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Sociopaths, Assessments, and Court—What’s the Point?

Last week in Hard to See a Psychopath, I dedicated my post to seeing psychopaths/sociopaths more clearly. I talked about the need for assessments—meaning more training for more clinicians—as a place to start in our quest to “make things better.”

But what’s next? Let’s say you’re in the family court system. Does an assessment make a difference? Why start there? I thought hard about this all week. Because for the past decade or two, I’ve lived in a space where I know that my ex is hurting people, but I’ve been silenced or belittled or ignored in most arenas when I try to talk about it.

And I’ve imagined, many times, that if people just knew the truth, it would make a difference.

This week I started asking myself: would it?

Would it make a difference if my ex was recognized as a sociopath?

The Sociopath Rules the Court

There are stats on how much more likely sociopaths are to get off their charges if caught committing any crime, and the numbers are pretty staggering. Like 80% more likely.

Are there stats on how much more likely a sociopath is to earn full custody of his or her children in the family courts? Is it even possible to get those numbers?

Can we assume that if a sociopath is more likely to convince a judge or magistrate of his or her innocence in a case of murder that a sociopath might also be more likely to convince them of their parenting capabilities?

Maybe.

And so let’s say that we present the judge or magistrate with the results of a sociopathic assessment.

What are they going to do with this information?

In a corrupt or incompetent system, they can do whatever they want.

They can ignore you. Dismiss the results. Laugh. Sneer.

You might be ridiculed. Someone could shout at you. Someone present could order another member of their “friend” group to conduct an evaluation—on you. The results of this evaluation could bring on a lifetime of damage and heartache.

The sociopathic assessment might not ever even happen. Or matter if it does.

So why—I have to ask myself—why am I saying that we should start making change by demanding that clinicians get better about identifying sociopaths?

I think it’s still important—that it makes a difference. For example, if you’re trying to succeed in family therapy, it helps if your therapist isn’t fooled by a sociopath. Or if you’re dealing with one and go to a therapist for answers, it helps if they can see what you’re dealing with.

But if you’re in the court system, what difference does it make?

The small family courts around the country (and world) vary so wildly from each other that it’s hard to state clearly whether better-trained clinicians around sociopathy would change case outcomes or not.

But how many people are suffering the results of poorly decided cases around the world each day? How many children?

How many of these cases involve identified or unidentified sociopaths?

How many systems?

I don’t know these answers. But I’d love to have a conversation.

(This post can also be found on hgbeverly.com.)



12 Comments on "Sociopaths, Assessments, and Court—What’s the Point?"

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  1. HG Beverly – one of the problems is that, shockingly, there is very little research indicating that sociopaths make bad parents. Many people – including judges – seem to think that just because a man beats his wife, it doesn’t mean he’s a bad father (also applies to women beating men).

    Another problem is that a parents’ right to their children is rooted in constitutional law. Judges are reluctant to go against this by keeping children away from a parent. Of course sociopaths seem to be able to convince judges to deprive their former partners of contact with the kids – a tribute to sociopathic manipulation skills.

    Still – even as therapists need to be educated, so do judges.



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  2. HGBeverly says:

    Donna,

    You’re right about constitutional law. An attorney once told me (when I was exclaiming that my children have rights) that my children actually don’t have rights—that they’re considered joint property to be divided between my ex and I.

    And yet the court is so quick to deprive contact based on subjective “feelings” about one parent over another. You’re right there, too.

    Flawed, flawed system.

    Educating a nation of judges, magistrates, lawyers, advocates, and clinicians—now there’s a daunting task. But it can be done. If every person they hurt wrongly and unnecessarily was empowered to step up as an educator, now that would be an amazing thing.

    And it sounds like we need to do some research.

    Thanks, Donna,

    H.G.



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  3. Imara says:

    I volunteer at a local victims services agency and am privy to many cases of supervised visits ordered by the court. The real issue is that most court jurisdiction outsources the supervision to other agencies. These agencies in most states are run by private FOR PROFIT agencies. The staff that these agencies provide are mostly minimally trained and certainly do not have any educational background to make clinical observations. They write up
    their observations in a very superficial format based on direct observation of monitored time limited visits. Disordered parents manipulate these visits to frame a very distorted picture of themselves and their interactions with their kids!! These reports form the basis of judgements made by the court. Custody evaluations are also done by clinicians who have limited access to the family outside of what is portrayed in their offices. Its a set up.
    The entire system needs overhaul!!



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    • HGBeverly says:

      I completely agree on the overhaul.

      Anna Salter, PhD (author of Predators) says that there’s little evidence supporting the efficacy of interactional assessments, but everyone plows forward with them, anyway.

      It’s amazing how the courts demand research to back some decisions but utilize un-researched methods in others.

      I’m glad you’re in the system, noticing and asking questions.

      H.G.



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  4. Bally says:

    I feel that every one of us who has encountered a psychopath, in any aspect, should not let this terrible experience of ours go to waste, so to speak. We can all do something to educate others about this disorder. We should make it a mission so they can no longer hide from the ignorance (of their disorder) of the general public. Presentations to schools, shelters, businesses for example. Even a small contribution from every one of us can make a difference. Even if it is educating our children or family members. We have experienced it first hand, not just read about it. We can give real life examples. I’m passionate about stopping others from experiencing what I did. It could have wrecked my life – all for the psychopaths bit of fun.



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  5. Imara says:

    Each One Teach One
    Yes Bally, that seems to be the least we can do to contribute!!! In my dream world we would rope in public figures who have also experienced the duping and the pain….make it a public health issue…



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  6. Bally says:

    Imara, I admire you for what you have done already and now you also have a fantastic idea. I once read we are only a few connections away from the President or the Queen etc, so it is about networking to reach a public figure that could have impact? There are bound to be many famous people who have been victims of a psychopath who could share this experience.



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  7. stillinshock says:

    My judge was a female sociopath who took a disliking to me the moment she saw me. There was no possibility of getting justice in that court system, and the only answer was to get a different judge. However, she has to sign off and relinquish her case in order for me to get a new judge and she is not likely to do so. Since our court system here is all about who has the most money and mine ran out years ago, I am pretty much stuck, so I just avoid court as much as possible.



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  8. atozmom says:

    I have been down this road and was ignored, even humiliated by a magistrate who told me that my daughter would end up in a rubber room because of me. This was said to me when my ex violated a restraining order. The psychopaths do rule the courts. My question is if a judge can deny a drug addict parent visitation, due to the fact that harm could come to the child, why don’t they understand the amount of harm that 1 psychopath in the family can cause?



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  9. jm_short says:

    It is extremely important to focus society on the criminality of what takes place in seduction by fraud. I don’t believe anything will change without the recognition that defrauding a person of sex is a crime. And that crime is exactly what has happened to most of us here on LoveFraud.

    People who are fooled into sexual relations are no less raped than a person whose doped, intoxicated or under age state is misused to circumvent their self determination. (Date rape, statutory rape.) Every legal human interaction requires “knowing consent,” not just “consent.” Rape by fraud is identical in concept to other forms of non-forced rape.

    Bernie Madoff is rotting in jail because he defrauded countless people of millions. Regardless that they “consented” to buy-in to his investment program, he undermined their “knowing consent.” He violated their self determination just like the psychopath in your life violated yours regarding your sexual sanctity- that’s rape. Your intimacy was stolen from you. Once you understand that you were raped, you will understand why this has been such a horrific experience for you.

    Consent that is not “knowing” is ineffective consent throughout all facets of law. Even Socrates knew how devastating rape by fraud was and how despicable offenders were. In fact he found their behavior even more heinous than rape by force offenders because they corrupt the character of the victim by manipulating them into their own defilement.

    Once society begins to grasp this concept, the mentality toward how these parasites conduct themselves will change. They are rapists, and they deserve to be viewed and treated as rapists. The morality of society has been corrupted to the extent that rape is tolerated and considered the “puffery” of seduction. That concept has to be changed.

    “That bastard raped me”, is a great deal more disturbing than arguing that the father of my child is mean to me and the children. We all know how “he-said, she-said” spin can be easily misused by a sociopath in court. They are far better at it than we are, even when truth is on our side. They are experienced. Issues between parents will be viewed in an entirely different light when one of those parents is a rapist.

    (Pardon me guys, yes, rape by fraud also happens to you, but in a far smaller quantity. None-the-less, it’s just as painful when it does.)

    We need to pursue more rape by fraud cases in jurisdictions with appropriate penal code, and push for corrections in the penal code where such laws currently don’t exist. Going after them for their specific criminal behavior is powerful and it will become clear that people who behave this way are sociopaths. They have no “affective” empathy and no conscience. Proving criminal behavior is more direct than the more subjective concept of proving character disorder.

    By raising awareness of rape by fraud, we will change the morals of society and people will grasp how despicable these predators actually are.

    Joyce



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