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Archive for August, 2007

Coercive persuasion, mind control and brain washing

Over the last six months we have received many letters from desperate family members asking, “How can I get my ____ away from the psychopathic con artist?” What family members are really asking for is advice on how to overcome the brain washing of a loved one. When answering these kinds of questions, I like to provide some scientific evidence validating my point of view. Unfortunately, a search of the scientific literature, using the terms coercive persuasion, brain washing and mind control, does not reveal much. This week I will share some of what I have come to understand about how one person can assume control over another. Next week I will discuss how to overcome mind control by a psychopath.

Sociopaths, at first, don’t act like jerks

When I first met my ex-husband, James Montgomery, whom I now believe is a sociopath, he treated me like gold.

His attentiveness started with our initial e-mail correspondence. Yes, we met via the Internet, but he lived nearby—I wasn’t worried about the pitfalls of a long-distance relationship. During our three weeks of preliminary correspondence—his notes were clever and well-written—he made it clear that he was interested in me.

When we did meet, Montgomery was attentive, charming and entertaining. He asked questions and listened to my answers. He was quick to pay me compliments. Yes, he talked about himself a lot, but he was intelligent and intriguing, so I didn’t mind—I felt like I was getting to know him.

Significantly, when Montgomery said he would call me, he did. Now, before I met him, I spent a lot of years in the dating game. Many, many times, I heard, “I’ll call you,” and then the person who said the words fell off the planet. So a man who followed through with this basic courtesy—well, that scored some points.

ASK DR. LEEDOM: Have you considered exorcism as a treatment for sociopathy?

Editor’s note: The following article refers to spiritual concepts. Please read Lovefraud’s statement on Spiritual Recovery.

Recently a reader wrote asking this question regarding evil and sociopaths. Have you considered exorcism as treatment for psychopaths/narcissists? I have come to firmly believe these people – even the ones under-the-radar legally- are effected/infected by evil. As a practicing Catholic, I feel as if I have been targeted specifically. I realize you do not know me and that such claims are bizarre, but I know you have called psychopathy evil-so I wonder if you have considered what can be done spiritually?

There is no doubt in my mind that the Bible makes references to sociopaths. The Bible warns, “Beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing!” There is no better metaphor for a sociopath. However, I think before we ascribe a supernatural cause to an occurrence we are obligated to fully investigate if that occurrence can be explained by other means.

The right question in Newark killings: Is he a psychopath?

Three college students were brutally murdered, and a fourth left for dead, in Newark, New Jersey on August 4. The three students were forced to kneel in front of a brick wall in a school playground, then shot, execution-style, in the back of the head.

The three young victims, Terrance Aeriel, 18; Iofemi Hightower, 20; and Dashon Harvey, 20; as well as the lone survivor, Natasha Aeriel, 19; were universally described as “good kids.” None had police records. Terrance Aeriel was an ordained minister.

New Jersey news commentator Steve Adubato wrote about Terrance in his column today. Adubato personally knew the young man. Adubato is a mentor in a program called “Stand and Deliver: Communication Tools for Tomorrow’s Leaders,” and Terrance was a participant. The program helps Newark youths with leadership, communication and life skills.

New study finds conduct disordered boys are just like their fathers

Although fearlessness is not part of the formal definition of psychopathy or DSM IV antisocial personality disorder (ASPD), it is widely recognized that this temperamental attribute is part of these disorders as well as their childhood precursors, oppositional defiant disorder (ODD) and conduct disorder (CD). Thankfully, not all fearless individuals are sociopaths but it appears that fearlessness is present in varying degrees in everyone with these disorders. (Interestingly some sociopaths do show anxiety. The exact relationship between anxiety and fearlessness is not completely understood.)

Fearlessness is a good trait to study because the trait reflects the function of specific brain regions that are linked to a person’s ability to learn from punishment. The trait is also influenced by genetics. In addition to psychological measures, fearlessness can be assessed using physiological measures. The most universal finding related to fearlessness and genetic risk for sociopathy is that children at risk have low heart rates. Low heart rate has been documented in groups of at-risk children from six different countries and in children as young as 3 years of age.

GPS tracking of sex offenders and batterers

Last week, the state of New Jersey established a permanent program to monitor convicted sex offenders with GPS (global positioning system) technology.

For the past two years, New Jersey has had a pilot program in which 156 “high-risk” sex offenders were tracked with GPS devices. The program was set to expire, but the legislators passed a law, which the governor signed, to make it permanent.

In a previous post, Sexually violent predators, Lovefraud noted that sex offenders who are diagnosed as psychopaths are likely to offend again. One study found that within six years of release from prison, 80% of psychopathic sex offenders committed additional offenses, compared to only 20% of offenders who were not psychopaths.

How tracking works

With the GPS tracking systems, offenders are fitted with waterproof ankle bracelets. They are also supposed to carry a transmitter, which is about the size of a digital pager, to relay their position to the satellites, and on to authorities.

Is every pathologic liar a psychopath or a sociopath?

Several weeks ago I introduced the idea that lying is the cardinal symptom of sociopathy/psychopathy. I believe that every sociopath/psychopath compulsively lies. Judging from the number of comments to the article, The cardinal sign of sociopathy: Every sociopath ______! you all agree with me. Since every sociopath lies, it is reasonable to ask if we can use lying behavior to help us identify sociopaths. The problem is that from time to time nearly everyone lies for any number of reasons, so lying is a rather non-specific finding in a person. It is instead pathologic lying that characterizes sociopaths and psychopaths.

Finding value after the sociopath encounter

Finding value in all things is an integral component of healing after an encounter with a sociopath. When I look for what is good in being freed from him, I create opportunities to be surprised by the unexpected. As Oscar Wilde wrote, “to expect the unexpected shows a thoroughly modern intellect.”

Expecting the unexpected is not a license to let go of rational thinking. It means staying connected to intellect and allowing my intuition to guide me –- especially where people are concerned.

New encounters can lead to wonder…or not

When we first meet someone, we do not know who they truly are, just as they don’t know who we are. New people in our lives can be the best thing that ever happened to us -– or the worst. They can contribute joy, laughter, friendship, fun and shared experiences, or they can contribute pain and turmoil. When I met the sociopath, the intensity and velocity of his attentions were unexpected -– and not unwelcome. Wow, such a talented and successful man was interested in me? Cool!

Posted in: M.L. Gallagher

7 points to remember about dating and predators

As human beings, we all want love and companionship in our lives. It’s a basic human need, right up there with the needs for food, water and shelter. When we are lacking an intimate relationship, most of us try to fill the empty space. That leads to dating.

Here is what you need to know about dating and predators.

1. Evil exists.
What the evil is called—psychopath, sociopath, antisocial personality disorder, narcissist—really doesn’t matter. There are evil people out there, and they can be found in all segments of society—rich, poor, male, female, all races, all religions, all communities. They look like everyone else, but they are predators.

2. If you are dating, you are a target.
As an unattached person, you’re probably feeling a bit lonely—that’s why you’re looking for dates. This is natural and understandable. What you need to realize is that predators specialize in targeting lonely people. They know exactly how to find this vulnerability and exploit it by seeming to take the loneliness away. They shower you with attention, flatter you and promise you a lifetime of happiness—exactly what you’re looking for.

MAO A gene interacts with testosterone to predict sociopathy

Genetic studies of our population estimate that about 50 percent of the differences in trait sociopathy between individuals are due to small differences in our genes. These small individual differences in our genes are called polymorphisms (poly=many, morph=forms), for many forms of the same gene. It is clear that polymorphisms interact with environmental factors during childhood and adolescence to produce sociopathy. It is also clear that the set of traits that we call sociopathy involves many polymorphisms.

There is accumulating evidence that a functional VNTR polymorphism in the promoter region of the monoamine oxidase A (MAO A) gene may give some men a predisposition to sociopathy. Four independent studies have found that this polymorphism interacts with childhood stress to predict sociopathy. VNTR stands for variable number of tandem repeats (the differences between us are due to differences in the numbers of these tandem repeats), the promoter is the part of the gene that regulates its activity. The mutation related to sociopathy makes it less likely that the MAO A gene will be expressed, resulting in lower levels of MAO A. MAO A is an enzyme that breaks down dopamine and other monoamine neurotransmitters such as serotonin and norepinephrine that are critical in emotional responses and impulse control.