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Anger over custody allegedly leads to salon shootings

Scott Dekraai is accused of gunning down eight people in a California beauty salon last week. He was allegedly enraged about a continuing custody battle with his former wife, who was a stylist at the salon. She was among the dead.

Read coverage of the tragedy in the Los Angeles Times:

Gunman kills 8 at Seal Beach Salon

Prosecutors seek death penalty in salon shooting case

Seal Beach shooting suspect was a haunted man

Dr. Liane Leedom sent the following letter to the Los Angeles Times. She gave permission for it to be reproduced on Lovefraud.

Family courts and Scott Dekraai

“There is a class of individuals who have been around forever and who are found in every race, culture, society and walk of life. Everybody has met these people, been deceived and manipulated by them, and forced to live with or repair the damage they have wrought. These often charming-but always deadly-individuals have a clinical name: psychopaths.”- Robert Hare, Ph.D. (This Charming Psychopath, Psychology Today, 2007)

As we work to sort out fact from fiction and to understand the motives and person of Scott Dekraai it is important to acknowledge that psychopathy is a psychiatric disorder that is present in its full form in about one percent of adults; thus psychopathic individuals may be among our friends, neighbors, coworkers and family members. These individuals are likeable, charming, and skilled in impression management and deception. Although incapable of real love and without conscience, they often present as caring and moral people. Because psychopaths do not love others and lack an internal moral compass, they are unfit to be parents. Despite the existence of psychopathy and the fact that this disorder is relatively common in adults who are parents, the family courts are ill equipped to deal with psychopathic parents.

Over the last 6 years, I have worked to document and understand the impact of parental psychopathy on children and partners involved in family court custody disputes. In reading the coverage of the Dekraai divorce and custody dispute I see many familiar themes that often arise in these cases. Because of space constraints here are just four:

  1. There is a multitude of neighbors and friends that attest to the putative psychopath being a “nice person,” “caring neighbor,” “great guy”…etc. These people cannot reconcile the disparity between the person they think they know and the deeds that person is alleged to have committed.
  2. Although there is often a history of violent, abusive or fraudulent behavior on the part of the psychopath, there is a general failure to connect this behavior to the presence of the personality disorder. Even respected skilled professionals fail to identify the disorder and appreciate its impact on the former partner and the child.
  3. Psychopathic individuals often lie under oath in court and submit affidavits that contain false information. Although I have seen many cases of this, perjury in a family court context, even if proven, is not prosecuted. Instead, allegations imputing the moral character of the other parent remain part of the record and although false, take on a life of their own. I therefore urge caution regarding statements made by Dekraai with respect to his ex-wife. She is thusly discussed in an article, “Fournier said her ex-husband was deliberately trying to paint her as an ‘uncaring selfish drunk.’ I don’t know who that person is that he is describing, but it certainly isn’t me.’”
  4. Although psychopaths expend a great deal of energy and resources fighting for custody and visitation they always continue to engage in actions that prove they are not concerned with the well-being of the child. Regarding the Dekraai boy, one neighbor is quoted as saying, “Then I’m thinking as a father, what’s the son going to do?”

Most custody cases involving psychopathic parents do not end with the literal murder of the other parent. However, the other parent is always victimized emotionally and financially, and their character is always assassinated. The children are always also victimized and left scarred for life, sometimes developing psychopathy themselves. It is my hope that this is a “teachable moment” for our family court system. The protocols that work well in the usual divorce/custody situation are woefully inadequate when one of the parties is a psychopath.



62 Comments on "Anger over custody allegedly leads to salon shootings"

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  1. superkid10 says:

    Skylar

    Isnt it amazing how things make so much more sense when we look at them through the right lens.

    SK

  2. Ox Drover says:

    Constantine and Sky,

    There is “rebellion” and there is “REBELLLLLLLLLION”—when I was a kid, the “bad” kids at school were the ones who smoked out behind the gym. LOL Everyone had a pocket knife, only “switch blades” were “bad” and all high school level fights (and there weren’t many) were solved with FISTS one-on-one.

    I was also a “rebellious” teen and would date guys my mom didn’t want me to by meeting an “approved” guy who would then take me to the guy I really wanted to go out with. I still got home by 11 p.m. though except one time I came in 10 minutes late!

    I smoked cigarettes (but so did my parents) I didn’t drink, didn’t even try any alcohol, until I was nearly 20, and then my P sperm donor gave it to me without telling me.

    Over the years, I probably stole a TOTAL of $5 from my egg donor’s purse, probably did that before I was 14, as from then on I had a job and made my own spending money so had access to what money I wanted without taking any from my ED’s purse.

    Oh, yea, for more of my REBELLION, the chess club and the rest of the “good kids” in my high school had a TRADITION of stealing an OUT HOUSE from behind some rural church and transporting it to the school grounds and taking white paint and writing “principal’s office” on it and putting paint “foot steps” on the walk leading up to it. Yea, I participated in that too.

    Oh, and the year that Eisenhower was president and his slogan was “I like IKE” and people whore buttons that said that, we made buttons that said “I like EICH” (Is pronounced IKE) as Eichman was being tried for war crimes against the Jews—at the time we knew this was “rebellious” and that the teachers raised their eye brows at us, but we really didn’t realize just HOW INAPPROPRIATE it was even as “rebellion.” But heck, I was a REBELLIOUS teenager!

    One year I actually EGGed some guys on Halloween night and then hid in a lady’s rose garden, should have been called a THORN GARDEN!, to keep them from finding me and my other bad friend! Yep! I think I should have been locked up forever for my rebellious teenager behavior. LOL

    Which is one reason I don’t know why I was SO TOLERANT of the FELONY “rebellion” that my P son did, (even though I did turn him in to the cops before he was 18, thinking I’d “teach him a lesson” but never even thinking he would continue that kind of FELONY behavior for long. I also wonder why I was so tolerant of the STUPID IRRESPONSIBLE “rebellion” that my son C did….why did I think he would eventually “grow out of” this kind of POOR DECISION MAKING? Why did I think that if he protected his P brother and hid Patrick’s crimes from me finding out that he wouldn’t continue this kind of behavior—like he did when he knew that my egg donor, his wife, his “friend,” and his brother were trying to run me out of my HOME AND DID NOT WARN ME. How come he has always been LOYAL TO A FAULT with his “friends” (even if they were doing things he knew were illegal or immoral) and NEVER loyal to me and I thought this would CHANGE WHY?

    I’m at this point more interested in learning about ME than about THEM. I want to know why I responded like I did to what I knew was BAD “rebellious” behavior and yet somehow convinced myself that it would GET BETTER or CHANGE….and that in the meantime I had to pretty much tolerate it. WHERE WAS I COMING OFF?

  3. Constantine says:

    Oxy and Sky,

    I suppose in my case that rebellion had to do with growing up with a single mom (who was a very good mother, but who was working most of the time) and my having a natural attraction to the older, “bad” kids. Plus, I just always hated and lashed out against everything mindlessly conventional, such as my snobby school district! (Speaking of which, that’s a great story about the outhouse, Oxy, I wish we had thought of that one!) So that was part of it, though I suppose it was also a matter of natural high spirits, as well as an addiction to “capers” and the adrenaline rush!

    And some of it was just plain stupidity, such as the time we got arrested for throwing cartloads of apples and tomatoes at a Gun Shop! (It’s a long story, but the owner actually started it, and it was a “payback” on our part!). Though fortunately in that case we got out of any formal charges being pressed, since he held a gun to my teenage friend’s head for ten minutes while waiting for the cops to arrive! But yeah, it was like we were ALWAYS doing stupid things of that nature. (When something “went down” the police always came to us first, because we were either involved, or likely knew who was!) Then one day I simply outgrew it, probably the natural result of getting older – and also because sports started to take up most of my time when I entered High School.

    Even though I didn’t heed her example at the time, my mom always had a lot of integrity, and I think gradually that had its effect on me. It took a long time, but over the years I think her influence definitely made a difference. That, and living through a few tragedies of my own as I got older, had the result of making me a lot more sensitive and much less self-centered.

    Now that I think of it, it’s worth noting that even in the rebellious teenage years, I never did anything “mean spirited” or intentionally hurtful. It was always more in the way of “mischief” and that sort of thing. So I guess the empathy was there even then, just on a more latent level!

  4. skylar says:

    Oxy, you were BAAAAAD!!

    I think it all boils down to boundaries. We form those when we are kids and don’t have a frame of reference other than our family members. If the family members think something is acceptable, then it is. KNOWING what Patrick did was wrong, didn’t make you feel revulsion because you loved him. It’s revulsion that creates the FEELING that something is wrong.

    My dad said he never wanted to hear spath’s name mentioned again. He said, “anyone who hurts a member of my family, I don’t want to hear about them ever again.” So I responded, “Dad, spath bro sent me to jail and the spath sis wanted to kill me. They hurt me but you allow them in your house.” Poor N-Dad went into Cog/Dis and walked away.

    He has one set of standards for his family and a different one for everyone else. It’s no wonder, that his kids turned out all screwed up. My oldest sis, the boring one, only has one set of standards, AFAIK.

  5. Ox Drover says:

    Yea, Constantine, my pranks were more on the line of mischief as well, no serious hurt. When we moved to another school in my Junior year, we added “paper rolling” where you threw toilet paper into trees in someone’s yard and covered it up—especially at Halloween…in fact, my Sunday school class “rolled” our teacher, with our parent’s knowledge and consent one night! When I got rolled one night (we had lots of tall pine trees in our yard) my step dad tried to hose the paper out and made paper mache (HOWEVER YOU SPELL IT–wet paper that dries hard!) out of it and it stayed in the trees for MONTHS! LOL

    My grandparents used to tell us about taking a wagon apart and assembling it on top of someone’s barn, or walking a cow up a ramp into someone’s barn loft and leaving her, then they’d take the ramp down and disassemble it. (a cow will NOT walk DOWN a ramp willingly, though she will go UP one) or tipping over an out house with someone IN the out house! LOL Not fun for the victim!

    My husband and his buddies PICKED UP a teacher’s car and put it between two poles firmly planted in the ground, so the car could not move backwards or forwards more than an INCH! My husband had an old Model T Ford when he was in high school in the mid 1940s (the year I was born) with signs painted all over it….like “girls who smoke, put your butts in here” and that kind of thing, so one time he parked under the second story window of a hair dresser’s school, and all the girls collected ash trays and EMPTIED THEM INTO HIS CAR! LOL Served him right!

    My husband was always a prankster, but they never ended with anyone or any property seriously hurt….actually I appreciate a good practical joke, that is intelligently thought out, planned and executed! I’ve pulled a few myself, but my husband was better than I ever was.

  6. Constantine says:

    Oxy,

    I’m not at all surprised that you were mischievous and feisty in your younger years. Actually, I suppose you probably haven’t changed all that much! – just channeled it into more socially acceptable outlets….

    Personally, if I had a son, I think I’d be a bit let down if I didn’t get at least ONE call from the police when he was growing up! Of course, I would never let HIM know I felt that way, and I’d certainly be appropriately outraged in his presence, etc. But as long as it was just small stuff, I think I’d indulge in a private smile or two, and say to myself, “Well, at least the kid has a bit of spirit.”

  7. Ox Drover says:

    Constantine,

    I agree with you, I like spirit in my animals and my people…but I just DO NOT tolerate in people or animals MALICE and VIOLENCE….I keep in mind that passive-aggressive IS AGGRESSIVE.

    Sometimes I am not as “swift on the uptake” about passive aggressive behavior as I think I “ought to be” and I sometimes try to appease the first few signs of passive aggressive behavior and to “minimize” it….LOL I guess that will always be my fall back or knee jerk response to that kind of stuff, but I AM learning and also NO MATTER HOW THEY PROVOKE ME I am staying as NC as I possibly can be…to them AND to their minions and dupes. That part at least is getting easier, especially with the ones that are NOT IMPORTANT in my life in the great scheme of things anyway. Those few (and becoming fewer and fewer) people who ARE important in my life I just treasure them more and more…and the few who are THREATENING to my LIFE, I just keep a close eye on them for CAUTION, but I can’t live in terror even with them.

  8. margaux07 says:

    I had prided myself on fact i had jedi knight status. i could smell see and identify the intentions of peope more so than others. i was a victim of a very sick senario taken as a drug free, substance free teenager honor student in art school to hell by my father. a food addicted Md and a mother and then they got the family to confirm delusions. c my family who were not able to face identify or change as iwas to heal from bulimia i got over with honors then made me the skapegoat. my fathers intent was to keep me out of school. he lied to dr, my mother used it as an excuse to try to get me to love her. she was a hysterical woman violent at times could not cope. i came out of my darkness happy whole and she was also jelous of my artistic life. she used what my father did to gain attention and did not admit to this. she tried to find any thing to see me as having an illness or to get a dr to. i was a munchausen by proxy child at age 18 when my lief just got to breath and be healthy again. my mother had issues and refused to admit who she was or what. she wanted to appear perfect. i was the one who was not effected or sold on them and rise to my own identity. healthy.
    this led to years of abuses torture. then i got a few miracles not off dr care or someone intervention, but after losing years of life and not getting heard or removed. i had to do it alone. i escaped succesfuly cut them off, rise up to be given a new life and blessed. only to have a list of sociopaths put in my path. friends said my family were sick and scared for my life. some also said i had an evil person following me a shadow who did not want me to be succesful call it that , and that my family put th esociopaths in m path. i would not cancel that out as false. one oldest sister was a genuine SP. a control freak and wanted to abuse me treated me like trash , and called it love and wanted me to swallow the lie because her life was fuct up. i refused to. so i got god to reward me. this also made them burn as i was strong where they were weak.
    despite my upward progress and return to health , they deluded themselfs and told drs to diagnose me as mentaly ill . however now i had no sign of it and could mor eand more prove the absuses. my talent lif health mind and body were gettin back to who i was pluss interest and iw as also legaly gifted as well as artisticly i combined all of my talents with a intent to use them to prove this family as sick and mentaly cruel and abused me. neglected me and had drs also abuse me. the sociopaths i encountered i saw through , boys who were abusive drugs and had intent to intentionlay take the health youth and spriit out ofa innocent talent. black mostly, and fueled by cocaine personas that made themfeel they could run over life dow hat they wanted and not get punished. and if in threat to , as i put up a fight, would try to kill me.. or make me insane so i could not prove it.. each time i saw one of them coming i could feel it first, tried to prepare some kind of means of dr or outside person to help me incase and was refused. my family being cut off for my own health was useless and also abusers so who to turn to. i had god and that kept me alive , until the last person got in my life and did some damages. i had a list, all of whom these people had waht is called narcisistic borderline personality disorders ego and meglomanica problems and also intent to damage and make mentlay ill certain people they deemed as vulnerable or suspectable. and show respect to others. some just abused all. i marreid one of them and escaped him. he vowed to kill me using his own jedi talents his mind and pshychic powers to make someone crack mentaly ill and commit suicide. he wa snot only person in my life job or other with this intent to abuse or remove me from my blessings in life..
    While trying to recover fro likes of one. the nexst one would come in to play. i would make smart moves to avoid it but when i saw death in my face i would go into deep shock and drive me right into their life and stuck, it would suck life out of me nealry kill me. i got to drs who by means of the letter this woman donna wrote about med school and experiments with Rats in a sociological roll model as sociopath, to remove the weaker rat before it became damaged was not the intent of Drs i got to, who coudl have spared my life. some of them also mentaly ill and uncaring false. each time i did a genious move to save my li efrom any more sufering i was nixed by bad drs or having poor support. ih ad to wing it, until winging it this year after a bad spell in hands of avery sick person, led me to fall into a fatal trap and be lost of 17 years of self recovery and 35 of a eating disorder off likes of someones intent to do just that. any movei made to keep my lief . get a proxy, or someone i could go to incase was nixed leaving me slighlty short of my saving my life and a miracle or two.
    this was also work of a sick minded person who was jelous of my life and not wanting to be punished or found out. my father set me up as a kid and someone did their job. i had 17 years of b lessed life to live and that was to short. i suggest that if somene has an issue that u have someone to go to to help u, i did not.

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