Bill Ronan is a licensed clinical social worker and a practitioner of medical hypnoanalysis based in Hopkins, Minnesota.
Q. What experience have you had dealing with sociopaths or other disordered personalities—personally, professionally, or both?
A. Sociopaths are a category I had given little attention to, as it is unlikely therapy will be of benefit to them. The style of therapy I do basically requires that I believe the patient. Carl Rogers, the originator of client-centered psychotherapy, was and is one of my therapeutic heroes. The goal was to always give positive regard. The analytical style I use is to find the truth that sets the patient free. This creates an honorable way out so that change is possible. Most people coming to me are honest and seek help.
However, after being widowed, I married a woman from another country. I did not know she only wanted to become a citizen, and had learned about our domestic violence laws. She knew she could accuse me of domestic violence and receive, as a result, instant citizenship.
She and members of certain agencies worked together, all bringing false allegations against me of a very serious nature. As a fluke, they eventually realized they would lose in court, or at least come close to losing, so they never showed up for any criminal trial. I learned from this that our legal system appears to be filled with sociopaths. (Here’s an article about similar cases.) Since then I have sought to help others in similar situations.
Q. How do you go about helping clients who have tangled with a sociopath?
A. I will help them to understand that they were taken in by a professional, or professionals, as the case might be. I will help them to re-center and re-connect with their own judgment skills, while maintaining the learning that sociopaths exist and are not so rare. Hopefully they re-learn to trust in those who are trustworthy.
Q. What, in your experience, is the biggest issue or problem that people who have been betrayed by a sociopath need to overcome?
A. The biggest obstacle I see is that of fear. Fear can be associated with attraction, the desire to do kind things, and to be helpful. Researchers have concluded that one of the most important signs of a sociopath is that they seek sympathy. Once that is secured, the victim is leaning in, offering to help, and therefore, off balance. Decent people seek to help those they perceive as in need. Both men and women have been victims in my practice.
Sometimes, the circular system of courts and agencies seems to be a graduate school for psychopaths. Much of this process has to do with government funding. Through false allegations, the police are used as one might use the Mafia, with the exception that the police come free and will virtually never be prosecuted. Those who bring the false allegations are rarely held accountable for their actions.
Q. What’s one tip you can suggest for helping Lovefraud readers recover from the betrayal of a sociopath?
A. Keep in mind that there are decent people out there. The sociopaths are few in numbers—one researcher says 1 in 25. They could not do what they do if there were more of them, because their targets would come to understand the game. Most people have not knowingly come into contact with sociopaths.
Also, sociopaths will manipulate others connected to you to convince them that you are the evil one. Look at the movies Rebecca by Alfred Hitchcock, Hush Hush Sweet Charlotte with Bette Davis, or Odd Girl Out to see how sociopaths play their games.