Lovefraud presents a series of Q&A articles with members of the Professional Resources Guide. David McDermott works only with people who have been subject to abuse at the hands of psychopaths and narcissists, both in intimate relationships and in group settings (such as cults or bullying in the workplace).
Q. What experience have you had dealing with sociopaths or other disordered personalities—personally, professionally, or both?
A. When I was working as a doctor, I was captured by a psychopath, fell in love with her and got married very quickly. Then the typical thing happened, I waited on her hand and foot, while she got more and more demanding. She isolated me from friends and family. I was walking on eggshells around her and so on. When eventually I got away, I was broke and homeless. I believed it was all my fault, if only I had done things differently, or said different things … and, of course, I was miserable and distraught.
Shortly thereafter, I went to a personal development course on the recommendation of some friends and this was about being at your best and feeling good. It only took one weekend and I believed I had found a way out of the misery. But of course I had simply gone from one abusive situation to another, not having realized that the marriage was a mind control situation.
The cult leader gave me special attention because he wanted an ex-plastic surgeon teaching his ideas. I quickly climbed the ranks to be his right hand man and I learnt a lot of the ‘tricks of the trade’. I left after 10 years because of his poor treatment of others and the realization that it was all about the money for him. When I realized it was a cult (about 2 years later) I worked with an expert in cults to undo the mind control. I subsequently wrote about mind control on my web site and started working with others in similar situations.
Q. How do you go about helping clients who have tangled with a sociopath?
A. Nowadays, we talk about the idea that sociopaths install a pseudopersonality in their victims that suppresses their real identity. This ‘pseudoidentity’ has various beliefs and ideas about the sociopath and is programmed to treat the sociopath as they want to be treated and to believe what the sociopath wants you to believe. This pseudopersonality is also very dependent on the sociopath not only for what to do and think but often the dependency extends to who the person is. By that I mean that the victim only knows who they are in relation to the psychopath.
This explains how people have so much difficulty getting away from a sociopath, because often they cannot visualize a life apart from the sociopath, even knowing the sociopath is bad for them. It also explains why family and friends say of a victim that ‘they are not the same person’, or ‘they changed radically when they started in that relationship’.
Teasing this pseudopersonality apart, how it was formed, why it was formed, how it was kept intact and reinforced, is fundamental to undoing the ill-effects of the mind control techniques that sociopaths use. Only then can a person’s true identity be expressed once again.
Q. What, in your experience, is the biggest issue or problem that people who have been betrayed by a sociopath need to overcome?
“It’s not your fault.”
This comes up time and again during the recovery. At the start, people feel stupid or ashamed for having been caught or for having tolerated the abuse. People think they decided to have a relationship with the sociopath. Or that they allowed the sociopath to continue. Or that they were doing things that made the situation worse.
All these ideas are distortions in a person’s thinking because of the mind control. For example, sociopaths make their victims responsible for anything that goes wrong. They say that they have to act the way they do because they are ‘reacting’ to what their victim was doing. They also make it seem like the victim is making their own decisions but nothing could be further from the truth.
It is normal to feel responsible or at fault for what happened. This is the nature of mind control. And people telling you that it is not your fault does not make the feeling go away.
You may know it mentally but it does not feel that way in your body. This can be very unsettling. Only when a person understands the mechanisms by which they were conned, duped, lied to and manipulated, and the details of how the sociopath got them to do and think certain things, do they fully understand in their mind and in their body, that it was not their fault. They were deliberately and systematically taken advantage of by someone that they trusted.
At this point, the time with the sociopath becomes a chapter in their past, rather than being the ongoing story of their life.
Q. What’s one tip you can suggest for helping Lovefraud readers recover from the betrayal of a sociopath?
A. Work with someone who is an expert in the field of sociopathy and mind control.
I don’t say this to have a full client list, but rather I am not alone in thinking that it is practically impossible to undo a pseudopersonality alone. Because of the nature of mind control you cannot undo all the negative effects on your own.
Just look around at the number of people who are having problems 5 and 10 years after their relationship with a sociopath. It is very upsetting to me when I read these things, or when people decide they are never going to have a relationship again, because I know it takes 12 to 18 months to undo a pseudopersonality (with the help of an expert) so that a person can pick themselves up and move on to healthy relationships and careers again.
The flip side of this is to be careful of working with therapists who do not understand sociopathy and mind control because they often make the situation worse for those who have suffered abuse at the hands of sociopaths. Typically they want to examine the role of the victim in the situation or examine the childhood relationships of the victim (in both cases this is blaming the victim). This approach in mind control situations is at best a waste of time and money and at worst devastating for the victim.