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By July 7, 2008 Read More →

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.

It never happens.

We can’t figure it out.

The words that fit the behavior

Then someone says, “It sounds like he (or she) is a sociopath.” Or maybe they even use the word “psychopath.”

Sociopath! They’re the guys on The Sopranos.

Psychopath! They’re all serial killers.

But something tells us to do more research, so we go online. We buy a book. And there they are, the people who are driving us insane, perfectly described in the symptoms of a sociopath.

At Lovefraud, we hear it all the time:

“He’s got every symptom on the list!” “The description fits her to a T!”

Finally, we have a name for that person’s problem. He or she is a sociopath. A psychopath. An antisocial.

Finally, it all makes sense. The lies, the emptiness, the remorselessness, the evil. There is a reason. It is not us. It is a personality disorder.

Naming the disorder makes all the difference. Finally, we begin to understand what we are dealing with. This allows us to begin recovery.

Learn about them in school

Why do we spend so much time in confusion? Because there is no education program about this personality disorder for the general public.

I remember a story from the tsunami that struck Indonesia, Sri Lanka, India and Thailand on December 26, 2004. A vacationing family was on the beach there when the ocean suddenly receded. The little girl of the family had just finished studying tsunamis in school, and learned that the receding ocean meant that a wall of water would soon come crashing into the shore. She told her family, and they escaped to higher ground.

Sociopaths cause personal tsunamis for all of their victims. The sociopaths/ psychopaths/ antisocials of the world cause a huge percentage of all human pain, damage and devastation, yet most of the population does not know they exist. Why? Why don’t we learn about these predators in school? If we did, when we saw the symptoms, we could escape.

Arguing over terminology

Part of the problem with trying to educate people about these predators is that the mental health professionals do not agree on what to call it. First it was moral insanity. Then it was psychopath. Then it was sociopath. Then it was antisocial personality disorder.

The professionals can’t agree on how to define and diagnose the disorder, either. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fourth Edition (DSM-IV), is supposed to be the bible for clinicians. I find its description of antisocial personality disorder to be vague and difficult to understand.

Dr. Robert Hare’s description of the symptoms of a psychopath—the term he uses—is easier to understand, and the test he developed has been consistently shown to be useful in predicting recidivism among criminals. But Hare’s criteria and evaluation are resisted by many psychiatrists. From what I’ve heard, the basis for much of the disagreement is political.

Mental health profession should come to agreement

I believe this lack of agreement is a travesty, and the professionals are actually contributing to the confusion in which the predators operate. In a way, that makes the mental health professionals complicit in the havoc wreaked by the sociopaths/ psychopaths/ antisocials—whatever we call them.

Lovefraud calls on the professional associations to solve this problem. The American Psychiatric Association, the American Psychological Association, the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry—please, come to an agreement.

Make a decision. Define this disorder. Publicize the symptoms. Let the general public learn what to look out for.

It would help all of us keep the sociopaths/psychopaths/antisocials, the human tsunamis, from upending our lives.



186 Comments on "Mental health professionals: Name the disorder. Please."

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  1. Wini says:

    Benzthere, some of what you write is correct from a humble perspective. I disagree on critiquing anyone’s way of venting. Venting is good … it releases pain. How someone, anyone wants to vent is all right. They were violated and no one has the right to say they can’t vent their pain. To vent, releases this pain and helps you grow better than you were before. God gives us pain so we can grow. Period. How we get back to God’s light is individual.

    P.S. The only EXPERT is God.

    Peace.

  2. JaneSmith says:

    I agree with Wini. Venting is good. Venting heals and allows for recovery.

    As for the “preachy” comments, I read what I need to read in an effort to truly empathize and feel compassion for each of you, garner the gist of what each of you is saying, process said personal experience, then….move on. Also, there are folks who have been here for a while who have offered immense support and comfort for those still reeling with confusion and pain after being involved with a PDI. I consider it an honor to witness, and sometimes contribute to the healing of others. Isn’t that what LoveFraud was created for anyway? To not only inform us with valuable knowledge concerning PDIs, but to also give comfort, solace, support, genuine care?

    I think if the LF mistresses were dissatisfied with the comments posted they would take action as they have the final say as this is their website.

    Creating dissension amongst fellow LF bloggers is not what I consider harmonious, balanced sharing and giving. We are all uniguely different human beings yet we have suffered the same in loving, caring for PDIs. And however we wish to express the pain and suffering we’ve each been through should be thoroughly left to the individual. imho.

  3. Wini says:

    Yes JaneSmith – everyone sharing their pain with their stories allows ALL of us to throw ideas into the mix and come up with concrete healing remedies. Community, which this blog is, allows us to pick and choose what will work for us, the individual. It’s like starting college and you are in the first semester. You have no idea what you are going to take the remaining years, but community with those on campus opens other doors and windows … to take paths you never would have ventured on.

    Peace.

  4. JaneSmith says:

    Sometimes it’s best to keep your own counsel, to resist impulsive, thoughtless comments as these statements can cause serious emotional damage on top of the heaps and heaps of crap already overloading a hurting heart….sigh. So sad.

  5. gillian says:

    Benz, thank you for your comments. It’s late and I’m tired but I would like to say a few things, not necessarily to you personally, just as general statements.

    As far as the boundary issue goes, and actually this is probably true of most every issue, imo while it is fine to offer one’s experience, strength and hope (as they say in 12-step groups) it is often not useful to offer advice, particularly unsolicited advice, and especially when the one being advised has clearly and repeatedly asked you (generic you) to stop. What is to be gained from continuing to assert an opinion–which is just that: an opinion–in the face of mounting frustration in the person you are purportedly helping? Why not show respect for them, that they are the one in the position to know the truth for their lives?

    And even if you’re actually right, that’s beside the point. If I say such and such is the truth for me, I don’t want to argue about it. I just want to be heard. This is my truth. Maybe someday I will see things differently. On the other hand, maybe what you assume to be a universal truth is not. Maybe what is true for you is not true for me; or maybe my circumstances are too complicated to be met with simplistic judgments, whether they be explicitly or implicitly stated.

  6. Benzthere says:

    Thanks for your replies.

    Wini, that’s kind of my point, venting is very good but it’s different from dissertation. But sometimes especially if you are an “older” poster, instead of offering so much verbiage of your own story in return because they’ve probably already read it, the spotlight I think should be on them so to speak, a pathway for venting and not pressure to conform to the norm or even to what someone may be sure is the correct answer. I think some have felt pressure at the least, from what’s been written. And my point was to emphasize not being too hasty with too much initial advice before establishing more of a rapport that some require, like the rapport I’ve seen built between Oxy, Wini, Henry, Bev, etc., with someone not as familiar with someone who is venting. A difficult call possibly, I realize. This isn’t about perfection, but awareness.

    JaneSmith, I agree exactly in giving support and comfort. But there is some reason we’ve had some conflict. And it is especially those whose pain is the most raw, but doesn’t exclude others with differing views, that I was attempting to address. I wanted each to be more aware of how and what is being said so that none feel any pressure, excessive opinion, stiffled, overwhelmed or have to feel dissention, which has been voiced now more than once. I think I fully understand what LF is here for. And the only time something is stopped and/or deleted is when there is rudeness or attack, otherwise people post as they wish. And I assure you my thoughts were not impulsive or without thought. They were my opinion, if you didn’t like them that is your choice, but again I do thank you for replying. Writing clearly and understanding clearly is not always easily done via the net.

    Gillian, you’re welcome. I didn’t mean your comments directed necessarily for me specifically, but to open some deeper discussion and insight into boundaries because it seems to be boundaries, and boundaries in no contact, that bring some controversy and seem to be the largest problem. There are reasons we miss the boundaries, reasons we keep going back, and I think exploring them further instead of just saying “don’t do it” would be beneficial discussion for all. In addition, as you say and I reiterated above, I think you are correct, people need to be able to discover their own path. We don’t have to agree with them, but at the same time we don’t have to convert them to our way of thinking or certainly shouldn’t appear to judge.

    Dissention was not my goal, acceptance and awareness was. Acceptance is taking the good with the bad, on here as in life. Acceptance doesn’t mean you like it or agree, it means it’s OK to be honest. I think it’s good practice here if we can relate without defensiveness, hurt feelings, or anger. I singled no one out, but tried to speak in generalities.

    We alienated some people recently, I think the blogs tend to get lengthy and redundant, get hijacked and off target and they are difficult to read and follow without spending a great deal of time. My purpose was asking you to consider that.

    Benz