Archive for December, 2008

A Sociopathic Interaction


I thought I’d depart from a more standard post and offer below some verbatim interactions I recently had with a client whom I’ve always suspected as having sociopathic tendencies.

I share these interactions (with comments) not for their excitement, because their subject matter is in fact extremely mundane; but rather for the sociopathic elements I believe they instructively contain.

My client, T, is a 35 year old male, with a “work history” of voyeuristic, sexually aggressive behavior towards females. My role with him is as a “consulting therapist” for a community agency. T is not psychotic, and has no reality testing impairment. He is a verbally quick, superficially engaging, extroverted individual.

My suspicions of his having sociopathic tendencies (whether or not he meets fuller criteria for sociopathy) derive from the kinds of interactions with (and experiences of) him that I share below.

Entanglements with sociopaths always have consequences

At a Christmas party on Saturday night, the conversation turned to hot water radiators. My husband, who is mechanically inclined, explained to a woman, who was trying to save money by conserving heat, how to bleed the air out of an old-style hot water heating system.

Eventually, the conversation revealed why the woman was trying to save money. She’d purchased an old farmhouse for her business. She secured a $150,000 construction loan to renovate the house and retained a contractor. The contractor insisted on installing the thermostat for the hot water heating system on a wall directly across from a wood burning stove. (For those of you who are not mechanically inclined, this is a really dumb idea.) The contractor also told the woman that she couldn’t insulate the farmhouse because moisture would create a mold problem. (This is true, but it is a problem that is readily solved, and insulating the house is a really good idea.)

Stop thinking about that sociopath and enjoy a Christmas Movie

A romantic relationship with a sociopath can leave a person sour on the opposite sex, or on people in general. I said last week that sociopaths try to train their partners in their disordered thinking patterns. Recovery involves purging the sociopath’s mollifications and seeing the beauty in life again. Recovery means a renewed ability to appreciate the loving connections we still have. Sometimes art, music and cinema can help us do that.

This Christmas we were not able to be with our family in California. But it was a “warm” beautiful day in Connecticut, so the kids and I walked the dog on the beach, went to the movies and ate out at a Chinese restaurant. I recommend the movie we saw because it describes real love between a man and a woman and of course their dog.

Finally, feeling the joy of Christmas

On this Christmas Day, I am filled with joy, happiness and love. It has nothing to do with Santa Claus being good to me, or the gifts I offered to my husband and family—after all, there is a recession going on, and it has affected us. Rather, I am filled with joy, happiness and love because now, after the sociopath, life is good. In fact, life has never been better.

This is a significant, even miraculous, change for me. In the years before I met my sociopathic ex—from age 20 to 40—I didn’t feel joy, happiness or love. Instead, I was mostly numb. If anything broke through the wall of numbness, it was longing.

Then the sociopath arrived, and promised me what I so desperately wanted—an end to my longing. He said he’d love me forever. He said that once his business plans succeeded—with my financial help, of course—we’d live in “the lap of luxury.” He promised that my dreams would come true, and I believed him.

Overcoming Evil, Tragedy and Fear

Editor’s note: The following article refers to spiritual concepts. Please read Lovefraud’s statement on Spiritual Recovery.

It’s Christmas Eve and I am full of gratitude today. I witnessed evil first hand as my father, a sociopath, murdered at least four (4) people and destroyed countless lives. It almost doesn’t make sense that I could be so happy and peaceful today, but it is a fact for me. I do not ask or need others to believe what I believe; I only share my personal experience.

It is Faith that changed my life. I came to a place, a way of thinking, that was just too painful to live with so I made a decision to try something different. I prayed for help, for truth and understanding.

Bernie Madoff case draws attention to problem of sociopaths

Last Thursday morning, my husband informed me that Larry Kudlow, a supply-side economist and television personality, had just called Bernie Madoff a “sociopath” on The Call, a financial news show on CNBC.

“This guy, Madoff, who has caused everybody so much grief, why is he not in jail now?” Kudlow asked, practically apoplectic. “He had a smirk on his face. This guy’s a sociopath.”

There it was—the term “sociopath” on a financial news TV show.

Then there was Andy Serwer, managing editor of Fortune magazine. Serwer is an excellent business reporter; I’ve always been impressed with his work. He’s not one to be tossing psychological terminology around lightly. Yet he referred to Madoff, and Marc Dreier, who cheated investors out of $380 million, as “financial psychopaths.”

Media chic

Two writers for the in-crowd at the Huffington Post equated Madoff with sociopathy.

Life’s Lessons 101: The Knowledge of Good and Evil

Editor’s note: The following article refers to spiritual concepts. Please read Lovefraud’s statement on Spiritual Recovery.

By OxDrover

In the Bible the story of Adam and Eve living in the Garden of Eden, in perfect paradise, is a story familiar to most children who have gone to Bible school at one point or another in their lives. If you take that same story, though, and look at it through adult eyes, you can see that there is a great moral to this tale, whether you believe it as a “creation” story or not.

Before the “fall,” Adam and Eve had only dealt with a loving God/Creator who had given them a wonderful place to live in peace and plenty. They were naked and innocent in this paradise on earth. They were given an occupation of “dressing the garden” and only given one warning that they must not disobey, and that was to not eat from the tree of the “Knowledge of Good and Evil,” for if they did not heed this warning, they would die.

What was Bernie Madoff thinking?

“It takes an extraordinarily heartless conman to swindle a survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald and Nobel Peace Prize winner out of all his charitable funds.” Wrote James Bone in the Times Online.

“Yet that is exactly what Bernard “Bernie” Madoff is alleged to have done to Elie Wiesel, the author of the Holocaust classic Night and a friend from the Jewish community in south Florida.

According to the Times Online article, “The Elie Wiesel Foundation for Humanity now admits that it invested $15.2 million (£10.1 million) with Mr Madoff that represented “substantially all of the foundation’s assets.” The charity of the Nobel laureate, in New York, will have to raise new funds if it is to maintain its two centers in Israel that help Ethiopian Jews and Darfuri refugees and continue its other work.”

Radar not for the sociopath, but for the wrong people

Most of the people who will be bad for us are not sociopaths, and so we want our radar to be sharp, not specifically for sociopaths, but for wrong, bad people of every stripe.

True, sociopaths will be terrible people with whom to enter relationships; in the end, though, they will represent a small fraction of a much greater majority of very wrong people for us.

As I suggested in a prior post, there are two keys to protecting ourselves from Mr. or Mrs. WRONG: The first is developing intelligent radar; the second is acting wisely on that radar.

After all, good radar, no less than good CIA intelligence, is useless if it’s ignored or devalued.

Now, are there cases of sociopaths (and the lot of devious personalities) so slick as to be undetectable until after they’ve wreaked their havoc? Of course there are; to suggest otherwise would insult anyone unlucky enough to have crossed paths with such destructive individuals.