A Lovefraud reader frequently sends me links to stories in the Daily Mail, a tabloid based in the United Kingdom. Here are some recent articles:
Here at Lovefraud, we can recognize that the bad actors in all of these cases are likely sociopaths.
The signs are all there. One perp was called, “The man with the golden tongue.” About another perp, a cop said, “he targeted vulnerable women, gained their trust and then fraudulently obtained money for his own needs.” The man who murdered his wife conducted an elaborate charade for four days, using her phone to send texts to family and friends saying that she had left him.
A different story
Yes, I’d say these guys are sociopaths. But to the Daily Mail, they’re just sensational stories.
The Daily Mail has a circulation of nearly 2 million. That means every day, nearly 2 million people read these stories. Can you imagine how helpful it would be if the Daily Mail actually pointed out that there is a common denominator among all these cases? That they are, in fact, sociopaths?
For example, here’s the type of information I’d like to see added to the “Internet Romeo” story:
Good-looking, charming and apparently a successful professional, David Checkley seemed perfect to the women he courted on dating websites.
In reality, however, the 52-year-old was a serial fraudster who cheated his victims out of half a million pounds.
One lent him £10,000 after he claimed to need money for a vital operation to cure his fictional Parkinson’s disease.
Others gave him cash for invented business dealings as he posed variously as an architect, property developer, fighter pilot and Vietnam War veteran. One woman ended up losing her house.
Here’s where I’d elaborate:
How did this happen? How did so many smart, successful women fall for this bloke’s stories?
“In cases like this, the perpetrators often have a personality disorder,” explained one expert. “Often, people who charm others and then take advantage of them are sociopaths.”
The term “sociopath,” the expert explained, does not necessarily mean someone is a serial killer. Rather, a sociopath is someone with no conscience and no empathy for others. They can appear to be charming, glib and charismatic. They often seem to be a lot of fun. But they are social predators, whose aim is to exploit people to get what they want.
So why don’t the media explain what a sociopath is, or connect the dots so that people can start to see the pattern in the behavior described in these stories?
First of all, most reporters are clueless about this disorder, just as we were once all clueless. They went to the same schools and live in the same society as we do. If we never learned it, neither did they.
Secondly, even if the media realizes someone is a sociopath, actually saying it creates all kinds of legal problems. The media are in the publicity business, and publicity gone bad can turn into defamation. The Daily Mail has lost some big libel suits, and I’m sure would prefer to avoid them.
So what could be done? Here are suggestions for the Daily Mail and other media:
- Publish informational stories about sociopathy, explaining how prevalent the disorder is, and what the symptoms are.
- Watch for stories in which someone has been diagnosed as a sociopath in court, because, in the U.S. at least, anything said in court can be published without fear of defamation.
- When someone is diagnosed as a sociopath, explain what it means, and what kind of behavior the person exhibited that is typical of a sociopath.
If the media could add education to the sensationalism, a lot of people may learn to recognize the behavior and avoid being victimized.
If I were a cynic, I’d say that the media might not want to do this, because then they’d have fewer sensational stories. But I don’t think they’d have to worry. Unfortunately, there are so many sociopaths, and they are so good, that it will be a long time before the predators run out of victims.