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Sociopaths say you’re crazy — and you believe them

man in maskThe sociopath behaves badly: Lying — and then lying to cover up the lies. Disappearing for days without explanation. Draining your finances. Cheating — and you have proof!

You are understandably upset. Justifiably angry.

Yet when you confront the perpetrator, not only does the sociopath deny, deny, deny, he or she says it never happened, you imagined it all, and you’re paranoid. In fact, you’re losing your mind! You should be committed!

You are so confused that you think the sociopath may be right. Are you losing your mind?

How does this happen? How does the sociopath lie, manipulate and deceive, yet you feel like you’re the one going crazy?

The root of the problem is that when this person came into your life, you didn’t know about sociopaths. Therefore, you are vulnerable to the sociopath’s plot.

So here’s what happens.

Step 1: The sociopath convinces you that it’s love!

You meet and the sociopath sweeps you off your feet in a whirlwind romance. Or, you meet and don’t like the sociopath, but he or she is so persistent that you finally decide to give the person a chance.

Either way, you interpret the sociopath’s behavior to mean that he or she is smitten with you. Because who would be so attentive, or keep trying to see you, if they weren’t head over heels crazy for you?

It must be love!

According to your understanding of life, people who are in love are kind to each other. They want the best for their partners and never intentionally hurt their beloved.

Since the sociopath is proclaiming undying love, that’s what you expect.

Step 2: The sociopath lies about almost everything, but you don’t know it

You don’t realize that the caring behavior is a charade, and that all the sweet nothings that come out of his or her mouth are just that — nothing.

In fact, you don’t realize that just about everything the sociopath says is a lie.

After all, the sociopath looks deep into your eyes, convincing you of his or her sincerity.

You know that some of what you’re told is true. But you don’t know that sociopaths are experts at mixing enough truth with their lies so that the entire story sounds like the truth.

Yes, sometimes the story doesn’t make sense at first. But the sociopath explains away the discrepancies, and the explanations are always so plausible.

And then there are the times that the story is totally outrageous. But it has to be true, because no one would ever make up such a tale.

You certainly would never say such things if they weren’t true, and you can’t imagine that anyone would. Who would have the nerve to make those claims if the events hadn’t really happened?

Sociopaths will do it — but you don’t know that.

Step 3: The sociopath intentionally makes you doubt your perceptions

The sociopath’s objective is power and control over you. That means the sociopath wants to control your mind.

One way to do that is to make you doubt your perceptions. It’s called “gaslighting.”

According to Wikipedia:

Gaslighting or gas-lighting is a form of mental abuse in which information is twisted or spun, selectively omitted to favor the abuser, or false information is presented with the intent of making victims doubt their own memory, perception, and sanity. Instances may range simply from the denial by an abuser that previous abusive incidents ever occurred, up to the staging of bizarre events by the abuser with the intention of disorienting the victim.

The term comes from the 1944 film, Gaslight, starring Ingrid Bergman as Paula.

In the movie, the sociopathic villain intentionally hides things, and then says Paula took or moved them. He has a violent outburst and then denies that it happened, saying Paula imagined it. He keeps this up through the entire movie, until Paula thinks she is insane.

Sociopaths actually do this.

One Lovefraud reader recounted how the sociopath kept moving her keys, and then criticized her for losing them. Many sociopaths make promises, and then blatantly deny that the words were spoken.

They are adamant. Vociferous. Indignant.

You would never intentionally move things just to confuse people. You might break a promise, but you would never deny that you made it.

So you wonder — did you really lose the keys again? Did you imagine what was said?

Step 4: The sociopath insists that you have mental problems

The sociopath proclaims true love, lies fluently without you realizing it, and then intentionally tries to make you doubt your perceptions.

While the sociopath lies and denies, he or she continually professes love for you.

In your mind, and in your way of life, love is about being caring and supportive. It’s about trust. You would never dream of blatantly lying to someone you love, or intentionally treating them badly.

So you must have misunderstood. You must have imagined it. The only rational explanation is that you are losing your mind.

That’s what the sociopath tells you. Consistently. Repeatedly.

“That never happened. You imagined it.”

“Why are you so paranoid? You should go to counseling.”

“I’m really getting concerned about you. You seem to be losing your grip on reality.”

Learning the real truth

Eventually, somehow, you learn the truth: The sociopath has been lying all along. About everything.

This truth is devastating. Earth-shattering.

You didn’t know that there were human beings who look and seem normal, but who have no heart, no conscience and no remorse.

Before you know about sociopaths, you may have had a tendency to see people as you are, and interpret the actions of others in terms of how you would behave.

You had no idea that there are humans living among us who operate under a totally different set of rules. Or, make that no rules.

Once you learn about sociopaths, you realize that your perceptions were correct all along. Contrary to what the sociopath so forcefully stated, you are not crazy.

Red Flags of Love Fraud

Protect yourself. To learn the early warning signs of sociopathic behavior, read Red Flags of Love Fraud: 10 signs you’re dating a sociopath.

 



28 Comments on "Sociopaths say you’re crazy — and you believe them"

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  1. flicka says:

    Love your description of needing other people’s approval as “putting on the charm”. So descriptive of my 4 sons and one daughter!



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  2. wakingup says:

    Wow, just what I needed to sew up my day. About a year and a half ago, I joined a recovery group and unbeknownst to me was within a few weeks targeted by both a male and female attendee. We ended up in a small study group together. The two of them got into it after a few weeks (naturally) and I ended up working the program with the female. The male began calling regularly and talking for hours. Having been 8 years out of a 30-year marriage to a spath who stonewalled me continually, I fell absolutely in love with this man who would simply talk and talk and talk, tale after tale. It felt wonderful to hear a man talk…to me…albeit, about himself and lord knows how much was true but I fell hard. Then the games began…he dangled the relationship carrot in front of me for months…”innocently” torturing me. If I called him on ANYTHING, he would pretend to misunderstand me and then I would spend hours writing explanation emails to which he would respond with the a most evil twisting way such that I again would think he misunderstood and try again. He would claim I had subconscious issues with blaming, shaming, hostility and judging that he had difficulty dealing with but kept calling anyway…dangling the carrot. Sometimes he would gaslight me and then refer to and quote popular self-help sites he had introduced me to and misuse the criteria against me. This whole time I am in agony??? Meantime, the female spath was spinning her own web around me…she was the “love-bomber”. She continually told me I could not possible love this man and that we would never be together. We had hundreds of hours of wonderful fun on our recovery projects until she started becoming scarily possessive. When I called her on her bossiness and projecting, she quietly apologized….then… suddenl, shortly thereafter began to turn on me with intentional misunderstandings and tried to start “catfights”. Then I was trying also to help her to “understand”. Her jealousy of any other interest I might have became completely insane, but ESPECIALLY in regards to the male spath. Honestly between the two of them, it is a miracle that I am sort of ok. He planned and carried out a heinous discard by offering to finally get together and sort things out. He actually came on very strong. Then he emailed me just one hour before he was due at my house to say he made a mistake and had to cancel. He claimed he spent the previous day rolling around his floor at home in agony for fear I would harm his tender heart. Honestly, I had my hopes so high, I went into shock. It was brutal. Now several months down the road, I can see that the female was playing an evil part between us and lying to both of us about the other. (I have basically gone NC with both for about 4 months- speaking to her twice and him once- he actually called and asked to get together again. She called and now I see it was simply to gather info on how I was doing after they both worked me over) Anyhow, this last couple of days, I have been able to connect so many dots with realizing she was in the middle of everything, denying she had contact with him when in fact she “consulted” with him regularly. There is much more evil coming to mind as this is all opening up to me. I am literally ill. At first when I saw how involved she was, I thought, GOOD! He is just an innocent victim like me. We can work it out. But the truth is, he did do all those crazy-making things. I thought my intuition was completely worthless but now I see it was working perfectly. I just didn’t understand why I was so miserable because I could not believe that anyone would purposely connive to destroy overpower control me just for the thrill of it. I knew about him first…realizing the truth about her way of spathing is a whole other huge awakening, and whoever said the female version is different is spot on. That is what through me off. I will never be the same. I lost my innocence in my 60’s. Unbelievable. I thank God He did not let me die in my ignorance. 2 marriages to spaths….then this. I didn’t get it at all til now.



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  3. Dustey says:

    Just before serving my ex-spath with divorce papers I had to know the answer to something that had been bugging me throughout our 34 year marriage. So I asked him this, “When I ask you to do something and you answer by saying OK but you don’t do what I asked you to do, what does it mean when you say OK?” I had to know because for 34 years he always answered OK but had never once done anything I asked him to do. To my surprise he gave me an answer. Normally, he simply sat mute when asked to explain anything about his actions or non-actions. But he said, “Ok means, I heard you.” Well there it was, and it made me laugh out loud. The answer spoke volumns of what I had, by that time, already figured out. My ex-spath, like all of them, had his own set of rules. His answer reinforced my belief that filing for divorce was what I needed to do to gain back my sanity, so I handed him the divorce papers.

    It took me a long time to reach that point and to understand that I was viewing my ex-spath and all other people through my eyes and expecting them to have the same rules, morals, disciplines, etc as I do. I thought all people had good in them and if I treated them kindly the good would come out. Silly me!

    After my divorce when I was trying to recover from my journey through the crazy world of spath-dom, I used to tell myself the story about the snake and the mouse (that’s the animals I used). The snake offered to give the mouse a lift across a river. The snake said he wouldn’t bite the mouse, so the mouse climbed onto the snake’s back and the snake swam across the river. Once on dry ground the snake bit the mouse. Before dying tthe mouse, in shock, asked the snake why he bit him. The snake replied, “Why are you so shocked, I’m a snake!” In that story, my ex-spath is, appropriately, the snake and I’m the mouse because my ex-spath did kill a part of me. I used that story to help explain why my ex-spath behaved the way he did and that it wasn’t my fault.

    Now that I’ve healed from my spath ordeal, I’ve adjusted the snake and mouse story. The snake is still my ex-spath and I’m still the mouse. But now the mouse doesn’t get on the snake’s back. When the mouse sees the snake, she runs far away from the snake and lives happily ever after, never to let another snake take her for a ride again.



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  4. flicka says:

    i’ll have to remember your great story!



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    • Dustey says:

      Thank you flicka. I forgot to add that even though my ex-spath’s behavior wasn’t my fault, to heal, I had to come to terms with the part I played in allowing the situation to happen. After all, I did accept a ride from a snake and continued to do so for 34 years. I lost part of myself and many other things due to my decisions. Accepting responsibilty for the consequences of my actions and non-actions went a long way in helping me advance from a victim to a survivor.



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  5. flicka says:

    …but, in a way, I am still responsible for giving birth to 5 children who also became sociopaths like their father. Oh this was naturally done with great love but also great ignorance…50 years worth and that is difficult to live with and forgive. If only I knew then what I know today… That is why Donna’s “spreading the word” is so very momentous; we all need to spread our knowledge even though 90% cannot grasp what we’re talking about. Let’s not be silent so sociopathy spreads. Knowledge is power.



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    • Dustey says:

      flicka, yes, it is very difficult to live with and forgive our actions that led to such great loss and disappointment. But I know we did the best we could under the circumstances. I have two children, both sons, and they’re both sociopaths. So I can relate to your situation.

      flicka, I agree knowledge is power. It’s exciting to know that Donna is working so hard to spread the word. And I recently read that someone is trying to pass a law that (if I understand it correctly) will allow victims to sue those who commit love fraud.

      It took me a long time to realize that not only did I need to hold my self responsible for what happened, I also needes to give myself loving kindness just as I would give to anyone else who had been through such a trauma. It was very hard to do becuse for a long time, after realzing I had been duped, I felt very stupid for getting myself into a bad situation and even more stuid for not getting myself out it sooner. But one day I realized that, just like everyone else, I’m only human and I make mistakes.

      There’s a quote in the movie, “No Country For Old Men” that says; “All the time you spend tryin to get back what’s been took from you, there’s more going out the door. After a while you just try to get a tourniquet on it.” The quote is about revenge. But it’s also appropriate for regretting things we did in the past. Because time marchs on, the only productive thing to do with our past is to “let it go”. Realize it happened, accept that it happened, then let it go. No forgiving needed. Simply accept that it is what it is.

      Letting go of the past and enjoying life is the only way to win the fight against a sociopath. They’ll always be stuck in the past because they’re unable to change. And they’ll never be able to have a sincere, honest, loving relationship with anyone, themselves included. But you can move on and grow. And if you so decide, you can have wonderful relationships with others. Don’t waste any more time being angry about what happened in the past. Every day is a gift. I refuse to let what happened in the past ruin any more of my days. My wish for you flicka, is that you’re able to do that too. Cyber HUGS from me to you!



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  6. flicka says:

    Dearest Dustey, Intellectually, of course, I wholeheartedly agree with you. We victims must get on with creating and finding a whole new life and forget/release the past completely. I have always been very strong and independent but at 77 and being disabled by 2 spine surgeries in ’08, I now find myself trapped by my circumstances. My attorney and others have warned me to lock my doors; I have 2 ladies coming 2 afternoons a week to help me with meals, garbage, groceries etc. But being completely alone (emotionally, physically and financially) has unfortunately taken it’s toll on me and time to start anew is running out. Therefore I spend my days on educating other victims that time is always running. Much love and thanks to you for your kind and well-intentioned words.



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    • Dustey says:

      Flika, you’re very welcome!

      I’m so sorry you’re disabled and need the help of others after being so very strong and independent. I have a disability too. I lost all my hearing in adulthood. My disability has closed a lot of doors for me and on a day to day basis can make my life difficult. But I try to remember that as everyone ages, doors close and opportunities become scarce. And that there are others who are far worse off than I am. I try to focus on what I can do, not what I can’t.

      It sounds like you’ve adjusted remarkably well to your situation. And you’ve found a worthy mission that needs you! I know you’re making a difference in the lives of others by educating them. In a perfect world there would be no sociopaths. Until then, thank you for doing what you can to spread the word.

      Take care my friend! Dustey



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  7. Delores says:

    I agree that the solution is letting go but sometimes action is required before we can do that. I thought I had let go 40 years ago when I divorced him. I had already gone through the resolution process before the divorce as I stayed “for the children”. That backfired. He bribed my son away with a car in high school and he turned my daughter against me with lies in her 20’s and 30’s. Then I realized it was not over yet when he became a threat to my grandchildren. I had kept his secrets for so many years and I finally had to let it out. I had to attempt suicide before I could do it but after recovery, I told everyone about his abuse and forced sex on me, an act rape of a roommate’s girlfriend, and abuse of me, our children, subsequent wives and step children. I even went to the police in the town where he was a lawyer and reported it all. It was not about revenge, it was about protecting my grandchildren. Surprisingly it was very healing for me. In keeping his dirty secrets to protect my children, I had acquired a lot of hidden shame myself for my part in it. Shame for the marriage to begin with, for believing him, for thinking I could change him, for not being aware, for allowing him to rape me, for allowing my children visitation and for believing that a no good father was better than no father at all. I now realize that he had deliberately put that shame on me and continued to use it to take my children. He obviously has no shame. He is incapable because he is a psychopath but he plays a good “poor me” game for taking people in. What I thought was genuine shame and remorse for his rape before we married was only his regret of getting caught and thrown out by all of his friends. My entire family was angry at me for doing it but I have no regrets. I knew the risk I was taking and I accepted the possible consequences with my children. I was stunned by the anger and lack of understanding by my sisters but I got through it. Releasing it verbally to the proper authorities allowed me to release the shame. I highly recommend reporting these dangerous people to the proper authorities. Back in 1975, I would have been laughed at for reporting him but we must not keep their dirty secrets. Awareness is changing, they are being recognized and it is important that they are reported for what they do to us. My silence allowed many others to be victimized, including my own children.



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    • flicka says:

      dearest Delores, How very much we have in common though my story involves 5 children and having silently tolerated the abuse for over 50 years, I now feel free to speak publicly about what I endured for so long. However, finding myself now totally abandoned by friends and family, although I agree with your conclusion of the necessity of “coming out”, I find that most people still don’t believe you and chose not to listen to negatives. That is why I am so very grateful to Donna for having found the support needed to reveal these traits publicly. I feel like a fish swimming upstream against the currents but so be it…at least I now finally speak the truth; I no longer care what people chose to think of me; I have my integrity back. May you continue your personal road to healing.



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      • Canuck says:

        When it is a parent who abused you not only do people not believe you but they believe you are the bad seed. They would rather believe the lies of the abuser than put two and two together -that quite possibly the abuser was interested in their child sexually and therefore accused the child of making a living in that manner. A parent is not beyond lying to cover their dirt in case the truth were ever to come out. Oh the secrets the children keep!

        For some reason when one is the child of a sociopath that not wanting to go there, by otherwise very intelligent people, and the shaming / blaming becomes a given. Hence it becomes internalized.

        The damaged goods by ones own hand stigma is a lie the victims believe themselves because otherwise sane rational people can not see beyond that. Just finding oneself is a difficult lifelong battle.



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  8. skid says:

    Here is a bizarre example of gas-lighting:

    my ex-spath informed me that our neighbor was having a technical problem with his computer and needed my assistance. I have known this guy for close to 20 years and have helped him out many times. His wife died of cancer the previous year and soon after my ex began cleaning his house. (so I was told)

    He explained that a woman from a dating web site had been sending him emails the last few days, but he had not been able to respond to her because he could not access the web site. (apparently you need to log onto the site to reply to messages from other members)

    It turned out that he had “forgotten” his password and did not know how to reset it. So while resetting his password, an email was sent to him with a link for resetting it. When I checked his inbox for the reset link, I was surprised by how few messages he had. The only recent messages were junk mail.

    So where were the alleged messages from this woman? Except for the reset link, there where no other messages from that web site. Not even in the deleted box.

    This event was obviously orchestrated by my ex to prevent me from becoming suspicious. But her plan backfired.



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