Bizarre tale of brainwashing and torture

An entire family of French aristocrats fell under the spell of a sociopathic Svengali. It started in 2001, and went on for seven years.

Read Aristocrats and Demons, on VanityFair.com.

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9 Comments on "Bizarre tale of brainwashing and torture"

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  1. Ox Drover says:

    This was one disturbing article! Amazing! But, when you consider the power that psychopaths can exert on gaslighting and spinning reality, I guess it shouldn’t be so surprising.

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  2. skylar says:

    I sent this to Donna.

    I think this is one of the most shocking – and telling – stories about the way psychopaths manipulate. In this case he used the family members’ aristocratic heritage to convince them that they were “special”. The beliefs he seeded spread like a virus among the family members. These were educated, professionals -even a doctor – and he had them giving him all their money and working menial jobs.

    The kidnapping and torture was obviously gratuitous since he knew there was no secret bank number. It was all about weaving a story and drama to keep the family members trauma bonded to him and each other. And the “mysterious man” who was finally arrested… he’s an interesting character. I believe he serves the same purpose as my spath’s sidekick: to be a prop, bear witness, serve as a patsy and take the fall.

    In this story you can see so much of how the spaths operate and think.

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  3. Ana says:

    Hi Skylar,
    I read the article. Oh, boy what a story! What stood out the most for me is “even though she has a limp, he hired her anyway” OMG If it wasn’t for that, the whole thing would still be going on….That is what started the guys downfall. Her menial job…and a limp!

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  4. skylar says:

    Mind boggling huh?!
    I hope more people read it. I would love to hear what others think.

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  5. Ana says:

    I think the family was not so ‘together’ as they showed to the outside world. That is why this guy was able to invade and separate them. I cannot imagine one person getting inside a family and separating them out…it’s sick what happened to these people. My sistah’s would have kicked his ass and then some! Maybe cause we are poor, He wouldn’t want anything to do with us…but come between us? UH, NO.

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  6. one/joy_step_at_a_time says:

    if you removed some of the ‘real’ people and took down the drama and extortion a notch, it’s a con of the sort that the spath pulls – same shit different end game and scale – that’s all.

    oh, you would have to include more countries.

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  7. darwinsmom says:

    Yup, the story is mind boggling. What boggles me the most is how the husband claims he got his wife back as normal as can be as if never something happened. I have a hard time accepting that to be true.

    Not so sure about the mysterious man being the sidekick as much. While Tilly did the most contact stuff and probably enjoyed it a lot… what truly alerts me about teh mysterious man is that he was so typically spath dumb to think police would never track him down after the journalist knocked on his door. He even had loads of cash lying about.

    A con of this magnitude is a very long con on multiple people, and I don’t see one spath doing that by himself much for that long a time. At the very least I think the mysterious Gonzalez is as spathy and probably as powerful in the eyes of Tilly.

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  8. Ox Drover says:


    Look at Bernie Madoff, the pure size of his Ponzi scheme makes it 100% sure (to me at least) that he could NOT have pulled it off without PARTNERS who were in on it…yet, no one else has gone to prison. Interesting that.

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  9. DawnG says:

    Seems there was already antagonism between some of the family members. I bet they worked them one at a time, triangulating them. “Your brother will have these great riches and so should you”. Use the family’s misbegotten sense of noblesse oblige to draw them in to the crazy fantasies.

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