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Catfishing — sociopathic behavior, or a phase?

 

catfishI was recently interviewed for an online magazine article called Confessions of a catfish. When I communicated with the author, Aris Apostolopoulos, I had no idea that he was going to admit that he, himself, once engaged in catfishing.

Quite a few Lovefraud readers have told me about their experiences being catfished. This means they met someone online who fabricated a complete false identity, including a fake name, fake history, fake friends and fake crises.

Target almost died

One woman contacted me in 2012, before the word “catfishing” had entered the lexicon, to tell me her story. She was involved with a person for almost three years, entirely on the phone and social media. Never met the guy.

In the beginning he love bombed her, sent her gifts, and liked everything that she posted on Facebook. He sent her bouquets five days in a row to convince her to be his girlfriend.

Once she was committed to the relationship, it evolved into control. He called her on the phone incessantly, belittling her with every call. He faked his own disappearance and death. The woman believed she was responsible and became so distraught that she actually had a nervous breakdown, overdosed and almost died.

She finally broke it off, realizing everything was a lie. But she contacted me again a month ago. The episode still haunts her.

Catfish as sociopath

This perpetrator, and others that I’ve heard about, have all the personality traits of a sociopath. They caused significant heartache in their targets, just for the fun of it. In my opinion, these catfishers engaged in the behavior simply to entertain themselves by exerting power and control over some random person they encounter on the Internet.

Sociopaths love playing the puppet master. They love pulling strings and watching people jump. To me, that’s what these catfishers are doing. They pretend to love someone, the person responds, and they experience the thrill of “duping delight.”

So I must admit I was perplexed when the journalist who interviewed me for the story asked, “Do you believe we are a little bit catfish ourselves? I mean, we all tell a couple of white lies when we meet a person we like online. Does that make us catfish?”

I know that many people tend to “enhance” their online dating profiles by claiming to be younger and thinner than they actually are, even posting 10- and 20-year old photos. That, to me, doesn’t qualify as catfishing.

In my mind, catfishing means creating a fake identity, and that’s the territory of spies and sociopaths, and I don’t know any spies.

Confessions of a catfish

So imagine my surprise when I found my comments in an article in which the author admitted a previous life as a catfish. He wrote that he knew it was wrong, but only built a fake online persona to make himself feel better.

Whoa!

Do people really do this? People who are not disordered, who are perhaps suffering from low self-esteem, create imaginary identities to attract friends and lovers?

Aris, the author, relayed his experience, which occurred before he went to college. He also gave the example of a young woman who, at age 17, fell in love with the prom king, who didn’t know that she existed.

I notice that both of these people where in high school when they created the catfishing profiles. Does that mean it’s a phase? Something kids do while they’re still sorting out their identities, and they later grow out of?

The Internet didn’t exist when I was in high school, so I don’t have first-hand experience with this phenomenon. Social media has created an entire new dimension of interaction between people. So is catfishing sociopathic behavior, or a phase? Or is it “normal” behavior among teenagers, but “abnormal” among adults?

I’d love to hear your views.

Read Confessions of a catfish, on kernalmag.dailydot.com.

 



17 Comments on "Catfishing — sociopathic behavior, or a phase?"

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  1. Synergy says:

    Mistype: they [should read “then”] exploits her



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  2. nokarma says:

    HI Donna
    your questions are good & this is such a complicated subject that you could do you a few PhD’s on it ,,,

    There are many variables and the anonymity that the internet offers to many people as a form of escape, or to creates their dream persona…and it is not necessarily sociopathic
    …but could be, its a complex subject.

    Many people never have any plans of ever meeting in person,,,
    many text each other its like thinking out loud ,,with some feedback or they might Skype ???

    If they are actively
    “catfishing” for money or manipulating to harm some one else that is different ,,,,if they say they are a bit younger or maybe have a change the age or other stats to meet some one or at least to be their on line friend that is a grayer area…

    I used to have a roommate that worked sex tel on the 1 800 lines
    she would say on the tel at work that she was 6 ft tall & blond & blue eyed when she was African American 5 feet & very dark ..was she a sociopath? no,,,she knew these guys wanted a fantasy & she was giving it … now its on line fantasy …

    ,,,half of what regular folks on face book post is a lie and mostly false….many people use it for entertainment,,,, they do not expect to be held to anything they say on line…

    there are also people posting untrue statements about themselves for security reasons bc if you do post all your real information you can be easily identified and targeted by sociopaths & predators who are looking for people who are going through struggles that they can get something from…that is why we use aliases to post comments are we sociopaths bc I am using an alias?

    Many professional people or folks in small towns do not want that ,,so they might say the say they live here when its over there & they are one age when its another or they have to kids when its three…. so they cant be ID’d in order to protect themselves…. is it bc they are sociopaths or liars? or is this what is needed in order to stay safe on the internet & just plain savvy?

    Most of these people feel once a real connection is made well then the real info will come out, if they feel safe enough.

    What is first rule kids learn?? do not give out any real info on line, yet we have a deep desire to connect & communicate with others so some people resort to posting less than real info sometimes for their own protection ….

    Also with a website like this except MANY sociopaths to be attracted to it, to try & control the content or fake they are victims etc, or pretend they are some one they are not …

    So I am NOT surprised that the person interviewed was a catfish himself ,,,,surprised that he shared that, probably to see your reaction.

    I just think his entire persona might be made up who knows ,,its an eye spy game on line for many reasons.

    The internet is also facilitates a sociopaths double life it is a playground, so much easier to get connections & pretend to be some one you are not…People are more likely to not tell the truth on line for many …many reasons.

    Just be careful…this is not a simple subject
    nor a black white issue…..I predict in the future there will be more fraud and more on line deception, since narcissism and lack of positive regard for others is skyrocketing some of it innocent and some of it brutal,including the hackers,
    …. just my two cents.

    peace
    🙂



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