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How to talk to friends and family about sociopaths

Last Sunday, the Asbury Park Press, a New Jersey newspaper, published a front-page article about the career of Edward J. Devine. On August 1, 2008, Devine was sentenced to five years in prison for bouncing checks and deceiving nonprofit and educational institutions.

The bulk of the story was not about those crimes, but what Devine did to the women in his life. Claiming to be the heir to a Sonoma wine company and a trucking mogul, he left one wife, Donna Devine, and her mother $400,000 in debt. He wiped out the inheritance of another wife, Deborah Weiss. He forced his first wife, Carol Ceralli, into bankruptcy.

It’s a story that many of us know, and some of us have experienced.

But what is significant to me about this story is that it was brought to my attention by my brother. He saw the story in the Asbury Park Press and sent me the link.

That same day, my husband suggested that I look into Mike Wooten, the trooper at the root of Sarah Palin’s Troopergate. My husband was the one who read the newspaper articles about Wooten. “The cop looks like one of your guys,” he said.

I investigated further, and my husband was right. In my opinion, Wooten is a sociopath.

So last Sunday, two members of my family alerted me to stories about sociopaths. They’ve learned what these predators look like.

I consider this a sign of success. I’ve been talking about sociopaths, and they’ve been listening.

Criticized by my family

It wasn’t always this way. When I was in the midst of the trauma, trying to pick up the pieces of my shattered life after learning that James Montgomery, my ex-husband, was a con artist, I could not talk to my family about it.

They criticized me for not listening to them when they expressed doubts. (This was after I was married to Montgomery—no one said anything before I married him.) Then they criticized my recovery methods. I quickly learned that it was best not to tell them what I was doing.

Eventually, however, I worked my way out of the hole. I also began to develop Lovefraud. But it took time. Lovefraud launched more than five years after my divorce.

Now, when I tell my family that more than 1,000 people who have written to Lovefraud with stories of being targeted by sociopaths, they seem to realize that I wasn’t as stupid as they thought I was. Anyone can be a victim.

Talking about the sociopath

So how do you talk to people about your experience with sociopaths? I think two preliminary steps are necessary:

First, you need to educate yourself about sociopaths. (The fact that there is so much confusion about what to call them—sociopaths, psychopaths, antisocials—doesn’t help.) Learn that millions of people have the disorder. Although there are symptoms and warning signs, these people are experts at hiding them. Treatment options are few to none. Everyone will run across a sociopath at some point, and if they don’t recognize the predator, they will become a target.

Second, you need to be able to discuss sociopaths as an educator, not as a victim. This means you probably are not going to be able to do it while the experience is raw. If you’re still coping with the pain, horror, self-doubt and grief, your friends and family will interpret your words as self-pity, and will come back with the refrain, “Get over it, already.” During the early phases of your recovery, it’s probably best to express yourself with the understanding community here at Lovefraud, rather than with your personal acquaintances who, however well-meaning, simply don’t understand.

But eventually, if you give yourself time and permission to heal, you will. And then, with your understanding of this destructive personality disorder, and your personal experience, you’ll be able to talk knowledgably about sociopaths to your friends and family. They’ll begin to understand, and start to recognize sociopaths on their own.

When you’re ready, you’ll be able to shine a light on these predators, and perhaps deny them a few victims. And that will lend some meaning of your awful experience.



197 Comments on "How to talk to friends and family about sociopaths"

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  1. Wini says:

    Stargazer: My EX was the perfect, and I mean perfect gentleman. Who cares what their modus operandi is … they are users and abusers of society. Period. Some are nice and play the gentleman or gentle lady, others are thugs, some play the poor, poor pitiful me … help me … as they help themselves to what you have to offer. NO CONTACT. Stay away from him. If he were for real, would you be going through any of this? I don’t think so. You came searching for this site to understand and gain knowledge to what you went through. Doesn’t your gut instincts tell you something? That you were right to look into this site? You know he lied and conned you … so keep your eyes open, blog to others on this site that went through the same things as you … find out the truth … because the TRUTH, not his lies, will set you free. Free to move past your pain and heal … to live a beautiful life of truth … not some idiots lies to con you.

    If you need to see for yourself what they are all about … I’m sure this movie is playing in your state as it is mine. As a matter of fact it’s on in the background as I write you “Santa and Kenny Kimes”. Ring a bell. That’s what your EX is all about … playing and using people for their own selfish, needs, wants, desires. Period. Not going to work doing the 9 to 5 and saving and investing their money like the rest of us do … no, they devised a better mousetrap … date people and take them for what they can get. Hey, big cowards. Instead of taking a gun and robbing a bank, possibilities of getting shot by a police officer … they do one better, they date real people and steal from us. Period.

    Peace.



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  2. Wini says:

    I guess the mom’s name is spelled Sante and her son Kenny Kimes or whatever … you’ll find the movie.



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  3. Elizabeth Conley says:

    How to Talk to Friends and Family…

    …how about “How to Talk to People About Sociopaths?”

    Seriously, people just don’t get it. When we’re dealing with the pain, frustration, rage, despair and very real problems sociopaths create, a certain percentage of our anger is naturally directed at all the people who don’t get it.

    The latest conquest doesn’t get it. His/her employer doesn’t get it. The judge doesn’t get it. Your family doesn’t get it.

    Nobody gets it. (OK, almost nobody gets it.)

    It will make you insane if you don’t get over the fact that nobody gets sociopaths unless they’ve been to the bowels of Hell themselves -> courtesy of a sociopath.

    You may never be able to get even, get ahead or simply get justice. The healing has got to come from some source other than universal validation.



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  4. one_step_at_a_time says:

    EC, your last line: ‘You may never be able to get even, get ahead or simply get justice. The healing has got to come from some source other than universal validation. ‘

    THIS is what makes it such a hard slog AND where the greatest opportunity lays.

    We are walkin’ with only our shadows…turning into heartwood. NO ONE can take THAT from us.



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  5. Elizabeth Conley says:

    What if you KNEW that your neighbor was a vampire? (Concrete proof) Yep: a real, live, preys on the living from dusk ’til dawn, drinks their blood and turns them into his faithful minions vampire?

    Do you really expect the police to take your 911 call seriously? How about launching an investigation? Do you think you could get animal control to come over and bag him just as he turns into a bat and flies out his attic window? How about the civic league? Maybe you can at least persuade them not to invite him to the annual block party.

    No? You don’t think it’s gonna work?

    Neither do I. Furthermore, I don’t expect most people to realize when someone in the environment is a sociopath either. It’s just not realistic.

    Until more people are educated about sociopaths, I don’t waste time getting POd with those who don’t get it. It wouldn’t be good for my blood pressure.



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  6. Elizabeth Conley says:

    “THIS is what makes it such a hard slog AND where the greatest opportunity lays.

    We are walkin’ with only our shadows…turning into heartwood. NO ONE can take THAT from us. ”

    Yep.



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  7. one_step_at_a_time says:

    EC – but if we said, there are dead bodies in his house or if we could call and say we saw someone going in through the window, then they would take it seriously.

    just the facts mam, just the facts.

    and maybe they could see from whatever they discovered that he was dangerous.

    this is why sometimes using the word spath is a problem. as you say, it’s not ‘realistic’.



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  8. OxDrover says:

    Donna, when I read that about the trooper in The “troopergate thing” I also BINGO’D on the fact he sounded like a psychopath.

    There was also a great Vanity Fair article about Pallin herself that makes me wonder if she isn’t pretty high in narcissism etc herself. Many politicians are and the percentage of them being seems to be higher than the level of the “general population” at large. I’ve read other reports on some of the N-ish and even P-ish things that appear to be truthful about her (coming from several sources not just one) that have made my P-dar go off. Yes, she is a bright and very “colorful” personage I can say that for sure.

    I’ve seen articles frequently in the news that make my P-dar go off, one here recently in our county when a police officer shot and killed a fleeing SHOPLIFTER. My son D and I almost saw that one, as we were a few minutes later (maybe 15 minujtes) stuck in the traffic jam that it caused (the dead man was in his vehicle at the time he was shot and the cop said that he thought the guy was going to run him over) Thhis past week, same cop was fired for beating a drunk suspect in the HEAD with his baton and injuring him against policy. Turned out that the suspect who was arrested for drunk and disorderly had some relationship to the woman lately sentenced for driving her car while she was drunk/High down a public boat ramp and drowning all 3 kids—she at first blamed it on the fact that the RAMP didn’t have a sturdy rail so a car couldn’t go down it.

    She was plea-bargained down to a VERY light sentence for 3 counts of “child endangerment” instead of higher charges relating to the fact that her three sons drowned and DIED. Many people in the county are very upset to say the least.



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