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Archive for July, 2008

Welcome Steve Becker, LCSW, as a regular Lovefraud author

Since January, Steve Becker, a licensed clinical social worker and certified hypnotherapist, has been submitting guest columns to Lovefraud. His articles have been insightful looks at pathological personalities. I’m sure you remember them:

Steve has a private therapy practice based in Westfield, New Jersey, USA. He works with adults, couples, adolescents and families. He sees his fair share of sociopaths.

Clinically, Steve has been interested in the personality disorders—especially borderline, narcissistic and sociopathic—for many years. He developed a reputation earlier in his career for working effectively with aggressive, paranoid and manipulative clients at various community mental health centers. Since then, he has sought opportunities to work with, and develop his knowledge of, challenging, disordered personalities.

After the sociopath, hard-learned truths

Before I became entangled with the sociopath, I was an avid consumer of self-help books and programs. Although I was successful in my career, I could not get the relationship thing to work. This, of course, was the vulnerability exploited by the sociopath I married, but I get ahead of myself.

In my quest for answers—Why was I alone? Why couldn’t I find love?—I once participated in a weekend seminar called “Understanding Yourself and Others.” After some initial skepticism, I found the program to be helpful. One of the things I remember from the weekend is a pithy little motto:

“The truth will set you free—but first it will piss you off.”

Medication used to treat sociopathy/psychopathy

It turns out that Sandy Brown, M.A. is quite correct in stating that any talk of treatment of sociopathy makes people (particularly women) reluctant to give up on a dangerous relationship. We received a note this week from a woman asking for more info about treatment and wanting to know if there was any hope for her man. He was the only man she had ever loved and she was actually still grappling with the meaning of his diagnosis.

This week, I will discuss medications that can be used to treat sociopathy. But before I do I want to make it clear that I encourage people to break away from sociopaths. Remember that the sociopath’s doctor and therapist will want you to stay with the sociopath to assist in the treatment. Sociopaths “do better” with treatment and when they stay married. So let me explain what “do better” means. Also this discussion will help you if you are still grappling with the meaning of your sociopath’s diagnosis.

Guidelines for posting comments on the Lovefraud Blog

In the three years since Lovefraud launched, it’s grown from a website to a community. I am always amazed and appreciative that so many people are contributing. New readers arrive distraught and asking for help; other readers respond with caring and heartfelt support. People start to recover. It is beautiful to watch.

Thank you all.

As we post, there is an important fact that we must all keep in mind. Here it is: Linguists estimate that 65 percent to 90 percent of the meaning in human communication is transmitted via nonverbal cues—tone of voice, facial expression, body language. None of these cues, of course, are available over a computer. That means when we post written comments on the Lovefraud blog, 65 percent to 90 percent of our meaning may be missing.

So what happens? Without the benefit of those nonverbal cues, people interpret a post to mean what they want it to mean.

Sociopaths pretending to be religious

Sociopaths like to cloak themselves in a mantel of respect. They seek careers, or pretend to have careers, in fields that people associate with good character, trustworthiness, and authority, such as law enforcement, the military and the clergy.

Pursuing a career in religion or spirituality is particularly useful for sociopaths. People tend to trust religious figures simply because they are religious figures, which puts a sociopath several moves ahead when trying to scam someone. A sociopath claiming an inside track to God has a very powerful tool when it comes to manipulating people.

Plus, for a sociopath, a career in the clergy is easy—the primarily visible job requirement is an ability to talk. With typical inborn charisma, and a willingness to lie about other credentials, the sociopath is a shoo-in.

Lovefraud has written about several pseudo-members of the clergy whose behavior has certainly flouted the Ten Commandments:

Book review: Antisocial Personality Disorder A Practitioner’s Guide to Comparative Treatments

I had a nice conversation with a friend today. She said that part of healing from a relationship with a sociopath is getting to the point where one realizes that sociopaths deserve pity for being disordered. In that regard, we both hope that science will progress to the point where sociopathy is preventable and fully treatable. In this blog I will discuss treatment options for those diagnosed with antisocial personality disorder. Following the format of the book I am reviewing, this disorder is called sociopathy or ASPD and the personality traits that give rise to the disorder are called “psychopathic personality traits.”

Getting inside the head of the abusive mentality

By Steve Becker, LCSW, CH.T

Editor’s note: The author has a private psychotherapy, hypnotherapy, and clinical consulting practice in New Jersey, USA. For more information, visit his website, powercommunicating.com.

Let’s get inside the head of the abusive mentality. But first let’s define abuse. Abuse in a relationship reflects a pattern(s) of behavior that is manifestly (or passive-aggressively) bullying, demeaning, manipulative, intimidating, threatening, coercive, and/or restrictively controlling.

The key word is pattern. Most non-abusive individuals perpetrate insensitivities from time to time that may be experienced as abusive. This may make the behavior abusive. But it is the pattern of behaviors that makes the individual abusive.

What do we know about abusive personalities? We know that they are controlling. Then again, aren’t most of us controlling at times? Sometimes very? What, then, separates your garden variety controlling personality from an abusively controlling personality? The answer, fundamentally, is motive. Where the motive is to coerce—to remind one’s partner who’s in charge—this suggests the machinations of the abusive mentality.

8 steps to recovery from the betrayal of a sociopath

Lovefraud received the following e-mail from a reader; we’ll call her Lisa. In one short paragraph, Lisa conveyed the betrayal, rage, pain and hopelessness that we’ve all felt:

If a stranger broke into my house and stole all my valuables and then burned the rest. If I was left homeless and broke. I would be angry. I would be damaged. But I would recover. The person who did this slept in my bed and held me tight and told me he loved me every day. He told me that we were moving overseas and that everything should go. Stop paying the mortgage. Sell your furniture for cheap. Burn the rest. I did it. He disappeared with my jewelry and cash. I feel that I cannot recover. I am devastated. I am bitter. I am obsessed with my hatred and can’t smile or laugh. I need a psychiatrist. I dream of stabbing him. I am a loving and forgiving person that can’t find grace. I try to forgive and recognize my own fault. I fail. I need help with this.

Donald Trump doesn’t even understand con men!

Recently, Donald Trump made headlines when he publically criticized Anne Hathaway for not sticking by her boyfriend of four years, Raffaello Follieri, following his arrest for fraud and money laundering. Apparently, Trump doesn’t understand the romantic con artist, but that’s OK, neither did I until I was targeted by one. In spite of the best psychiatric training this country has to offer, I fell for, married and had a son with a con man. I filed for divorce when following his arrest, I realized his true nature. So when Trump chastises Hathaway, he also chastises me and other women who have fallen for con men.

Mental health professionals: Name the disorder. Please.

Most of the time we spend with sociopaths is spent in confusion. They tell us that they love us, while they cheat on us and take our money. They tell us that everything will be wonderful while our lives are falling apart. They tell us they’re sorry and will never do it again, yet they do it again, and again, and again.

We ask ourselves—what in the world is going on here?

They explain it all away. The explanation seems to make sense. But something still isn’t right, and they still don’t stop the behavior that makes us believe we are losing our minds.

There must be a reason. We wonder if they’re depressed, or bipolar, or they have low self-esteem. We’ve been told that they were abused as children. They overindulge in alcohol or drugs, and we’re sure that if they can only overcome their addiction, they’ll change.