By September 28, 2015 29 Comments Read More →

Why psychopaths don’t change

Angry psychopathLovefraud recently received the following question:

I’ve read in multiple places, written by multiple specialists that psychopaths/sociopaths cannot be rehabilitated or changed.

Surely I’m not the only person to have asked this:  Why not?

The short answer to this question is simple: Psychopaths don’t change because they don’t want to.

The key to any kind of behavioral change is desire. It’s hard work to change the way we relate to other people, the world or even ourselves. The reason any of us embark on a self-improvement project is because we are not happy. Our relationships are not fulfilling, we believe we could do better in our careers, or we just want to feel better. For reasons like these, we are motivated to change.

Psychopaths are usually quite content with who they are. They see no reason to change.

Oh, I have heard from a few people who identify themselves as diagnosed sociopaths or psychopaths, and who have said, “It’s not fun being me.” But I’ve also heard from several who view themselves as superior to those of us burdened with pesky emotions and consciences.

For example, one person wrote to me:

Hello my name is Alex. I would like to thank you for making your videos they have given me an insight into how you people recognize us. WE are not to blame for your short comings because you are weak minded and foolish enough to be taken advantage of. We are evolutions next step we don’t allow silly emotions to cloud our judgments. In fact we use our advantage for survival because we are natures next course. I know I sound very narcissistic and apologize for that but if you are so proud and concerned and attached to your emotions why not allow someone to make you feel like a queen for something as worldly as money? We give you what you are missing just as all of the world ecosystem has since the beginning of time. It’s funny how we have been so easily classified and even now as I attempt to alter myself in order to become unparallel to descriptions of us, I find it very difficult to even perceive. I would like to boast of my strategic victories over hearts but I would fear you making another video and making this game more difficult, of course it would make it much more challenging and pleasurable when enjoying the hunt. Well you take care Donna. Bye.

Illness and personality disorders

Generally, if you have a mental illness such as anxiety, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder, there was a time before the illness began during which you were reasonably healthy. Then something happened either an experience or biological change that caused the illness to begin.

You know what it’s like to feel better, and you want to return to the state of health.

Personality disorders are different. Most psychopaths are well on the way to disorder by adolescence, and many show signs as children, even as very young children. So there never was a time, as fully developed human beings, when they were “healthy.”

Psychopaths are not loving, ethical people who go bad. They never had the capacity for love, or concern for the wellbeing of others, to begin with.

How the disorder develops

How does this happen? First of all, experts pretty much agree that there is a large genetic component to psychopathy. Children with psychopathic parents, or psychopathy somewhere on the family tree, can be born with a genetic predisposition for the disorder to develop.

Whether the disorder actually does develop may be a function of the parenting that the children receive, or the environment that they grow up in.

Unfortunately, psychopaths make lousy parents. At best, they regard the children as possessions, and care for them about as well as they care for their cars. At worst, they try to turn the children into mini-mes, or abuse them.

Many Lovefraud readers have realized, with trepidation, that they share children with a psychopath. There are steps these parents can take to try to prevent the disorder from developing in children, which Dr. Liane Leedom outlines in her book, Just Like His Father?

It’s not easy. In fact, sometimes the genetic predisposition is so strong that nothing can be done to overcome it.

But if there is any chance of preventing people from becoming psychopaths, it’s when they’re young. That’s why Lovefraud advocates keeping disordered parents out of children’s lives as much as possible to limit the effect of their bad parenting.

Drive for dominance

So how exactly does the disorder develop? Dr. Liane Leedom believes it is a result of an out-of-control drive for dominance.

We all have a drive for dominance to a certain degree this is what makes us want to be successful, become a leader, or even drive a hot car. But in most of us, the drive for dominance is tempered by our ability to love. Because we are also concerned about the wellbeing of others, we can put the brakes on behavior that we know will hurt other people.

Psychopaths don’t have an ability to love, so they don’t have any brakes on their aggressive behavior.

No connection to others

What psychopaths are missing is a true feeling of connection with other people. This can start really young.

A few weeks ago Lovefraud posted a story about the results of a study showing that 5-week-old infants who preferred looking at a red ball rather than a human face may be at risk of developing callous-unemotional peronality traits. These are the traits that can morph into a full psychopathic disorder.

Here’s the post:

Early warning sign that a baby could grow up to be a psychopath, on

The researchers discuss the importance of infants making eye contact failure to make eye contact may affect the entire development of an infant’s social brain. To greatly simplify the process, this may lead to an inability to respond to another person’s distress, which may lead to a lack of empathy, which may lead to an inability to love, which may lead to antisocial behavior.

Even at a young age, a psychopath experiences much more satisfaction from dominating other people than from connecting with them. Every time this individual feels pleasure due to exercising power and control over others which can start during the “terrible twos” the drive for dominance is reinforced.

Power and control

By the time psychopaths are adults, the desire for dominance is an integral part of their identities. They like power and control. They don’t particularly care if they don’t have love in their lives, because they don’t know what it is.

Psychopaths do not feel any distress due to their disorder, so they don’t go for therapy on their own. They’ll only go if dragged in by a parent or partner, or if court-ordered. And when they get there, their objective isn’t changing. It’s winning.

Research has shown that therapy makes psychopaths worse. Why? Because through therapy, they learn the buzzwords, and they learn more about how they’re supposed to behave. They use what they learn to improve their skills at manipulation and deception.

It’s possible that if psychopaths perceive controlling their antisocial behavior to be in their own self-interest, they’ll do it. Criminal psychopaths, for example, may get tired of going to prison. But although they may change their behavior somewhat, it’s unlikely that they will ever become loving, caring human beings.

Unfortunately, once psychopaths are adults, they will not develop a heart and a conscience. That window closed when they were young.


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29 Comments on "Why psychopaths don’t change"

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The stalker/spath I used to date pulled me into court twice, attempting to use the courts as his tool to abuse. His goal is to ruin my life. He lost both suits and I’ve been awarded thousands in restitution. He has paid less than $400. We are scheduled to go back to court for contempt in a couple of weeks, due to him not paying me the restitution. If he would have won the lawsuits he was attempting to make me lose my home.

My revenge is choosing happiness. Am I totally happy? No. I don’t think anyone is.

Oops, I hit submit before I was finished.

Anyway, I hope you can let go of the anger at some point. As long as you are angry he is in your mind wasting your time, which is what he wants. Deal with him when you have to and put it out of your mind the rest of the time.

For people like us, happiness is a choice we have to make. I wish you success at making your life happy in spite of what he has done to you.

A very good post.

But there are 2 very compelling findings which explain why psychopaths will never change.

First, their brains are structurally different. They have smaller brain parts which govern emotions and fear, so they do not perceive these like more normal people do. They are wired differently from birth, although some are “made” through certain kinds of serious head injury.

Second, psychopaths when they control, manipulate, and win receive 3 times the dopamine hit normal people do. Dopamine is a key part of the reward system in the brain and such a hit is comparable to that of addictive drugs. They can’t stop. And Donna is right. They don’t want to stop either.

Donna, Thank you for this insightful article. This is all so true!

Recently did an online search of my ex’s name with his location because my grown daughter is still there. Have never done this before. My Ex is a Narcissistic Sociopath (NS Ex). Because I’m a normal person with good morals, expected to find normal things like something about NS Ex attending a HS reunion or business event. Instead, the results were SHOCKING.

Looks like NS Ex’s entire family is comprised of violent male NS. They all hide behind a mask of upstanding military service, prestigious academic degrees and premier white collar jobs. But in reality, they are violent Jekyll and Hide personalities.

Imagine my SHOCK when seeing the online search results. There are multiple videos and news reports that NS Ex brother’s son (NS Nephew) is a convicted violent rapist, serving 30+ years in prison.

He violently attacked, raped and sodomized his ex-girlfriend at gunpoint–right after she broke up with him and he found out that she had a new boyfriend.

NS Nephew video recorded his attack on ex-gf. Jury saw the video of ex-gf screaming and crying during the entire attack. Fortunately, they did NOT buy his lies that he ‘would never attack or hurt any woman’, contrary to the clear video evidence proving otherwise.

NS Nephew and NS Ex’s family’s behavior is what stunned me. NS Nephew and his father (an independent attorney with law degree from a prestigious university) said the video “merely depicted he and his ex-gf ’50 Shades of Gray’ alternate S&M lifestyle”. They also claim 30 yr old NS Nephew was a ‘war hero with PTSD and TBI’.

NS Nephew was out on bond and required to wear an ankle monitor until the trial was completed. Just before the jury returned with a Guilty verdict, NS Nephew forcibly removed the monitor. He fled across the US and hid for almost 1 year. US Marshalls finally captured him across the country.

Ex-gf had to go into protective custody for about 1-1/2 years until he was captured and sentenced.

Glad to say that the Judge gave him a maximum sentence, plus additional years for his escape and evasion. However, he and his father (who is an attorney) are filing an appeal.

Amazing how clever NS can be. Nothing is ever their fault. They lie and twist the truth until they make themselves out to be the victim. They NEVER take any responsibility for their own actions, no matter how evil.

Unfortunately, NS Ex is the father of our daughter (who is now an adult). She was raised by NS Ex and consistently exposed to his NS family. My Daughter was also exposed to NS Nephew, who is her same age.

Makes me panic to think about this. I fear for my daughter because I know that my NS ex taught her his NS ways, starting at her earliest childhood. Pray she’s well and totally not like them.

Update: The Violent, Narcissistic, Sociopath Nephew–who is just like my Ex–LOST his appeal to the State Supreme Court. He will continue serving over 30 years in a Maximum Security Prison for his violent attack that included rape, sodomy and unlawful imprisonment of his ex-girlfriend. Finally, there is justice!

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