The terms sociopath or psychopath often bring to mind images of
sadistically violent individuals such as Ted Bundy or the fictional
character of Dr. Hannibal "The Cannibal" Lecter in the book and
movie The Silence of the Lambs.
But I believe the defining
characteristic traits of sociopaths actually cover a much broader
spectrum of individuals than most of us would ever imagine. The
sociopath is that truly self-absorbed individual with no conscience
or feeling for others and for whom social rules have no meaning.
I believe that most all of us know or
have come in contact with sociopathic individuals without even
What is A Psychopath?
Psychopaths cannot be understood in terms of antisocial rearing or
They are simply morally depraved individuals who represent the
"monsters" in our society. They are unstoppable and untreatable predators
whose violence is planned, purposeful and emotionless. The violence
continues until it reaches a plateau at age 50 or so, then tapers off.
Their emotionlessness reflects a detached, fearless, and possibly
dissociated state, revealing a low-state autonomic nervous system and lack
of anxiety. It's difficult to say what motivates them - control and
dominance possibly - since their life history will usually show no
long-standing bonds with others nor much rhyme to their reason (other than
the planning of violence).
They tend to operate with a grandiose demeanor, an attitude of entitlement,
an insatiable appetite, and a tendency toward sadism. Fearlessness is
probably the prototypical (core) characteristic (the low-fear hypothesis).
It's helpful to think of them as high-speed vehicles with ineffective
Certain organic (brain) disorders and hormonal imbalances mimic the state of
mind of a psychopath.
There are four (4) different subtypes of psychopaths. The oldest distinction was made by Cleckley back
in 1941 between primary and secondary.
PRIMARY PSYCHOPATHS do not respond to
punishment, apprehension, stress, or disapproval. They seem to be able
to inhibit their antisocial impulses most of the time, not because of
conscience, but because it suits their purpose at the time. Words do not
seem to have the same meaning for them as they do for us. In fact, it's
unclear if they even grasp the meaning of their own words, a condition
that Cleckley called "semantic aphasia." They don't follow any life
plan, and it seems as if they are incapable of experiencing any genuine
SECONDARY PSYCHOPATHS are
risk-takers, but are also more likely to be stress-reactive, worriers,
and guilt-prone. They expose themselves to more stress than the average
person, but they are as vulnerable to stress as the average person.
(This suggests that they are not "fully psychopathic." This may be due
to distinctive genetic variations.)
They are daring, adventurous, unconventional people who began playing by
their own rules early in life. They are strongly driven by a desire to
escape or avoid pain, but are unable to resist temptation. As their
anxiety increases toward some forbidden object, so does their attraction
to it. They live their lives by the lure of temptation.
Both primary and
secondary psychopaths can be subdivided into:
DISTEMPERED PSYCHOPATHS are the kind
that seem to fly into a rage or frenzy more easily and more often than
other subtypes. Their frenzy will resemble an epileptic fit. They are
also usually men with incredibly strong sex drives, capable of
astonishing feats of sexual energy, and seemingly obsessed by sexual
urges during a large part of their waking lives. Powerful cravings also
seem to characterize them, as in drug addiction, kleptomania,
pedophilia, any illicit or illegal indulgence. They like the endorphin
"high" or "rush" off of excitement and risk-taking. The
serial-rapist-murderer known as the Boston Strangler was such a
CHARISMATIC PSYCHOPATHS are charming,
attractive liars. They are usually gifted at some talent or another, and
they use it to their advantage in manipulating others. They are usually
fast-talkers, and possess an almost demonic ability to persuade others
out of everything they own, even their lives. Leaders of religious sects
or cults, for example, might be psychopaths if they lead their followers
to their deaths. This subtype often comes to believe in their own
fictions. They are irresistible.
Sociopaths have always existed in varying form and to various degrees.
They have been known by various titles. They have been studied using
various techniques, and through the years their ailment has been blamed
on various causes. But one thing never varies: all sociopaths share
three common characteristics.
They are all very egocentric individuals
with no empathy for others, and they are incapable of feeling remorse or
[The Sociopath Rebecca Horton (April
While the psychopath has likes and dislikes and
fondness for the pleasures that human company can bring, analysis shows that
he is completely egocentric, valuing others only for their enhancement of
his own pleasure or status. While he gives no real love, he is quite capable
of inspiring love of sometimes fanatical degree in others.
He is generally superficially charming and often makes a striking impression
as possessed of the noblest of human qualities. He makes friends easily, and
is very manipulative, using his ability with words to talk his way out of
trouble. Many psychopaths love to be admired and bask in the adulation of
With the lack of love, there is also a lack of empathy.
The psychopath is unable to feel sorry for
others in unfortunate situations or put himself in another's place, whether
or not they have been harmed by him. [Gordon
How Psychopaths View
Not only do they covet possessions and power, but they gain special pleasure
in usurping and taking from others (a symbolic sibling, for example); what
they can plagiarize, swindle, and extort are fruits far sweeter than those
they can earn through honest labor.
And once having drained what they can from one source, they turn to another
to exploit, bleed, and then cast aside; their pleasure in the misfortune of
others is unquenchable. People are used as a means to an end; they are to be
subordinated and demeaned so that the antisocial can vindicate themselves...
The causes of this sociopathic disorder have been narrowed to several
factors through research. One of the primary causes of sociopathic behavior
is believed to be neurological abnormalities mainly in the frontal lobe of
the brain. This area is also related to fear conditioning. The abnormal
anatomy or chemical activity within this area of the brain may be caused by
abnormal growth (possibly genetic), brain disease, or injury. This theory
has been supported by much research using positron emission tomography
(PET) which visually shows the metabolic activity of neurons within
the brain (Sabbatini, 1998).
The amygdalae, two small regions buried near the base of the brain, have
long been known to affect aggression, sexuality and recklessness. Recently,
they have also been shown to affect how people interpret the emotions of
others. Subtle damage to the amygdalae may explain many of the
characteristics of psychopaths - including the difficulty of getting through
to them emotionally. It may be that they simply cannot "see" emotions in
You Married to a Psychopath?]
The psychopath is a manipulator, who knows exactly what makes us tick and
knows how to manipulate and influence our feelings.
They have the talent to spot "kind, caring" women.
Mimicry is often used to convince others that the psychopath is a normal
human being. He does this to create a false empathy with his victim. The
psychopath will try to make you believe he has normal emotions by spinning
some sad tale or professing profound, moving experiences; the truth is, most
psychopaths go through life as in an incubator, touched by few and having no
real compassion for others; but they will lie to convince you that they have
The pity factor is one reason why victims often fall for these "poor"
Lying is like breathing to the psychopath. When caught in a lie and
challenged, they make up new lies, and don't care if they're found out.
As Hare states,
"Lying, deceiving, and manipulation are
natural talents for psychopaths... When caught in a lie or challenged
with the truth, they are seldom perplexed or embarrassed - they simply
change their stories or attempt to rework the facts so that they appear
to be consistent with the lie. The results are a series of contradictory
statements and a thoroughly confused listener."
Often, their behavior serves to confuse and
repress their victims, or to influence anyone who might listen to the
psychopath's side of the story.
Manipulation is the key to their conquests, and lying is one way they
One almost amusing example of how psychopaths lie can be exemplified by a
man who's footprint was discovered at the scene of the crime.
"No, that's not my foot" he said, even
though everyone knew he was lying.
This is how psychopaths operate. They will deny
reality until their victims have a nervous breakdown. Often, the psychopath
will turn on the victim and claim that the victim suffers from "delusions"
and is not mentally stable.
The psychopath is primarily distracted and impressed by his own grandiose
self-representation, which often leads to him unwittingly telling people
things that lead to his detection. They often forget the lies they told and
tell contradicting tales, which often makes the listener wonder if either
the psychopath is crazy, although in this case the psychopath isn't really
crazy - he's just forgotten what lies he's told.
The most amazing thing, however, is their selective memory. A psychopath
might not remember the promises he made to you yesterday, but he will
remember something from the past if it suits his purposes in some way. They
often do this whenever they're confronted or caught in a lie.
Most psychopaths are very arrogant and cocky. However, when charming a
potential victim, they say all the "right" things and make you believe they
are kind-hearted souls; not always, but often enough. The truth is,
psychopaths are not altruistic and do not really care about friendships or
Guggenbuhl-Craig states that,
"they are very talented at appearing much
more humble than the average person, but are hardly so."
Some are also able to feign concern about the
lower classes and profess that they are on the side of the underdog, the
poor, and so forth.
A psychopath may claim, for instance (if he's from a low
socioeconomic class), that he dislikes rich people intensely, but at the
same time, he will inwardly yearn and envy what they have. He is like the
narcissist, desiring to reflect a false image of himself through his
possessions. Among his possessions are included human beings: girlfriends,
wives, and children.
Some psychopaths can even be very fond of animals (contrary to the common
viewpoint), but still view them as objects in relation to themselves.
In general, most psychopaths will brag endlessly about their exploits and
"bad" things they've done (often called a warning sign, which will ward off
careful souls), but more often than not, the woman who is fascinated by him
will not listen to reason, even if she is warned by others who know him
about his past behaviors.
Why? Once again, because the psychopath makes her feel so "special."
Please ladies, if you're stuck on any man who is like this, you must come to
terms with the fact that it is NOT his REAL personality. He is only playing
a ROLE for you.
Dr. Donald Black states that one of the most obvious signs of psychopathy is the
way the individual will brag about his experiences, no matter,
"how unsavory... his apparent comfort with
his deviant behavior, the ease with which he discuss(es) breaking every
rule, (is) consistent with ASP (psychopathy)."
The psychopath is filled with greed inside,
relating to the world through power, even though, as I said, on the outside
he can claim to be on the side of the disenfranchised or the downtrodden.
knew one who liked to repeat phrases such as "they have to stop keeping my
brothers down" but he didn't mean a word of it. He was actually a racist.
The psychopath can also often identify himself as a revolutionary.
On the flip side, the psychopath also often paints a picture of himself as
the downcast anti-hero (his "own worst enemy type") and some like to see
themselves as lone-wolves. The psychopath may even claim he is sensitive and
profound, but inside he is nothing but emptiness and greed.
Whether or not the psychopath is aware of his behavior is something that is
often debated. I do believe that psychopaths usually know exactly what they
are doing, although others suggest that psychopaths are "born, not made."
As mentioned, psychopaths often claim to settle for second best (being their
own worst enemy) and then think they deserve better. This may be manifested
in the way they seek power - either through money (i.e. material goods),
manipulation and/or treating people as objects.
By enacting such behaviors, the psychopath is
also trying to "get back" at society and the world, in order to gain
They will spend their entire lives doing this, whether they are
rich or poor, or whatever their social background may be, although studies
have shown that they often come from an impoverished or lower socio-
economic background and/or social status.
(In one of Dr. Donald Black's studies, many of
the men were,
"overwhelmingly white, blue collar, lower
middle class, and married, and most had not graduated from high school."
Let me add, despite Dr. Blacks' studies,
psychopaths can still exist in any social class.
Do not be misled. I also
wanted to point out that I will be using "he" and "him" for the term
psychopath throughout this website; let it not be forgotten, yes, female
psychopaths exist as well; however, according to the Sixth Edition of
Abnormal Behavior, printed in 2000 by three male professors, David,
Derald, and Stanley Sue, the rates do differ by gender.
Included in their excellent text is a report by
the The American Psychiatric Association that the general estimate is 3% for
men, and less than 1% in women [Personality Disorders and Impulse Control
What is very disturbing about psychopaths, besides their sense of special
entitlement, is the complete lack of empathy for normal people, for,
"antisocials (psychopaths) seem to lack a
conscience, feeling little or no empathy for the people whose lives they
touch...the antisocial effortlessly resists all regulation, unable to
see beyond his self-interest or to adopt standards of right versus
Not all psychopath are uneducated low-class
Some of them are quite handsome and have good careers, and use this
all the more to their benefit. Take a look at Ted Bundy; my friend's mother
once went on a double-date with him and claimed he was the nicest person.
His mother said he was the "best son any mother could have."
Bundy was also apparently quite good-looking,
which made him even more dangerous.
So not all psychopaths are derelict, low-class,
high school drop-outs, there are many who also work in professional
occupations; the fact remains that there are just more psychopaths who come
from impoverished backgrounds than not.
QFG = Quantum Future Group
[QFG - Note: Black's claim that more "psychopaths" come from
impoverished backgrounds seems to be coming under some revision. In fact,
Black does not seem to have a truly good grasp of the difference between
Psychopathy and Antisocial Personality Disorder.
As Robert Hare points out,
yes, there are many psychopaths who are also "anti-socials" but there seem
to be far more of them that would never be classified as anti-social or
In a recent paper, "Construct Validity of Psychopathy in a Community
Sample - A Nomological Net Approach, Salekin, Trobst, Krioukova, Journal of
Personality Disorders," 15(5), 425-441, 2001), the authors state:
"Psychopathy, as originally conceived by
Cleckley (1941), is not limited to engagement in illegal activities, but
rather encompasses such personality characteristics as manipulativeness,
insincerity, egocentricity, and lack of guilt - characteristics clearly
present in criminals but also in spouses, parents, bosses, attorneys,
politicians, and CEOs, to name but a few. (Bursten, 1973; Stewart,
Our own examination of the prevalence of psychopathy within a
university population suggested that perhaps 5% or more of this sample
might be deemed psychopathic, although the vast majority of those will
be male (more than 1/10 males versus approximately 1?100 females).
"As such, psychopathy may be characterized ... as involving a tendency
towards both dominance and coldness. Wiggins (1995) in summarizing
numerous previous findings... indicates that such individuals are prone
to anger and irritation and are willing to exploit others. They are
arrogant, manipulative, cynical, exhibitionistic, sensation -seeking,
Machiavellian, vindictive, and out for their own gain.
With respect to
their patterns of social exchange (Foa & Foa, 1974), they attribute love
and status to themselves, seeing themselves as highly worthy and
important, but prescribe neither love nor status to others, seeing them
as unworthy and insignificant. This characterization is clearly
consistent with the essence of psychopathy as commonly described.
"The present investigation sought to answer some basic questions
regarding the construct of psychopathy in non forensic settings... In so
doing we have returned to Cleckley's (1941) original emphasis on
psychopathy as a personality style not only among criminals, but also
among successful individuals within the community.
"What is clear from our findings is that:
psychopathy measures have
converged on a prototype of psychopathy that involves a combination of
dominant and cold interpersonal characteristics
occur in the community and at what might be a higher than expected rate
psychopathy appears to have little
overlap with personality disorders aside from Antisocial
"Clearly, where much more work is needed is in understanding what
factors differentiate the abiding (although perhaps not moral-abiding)
psychopath from the law-breaking psychopath; such research surely needs
to make greater use of non forensic samples than has been customary in
In short, if you want to learn about psychopathy,
don't read Black. The only kind he had to study were the failures, the ones
who ended up in jail or psychiatric hospitals.
Keep this in mind as you
continue to read the excerpts on this page.]
Also, not all psychopaths are calm, cool, and collected.
Some of them appear
strange or odd, and their behavior can be eccentric or unusual. I believe
this is what can confuse victims most often. Psychopaths often appear
intense and "electrifying". Do not be misled if someone appears harmless,
"foolish", or seems offbeat. An "angelic" visage can also often fool people.
Just picture John Wayne Gacy in his "clown
costume" as he entertained children as one example.
Another example which someone on the "Victims of Psychopathy" board came up
and his "goofy" yet loveable demeanor (so is Clinton
really a psychopath? Many believe he is).
A psychopath (he was diagnosed anti-social) I knew used the harmless
cover-up quite well.
Everyone thought he was very funny. I did too, at
first. Then, little by little, I realized there was something "not right"
about him. At first his seemingly harmless pranks were charming, but after a
while, he became more of a nuisance and disrupted our work environment,
which created havoc and tension between employees. I've learned, a
psychopath can use these disguises for his own hidden purpose.
Regardless of race, social class, or occupation, however, the psychopath is
dangerous to society, for,
"the nature of ASP (psychopathy) implies
that it wreaks more havoc on society than most other mental illnesses
do, since the disorder primarily involves reactions against the social
environment that drag other people into its destructive web... The
despair and anxiety wrought by antisocials (psychopaths) tragically
affects families and communities, leaving deep physical and emotional
There is much to the psychopathic personality
which is baffling and disturbing.
1 in about 25-30 people are psychopathic
(also known as sociopaths or anti-social - the correct title being
psychopath.) Since the majority or them are men, I (Wendy
Koenigsmann) wrote this site in part, to warn women about the
dangers, especially women online, which I believe is a favorite "new
medium" which appeals to psychopaths.
I have personal experience with this subject as
well. This is because,
"antisocials (psychopaths) are not just characters in
our fictional or true-life entertainments. They are family members, friends,
co-workers, neighbors, or strangers we may encounter every day."
Pamela Jayne, M.A., writes that,
"30% of men are sociopathic." [QFG
note that she is not using the term "psychopath".]
If about every
three out of ten men I may meet are psychopathic, I would assume this is not
something to take lightly.
According to these statistics, that would mean
every three out of ten men and maybe every one out of ten females.
The truth is, we do not really know exactly how many individuals are
psychopathic; however, there seems to be a rise in the prevalence of
psychopathy and that is why some claim that numbers are higher.
claims that psychopathy leads right behind depression, along with
schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder, which is an astounding
[QFG note: Hare says that Psychopathy is MORE prevalent than
depression, schizophrenia and BPD. For all we know, many people who are
depressed, become schizophrenic, or develop BPD, do so as a result of
interactions with psychopaths. Psychologist Andrew Lobaczewski says as
much in his book "Political Ponerology."]
Psychopaths are often witty and articulate and almost always "glib."
They can be "amusing and entertaining
conversationalists, ready with a quick and clever comeback, and can tell
unlikely but convincing stories...
They can be very effective in presenting themselves well and are often
very likeable and charming. To some people, however, they seem too slick
and smooth, too obviously insincere and superficial. Astute observers
often get the impression that psychopaths are play-acting, mechanically
"reading their lines."
...They may ramble and tell stories that seem unlikely in light of what
is known about them. Typically, they attempt to appear familiar with
sociology, psychiatry, medicine, psychology, philosophy, poetry,
literature, art, or law. A signpost to this trait is often a smooth lack
of concern at being found out."
One psychopathic individual I knew claimed that
he had a genius IQ and that he was studying several different majors at
"When I found out I had a genius IQ, that's
when all my trouble started" he said.
I asked him, "Why?"
He replied, "'Cause I'm too smart for my own
In the end I found out these were lies because
he was, in fact, a high school drop-out.
[QFG note: Being a "high-school drop-out" doesn't mean that a person
is NOT a genius. In fact, considering the U.S. education system, it is very
likely that many geniuses WILL drop out due to frustration and boredom.]
Despite their failures, psychopaths have a very,
"narcissistic and grossly inflated view of
their self-worth and importance, a truly astounding egocentricity and
sense of entitlement, and see themselves as the center of the universe,
as superior beings who are justified in living according to their own
They often come across as,
braggarts-self-assured, opinionated, domineering, and cocky. They love
to have power and control over others and seem unable to believe that
people have valid opinions different from theirs. They appear
charismatic or 'electrifying' to some people."
I (Wendy Koenigsmann) know exactly what Hare
means when I recall one person I used to know (who had been diagnosed); he
always seemed to be charming everyone around him, although in the end every
woman who fell for him ended up becoming hostile when they realized all he
had been doing was leading each one on simultaneously.
The psychopath is callous, remorseless, and unempathetic, although at first
glance he may not seem that way. He is often exceedingly witty,
chameleon-like, charming (but not always, especially when not in a "good"
mood), the person who attracts a circle of admirers around him at every
party, but more often that not, he is usually avoided - once people find
out what he's really like.
Psychopaths often end up associating with others like themselves, although
in some cases they don't always get along that well. Sometimes they pair up
with other psychopaths and become a close team, one may be a "talker" while
the other is a "doer," and so forth, although I (Wendy Koenigsmann) strongly
believe that these roles are interchangeable when dealing with a
"As long as their interests are
complimentary, they make a formidable pair."
It has also been reported that some
acquaintances may never really discover their truly dark side.
It is in this realm that the psychopath comes
closest to the psychotic.
While seemingly in full possession of his
reasoning ability, by all the means of clinical psychology to test and
assess them, the psychopath demonstrates an inability to comprehend the
meaning and significance of his behavior for other people, and to judge
their probable reactions to his behavior.
He is often astounded to find that people are
upset by his exploits.
...Histrionic... women are particularly
attracted and vulnerable to psychopathic males. The
hysteric-personality-disordered female is likely to be enamored of the
psychopath... She is able... to reciprocate in this projective-introjective
cycle by predominately idealizing the psychopathic character.
for attachment and dependency complements his desire for detachment and
autonomy; she perceives others as all-giving and benevolent, and he
perceives others as all-taking and malevolent.
The hysterical woman is immune to developing a healthy suspicion when
details or circumstances don't fit (also relating to the illogicity of
his thoughts/behavior) or do not corroborate the psychopath's oral
version of his history.
[From "The Psychopathic Mind" - Origins,
Dynamics, and Treatment J. Reil Meloy]
The real danger about psychopaths is that some
women, in particular, actually have a psychological predisposition towards
forming attachments to them.
They even fall in love with them. These women,
usually of a hysteric or histrionic personality, feel empowered when
attached to the psychopath, regardless of the truth she has been told about
him, or regardless of what he himself has told her. Some of these women have
an underlying fantasy to feel that they are in control with the psychopathic
male (according to Meloy).
At the same time, I (Wendy Koenigsmann) often question whether it's only the
"neurotics" who fall prey to psychopaths.
It should be stated that Freud is
responsible for the entire coinage of neurotic women, which makes me a bit
suspicious. I will present the information, but at the same time, I'm not
agreeing with it completely, because it seems that all women, regardless of
their "neurotic" natures or not, are prey to psychopaths.
We've heard of the extreme cases, such as the women who fell in love with
the Night-Stalker, Richard Ramirez, but in general, you will find
psychopaths in quite innocuous places, and they always know how to spot a
vulnerable woman who will feed their self-image of grandiosity. Of course,
good looks help in these matters. The reason so many women fell in love with
Ramirez, has been speculated, was probably also intensified because of his
brooding, handsome looks and the fact that he could appear vulnerable, "like
a little kid," said one admirer.
Whether or not being able to feel pity and compassion for a male makes a
woman neurotic has yet to be proven.
The truth is, an attractive psychopath is probably more dangerous than a
less attractive one, by all means.
For many women, the attachment to a psychopath goes beyond mere Freudian
analysis - many simply deny the truth, blindly trusting and ignoring
reality. Some, even when presented with the cold hard facts, will still
admit that they cannot stop loving their psychopathic partner, even after
they've been discarded by him.
This problem is both a psychosexual one
(women with personality disorders themselves who become obsessed with
psychopaths), or women who just won't admit to the truth or are ignorant
about the situation. It can even be a combination of all factors.
Regardless, the psychopath knows whom to "choose."
As I (Wendy
Koenigsmann) said, the information regarding "histrionic women"
and "hysterics" as typical victims was taken from the ideas of Meloy, but
does not represent the norm as it were. Anyone can be conned and taken in by
Psychopaths pick on everyone, whether rich or poor, smart or not so bright.
Although it does seem that the mentally ill are more susceptible: the
aforementioned histrionics, etc., as well as victims with borderline
Also, trying to "spot" a psychopath by appearance, as I already noted, is
not easy. As one student of psychopathy told me,
"They often alter their
appearance to appear non- threatening, or to create a persona."
Tim Field, a noted author and researcher of psychopathy, believes
that the psychopath picks out people who can see through him:
"A bully's (sociopath) apparent self-esteem
and self-confidence is actually arrogance, an unsustainable belief of
invulnerability honed from his willingness to act outside the bounds of
society to ensure their survival. Targets (or victims) are people who
can see through the arrogance to perceive the empty shell behind it -
and bullies can sense who can see through them, furthering the target's
This usually happens in the workplace, and in
situations where the psychopath has let his mask drop.
According to the author of The Psychopathic Mind (Meloy), when
needing to manipulate a female, the psychopath often targets women who are
what is often called the "dumb blonde" type, the kind of woman who exudes
na´vetÚ, often unconscious of her own sexuality, vapid innocence, often not
too bright - their personalities usually border on the Pollyanish, and they
always see a silver lining in every cloud.
Not that there is anything
essentially wrong with innocence or optimism, but when dealing with a
psychopath, that can prove a bad combination. Psychopaths seem to be
attracted to this type of woman in particular. She is nurturing and
all-giving, while he is closed-off and retentive.
They have "an uncanny ability to spot and use 'nurturant' women - that is,
those who have a powerful need to help or mother others." [Hare, 149].
As Hare recounts, a particular "nurturance-seeking missile" who had a local
reputation for attracting a steady stream of female visitors seemed to have
"not particularly good-looking or very
interesting to talk to. But he had a certain cherubic quality that some
women, staff included, seemed to find attractive. One woman commented
that she 'always had an urge to cuddle him.' Another said that 'he needs
Psychopaths also like to "attach" to women of
higher social status, a woman who represents what he would like to be. Then
when he is through with her, he can destroy her and "kill two birds with one
However, regardless of what personality type they go after, everyone is
still a target.
Like the narcissist, the psychopath has an arrogant, disdainful, and
patronizing attitude; however, let me make this clear: often in the initial
stages of charming someone new, the true character is kept hidden,
That is why, when a woman warns another woman about a
psychopathic man, his newest victim will not be able to believe the bad
stories about him.
"But he's so charming, so kind, so nice..." and so forth
will be her reply.
Yes. Exactly. He is playing a game with you too.
Psychopaths have a grandiose self-structure which demands "a scornful and
detached devaluation of others" [Gacon et al 1992], in order to ward off
envy toward the good perceived in people. They react towards perceived or
existing attachment capacities with ambivalence and often aggression.
According to Meloy, most of them transfer the attachment to "hard objects"
such as weapons, knives, [magical practices] etc.
The grandiose self is represented onto the
weapon or object and is a projection of themselves. This of course is more
in depth study of the psychopath. Not all psychopaths have a gun collection
or a favorite knife or sword, but a great deal of them do tend to be fond
of weapons and such symbols of aggression and dominance. I'm not sure if
this is true in all cases, but one psychopath I knew loved swords.
He was obsessed with them and loved weapons of
How To Deal With
If you leave the psychopath, you can expect that he will either be the type
who doesn't make any "noise" but ruins your reputation by spreading lies, or
you can expect a lot of open manipulation (a final attempt to gain power and
For example, I left a psychopath, and to this day, if given the opportunity,
he will tell friends to warn me that I am nothing but a "bug" on his
windshield and that he has the ability to destroy me like an insect.
Meanwhile, he has also spread false stories about me to anyone who'll
Why does he do this?
After dealing with this annoying behavior for nearly two years, I've come
to a conclusion: Even though they cannot really love another person, and
lack real deep-seated emotions, psychopaths relate to others through power
and control. If someone should actually attempt to "demean" (in his eyes,
this is very real) his power and control, he will react to some extent.
The psychopath also made himself appear in
control by stating that he "kicked" me out, even though he lived in his
mother's house. Later on, he also told my friend that I was nothing but an
"experiment" to him, after I had lost money, time, and suffered immensely
because of his lying and manipulation. By suffering, I also count extreme
depression which lasted nearly two years, as he did not stop attacking me in
the two years after (even to this day) that I left him.
I believe that some individuals are strong enough to stand up to the
psychopath; unfortunately, not all people are, and most psychopaths succeed
in permanently damaging their victims. This is why we clearly need more
support groups for people who have been in relationships with psychopaths.
In sum, the experience of dealing with a psychopath can be very troubling
for most people, not to mention, when he is through with you, you can be
sure that you will be vilified falsely, no doubt about it. I recently asked
Field about what one can do when faced with the lies of a psychopath (Field
refers to them as sociopaths) and the apparent absence of justice when it
comes to their behavior.
Field's response was:
"The main lesson I have learnt is that when
dealing with a sociopath, the normal rules of etiquette do not apply.
You are dealing with someone who has no empathy, no conscience, no
remorse, and no guilt...It is a completely different mindset. Words like
'predator' and 'evil' are often used."
If you try to deal with psychopaths in an
ethical manner, you will be in for a shock.
Dr. William Higgins claims that
you "can't negotiate or bargain with psychopaths."
Psychopaths will not only deny the past and trivialize it, but will avoid
answering your questions directly, and even if they seem to answer them -
you can be sure that it's not the answer you were looking for. It has been
said that even when they do give you a straight answer, the real issue will
never be addressed by them, although they may even claim to be honorable
when it suits them.
But don't be fooled, for this is where the
psychopath wants his victim - he wants to shame you while at the same time
fitting you into his plans; this is because,
"psychopaths show a stunning lack of concern
for the devastating effects their actions have on others. Often they are
completely forthright about the matter, calmly stating that they no have
no sense of guilt, are not sorry for the pain and destruction they have
caused, and that there is no reason for them to be concerned."
On the other hand,
verbalize remorse but then contradict themselves in words or actions."
Psychopaths may apologize or show remorse only to get away with
something, but in the end you will be stabbed in the back and realize how
very shallow their words were.
The psychopath appears not to be able to remember what they had said or
committed to for very long. They seem to always be living in the present.
That is why they are usually guilty of being big "promise- makers" who
cannot live up to their word.
Once again, it will be the victim who must
deal with the aftermath of all the psychopath's twists and turns, and when
he gets you angry enough, you will be discredited as "defective" by him, and
the psychopath will often make himself out to be the real victim.
As John Wayne Gacy once said,
"I was the victim, I was cheated out of my
What often happens in the aftermath, as Field
has stated, is that the victim may repress his or her anger for a quite a
while, but then, often many months later, a sudden realization of the truth
may come over the individual, and the victim will finally realize that all
along he/she has been bullied by the psychopath.
This is when the victim suddenly becomes very
angry and is motivated to have some sort of justice. But when trying to
obtain justice with a psychopath, be aware that you will be the one to pay
if you don't take a firm stand; the experience will have you more confused
and bewildered, and you may even feel tempted to fight fire with fire.
In some cases, our society allows psychopathy because we do not really fight
back against cheating and lying behaviors (one good example: Bill Clinton).
They are also good at tricking their own psychiatrists.
For instance, two individuals I (Wendy
Koenigsmann) knew bragged that they liked to play mind-games with
"I was the case-study; they could never
figure out what was wrong with me, so I would just play mind-games with
them" commented one of them.
He also learned, from reading about psychiatry
and having therapy, that he could just "blame someone else" to get away with
"I just blame someone else" he said,
When asked, in particular, why he hated his
mother so much, (he claimed she physically/mentally/emotionally abused him),
"Because my mother projects all of the
assholes she's ever been dumped by on me."
That is why Hare believes that therapy makes
psychopaths worse; most of them learn about human emotions through
psychiatry, and they are,
"eager to attribute their faults and
problems to childhood abuse."
"antisocials (psychopaths) themselves can be
uncooperative or unpleasant, complicating efforts to study and treat
As for recovery from the psychopath, despite the
pain that may be left (some people never recover, according to Field), you
will learn how very uncomplicated yet cowardly the psychopath's means of
keeping cool is.
It's just the way the psychopath must function to maintain
their rather fragile (but set in stone for life) self-image.
While few psychopaths commit violent crimes, the callousness of the average
psychopath usually ranges through subtle, but still devastating misdeeds:
"Parasitically bleeding other people of
their possessions, savings, and dignity; aggressively doing and taking
what they want; shamefully neglecting the physical and emotional welfare
of their families; engaging in an unending series of casual, impersonal,
and trivial sexual relationships; and so forth."
This is a main feature of their lack of empathy.
Also, be forewarned that the psychopath will
expend much effort (at the victim's cost), in setting up plans,
expectations, etc., but they give very little, or nothing, in return. When
he knows he's done something to you which you may not comply with, he'll
have an escape route ready. Most normal people do the same thing, in a
general sense, but the psychopath does it out of pure selfishness, greed,
He won't care whether it hurts your feelings or not,
whatever treachery he enacts will not be disguised once the show is over
I (Wendy Koenigsmann) would like to recount the experience of a friend of
mine from Japan. She had been communicating with a man who lived in San
Diego for over a year, and during the time of their correspondences and
phone calls, he seemed so "sweet, caring, and kind." She mentioned how
beautifully written his emails were, and so on.
It came to pass that this man asked my friend to marry him, and, to top it
off, he promised her that he had a job ready for her in the city where he
lived, he even sent her a letter from the company with all the information.
Well, my friend believed him and came to the United States to marry him.
On their first meeting, she mentioned how it was already the beginning of
the end, and how she should have seen it coming. She told him, after they
met at the airport, that she needed to make a phone call, and instead of
letting her use his cell-phone, he told her to use the pay-phone. My friend,
albeit naive, mentioned that this contradicted his persona on the phone and
through emails. She said she was a bit shocked, but nevertheless she married
As the weeks went by, things got worse. She found out that there was no job,
and that the letter he had sent her was actually just the letterhead from
the company copied onto another paper. In other words, her new husband had
committed forgery in order to trick her.
Next, she began to receive phone calls from women in the Philippines and
Canada who told her that her new husband had been inviting them (via online)
to come and live with him. My friend was so distraught that she told these
women over and over that he was lying to all of them while playing the
biggest trick of all on her.
The women didn't believe it (why do women tend
to disbelieve another woman when they are trying to warn them?), but
eventually, my friend told them,
"If you want to see the proof that I am
married to him, then come here and I will prove it."
Eventually, she learned from friends and family
that Mr. Wonderful was a pathological liar who had a long history of using
women and having his mother cover his tracks for him, and, sad to say, this
wasn't the only one she ran into.
I can say the same, that is why I've written
this website, (Wendy
Koenigsmann) because I can tell you that these people
are out there, and I don't want anything to happen to anyone else or go
through what my friend or myself have experienced. It is my goal that
through my website, more people, not only women, but men, will become
informed and not become victims themselves, because it is truly a painful
experience to deal with.
So, what is the lowdown on dealing with psychopaths?
Either avoid them, or, once you know or suspect what they are, avoid them.
Any further contact with a psychopath will be truly damaging. Once you have
been involved with a few of them, like many people I know, you also learn to
watch for the "red flags." This doesn't mean you should be paranoid about
people, just careful.
The fact is, regardless of all studies and new therapies, psychopaths are
"hard-wired" for life-long bad behavior.
Leland M. Heller, M.D., writes that
people who have this disorder have symptoms which include lying, cheating,
cruelty, criminal behavior, irresponsibility, lack of remorse, poor
relationships, exploitation, manipulation, destructiveness, irritability,
aggressiveness, and job failures. Many do not exhibit criminal behavior, but
act antisocially in socially acceptable professions.
Alcohol makes the disorder worse, and psychopaths are very prone to
The causes are often,
"poor parental discipline, association with
"bad" kids, and poor bonding with parents..."
But the causes can also be mostly biological.
Another characteristic is their unusual word usage, because they can't
distinguish between neutral and emotional words. One psychopathic individual
told me that he was "deftly afraid of needles" once, but the word deftly
implies "skill." Instead of saying "deathly afraid," he said "deftly," and
never noticed it was wrong. (See Hare's book for more interesting examples
Strangely enough, many find the psychopath's verbal deftness quite charming,
and psychopaths do tend to talk a lot, especially when they're pouring on
The question is, can you spot one before they get to you?
That is why it's important to study whether or not you may be the type who
falls for them, who, in essence, becomes prey to believing in them. Some
people may find concern over psychopathy irrelevant, but it's not.
Psychopathy causes tremendous damage in our society, and affects all levels
of our lives. It causes illnesses and disorders such as
PTSD (post traumatic
Money is also lost by innocent victims to psychopaths, and
these social predators also do much economic damage to our society.
Everyone, especially women, should learn to identify psychopathy and watch
for red flags. This doesn't mean diagnosing every man you date, but
preferably just being aware of the disorder can help out a lot! After my own
experiences, I truly believe in the saying "better safe than sorry."
I will emphasize once more that I do believe most women transfer what they
want to believe onto the psychopath, to the extent that he is painted in an
unrealistic light, so psychopaths can also "play with your mind" in this
regard. Most victims of the psychopath only see what they want to see,
That is why Field says,
"Na´vetÚ is the great
"cling to the belief that their loved one
(the psychopath) simply has a few problems just like anyone else, not
the symptoms of a personality disorder."
In the book
When Your Lover Is a Liar the issue
of psychopathy and how psychopaths manipulate women is also pointed out.
author believes that a psychopath's greatest thrill is just being able to
"pull the wool" over a woman's eyes. For people who are emotionally normal,
we cannot understand what kind of thrill this is or why some of them would
go to such lengths in order to trick someone.
But as Dr. Heller states,
"psychopaths feel no remorse, and actually
enjoy their antisocial behavior."
Also, what I believe makes them most dangerous,
is that they can be quite charming and persuasive, and "they have remarkably
good insight into the needs and weaknesses of other people" as recounted in
the text, Psychology In Action:
"Even when they are indifferent to the
rights of their associates, they are often able to inspire feelings of
trust and confidence."
This is best exemplified by a psychopath who
professes that "everything is fine" while lying point-blank to your face
with seeming honesty and candor, and then, as soon as you turn away for a
second, he will stab you in the back.
In the end, you will know them "by their fruits" so to speak. They will be
sure to let you know who's boss. As one female victim recounted in Hare's
book Without Conscience... she couldn't understand how someone (the
psychopath she had known) could have wormed his way into her life and then
just disappeared so easily. This is how they operate. They just don't give a
damn about anyone. Except themselves.
Another very strong characteristic to look for (or listen for) is what Dr.
Hare refers to as "duping delight." It is as if the psychopath has no need
to lie or purpose in lying, the pleasure is attained through merely pulling
one over on somebody.
As for addictions and so forth, "among the clearest of these links is the
one between ASP (psychopathy) and the abuse of alcohol and other drugs,"
[Black, 91], although most psychopaths would never admit they have a
drinking problem, even when it's obvious.
As one psychopath put it,
"I know how to drink. Drinking is a
responsibility, I've been doing it since I was 12."
So, once again: Can psychopaths change? Can you
change them? No, they choose to behave as they do, even though, to some
extent they do have a personality disorder.
Dr. Black, however, believes that even those
"show the greatest change seem unable to
comprehend the degree to which their actions affected those around them.
They may continue to live in emotional isolation.
Self-interest is a
natural component of the human makeup, but it is especially strong in antisocials and leaves many of them unable to develop full compassion,
conscience, and other attributes that make for successful social
"Don't Expect A
In consequence, whether or not they can't or don't desire to change, studies
have shown that they won't change, in general, so don't waste your time
trying to help or change them, for the help you offer will always be repaid
to you in full by treachery.
Black also believes that,
"victims may fear revenge or other potential
consequences, but leaving the abusive situation (with a psychopath) is
often better than trying to survive in a relationship built on
intimidation and violence."
Personally, I also believe that it's better to
not accept meager crumbs of fake affection from a psychopath.
No one needs
that kind of abuse. If you keep taking that abuse, I can grant you that you
will pay for it both mentally and emotionally, for a very long time. The end
result is what is referred to as having been psychologically battered.
Some people, feeling that they need to save others (co-dependents), and
perhaps a bit proud in their need to prove a point, often fall prey to
psychopaths because they refuse to believe the truth. I also wanted to make
note that some psychopaths appear to show some insight into their own
personality make-up ("I'm a jerk," etc.); however, this does not really mean
that they care how they behave.
They choose to behave this way.
The aftermath of dealing with these individuals and the recovery process can
be a "long, slow and painful process" according to Field - but one must
remember that if you have been a victim (target) you are only the,
"latest in a long line of people onto whom
he (the psychopath) had to displace his aggression. He will probably do
this throughout his life." Sad to say, "antisocials (psychopaths) often
spend their last years alone, sometimes plagued by regret for what they
never knew they were missing until it was too late."
Do I find this a sad fact? Yes.
It is very sad
and I find it extremely unfortunate that there are people who live their
lives this way. But like I mentioned before, as I cannot emphasize this
enough: no matter how much pity or compassion you may have for a
psychopathic individual, don't try "saving" them. It will only hurt you in
As my friend from Japan stated,
"(These people) just don't care whether what
they do may ruin your life! They can ruin your life!"
Cleckley's original list of
symptoms of a psychopath
Considerable superficial charm and
average or above average intelligence.
Absence of delusions and other signs of
Absence of anxiety or other "neurotic"
symptoms considerable poise, calmness, and verbal facility.
Unreliability, disregard for obligations
no sense of responsibility, in matters of little and great import.
Untruthfulness and insincerity
Antisocial behavior which is
inadequately motivated and poorly planned, seeming to stem from an
Inadequately motivated antisocial
Poor judgment and failure to learn from
Pathological egocentricity. Total
self-centeredness incapacity for real love and attachment.
General poverty of deep and lasting
Lack of any true insight, inability to
see oneself as others do.
Ingratitude for any special
considerations, kindness, and trust.
Fantastic and objectionable behavior,
after drinking and sometimes even when not drinking-vulgarity,
rudeness, quick mood shifts, pranks.
No history of genuine suicide attempts.
An impersonal, trivial, and poorly
integrated sex life.
Failure to have a life plan and to live
in any ordered way, unless it be one promoting self-defeat.
"...More often than not, the typical
psychopath will seem particularly agreeable and make a distinctly
positive impression when he is first encountered. Alert and friendly in
his attitude, he is easy to talk with and seems to have a good many
genuine interests. There is nothing at all odd or queer about him, and
in every respect he tends to embody the concept of a well-adjusted,
Nor does he, on the other hand, seem to be artificially
exerting himself like one who is covering up or who wants to sell you a
bill of goods. He would seldom be confused with the professional
backslapper or someone who is trying to ingratiate himself for a
concealed purpose. Signs of affectation or excessive affability are not
He looks like the real thing.
"Very often indications of good sense and sound reasoning will emerge,
and one is likely to feel soon after meeting him that this normal and
pleasant person is also one with -high abilities. Psychometric tests
also very frequently show him of superior intelligence.
More than the
average person, he is likely to seem free from social or emotional
impediments, from the minor distortions, peculiarities, and awkwardnesses so common even among the successful. Such superficial
characteristics are not universal in this group but they are very
"...It must be granted of course that the psychopath has some affect.
Affect is, perhaps, a component in the sum of life reactions even in the
unicellular protoplasmic entity. Certainly in all mammals it is obvious.
The relatively petty states of pleasure, vexation, and animosity
experienced by the psychopath have been mentioned.
The opinion here
maintained is that he fails to know all those more serious and deeply
moving affective states which make up the tragedy and triumph of
ordinary life, of life at the level of important human experience..."
GLIB and SUPERFICIAL CHARM - the
tendency to be smooth, engaging, charming, slick, and verbally
facile. Psychopathic charm is not in the least shy, self-conscious,
or afraid to say anything. A psychopath never gets tongue-tied. They
have freed themselves from the social conventions about taking turns
in talking, for example.
GRANDIOSE SELF-WORTH - a grossly
inflated view of one's abilities and self-worth, self-assured,
opinionated, cocky, a braggart. Psychopaths are arrogant people who
believe they are superior human beings.
NEED FOR STIMULATION or PRONENESS TO
BOREDOM - an excessive need for novel, thrilling, and exciting
stimulation; taking chances and doing things that are risky.
Psychopaths often have a low self-discipline in carrying tasks
through to completion because they get bored easily. They fail to
work at the same job for any length of time, for example, or to
finish tasks that they consider dull or routine.
PATHOLOGICAL LYING - can be moderate or
high; in moderate form, they will be shrewd, crafty, cunning, sly,
and clever; in extreme form, they will be deceptive, deceitful,
underhanded, unscrupulous, manipulative, and dishonest.
CONNING AND MANIPULATIVENESS - the use of
deceit and deception to cheat, con, or defraud others for personal
gain; distinguished from Item #4 in the degree to which exploitation
and callous ruthlessness is present, as reflected in a lack of
concern for the feelings and suffering of one's victims.
LACK OF REMORSE OR GUILT - a lack of
feelings or concern for the losses, pain, and suffering of victims;
a tendency to be unconcerned, dispassionate, coldhearted, and unempathic. This item is usually demonstrated by a disdain for one's
SHALLOW AFFECT - emotional poverty or a
limited range or depth of feelings; interpersonal coldness in spite
of signs of open gregariousness.
CALLOUSNESS and LACK OF EMPATHY - a
lack of feelings toward people in general; cold, contemptuous,
inconsiderate, and tactless.
PARASITIC LIFESTYLE - an intentional,
manipulative, selfish, and exploitative financial dependence on
others as reflected in a lack of motivation, low self-discipline,
and inability to begin or complete responsibilities.
POOR BEHAVIORAL CONTROLS - expressions
of irritability, annoyance, impatience, threats, aggression, and
verbal abuse; inadequate control of anger and temper; acting
PROMISCUOUS SEXUAL BEHAVIOR - a variety
of brief, superficial relations, numerous affairs, and an
indiscriminate selection of sexual partners; the maintenance of
several relationships at the same time; a history of attempts to
sexually coerce others into sexual activity or taking great pride at
discussing sexual exploits or conquests.
EARLY BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS - a variety of
behaviors prior to age 13, including lying, theft, cheating,
vandalism, bullying, sexual activity, fire-setting, glue-sniffing,
alcohol use, and running away from home.
LACK OF REALISTIC, LONG-TERM GOALS - an
inability or persistent failure to develop and execute long-term
plans and goals; a nomadic existence, aimless, lacking direction in
IMPULSIVITY - the occurrence of
behaviors that are unpremeditated and lack reflection or planning;
inability to resist temptation, frustrations, and urges; a lack of
deliberation without considering the consequences; foolhardy, rash,
unpredictable, erratic, and reckless.
IRRESPONSIBILITY - repeated failure to
fulfill or honor obligations and commitments; such as not paying
bills, defaulting on loans, performing sloppy work, being absent or
late to work, failing to honor contractual agreements.
FAILURE TO ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR OWN
ACTIONS - a failure to accept responsibility for one's actions
reflected in low conscientiousness, an absence of dutifulness,
antagonistic manipulation, denial of responsibility, and an effort
to manipulate others through this denial.
MANY SHORT-TERM MARITAL RELATIONSHIPS -
a lack of commitment to a long-term relationship reflected in
inconsistent, undependable, and unreliable commitments in life,
JUVENILE DELINQUENCY - behavior
problems between the ages of 13-18; mostly behaviors that are crimes
or clearly involve aspects of antagonism, exploitation, aggression,
manipulation, or a callous, ruthless tough-mindedness.
REVOCATION OF CONDITION RELEASE - a
revocation of probation or other conditional release due to
technical violations, such as carelessness, low deliberation, or
failing to appear.
CRIMINAL VERSATILITY - a diversity of
types of criminal offenses, regardless if the person has been
arrested or convicted for them; taking great pride at getting away
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