Archive for June, 2007

Are they just evil people?

An evil person is one who exploits or harms most everyone he/she encounters; the question of the utmost importance is do evil people share certain personality characteristics? Perhaps personality type has nothing to do with evil. We all know that every person has made bad moral choices at one time or another so perhaps people who repeatedly make bad moral choices are no different than anyone else.

There are many reasons to consider whether evil people have a special or different personality type. For Lovefraud readers, the best reason is to define and learn to recognize a group of people to avoid.

The assertion that evil people share a common personality type has profound philosophical and practical implications. This assertion implies that while occasionally doing evil is part of all of us, repeatedly doing evil is not. But what does repeatedly mean? Shouldn’t everyone who has made a bad moral choice get a second chance? What about those who have made two bad choices? Perhaps if we can identify an evil person by his/her characteristics, then we can say that he/she should not be given another chance.

Sociopaths, psychopaths—just call them evil

Medical and mental health professionals have differing views and opinions about the personality disorders that are the topic of Lovefraud—sociopathy, psychopathy and antisocial personality disorder. You could also include narcissism and borderline personality disorder.

There is disagreement among professionals about how the disorders should be defined, what causes them, and what can be done about them. As an example, take a look at a recent post along with the comments: ASK DR. LEEDOM: Is there a gender bias against men in the diagnosis of sociopathy?

No matter what discussions are raging in the professional world, here is what the rest of us need to know: There are evil people among us.

“I never knew such evil existed”

Lovefraud receives plenty of e-mail from people who have been deceived, manipulated, bankrupted, assaulted and deserted by sociopaths/psychopaths/antisocials. One comment that I frequently hear is, “I never knew such evil existed.”

Fred Brito: A con artist profiled by Dateline

Every so often I get down on myself for having believed the lies of a con artist. When I come across stories like The Ultimate Con Artist which recently aired on Dateline, I realize that many who should have known better have been fooled. Before you read the rest of this column, follow the link and watch the video of this man.

Before my own encounter with a con artist, I thought I had personally observed most of the human behavioral repertoire. I had good reason for holding that belief, having trained in psychiatry at a large general hospital that served 4 million people. I didn’t think much of “con artists” in my mind they were simply people who were “good at sales.” The sociopaths I saw were all addicts or substance abusers. I can tell you I never saw anyone like the man portrayed in the Dateline story until I became a victim.

After the sociopath. Time passes. Love heals.

Time. It waits for no man. Nor woman.

I cannot hold it in my arms. I cannot stop its inevitable course. I can only journey with it from this moment to the next. I cannot change time passing. I can change how I pass through time.

Time. When in an abusive relationship, tied up in the lies of a sociopath, time was my foe. It passed in relentless pursuit of itself, while I stood still, locked into the macabre dance of his sinuously veiled truths reflected in the contortions of his lies sifting through the hourglass of time, burying me alive. With him, time passed slowly. Heavy. Ponderous. Dark. Angry waves crashing against the once impenetrable fortress of my psyche, eroding my foundation, peeling back my flesh to expose the soft underbelly of my dreams until I stood, alone. Lost in time.

Posted in: M.L. Gallagher

Fake doctor Jeffrey Marsalis acquitted of date rape

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania has been transfixed in recent weeks by the trial of Jeffrey Marsalis, 34, who was accused of raping seven women.

After five days of deliberations, a jury acquitted Marsalis of 24 counts of rape, and could not reach a verdict on one charge of rape by forcible compulsion. They did convict him of two counts of sexual assault. He could be sentenced to as many as 20 years in prison.

Met on Match.com

Marsalis met six of the women—all of them professionals—on Match.com. He told them he was a doctor. In fact, he walked the floors of Hahnemann Hospital in Philadelphia wearing scrubs and a lab coat. He had hospital ID badges and carried a stethoscope. His former fiancée, who was not one of the alleged victims, testified that Marsalis regularly took her to the hospital, where they went to the cafeteria, the emergency-room medical supply room and to the cadaver lab. Security officers never challenged him.

Poor impulse control: a symptom of sociopathy in men and women

This week, I met a man in his early 20s, who approached me to ask about sociopathy. He is in search of answers regarding his former girl friend and BOTH his mother and his father. He stated he had just ended a relationship with a woman who was physically and psychologically abusive to him. He said it was hard to end the relationship because he still loved her.

The man was raised by his father after his alcoholic mother abandoned the family. His father was an abusive character who also drank alcohol and paid little attention to the kids. He asked if I would explain why people are abusive psychologically and physically and why this is related to alcoholism.

Is Tony Soprano a sociopath?

Tonight, in the final episode of the HBO series The Sopranos, we find out what happens to Tony. Will he get whacked? Will he escape? Will he go into the federal witness protection program?

As a prelude, last week’s episode, called The Blue Comet, showed Tony as a man alone, losing his family, friends and even his psychiatrist. Early in the show, Tony’s shrink, Dr. Jennifer Melfi, is at a dinner party with other mental health professionals, including her own shrink, Dr. Elliot Kupfenberg. The conversation turns to sociopaths:

Doctor #1: I Googled stuff on sociopathic personalities. Apparently the talking cure actually helps them become better criminals. It was fascinating. The study was by Yochelson and Samenow.
Dr. Melfi: Studies are turned around every few years.
Doctor #1: This other—I think it was Robert Hare—suggested sociopaths actually quite glibly engage on key issues, like mother, family …
Doctor #2: I seem to remember that from residency.
Dr. Melfi: Me too, and I’ve read Hare, but who’s a true sociopath?

ASK DR. LEEDOM: Is there a gender bias against men in the diagnosis of sociopathy?

There is gender bias in our current mental health diagnostic system. This bias occurs for three reasons.

  1. There are genuine gender differences in the manifestation of behavioral disorders.
  2. Those creating the diagnostic categories are biased.
  3. Those making the diagnoses are biased.

Each of these reasons for gender bias is operative with regard to sociopathy. We would hope though that gender differences found in behavioral disorders reflect true physiologic differences between men and women. This week I will attempt to convince you that physiologic differences between men and women account for the higher prevalence of sociopathy in men.

How to find out if someone is truly military

My ex-husband, James Montgomery, told me he had earned the Victoria Cross, Australia’s highest military honor, for his heroism during the Vietnam War. He said he continued his military service for 30 years, as an Australian attached to American Special Operations, including Navy SEALS. He said he became an intelligence analyst for the Special Operations Command and the National Security Agency. I saw the reports that he wrote about Islamic terrorists.

Montgomery was the keynote speaker at a New Jersey Veterans Day ceremony in 1995. His photo, standing at the podium in a camouflage uniform and Special Forces beret, appeared in the newspaper. In 1996 and 1997, I accompanied him to a local grammar school, where he, along with two other area veterans, spoke to schoolchildren about the military and war. A sixth-grade boy asked Montgomery if any of his buddies were killed. Montgomery, softly and slowly, answered yes.

ASK DR. LEEDOM: How does one ever get over the heartache of being taken by a con artist??

Con artists are a special category of sociopaths. In fact, most if not all are also psychopaths. If you were tricked by a con artist, I would say you are in good company, since all three of the authors on this blog were also fooled by con artists! This week one of our readers posted her story as a comment to ASK DR. LEEDOM: FAQ #1 “Why is this so hard for us mentally?” Her post illustrates many of the important characteristics of a con:

In 1998 I was ripped off by a con artist, whom I met through a personal ad. I was going through a very serious depression at the time, and that’s when I met him. He seemed like a breath of fresh air, very intelligent, different than other men I had met. He seemed very supportive of me, and what I was going through with my depression.