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Archive for May, 2010

Even experts on bullying are clueless about sociopaths

The headline of a New York Times article sent to me by a Lovefraud reader last week was, Maybe bullies just want to be loved.

Yeah, right, I thought.

The article related the findings of two recent studies, one of them about schoolyard bullies. Dutch researchers from the University of Groningen investigated 481 elementary school children. Their findings, according to the Times:

Bullies tended to divide their classmates into potential sources of affection and targets for domination. The latter were children who had already been rejected by kids the bullies cared about: They didn’t count. Interestingly, bullies cared only about the approval of classmates of the same sex. Boys pick on kids whom their male peers disdain, but couldn’t care less what the girls think. Similarly, mean girls disregard their male classmates’ opinions. “Bullies are very strategic in their behavior,” explains the lead author, René Veenstra. “They’re looking for attention and affection from their own peer group.” In other words, bullies want friends.

BOOK REVIEW: The Gaslight Effect

By Ox Drover

I recently read The Gaslight Effect—How to spot and survive the hidden manipulations other people use to control your life, by Dr. Robin Stern. I highly recommend this book to Lovefraud readers.

Robin Stern, Ph.D., is a therapist specializing in emotional abuse and psychological manipulation. She teaches at Hunter College, Teachers College and Columbia University, and is a leadership coach for faculty.

This well-written book is quite reader friendly. Dr. Stern starts off by defining the term “gaslighting” as being “pressured by someone else to believe the unbelievable.” She goes on to show that gaslighting is “an insidious form of emotional abuse and manipulation that can be difficult to recognize and difficult to break free from.”

In the first chapter, Dr. Stern says:

Sociopaths and Suicide

Although some see sociopaths as too emotionally deficient to experience the despair necessary to suicide, I see suicide as offering a viable option for some sociopaths, and I’m going to explain why.

Let me start with a bit of crude, brutal logic: for many sociopaths, as we know, life is very much a game; hence, when game over, life over. No more game, what’s left? The answer may be, nothing.

And yet it may be less “despair” and “depression” with which the sociopath is left when his act has been shut-down than his preferring no longer to deal with an existence he  knows will cease supplying the gratifications to which he’s grown accustomed, perhaps addicted and certainly privileged.

In the face, then, of this massive problem, the sociopath, with his notorious penchant for escaping inconvenient situations, may consider “checking-out” out of life—suiciding—when it, too, becomes insolubly inconvenient.

Man jailed for manipulating young women into cybersex

Ryan Earl McCann, 20, of Ontario, Canada, convinced almost two dozen young women and girls to perform degrading sexual acts in front of a webcam. He was sentenced to eight years in prison last week.

Read Webcam sexual ‘puppeteer’ jailed for eight years on MontrealGazette.com.

Link submitted by a Lovefraud reader.

Posted in: Media sociopaths

Sex crimes and punishment

Stories in the newspaper yesterday were disheartening. After reading them, I had to conclude that full-blown sexual predators are everywhere, and doing something about them will be difficult.

The first story I found was about Canadian Col. Russell Williams, an elite pilot who was commander of Canadian Forces Base Trenton, the largest air force base in the country. In 2005 he was photographed with Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip. On February 7, 2010, he was charged with murdering a young woman who had been missing for almost a week.

That’s not all. Williams, considered a “shining bright star” in the military, has been charged with the murder of two women, sexual assault of two other women, and 82 break-ins. What did he steal? Women’s panties. An Ottawa newspaper reported that police seized more than 500 pairs from his home.

Violence in sociopaths

Is every violent person a sociopath? Are all sociopaths violent? What is the relationship between violence and sociopathy/psychopathy? These are the questions we will think about here. I welcome your comments and stories.

In his book “On Aggression” Nobel Prize winning ethologist Konrad Lorenz expressed deep concern for the human race. He pointed out that other social animals have “releasers;” these are inborn signals that turn off aggression. For example, when wolves fight, if one animal turns over on its back, the fighting generally stops. The purpose of aggression in social species is simply to enforce dominance, so when the victor gets the signal it is dominant, the fighting stops.

Lorenz said screaming and crying act as releasers for humans as these tend to inhibit aggression. The problem for humans is that we have created weapons that enable aggression to occur at a distance so the natural releasers don’t have a chance to turn it off.

Are we born with a sense of right and wrong?

Researchers at Yale University developed studies to answer the question: Do babies have a sense of right and wrong? What they came up with may surprise you.

Read The moral life of babies, on NYTimes.com. Be sure to watch the video.

Link submitted by a Lovefraud reader.

The LoveFraud version of “The Ugly Duckling”

By Ox Drover

Once upon a time there was a mother duck who hatched a large clutch of eggs. She had done this many times before and had raised her clutch of identical ducklings, all fluffy and yellow when they were born, into pristine white adults who then had clutches of their own yellow ducklings.

This time, however, one of her ducklings was not yellow and fluffy like all the others. His neck was quite long and his feathers were an ugly gray color. Plus, he was quite clumsy when he walked. He was so much larger than his siblings that he sort of stuck out like a sore thumb in her otherwise identical clutch of babies. She was very puzzled about this odd baby and didn’t quite know what to do with him, but he followed along when she took her babies to swim in the lake and stumbled over his extra large black feet.

The broken family court system

Many Lovefraud readers have experienced the frustration, aggravation and even terror of dealing with an abusive spouse in America’s family courts. An article in The Crime Report cites five cases of children who were allowed to have unsupervised visitations with abusive fathers, and then killed. It states:

Such tragedies are the consequences of family court procedures that allow abusive spouses to manipulate the system and leave at-risk children at the mercy of prolonged, expensive court battles over custody. These battles end all too often with a parent forced to share unsupervised custody with an abusive spouse.

The problems have been complicated by systemic flaws in the nation’s family courts that have gone unaddressed far too long.

Although the article does a good job of illustrating the systemic nature of the problem, it misses the point that this is not an issue of gender, but of sociopathy. Still, the story does start to shed light on the travesty of the family courts.

Supreme Court upholds law to keep sex offenders in jail

In 2006, Congress passed the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act, which established a civil commitment procedure to keep dangerous federal sex offenders behind bars after their sentences were complete. Some inmates challenged the law, stating that Congress had exceeded its powers, and it was overturned by a federal appeals court. Now, the Supreme Court has reversed that decision and upheld the law.

Read Supreme Court upholds federal sex offender law on the Christian Science Monitor.

Posted in: Laws and courts