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Archive for September, 2008

When judges and parole boards don’t understand psychopaths, cops die

Tomorrow, the city of Philadelphia is burying a police officer killed in the line of duty.

Last Tuesday, Highway Patrol Officer Patrick McDonald was shot to death after a routine traffic stop in a bad neighborhood. The city is furious, and rightfully so—the killer, Daniel Giddings, had an extensive and violent criminal history. He was convicted of robbery and aggravated assault in 2000 for carjacking and kneecapping the victim in the process. Yet Giddings was paroled from a maximum-security prison to a halfway house on August 18, 2008, which he promptly fled.

On August 27, Philadelphia police pulled Giddings over for a traffic violation in a car that was later discovered to be stolen. He fled on foot and ducked into a house. Giddings struggled with police, injured two cops, and escaped. A warrant was issued for his arrest.

Gidddings’ mother said the criminal vowed he was never going back to prison.

Radio show to discuss the children of sociopaths

Sociopathy is a disorder that doesn’t afflict a person as much as it does his/her family! Since the disorder is also partly genetic it afflicts the family for generations. This week I have heard many amazing and tragic stories and I would like to share a few of them with you. These stories are about the children of sociopaths.

I am working on a project to document symptoms of psychopathy in accused and convicted con artists. As part of this project I am interviewing the family members of con artists. That is how I became acquainted with the 17 year old daughter of a convicted con artist. She wrote me a nice note saying that if I wanted to know about her father, I should study conduct disorder (CD), because she discovered through her own reading that her father has that disorder. She wanted to know if I had heard of it.

Accepting the sociopath/narcissist’s blame to preserve the relationship

Here’s a theme I think we can relate to: Your partner (a male in this example, strictly for convenience’s sake)—a narcissist, or perhaps sociopath—blames you for his misery, bad moods, bad decisions, frustrations, dissatisfactions, disappointments and underfulfillment.

From his perspective, if he cheats on you—or deceives and betrays you—you will have deserved it, because you will have been responsible for the discontent that necessitated his violating behaviors.

Remember he feels entitled to have what he wants; he deserves what he wants, when he wants it; and if he’s frustrated, it must be someone’s fault.

Someone must be blamed, and you, his partner, will be his odds-on choice to own his blame.

It’s amazing how often we accept, against our better instincts, the narcissistic/sociopathic partner’s insistence that we are responsible for his infinite emptiness.

When psychopaths compare notes

Lovefraud recently received an e-mail from a reader telling us about discussion on another Internet forum called PsychForums. Here’s what he wrote:

Found an interesting set of postings. On PsychForums. “Craving for Antisocial Behavior.” With postings between four psychopaths. Arguing for various positions With general agreement that society has infringed on them. And so deserves the revenge. Sounding like people are viewed similarly to enemy combatants. And deserve what they get.

Alternate view is that people’s revulsion against psychopaths is understandable. That people don’t want bad things to happen to them. So don’t be a fool and don’t get caught or cry unfair. There are plenty of ways to enjoy life without having to risk jail to get it.

Seems to sum up the psychopath side of the story fairly well.

If you want to know how these psychopaths think, read their discussion:

PsychForums: “Craving for Antisocial Behavior”

LETTERS TO LOVEFRAUD: How can we deal with the sociopathic ex-wife?

Lovefraud recently received e-mail from a woman whose new husband was previously married to a sociopath, with whom he had two children. Two weeks before his divorce was final, the sociopath charmed him into sex and got pregnant again. Here’s what is going on now:

She uses the kids as pawns. She molested her son, he told his therapist (at 4 years old). Drew pictures of her vagina, doesn’t like hair in his mouth, wet the bed, the whole nine yards. She got out of it. We’ve been in custody hearings for a year and a half. The judge feels SORRY FOR HER!!!

My husband is a good man. She is Satan in human form. She’s a constant thorn in my side. My husband is good at dealing with her now. He knows how to work things to where she doesn’t get information.

Reflections on antisocial behavior (Part 3): Is that person a sociopath/psychopath?

Five and a half years ago I started a quest to understand sociopathy/psychopathy and antisocial behavior. Long before that, in 1981, I attended a lecture by Dr. Sarnoff Medick at USC. During that lecture, he presented the results of his research. His research on adopted children indicates that antisocial behavior has a strong measurable genetic basis. His studies did not single out anyone “diagnosed” a sociopath/psychopath they only examined antisocial behavior in parents and their biologic and adopted offspring.

Remembering these studies, I read them again and found many others demonstrating the genetic basis for antisocial behavior and sociopathy/psychopathy. Also at the beginning of my quest, I read Without Conscience by Dr. Robert Hare. (If you have not read it, I strongly recommend you do so.) That book teaches us about a category of people “psychopaths” who are without conscience and are antisocial. According to Without Conscience, psychopathy can only be diagnosed by professionals who using the PCL-R find a person scores over a certain cut-off. That book also makes reference to the genetic basis for “psychopathy.”

LETTERS TO LOVEFRAUD: The Biggest Lie

By James

A few days ago while watching television with my oldest son, he turned to me and said, “You know, Dad, what biggest lie she ever told us was?”

I said, “No, son, I don’t.”

“When she told us nothing was going to change, and how much everything has changed.”

“Guess so, Son. Maybe that was the biggest lie she ever told us.”

Young pop star scores with sociopathic hit song

Lovefraud recently received the following e-mail from a reader in the UK:

I wonder what your take on this pop-music video is? This song is played ad-infinitum on radio stations in the UK; you simply can’t escape it. What disturbs me is its indifference toward the glorification of sociopathic, even psychopathic, behaviour. Clearly the character the singer is playing out has a taste for control; inflicting degrading, humiliating behaviour, even torture, pain and —as the finale of the video suggests—murder; everything the UN Convention on Human Rights was meant to prevent.

The reader included a link to the song Sweet About Me, by Gabriella Cilmi, on YouTube. Here it is:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ElY5Gr845Fw

Quite frankly, the video is shocking.

It starts out like a typical music video with Cilmi singing in front of what appears to be a reggae-style garage band. We see quick cuts of young men—not part of the band—bopping their heads to the beat. Then, 40 seconds into the song, Climi sings the lyrics,

Reflections on antisocial behavior (Part 2): It’s genetic!?

Behavior genetic studies of children, adolescents, and adults all report that the overlap of antisocial tendencies (broadly defined) with other psychopathic traits (e.g., interpersonal, affective) can be explained by common genetic factors.
-Robert Hare, Ph.D.

The most profound things researchers say about reality are often so difficult to understand that the average person wants to turn and run away when the researchers begin to speak. The statement above might have that affect on you but stick around because I want to explain it this week. This statement gets to the heart of the most important controversies regarding sociopathy/psychopathy.

First I will give you a definition of antisocial behavior that one of my students came up with. I think it is very good:

Antisocial behavior means things people intentionally do that infringe on other people’s rights to live their lives. Antisocial behavior is hurtful.

The vacancy of the sociopath

Sociopaths have been described in many ways that, at least, from time to time, might describe some of the rest of us: As glib, manipulative, exploitative, superficial; as seeing and relating to others as objects rather than persons.

Sociopaths, in other words, don’t have a patent on these qualities. You can be a nonsociopath and be glib and superficial. You can be a nonsociopath and be a constitutional bullshitter and sometimes manipulator: Just go visit the used-car salesmen at your local dealership, and see for yourself (sure, some of them may be sociopaths, but not most).

Naturally, when you begin to combine these qualities—especially adding “exploitative” to the mix—and identify them as an individual’s default style of interaction, you’ve entered potentially sociopathic terrain.

In my experience, I’ve found other qualities—but also not in isolation—to be somewhat distinctively suggestive of sociopathy. One—the quality of emotional vacancy—really captures my attention when I observe or experience it.