Sociopaths/psychopaths commit a disproportionate amount of both violent and non-violent crime in all Western countries. Today is July 4th or American Independence Day, so I am going to take this opportunity to ask that friends and family members of sociopaths stop enabling them.
According to Webster’s Online Dictionary the word enable means:
1 a: to provide with the means or opportunity
b: to make possible, practical, or easy
c: to cause to operate
In her book A Dance With the Devil, (which I highly recommend) Barbara Bentley gives many poignant examples of enabling as she describes how her psychopathic husband accomplished his antisocial goals.
The most shocking of many examples is found on page 271 where she describes how her former husband was paroled after serving only 22 months in jail for trying to murder her:
“…a former Two Star business associate who worked as a civilian contractor for the Navy, had vouched for John and gave him a place to stay, along with backing John’s plan to start a plant import business.”
On page 350 Barbara explains that this former business associate also introduced John to his next victim. John moved in on that victim quickly, moving in with her within two weeks of the introduction. He conned at least $65,000 from that woman and also beat her.
This story also goes to show that one “favor” done for a sociopath/psychopath turns into many and culminates in the victimization of innocent people.
The truth is that unless friends and family members completely dissociate from the sociopath they will be called upon to provide with the means or opportunity, to make possible, practical, or easy and to cause to operate.
Here are some other examples of enabling that have come to my attention over the years:
1. Lying for the sociopath in and out of court.
2. Not speaking up when the sociopath tells untrue stories or a bold faced lie to another person in front of the friend/family member.
3. Going with the sociopath to meetings with a parole officer so that the sociopath “looks good.”
4. Helping the sociopath gain custody or unsupervised visitation with children he/she had victimized leading to further victimization of the children.
5. Giving the sociopath money so that he/she seems well off as he/she courts victims.
6. Inviting the sociopath and victims to family gatherings so victims think sociopath is a contributing member of a loving family.
7. Telling victims half truths about the sociopath, eg. Discussing only his/her “good qualities.”
8. Providing the sociopath with transportation to a place where he/she then committed a crime.
9. Sending flowers to sociopath’s next victim on behalf of the sociopath, even when that family member knew the sociopath had a prior trail of at least 4 other victims and is a sex offender.
10. Spying on other people for the sociopath and reporting on their whereabouts and activities.
11. Calling people on behalf of the sociopath.
Many of the specific acts of enabling listed above were done by people who I believe just did not fully comprehend what the sociopath was up to. Tragically these acts of enabling that led to people being harmed were done by enablers who were trying to be kind or polite.
I offer the following guidelines for the friends and family members of sociopaths or suspected sociopaths.
If you know someone has been in jail more than once and/ or has been convicted of more than one felony get away from that person immediately and certainly NEVER help him or her. Criminal recidivism and versatility are two very important signs of psychopathy. Criminal versatility means participating in different kinds of crimes.
If a former spouse claims someone you know is a sociopath, do not dismiss the allegations. During the course of a divorce many nasty things are said but, the usual divorce does not contain that allegation. So instead of giving a potential sociopath the benefit of the doubt, take in all the facts and believe the former spouse until the allegation is proven false. Certainly, in such cases, do not help the alleged sociopath. Do not take such a big risk; a sin of omission is not as bad as a sin committed.
If a member of your family has had many relationships, partnerships or marriages where he or she has lied or has been otherwise unfaithful to the partnership, do not invite that individual to any family gatherings. Certainly do not introduce the probable sociopath to any potential partners, either romantic or business. Do not allow the potential sociopath to use your family gatherings or introductions as a venue for his/her operation.
Now you may be wondering why friends and family who are not sociopaths themselves do all the enabling I have described above. Motives vary, but people have a very hard time giving up on the sociopath and admitting his/her true nature. They are trying to be polite and also at times trying to pawn the sociopath off on someone else. As they do the pawning they don’t acknowledge to themselves that the sociopath is really a predator/parasite, they just consider him/her a nuisance.
Please comment on what I have written here by sharing your own examples of enabling by friends and family members. Try to keep comments focused on that topic so people reading this can see more examples. If you have been an enabler, confess it by telling your story in a way that does not identify you but that gets it off your chest. Then, vow today to do the right thing for your country (society) and never enable again.
Get your copy of A Dance with the Devil!