By | November 7, 2008 92 Comments

When Mom or her partner is a sociopath

It seems obvious that sociopaths make lousy parents and step parents. But the courts have not always seen it that way. One father trying to protect his daughter from a sociopathic mother was asked by a mental health professional, “So she’s a liar does that make her a bad mother?” Furthermore, the texbook I use to teach forensic psychology says that professionals who evaluate parents in custody disputes “should avoid diagnostic labels” and “accentate the postitives.”

There seems to be a lack of clarity as to what makes an adequate parent, a good parent and a bad parent. The court also does not recognize that the biologic children of sociopaths may have special developmental needs if they have inhereted genes that predispose them to sociopathy, addiction and ADHD. So why should evaluators avoid diagnostic labels and accentuate the positives, I really want to know.

I have come to the conclusion that the only people who are in the position to help change the system are adults whose parents and step parents are sociopaths. These adults know what it is like to grow up with a sociopath.

I spoke with a woman in her 30’s last night. She is just coming to the realization that her mother is a sociopath. She told me that for many years, she blamed herself. The woman said of her mother, “She was the queen of manipulation. She knew how to turn things around and make me feel like I did something wrong.” Sociopaths make psychological mince meat of the adults in their lives, how are children supposed to deal with them?

There is a recent news story out of the UK I would like you to consider. The story illustrates the fact that behind most every fraud there are children. The children are always affected even if they are not drawn in.

Mohammed Rashid is a garage owner in the UK who is accused of large scale insurance fraud. He allegedly faked accidents and filed bogus insurance claims.

According to an article in the Telegraph and Argus, ” Porsche-driving Rashid, known as Mojo, was appointed a state-registered accident claims manager, prosecutor Andrew Kershaw said. He operated from his body repair garage, Autotransform in Spearhead Way, Keighley.”

Mojo had a lady friend, “In the dock with Rashid is Sarah Lowther, 37, of Bradford Road, Keighley, described in court as his partner.” The most disturbing part of the story is that Sarah and Mojo are accused of drawing her three children into the scam. “Mr Kershaw has alleged that she allowed her three children to be schooled into telling a pack of lies about fictitious injuries to a doctor as part of the scam.”

Mojo’s fraud ring also involved other adults, four of whom have already pled guilty.

Now, I don’t know the degree of sociopathy present in Sarah and Mojo, however, the fact is that three children have been drawn into this mess.

I am collecting and documenting stories like this in order to help future parents involved in custody disputes. If you have information about the case of Mojo and Sarah or any other similar case please email me. If you are the adult child of a sociopath we want to hear your story. All information you give us is kept private.

If you are a mother or father whose choice of a sociopath as a step parent for your child was a mistake, forgive yourself. Work hard at healing so you can be the best parent you can be. You can regain the respect of your children and others if you acknowledge your mistakes and make a new life for yourself.

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I highly recommend Bill Eddy’s work; here is a link to his website “High Conflict Institute”,com_frontpage/Itemid,50/

Bill is an attorney and a therapist. I am an attorney and just attended one of his seminars where he taught attorneys, mediators, family court case workers, mental health professionals and so on. He teaches various approaches to handling cases with people with an array of personality disorders.

Bill has also written several books on being in litigation with people with personality disorders–both divorce/family matters and business disputes. I found the training extremely helpful. Several helpful articles are posted on his website; so there’s some FREE advice to those of us dealing with PD’d or sociopathic ex-spouses over children’s issues.



Thanks for posting this link. I just read a great article on there and will go back and read more.


The article refers to some training for Judges and Court Professionals. I wonder if you know about these people. I think you said in the past that this is one of the goals of LF is to educate Judges about Personality Disorders and specifically Sociopaths.



It’s unbelievable that in the face of overwhelming evidence a judge, solicitors etc. can be completely swayed and ruled by someone’s personality. My daughters husband had full contol of the whole process. He decided what he wanted and everyone else fell into place.


Hey shattered, maybe that’s because they too are psychos like your EX? Birds of a feather, flock together.




Thanks so much for your link. Great source of information and confirmation!!!


Ox Drover

Whole families of these con-people go on for generations with this kind of illegal activities. A convict-friend of my P-son’s is incarcerated for murder, along with 2 of his sibs and his mother for a drug dealing murder. Apparently the only sib that is not involved is one that is a police officer and she will not have contact with any of these family members. My son gave me a “sob” story about this man and I even sent him a small amount of commissary money for a couple of years (about $30 a month) and Bible lessons (which he completed and returned) and wrote letters to him….I realize now that this man was a potential player in my son’s plot to “off” me and if he had gotten out on parole I would have given him a place to live and helped him. Boy, do they know how to smooze you. I received a hand made birthday card that must have taken 40 or 50 hours to contstruct every time my birthday came around, and letters that were so syrupie with grattitude for the commissary money that I could not resist this “idealization”—now, all I can say is “I’m a sucker” for a sob story. After I realized that my son was trying to get me killed I stopped all correspondence with his other Trojan Horse psychopath as well. The man is bright, literate, and very personable…just like my son, and a total waste of Oxygen on this earth. He will probably get out in a few years as he is about the age of my own son, and has been in prison for almost 20 years as well. Even now sometimes I “wonder” did I do this man a disservice by assuming he was another one of my son’s “trojan horses?” What if he is really sincere and wants to be a good citizen when he gets out. With no one to help him, he has very little chance to succeed even if he wanted to….what if my assuming he is like my son keeps him from succeeding?

Well, then reality sets in, and I realize there is no such thing as an EX convict, and especially one that comes from a family of psychopaths and has committed many crimes, and that his lifestyle before incarceration was criminally based. My son’s other P-friend got out and stayed out for 3 years but is back in now, because “ordinary” life wasn’t enough stimulation and risk for him, so he went back to using drugs, abusing his wife, and finally robbery and back to prison without any sense of remorse at all. Just pi$$ed he got caught. But of course, that was someone else’s fault. He is still, too, in communication with my P-son, although communication between inmates is prohibited, I found out about it from reading the letters that my P son wrote to the Trojan Horse psychopath before the TH P’s arrest, and the notation to “not let my mom know about it.” LOL (head shaking here).

Through the years I have met the mothers of some of his cell mates and friends. Some of them are nice people, some are convinced their kids are “innocent” or “got a bad break” or that “it wasn’t as bad as the prosecutor made it seem” (how can murder “not be so bad?”) My introduction into the world of criminal behavior from bright but psychopathic men who were raised mostly in middle class families but chose crime including murder as a way of life.

Suposedly, a person who is a murderer is the least likely to reoffend, but from my own personal observation, if that murder was part of other crimes, they are MORE LIKELY to offend laws, rather than a “murderer” that was a crime of passion but had a law-abiding life otherwise.

Just as WE become “habituated” to accepting abuse, they become “habituated” to a life of crime without any remorse or feeling of doing wrong, or caring.


I am trying to get divorced from my ex-P and it seems impossible! He says one thing and does another. He hasn’t paid his child support is over a month and he hasn’t fulfilled his visitation as planned in our court documents. He was arrested for embezzlement a few months into our separation and there is an attachment on my condo so I can’t sell it or refinance or even let it get foreclosed because it will ruin my credit (the mortgage is in my name, the deed in both names). The payments have gotten out of control because our taxes were rolled into the mortgage because they weren’t paid for a whole year! It is so hard to move on and not get manipulated by a person who you have to deal with so often because he is your children’s father. How do you determine if a P can be a decent father? Is it just a matter of time before he messes up? He moved in with his girlfriend around the time of his arrest and begs to have her present for his visits, which is not allowed. He has cancelled last min at least half of his scheduled visits since we were in court and my lawyer is filing for contempt this week. I guess my question is, before we get back into court what is he capable of as a father? Should I plan for the worst or let his make more mistakes so that I have more concrete evidence to provide to a judge?


princesspants: What a mess.

I suggest that you take a deep breath, focus on what you, and only you can or can’t do with your predicament.

Such a tangled mess that will take years for you to undue what you can … and the rest? Well, the rest will play out … the way it will play out.

Don’t focus on what you thought he was … what he is, anything …. Try to focus on you, and you only.

In the mean time, others will blogg you with what you need to hear … I just know the real mess you are in, because I too, walked in your shoes.



In short, he will never be a good father. It will always be difficult to get him to pay child support. He will never follow the agreements, even the court orders.

You might want to consider getting him to terminate his parental rights in exchange for not having to pay child support. You won’t lose anything because he won’t pay anyway. And you and your child are better off without him in your life.

If you can’t do that, be sure to document everything that happens. You’ll need the proof someday.


My lawyer always asks me for specific examples of how he is an unfit parent, but all I can come up with is what a terrible person/husband he is/was? She asked me if he is capable of caring for the children…feeding, bathing, putting them to sleep, keeping them safe. He has been fine when he actually shows up? Now that he is in contempt I think that is good proof of his inability but I am so confused. Every one says it is better for children to have a relationship with their father even if he isn’t a great person, that they will eventually make there own decisions abut him. I don’t think any physical harm will come to them when they are with him, I fear more the emotional harm that will certainly effect them.

Elizabeth Conley

You should take Ms Anderson’s advice.

As awful as things are financially, I’m sure that getting child support seems like a good idea. In reality it endangers your child’s emotional health and safety.

Take a long view of things. That’s hard right now, but do it anyway. Do some research into what has happened in other child custody cases with an S parent. It’s an eye opener. You really don’t want him to take interest in your child 3, 5 or 10 years from now.

Elizabeth Conley

“Every one says it is better for children to have a relationship with their father even if he isn’t a great person, that they will eventually make there own decisions abut him.”

They can have a relationship with him even if parental rights are terminated. The difference is, you can protect them more effectively. What is the rest of his family like? Do the kids have paternal grandparents longing to dote on them? By all means, try to keep as many healthy family connections as possible for the kids and yourself.


What is the difference between “parental rights” and full legal custody?

Elizabeth Conley

You need to talk to your lawyer. Personally, I think getting your ex to give up parental rights is unlikely, and that his lawyer and even the judge would advise him against it. Giving up all parental rights means he never has any legal say whatsoever in any decisions concerning his child. The only way he might cooperate is for the benefit of never paying child support again. As long as he has parental rights, he has some parental responsibilities.

If your children’ father still has parental rights, then there are situations when you must consult with him, at least briefly. You can have full legal custody and still have to consult the children’s father if you wanted to put them up for adoption, change their citizenship or God forbid, take them off life support in a worst case scenario.

Talk to your lawyer. Get her to spell out every permutation to you.


Princesspants, Realistically, it is probably going to be difficult to have his parental rights terminated unless he either agrees to it or you have some sort of concrete evidence he is an unfit Father. Courts don’t take the issue of termination of rights lightly.

Short of that, if it were me, I would try to have the custody set up with you having full custody, with him having visitation at very clearly spelled out times. And with the child support I would try to have it set up in the child support order that it is to come directly out of his paycheck and paid to the circuit clerks office to be redistributed to you. I know my former state coud do this, but I don’t know about all of them.

When he misses visitation and calls at the last minute to cancel, some of the time I would just say ok, but every now and then I would sigh and say something like, “Well, I had plans, but maybe I can find a babysitter,” or “well, I wish you had let me know sooner, because now I’ll have to cancel my plans.” If he thinks he is causing you a problem by not showing up to get the kids, he will likely get off on that, and try to cause you even more problems by not showing up to get the kids. You could end up with no visitation or rare visitation without terminating the parental rights. Jen2008


Hi Princesspants,

Please be careful, just let him keep on messing up and not turning up for contact, and maybe, just maybe the court will advice no contact. Do not encourage contact at all.

Take Donna’s advice “You might want to consider getting him to terminate his parental rights in exchange for not having to pay child support. You won’t lose anything because he won’t pay anyway. And you and your child are better off without him in your life.”

All I know for sure is my daughter allowed and probably encouraged contact because she didn’t think he would harm his his own daughter, and as Elizabeth says “Every one says it is better for children to have a relationship with their father even if he isn’t a great person, that they will eventually make there own decisions abut him.”

What a major mistake that turned out to be. He would only see his daughter very occassionaly, maybe 1-2 hours a fortnight, but in that time he worked his magic manipulation and sublte threats. On her first overnight stay, he finalised his brainwashing and she never returned to my daughter. He managed to turn on the ‘feel sorry for me’ to such a degree my granddaughter now appears to hate her own mother and me, even to the point where she laughs as he terrifies the **** out of my daughter by saying he will kill her if she ever gets her daughter back.

She is totally loyal to him, and will not acknowledge anything he does wrong, even though we know she knows, he does drugs, alcohol, crime etc.

He worked on my granddaughter for 6 months, little by little until he achieved his ultimate aim af punishing my daughter, for leaving him in the one way he knew would totally wreck her. B******

I would not wish this on anyone, I am not saying your ex would do this, but realise how low these people will stoop.

Elizabeth Conley

To me there are two separate issues here.

1. That which is legally in your best interests.


2. The power of family and the ability of love to heal all wounds.

WRT #1: Protect yourself and your children as much as possible.

WRT # 2: You and your child/children may have important relationships in your husband’s family. Perhaps the kids have a grandparent, greatgrandparent, uncle or aunt who has been as devestated by your ex’s sociopathic condition as you have. These people could turn out to be important allies and critical members of the new family you need to build. Don’t count anybody out.

Elizabeth Conley

Here’s an example:

I have an acquaintance who married a N/S when she was very young. She had an alcoholic/abusive father, and was used to abuse. When life with her S got rough, she went through a stupid faze. Her behavior was so immature and foolish that it was impossible for the court to figure out who was potentially the better of the two parents. They both looked like complete basket cases.

As a result, she got custody of her son, and he got custody of her infant daughter, in a perverse bargain that would have driven any mother insane. Neither paid child support, which is what the N/S father was angling for. His mother ended up effectively raising the infant daughter, because he certainly wasn’t going to soil his hands with diapers. Grandma turned out to be a wonderful parent for the infant daughter.

My girlfriend pulled her life together while her ex proceeded to make a mess of his. He fathered a half dozen children with different women, all while never holding a steady job. Grandma developed a stronger and more mutually respectful relationship with here ex daughter in law than she had with her badly behaved son. When Grandma’s health failed, the natural person to accept custody of the daughter was the child’s mother, not the child’s father.

Grandma was able to effect this custody shift because she had become a strong advocate for the child and the ex daughter in law. She was fed up with her son’s shenanigans. The son fell in line with his mother’s wishes because he was neck deep in the mess he’d made of his life. He needed to pacify the other mothers of his children and his own mother. None of the other mothers wanted to raise this daughter, and he was too lazy to do a good job. Grandma was ready to testify to that, and he knew it.

After the divorce, there’s the daily business of living and loving. Cement ALL the healthy relationships in your lives with lots of interaction. It’s good for everyone, and can pay huge unexpected dividends.

That’s not legal advice, that’s mental health advice. But as you can see, sometimes they overlap in unexpected ways.


My ex is a white collar criminal whose illegal behavior is just starting to catch up with him. He is very intelligent, handsome and well spoken…and manipulative. I have an awful relationship with his family who have been enabling him his whole life. They are a different race and live a three hour flight away. My ex has a new girlfriend who has filled my shoes and is taking great care of him.

He has a great job right now and his wage assignment should start in the next few weeks? I feel like everything is always on the verge of working out…but then it doesn’t. There is still a possibility of him doing some jail time for the embezzlement charges, but I doubt it. He puts up such a great front.


my ex wife is a sociopath, when she lied on a restraining order to have me kicked out after 18 yrs of marriage, what i thought was the worst day of my life actually turned out to be the best. oh yeah, she wanted to bring in her ex con boyfriend with 5 felonies and 13 yrs younger to live with my sons!, my sons were 12 and 17 at the time, in court she lied and even said she lied on the order just to get me out. in the end i got custody, no thanks to the judge, who was also the judge who did the terry shivo case………falling asleep on me in court!…………she has not seen or talked to our sons in over 10 yrs! how does a mother do that?…………very coldhearted person, now i have to go back to court because she wants to buy a gun! sorry but what does a 55 yr old woman need with a gun?…………..mmmmm must be the drugs……………………


What kind of mother was she when you were married?


princesspants–first you said “my lawyer is filing for contempt this week” then you said “Now that he is in contempt I think that is good proof”

He is NOT in contempt–your attorney is merely filing a motion for contempt–then you must have a hearing and the court is NOT LIKELY to find contempt on the first allegation. It usually takes 2 or 3 different tries.

You sound like you’re not fully grasping the realities of your x. He will NOT behave like a normal dad. He will NOT pay child support for the next 17-18 years of your child’s life. You already know he doesn’t want to take care of the baby–his behavior has proved that EVEN IF HE TELLS YOU AND THE COURT THAT OF COURSE HE LOVES HIS CHILD AND WANTS CUSTODY.

Mothers of children with dads like this (s/n/p/personality disorder traits) face a different reality from other divorcing mothers. I am both such a mother and an attorney. I’ve learned the hard way and experienced much pain and heartache. I’ve also watched the x hurt my sons (and seen them make excuses for his behavior) which is also painful for me.

Try to learn about the law in your state–read websites of family law attorneys from your state. The websites of many law firms have “education” articles about various topics. Read all that you can. Ask your attorney if she has any articles for you to read. Ask her if she has experience with clients or exspouses who are “high conflict” or have personality disorders.

You must do what is best for you and your child. This is a situation where you can’t rely on “what you heard” or “what everyone says.” “Everyone” doesn’t know the facts of your situation nor are they experts in the law or personality disorders.

You also said “I feel like everything is always on the verge of working out”but then it doesn’t. There is still a possibility of him doing some jail time for the embezzlement charges, but I doubt it. He puts up such a great front.” NOTHING is worked out UNTIL you see a court order or legal document mandating action. EVEN THEN your x is likely to ignore the order (he may comply for a period of time while the current job lasts, then implode). The courts won’t enforce the order then until you and your attorney file for enforcement, have the hearing, etc. It takes time, lots of effort and money.

The bottom line is that it is not likely that you can count on your x for anything but trouble and heartache for the long term.

You may think this sounds harsh. It certainly is not something any mother wants to believe would happen to her. Unfortunately it happens.

Here is a link to an article about personality disorders in family court litigation

The more I learn about this area, the better I am able to cope with my personal situation. Best wishes and press on–you can do it!


Thanks Pearl. I will look at the article now. My attorneys take on things is to get him out of my life asap, finalise the divorce. She thinks if I am protected financially that is most important. I don’t think she grasps the crazy that is my future ex husband. She met him in court a few months ago, but he was on his best behavior. I think she thinks that he is a jerk but needed more evidence that he is an unfit parent. Now that he has not met his obligations for child support and visitation I think she is starting to see the real him. Still she is looking for “proof” to present to the judge. When I try to explain him to people like my lawyer I am not sure of how to do that, if I throw around psych terms like anti social personality disorder or sociopath I feel like people don’t believe me and that I sound a little crazy.

Elizabeth Conley

“When I try to explain him to people like my lawyer I am not sure of how to do that, ”

Try the material recommended by Pearl.

After that, remember to make an effort to look reasonable. Your X is putting on a good front. You would be wise not to let yourself seem like a Hystrionic.

Your attorney is working to protect you financially. If I were you, I’d cooperate with her as much as humanly possible. If she can get you out of that mess with your condo, it would be wonderful.

Ox Drover

Because psychopaths cannot love, and cannot care for others, the ONLY thing they can do for a child is to mess them up and hurt them. A “less than ideal” father might be better for a child than no father, BUT a PSYCHOPATHIC FATHER/MOTHER is TOXIC to a child. Period. End of discussion (at least in my humble, or not so humble opinion) LOL

Having had a psychopathic father, I can vouch for the fact that they are TOXIC. Mine deserted me until I was 16, but then he came on with the idealization and then went into the devaluation and discarding, just like they ALL DO. I recommend that you keep your children away from the P as much as you can legally do—whatever the “cost” in terms of money.

I also suggest that you go to Dr. Leedom’s site, “Raising the at risk child” and soak in that information as well. Good luck and my prayers are with all the mothers and fathers here who are raising children and trying to keep them safe from the other parent. God bless you all.


Princesspants, I would follow donna’s advise first. I know it’s heart-breaking to think of your children “losing” their father(I’m in a similar boat except it’s mother” . There are many more reasons that this would be best for them. 1. The emotional and mental turmoil caused by them. 2. The consensus amongst the psychological community that there’s a genetic component to personality disorders. Which with a “model” in their life increases your childrens risk for developing problems themselfs. 3. Your ex turning your children against you (for change of custody or some other ploy). At this time I would avoid “telling him how he’s ruined your plans” I understand the logic of this but it will give him (as he believes) power over you. If the new salary kicks in(don’t hold your breath) you can get his support raised and therefore more motivation for him to terminate his parental rights. I believe the best way to do this is through him(not the courts). In the meantime document all the missed visitations. If he is unwilling to terminate his rights then you could pull the “ruined plans” ploy knowing that he will try to ruin your plans even more, then document. Maybe,,? this could possibly be used against you later by him. He could say “so if she thinks I’m such a bad father why is she upset if I don’t take the children” tough call. Like I said, I totally understand the logic but you have to be careful. Bottom line be thankful you’re a woman and have primary custody of your children now. If dad wants out for money or to hurt you He’s not a good father anyways and your children deserve better and you will find better. Best of Luck


Oh, if only I’d found this article when I was, say, 7? That’s when my mother married the abusive narcissistic stepfather. After being on LF for a while, I definitely see some S traits.


One of the hardest things to resolve in my life is my relationship with my mother. Because she stayed with the sociopath till he died at 70, I don’t believe she is truly remorseful about what my sister and I went through that tore us apart from each other and scarred us deeply. I find it hard to truly forgive her. We rarely speak. She is in her 70’s, and I don’t know if I will ever see her again.


I’m have supported my guy throughout his divorcing process and custody battle for his now 8 y.o. son.

I’ve researched the mother’s problem extensively – first at MSN’s NPD site, then found this link today; the mother claims to have Asperger’s Syndrome, since she took an online assessment and has traced the effects from her father thru to her brother and herself and now ascribes the disorder to her other son. HOWEVER, she’s glommed on to the first LEAST “psychologically damaging” unofficial diagnosis of AS, when in fact she meets all 9 DSM-V diagnostic criteria for NPD – I guess she saves face that way.

The link I found today deals with elements of high-conflict divorces from partners with AS – it describes her actions to a “T” to date.

Here’s what I found – perhaps it can help others on this site. The “disorder” is different, but the actions of the disordered remain the same.


Elizabeth Conley

Dear a_real_wife,

I’ve been watching the Asperger’s Syndrome Fad with mild interest and much disgust.

I don’t think it’s a real condition. Here’s why:

1. People with exactly opposite behaviors are lumped into this group. Does that make sense to you? I think it’s hogwash! (Usually the first person to “detect” the “condition” is a public school teacher-an expert-Not!!! Then everyone else hops on board. It’s easy to do, because any behavior that isn’t smack dab in the center of the normal curve is a “symptom”. Bet you’ve got “symptoms”! Nobody’s smack dab in the center of the normal curve 100% of the time. )

2. The increasing frequency of this condition is mind boggling. More and more people, mostly helpless male children, are diagnosed each year. From whence has this “epidemic” come? (Diagnosticians on crack is my pet theory!)

3. The popularity of retro-diagnosing and distance diagnosing historical and prominant citizens. George Bush – Einstein – Mother Teresa? My @55! That’s the clincher as far as I’m concerned.

“Asperger’s” is the latest fad diagnosis, and it’s doing quite a bit of harm.

Tell me: Do the ex-wife’s brother and father know they have “Aspergers”? In most cases I’ve observed, they don’t know, and wouldn’t buy it if they were told.


Why do people trust my diagnosis? What if I am wrong?

Ox Drover

Well, I have to say that I agree with the “diagnosis de jur” concept. Also, no one that I have ever seen is 100% on with every diagnosis’ set of signs and symptoms. If that were the case, we could just have a book that you looked in, listed your symptoms and presto, you had a diagnosis and a treatment. Doesn’t work like that. Nothing is ever “typical” or totally typical anyway. Last year I nearly died from Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever—I did not break out, I did not run a high high fever and none of my symptoms were really typical for RMSF, but the blood test definitely showed it up and I knew and had documented a tick bite in an area where it is common.

With mental, emotional etc. diagnosis it is much more difficult to hang a label on some one’s behavior, and especially if you don’t have a clear report of what is going on in their lives. Psychopaths NEVER REPORT THE TRUTH to their care providers, and borderline PDs seldom do, they always put a slant on it that makes them the “victim” not the abuser. Unless you have the entire family involved it is difficult to see the patterns in a clinic visit and sometimes not then.

Star, I empathize with you about our mother, it sounds like to me that your mother is an ENABLER, a toxic one, like my mother, and protects the “family bad guy” at everyone else’s expense. It is next to impossible to change these people, I realized that I couldn’t change mine and she is 79 now and I am NC with her, but at the same time, I had to “forgive her” in other words get the bitterness out of my own heart toward her for ME, NOT FOR HER. But forgiveness doesn’t mean I will ever trust her again, or that we will have a relationship. There has been waaaay too much water under the bridge for me to want a relationship with her or play her games of “let’s pretend none of this ever happened”—not gonna happen, but at least I am for the most part content just to be away from her. If I go anywhere near her the anger comes back, so I know I still have some “work” to do on it, I’m not “cured” and the ability for her to provoke my anger response is proof that I need more work, and probably always will, but at least I am not in severe pain like I was, and I can experience joy–just like right this minute, after two days of dreary rain, the sun just popped out from behind the clouds and the day is beautiful again. Even the rain though, makes me appreciate the sunshine more. Peace.

Elizabeth Conley


“Why do people trust my diagnosis? What if I am wrong?”

The short answer is, most people don’t.
Even you question yourself, which strikes me as very rational. Character disorders make absolutely no sense to healthy people, so most will rationalize that “No one could possibly be that bad. Besides, we don’t see the horns, the tail or the red spandex suit!”

People on this blog are more likely to understand what you’re going through, recognize a sociopath and empathize with you. That doesn’t mean there won’t be a few people on the blog who are demonizing others instead of dealing with their own issues. It happens quite a lot.

The facts of your case as you describe them support a diagnosis of “Sociopath”, and it’s to your credit that your delivery is matter of fact, not melodramatic. I’m betting you’re on the right track. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t examine other possible explanations for your Ex’s behavior.

The up side to the “Asperger’s Syndrome” framework is that it doesn’t blame the troubled Ex spouse for his/her acting out. If the framework makes the divorce smoother, it may not matter whether the diagnosis is accurate or not. Contrast that with the Sociopath diagnosis, which is a far more emotionally loaded lable. It’s easy to see how the language you use to describe the problems in relating with the Ex can make a difference in gaining the cooperation of the lawyers, social workers and judge.

I’m reluctant to say that truth doesn’t matter, but the softer the words that deliver hard truths are, the easier they are to accept.

Ox Drover


“the softer the words that deliver hard truths are, the easier they are to accept.”

Princesspants these are such TRUE words that Elizabeth wrote. Most people (I think especially courts and legal people) go with “presentation” over “truth”—-so the more calm, cool and collected you can appear (even when you arent) and the more “sincere” you appear and make the truth “palatible” for them, the more they are likely to believe it.

The melodramatic, even if it is TRUE, turns them off, they just can’t accept some how that people can or will be THAT mean. It doesn’t “make sense” to them emotionally, and so they “discount” your facts and truth.

Look at the OJ case. I never had any doubt from the get go that he did it, it made sense to me, because I knew about psychopaths and domestic violence, but the jury went with an “emotional” verdict not a logical one. I think today most people recognize that he was guilty, and he finally got his JUSTICE for another crime which he was convicted of.

The man is a “card carrying” poster child for psychopaths, and I think every person here (because we know what a psychopath is from personal experience) recognizes what he is, but obviously that jury didn’t.

We “get it” but not everyone, even police or judges or juries can “swallow” that hard truth without choking on a “well there is good in everyone” or “he had a hard life growing up” or some other thing like “he’s mentally ill” etc. so presentation of your story in a non-melodramatic, calm way is I think your best bet. Document, document, and don’t worry about the labels being right or wrong, just concentrate on the behaviors you can prove. I also agree with Elizabeths “if it makes the divorce smoother, it may not matter whether the diagnosis is accurate or not.”

Elizabeth, you’ve got a good head on your shoulders! TOWANDA!


I dont know cause I was ‘nt here yet 🙂 but I believe that Jesus spoke very softly as If he were speaking to a small child ! Wow 🙂 I love it when it comes out before i new it LOVE jere


Jen 2008,
I just read your response to princesspants. and I can not think of a better way to enmesh the children, alienate them and do them lifelong harm. You and PP both need to get some serious counseling to keep from doing more harm to more children.
There are less damaging ways to deal with an ex.


Stan you say there are less damaging ways yet you do not say what they are. I would like to hear what better ways there are for dealing with a psychopathic parent? There is a big difference between dealing with an ex and dealing with a psychopathic ex.

Ox Drover

Dear Stan,

Alienation from a psychopath is protection for the child. Unfortuntely, many times a psychopathic parent fakes “normal” emotions for a child, but by definition a psychopath is incapable of love, a child is simply a possession to a psychopathic parent. A psychopath has no concern for the child, but uses the child as a “baseball bat’ to hit the other parent with, totally unconcerned what it does to the child.

A while back a judge ordered Dr. Amy Castillo’s psychophatinc ex husband unsupervised visitation though he had threatened to kill the kids to “get even with her” and guess what—the first time he had them, HE KILLED THEM. Yep, the judge should have listened. But this is not an “isolated” case, damage (physical or emotional) is a given when children are forced to interact with a psychopath is inevitable. I am the child of a psychopath, and believe me I KNOW.


THANK YOU OxD And bloggerT

Jen I thought you reply was right on the money! TOWANDA! LOVE jere


OxD, yes my mother is a classic enabler. I have tried to make peace with her over the years, but every time I have tried to get close to her more resentments have come up. I prayed on this a year or two ago, and the answer I got was to write to her how I felt. So I did. When I got the “get over it” response, I knew I could never be close to her again. It really hurt but at least I know where I stand with her.

After my stepfather died, she married an alcoholic womanizer. He even tried to hit on me during one of my visits. He ended up in jail for soliciting sex from a minor. While in jail he died because he did not get his heart meds. My mother sued the jail and got a settlement of $50,000. She gave me $1000 of this because she’d felt so guilty over never giving me anything in my life (which is true). . I’m sure she will will the $50,000 to her new boyfriend. I don’t even want to know about it. NC is the best for me all the way around.

Ox Drover

Dear Star,

My mother has pretended to be such a “holy” and “true” Christian and has a good front for that. Anyone outside the family that thinks they know her would describe her as a “wonderful, generous Christian lady”–and that is the way she ACTS outside the family, but believe me that is not the truth.

I don’t think I realized just how much my step father kept her “in line” with her behavior, but I do now, in retrospect.

Since his death 4 yrs ago (6 months after my husband died) and things have not been the same since. At first she tried to “recruit” me to be the next generation of enabler, and quite frankly I had fallen in line with her most of the time during my life with a few exceptions, once when she took my P son who was a teeanger in the first part of his criminal career to “give him another chance.” Of course he blew it big time, even stealing from my Step dad who never wanted anything to do with him after that. She did that “taking in” AGAINST my will, and now she says it “wasn’t her” but my step-dad who “wanted to give him another chance.” I am sure she convinced my step dad of that, but after that, he was never convinced.

After my husband died, Mom kept offering me money “if you need it” and I kept refusing because I was not in need, and secondly, I knew instinctively that it was not a “gift” but a PAYMENT on control. Your mom’s gift might have been out of guilt or it also might have been a “control payment.” So that if you ever went against her she could say how “generous” she had been to you. PUKE!

I am my mother’ s only child, and so she more or less “adopted” my sons as her own, and “took control” over them with her enabling and her devaluation of me. Since my DIL also hated me, she fell right in with it and together they pressured my son C (the non-P) to “go along.” I could tell by his face he wasn’t convinced, but he was between a rock and a hard place–his wife and his “perfect” grandmother.

Well, my son C now clearly sees that his “perfect little lady grandmother” is a hypocrit and a bald faced liar and that she would have been happy as a pig in chit if my P-son could have come home and lived with her after he got out of prison, even if it meant that my son C and I both died as a result.

There is a story in the Bible in I and II Samuel in the old testement about King David and his psychopathic son Absalom who revoted against DAvid and caused a war. David eventually won, but his son was killed and he grieved loudly for the young man, not even thanking his people or generals who fought for him. One of the generals confronted King David abot this and said “I perceive that if the young man had lived and we had all died, you would have been well pleased.” David was not a perfect man by any means and had committed many crimes against God, but when he was confronted about his behavior he repented and changed his ways. He SAW that what the general was saying was right. David had been an enabler “delux model” to Absalom andhe knew what the general said was right. He got up, quit screaming about the loss of his son and thanked the people who had sacrificed so much for him.

That story hit home with me because I realized tht MY MOTHER was just like king David—the difference being, that she did NOT REPENT, she JUSTIFIED HERSELF by devaluing me even more. That was when I realized she didn’t love me, had never loved me and would never do anything but wound me more. That was the day I went forever NC.

I catch some hell from some people about that “because she’s your mother”—but you know, they don’t get it and their opinions of my NC don’t matter to me any more. I can validate my own reality in the matter. I don’t need anyone else to validate that I am right. It is good that my two good sons validate it, but even if they didnt that would still be OK.

We have to learn to validate our own reality and not be brought down by other people’s opinions about our actions. No one can tell us what we should or should not do or not do, or feel or not feel. Or think or not think. That’s a big step for me, having been trained that the most important thing in the world was “what the neighbors think.”

I’m learning that what I think is and should be the most important thing to me. I think she is toxic, I think she is hateful, I think she is a bald faced liar so should the fact that she gave birth to me give her a pass to abuse me? NOPE. NC forever.


Oxy, I think if I’d ever had a child, I would not have to worry about my mother controlling him/her. She probably wouldn’t even notice.


My mother was always jealous of me. I applied and got accepted to a program in college to spend a year in Europe. My mother was so jealous that I went. She was always jealous of my stepfather’s attention. He was covertly incestuous of my sister and me, but I was his favorite. My mother used to call me “his little wife.” It never occurred to her that the way he treated us was abusive. He used to get me to side with him when he was having a fight with her. I would do it to get the attention. I was always busy being someone’s “wife”, therapist, or house slave. Fond memories…….. I was hoping to meet a handsome prince at the end of this Cinderella story. Not a crazy psychopath. That’s not how the story is supposed to end.


aND IT DOES NOT END THAT WAY star you aarree not done yet! Big SQuEEEEZEEES


Thanks, Indigo. But I don’t think you will switch teams for me. LOL

Ox Drover

Dear Star,

Indi’s right on this one, Star, this is NOT THE END OF THE STORY!

It’s funny though, I was always the one taking care of others. Doing this for them, that for them, fixing this or that. When my “energy” ran OUT and I was on the floor, couldn’t get up, I would write these letters to my P-son BEGGING him to take pity on me and quit making so many demands on my time. Of course all he had to do was sit in his cell all day and think of things for me to order for him, Xerox for him, or mail this or do that or get on the internet and check this or that. Mymother was doing the same thing, wanting me to be her companion, caregiver, maid and driver all day every day.

I was melting down and I kept writing my son and begging him to be patient with me and I would do as much of his stuff as I had time and energy to do. Finally I told him that I was like a willinglittle donkey with a ton of weight on its back, and my legs were flat out on the floor spraddled out and I could NOT GET UP from the weight. I was crying as I wrote the letter and begged him and I got a reply back that said “Mom, you have always been the one to do things, you are JUST NOT TRYING. It is time you got over Dad’s death and started living up to your responsibilities.”

Then, he took those letters that I had written to him trying to convince him I was emotinally wasted, and mailed part of them to my mother to convince her I was CRAZY and VISCIOUS. LOL

Talk about “beating a dead horse” he was sure beating me and recruited my mom to ttake up her own whip to this dead horse.

I actually think my mother was jealous of me too, but because when I came along as the first grandchild on either side of the family, I was the “bell sheep” where her father was concerned. He carried me with him like a “rag doll” from before I could walk. Back when she was little he was struggling post-depression to make a living and keep her fed so he didn’t have as much time for her as he did for me llater when he was financially stable and semi-retired. I think I was in a way a “child ofhis old age” and he doted on me. I think she resented that very much. I was also bonded to her mother as my daily caregiver for the first 3 yrs of my life when after she divorced my bio-father when I was 3 months old, we lived with her parents until she married my step dad when I was 3. When she and my step dad moved to their own home after they married, I really didn’t want to go with them, as my pets and my grandparents were where I wanted to be. Plus, shortly thereafter she went to work and because we didn’t live with my grandparents any more I had to go to day care which I HATED the entire time I was there. I wanted to go back to the farm. I think the main reason she even forced me to go with her was “what would the neighbors think” if she left her kid with her parents to raise. LOL

When I started school, my step dad was coach at a little school about 20 miles away and I went to the school in which he taught and during the ride to and from school each day and being with him after school til mom got home from work, he and I became very close. I look back and I spent much more time with him than I ever did with her. As soon as she got home from work that closeness and happiness “vanished” some how. So I think too that she was jealous of his attention to me, which was never inappropriate.

I wasn’t ever sucked into any quarrels between them, if they did fight (and I’m sure they must have) it was always behind closed doors and out of my ear shot. At least that was a good thing. It is the pits when parents try to recruit the kids in a fight or argument.

Hang in there Star, I’m not going to let my dysfunctional family stop me from enjoying the rest of my life. I’m getting to where when I tell someone (like here) about it, that it is more like the plot of a movie I saw once rather than a big pain or emotional drain. Almost like it happened to someone else, or I am having an “out of body” experience—the pain just isn’t associated with the memories any more. That’s the best part of thehealing road, when you get far enough down it, the pain decreases and you can look back on these chaotic and bad memories and see them, but not FEEL them. If that makes any sense at all. (((hugs)))You are making progress, I can hear it in your posts! PS–what’s the status on your x with the army?


Oxy, I completely agree with your response to Stan. Any father that would forgo visitation with his children to “ruin plans” is not worthy of children in the first place. Besides it’s all on him, not jen or pp. If my ex ever had the chance for the “ruined plans” ploy my response would be”make plans for any day or days you want and I will gladly take her”. I live 50 miles away and for 3 1/2 years driven that every wed and every other weekend to spend time with my daughter. A number of times only to be arrested or served with baseless ex parte orders or fake vacations to deny me parent time.


By the way the comment “so she’s a liar does that make her a bad mother?” in context came after definitively proving my ex led her children and I to believe she was dying of cancer and that there was going to be a new addition to the family.The irony of the comment left me speechless.


Dear StarG: Compassion! To understand that your mom no longer had a job of caretaker … her children were growing up and learning to flap their wings and fly.

If someone had seen that she was in fear of loosing herself due to her position of caretaker was now over … all she needed at the time was compassion to allow her to step back in her life … and that she could choose another roll that would make her feel worthy again…. some of this pain could have been avoided.

It’s the empty nest syndrome that is a big hurdle for the stay at home parent … what do they do with their time and love now?



Thanks, OxD, I keep going through pockets of pain and depression, and it all seems to go back to my mother’s neglect. I have rarely talked about this at all over the years, so none of my friends really know about it. I rarely ever talk about my past at all. When I do, I get the same thing you get, “She’s your mother, you should talk to her”, etc., etc. Most people cannot understand that your mother can be a toxic person in your life.

Wini, there was no empty nest syndrome for my mother. She was glad to get rid of us. She only tried to reach out again after my stepfather died because she didn’t want to be alone. I tried to be close to her, but every time I’d see her, I’d become deeply depressed afterward. I’ve done much better with NC. She is really a bad person. I have compassion for how she got that way. Her mother was the same way. It’s very sad. But I am not strong enough, nor do I feel it is my job to heal her. I also don’t feel obligated to be around narcissists who suck the life out of me just because they are my biological relatives.

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