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ASK DR. LEEDOM: How can I make my friends understand?

Recently a man wrote me saying that his best friend has been more hurtful than helpful when it comes to helping him recover from his relationship with a sociopathic woman. He had the following comment and question. I am sure many of you will relate to this one, especially you guys out there.

I have a best friend who I talked to (of course I desperately needed to get my self-identity back). He instantly tried to help me by seeing my own flaws in the relationship and what I could do better, and stated that I overreacted. Of course, his “help” only contributed to her brainwashing and manipulation because it further fueled my questioning about myself, and further made me believe that I was at fault. This reinforced my guilt and shame in which I can now see that I had no reason to experience.

In this regard, my best friend became my worst enemy because he had no clue. I still believe he meant well, though. Of course, my friend has a good impression of her and have never felt the damaging effect of being in a relationship with a sociopath.

So now I question whether he really is my best friend, since he made matters much, much worse (probably without realizing). How can we get a friend to understand what we have been dealing with, and the damaging effect on our emotional life and our self-esteem / self-respect?

Many of the behaviors and manipulations of sociopaths are entirely beyond the comprehension of the average person…or mental health professional for that matter. This past week, someone else told me the story of how he came to realize that his significant other was a sociopath. It turns out that the sociopath faked having cancer. This man told a family member and ask the question, “Who fakes having cancer?” Coincidentally a short time later that family member saw an MSNBC special on con artists where faking cancer was discussed. The person called my friend to say, “Hey I think I found out what’s wrong with ______ she’s a sociopath.” Well the man had never heard of “sociopath” before and had to research it. To his shock his lover met every one of the criteria!

Don’t despair if your friend doesn’t get it. Who would ever guess that there are people who appear normal and even affectionate and yet who are only motivated by power, greed and sex? Although we understand some people have problems with conscience and empathy, we believe that at heart all people want and need the same things we do. Very few understand that sociopaths have different needs and drives.

That gets me to my proposal. I think eventually we will want to go beyond this blog and web site and have a conference or start regional support groups. I think we should consider a conference for victims. I have had the very good fortune to correspond and speak on the phone with some other victims. We can finish each other’s sentences because we know what comes next. The sociopath’s methods are all strikingly similar. Perhaps that is the best evidence there is as to the existence of the syndrome.

I recognize there are many people who do not understand what I went through and who may blame me for my own suffering and the suffering of others at the hands of my former husband. It has been very important to my recovery that I have been able to talk with other victims who know firsthand the mind games and distortions of reality sociopaths are capable of.



51 Comments on "ASK DR. LEEDOM: How can I make my friends understand?"

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  1. bluemosaic says:

    How interesting, the first post on here suggesting a conference ( Thx Aloha Traveler)…I mentioned this idea yesterday on another thread. I am way too infantile in my recovery to be thinking straight ( yep, this really hurt my self-esteem), but something in me says silence gives them power.

    Dear Donna, Can the idea of a conference be visited? Perhaps, many of us could not participate due to personal safety issues, but with technology… can that be bridged with tele conferencing? I just wonder if coming forth to make this more well known, would benefit survivors and perhaps help others avoid this personal tragedy?
    Thank you Dr. Leedom, for this post. I too have had many well meaning freinds say, just let it go…move on. They have no idea…neither did I , before I met “it”.
    Is there an anonymous web site that one can post on about spath? I am afraid of him, and it is not about revenge…I just think it is deplorable that he walks off into sunset to seek and destroy again. Probably telling some other poor woman right now how she is “love of his life”….God help her.

    Blue



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  2. Truthspeak says:

    Bluemosaic, the topic of a convention, seminar, or conference has been raised numerous times. It would require a lot of coordination, etc., and I imagine that Donna has been considering this for a few years, now. Hopefully, it’ll happen. 😀

    As for telling other people, outing, explaining, detailing, or simply attempting to warn other people about a spath, it all comes down to a personal choice. Is it REALLY worth the risk? Even “anonymous” sites can be subpoenaed, and IP addresses delivered. I know this because I was stalked and harassed by someone who used “anonymous” means. There is NO such thing as true anonymity on the internet. Seriously.

    Survivors in recovery from sociopaths walk a very thin red line. Because of the details about the exspath, I believe that he is a danger to men, women, and children. He’s a sexual deviant and he is a fraud. Having typed that, I don’t believe that his current target would benefit from any disclosure of what he did – none, whatsoever. Even people who have known me for years have chosen to disregard my experiences. I cannot count the number of times that someone has said, “You need to get over it.” They simply cannot comprehend what I experienced, and they don’t WANT to.

    Now, the exspath was very young when we began dating. If someone had come to me and said, “Truthspeak, if you remain with this man, you are going to lose your children, your home, your belongings, your friends, your pets, and every dime that you ever had,” I would have laughed in their face.

    Brightest blessings



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  3. Radar_On says:

    ” They simply cannot comprehend what I experienced, And they don’t want to” was Truth’y’s statement. IT IS TRUE!. Ohhh you just need to let it go, they say. It has been my experience as well. I mentioned to the spaths daughter-in-law several times about what a monster he is. Know what she said? Ughhhh, yea, we really DONT WANT TO KNOW. Its called “turning a blind eye”! OK!!! Ya’ll dont mind that perverted predator goes around your kids??? Ok!!! Sucks to be ya’ll!!!



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  4. bluemosaic says:

    Radar_on, Truthspeak,
    I see you are both right, people do not want to know, or don’t care or blame the victim. Ignorance…bliss like state where all is peachy. I think I would get about the same response if I tried to convince anyone that my last relationship ended b/c he turned out to be an ALIEN life form….who had probed me, mutilated my insides…taken me to MARS for more torture(during the times they thought we were on vacation) and then infiltrated me with a Martian virus that I amstruggling with overcoming!!!!
    Actually, that would get more sympathy…which begs the ?…why do I need “them” to know or understand or sympathize? Human nature….I am so social, I need to feel heard and validated, quess that is “part” of me that got me into this trouble in the first place…mmmmm.

    Blue



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  5. discovering says:

    Ladies,

    I have to agree that the techniques that my spath used are so similar to those I keep reading about here that there can only be 2 explanations.
    1) They have support networks that help them learn and use these skills
    2) It comes naturally, the ability to manipulate and do psychological harm.

    I guess it goes back to the nature/nuture argument. Yes, I do believe my spath was born this way and yes I believe that his mother was a spath which didn’t help. But he did have wonderful family support and a solid Middle class upbringing in his church- he was even an altar boy. (funny, just reminded me about how important it was for him to be married in the church)

    Ladies; why not choose a central location and date and see who can meet. We don’t have to have fancy speakers or plush rooms, just a place where we can hug ((())) and have a cup of tea. I don’t know if people would feel as if they would be put in danger- let me know.

    Either way I do feel validated (you are not alone BLUE) and understood here- better than I do in my own family. As I had posted on another thread, my family has a hard time believing (as I initially did my self ) that my husband could possibly try and kill me. My counselor identified my husband as a psychopath within the first meeting I had with him. Too bad I can’t make everyone see…but of course he has fooled so many for so long….BUT NOT US :).

    I do think the alien story would be more plausible because our reality is a whole lot scarier ( at least the aliens would look different than us).



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  6. Ox Drover says:

    Yea, If we told our families and friends we were abducted by aliens we would be more likely to be believed. LOL The nice thing about LF is that we ARE believed and we are NT ALONE. It does help to know that.



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