we can GET HEALTHY all the way around! We can CHANGE our eating plans! (Diet is a nasty word!) I like STARVATION as a much better word! LOL ((((Hugs)))))


The best thing about being on what I call “the relationship weight loss diet” is that it’s REALLY easy to stick to. LOL. I have NO desire to eat, but when I do, I make sure it’s healthy and I make sure it’s balanced. I guess I’m using that approach all around now right now.

I’ve been battling the SAME 20 lbs for a LONG time now. I kept thinking, “Why am I not losing weight if my relationship has ended? Everyone else loses weight?” It was because I had not actually started to let go. Now that I am and I am GENUINELY going through the grieving process. Before I’d grieve for 2 days and then cave and contact “the love of my life”. So now I’m 14 pounds down and that part feels GREAT. I’m going out tonight with a wonderful friend. I’m going to put on my new jeans and enjoy the warm, fall night. I’m not jumping for joy, but I at LEAST feeling pretty good about how I look 😉 Which sure beats how it felt when I had the extra weight.

I’m shedding a lot of things. Warning to anyone out there who thinks the “breaking point” is a piece of cake. It ain’t. There are simply MOMENTS of peace. They are fleeting, but hey, at least they exist. Cary Grant once said that he had an image of the man he wanted to be, so he did everything “that image/man” would do and finally he BECAME the character and man we all think of as Cary Grant. A great example of “fake it till ya make it.”

So EVEN though everything I do takes SO much frickin’ effort and this “letting go” business is like a drug addict going through detox (meaning it’s sickening and EXTRAORDINARILY painful), I keep reminding myself that I have tried EVERYTHING ELSE and I’m really out of options. And so I plug through each day, one step at a time. The days last FOREVER. The weekends are always hardest. But at least I’m not thinking, “Where is he? What is he doing this weekend? Is he with her? Does he think about me? Does he wish I was there?” I’m just finally saying “Where am I? What am I doing this weekend? Who should I spend my time with? How do I feel?”

I just keep saying, “Did you make decisions today based on what was good for you, TODAY?” Answer: Yes. “Did you help others TODAY?” Answer: Yes. Ok, so that’s all you can ask of yourself right now. The good news is that I DIDN’T do something that would harm me. And even though I would LIKE to stop needing to return to the messages on this site, I am not beating myself up that I am writing here. Hopefully it helps someone else. It helps me for sure.

I don’t LIKE to admit that I have allowed my life to get so bad. And I do resist the process. BUT, I try and I AM NOT GIVING UP! Yes, it’s painful, but I am frickin’ RESOLVED to do this. Even if I HATE the fact that I have to keep repeating all this mantra stuff daily. Sometimes I feel pissed off that I have to do all this “touchy feelie, self-help, finding God, shit” (Forgive the blasphemous talke here). But I know that’s me resisting the process. I have ALWAYS believed AND SAID that we are ONLY here to learn who WE ARE and to live out OUR TRUTH. I have known it, said it, but I was NOT living that anymore. I was betraying myself. Yes “HE” was betraying me. But I am not responsible for that crime. I AM responsible for what I do and each day I just make sure I focus on that and that alone.

Despite the fact there is a COMPULSION to return to my old behavior, I am instead using that compulsion to write here. Still a compulsion, but at least the way I am ALLOWING it to manifest is positive. I believe that people often think that former drug addicts who become “born again” have recovered. In some ways they have, but I personally believe that they have simply replace one compulsion for another. The idea is to find BALANCE and to be RID of compulsion. YES you need food to live, but overeating when you are not hungry is about being COMPULSIVE. Yes you need to find God to find yourself, but if then all your conversations are nothing but about religion and the focus is to convert everyone you encounter (I know I’m getting into hot water here, with some), then I think you are still not dealing with the root of the problem and are STILL living a life of COMPULSIVE behavior…..blah, blah, blah, blah. I’m starting to BORE myself with all this. I’m ONLY writing now so someone else can read and say “Ok, I’m not alone. I fee like that.”

Anyhow, time to shower, change, fluff my hair, slap on some make-up and go have some fun. LOL. Well, I’ll TRY anyway 😉

Have a great weekend Soul Searchers.


Ox Drover

Dear Callista,

Darling I have been here at LF for 3 years more or less. THREE years, and I think I have posted EVERY day except maybe 1 or 2 in that time. I do not think that that means I am WEAK or anything else, it means that this is theraputic for me. I can look back at some of my earlier posts and even if they “sound” strong I know that I was still in a very EARLY stage of the healing.

Sure, it may help someone else, but the MAIN PERSON MY POSTING HAS HELPED IS ME—because when I say to you, NO CONTACT, I am reinforcing that mantra into my mind.

When I am thinking about “what advice would I give to her?” I think about what advice I NEED TO LISTEN TO….

It isn’t about wallowing in pity, I’m long past that FINALLY, or needing validation every second of every day, it is that RECOVERY AND HEALING IS A JOURNEY NOT A DESTINATION. There will never be a time when I can say “I am FULLY 100% healed and dont have lessons I need to learn.”

Just as the people in AA are always working toward recovery or working on recovery, so we must work TOWARD healing. We may get closer and closer every day, but the JOURNEY CONTINUES as long as we breathe.

My “problem”—my WORST PROBLEM—in my life was that after one severe attack by a psychopath I would fall into a heap and try to “heal” and even THINK I had ARRIVED at “being healed” but then because I hadn’t figured out WHAT HIT ME, I fell victim to the next psychopath that walked by or fell victim to the same one over and over again.

This time, I GOT THE LESSON, that I will always WORK toward healing, work toward WISDOM and work toward being the best person I can be for each day, and to be supportive to others as much as I can, but NOT to allow myself to fall into enabling behaviors, and to NOT NEGLECT MYSELF.

I’m glad you are going out with your make up on and your bouncy hair! Go have a GOOD TIME or ELSE!!! You enjoy yourself or face the consequences! LOL ((((Hugs)))) {Nah, I wouldn’t hit you too hard with the skillet for not enjoying yourself, you’re giving it your best shot, and that’s all a jack ass can do!!!!} LOL


Thank you Steve for another very interesting article and seemingly right on target with my experience.

When the Spath in my life recently said “I love you, you make feel better than anyone else, but ‘m letting you go because I want what’s best for you”….I wondered weather this was an admission of all his abuse on his part, with an attempt to reform his chronic emotional abuse? Did he really feel some small spekle of love and empathy for the pain he’s caused me? and whants to maker restetutuion by setting free…or was it another manipulative maneuver to get me to feel confused, anxious and sorry for him?

After 4 years of behavioral history patterns where at times there was “gentle” abuse or no abuse, and I thought he was trully reforming, even becomming more genuinly loving….to flipping back to mean psychological manipulation, laing and cheating, was there ever a sincere attempt to reform?

He’s parting words were “I know I have issues to work on”…”thank you P for all you did for me, helping me see things in a different perspective and recovering from me from prostate surgery ED issues, now go in peace” Peace because It’ll never work out!…is this a genuine admission and attmept to change himself?


it’s been an odd night. dealing with the fall out of the outing. such weirdness not to have been expected. cannot say details…but why i would expect it to be garden variety weird, and not fucking twilight zone weird is beyond me. but i did.

people are shakey and suspicious. understandable. but i am not going to give much beyond the basic info. a couple more days? probably. it’s sooo weird and THE best affirmation of how weird the poo is. i mean, omg weird. i really have come a long way. i am still so shattered, and my life and health is a mess – but i am getting myself back. different, but back.

Ox Drover

Ayelah, dear, “Is this a genuine admission and attempt to change himself?


The only thing “genuine” about them is that they are 100% FAKE!

THERE WAS NEVER a sincere effort at anything except conning you!

Keep the thought in your mind, HE IS THE LIE!!! HE **IS** THE LIE! (((hugs))))


best cure for spath indigestion? eat the noisy neighbourhood first year students. there IS something to be said for being over 50, and having a pissed off face.


Aeylah – What you said he said ( I love you, you make me feel better than anyone else, but am letting you go because I want whats best for you ) that is gaslighting at it’s brightest…

super chic

one_step… Twlight Zone, ha! I can just hear Rod Serling’s voice
explaining the ending (or in this case… outing).

I know what you mean about getting yourself back
but different,
I feel like I was turned inside out, I still feel like that about 50% of the time.


Shabby What was it that Rod Serling said at the beginning of each episode? “You are about to enter—–? can any of you puter wizard’s find a link of it?


hey shabby – i love this! rod serling explaining…maybe we can dub his voice for her trial…snort.

i am sitting here putting more stuff togehter for the lawyer. sigh. i want to get it over. it’s so toxic.

i have been really crazy sick for the last week…good time to do something hard, eh! jeez – but i couldn’t not do it anymore. i just want it over, and it will take a bit more time. [email protected]#.

50% is waaaay better than 90% 😉


didn’t know how apt this really was…’lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge.’ ouuu boy!


THANX ONESTEPPERS – that brings back memories – and yep splains it to a T

Ox Drover

I watched part of Dateline tonight about John Gardner the one who murdered those two girls Amber and Chelsey. He was a “low risk” sex offender (IS THERE SUCH A THING?) and even had a GPS on him but NO ONE MONITORED IT to see where he went until AFTER the murders….the DA and all the law enforcement who COULD have given him a LIFE WITHOUT PAROLE sentence BEFORE the girls were murdered all had EXCUSES about how it was impossible to predict he was dangerous, even though a psych eval said he would be dangerous his whole life! (one other psych eval said he could be “treated”_-yea, right, I believe that! NOT!

The murder of these two girls, however, resulted in new tougher California laws about sex offenders and parole and monitoring.

He got life.

At the victim’s impact statement which was filmed and shown on TV the girl who GOT AWAY from him by hitting him in the nose with her elbow and apparently hurting him pretty good said to him “HOW’S YOUR NOSE?”

He immediately got this LOOK OF RAGE ON HIS FACE and said to his attorney, “she didn’t hit me, she’s just saying that for publicity”

One of the murdered girls’ mothers said “now we know that look of rage is the last thing our daughters saw before they died.”

One of the girl’s mothers went to the jail to interview him, and she said he “acted like” he was sorry, but she made him DETAIL the details and he seemed reluctant to tell her all the details. Afterwards she seemed to think he FELT something….yea, he did, he FELT PRIDE IN NOT ONLY KILLING THE GIRLS BUT MAKING THE MOTHER ENDURE THE RETELLING OF IT. What a fake. The look of RAGE when he was reminded that one girl HIT HIM AND GOT AWAY…that was his real feeling. I’m glad that the girl got away and I’m glad that she hit him where it “hurts” in his inflated EGO at the sentencing.

I doubt that the young woman really knows just how much it must have hurt him to attack his EGO as a big tough rapist! A mere woman hhit him in the nose and GOT AWAY! TOWANDA for her!!!!

super chic

I’ve got Dateline on now, they are saying
he was in compliance with his probation?????
Yeah, and low risk.
Sick. Sick. Sick.

super chic

one_step, good link! Love that man’s voice!
I think after all the crazy we will turn out to be
better!!!!!!!! We will be SUPER-HUMAN!! lol

How is the gardening going?
At least while you are there, you can forget about
all the crap for a while, that’s what happens for me
when I go do my volunteer work.

Ox Drover

Dear Chic,

Yea, “in compliance with parole” they even had a GPS tag on him but didn’t monitor it except AFTER A CRIME. DUH?

I go so angry at the excuses of the DA and the cops for why they didn’t do anything more to monitor him or to give him a longer sentence that I had to leave the room. Makes you want to biatch slap them for their “higher and mightier” attitudes.

That look of RAGE on his face when the girl mentioned the hitting him in the nose and his comments to his attorneys about “she didn’t hit me” show the true thoughts of a psychopath if I ever saw anything that did.

super chic

I know what you mean, it’s hard to watch. 🙁


Hello everyone,

I often wonder about the current classification system that makes a distinction between the “Sociopath” and someone suffering from so called “Narcissistic Personality Disorder”. Because in my experience, there is the same inability/unwillingness to change in the latter as in the former. Moreover, I get very irritated by the distinction that is often made between Sociopathy and NPD. In Martha Stouts’ book “The Sociopath Next Door”, for example (and likewise the DSM 4), she argues that people with NPD can “experience emotions such as love and guilt, but lack empathy” (whereas the sociopath can feel neither love, guilt nor empathy). Well, to put it simply, I think this is absolutely wrong for the following reason: How can it possibly be maintained that one can feel love WITHOUT EMPATHY! To my way of thinking, that absolutely misses the mark, because the very nature of love, one might almost say, is that it is perhaps 87% empathy.

In a word, I think people like Martha Stout and the folks in charge of DSM 4 give the NPD people FAR too much credit. (For one, “Narcissist” sounds less harsh and severe than “Sociopath”.) In fact, I think there is really no meaningful demarcation between full blown Sociopathy and NPD. The point of confusion is the supposed ability of NPDers to “experience love.” However, what they really experience is NOT love. (Again, show me love without empathy and I’ll show you a misguided notion of what love is.) What they actually experience – at best – is the selfish rush of emotion (what a thirteen year old calls “love”) that can apparently be mistaken for love. But it is not even close to real love, and I almost find it offensive that certain people (i.e., the NPD vampires) are given credit for such a quintessentialy human faculty which they in fact do not possess.

I think the real truth of the matter is that there should be no distinction made between the two disorders. At best they should both be viewed as subsets of ASPD. But let’s stop giving the NPD folks so much credit – THEY CANNOT LOVE! To love without empathy is such a contradiction in terms that it’s absurd on its face, and it does a profound disservice to anyone who has ever been victimized by someone with NPD (Ask John Edward’s wife what HIS “love” amounted to! If John has NPD then I think he should only be granted that less stigmatizing title if we classify it a subset of Sociopathy. Because it IS sociopathy – I defy anyone to prove the contrary!)

Of course, it is acknowledged that NPD is almost impossible to “treat.” Still, I think people are often fooled because of this mistaken notion regarding their ability to feel love and guilt (sans empathy, of course). I smiled when Aeylah asked if her Spath could “change”, because I knew what Oxy would say – and I’m in entire agreement. But I think the victims of NPD (again, poor Elizabeth Edwards) are very frequently caught in the same trap of word games and manipulation. So as a defense mechanism and in service to the truth of the matter, I think we should call them ALL sociopaths – and forget the meaningless little distinctions about narcissistic “love” and “guilt” – because it’s just so much B.S. The crux of the matter is the lack of empathy – it always comes back to that. A person without empathy is by definition a chronically, hopelessly toxic individual (there is no reforming them, ever), and it is entirely fruitless to look for a human emotion/motivation in any aspect of their conduct. By even giving them the benefit of the doubt means one is already well on the way to victim status.

Very well – those are my thoughts for what they’re worth. This issue has been on my mind of late, and I’m curious what others think. At the least, to get back to the main point of the thread, I think the only relevant thing is to decide whether or not someone has empathy. The lies, manipulation, emotional abuse, and all the rest of it – are just so many manifestations of its absence. But once it is determined indeed that empathy is not present, then as far as I’m concerned what you have is sociopathy (Again, I maintain that NPD is a very concrete variety of sociopathy). And as we all know, sociopathy can never be cured or ameliorated – it can only be avoided.


constantine…I know you are right and well done for trying to articulate that complete puzzle about the love thing..and empathy…I must confess however my mind is reduced to scrambled egg when I try to make sense of it…so I just go for a walk and look at nature instead….I agree with you on the meaningless little distinctions…they drive me up the wall….toxic…the damn lot of them

oxy- reminded of a line in the very funny sit com we used to have over here called Absolutely Fabulous (Ab Fab) with Jennifer Saunders….anyway Jennifer is in denial the whole time about her weight, and she is sitting with her mother in the kitchen…(mother is hilariously passive aggressive) she stares over at her mother depressed about her weight and confides about how bad she feels…she says ” you know inside this fat person there is a thin person trying to get out….” her mother smiles kindly and replies…”just the one dear? ”

I agree with another great Oxy line on psychopaths:

“The only thing “genuine” about them is that they are 100% FAKE!”


Dear Oxy and Hens,

Thank you for clearing up the FOG in my brain!

Oxy; Thank you for reminding me “The only thing “genuine” about them is that they are 100% FAKE!” …priceless!

Hens; Wow…I didn’t even think of his statements as Gaslighting, but you are so right.

A sofisticated manipulator and actor who can come off sounding so altruistic is very dangerous to desipher when your caught up in the emotion of it all!

Ox Drover

Dear Constantine,

Can’t remember the exact name of it but Dr. Leedom did an article here recently (last few weeks) so shouldn’t be too difficult to find about the fact that psychopathy is a spectrum of a disorder not just a cut and dried, “he is, or he ain’t

You are right Narcissism is a BIG part of the problems with the psychopath. You could NOT “be” a psychopath without being also a Narcissist. (I think the new DSM V is going to put “narcississistic PD as part of PPD not separate.)

Keep in mind that there is no absolute on TALL or FAT or BIG or LITTLE and the same with the psychopath. A person can be a psychopath and just appear to the world like an unreasonable jerk—not be likely to kill anyone etc. he is still ALL FOR HIMSELF but somewhat limits his CHOICES of what he will to to what he think he might be able to “get away with”

This is the cop/doctor/lawyer etc psychopath but limits his worst behavior to those nearest and dearest or maybe someone at work he can verbally or even physically abuse.

Psychopaths have CHOICES in how they behave….I think a lot of what they do is fueled by how much RAGE they have when their CONTROL is thwarted, or like that John Gardner rapist murderer who was featured on the 2 hour Dateline last night. His particular thing happens to be control, rape and murder and he CHOSE to do that—-over and over again.

Other psychopaths choose to belittle, gaslight and cheat on their spouses. Some others choose to not work and have someone else meet their needs for food, clothing, transportation and shelter. CHOICES.

Aeylah, you are right, when they are GOOD ACTORS and good at GASLIGHTING it is difficult to know what to believe. If you are in the FOG (Fear, Obligation and Guilt) you will believe it all, even knowing it isn’t true, somehow you still “believe.” That puzzled me about myself, even if I knew it was a lie, I still believed. Now that is dedication to denial! Just keep on remembering that he IS the lie. He doesn’t JUST lie, he IS a lie. Nothing about him is real. Stay strong and stay NC!!! ((((hugs)))))


hi sahbby – i was at work yesterday and only thought of the poo spath once during the day – that’s major, considering what’s going on right now. she did, however suck up every piece of my brain last night. or i should say – i let her suck up my brain. it’s been really shitty.

the garden is winding down. not as much fun this year – not so many people active and working togehter, and i live farther away so don’t get there as often. but still, it is soil and plants and it is giving me a way to be in the community to some extent. i want to move out to the country. don’t know how that might happen yet…with my own big garden.

how is your volunteer work going?



The confusion of Narcisstic/sociopathic love and the lack of empathy, with resulting harm reminds me of the classic case of trauma bond victims. Very well explained in the book “The Betrayal Bond” by Patrick J. Carnes.

In my case it started with and continues with my NPD father; I know he loves me, he occasionally shows it with his actions….(he helped me buy a car), occasionally his words…..(when he tells me I am smart)…never says “I love you”…., yet he fluctuates between periods of being loving to periods of exteme cruelty, emotional abuse and neglect…..He himself claims very proudly to have no empathy! …yet when he is cruel he reminds me that as my father he’s only doing this because he “loves” me and cares for me.

Knowledge of this personality disorder and now knwoing that they do not change, even when you are fooled into believing they can, (as was my case in my previous post)….. has finally given me hope to change what I can….ME…..not to please anybody but to better understand ME and why I have befallen to predatory men all my life. I accept my own shortcommings as a codependant personality….and work hard at re-training myself to think healthy.

In the mean time, I treat people like my NPD father with minimum contact and wear the psychological shield when I’m around him knowing what he is and who he is…..period.

super chic

one_step, just thinking of the spath once while you were at work is great! I hope you can wind it all up with the lawyer soon and then you can fight off the vampire biatch by just healing and feeling better everyday!!!!! Fark her!

I forgot that the gardening would be winding down (since it’s still 100 degrees here during the day, it feels like summer, blah, I’m sick of it). I hope someday your dream comes true and you can move to the country.

The volunteer work is going ok. I think I’ll go out there tomorrow. Today I am leaving in a few hours with my sister to go spend the day with our cousin. Hopefully I can stop thinking about myself for a few hours! Maybe I’ll take an Ativan, LOL.


one_step, Having a “pissed off face” I call it my “don’t eff with me” face is great in your thirties too! I love the return look or downturned eyes as if to say “I don’t what to tango with that beotch!”

Aeylah, they must have a “sociopath script”–xpath said almost the say thing to me. “I’ll give you a divorce because I want what is best for you.” Okay. I’m good with that, of course nothing is easy as said and done with these personalities. Thanks to Hens for pointing out this is “GASLIGHTING at its brightest.” Sometimes I have trouble seeing all the ways in which I have been manipulated…glad to be here. Thanks for sharing all.


fearlesspeace – 😉 i could muster it well even in my late 20’s (lesbian feminist – gave me lots to defend), but i am pretty sure i look like i have a bat behind my back now.

i don’t.

it’s at home.

and it’s a crow bar.



fearlesspeace – omg, all the ways i have been manipulated! that’s where the ‘face’ comes from. grrrrrrrrr.

Ox Drover

Dear Ayelah,

As you speak of your N father, if that is “love” I don’t want any! Even my egg donor has done “nice” things for me at times, and given me things, but that is NOT LOVE in my estimation, but is a “down payment on control.” Because, when I don’t do something she wants me to she reminds me of “all I have done for you!”

Well, it is funny that anything she does for me is written in blood on stone, but anything I ever did for her is written in sand on the beach. Funny how that goes with Ns and Ps—

I am not emotionally willing to tolerate the contact with those people that I have PREVIOUSLY TRUSTED AND LOVED who have betrayed and abused me, so it is NC except for the possible exception of e mails for business purposes, but even then, ONLY WHEN NECESSARY.

It is much easier on me and takes less energy to just NC with those people and to not delude myself that what THEY call “love” is what I CALL LOVE. Love is CONSISTENT, love is KIND, love is CARING, EMPATHETIC—how would it even be possible to love if one were not empathetic or caring about that person’s feelings and welfare? So to me, their definition of “love without empathy” or “love without caring” and LOVE WITHOUT COMPASSION, is pretty hollow and empty.

I always ASSUMED that my egg donor “loved me”—but during the height of the chaos and crisis when I was desperately trying to “save” her from the psychopaths that were abusing her and me, and I was terrified they would kill HER as well as myself. I was weeping uncontrollably and BEGGING her to believe me. She looked at me, as I was there POURING OUT MY SOUL AND LOVE TO AND FOR HER, with UTTER CONTEMPT. That was an AH HA moment when I knew that she DID NOT, COULD NOT love me.

I’m not even sure she is what Bob Hare would call a psychopath, she isn’t a law breaker, she has led a fairly “normal” life by terms of society, but she is way low on the empathy scale, and she has NO empathy or love for me, only contempt and desiring control.

It was ONLY when I realized that there was no REAL love there that I could start to solve the mystery of why I was so miserable in my relationship with her. Why it hurt to be around her. Once I realized that I had been operating under the DELUSION that she loved me and that she would NEVER DELIBERATELY HURT ME, then I could start to work things out and heal.

When we believe UNtrue things, it warps things in reality and we end up gaslighting ourselves.


I echo what fearlesspeace says about s-script. (Didn’t ErinBrock call it S-speak?)

My husband told me that I was the best thing that ever happened to him, that he treasures all the memories of how wonderful I made his life. I got snippy and told him, “Why don’t you tell HER that when you are F’n her”.” Liar. Just a way to twist the knife as if dissing is actually honorable…

So sad your egg doner could not love you. I use your posts to magine you as a little girl. My stars, I would have loved to have you as my child. YOu have a remarkable way that you express your perceptions. These people really do miss out on incredible relationships. To not “FEEL” the love of a partner or a child or a parent? Your egg donor missed the greatest thing that ever happened in her life.

(I only had one kid, an absolutely enchanting intelligent funny witty beautiful little girl, and it was rough for a while, but now that spath is out of our lives, she is becoming wonderful again. I got sooooo lucky.)

Ox Drover

Dear Katy,

Thank you! I have no doubt that I was a hand full to raise! I wasn’t totally without love or care though, so my childhood wasn’t totally horrible! My step father was a wonderful guy and my grandparents in spite of their faults were supportive and loving to me when I was a kid! I will always remember those times and that special care.

I’m glad that you and your daughter are restoring a wonderful relationship! In the end, our children should become our best friends!


Hey all

I took a few days to try and process some of this and read many of the articles and comments here. I still struggle with accepting that he could REALLY be one of “them.”

I see everything that fits…I see how his actions in the end line up…I see the lies now…but I still want to believe in his heart…I still want to believe that he didn’t do it on purpose…that he isn’t that evil…just messed up. Actually I don’t want to believe that…I’d rather believe he is a MONSTER…that makes me feel fortunate to have gotten away….but my heart is still ruling my head. My heart still wants to believ he is capable of the love he showed..and that hurts the most because if he is capable of it then what was so wrong with me that he chose to walk away from the great thing that I thought we had…the amazing love he said that we shared.

So here are a few questions…what about my story…about what I’ve told you makes you believe that he falls into one of the categories?? I guess I’m trying to get out of the denial stage…I want to hear from others that aren’t biased that what he did isn’t just poor choices..he didn’t “just cheat”…that there is more to it and its not just me making everything “worst case scenario.”

Can someone tell me more about gaslighting. I’ve looked it up but am wondering if they can do that without intentionally trying to drive you crazy. I don’t think he wanted to make me crazy in the “put her in a padded cell” way…but can they use gaslighting just to defer the blame…to make me question my part/my motives. I really don’t think he hates like that. Is it possible that he could use and manipulate to further himself…without any intentional/calculated plan to hurt. In otherwords…maybe it wasnt I am going to do these things to hurt you but I am gaoing to do what I need to do for me…not even thinking that other people are being torn apart in the process…I guess I see him as completely unaware of others and how he affects them v sitting around intentionally planning out how to hurt them. Or….am I still just projecting my values and feeling onto him??

Let me give an example of something he did that makes me think he actually has true feelings/ability to think of someone else. When I found out he had given me HPV (yes I know I am blessed that is all it was) I told him so that he would be aware of it. He told “her” that same day. Why would he have told her that if he was totally unable to think of anyone else..I can see no benefit to him by sharing that. But…it seems like a very upstanding and honorable thing to do….but not something that makes him look good…It makes me think he has to really feel something for her…and if he can really feel for her then why didn’t he really feel for me???

Ahhhhhhhhhhhh….soooooooooo much running through my head….so much I still want to understand and figure out!!! Sooooo trying not to have a pity party!!!!

Katy- funny…he told me almost the same thing….best thing that ever happened to him…can’t believe he hurt someone so beautiful and pure as me…it wasnt me it was him that was messed up….I was his best friend and he will remember that until his dying day….too bad he didn’t remember that when he was shackin up in vegas with her!!!

I hate that I still question so much…yall probably all want to shake me a little so that I will just accept it and get on with it. But I can’t help but to want to figure it out…figure him out!!

Hope you all have a blessed Sunday!!!


Sorry…I posted that on the wrong thread!!!


Dear Aeylah,

Your policy of “minimum contact” with your father seems like the right thing. However, if you’ll forgive a few blunt words regarding your ex Spath, he sounds to me like a thoroughly loathsome human being! Really, Aeylah, his shallow, convoluted and self-absorbed way of manipulating language is quite nauseating. Trust me, there is absolutely NOTHING worth preserving in a relationship with such an individual. (By the way, does “ED” refer to “erectile dysfucntion” or “empathy deficient”? – sounds to me like both at once!) At any rate, to even engage with such a person on any level will only lead to falsehood and suffering. He says he’s “letting you go” – hopefully that’s the case; but such people often try to get back in contact after a span of months or years (it’s part of their “game”). Hopefully you will be spared this, but if it does happen you need to be especially ruthless in your “No Contact” policy. Because with the passage of time, it’s easy to forget just how toxic, evil and soulless the person actually was. Anyway, I wish you the best of luck.

In general terms, I think there is a way of looking at Sociopathic Betrayal in which it becomes a profound opportunity for spriritual growth. In this respect, I’ve always been drawn to the psychologist William James’ notion of the “once born” and “the twice born.” For James, the “once born” are basically the people who take the world as it is, don’t really question things, and pretty much “go with the flow”. As a rule, they haven’t seen much in the way of hard knocks, and consequently, have but little self-knowledge and spiritual development. Of course, we all more or less start out like this (it’s the garden of innocence, childhood, etc., that we so long for once it is finally taken from us!); however, some people seem never really leave this stage, and simply view the world and themselves throughout life with naive, rose-colored glasses. Of course, on one level, we envy such people for their simple happiness, and for the way in which they always seem to be on good and easy terms with the world.

Neverthless, for some of us, life comes along – often violently – and takes us out of that “once born” Garden of Eden (at which point, alas, there is no going back!). And there are many ways in which this can happen, but most often it comes through blows and the experience of great suffering. For one person, it might be something like the death of a spouse, losing a child or loved one to disease or accident, facing a debilitating illness, etc. (In other words, the kind of grief that “undoes you” at the center.) And for many of us, of course, the devastating reality of sociopathic betrayal.

In truth, betrayal by a loved one (who we will assume is a sociopath) – such as a wife, husband, mother, father, son, friend, etc. – is in my opinion about as heartrending an experience as it is humanly possible to have. It breaks one down like nothing else, and in many ways it is actually worse than death. Because unlike death, sociopahtic betrayal actually destroys our entire set of beliefs about human beings, life, the world – in fact, Reality itself. To get that kind of grief out of one’s system takes many, many years, and it is perhaps never expunged altogether. However, from my own experience, I have found that there is something profound and unique that comes from HAVING LIVED THROUGH THAT AND SURVIVED. In fact, it’s sort of amazing that one doesn’t physically die from it – because it certainly kills everything else.

However, that’s where we get to the real heart of the matter – the amazing spiritual healing that comes from becoming “twice born.” Admittedly, there are always times when we pine for the return to our lost innocence. (A common and justified lament of the betrayed is often “He stole my innocence!”) However, by focusing too much on what is lost, we run the risk of forgetting what has been gained. Aside from an vast increase in real knowledge of the world, of good and evil (especially the latter!), and of human nature, I think there is something invaluable in having been broken down like that and survived. Because that’s the point at which we find our “second birth”. (I would add, also, that the mere fact of “surviving” gives us a sense of strength and unity that most people can’t even begin to comprehend.) And though it is different from the period of naive, unthinking innocence, I believe it is the first point at which we become truly human and see things in a genuinely spiritual way. (The first time we really “see” at all, it might almost be said.) As such, I can’t think of a greater gift that I was less grateful for at the time of the giving! But in retrospect, I now feel that I wouldn’t trade it for anything, and I think it was the greatest grace that God has ever shown me.

Another way of putting it, I suppose, is that while sociopaths never change, they most certainly change us. And while THEY deserve no thanks for it, I think God uses their evil to make us more fully human, and to bring us closer to Him. (Of course, one needn’t express it in religious terms – but I think the reality is the same even from a non-theistic standpoint.) And what, after all, is the meaning of being born, living and dying, if not that? In any case, it’s a way of looking at it, but one which I have found to be justified by time and experience.


Really really beautifully put, Constantine! As the singer Leonard Cohen sings,
“Its through the crack in the Heart that the Light comes in.”
We are stronger in the broken places.

Ox Drover

Dear Constantine,

A PROFOUND POST!!!! Your analysis of the situation is right on! Your advise about the repair of the situation, and the growth of us as humans is TOTAL.

Most of what is on LF is great! But once in a while a TRULY PROFOUND POST is printed either as a comment or as an article and I think your post above RISES TO THAT LEVEL OF TRULY PROFOUND. THank you!


Dear Constantine,

what a wonderful post, thank you so much!

I think about cancer and that it is comparable as it is the absolute betrayal of one’s own body by trying to kill. And patients experience a complete loss of confidence in themselves. Devastating.

The concept of “being born twice” is a wonderful analogy and if you allow I may use it if appropriate with my patients.

They describe at some point of their jouney through their illness similar feelings., also

” that the mere fact of “surviving” gives …. a sense of strength and unity that most people can’t even begin to comprehend”.

There is no sense, reason, purpose but the one we put into it, see the opportunity for personal growth; and birth is wonderful analogy. Nothing nice, it is called labor, in German Wehen (means pains).

Thank you so much for this thought provoking entry!


Feeling very low today and had not been coming here to read…Steve, I want to thank you for your articles – somehow whatever you write especially clicks with me.

I’ve been going through my own family photos this past week for upcoming memorial for my sister – and it seems I can finally grieve her as the healthy sister I had, not
the one who was so ill for over a year and a half. Looking at photos of my two children and their friends I still know, from their baby ages till now as young adults – it
puts so much into perspective and makes the present that much more precious. I think I’m finally grieving my Mom, too – so overdue, put into the background as my sister
came down ill so fast after Mom died. And yesterday I went with my son and grandson to big air show – my grandson only 18 months old loved all the cars and planes –
he even got to sit in a medical helicopter. I needed to hold him alot as my son is still injured, and I’ve slowly made that shift into knowing myself as a ‘grandma’ and it
feels good, especially with this new little spirit who I really love!

And Oxy, when I downloaded pics later, I realize the proof is there, I need to stop eating that little bit extra of ice cream or bread and get back to the yogurt and nothing
late at night! I can still nip this in the bud! I have the favorite jeans I want to fit in right there under my bed…

Ok, I feel better – Constantine, wonderful posts and Callista – you touched me – I’m so glad you wrote of your own struggles with resisting the process but recognizing when
you do something right and self-affirming.

Ox Drover

Dear Persephone,

The “low” times come and go, but recognizing them and realizing what they are, and that they WILL PASS helps us make it through them. They are not (or don’t have to be anyway) a permanent part of our lives!

I’m glad that you enjoyed the air show and your son and grandson. Being mainly “pre-verbal” he may not “remember” the day as an “airshow” but in the bottom of his little mind he will remember “I FELT loved.”

Well, today the “changed eating habits” are easier than they have been the past few days–the start up days! I had a yogurt and a half a peach for breakfast, and ate the other half peach for snack, and it is 2 p.m. now and I am going to go eat my lunch. Then for dinner will have a small piece of meatloaf made with my home grown beef that is almost zero fat, some home grown potatoes, and green peas, half slice of whole wheat bread, and a lettuce and tomato salad with 1 tsp light dressing and a half apple for dessert.

Yea, the scale shows I am down 1 pound from this weeks’ “starvation” (actually healthy NOT starvation) food plan, but can’t tell how much real progress I made as the water weight problem I am suddenly having now keeps me from knowing exactly what my weight is + or – 5 pounds. But I know one thing, I have NOT gained a bunch of “real” weight on what I have had to eat! LOL

Once I am accustomed to doing better on my eating program I will up the ante a bit and increase the food 300 calories and the exercise some more so won’t have to stay on 1200 cal forever but can still lose wt on 1500 if I keep the exercise going.

Hey, if I can quit smoking, I can climb mountains with my bare hands blindfolded, right!? If I can get over the psychopaths, I can climb mountains with my HANDS TIED BEHIND ME and my FEET tied TOGETHER **and** blindfolded! So what’s losing a tub of lard compared to that! 8>) LOL


Yum! Dinner at Oxy’s!!!! That really sounds good & healthy. “This too shall pass” is one of my favorite mantas–I just need to remember it in those times…


Oxy: I’m going away for three days with 5 women on ‘retreat’ to mountains – a girlfriend of mine won two days/two nights at a cabin and she has
to use it or lose it – have not gotten out with other women (except here!) for some time in this large a group, don’t know two of them but two friends
go wayyy back so should be good – though I actually feel a little nervous. Will get over it…want this to be a real ‘vacation’ for a change.

I recognize these low times now as you said, it is just the profundity of life that gets to you at times – wimpy way of saying it but I know everyone
here has been hit by that alot. And that’s with or without a sociopath or disordered person in your life! My sister and mom struggled with smoking
and not being able to quit, I’m glad I never had to overcome that and salute you in that victory!!

Wish I had some of your homegrown beef and potatoes, think I’ll go put something in the crockpot…a stew that I’ll probably freeze some as I think
most of women going tomorrow are vegetarian…

Ox Drover

Dear Persephone,

Vegetarian or vegan? Oh, the joys they miss. I have a friend who is vegetarian (religious) and also caffine free as she is an eye surgeon so she misses all the really GREAT things in life! LOL Well, she can still have sex I guess so not ALL the great things! LOL

Glad you are going on a retreat! I think that sounds great! Even if some of the folks are not your cup of tea, in the mountains you will probably have lots of room for “alone time” if you need it or want it.

That’s the great thing about living out here in the boondocks is I can have ALL the alone time I need or want!

Got the meatloaf in the oven (put everything except the kitchen sink in it! Peppers, onions, spices) Just waiting for it to get done! Have a great time!

Ox Drover

Dear Fearless, yea, come on to supper! I made enough for a couple or three days, for Cox’s army! Always do. Don’t know how to cook for 1 or 2 people! That’s part of my problem in eating too much, but I will REFRAIN now. Gotta get/stay healthy!

A friend of mine in years gone by used to say “You never ask WHAT you are eating at Oxy’s you ask WHO!” That’s why we generally name our steers “meatloaf” or “steak” rather than Fluffy or Sweetie. It is a whole lot easier for most folks to eat “meatloaf” or “steak” than to eat FLUFFY! But DOESN’T BOTHER ME…once it is dead it is MEAT! YUM!!!


Yummy! I made Roast Beef! (meat) and garlic mashies! love sunday dinner! Peace love and meat !



I think that I have been in the “twice born” group since childhood, having had difficult experiences throughout my life, the final blow being the sociopathic encounter, still in the process of recovering from the effects of this relationship. For me, I question why some people seem to suffer more than others, not finding this to be fair. At this stage of life, I would not mind being one of those people who has had it easy traveling through life – the emotional pain from all the combined hurtful life experiences can wipe you out.

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