December 2, 2008

Psychopaths Are Charming?

Reader feedback appreciated.

I recently wrote about an article on the neuroimaging of psychopaths in The New Yorker, and something else just occurred to me.

It struck me that in almost every lay description of a psychopath, the word "charming" is inevitably used.  (In The New Yorker piece, it appears four times.) There is an almost mandatory reference to how seductive, or affable, or personable, or-- charming-- the psychopath is, that always follows the initial description of their criminality or evil.  Something along the lines of, "if you're not on guard, if you're just talking to them, you can't help but be sucked in."  As The New Yorker describes,

The psychopath talks "entertainingly," Cleckley explained, and is "brilliant and charming," but nonetheless "carries disaster lightly in each hand."
What's surprising about this description (to me) is how wrong it is.  Quick example: on Google "psychopathy AND charming" gets 80k hits; on Pubmed it gets zero.  In fact, to make the broadest generalization possible-- humor me for a minute-- it applies mostly to women.  Men,  in the presence of a psychopath, are not charmed, they're infuriated.  You don't want to hear their crap, you want to stab them in the eye.  It's unusual to find a man who is fascinated enough by psychopaths, serial killers, and the like, to record every Discovery Channel special on them; and the few that do are the type you figure to be a wedgie away from going Zodiac at the frat house.  But there are plenty of young women are completely fascinated by them, watch all the TV shows, read the articles, etc. 

Since I have no data on the male perspective on a psychopath's charm (or lack of it) I'll speak for myself, and I'm curious to know if it resonates with other people: psychopaths are an endless stream of words. They talk, they talk around, they talk around and around the actual point; they don't open up with "I need something from you" but drown you in endless, pointless but seemingly earnest talk about other things that somehow, in their mind, apply to the current problem.  In a word, it is all bullshit.  You know it's bullshit, but civility, or insecurity, force you to sit there and listen.  It wears you down (which is the point), so that after all the "and my brother then..." and "but she told me that..." "He told me it would be okay if..." he finally asks you for "this really big favor" you are more inclined to give in.   When I do an eval for a criminal trial, getting the truth out of one of these guys is painful to the point of euthanasia.  They don't even lie directly to you, they overwhelm you with distractions, red herrings, sleight of hand, you ask, "what time did you get to the house?" and for the next twenty minutes, you never hear the words "time" or house" come out of their mouth.

None of that is charming, or engaging, or even slightly interesting to me.

Yet-- and by example here's one woman quoted in the article--

"He had killed his girlfriend because he thought she was cheating on him," she told me. "He was so charming about telling it that I found it hard not to fall into laughing along in surprise, even when he was describing awful thing," [said Carla] Harenski, who is thirty...
Here's an example from Robert Hare himself:

One of my raters described an interview she did with a prisoner: "I sat down and took out my clipboard," she said, "and the first thing this guy told me was what beautiful eyes I had. He managed to work quite a few compliments on my appearance into the interview, so by the time I wrapped things up, I was feeling unusually... well, pretty. I'm a wary person, especially on the job, and can usually spot a phony. When I got back outside, I couldn't believe I'd fallen for a line like that."

I can see the easy explanation: these women are more easily manipulated, especially because the charm carries a sexual connotation.  There's a power differential-- some of the fear is processed sexually, etc. Summary: the women don't see what's really in the psychopath.

But that doesn't seem right; these women aren't stupid; they've been around, and even on some level they must know the guy is bad news.  So what if these women who are charmed see something in psychopaths everyone else doesn't?  Are they detecting something good, or at least attractive, that I for one can't see?

Here's an example: psychopaths don't have empathy, but more specifically they don't understand other people's emotions.  As the article points out, they interpret emotions linguistically, not emotionally.  They know the word <sadness>, and the other words that explain or go with <sadness>, but they don't feel it.   Perhaps emotional inability is made up for by a better linguisitic processing ability, such that they know/intuit better than most what to say to women, while non-psychopaths find themselves acutely aware of their emotions,  but are unable to express them (e.g. are shy.)

Maybe women who are charmed by such men see them less as people and more as stories?  Do women who find psychopaths charming also read more novels?  Do these women have a common interest in certain types of books or movies?  Etc.

Maybe I ormen can't sense the "charming" because men are immediately on the defensive because they sense a rival, or alpha male, etc?

This can be flipped around: we know psychopaths are manipulative, but it would be very interesting to find out how easily manipulated they are.  Under what circumstances?  Is it easier to trick them with money, numbers, logic, pictures?  Do they fall for magic, optical illusions?  Is it easier for a woman to seduce them, to manipulate them?  Are they an easier mark for a con man?

How do you con a con man?

Addendum 12/8/08: a clarification on this post.


A lot of what your describi... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2008 10:57 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

A lot of what your describing matches exactly what I observed when my mother dated a physically abusive man. She is an incredibly strong and smart woman, but she took him back after the first time. When she recalls those days, she says she has no idea what she was thinking staying with him as long as she did. He was like a con man, he had an excuse or story for every transgression or outburst. They would talk for hours and hours on end during both the happy courting phase and the later abusive stages of the relationship.

The one argument I got into with him(regarding my behavior while visiting them) I gave up after 15 minutes because he was talking in circles. I packed my bag and cut the visit short.

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What you're looking at (ind... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2008 11:10 AM | Posted by nohope: | Reply

What you're looking at (indirectly) is CHARISMA. If I understand the pathology at all, as a layperson - psychopaths don't have the same insecurities, anxieties, or fears that normal people have. Without empathy, there's nothing giving them any reservations or hesitation in their performance. That kind of charisma is found in two places: either in legitimately secure, successful, adroit men (earned charisma); or, alternately, empty, pathological charisma.

Charisma is extremely important in mating. Physical beauty is similar - it's a bunch of markers which we react to regardless of why they're there or what they mean. Charisma is like a big pair of tits. Distracting...and also, irrelevant to someone's underlying character.

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As far as I'm aware, with a... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2008 11:29 AM | Posted by Fargo: | Reply

As far as I'm aware, with any certainty, I've never met an actual psychopath. I mean, normally I don't sit there going "Is Fred a psychopath? I better take some notes". That said, one of my very first roommates was probably pretty close to the mark. At the very least he was a compulsive liar, certainly seemed to mostly be going through the motions when it came to emotional interactions, never displayed any sort of remorse when he hurt someone, and was constantly talking about nothing. He began courting one of my very close friends, and she was obviously taking the bait. So I told her about his seemingly compulsive lying and how bad an idea this all seemed. A little later he asks to speak to me, and asks me why I would tell her that he's a liar, to which I had to reply "Well, because you are." which set off an interminable barrage of nonsense patter from him. Finally I just left, it was that or throw him through the crappy walls of the apartment. Naturally they went out for a while, and it ended badly.

So yeah, I can't say I ever found him charming. Typically I got along with him, mostly by totally ignoring him. The same way you might put up with an irritating co-worker. My friend obviously felt different, and I think it was the constant flattering patter that played on her insecurities. His approaching her triggered animosity in me, for sure, and it was undoubtedly the whole alpha male thing, since she was a close friend and an attractive female.

As for other males, I recall him snaring one or two into being sort of subservient to him. Again by playing on insecurity, sort of a "You're weak, but I'm strong, so stick with me and reap some benefits" approach.

You know that guy that built the grizzly suit? I saw a documentary about his retard exploits, and that guy reminded me a lot of this guy.

Anyway, that's my "he was probably a psychopath" story.

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There appears to be an unde... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2008 11:38 AM | Posted by La BellaDonna: | Reply

There appears to be an underlying assumption in your post. I read it carefully, and didn't read ONE SINGLE WORD that suggested that psychopaths could also be female. Not ONE WORD about how susceptible you, or any other man, might be to FEMALE PSYCHOPATHS. I've met more than a few in my time, and the havoc they wrought was appalling. Men AND women appear to have no trouble swallowing their bullshit.

So, when you reference psychopaths and male and female responses to them, why is it that you phrased it as if the only psychopaths one might run into are male? There's nothing in your post to lead one to believe that you were intending to discuss male psychopaths only, and the reactions of men and women to them.

I will say that I have also seen men snowed by male psychopaths; you may have run into some singularly inept ones.

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Got to admit that La BellaD... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2008 12:00 PM | Posted by Pete: | Reply

Got to admit that La BellaDonna has a point.

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From my personal experience... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2008 12:07 PM | Posted by Facetious: | Reply

From my personal experience, I'd say that so many women are psychopaths that nobody bothers to bring it up anymore.

Manipulation: Check
Talking in circles to avoid direct answers: Check

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awesome post.i als... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2008 12:38 PM | Posted by the0ther: | Reply

awesome post.

i also sort of agree with La BellaDonna, although the way i see it is that men show a greater variation in all traits, more men at the tail ends of the bell curve.

so naturally you'd not mention female psychopaths! there just are so many more male psychopaths out there.

but...when you do run across a female psychopath, they are potentially even scarier than the male psychos.

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Perhaps there is some corre... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2008 12:52 PM | Posted by George: | Reply

Perhaps there is some correlation between the consumption of psychopaths as stories, and the women who become rather obsessed with the vampire genre and mythos.

Look at the story presented within "Bram Stoker's Dracula" itself.. Nina falls for the (ahem) charming Count, while the men in her life see the violence he represents and must rescue her from his clutches. She was able to love the "bad boy," and also be rescued by the "hero."

And on a side note, even Adolf Hitler had an Eva Braun.

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Eva Braun seems to correspo... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2008 1:15 PM | Posted by La BellaDonna: | Reply

Eva Braun seems to correspond more closely to the sort of woman who would write proposals to Ted Bundy; from what I've read, she seemed to be close to nil in personality herself. Her most outstanding features appeared to be a striking degree of athleticism, and an obsessive attachment to Hitler; not much else. She watched movies, she bought clothes, she worked out, she was distraught that he didn't spend more time with her. There doesn't appear to be any indication of the charm or manipulative behavior usually associated with psychopaths.

From what I've read, it appears as if about 4% of the population has character traits that put them in the "psychopath" sector, and it seems to be pretty evenly divided between male and female. I found "The Sociopath Next Door" by Martha Stout both horrifying and enlightening, and it certainly seemed borne out by my own experiences. Just to make myself clear, Last, I enjoy your posts very much indeed; the emphasis in my first comment was primarily because I usually find those posts thoughtful and balanced, and I didn't know why this one seemed to be so slanted.

theOther: I think ... it depends, really. There's a lot of personal misery wrought by female psychopaths who are parents, especially since women are often primary caretakers; ditto for women who are teachers and nurses, who are also psychopaths. But historically, men have been in positions of greater power, in addition to simply having greater physical strength, so the harm they can cause is greater still. Psychopaths who run business (I'm looking at you, ENRON), doctors, college professors, world leaders - and fathers, of course.

Facetious, the behaviour you describe is absolutely what I'd expect in a female psychopath - in a male one, too.

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I think you explained a lar... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2008 1:44 PM | Posted by David: | Reply

I think you explained a large chunk of it in terms of processing the power differential, the fear, sexually. I also think there's something to be mined from the interrelationship between battered women and their partners.

To get more into the dynamics of what might be occurring ... it would be worthwhile to interview men who have been battered and continue in the same relationship ... as well as men who express their sexuality through D/S relationships with strangers.

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Your description of the con... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2008 2:54 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Your description of the conversational style of psychopaths ("pointless but seemingly earnest talk about other things") is very similar to the kind of social conversations women have on their cell phones. Perhaps women are more vulnerable to male psychopaths because they speak vaguely similar languages.

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I think the charisma is a h... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2008 3:24 PM | Posted by Roger: | Reply

I think the charisma is a huge point. For women, confidence is an attractive thing. Psychopaths have have little in the way of emotions, thus no fear. For men, sexual attractiveness comes more from physical attributes, but there may be some attraction in a female psychopath's willingness to do sexual favors that other women wouldn't do(Always hear guys talk about the crazy ones being more fun in bed). For a female psychopath, sex is a physical act with no emotion, probably more akin to a stage performance than an act of love.

Taking a page from another common topic here. Narcissim. I would guess it is a safe bet that a lot of psychopaths are also NDP, largely due to the common factor of not feeling guilt. But this will effect men and women differently due to shame. Now it is possible that a psychopath feels no shame, I doubt it. Otherwise they simple wouldn't care about anything anyone else did.

Shame comes from external factors, thus shame is an attempt to act on societies values. Those values are different for men and women, thus a male psychopath acts out on what they seem as the male way(physical violence), while the women psychopaths tend to act out their parts in the female way(emotional violence). Perhaps this why male psychopaths kill while female psychopaths merely drive people to commit suicide(thinking of the recent Myspace suicide case).

Both are seeking to redress some real or imagined wrong. The difference is in methodology. Not that you don't have women who act more like men and vice versa, but psychopaths are just playing the part that society has created for them.

In closing, I would say that their goal oriented manipulative nature means that a psychopath can be charming if they understand their subject and they want to be charming. They are trying to tell you what you want to hear, the rest is a matter of if they actually understand you well enough to know what you want to hear.

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Is bullshit or 'pointless b... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2008 3:52 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Is bullshit or 'pointless but seemingly earnest talk about other things' that immediately flaggable? The example given only shows up the conversational style as 'bullshit' because it's a direct question, but in a party or social gathering where the subject meanders in and out of purposes isn't 'pointless but seemingly earnest talk' par for the course? Charisma or charm whether earnt or projected is likewise more easily circulated without raising any alpha male alarms. Ultimately, if pyschopaths supply a patter equivalent to charm perhaps it only falls apart when introduced to high stakes demands (asking the criminal 'what time did you leave the house?'), in everyday social settings where little is vested in demands patter is charm, as are pyschos.

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"Perhaps women are more vul... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2008 4:30 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

"Perhaps women are more vulnerable to male psychopaths because they speak vaguely similar languages."

Golden words worth repeating.

--Another comment: with some of these personality disorders, we pay attn to successful ones; ther are also unsuccessful sociopaths, borderlines, narcissists. They simply annoy us and we move on. They don't intrigue us because they generally don't get away with any astonishing things such as dating intelligent, sucecssful, attractice people or craftily cultivating some entire business plan until it has to crumble under the sheer extensiveness of folly.

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It is very easy to con a co... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2008 5:31 PM | Posted by Luis Diaz: | Reply

It is very easy to con a con man, because they are the ones that are always looking for the easy way out. Have you ever heard of the saying "You can't cheat an honest man"? It is very true because if you give an honest man a deal that's "too good to be true", he'd see it right away, where as a con man would just see it as a "really good deal".

checkout this website for some very good info:

Also I really like your writings. Thank you and keep it up.

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A lot of the content in you... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2008 7:43 PM | Posted by S. B. : | Reply

A lot of the content in your post led me to think of "The Game" by Neil Strauss, and how "Charm" or incessant babbling with made up exaggerated stories (and pointless tricks) anecdotally worked with women. And, I agree, this "Charm" quality is more an indication of Bullshit for guys.

"The Game" - Charm, manipulation, and narcissism all in one.

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I have just recently seen T... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2008 8:42 PM | Posted by Jack Coupal: | Reply

I have just recently seen The Dark Knight movie.

From reading the discussion above, I think Heath Ledger playing The Joker must have done a lot of studying about psychopaths before taking on the role.

Fortunately for moviegoers, his character is given a LOT of dialogue. It is circuitous, charming, frightening, and just plain freaky.

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This is a very interesting ... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2008 9:04 PM | Posted by Esther: | Reply

This is a very interesting post. I have often noticed that many people seem unable to see through the BS propagated by people who might be psychopaths (I'm just guessing on most of the ones I've met which is a pretty low number). It took me a few years and a really bad experience to learn to see through people who could be considered psychopaths. Now, if I meet someone and the person immediately knows exactly the right thing to say and flatters me before he or she knows me (or pretends to know me better than I know myself) then I tend to run the other way. I think for a lot of people it's an inexperience issue. Also, you have to be around someone an awful lot to realize they are a psychopath. If you just see them every so often and have only a few conversations it's probably not that obvious. Since most people assess others more by looks and presentation it might be difficult to pick up on some of the things that typify a psychopath.

I would also add that some of the most blatant examples of psychopaths whom I have met were women.

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I don't like this storytell... (Below threshold)

December 3, 2008 12:41 AM | Posted by Anonymous Hero: | Reply

I don't like this storytelling approach to medicine. It seems to proceed like this: first a doctor tells a story, then s/he allows that story to inform how s/he treats hir patients; then diagonostic and treatment guidelines are developed on the basis of a story. If medicine and particularly psychiatry want to be sciences then they need to evaluate evidence not just tell beautiful stories.

So far as I can tell, the belief that gender was of social and not biological origin was the product of storytelling and look how well that turned out. See eg, David Reimber.

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well...the only psychopath ... (Below threshold)

December 3, 2008 2:05 AM | Posted by Gianna: | Reply

well...the only psychopath I can think of clearly right now, though I've encountered many in my work, was a man who was my boss when I was 16 years old.

He tried to seduce me by telling me tales of drug dealing and being a hit man. Though I was young, I do not believe he was making these stories up.

He was my boss and so for awhile in my young naivete I put up with his stories and tried to convince myself they were interesting and that he was not dangerous anymore or at least not to me...

Ultimately the moment he touched me I freaked out...left the job on the spot and never told anyone why I quit. I was NOT charmed. He repelled me and disgusted me, but I do have to say he did intrigue me for a while.

I didn't tell anyone about him for several years. I was afraid he would come and get me.

Beyond Meds

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The first guy I ever kissed... (Below threshold)

December 3, 2008 2:15 AM | Posted by demodenise: | Reply

The first guy I ever kissed was a psychopath. Really. Over the course of 30 days, he managed to date me (and three of my friends) *while committed to a psychiatric unit.* I mean, he started dating us before he got committed, but he had us all visit on different days and told us not to tell each other about the "relationship." He also told each of us wildly different stories about his "past."

The fact that we were all also 14 and boy-crazy may have had something to do with it. At least, that's what I like to tell myself.

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I dated someone that is pro... (Below threshold)

December 3, 2008 6:39 AM | Posted by Lexi: | Reply

I dated someone that is probably a sociopath, but we only went out 4 times. This was 4 years ago. First, he tried to get me to bond with him by fabricating a similarity that he and I shared, which I was willing to consider even though it didn't feel like it fit. Then, he tried to instruct me on how to see him by the way he told stories and the role he gave himself in the story and the amount of inner conflict he claimed to have. Oh what a good guy. Barf.

The fourth date was a cocktail party I had at my house. Then I caught him in a lie about what he told one of his friends to try with my semi drunk female roommate (which is never cool). That was the last time I saw him. I told him over the phone that I didn't want to see him anymore. He asked why, I said "Something about you rubs me the wrong way and I'm going to trust my gut" and he said "I'm sorry I make you feel bad about yourself" and I said "That's not what I said, but it is an example of what I meant."

1 out of hundreds of dates isn't bad.

My guy friends that I don't yet consider to be men didn't see a problem with his behavior, but my male friend that I consider to be a real man, instantly validated my "off" feeling. But by the time I got their feedback it was too late for the dude.

He contacted me a few times after. The first I responded to, he wanted to send me something he had written because I was the only intelligent person he knew (I knew that wasn't true, and even if it was, hello, internet, find someone else). I declined and ignored all other of his attempts to contact me. It has been about a year and a half since his last contact attempt.

As for men . . . I know a lot of men that fall for borderlines and their bullshit. Really annoying to watch too. It's almost like they are communicating in the same fantasy land. As if their existence helps the guy fulfill a fantasy about being a hero, a real man. How can men be so susceptible to their bullshit? ;)

Luckily for all people, there are healthy people out there, you have to be willing to focus on them, and not discard them because they are 'boring' compared to the nuts.

Yay LaBellaDona! loved everything you wrote. And sociopath next door was a great book.

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Roger,A sociopath ... (Below threshold)

December 3, 2008 6:43 AM | Posted by Lexi: | Reply


A sociopath feels no shame. I recommend "The Sociopath Next Door" as it also differentiates between NPD and sociopathy. As well as give examples of female and male sociopath behavior.

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Tops and bottoms tend to en... (Below threshold)

December 3, 2008 8:48 AM | Posted by Dr Benway: | Reply

Tops and bottoms tend to enjoy each other's company.

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Dr. Benway, I'm not disputi... (Below threshold)

December 3, 2008 10:55 AM | Posted by La BellaDonna: | Reply

Dr. Benway, I'm not disputing your assertion, since the thing speaks for itself; but I'd be interested to know what bearing it has on the subject being discussed. To my knowledge, neither dominant nor submissive sexual behaviour has any particular bearing on psychopathy. As far as I know, the behaviours are not mutually exclusive; that is, it is possible for a psychopath to be sexually submissive OR dominant - but again, it has no bearing on the subject under discussion.

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Ew. I once interviewed a re... (Below threshold)

December 3, 2008 12:18 PM | Posted by s: | Reply

Ew. I once interviewed a real psychopath in the ER (I didn't know at the time and only realized the diagnosis after, when I thought about it) and he was the creepiest guy ever. Sure, he tried all that bullshit, but also openly admitting raping his 8 year old sister (yes, with a smile that I suppose in a totally different circumstance in a parallel universe could be called charming), beating people, etc, with no distress. Yet he also described having no trouble finding women to sleep with him - mostly high school girls. I have no idea what could have been attractive about him except a manipulative demeanor, that was, at times, superficially pleasant.

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The first time I felt for i... (Below threshold)

December 3, 2008 12:50 PM | Posted by Trei: | Reply

The first time I felt for it, I was 14, and he was magical. But something was off, so I pushed him away. I met him again and my pride got me - the pride and foolishness of a 1st year Psychology student. I knew what he was, but I could also "see" how frail he was deep inside, how 'human' - and "I believed I could've saved him" or that “I was special to him somehow”. As a psychologist :-), I was supposed to understand and heal, somehow - or so I thought. Or needed to think.

I over-evaluated myself. I thought I could handle him. Luckily, the magic broke off when I watched him do the exact same things with another woman. The same gestures, that same look in his eyes. Her confusion and eventual heartache. His continuing towards me as if none of her really meant anything. That’s when my emotions caught up with my head.

I met the 2nd one when I was 26, 2 months into graduating my masters. He was too good to be true, so my guards were up from the moment we met. I had learnt my lesson, I thought. Saving him was bullshit – but with all the things I had learnt, much of him made no sense to me whatsoever. And that was the trap I fell into – why was he like this? Was he born into it? What had made him that way? What were the motives behind his actions? Did he have any weaknesses? Did he care about anything in the world? Could he? Surely, I though, there must be an explanation.

I don't 'read novels' and most films I watch are detective stories. But it's not the 'story' – it’s the mystery; and it's the promise of humanity somewhere deep in there, despite all the evidence. If you prefer, it was my need to believe that there’s no such thing as pure, unexplainable ‘evil’; that monsters have a soul. And his finding me was his chance, or his need for help. No one meets a psychologist by chance, right?

Of course, to them, that must've made me a challenge. No2 made me stress that I could not read his mind. LOL He actually enjoyed that.

my IQ is over 150, and no, I'm not stupid, nor gullible. I was fully aware and 'informed' each time. Each of them was a challenge for me – an emotional one.

How do you solve a puzzle when you can’t see the pieces?

From what I've noticed, you're right about them not feeling emotions, but being great at talking them. I can't describe the shock and sheer fascination at watching someone speak the words that usually express the most intimate, powerful emotions - with absolutely no impression of them anywhere. Is fascination an explanation for love? Is anything? I have no idea. You tell me.

Also - yes. Most men become very aggressive and competitive around these guys. But they also have a couple of very close, childhood men-friends. I'm guessing that since women are 'food' - they must need some sort of company.

I tend to think I figured it out – why they ‘take hostages’. For the primitive among them, it’s a need to see for themselves and prove their own power. Low self-esteem, and very ambivalent.

For the more evolved, it’s envy. They can only observe the power of emotions, but they cannot feel them. It’s terribly frustrating for such a powerful man – something he cannot do.

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Before you guys keep hammer... (Below threshold)

December 3, 2008 2:13 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Before you guys keep hammering the "female psychopath" theme, consider the conditions the doc works in. He evaluates prisoners. Ok, say it with me: male prisoners. Ok, self-righteousness glasses off, people!

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Well, women are verbally co... (Below threshold)

December 3, 2008 2:30 PM | Posted by ItsTheWooo: | Reply

Well, women are verbally communicative, and the type of antisocial you describe is also very verbal. As a generalization women enjoy chat, men don't, and this type of antisocial is very good about it.

A man who is excessively detailed in his communication is, to many women, almost like a fantasy. It's rather similar as if a man found a woman who was dressed sexy, and behaved in a physical and aggressive, communicative straightforward way (as opposed to the more verbally detailed, less direct, and sexually conservative communication/behavior more common in women). There are plenty of male fantasies about these types of women, women who behave almost like men (very sexually aggressive and not interested in commitment/communication), but are otherwise sexually attractive. The common male fascination with "no good crazy women" comes from that. Male singers write songs about such women, you've websites like which capitalizes on it, etc.

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Whether male or female, wha... (Below threshold)

December 3, 2008 3:10 PM | Posted by Jeff: | Reply

Whether male or female, what is often called charm feels manipulative and predatory to me. The lack of anxiety without an accompanying sense of depth or a measure of vulnerability doesn't entice me in the least. My reaction does seem to differ depending on the gender of the 'charmer.' With men, my annoyance or anger swells pretty quickly. With women I feel anxiety, I become extremely reserved and generally flea as quickly as possible. I'm far more reluctant, I suppose, to behave aggressively with predatory women than with predatory men.

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The Last Psychiatrist evalu... (Below threshold)

December 3, 2008 3:36 PM | Posted by La BellaDonna: | Reply

The Last Psychiatrist evaluates male prisoners? I didn't know that. However, his entry doesn't specify - doesn't mention - anything about his experience in evaluating male prisoners; it makes blanket statements about psychopaths, and is presented in such a fashion that a casual reader could receive the impression that all psychopaths are male. That's my objection. LP writes very well indeed, and has consistently been hammering himself on the need for precision in the use of words, phrases, and terms. In point of fact, I was looking for clarification - not attempting to abuse him. I was actually hoping we would hear from him again on the subject, but so far, not yet.

Alone's response: to be very clear, my "feedback appreciated" first line meant exactly that. This isn't at all a rigorous article, it's really my own (N=1) countertransference with psychopaths. However, my countertransference is so different from the typical "charming," or even the uneasy, hairs stand on the back of your neck feeling, that I wondered if it didn't have to do with gender. So I was soliciting feedback-- women, what do you think, guys, do you agree? etc.

That said, look at it the other way. You are (legitimately) taking issue with my N=1 subjective opinion on this; but why doesn't anyone, ever, take issue with the similarly subjective "psychopaths are charming?" Which is my point: we learn things, define things, a certain way, not based on evidence, but convention.

And yes, I evaluate male (and female) prisoners all the time, but for the court (e.g. competency, probation, etc) I don't do any treatment of inmates.

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I can only think of one per... (Below threshold)

December 3, 2008 5:25 PM | Posted by SusanC: | Reply

I can only think of one person I ever met who meets the description. As far as I could tell, from the few months I knew him, his life was running one con game after another, under a series of false names and forged documents. He always had a string of half-way plausible excuses for not doing whatever work was he was supposed to have done.

I only knew him for a few months, because people got wise to him and he needed to make a run for it, doubtless to yet another false identity. But yes, he was charming.

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Alone--Are they ch... (Below threshold)

December 4, 2008 1:49 AM | Posted by Lexi: | Reply


Are they charming? They can be. But I think there may be a lot of variation as to a) who finds them charming and b) the ones that make the news may be far more charming than the ones that don't.

I've met charming people who are not sociopaths. I guess I'd have to define charming. - with that definition.

I find Alone/LP charming (fascinating) and I feel attracted to him based on how/what he writes. Who knows what I'd actually think in person.

It's interesting to me that, even from myself, how many people brought up their own stories about sociopaths.

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I also like the way you wri... (Below threshold)

December 4, 2008 1:50 AM | Posted by Lexi: | Reply

I also like the way you write La BellaDonna and I am wondering if you have a blog?

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So, I'd like to return to t... (Below threshold)

December 4, 2008 4:42 AM | Posted by mike: | Reply

So, I'd like to return to the topic of "how does one manipulate a psychopath?". They are indeed flawed people, and we have determined that they have large blindspots in their worldview. Dangerous, sure, but it is sometimes impossible or slow to extricate on from ones life, so what profit can come of the situation.

here are my offhand thoughts on how to get them to do what you want based upon their failings [I am not a doctor]

- Linguistic emotional understanding only.
It follows that it is as easy to lie to a sociapath about ones own internal state as it is for them to lie about theirs. One simply needs to use the words and outward appearances of an emotion to be convincing.

- Narcissism
is it safe to inflate the ego of a sociopath? is there any point? Can one be manipulated more easily with imaginary carrots?

- Continious babble
Good christ, I have no idea what this can be used for except to drive ones self insane. Maybe you could get one to sell your used cars? I wonder what techniques could be used to /lead/ a sociopath's talk. is it possible?

Are there other thoughts on this or additional sources of information? I'd like to know more, as it has been a discussion of interest at the office of late.

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I get the feeling that ther... (Below threshold)

December 4, 2008 5:11 AM | Posted by demodenise: | Reply

I get the feeling that there's still a big hole in this conversation--something that we're all talking around, the common thread, but none of us have put our finger on it yet. I'm not exactly sure what it is, though.

Of course, not everyone who is charming is a sociopath. Not everyone who is manipulative is a sociopath. Not everyone who is self-centered is a sociopath. Even all three of these traits put together does not a sociopath make.

While I enjoyed reading *The Sociopath Next Door,* it was a little too pop-culture for my tastes. It reinforced some stereotypes while claiming to debunk others--which is a somewhat dangerous combination.

The thing about sociopaths that I find interesting is that they are able to evoke such intense emotions in people--emotions ranging from dread to attraction--while possessing such a limited capacity for emotion themselves.

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Intriguing: a psychopath, b... (Below threshold)

December 4, 2008 8:08 AM | Posted by Tere: | Reply

Intriguing: a psychopath, by virtue of not truly experiencing emotions, can appear to be supremely self-confident and well-balanced compared to the clamor of everyday life. By many of the indicators we normally look for in people, a psychopath may seem quite attractive: he can tell stories well (think of a comedian with a set routine - he's just acting, but the people still laugh), he pays attention (sexual or otherwise) to his interviewer, he can sit in a prison and still smile and tell a woman she's pretty. We then tell ourselves stories to go along with his actions, much as we talk about our computers being spiteful or our puppies loving us. But the puppy doesn't love you, he just understands that he'll get more of whatever he wants by cuddling up to you and sitting pretty. Understanding and accepting that requires a healthy dose of realism and more than a pinch of cynicism and women in particular are not (usually) socialized to being so brutal in their opinions of others.

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Here's a thought: How much ... (Below threshold)

December 4, 2008 11:23 AM | Posted by Fargo: | Reply

Here's a thought: How much does the context of Alone's interaction with these people influence his reaction? When I'm talking to someone it isn't, typically, in a setting where I'm trying to probe their minds. For example, the guy I mentioned in my previous post was someone I knew throughout high school, and while we weren't friends, I never suspected him of being so off until having lived with him for a while.

If, instead, someone said "Hey, talk to this dude for a while and give me your impression on how he's stitched together", then perhaps I'd have seen, and analyzed to some degree, his counter-social behavior. If I were to repeat this experience multiple times then my sense of it would certainly heighten, and if you add in some heinous criminal acts associated with these people, then my reaction could certainly turn from "What a douche" to being creeped out, hostile, and frustrated.

I suppose it doesn't help that in most day to day lives you can simply walk away from people that you find to be creeps, of any sort, while various other professions have to deal with it.

Alone's response: this is a good point.

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Speaking of charming psycho... (Below threshold)

December 4, 2008 11:29 AM | Posted by varangianguard: | Reply

Speaking of charming psychopaths...

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I think Casey Anthony is a ... (Below threshold)

December 4, 2008 3:51 PM | Posted by SunSpotBaby: | Reply

I think Casey Anthony is a classic psychopath - that young woman in Florida whose little girl Caylee Anthony disappeared. She is a pathological liar, and although she cries in court, it usually is only because she is being sent to jail - I have never seen her shed a tear while her daughter's disappearance is being discussed. For the most part, her face is flat of any emotions. Her mother seems to have some kind of mental pathology also, just can't put a finger on it. My skin crawls every time her face appears on the news.

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Well, I guess MALE psychopa... (Below threshold)

December 4, 2008 4:35 PM | Posted by Aliosha: | Reply

Well, I guess MALE psychopaths are infuriating to men... but I can assure, from painful personal experience, that FEMALE psychopaths are charming. At least, she was to me, and to a lot of other people I know.
And painful. And manipulative.
So: I guess they can choose their target for charm. She was quite liberal (men and women), maybe a male psychopath would aim more at women. I do not know.
And I would never try to con a con man (or woman), just run away as far as possible...

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From a recent New Scientist... (Below threshold)

December 4, 2008 10:02 PM | Posted by Shaan: | Reply

From a recent New Scientist, here's the article "Bad guys really do get the most girls". It refers to two studies that suggest that features of the 'dark triad' lead to reproductive success.

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Sociopaths are not charming... (Below threshold)

December 4, 2008 11:23 PM | Posted by haldol5: | Reply

Sociopaths are not charming. Their obsfucation during interviews makes me wanna hurl. I find them utterly frustrating and infuriating. Ok, every now and then I am a bit in awe of just how deep their psychopathy can run, but in a "wow, what a perfect textbook specimen of a sociopath here in the flesh" kind of way. Certainly not in a "wow, he's a cold-blooded son-of-a-bitch but I want to do him" kind of way. Someone with a lack of conscience who lies his ass off to get what he wants (and then moves on to threats or violence when that doesn't work) is not even vaguely charming. Perhaps some chicks dig the arrogance or enjoy the futile challenge/project of trying to get some guy who will never know what love is to love them? But charming? Nah.

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I forgot to ask - why do yo... (Below threshold)

December 5, 2008 12:33 AM | Posted by haldol5: | Reply

I forgot to ask - why do you want to con a psychopath?

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THANK YOU belladonna for sa... (Below threshold)

December 5, 2008 4:10 AM | Posted, in reply to La BellaDonna's comment, by fraise: | Reply

THANK YOU belladonna for saying exactly what I was fuming to myself while reading this: "There appears to be an underlying assumption in your post. I read it carefully, and didn't read ONE SINGLE WORD that suggested that psychopaths could also be female. Not ONE WORD about how susceptible you, or any other man, might be to FEMALE PSYCHOPATHS. I've met more than a few in my time, and the havoc they wrought was appalling. Men AND women appear to have no trouble swallowing their bullshit."

Amen to that. TheLastPsychiatrist, when you say: "In fact, to make the broadest generalization possible-- humor me for a minute-- it applies mostly to women. Men, in the presence of a psychopath, are not charmed, they're infuriated." Trust me when I tell you, I have seen a few psychopathic women who do THE SAME THING TO MEN, completely fooling (and eventually destroying) them, and it is infuriating to we women who can see through the psychopathic women's bullshit.

I come here assuming you'll be fair with gender assumptions and have to read this crap about only women falling for psychopaths? I know you mainly work with males, but you're intelligent enough to know that that doesn't mean only men are psychopaths. (Perhaps it's mostly male psychopaths who are physically violent and thus able to be put in prison? The female psychopaths I knew destroyed men by baiting their superiority complexes and driving them into walls -- obviously I'm summarizing, it's very drawn-out and painful to watch.)

(Also, I'm angry precisely because I respect you and expect better. I express it *because* I know you'll take it seriously -- any other site with a post like this, I'd have walked away from and never returned.)

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(Or is this another of your... (Below threshold)

December 5, 2008 4:26 AM | Posted by fraise: | Reply

(Or is this another of your experiments where you purposefully present something that taps into nearly-unconsciously-held beliefs in order to draw out opinions? Because considering that, indeed, you are intelligent enough not to make such a flagrantly gender-based statement, and considering the underlying "haha, silly women" that comes through and, predictably enough, is pounced on by people who say things like "Perhaps women are more vulnerable to male psychopaths because they speak vaguely similar languages," I'm wondering if that wasn't by design... were you trying to see how many men would be baited by that and react with statements illustrating the very weakness -- assumed male superiority -- that female psychopaths prey on?)

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no no no.. women like you t... (Below threshold)

December 6, 2008 12:16 PM | Posted by tiberianfallout: | Reply

no no no.. women like you to beleive that they are charmed by assholes and psychopaths. But in truth, they are all different in what their looking for. It depends what you like.. would you like an extremely manipulative and crazy girl?? that manipulates you into having depends. you see what im saying. Its kind of...charming, for a girl to be manipulated. Imagine a faggot..he would love to be manipulated in the quest of being put on his knees and splurged on his eye sockets. Its like touching their bum but not actually touching they feel put on the heater. Someone so manipulative to get something they want makes the other person feel at the center of attention. I don't like sex personally. I find it kind of...well.. disgusting.

Am I some sort of attention seeker now? no. But how intriguing is that you study a psychopath, when you should be studying the way you yourself act in order to have a relative understanding of the outliers..(e.g psychopaths).

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im a psychopath ;)... (Below threshold)

December 6, 2008 12:29 PM | Posted by hehehe: | Reply

im a psychopath ;)

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wow Fraise, this is ... (Below threshold)

December 6, 2008 3:46 PM | Posted by Gianna: | Reply

wow Fraise,
this is the first time Alone has pissed you off as a woman???

He is always offending the hell out of me on gender issues!!

I still get a kick out of reading him though.

Beyond Meds

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Dear LP:This is co... (Below threshold)

December 6, 2008 11:10 PM | Posted by AK: | Reply

Dear LP:

This is complex. I volunteered for two years at a homeless outreach project. Our boss was macho, street smart, but he admitted there was one guy who constantly managed to con him.

"I know he is lying sack of shit" our boss said. "But time and again, that guy manages to talk me into trusting him yet another time. Ive tried and tried to identify whatever trigger point in me he is accessing, but so far I just can figure out why I keep falling for his con."

And a male friend of mine fell for a psychopath and got entangled in this guys cult for ten years and did horrible things in loyalty to him. He has seen other people fall for this guy, even after he got out of prison. My friend is still trying to figure it all out. He wonders if psychopaths have some kind of physical/biochemical glitch that makes them fascinating at an animal level.

"You know it's bullshit, but civility, or insecurity, force you to sit there and listen"

Maybe more women fall for this precisely because we are socialized to be nice, be polite, sit there and listen.

And yes, maybe we do see a psychopath not so much as a person but as a story...and write ourselves into the story as Heroine and Rescuer in a Grand Romantic Epic.

My mother did this in relation to my asshole father.

Hence my utter distrust of love and passion and the big fat tax deductible I get for my yearly therapy bill.

During W's adminstration I tried to call it war tax resistance.

(hollow laugh)

However, here is a great way to take the magic out of any wordy bullshitologist:

Listen to the verbiage with just 1/4 of your attention. Meanwhile, look at them, study their nonverbals and imagine you are listening to the TV with the sound turned off.

And remember this:

Even when folks like this are telling you the factual truth, it is not truthful--because it is part of a larger lie.

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That is the mystery: these ... (Below threshold)

December 6, 2008 11:27 PM | Posted by AK: | Reply

That is the mystery: these people elicit devotion from us, yet are unable to reciprocate it.

And the mystery and promise of humanity--that's the bait.


Assaultive Projective Identification and the Plundering of the Victim's Identity

Stanley Rosenman

A destructive mode of projective identification is delineated: a predator's catastrophic attack calculated to cause the victim a stress disorder marked by a disarrayed identity. This discomposure enables the perpetrator to aggrandize a manifold inroad upon the victim's identity to imprint, intrude, mingle and/or lodge his representation into it; to ravage, steal from, impoverish, and/or corrupt it; finally to have his representation emerge as an internal regulator of the traumatized prey's functioning. The victim's debased integrity is manifest in the symptoms of his ensuing posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

Assaultive Projective Identification and the Plundering of the Victim's Identity

Stanley Rosenman

What is interesting is how Rosenman describes the way the perpetrator exploits pathos to confuse and disarm the victim.

Rosenman made use of testimony from people who had survived parenting from adults traumatized by war and persecution, and from persons who had survived prison atrocity, torture and other forms of prolonged, grievous assault. (This is not good stuff to read within an hour or two of bedtime--learned that the hard way.) (My note - any trauma the parent suffered would count).

The stuff that jumped out at me is that many times perpetrators present a very pathetic wounded child aspect of themselves while simultaneously intruding on and damaging vulnerable targets. ((Though Rosenman does not say so, this wounded pathetic child aspect of the perp is probably flip side of the vibrant charming child aspect of the perp when he or she is being sunny and seductive.))

The pathos literally disarms us--both before we are assaulted--and it disarms us after we are assaulted, by shaming us into distrusting our anger and revulsion at being assaulted.

Roseman describes--the seductive pathos of the tormentor.

In using pathos,the perp sets it up so the victim gets shamed and conned into feeling parental and loyal to the wounded child in the perp--and in feeling protective of the wounded child in the perp, the victim is simultaneously conned into disowning his or her own violated innocence. In this scam, its the powerholder/perp who gets the compassion and the victim ends up shafted with disorientation, shame and self loathing.

Two, Rosenman notes that perps feel soiled by what they've been through and some get a temporary sense of renewal and invigoration by disrupting the innocent happiness of their target and witnessing the person succumb to the shock that the perp went through. Rosenman noted that survivors of atrocity may resent and envy their children at having a chance at happiness and may force the children to become privy to the parent's grim outlook on life--a kind of misery loves company dynamic. (my note - they HATE our happiness. My doctor, and the LGAT he tried to suck me into, try to persuade clients that they don't know just how miserable their lives are. Many alternative practitioners use this underlying unhappiness as the "hidden cause" for illness).

So the identity and emotional life of the perp get transferred into the targeted victim and takes over the victims inner life. IF you're a child, you dont feel free to explore life on your own terms. You feel your own energy and happiness are taking something away from your parents. Roseman noted that some perps get a sense of immortality, or at least a sense of mastery (the vampire) by taking over the inner lives of their victims and (to quote the abstract) 'have (the perp's) representation emerge as an internal regulator of the traumatized prey's functioning. '

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This is really interesting.... (Below threshold)

December 6, 2008 11:57 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

This is really interesting. Is it at all possible that some women who are being interpreted as having been charmed have not actually fallen sway to the manipulations but simply are acting more "nice"? I feel through personal experience that women feel more pressure to be nice, smile, carry on conversation, and even flirt back out of politeness, but generally men feel more comfortable to get to the point and be curt if necessary (men don't get called a bitch for being to the point as women sadly do).
Perhaps also women interested in psychopathy haven't been "charmed" by it, but simply have an intellectual interest?
I just am not inclined to think that women are somehow more blinded to psychopath BS than men, especially considering that women seem to be more socially cognizant.

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Side note- actual con men a... (Below threshold)

December 7, 2008 3:18 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Side note- actual con men are the easiest to con. You can't con an honest man- he knows when a deal is too good to be true. But a con man is greedy and lazy, and will believe the deals that are too good to be true.

La BellaDonna- the book I have says that men are diagnosed with psychopathy 5 times more frequently than women. So while the generalizations are still generalizations, they may be appropriate.

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To you and Fraise: I am ... (Below threshold)

December 8, 2008 11:02 AM | Posted, in reply to Gianna's comment, by Alone: | Reply

To you and Fraise: I am obviously aware that women can be psychopaths, though the dynamic is a bit different. My question here is, assuming a male psychopath, why do they earn the label "charming?"

I'm working backwards from the "charming." Psychopaths repeatedly get called "charming" but never "repulsive and infuriating." Why? Ok, who are they charming to? Well, not me. Ok, how about men in general? My guess is not towards men either, though as I noted in the post, this is hardly a scientific assessment. Ok, but if it's true-- men aren't charmed, then why are psychopaths _called_ charming? Let's even grant that women are indeed the ones charmed. Why does "charming to women, but infuriating to men" get distilled down to "charming" only?

See my point? The bias in the description is to call them charming, which, at least for me, is not at all the case.

The second question them becomes, why are women charmed and men not charmed? Hmm. Maybe, indeed, women aren't really charmed? Maybe that's a complete myth- maybe they aren't charmed-- flattered, maybe, but no different than they would be with any other man, maybe the guy is simply a smooth talker, but not amazingly smooth. So maybe their great ability to charm is urban legend, maybe the charm is _perceived_ to be great in comparison to men's countertransference which is so violently negative.

Bringing me to my original hypothesis, that men call psychopaths charming (these criteria are mostly set out by men, e.g. Hare) because while they themselves are repulsed, they observe that women are not _as_ repulsed, and so they interpret that as, "that psychopath is completely manipulating that woman."

One other hypothesis: maybe men assume psychopaths have absolutely no humanity or goodness in them at all, such that when they appear "nice" or kind", especially to women, men assume that is always and everywhere an act-- no truth in it at all-- and thus is charm and manipulation.

Again, I don't have any idea of the answers to any of these questions, which is why I wrote this to get people's ideas.

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If you want a subject sampl... (Below threshold)

December 8, 2008 12:25 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

If you want a subject sample of psychopath women, look for abused children. (Put the cheerful word 'tortured' 'beaten' 'starved' into the search engine.

Eliminate cases where one cant tell if a boyfriend or husband put her up to it.

Look for female cult leaders. They've been out there.

Psychoanalyst Daniel Shaw mentions one such case--he was formerly a disciple.

The article is about the problems of narcissism when it derails psychotherapy, but in the article, under the heading 'Malignant Narcissistic Authoritarianism' Shaw describes the female guru and even ways she persuaded devotees who were also mental health professionals to commit acts of professional malfeasance.

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If you're asking whether pr... (Below threshold)

December 9, 2008 5:47 AM | Posted by PachydermPuncher: | Reply

If you're asking whether priming will induce people to assert they know things they really don't then, Yes Virginia there really is a Santa Claus.

If you're asking whether a surprising number of people are really bad judges of character, contemplate [PALIN -*- 2012].

If you're asking whether some women crave the excitement of a douchebag then, yes. In the same way some men adore a slut--until they have to live with her.

A more interesting question is whether "charming" psychopaths are really psychopaths at all. The New Yorker article didn't cite any claims that women found all psychopaths "charming," just some of them. "Charming" and psychopathic sounds more like malignant narcissism than straight up psychopathy. Who's a more charming stranger: an accomplished narcissist or a psychopath?

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I will come back and catch ... (Below threshold)

December 9, 2008 12:27 PM | Posted by La BellaDonna: | Reply

I will come back and catch up properly when I can; Alone/LP, thank you for your response; if the sole question was "Are Psychopaths Charming?" then my response, cautiously, would be, "The psychopaths whom I have encountered have exhibited "charming behaviour" when necessary." I would also add that I have met some truly charming people who have never exhibited psychopathic behaviour.

Lexi, thank you, I appreciate your comment! No, I don't have a blog of my own yet; I'm not in a position to maintain one. So I leave my eggs in the nests of others, for now. :)

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My question for "Alone" is,... (Below threshold)

December 10, 2008 11:43 PM | Posted by Carl: | Reply

My question for "Alone" is, How do you *know* you've never found a psychopath charming? As one poster above mentioned, there can be a big difference between a psychopath engaged in chit-chat and one engaged in the obfuscation and BS that typifies the breed. In casual contexts, how do you know your psychodar is always functioning?

There's a broader idea I'd like to bring up. Despite the great amount of research done by Hare and others, I place little stock in their claim to know what goes on inside the mind of a psychopath, and I am skeptical about whether psychopathy is even a valid concept. You say that psychopaths "don't understand other people's emotions. As the article points out, they interpret emotions linguistically, not emotionally." I have never seen an adequate explanation for how anyone knows this. And I find it hard to believe that anyone could successfully manipulate another person without having a pretty sharp understanding of that person's emotions. I've never heard of a person with Asperger's being a great manipulator.

I'm not sure a type of person called a psychopath truly exists. And if it does, does it correspond to Cleckley's description of a psychopath, or to Hare's? Because - and I have never ever seen this mentioned, despite their names appearing side-by-side so often - their two concepts of a psychopath are vastly different. Furthermore, in most cases, "psychopath" and "sociopath" are terms used without much regard for their actual meanings, whatever they might be, much like, say, "fascist". Hare is certainly not guilty of this, but I think other alleged mental health experts are, not just laymen.

(As a sidenote, despite the ruthless and sometimes criminal behavior of corporate CEOs, Hare’s recent fixation on psychopathy among business leaders seems to me to be the result of political bias with very little basis in reality.)

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Does anyone watch Dexter? ... (Below threshold)

December 11, 2008 3:42 AM | Posted, in reply to Alone's comment, by Lexi: | Reply

Does anyone watch Dexter? Recently, he came across another sociopath.

In the context of Alone's question, I do find Dexter charming . . . but he's designed to be that way, and, I can also see how Miguel, the other sociopath on the show, can be charming, but isn't because we know too much about him, and their goals are different.

As for why sociopaths may get labeled charming, maybe because- if it is true that they don't have feelings, specifically shame or anxiety, it is easier for them to talk to women, than the average guy with approach anxiety, and because they aren't nervous, they sound a lot less like idiots, or say more interesting things and more equipped to listen to the other person (irrelevant as to whether or not it is for nefarious reasons). I've often been privy to guys calling guys jerks, or other denigrating words if the other guy is *more* successful with women than the name caller is. Additionally, it may be a combination of women's socializing, and rampant low self esteem that they find them charming, or attractive, or at least find their interest flattering.

As to why men might continue to label them charming, and drop the infuriating? Because maybe it keeps women socialized in a particular way. Alternatively, because if a man admits that he is infuriated by a competitor, he loses, he looks weaker. Just a guess.

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Perhaps the reason "Charmin... (Below threshold)

December 11, 2008 6:46 PM | Posted, in reply to Alone's comment, by Loraine: | Reply

Perhaps the reason "Charming to women, infuriating to men" is distilled down to simply 'Charming', is that the fury they experience is simply a reaction off that charm. Instead of saying that in order for a psychopath to be considered 'charming' he must actively charm (i.e. successfully bring his marks under his influence), perhaps we should consider a different definition here.

We can say with some certainty that he is exuding an amount of charm or charisma. When that reaches a woman she may be charmed, but when that reaches a man he may be repulsed- but essentially both reactions are fed from the same thing: the charm the psychopath exudes. His main output being charm (in order to manipulate), he is then charming, even if his attempts invoke a different reaction in men.

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Wasn't Charles Manson a soc... (Below threshold)

December 13, 2008 5:56 AM | Posted by Lexi: | Reply

Wasn't Charles Manson a sociopath/psychopath? He looks quite *charming* here . . . if by charming I mean roflmao.

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"How do you con a con artis... (Below threshold)

December 15, 2008 10:06 PM | Posted by AnnJo: | Reply

"How do you con a con artist?"

I would go for a con that convinces him he's conning you. Having known a few people with strong "con artist" abilities, I would say they can be conned the same way you con anybody else, by giving them what they want - flattery, adoration, admiration, the inside scoop, the feeling of belonging, the feeling of pulling off a coup, the feeling of sticking it to someone they don't like, etc. A good con artist will easily be able to see the con being pulled on someone else, but since he's already convinced he's smarter than other people, his specialized knowledge doesn't necessarily protect him from a play on his sense of superiority.

A great example of this played out very publicly in Fairbanks, Alaska, in the late 80s/early 90s. A woman who had already been convicted of embezzlement and mail fraud started a travel agency, World Plus, Inc., that specialized in "trading" frequent flyer miles. She managed to bring in hundreds of investors and something like $40 million in loot, all from people who believed they were investing in a business with an avowedly dishonest business plan, since the frequent flyer miles were non-transferable per the airlines that issued them, and everybody knew it.

I imagine she played on every bad meal an "investor" had ever been fed on an airline, every delayed flight, every resentment of "big corporations" or "unfair rules," etc., along with the promises of extraordinary returns.

Some people invested their life savings and convinced their families and friends to do it too. The suckers included judges, lawyers, successful businessmen, real estate brokers, car salesmen. Having been reeled in with the promise of conning airlines out of their money, the suckers were surprised - stunned - to end up the victims of a con themselves.

I don't believe honesty is an absolute defense against every con, but it would have been against this one.

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We had the opportunity to w... (Below threshold)

January 3, 2009 3:38 AM | Posted by mclovin: | Reply

We had the opportunity to watch a psychopath in action when we got a new regional CEO this summer. It was interesting to see how our staff regarded this guy- we'd all leave meetings with wholly different evaluations of what was said. Eventually, I figured observed that it was the soothing tone that made the difference. People were reacting to how the charm and charisma made them feel rather than the words that were said. Try transcribing meetings? Like reading stereo instructions. Our company is now involved in a lawsuit and expecting to close our doors any day now.

For some reason, from the first meeting, I felt uncomfortable with the guy and found him instinctively revolting.

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I'm late here, but I believ... (Below threshold)

February 1, 2009 8:18 PM | Posted by SentWest: | Reply

I'm late here, but I believe some of your commenters are thinking too hard. I invite those here to step back from their positions of being intelligent people who, think about semantics, read the New Yorker, and even get all spun up a gender disparity in the reporting of "Who's Who of Whackjobs," and think like Jane sixpack.

Jane has had a series of relationships with men, as she's not a lesbian. Yet. She always feels that "they just don't listen to me," as Jane wants to talk about her feelings and their relationships. Her man, as men do, either just wants to fix things and gets annoyed when she keeps blathering on about how Sally is such a bitch at work when they provided a perfectly reasonable solution, or just kind of looks stunned and grunts in affirmative whenever his brain processes that she may be asking a question. This guy, of course, is a perfectly good guy, just really low on the communication skill ladder.

Of course, if you're talking communication in general, men are like trebuchets. Women are MOABS. Men do, women talk (then do). If you want to argue with me on this I will respond that you have been spending too much time at Starbucks and need to put down your half-caff double non-fat whip soy latte, and hang out at more sports bars with men who drink Pabst unironically.

Anyhow, Jane breaks up with Mr. Neanderthal because he doesn't understand her and she doesn't speak ESPN, and meets Jack. Jack is a sociopath. Sociopaths are walking bait. They have carefully constructed themselves, much like a deep sea lantern fish, to float tasty looking phalanges around them in the social water.

Jane is initially attracted to Jack because he displays all the trappings of a desirable mate. Decent clothes (borrowed), nice car (about to be repossessed), so much fun at the party (isn't shy because he literally has no shame). But then, then...

He talks to her. He looks in her eyes, he expresses everything she needs to hear in terms she understands. He modulates his voice to emulate her speech patterns, as they talk he will create a backstory out of thin air that will reflect what he perceives she wants in a man. She is impressed, she thinks she's never found someone so in touch, so able to communicate with her. They finish each other's sentances (he sets it up that way) he always knows what she's thinking (just like a cold reading "psychic"). He must be her soul mate. And because she's a women, and has been socialized to be nice, and will be afraid to be thought of as a "bitch" if she questions him too closely, will accept his slightly wrong excuses for the sort of disturbing and off things she notices about him. Because, really, who is she to judge?

Jack knows this and uses the hell out of it. Whenever things get too close to becoming inconvenient for him, he trots out something that plays to her guilts. He knows she has these conscience and feelings things, and they're oh so exploitable.

Of course, everything he's doing is a farce. Women have a soft spot for language and most people in general don't understand their own susceptibility to cold reading. The sociopath doesn't care, its just a tool. A smart sociopath has determines that certain techniques are successful, and will use them until proven otherwise. He has no social conscience holding him back. The lantern fish has no fondness or particular love for its little dangley bits, it just catches dinner. It would be just as happy with something that looks like a tiny Prada handbag if it gets the job done.

So women find sociopaths charming (the good ones at least) because the tools they have available in building their bait lines are well suited to reel in women. My theory is that men find the sociopaths that have developed bait geared to women annoying and transparent because the sociopath has not developed bait for men yet. You don't fly fish and expect to catch buffalo. Further, you would probably not notice sociopaths trolling for men so immediately, as you would find their bait at least initially tasty and acceptable.

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Read my book Women Who Love... (Below threshold)

February 2, 2009 1:20 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Read my book Women Who Love Psychopaths.

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Let's turn this around a bi... (Below threshold)

February 10, 2009 4:05 PM | Posted by Kimberly : | Reply

Let's turn this around a bit. Perhaps it's not that the women are seeing something good in the psychopaths that men don't see, but rather, that psychopaths are able to tell who's going to fall for their bullshit and who isn't. Being people who are going to take the path of least resistance to get what they want, they zero in on naivete and weakness where you and I would step back and cut someone a break.

Sure, there are plenty of smart women who get seduced by psychopaths (and, I would wager, plenty of smart men who've been taken to the cleaners by psychopathic women). But the point is, when we look at these smart victims, WE don't see their potential to be a victim and WE don't understand how they could have been a victim because WE aren't looking for victims. Psychopaths ARE looking for victims. Thus, I think it's not that the victim sees something we don't, but that the psychopath sees something we don't.

Last night I was browsing through Gilmore's book, Manson, and a phrase from one of Charles Manson's ex-followers jumped out at me. This person pointed out that Manson himself didn't like to get his hands dirty by murdering people personally, but he knew who WOULD be willing to get violent - he could smell it on other people, "like a disease." Psychopaths can smell that in their victims. We can't. Thus, they target who they think they can con, and we're left scratching our heads about how such smart people fell for such obvious lies.

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Hello All,I recent... (Below threshold)

April 6, 2009 12:49 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Hello All,

I recently divorced my psychopathic/narcissistic (I believe they are the same disorder!)husband of 10-years and I thank God everyday for giving me insight into his disturbing behaviours!

My ex-husband was very charming and intelligent and the moment I said "I Do" there was a shift in the way that he treated me and in hindsight I should have seen the red flags but didn't because he was adept at the art of deception! Only his needs were considered important and my children and I were just props because these people do not like to live their own lives, they live them through other people by manipulating them into doing their dirty work! They have no shame and don't give a dam about you because you are considered less than they are! My ex-husbands family are all the same -in fact I believe that both his Mom & Dad are the very same as he is inside. They came to Canada from Germany and were definately Hitler's children!

It took me my whole marriage to get inside this guys head to see what the hell was going on! And in the end, I mentally turned the tables by beating him at his own game! My children and I got out just in time - my life has been forever changed by this guy for I don't believe that I will ever date or marry again!

I'd really like to meet Dr.Robert Hare because his research is what finally put a name to what I was experiencing and likely saved my life!

God bless Dr. Hare!

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I think you might not be to... (Below threshold)

April 18, 2009 7:41 PM | Posted by Allen Branson: | Reply

I think you might not be too far off with this, though I don't think it is as simple as a difference between women and men. Maybe closer to the mark would be a division based on oxytocin release. How well to psychopaths do with people who don't very readily bond with others hormonally?

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I work with socio pathic wo... (Below threshold)

July 23, 2009 4:45 PM | Posted by Paula: | Reply

I work with socio pathic women all the time. I always know because of the stories they tell about how they have treated thier children and how thier children behave. I see generations of women who loose children after children to the system. I find they always have excuses and never cry real tears. Even a psychotic women who beat her child almost to death was aware she needed to stop having children and should have given them up for odoption, but she also was unable to cry or feel deep remorse. Often, it is a scale- some are 10 socio paths and some are slippery 4 or 5's.
As for men, I have great instinks and have always liked sensative, sweet men who where raised well. I have always interviewed to find out about thier family. I am told i have a very strong male side- so I have great bullshit detection, logic, and am evidence based. Plus, i don't have the hard on getting in the way. Poor horny guys and love starved women. I'm not really your "i'll save you, love you, help you " kinda person. But, I know about female therapists marrying so many prisoners, they try not to hire female therapists in the prison system. But, byer beware, not all therapists are healthy-by far.

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Agreed, however I want to a... (Below threshold)

December 7, 2009 4:27 PM | Posted, in reply to La BellaDonna's comment, by R: | Reply

Agreed, however I want to add something. I think males would be more likely to buy the bullshit that female psychopaths spout out, whereas females wouldn't be bought in.

Perhaps men understand other men better than women do, and women understand other women better than men do, so it's easier for people to identify psychopaths of the same gender?

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Straight men are just as li... (Below threshold)

December 8, 2009 12:56 PM | Posted by brainchild: | Reply

Straight men are just as likely to be seduced by male psychopaths, it's just generally more in the realm of business/work or sports, or even the psychopathic/sociopathic model of success (cold, success/wealth at any cost, etc). I'd say that the global banking collapse is pretty good evidence of just how many men - intelligent and educated men - fall for psychopaths. Psychopaths aren't that hard to con really either. Selling a con is always about finding the other person's need and using it to manipulate them, and psychopaths/narcissists have obvious (if unreasonable) needs and a sense of superiority that can make them easy to con even though they're con men themselves. Corporate culture is full of psychopaths and seems to be constructed to reward and encourage psychopathic behavior.

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Last week I was at a Christ... (Below threshold)

December 19, 2009 3:06 PM | Posted by SusanC: | Reply

Last week I was at a Christmas party, where this guy spent the whole evening telling me about himself. Meanwhile, I'm listening to him talk (and talk, and talk...) and mentally noting that he has no regard for others - absolutely none at all - as shown both by his actions in my presence and his reported actions in the stories he's telling (which I don't necessarily take as being true).

After he's gone, I ask my friend what she thought: "He was charming". It was then that I thought of this post.

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When we get conned we still... (Below threshold)

January 16, 2010 8:10 PM | Posted by RudeChaos: | Reply

When we get conned we still come out ahead, it just means someone close to us bears the loss. I've never had anyone guess at my intentions, at most people think i just love selling shit because im a salesman. Actually its the thrill of manipulating everyone around sublty for fun and profit.

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I lived with one for 23 yrs... (Below threshold)

April 7, 2010 7:07 PM | Posted by Ghosst: | Reply

I lived with one for 23 yrs an 5 yrs after separt i`m still being torchered by her an now her new bf she recuited to fininsh to job after i got her away from. seems be no end to it if i don`t stand up to her never dreamed somebody could be so desireable yet cost you everything yet i gave it to her and blamed myself when it was never enough to the point that i must just run now.

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I think people oversimplify... (Below threshold)

May 20, 2010 5:13 AM | Posted by Nicholas: | Reply

I think people oversimplify psychopathy far too often. Psychopaths can vary greatly in overall demeanor and affect, just like non-psychopathic people. Of course psychopaths know sadness, because sadness means not getting what they want.

On emotions in psychopaths:

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Was hitler a psychopath? W... (Below threshold)

May 20, 2010 5:25 PM | Posted, in reply to Alone's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Was hitler a psychopath? Why would Micheal Jackson be interested in his master plan? If it's at his feet, does he step on it or use it as a stepping stone? Regardless, both men were insane, but looking at the objectives of both men the distinction between psycho-crazy and psycho-charming becomes more apparent. Either possibility crazy/charming is possible as is both, but the outcome of the potentiality-wave probably depends on early intervention... which is not to say that anything excuses hitler's actions or that hell was not created specifically for his ilk. The point at which man can no longer find disgust in himself marks the limit of his humanity and the psychopath is born. To avoid: lather, shame, rinse, repeat.

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I may be a little narc and ... (Below threshold)

July 5, 2010 8:07 AM | Posted by jill phoenix: | Reply

I may be a little narc and am kinda attracted to psychopaths as they are to me. After years of therapy life experiences and life kinda crashing in on itself. After a life crisis can come change,And we are really products of an upbringing there is no need for labels and disorders.I have devoloped compassion and guilt and i was the bad person many times in my life.There is always hope for change and everyone on this planet should at least have the chance of a nice enjoyable life. Follow the right path and peace of mind will slowly come.But this only happens if they choose to change dont bother being around someone who doesnt want change,they will just drag you down.Just choose to not be around such people,we all have a choice to walk away. We can be considerate and caring to all living beings but we dont have to follow their path.

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the women in the article sh... (Below threshold)

July 5, 2010 10:35 AM | Posted by Anna : | Reply

the women in the article should be fired, to work in this field and First of all those comments, regarding the women complimented by a psychopath, I mean is their self esteem really so low, or ego so big that a compliment on one's hair makes her weak in the knees??
I wonder why these women were not fired? i do believe those women read too many twilight books.

I read without conscience and I found it rather dry and uninformative. I just had trouble getting what it is he contributed besides his checklist that really is more of a time consuming thing than anything else.
I got nothing out of the book ! You would think that after spending so much time with these people he could come up with more analysis!
For example your point is well brought up- what do we mean by charming? who is charmed? profile of the charmer and the charmed, and maybe bring in different women around the psychopath and see if he changes up his tactics?
are there variations on charm? or on the charmers?

I will give you my perspective- albeit keep in mind I am a now- high functioning borderline, and I have had about 15 years experience with them- my first boyfriend was a diagnosed sociopath ( i found out later after i started telling him I thought he was one) we remained friends for years ( I knew but kept my distance emotionally) I do believe he sensed his own emotions at times, and depression also especially following a breakup with a girlfriend later ( although they did not bond in their cocaine fueled relationship) he was a pretty miserable person so i felt sorry for him. he laid off me for the most part, kind of went into a bubble of video games and weed- alienated himself. before that i would say he was a dyssocial sociopath. I do not feel he was a sadist, but just extremely selfish and not swayed by guilt. ( he was trained by his parents alot when he was young)

then i had a malignant narcissist who was sadistic, became a world famous dj,and it was all mind games and attention seeking, and beyond grandiose thoughts.
then i fell inlove ( despite my on-site instincts ) with another sociopath -this time a sadistic controlling sociopath/ psycho whatever you call it- more about using me for sex and money like a trophy , then about getting 1500 friends on facebook type of thing.

as a borderline i saw myself in them,they reflected my traits- i had the feeling of falling in love at first site- and they took to me also ( maybe not for the same reasons) pretty much as they were each very goodlooking, each very at ease with themselves, each had a proper sense of social boundaries, and crossed them just enough at the right time- the transgression of which gave me the impression they were brave to do that with a girl who is not mousy like me- I was flattered by their unbridled lust/ passion.

I never liked regular guys, overall I found them awkward, unaware, weak, and uncomfortable in their skin. In these creatures I found my mirror, ( so I thought) and it was energy was intense from the start.

they were edgy, cool, tough with a vulnerable "hurt little boy" interior, is this a stereotypical female fantasy? it is mine, but that may be because as a borderline, I feel the same way. projecting a tough exerior, goodlooking, charismatic, but inside hurt, broken, angry- me I have alot of empathy, but not for say people with small problems, then i can have a complete and utter lack of it.

when they over react in anger, they induce guilt in wome who have a nurturing instint, but especially borderlines because we identify with those reactions- and when we react angrily it is because we are hurting so borderlines assume it is the same for them- that when we are angry we are projecting on to them our own issues.

we dread abandoning them, the unconscious guilt is overwhelming, to abandon them to their fate would resemble how we were abandoned to ours....
on top of which many women or borderlines may have had to play caretaker roles to a parent who was sick or whatnot, so we are validated in this role of nurturer and caretaker.
breaking free from each boyfriend was a harrowing experience.

because of black and white thinking, I switch from he is all bad, to all good, to see both in one person is very difficult to grasp, the lack of conscience in theirs..when mine i feel is almost over developed when it comes to real suffering...all of this is too much to grasp emotionally, even if i can intellectually.
in fact he calls me still, i have to change my number. i know that but it is easier said then done, i am tied to him by the shared suffering i imagine he may ( unlikely) have endured.
intellectually i have read that he may simply be the product of a spoiled family, I have more reason to believe that, but emotionally i cannot let go.

as for psychopathic women....are the statistics accurate that there are far fewer? I mean what about the possiblity that they don't act out violently or that it is under reported? or misdiagnosed?

i would not know the answer but it enrages me that this whole field is utterly disorganized. I mean my doctors dont even seem to have a grip on whether borderline is not infact bipolar! or which is which who has what?
I was never given a standardized test even, because there isn't one so far as I know!
nobody seems to agree on the what constitutes a sociopath, a psychopath or antisocial or narcissist? furthermore i believe it was Hare who thinks they are on sliding scale. is it or not what do u think about the sliding scale or that these may be variations of the same theme.?

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Interesting post.My ... (Below threshold)

August 4, 2010 8:14 PM | Posted by atb: | Reply

Interesting post.
My father married a psychopath. At least I assume she was. If you read the Wikipedia entry on "psychological manipulation" she used every single trick; checked out his vulnerabilities (he'd just lost his wife) and exploited his weaknesses and insecurities to the hilt. She didn't meet all the criteria for psychopathy, but most (I certainly didn't think her charming, and she seemed to me to have an inferiority complex, rather than the psychopath's much-vaunted self-confidence). I found her repulsive from the word go (although I suppressed my revulsion, telling myself it was just me). Interestingly, my older brothers also found her repulsive. Her first steps were to convince my father he was an inadequate father and had to rely entirely on her insights and advice on his children. She isolated him emotionally and told him what to think, feel, believe, say and do, no matter how bizarre. He was like a man caught up in a Moonie cult. She told him his "flesh and blood is just rubbish". Obviously, I was neglected and abused and had to work since I was 15, but nevertheless, in a desperate attempt to prove to my father his children were not rubbish, I continued to go to school and achieved academically. She then convinced him that, although his daughter "may be clever", I was mean, spiteful and won bursaries in order to disadvantage him financially (no kidding). He wrote me heartrending letters at university, wanting to know why I hated him so much.

After years of treating my brothers with contempt and telling them they were losers and a disappointment to my father (they were not academic achievers); that my father wanted nothing to do with them and that at least her two daughters were "a solace" to him, she then, much to my amazement, changed tack and "comforted" my brothers for this rejection (for which they only had her word - my father was completely isolated and she never allowed us to speak to him alone). She put on the "poor me" tearful act, convinced them that my father was just as loveless and rejecting towards her and that sometimes she just felt like packing her bags. Suddenly, in a very short space of time, my brothers saw themselves as her "protectors". It was like from one day to the next. At first I thought they were joking, or being ironic or something. But she had them thoroughly in her camp against my father.

At the age of 59 my father died very suddenly of a heart attack. Her first husband had died just as suddenly of a heart attack in identical circumstances. I was the only person who thought it was significant.

So, to answer your question doc, psychopaths are charming towards those they want to charm (or manipulate) for some purpose. If they have no use for you, or if you are a powerless child, she couldn't care a hoot if you find her repulsive. But the scary thing is that if she suddenly decides you can serve her purpose she can ruthlessly, with cold-blooded calculation manipulate you to want to protect her and do things for her, without you even thinking to ask for an explanation or apology for earlier slights.

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It depends on the type of p... (Below threshold)

December 3, 2010 9:21 AM | Posted by mobile office chairs: | Reply

It depends on the type of psychopathy. You can't call everyone who who exercise psychological manipulation over people around him a psychopath.

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Let us say we take titles a... (Below threshold)

December 17, 2010 6:01 AM | Posted by above titles: | Reply

Let us say we take titles away as our brains feel the need to label everything and everyone and just get to what defines such behavior which in and of itself seems to differ as much between people from any so called high functioning people to so called basicly non functioning people to anything in between. Like the saying no two snowflakes are the same, it would seem no two people are either. No matter how close they seem, Therefore the confusion in labels which by definition is like trying to label every snowflake that falls in a snowstorm. That is why it can get so very confusing. Subject A lies ninety percent of the time, uses ten percent truth on average, uses self mutilation and picks up prostitutes on average three times a week to get his sexual urges and needs met. Goes home, makes love to his wife with no thought he might have just picked up an STD, and could truly care less. But has never hit his wife, but takes pleasure in leaving a empty condom wrpper on the porch to watch her reaction. Subject B lies fifty percent of the time, and tells the truth fifty percent of the time on average. Abuses his children and wife physicly and emotionally. Gets his sexual urges and needs by joining BDSM clubs, Swinging and is very well liked within these communities. Goes home abuses his children some more, rapes his wife and could care less what they know, they are to scared to say or do anything. So who is most likely to get noticed? Subject A, He has to remebmber more lies, It is easier to spot someone who lies more, he is hiding his actions, not out of any true concern, he likes the risk and believes he is to smart to get cought. Whereas Subject B, By telling half truths with the lies makes it so much harder to notice, He travels in well orginized groups for his needs and his family will not say a word because they are beyond scared of this person. But we can honestly say both are Narcissistic / Bi Polar / Borderline / Psycopaths. Subject B could be called more of a Sociopath. But regardles of labels, They are what they are.

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I am going through the real... (Below threshold)

April 21, 2011 11:22 AM | Posted by Peter2050: | Reply

I am going through the realization that for the past few years I may be with a psychopath. I finally went to see her ex and flat out asked him what is it about her that I don't get. He looked me in the eye and said she is a pathological liar. I was somewhat stunned because that is what I thought but could never prove it. He told me she was a psychopath. I didn't even know what that meant and when I did some research I was stunned to learn the things I did.

I continue to give her money and pretty well do whatever I can to help out. I have changed so many things in my life that I'm now at the point of asking what have I done to myself. Right now we are taking somewhat of a break from each other and the one thing that strikes me the most is her lack of emotion despite the fact we say we love one another. A part of me feels like it is ready to crumble and break down.

I think I'm going to need some professional help but I have no clue who I should see. Some of my close friends who know her only from things I've said are telling me to run and don't look back. It was reading about the traits of a psychopath that woke me up. Her ex did tell me one thing that I confronted her with and she adamantly said it was a lie and insisted I call and confront him. Well I did and he told me what he said was the truth and she is lying. I never mentioned anything about calling him because she will insist he was lying and not her.

The scary part is how convincing she was when I'd asked about it and her ex and I are buds and go a long way back. He asked what reason would he have to lie to me. It messed me up at first when she told me he was lying because I believed her totally but was unable to fathom why he would lie. It was the first time I'd truly been able to catch her in a lie because any other time I confronted her I was made to feel stupid and insecure.

Often I can't bring things up about money and perhaps a budget would be good because I get screamed at. She is going to bring me down if I stick around yet I am hopelessly in love with her. I have never been able to figure out why I've begun to feel like I am and it's scary. Does anyone know a sure fire way to spot a psychopath if you suspect you are dealing with one?

I have affected so many people with my behaviour. There are many things I look back on now with my new found knowledge and it's getting a bit shocking to realize what I've been going through. I can feel something deep inside me that seems as though it's ready to snap and know if I can convince myself she is indeed a psychopath it will somehow make it easier to end the relationship.

Can anyone give me something I can work with? I know I need help.

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Peter, read the book "Peopl... (Below threshold)

April 23, 2011 3:05 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Peter, read the book "People of the Lie" by M. Scott Peck. That will help you establish if you are dealing with a psychopath or not.

You know you are dealing with a psychopath when you feel confused in that person's presence. Step outside that person's presence, and the confusion is gone. It is almost like a magnetic field. The only "confusion" you feel outside that person's presence is "Why do I keep believing those lies?"

In normal relationships you are never faced with these kinds of dilemmas: "Do I believe my beloved or my best friend?" In normal relationships it would most likely turn out to be a misunderstanding that is easily cleared up.

This woman is not only making your life a misery, she is destroying the entire fabric of your life, which will become ever more difficult to rebuild the longer you allow her to wreak havoc.

My father married a psychopath. Not only did she make his life a misery as you describe, she also isolated him from his children, who were basically good kids (I was quite an achiever, but whenever I won prizes or bursaries for university, she would rail at my father what a "difficult child" I was, even years after I left home). I had to work from the age of 15 and my older brother had to buy me clothes while I was at school (my father was a well-off man). She told my father his children hated and despised him. She told us my father rejected us as "failures and disappointments to him". I knew I wasn't, because I won prizes, so I knew she was a liar, but my brothers didn't win prizes, so they had no reason to believe she was lying. It just left my father heartbroken, believing, mistakenly, that my brothers rejected him, while they believed, mistakenly, that my father rejected them.

Run from that woman, Peter, as fast and as far as you can and never look back.

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And are female psychopaths ... (Below threshold)

April 23, 2011 5:16 AM | Posted by Django: | Reply

And are female psychopaths charming to men?

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Yes, of course. How else co... (Below threshold)

April 23, 2011 6:39 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Yes, of course. How else could these women make a man do things against his own interests and harm his loved ones? These female psychopaths can "wrap a man around her little finger". The "exposed" female psychopaths (usually after several husbands had died suddenly) are often surprisingly ugly. Her charm was powerful enough to make the man forget her looks. Those who land in court, frequently turn their charm on their defense council (see Daisy de Melker), intelligent men who should know better.

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Yes but as far as I underst... (Below threshold)

April 23, 2011 11:34 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Django: | Reply

Yes but as far as I understand, Alone says he isn't charmed (and that men in general aren't) by psychopaths because they are men too. He doesnt mention female psychopaths that he has seen and that may have charmed him.

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Hi,I am waiting fo... (Below threshold)

April 28, 2011 10:26 AM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Peter: | Reply


I am waiting for the book to come. It should arrive today. There are still texts going back and forth between her and I. Sometimes I wonder if I'm right about my thoughts of her being a psychopath then I ponder the next 2 weeks coming up...if I follow my normal pattern she will get 1200 from contribution plus other sources I know have contributed will bring the running total for 24 months to 120k....and when I ask why she has no money it's always the same answer...I spend it all on bills.

I think I've caught this in time...before she gets the upper hand and casts me can feel the hurt and pain just below the surface if I continue to go the same route I am. She will take me down or if I stay my life will be miserable somewhere down the road....the scary part is....I love her so much and will still do anything for her....I hope that book gives me the last bit of info I need to break free. I am going to go down mentally and financially if I let this go on.

I found out 2 days ago from her ex that they didn't divorce because of a sexual encounter as she told me....he said the encounter was not sexual...just major flirting with a friend of hers....what I did find out was that she left because the money was gone....they were in major debt and he went bankrupt. He said when she left it was sudden and unexpected. He told me he was shocked and couldn't believe how she showed no remorse. The red flags I was blind to in the past are now becoming clear.

I am scared because of how I feel myself pushing away from an emotional breakdown and need to distance myself....all it takes from her is one text or phone call and I am in trouble....I keep reading and seeking advice from anyone I can find...I need to break free and think about what I want for myself, not what she wants from me.

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The most important bit of k... (Below threshold)

April 28, 2011 11:35 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

The most important bit of knowledge about psychopaths is this (and it will also be explained to you in the book "People of the Lie"): the confusion you experience in the presence of this kind of person. I knew exactly how evil my father's wife was: she abused me horribly while I was a child living at home, I suspected she poisoned my father (her previous husband had died in exactly the same way). Yet, when I met her at my brother's wedding, I told her I was getting married too and that I wanted her to be there, even though it meant I had to send her a plane ticket to get there. WTF? She couldn't attend my wedding because she was on a world cruise (looking for another rich husband). Afterwards I thought, what's the matter with me? Why, in her presence, did I want her to be at my wedding? And fret about how I could make sure she'd be there? WTF? Later she told my brother how hurt she was that I didn't invite her to my wedding. WTF? Such stupidity could be explained if I were a man and she was giving me amazing sex, but this was obviously not the case, so WTF?

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Not everyone is charmed by ... (Below threshold)

April 28, 2011 12:45 PM | Posted, in reply to Django's comment, by AnAnon: | Reply

Not everyone is charmed by psychopaths, some people recognize them for what they are quite quickly and once you see through them and their charm offensive they appear as the not really charming people they are. Often there are many people around a psychopath that they don't bother trying to charm because they don't see them as being useful and also seem them as being inconsequential. It's why paying attention to how people treat others that are in positions that require providing service to you and your date can be a very good measure of what kind of person they are (not that very good manipulators don't also cultivate a grandiosely "generous" persona, or even a grandiosely "kind" one, sometimes too). The charm is about manipulation and exerting power over others/feeling superior, as are the fits of rage and even the pity-parties they throw for themselves. One of the most toxic aspects of dealing with people with NPD is how they try to use your empathy against you, which is perhaps one reason why so many psychiatrists and psychotherapists find them difficult to deal with.

The rest of us give them power for all kinds of reasons, one being that we seem to have internalized the idealized persona of NPD as a social ideal on many levels (certainly for men but increasingly for women as well).

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Peter, look up "psychologic... (Below threshold)

April 28, 2011 1:27 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Peter, look up "psychological manipulation" in Wikipedia. It will alert you to how this person is exploiting your vulnerabilities. You may recognize her methods and why it is possible for her to make you "want" to do things for her.

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Wow...I read these Wikipedi... (Below threshold)

April 28, 2011 8:32 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Peter: | Reply

Wow...I read these Wikipedia comments and the one that hit home was the 3 phases. Talk about hitting the nail on the head. I know I've been hit financially. In fact I just sent her a few hundred today. Texted that I did and got no response. A few weeks back when I was with her I said it almost seemed to me that she was being nice because something else she had going on didn't work out and now I was back in her good books.

The emotional part of this is what I need to deal with. If I had actually buckled under pressure and moved in with her way back when she was hounding me to, I might be way worse off than I am right now. I am stunned to think that the whole thing has been a made up lie. That is downright scary. She is sooooooo good. I am still not out of the woods. A part of me wants to get the upper hand and another part of me (the one with rocks in my head) is saying she is right and I am wrong.

Right now I have managed to get myself out of debt and have a fresh chunk of change heading my way. She is aware of it but is being somewhat complacent in contacting me. I've been the weak one and have texted when I said we wouldn't...she has as well. This is so's like I'm unable to believe someone like her could be as manipulative as what I'm reading but all the cold hard facts are being laid out in front of me.

A part of me still believes that I'm wrong and she really is the perfect woman I've been seduced into believing has come into my life. I appreciate the comments...I am getting stronger and must keep going and build my resolve to save my emotional well being. I can always make more money.....but a damaged soul is going to be a hard thing to get over....I feel like I've caught this in time....thank you all so much.....I really do need help to get over this hump....any extra real stories I can hear will help me connect and get away from the black hole I was being pulled into....this is an amazing revelation.

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She texted back and said sh... (Below threshold)

April 29, 2011 12:58 AM | Posted, in reply to AnAnon's comment, by Peter: | Reply

She texted back and said she'd call..words of encouragement..etc

hmmm....I feel free...I want to not respond and take no calls...flying south tomorrow and wanting to leave this behind..I feel happy right now...wanting to understand what I've went through and just being able to be me with no feelings of will be monumental for me...I am feeling so happy right

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Dear Peter, reading your st... (Below threshold)

April 29, 2011 3:19 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Dear Peter, reading your story has also been valuable to me because it has helped me understand how my father could have done what he did (he was in the thrall of a narcissistic woman, just like you are now). It's been a long road to try and forgive him. She, I could understand, was bad, but how could he harm me, the child he loved until then, simply because he refused to believe she was lying to him? Be grateful that in your case, Peter, there are no other persons involved against whom you have sinned to please this woman.
This is from a website about the survivors of parents with Narcissistic Personality Disorder:

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This is the quote from the ... (Below threshold)

April 29, 2011 3:22 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

This is the quote from the website for survivors:
"Narcissists can and do control themselves when someone's good opinion is sought -- in front of a judge, for instance -- and are skilled at presenting a respectable, even admirable, public face; some are actually meek and mild in public. Most of us who've lived with narcissists have had the experience of being disbelieved when we dared to tell what goes on in private; in some ways, we can hardly believe it ourselves. Life with a narcissist is like a bad dream that you can't wake up from. As a child, I used to be dazed by my narcissistic parent's public demeanor -- I wanted to take that person home with me or else live our entire family life in the protection of the public eye -- so attractive, modest, and sweet that even I could hardly believe that this same person could be the raging fiend I knew at home and had seriously thought, for a while when I was about ten, might be a werewolf. But truthful reports about narcissists' private behavior are often treated as symptoms of psychological problems in the person telling the tale -- by naming the problem, you become the person with the problem (and, let's face it, it's more gratifying to work on changing someone responsive than it is to tackle a narcissist). And I'm talking about the experience many of us have had with "the helping professions," including doctors, teachers, clergy, counselors, and therapists. This stuff is hard to talk about in the first place because it's weird, shameful, and horrifying, and then insult is added to injury when we're dismissed as overreacting (how many times have we heard "You're just too sensitive"?), deluded or malicious, as inventing stories, exaggerating, imagining things, misinterpreting -- it goes on and on. The fact is that there is next to nothing anyone can do to modify a narcissist's behavior and the only useful advice I ever got (first from my non-narcissistic parent, later repeated by my Jungian analyst) was "Get out and stay out.""

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Yesterday I flatly stated w... (Below threshold)

May 13, 2011 3:55 PM | Posted by Peter: | Reply

Yesterday I flatly stated we were done and that was it. I grabbed what few belongings I had and left. I was forced to leave a vmail and said please respond with a yes or no. I was texted back with a response saying an email will be written to me that night. 9 hours later I got home and picked it up. Breaking it off had now turned into a 3 month plan where pre-arranged phones calls would occur. We would not talk about "us" but would discuss what each other is doing. This is a time to find ourselves and yes, she does love me deeply. I am going to send her $300 tomorrow and then that is it. I have now hit the $49.000 mark in 24 months...this does not include hotel, take out food, fill the tank up etc. I honest to God started to think I was a psychopath. I responded to the email and swore that was it. I got a call that I didn't answer and then a text that was weird and that I didn't respond to. I have to end this here and now. My whole life has got so screwed up and I have to STOP this. My words are being twisted around where I started doubting my sanity. When I say she didn't say something and she says yes she did I end up totally confused.

I can feel a weight coming off me and I also feel how close I've come to being emotionally broken. I feel like crying but hold it back because then I'll know I was beat. I've been such a fool. Things were so great in the beginning...I mean wonderful....and slowly it changed where in the end I feel like it's all been my fault...I'm to blame...I am messed up in the head for thinking and saying things to her that were puzzling to me as well as driving me nuts. I am so drained thinking about everything...I need to be strong...I can't back down this time....even now I feel guilt...I'm to blame for her financial woes even though I'm far away...I take care of her problems like they are my responsibility...I know for a fact she has went through $111,000 in 24 months and that is just the money I know about....there may be more from other suckers...whenever I say anything about money or a budget I am stopped dead in my tracks and always hear the "I don't spend any money on myself....just bills" When I heard the "life sucks" the other night I knew I was being primed for giving out more money....I actually got away with spending $20 this time...only because I got the hell out of Dodge quick. I have found myself turning into a liar, a cheat and being dishonest....I just want me old self that loved I am crying....I swear sometimes I feel like putting a bullet in my brain to end this God....what have I done to my life :(

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This article is written fro... (Below threshold)

May 27, 2011 3:08 PM | Posted by Psycopath: | Reply

This article is written from a point of view that all psychopaths are created equal. There are mediocre psychopaths and then there are really great ones. The lower class psychopath is poorly educated and becomes a petty thug. Educated (true) psychopaths become formidable.
A true psychopath has simply liberated himself (or herself) from artificial social constructions like right versus wrong and has realized that one's own will alone should be one's only moral compass. What I want to happen is good and what I do not want to happen is bad. A psychopath is beyond good and evil.
You (non-psychopaths) are playing the game by a rule book. And, if you do break the rules, your shame or fear od consequence prevents you from taking it too far. Psychopaths don't have rules or shame or fear--only desire. Psychopaths keep their eye on the prize and do not become distracted by silly sentiment. Your "feelings" are your greatest weakness and who can blame an opponent for exploiting your weakness? Basically you are a chess piece.
Women are no more susceptible to charm then men. Men are just a s stupid but repond to different tactics. You tell a woman how beautiful she is and that she is unique above all others. You tell a man that he is the true alpha male and then dominate him through his insecurity. Another successful tactic that works for both sexes is to suggest that there is something pleasant that can be enjoyed if they will simply do (insert whatever it is that you want them to do here). The opposite tactic is to let them believe something unpleasant will occur but can be avoided is they simply (insert whatever you want them to do). Of course the easist thing to do get a human to do nothing at all. If you do not want a person to do any particular thing, make it appear like it is a lot of effort to do it. Most people are as lazy as they are stupid.
Keep in mind that you are surrounded by psycopaths. We are all around you but you just don't see us. If you do, you generally just smile your big toothed grin and shake hands. Oh...but I've said enough now, perhaps too much.

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Are psychopaths charming? I... (Below threshold)

June 11, 2011 5:35 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Are psychopaths charming? I've known two who fit the description of psychopathy, one male and one female. The man was indeed diagnosed in prison. The woman I can guess from many years long experience of the things she did. I myself am female, BTW.

The man tried very hard to be charming. Some fell for it. To me it mostly sounded like self-serving blather, like described in the original post. Very irritating. Given that he was imprisoned so often, we could assume he wasn't very successful (unless his aim was to spend lots of time on prison)

The woman is more interesting. She was extremely charming to men and woman both. Very fun to be around. It was easy for people to be drawn into her world and be made to feel special. The trick was, she could withdraw that charm at any time, or suddenly do something so cruel it seemed unbelievable. Most people didn't realize what was happening to them until the damage was done.

In both cases the perpertrators left a lot of emotionally scarred people wondering how this had happened to them.

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People are naturally more w... (Below threshold)

June 11, 2011 6:00 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

People are naturally more wary of men and more inclined to trust women (after all, men are more prone to violence, the prison population is largely male). Women are assumed to be more nurturing and "caring" and to shy away from harming anyone. I don't think this works for corporate women, because there everyone is on the alert that she may be a "bitch" (even when she isn't), just because she is outside her "nurturing" role. In the corporate world the male psychopath is better camouflaged, while in the home environment few ever suspect the female psychopath, unless a child is found dead due to neglect or physical abuse.

I am convinced that many men who die suddenly in middle age (ascribed to a sudden heart attack) were actually murdered and nobody suspects anything to ask for an autopsy, because the husband would have been singing the praises of his charming wife.

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This is a great topic to lo... (Below threshold)

July 8, 2011 10:15 AM | Posted, in reply to Alone's comment, by catsndogs: | Reply

This is a great topic to look at, but it is a bit like nailing jelly to the wall finding a one rule answer for anything in Psychopathology (as Hare and others suggest). But, specifically about this charming thing -

I was married to a man who was highly Narcassistic with me, going seriously weird later. All pyschopaths (PP) have some degree of N, while N's are not necc PP.
[colour chart: He flunked 2 faculties (attendance); bad record at work (final warnings); pretending to pay mortgage (to buy mail order porn); car accidents (offering to pay repairs off insurance, not replying to letters threats) etc].

Anyway, he had 'charm and charisma' as I thought it (at 18yrs). He was very verbally skilled, especially with all women, in both English and French, a major part of his attractive charm [to me]. I was chuffed at finding someone (male) who had more than 3 syllables at his disposal, plus all my female aquaintances were jealous (of me!). He also managed to find my real need/weakness and claimed he shared the same (mirroring). He appeared as 'the very opposite' to my parents that I was searching for.

Charm is a subjective thing. I cannot imagine ANY male (or bunches of females) falling for any of the stuff I desperately wanted to invest my Self in then. I needed 'him' be true. All this sounds very close, that the connection has to start off at a more superficial level. True, and of course it does.

But, as history is written by the victors, desciptions of a psychopath are written by their survivors. More Psychos are male, and, according to stats, the majority of population is hetero (no offence), so 'the' massive target field is straight females, and so thats who are filing the reports on PPs; why they are always "charming".

Usually male PPs aren't trying to impress males, and they never care who they alienate. Only if they wanted soemthing from a male would they chameleon themselves to tap into what would make him deliver - tell you how much of a mans man they thought you were (say). If it worked, and you became a host .. later, you might explain the why? with - well, he seemed very nice.. (ie: 'charming').

Charming is a way of explaining [away] your own failure in protecting yourself (self hatred) by blaming him [or her] (correctly!), without revealing (and even not admitting to yourself) the pathetic details of your weakness that he could instinctively and immediately see in you (shame).

I do believe some females are PP. If they are hetero, then the descriptions of them would come in from men (and/or their adult children, either gender).

Is 'charming' a word men would use? Would men simply say "she was a lying b-tch"? Both descriptions would be equally, subjectively true. So perhaps the charming thing is just the word of choice for women trying to nail down the pavement Psychopath experience.
If we get a bigger sample of survivors if the female psycho, the word might turnout to be delusional. Men project pain and anger on to others, then explain it. Women tend to absorb, and explain that.
So the word chosen is more about the victim, not the psychopath. Could a glib, unempathetic, consciousless, bored and empty man ever actually be "charming". But we all get the message.

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The experts tell us that 97... (Below threshold)

July 31, 2011 9:07 PM | Posted, in reply to La BellaDonna's comment, by Kathleen: | Reply

The experts tell us that 97 percent of all psychopaths are male. I think because women are expected to be nice,kind and honest it comes as a real shock when a female psychopath is encountered. That is why when Arlene Wernos was discovered to be a serial killer everyone was so shocked. People just expected it to be a male. I hope you can find a good woman. Don't let your heart go cold because then they win by destroying your chance for love.

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I have studied psychopaths ... (Below threshold)

July 31, 2011 9:29 PM | Posted, in reply to Fargo's comment, by Kathleen: | Reply

I have studied psychopaths too much, I will pass on some of the knowledge I have acquired. Dr. Robert Hare tells us that psychopaths can mesmerize, like looking at a cobra. Women are especially vulnerable to these predators. I have read stories of psychopaths in shackles in transport charm women, to their captures dismay. Its us against them, help your friends when you see them being charmed by these predators, male or female. Also remember you are putting yourself in danger when trying to expose these monsters. They will stop at nothing to achieve their evil intent. Don't forget they prey on the most innocent among us.

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I just realized that the op... (Below threshold)

July 31, 2011 9:50 PM | Posted, in reply to S. B. 's comment, by Kathleen: | Reply

I just realized that the opposite sex has the ability to fool us. Both ways, women can't see the snake behind the charm. I am a barely surviving victim of the psychopath. I would never fail to know it if the woman was a psychopath. I would be disgusted to see a male falling for antics and assume he was actively aware of the bullshit! Never thinking that he was completely fooled! I guess because I assume men are players and don't care about character, if they can get sex.

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Kathleen, the experts are w... (Below threshold)

August 1, 2011 2:29 AM | Posted, in reply to Kathleen's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Kathleen, the experts are wrong! They erroneously and unscientifically draw a conclusion from the fact that 97% of the psychopaths they come across are male. Female psychopaths seldom land in prison where they can be studied. They kill with poison, and it is assumed their victim simply died of a sudden heart attack. Unless a member of the family is suspicious, no autopsy is done. Even if a member of the family became suspicious, the psychopath charms the rest of the family with tears and a pathetic act and the family will turn upon the suspicious member with fury and of course no autopsy will be done. My father was murdered by a psychopath and he was her second victim (that I know of). Unless they want to put black widows in a different category, or get realistic national figures by demanding that every middle-aged male that dies suddenly be autopsied without the family's consent, the "experts" can't claim to know for sure that only 3% of psychopaths are female.

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I'm sure there's a lot more... (Below threshold)

October 26, 2011 11:35 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I'm sure there's a lot more female psychopaths than we think, but I feel as though, a lot of times female psychopaths are easily disregarded simply because they are females. I also think that not all psychopaths act out in violent crimes, or end up in jail. Being that they're psychopaths; having the mindset that they just don't care/give a damn, they might not even attempt to do anything. And all because just that, they don't care. They might not even bother to do anything illegal, but stick with little things like fooling men/women for some kind of sexual gain, or benefit from anything really. Some don't even get arrested. A lot of them I think are just plain sneaky, and can get away with, and have gotten away with a lot. I'm sure there's a lot of 'em. They could very well be well be our neighbors, our cousins, our best friends, husbands/wives, bf's/gf's, and that coworker who's always smiling and offering to give a helping hand when you need someone. They could be ANYONE! I think thats what makes it so damn scary!

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What is even more interesti... (Below threshold)

November 23, 2011 8:50 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

What is even more interesting than the question about psychopaths is the underlying confusion (even resentment) about women's perceptions in this article, and in a lot of the responses. 'Why do women find something charming that men don't?' is the question, with or without a psychopath thrown in. However, perhaps this and the question about psychopaths being charming are related.

It's been suggested that women often tend to have more active language centres than men in the brain, and testing has shown that psychopaths typically process their world through the language centres rather than through the limbic system. So perhaps the psychopath's adeptness with language can make him or her appealing to a lot of women even as it, as put here, 'repels' many men.

It's quite possible that a high-functioning, more subtle psychopath would use a different technique to appeal to a masculine brain - sexuality, for instance, or displays of power.

Whatever the case, it is also true that many people - men and women - have a gut instinct of repulsion when they come into contact with a psychopath that they can't initially explain.

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Further to my last comment,... (Below threshold)

November 23, 2011 8:14 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Further to my last comment, it's also worth noting that any psychopath you encounter in a courtroom situation (especially with you acting as an expert) is a. Unsuccessful b. Out of options and not working from a position of power - language is the only tool they have left to try to deceive you c. Aware that you are, as it were, the enemy.

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What is really interesting ... (Below threshold)

November 24, 2011 1:13 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

What is really interesting in the court arena is toward the end when the psycho see's it is losing, and has to testify defying their legal counsel. When everyone can see the truth, it will still try to baffle with the bullshit, to everyone's amazement! Its been getting away with lying for sooo long its sure it can fool again! Yeah "People of the Lie" is very interesting, even in academia you keep coming back to the word evil, which has religious connotations. The powers that be in the mental health field are considering re-labeling psychopaths as intra-species predators or a sub-human category. Believe me they know what they are, they just don't want you to know it!

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I have a question for the ... (Below threshold)

November 24, 2011 1:59 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I have a question for the doctor. The psychopath I know is probably also a serial killer. He is also a mohawk indian, they are known as man eaters. Don't know if he is eating his victims or not? I know that in some cultures eating their dead relatives was considered a way to honor them by keeping a part of them inside themselves. In other circumstances like war, the victims were eaten by way of totally consuming the victims power.(Kuru's disease put an end to alot of this eating your relatives) Isn't this consuming of your identity and turning you into waste, what the psychopath does to you psychologically?

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This is for people who hav... (Below threshold)

November 24, 2011 4:31 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

This is for people who have encountered psychopaths or work with them. The charisma you refer to may be associated with your garden variety psychopath. There is more dangerous version out there. When he gets you in his sights, it has the effect of a magnetic pull. You can feel its eyes going through you. Some people mistake this for interest, yeah he's interested alright. If you cross it in a way it doesn't like, like a cop, court advocate, judge etc. You are in the cross hairs. It might not be tomorrow, next month, next year, you are a target. It could be your wife your children, doesn't matter, you will pay. What was it BTK called them "projects". Although in his case there was no reason at all, he was just hunting. Psychopaths are not an anomaly,they are an epidemic! They are carelessly breeding as fast as they can! There are many more psychopaths out there who have successfully hidden, remember deceit is their forte! All these young mental health professionals coming into jobs where the psycho can watch what car they get into and follow them have no idea how dangerous their jobs are! Wake up people, its us against them! No one wants to care until its their child or wife dragged off into the woods by the predator!

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For me what is dangerous ab... (Below threshold)

November 25, 2011 10:17 PM | Posted by Movinf Forward: | Reply

For me what is dangerous about sociopaths/psychopaths is the effect they have on me. Knowing or thinking who may be distorted makes me react in a way I'd never considered. Maybe I can play the game?...being burned emotionally and financially makes me seek out these predators and play along. In doing so I question motives....they have turned me into something I was not before....can I play others?...yes....I have researched how they do it...but can I target them and win? There is one I love. Despite seeking advice on how to escape her, and my words saying I'm done and no contact rules....I give in to her...I have my strong moments and they feel good....and then my weaker and they feel better...she is my ace in the hole and I'm using her and she me....I think I crave a hard core psychopathic woman for mutual abuse....for me it would drive success to a new high.

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A reflexive ability to dece... (Below threshold)

November 26, 2011 10:51 PM | Posted by drunicusequus: | Reply

A reflexive ability to deceive, an apparent lack of guilt, an easy ability to rationalize, a continual feeling if entitlement, a lack of both logic and reason, a feeling that they have their own personal "morality," and a gift for manipulation, extreme verbosity, along with a strong self destructive streak, and a curious lack of fear?

These are MALE behaviors?

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Its true that psychopaths s... (Below threshold)

January 24, 2012 9:39 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Its true that psychopaths seem to be charming, but as you've mentioned its mostly a certain age of women that find them so. They generally themselves do not like men, or distrust all men. This is especially true if they realize that a man is standing up for a woman. Most men do not find them interesting as you pointed out and usually they listen to their 'charming' stories out of politeness.

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Hi people,I'm so s... (Below threshold)

January 26, 2012 9:20 AM | Posted by Barry McGowan: | Reply

Hi people,

I'm so sorry for the experiences you've been through, I'll spare you my own, suffice to say I feel I'm recovering from brain damage.

Thank you for the insightful comments on "projective identification."

There's only two sites online which I've seen anything that refers to projective identification and 'ambient abuse' which should be a criminal offence.

This is the other site I found;


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"How do you con a con man?"... (Below threshold)

June 2, 2012 4:35 AM | Posted by Lexus Liberal: | Reply

"How do you con a con man?"

From my experience psychopaths yield to a stronger more clever psychopath. I suppose a fisherman sees another fisherman when he sees one.

Women are attracted to psychopaths since they aren't boring because they are impulsive and clever conversationalists that can stimulate different emotions in women, who equate feeling emotions to "living". You should stop thinking that women are attracted to the same things as men. Women sees the social manipulation as a form of power and every women likes power.

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Lexus Liberal, without mean... (Below threshold)

June 4, 2012 9:07 AM | Posted, in reply to Lexus Liberal's comment, by Barry McGowan: | Reply

Lexus Liberal, without meaning any kind of disrespect to you, take-on board what I'll now disabuse you of :

The way you see things is due to 'both' the limitations borne of your dysfunction & your weak surrender to them & "transparently false" promotion of that tasteless self-destructive addiction, which arrested whatever chance you had at "emotional development." (Misery loves company.)

To paraphrase you & correct you, "psychopaths yield to a stronger more 'cleverer' psychopath" because all sadists are masochists at-heart, as what they worship is a sickness.

So, lacking 'insight' into their unconscious & "painfully" denying the truth about "reality" leads to a "primitive" awe at those exhibiting more "confidence" at behaving even "more" primitively !!

The benefit of a 'coupling' of psychopaths can be seen "clearly" in Myra Hindley being able to blame Ian Brady & Rosemary West being able to "blame" Fred & Bonnie being able to "blame" Clyde. The desperate nature of all psychopaths (AKA "dishonest infants") is to "blame" someone-else for what they're "unequivocally" 100% guilty of. (Even when caught Red-handed.)

You then used the description "Women," you're "incorrect" to use the term woman, as that describes an "adult & mature human-being." A psychopath is "neither" an adult or mature & the world's leading expert (Robert Hare) says they're not human, ie He calls them "intraspecies predators."

I see that as too 'romantic' a description of people, who are simply "severely-mentally-handicapped" across the entire front of their brain, which means they're cut-off from the "meaning" of life, which keeps them in a proto-emotional stage & leads to their self-loathing which they 'project' onto others.

The sad thing is, a significant percentage of people are "trusting," therefore they can't believe the fundamental lack of self-awareness the psychopath has. ie The psychopath falsely-imagines themselves to be 'cleverer' by lying pathologically. Which most people can't see, often until it's too late.

Psychopaths are work-shy, incompetents, looking for easy-prey. The "fact" they "hide" what they are is proof that they know they're "despicable" & aren't aware just how "pitiful" that makes them.

They "always" know right from wrong & "choose" wrong as they're addicted to the pleasure they get from sadistic cruelty & dominance, where 'they' are on-top for once 'making the rules' they'll otherwise never understand.

ie Since they're cut-off from their prefrontal-cortex & frontal-lobes, without which you cannot have the sanity-guiding "sense" of a 'moral-conscience' or 'empathy & compassion (AKA The meaning of life.)

Moreover they have no 'object constancy,' meaning they'll suffer that core-insecurity for-life & since they narcissistically 'project' their-own untrustworthiness onto 'innocent' others, they can only ever be 'either' the dominant power-crazed 'abuser' or the submissive 'plotter.' (ie Extremes without 'balance,' which ultimately leaves them 'hollow' as well as cold.)

Either-way, a relationship with them is pointless, as they don't store any "depth" of emotion (if any,) therefore they'll 'never' appreciate anything you 'ever' do for them & they'll never mature & sadly worse of all, they'll never "learn."

So "women" aren't attracted to psychopaths, the "infantile-at-best" & female-psychopath are attracted to other psychopaths, as a short-termism solution to their never-ending problem of "boredom," which is due to their proto-emotional "incapacity" & their "addiction" to triggering the "warped" wiring of their ventral-tegmental reward centre.

Cut-off from the meaning of life & the guiding light of having a moral-conscience & comorbid with a lack of 'fear' or remorse & having no "feelings" for people coming from their "body," perverse-pleasure is the only thing that gives their self-absorbed & "superficial" life purpose.

By a certain age the less fortunate psychopath "ingrains" their pathology into seeking to trigger that reward mechanism, without punishment. AKA "moral imbecility" or 'hypocrisy.' Which would've long since become a rigid-alloplastic defence mechanism, due to the "endless" capacity for denial an 'unselfaware infant' has. (AKA a hardened criminal.)

When an infant is 'frustrated' by something they can't understand they throw it away & call it 'boring,' which is an ego-syntonic false conclusion.

So the 'stimulation' that psychopath-females 'crave' is borne of the fact that they've only got proto-emotions. ie They'd like to 'blame' their-own incapacity on that which they'll never 'appreciate' & refer to unhandicapped men as being boring.

Rather than "pretend & pretend & pretend & pretend," in-order to make an object (AKA a real man) believe your life, which in-turn makes moral-imbeciles falsely-imagine themselves to be clever, as they got-away-with it.

My advice is to 'confidently tell' a man, who's 'not' mentally-handicapped, what you "are" & what you 'want' & you'll find they'll open your mind to a whole new way of seeing the world.

However I'm certain you'd still find that boring, as due to low levels of MAOA you can't produce your own excitement & are too weak to resist the urge to become excited at "someone else's" expense.

Sadly, due to your warped wiring, you get-off on doing the exact-opposite of what you should be doing, whilst hiding in plain view, exactly as all "naughty infants" do. eg They prefer the stolen-biscuit over the packet of biscuits they've already got, etc.

The hidden inferiority-complex of the "immoral" psychopath drives their every pitiful thought. My advice is "surrender" to a 'real' man & reap the ultimate reward.

Since psychopath females aren't capable of an adult depth of emotion, they forever remain in the proto-emotional stage of the infant, needing an exhausting volume of constant 'attention & stimulation,' every time the 'object' disappears from view, thus they whine & cry for it's return & blame it when it does (or doesn't.)

When you stop thinking about getting a 'reward' & start 'giving' you'll start living, until then you fool & destroy only your "self." (However, I'm sure you'll 'falsely blame' someone else & lie to support it 'endlessly.')

Ergo, you're fundamentally & unsurprisingly wrong that "all women" like power, power is "self-destruction amongst others" & doesn't-exist.

Strength is what was shown by Mother Teresa, a "real" woman who "accomplished" a 'moral' mission in reality, where I exist & lead my own life by working-hard & giving that to those who 'deserve' it.

ie Anyone who has-to resort to "covert-manipulation" is admitting to being weak & perverse & "inadequate," (AKA delusions of grandeur.)

Otherwise they'd TRY being "honest" & see how far they get in 'reality' where only the 'clever' can truly exist, without stooping to kindergarten behaviour-patterns or worse, due to being a ventral-tegmental reward "junkie." (AKA pitiful, bless you.)

Most 'duped' western females don't make-it beyond 5 years of age emotionally, which suits 'Caligula.'

Here's the new address of the website I got most of my insights from. I have to 'admit,' most of what I've written I 'stole' off him :


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You're wrong. An actual ps... (Below threshold)

July 13, 2012 2:42 PM | Posted by Damien Fox: | Reply

You're wrong. An actual psychopath who's goodlooking and charming(while college educated)and on the baseball team... it's easier to manipulate guys. Women are always naive and a bit... easy game for some. And some psychopaths like an actual challenge or someone who might be the same.

Guys are easy to manipulate... everyone shows his or her insecurities and weaknesses almost immediately. If you basically act like how Vince Vaughn did in Swingers, never stab a friend who's a little shyer than you, you have a loyal friend who will have your back for life. One of the best portrayals of a psychopath was Eckhart's character in the classic, "In the Company of Men." He never dissed Howard while he went in for the kill. He was the only guy he didn't TRASH. However; the only fake thing about him is how flagrant he was with insults about other guys who liked him.

How do you think Hitler was so great at keeping his men by his side? Or why do you think all the Republicans and former men with money rallied around Ted Bundy saying, "this is all wrong. Ted's a great guy and would be okay with him dating my daughter."

We keep adapting, because it's 'Die or adapt' these days. And most of us don't want all the power or money, and have come from money and found it boring. We also usually have a code. Yes, we work out and watch our diet while looking a lil more slick than others. And will say, I prefer the word dapper. And if you have some kind of existential crisis or chasm, whatever, and tell your Psych whom gives you ADD meds and Xanax... she says that rules you out as being one. Also, she's thinking you're a great guy and just far more intelligent(who analyzes things far too much), so you'd question that.

Most love animals more than people, don't rape girls cause we're narcissists and like to do it in a way where you're too cool for school, and we also can recognize other psychopaths. My bestfriend is one, my second bestfriend who dropped outta college for the Navy is batsh!t crazy and at least a narcissist with malevolent feelings at times, and so forth. If you're a high functioning psychopath, you weren't abused, were spoiled, and just figured out how society is dying.

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why are women the focus on ... (Below threshold)

January 29, 2013 11:17 AM | Posted by anonymous: | Reply

why are women the focus on how psychopaths are perceived as charming?
as if it is only the women who find them as such.
psychopaths charm, that is their intent. men and women have been charmed by a Bernie Madoff .
a man has been charmed and continually charmed until he was killed by a female psychopath (the Jodi Arias case)

is it just me or is Alone showing what he really thinks of women?

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When it comes to female psy... (Below threshold)

March 19, 2013 8:28 PM | Posted by Kailey Park: | Reply

When it comes to female psychopaths...I'd say men are just as easily charmed. Speaking as one.

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Three responses.Fi... (Below threshold)

March 20, 2013 9:05 AM | Posted by Crowe: | Reply

Three responses.

First, given the gender specific nature of your question I agree with BellaDonna that it's odd you've ignored female psychopaths. My experience of female psychopaths is extremely limited but from what I've seen their manipulation comes in the form of extremely obvious flirtation. You're charmed by it only if you allow yourself to be. Like male psychopaths they manipulate social and institutional structures to give themselves more power. As to the comments some posters have made to the effect "talking round the point, sounds like every woman I've met" at the point where women are more socially adroit than men, there might be a reason for that (below).

Second, I suspect that what you've described is more a form of emotional cold reading than anything else. They're trying to get a handle on you and they find it difficult to pick up on emotions 'intuitively' (read; by the ordinary simulative cognitive mechanisms emotionally normal people use) so if they want to get a read on you they'll have to throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and watch how you react. That's my guess anyway. I agree with other posters that this behaviour is not especially representative of (presumed) psychopaths I've met, but it doesn't surprise me. I've seen some engage in it on occasion, particularly when it comes to lying where they literally seemed to be testing exactly how much bullshit their audience would buy.

Third, as to the question of whether I've been charmed by male psychopaths the answer is 'not especially' but the psychopaths you've encountered in your court work are psychopaths out of their element. Most psychopaths of my experience bury themselves like ticks into some kind of social institution or other; they're the kind of guy about whom you say "I'm not his biggest fan, but I've got to keep on the right side of him". Gaining the acceptance of such people can feel rewarding and they are aware of this and use such approval or disapproval to manipulate. When you act in a manner consonant with their interests you can expect to be told what a 'straight shooter' you are etc and expect an extreme response when you act against them. I'd be willing to say such behaviour was 'charming'. (In response to an in-comment remark you make that you don't experience the 'hairs on back of neck' feeling either; my experience of this is that the more comfortable they are the less charming they bother to be. A psychopath not bothering to pretend to be normal is incredibly creepy).

Conclusion: the reason the experiences of others might not tally with yours is that you've encountered psychopaths in situations where you're in a position of power and they're desperately trying to get a read to manipulate you. Whereas most of us encounter psychopaths in their 'natural element' where by nature they'll have tried to construct for themselves some degree of institutional power and insulation.

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Never meet anyone you have ... (Below threshold)

April 28, 2013 5:14 AM | Posted by Chuck: | Reply

Never meet anyone you have met in a chat room in person. I assumed this person had underlying issues of an emotional nature so I just let it go. The wildly popular To Catch a Predator show that films arrests of would-be child molesters who show up to have sex with what they thought were minors, has come under intense scrutiny in the wake of the suicide of Louis "Bill" Conradt Jr.

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I know this is a late date ... (Below threshold)

April 28, 2013 10:15 PM | Posted, in reply to Peter's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I know this is a late date reply, I hope you are doing well. Thank you for sharing your story. I met a female psychopath, I was a captive audience, so to speak. I have spent ten years of intensive study, on what we call psychopaths. So I had all the knowledge to understand what I was seeing and hearing. Because intensive study of this subject is so dark, I shut that part of me down. You can get sucked into the dark side by too much exposure. From what I've seen people have bits and pieces of information about psychopaths. The "experts" tell us that 1 in 25 males is a psychopath. I can only wonder how that statisic was made, considering the nature of the problem? Anyway, this is the info we have to work with and female psychopaths are considered statisically insignificant. I didn't figure her out until after many painful hours listening to her talk. When I realized what I was looking at, I was shocked! She fooled me, I had my guard down because she was a female. Like I said I tried to block my mind from thinking about psychopaths, but I can't unknow what I know! Thank God, I did know! She tried to use every trick on me. I almost could not believe what I am seeing before my eyes. I don't know why, I guess I had never seen this behavior from a female before then. From everything she told me, I did feel compassion for her plight. But from everything that I know about these very dangerous people, they absolutely cannot be fixed. There is no helping them, don't even try. They will be playing a game with you and you will not win. Hell you won't even know its a game, until you look back on the trail of chaos and destruction they leave behind them. There is a good website called Lovefraud, and there are some men there too. You may already know this but it is very important if you don't know. When your dealing with a psychopath it is extremely important to have NO CONTACT! You are being played, if you let them have contact with you. You cannot even imagine the ways they will use to get you. This is what I had to do with this female psychopath. Oh and never call them out, ease out as best you can, don't make yourself a target in any way. The things mentioned above is the reason most professional counselors will not continue to see a psychopath, if they know its one. Because they are so dangerous, they are looking for victims and no one is off limits to them. They know that this person/humanoid would be the kind of person to watch and follow you when you leave work. Because you are not a psychopath, you just can't think like them no matter how hard you try. If you try, there in lies the danger. Lots of people have tried I'm sure from a clinical stand point. I can tell you it is a literal ceasepool! Danger don't go there, its a black hole. Now I sound like I'm preaching, people just don't understand and you can't blame them, really. When it is forced on you and your life depends on figuring out what the hell is going on, what choice do you have? That is how I started my research, I started with borderlines. I had no idea it was going to turn into ten years worth of research. The knowledge really does help to deal with the insanity. As long as you don't go overboard like I did. And take back your happiness and just let it go. Don't forget you have learned something very valuable, there are lots of psychopaths out there looking for victims, she isn't the only one. She could have saved you or a loved one from a worse fate, because now you know.

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Mike its a slippery slope, ... (Below threshold)

April 28, 2013 11:23 PM | Posted, in reply to mike's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

Mike its a slippery slope, theres a pretty good chance you won't beat them at their game. Just for clarification I would to say what is generally accepted interpretation of the use of the words anti-social personality disorder/sociopath and psychopath. The true etiology of this condition is unknown. However there are different schools of thought about its genesis. Some professionals believe that these personality disorders are from societal/family influences, hence you have the anti-social personality disorder. Other professionals think that this could very well be in the genes, = psychopaths. Basically the words can mean the same thing. The pattern that has evolved from research tells us that these deviant behaviors go back to childhood. Indicating perhaps a genetic component. And there is Dr. Peck's book,"People of the Lie" for another perspective. I have also read that now there is a new catagory, borderpath. I hope this is true, Antisocial Personality Disorder is getting a new classification! They will now (hopefully) be called Intra-species Predators! Which is exactly what they are, the true psychopaths. I'm sure there are grey areas as to levels of danger. But you don't know how bad it could be, they generally take people down with them or throw them under the bus. A true psychopath could put any award winning actor to shame. You don't always know when your dealing with a psychopath. After enough time you can see indications, it can be quite a job to manage all those lies to different people. In order to be a true psychopath, two other disorders are pre-qualifiers, NPD and pathological liar. Psychopaths are so decietful and manipulative, that sometimes you just can't even believe it. Ann Rule was locked in a small room with Ted Bundy, working suicide hotlines. It took her years to believe it, she could see the evidence, but it did not fit who she thought she knew. No one could debate the fact that Ann Rule is a smart woman. Hope I answered a couple questions for you.

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Nice article! I wrote a sim... (Below threshold)

May 7, 2013 8:42 PM | Posted by Jane Doe: | Reply

Nice article! I wrote a similar post on my blog about Jodi Arias and the diagnosis of borderpath. Very interesting yet creepy! Check it out at


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Sorry, I didn't mention tha... (Below threshold)

May 7, 2013 8:58 PM | Posted by Jane Doe: | Reply

Sorry, I didn't mention that my above post was referencing another reader's comment on the new category of Borderpath (Borderline + Psychopath) in which I wrote an atricle about on my blog


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Psychopaths have higher tes... (Below threshold)

May 17, 2013 1:58 PM | Posted by Gray: | Reply

Psychopaths have higher testosterone than non-psychopaths, and it intimidates your average joe. The look I get from other guys when I inject myself into their female social circle is worth far more than the sexual conquest. He knows that I am what they are interested in, and there is nothing he can do about it. I hit on girls who I wouldn't touch with anybody's dick just to get the rise out of them. I engage prostitutes in innocent conversation because I like to find the Achilles heel of every type of person, never know when it will come in handy.

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The question seems to be fo... (Below threshold)

June 9, 2013 6:03 PM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

The question seems to be for what reason the word "charming" is used to describe a psychopath in everyday "blue collar" speak. One could assume this is because by definition, a psychopath has "charmed" another person, or would not have been found out be that which s(he) is. Thus: "charming."

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<a href="http://www.huffing... (Below threshold) I genuinely believe that do... (Below threshold)

July 5, 2013 7:21 AM | Posted, in reply to Tere's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I genuinely believe that dogs love us in the same way we love each other, albeit in a more primitive way with different needs. If you think dogs don't love people then I believe you haven't spent much time around working dogs like Cattle dogs, Kelpies and German Shepherds. I've had 5 dogs over my 21 years and my late Kelpie Tara got extremely sullen and anxious when she hadn't been given any affection. My Jack Russel is very happy with himself when I praise him (its about tone and body language, not words) for defending our territory from intruders (pest birds, feral cats etc). None of these have in any way affected their feeding times or meal portions, ever. This is only anecdotal evidence but you have to look at the fact that canine (wolf) domestication is the only animal that was not forcibly domesticated by us. The animal (modern wolf ancestors circa 30,000 BC) saw us as a food source (scraps) and got more accustomed to us over time until they eventually had developed relationships which got closer and closer until you have modern day Staffordshire Bull Terriers who, if you've ever met one you know spends 24/7 being infatuated with their owner and doing whatever they can to lavish on and receive affection from their owner.

If you were specifically only talking about puppies then I'm sorry, disregard what I said as I'm sure we're on the same wavelengths. Puppies do definitely have a simpler, more selfish relationship to their careers as do all infants of any species.

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Lack of empathy... not chec... (Below threshold)

July 5, 2013 1:25 PM | Posted, in reply to Facetious's comment, by Gray: | Reply

Lack of empathy... not check. Women just tend to know where to hit the emotions of your average male and play to their advantage because they seek a connection, or if they are a psychopath, a subservient. There are about four times as many male psychopaths as females, although in my experience, the average female scores higher on the for fun PCL-R, mainly in areas of deception. Only a few females I've met were psychopaths and they have all caused hell in my life. My adopted sister is probably the messiest one, leaving in her wake two psychopathic children for my extremely sensitive mother to adopt. My ex girlfriend snared me with pregnancy, insisting that she was already pregnant when we started dating, one thing lead to another and we were having unprotected all the time.. in hind sight maybe I should have seen the signs, as I have just as many of them without the shifty estrogen moods... but I was 17 and didn't know that women could be so wicked. I try to be a good little psychopath but I never fail to offend, alarm, shock, appall, confuse, or disappoint somebody in a week.

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You then used the ... (Below threshold)

July 5, 2013 5:42 PM | Posted, in reply to Barry McGowan's comment, by jonny: | Reply

You then used the description "Women," you're "incorrect" to use the term woman, as that describes an "adult & mature human-being." A psychopath is "neither" an adult or mature & the world's leading expert (Robert Hare) says they're not human, ie He calls them "intraspecies predators."

I see that as too 'romantic' a description of people, who are simply "severely-mentally-handicapped" across the entire front of their brain, which means they're cut-off from the "meaning" of life, which keeps them in a proto-emotional stage & leads to their self-loathing which they 'project' onto others.


All of it was perfect. Not sure about Mother Theresa, pretty sure she's vermin; but irrelevant to the analysis itself, which was perfect.

Women are reducing girls. Except they're not women, they're malicious little Toddler girls.

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Psychopaths have h... (Below threshold)

July 7, 2013 2:02 PM | Posted, in reply to Gray's comment, by jonny: | Reply

Psychopaths have higher testosterone than non-psychopaths, and it intimidates your average joe. The look I get from other guys when I inject myself into their female social circle is worth far more than the sexual conquest. He knows that I am what they are interested in, and there is nothing he can do about it.

This sort of thing here typifies the sociopaths I come across day in and day out (and I think anyone quoting figures like 1:25 is delusional enough to be suspect); they all imagine they're impossibly cunning - it's really quite terrifying.

They're mostly too stupid to be real and motivated to be malicious by a long string of 'successful' outcomes which are either imagined victories or nothing more than confirmation bias. That parents tolerate lies from toddlers or even (vomit) celebrate the deceit as if it were genius, is simply horrifying. You can see the toddler child's brain ticking over, in awe at the 'magic' of deception; the beginning of a love affair with two-faced psychosis that lasts for life.

Perceiving victory where there isn't any is the hallmark of Toddler sociopaths; this Gray fellow injects his sociopathic malice into proceedings without the capacity to perceive the nature of his unpleasantness is what nothing can be done about. You cannot engage the maliciously insane without being dragged down to their level. He's just an unpleasantness that has to be seen off. He imagines he's intimidating but he's just a creep that cannot be engaged for profit or advantage. You might be contemptuous; he imagines you're afraid of his imagined capacity to compete. You might be nauseous; he imagines you're frightened of the threat he imagines he represents. They just imagine everything inside their minds and he mightn't be capable of getting any but it wouldn't matter. He's winning in his imagination; motivated to generate endless 'victory' (represented by "the look...from other guys" he imagines is envy at his capacity to impose).

His existence is nothing more than a hijack; the impact of which he completely misperceives. He doesn't want to win. He merely wants to beat you. Beating you for real or beating you in his imagination? Fantasy is equivalent to reality for the insane who imagine their way through their existences, beating everyone in their imagination.

Like whore combative mother.
Like whore combative son.
A world of Toddlers at war with Toddlers. Imagining wins in fantasy, killing and dying in reality.

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I read through a few of the... (Below threshold)

July 12, 2013 11:44 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Steve: | Reply

I read through a few of the comments here. I'm prone to falling for the ploys of psychopaths and find myself addicted to the results...however self destructive they may be.

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I think they only bother to... (Below threshold)

July 30, 2013 6:21 PM | Posted, in reply to R's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

I think they only bother to fool those they see as useful in some way. If you have nothing they want, they won't try to charm you - too much effort.

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I think very abused childre... (Below threshold)

November 17, 2013 6:13 PM | Posted by Sue: | Reply

I think very abused children can be very emotionally "flat' as well, and I think can turned into very emotionally stunted adults. It may be a terrible mistake to classify every person who does not have the standard and expected emotional reaction to everything as a psychopath. It should also be remembered that a person from, say, Prussia normally seems emotionally "cold" compared to someone from Italy. I do not think it is as straightforward as it might seem.

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I’ve come to this piece rat... (Below threshold)

November 28, 2013 11:17 AM | Posted by Dee: | Reply

I’ve come to this piece rather late, but thought to comment. Although I’m female, I cannot, for the life of me, understand how females respond differently to psychopaths and find them mesmerizing. I used to work with a female colleague in a publishing company and all she did was read about serial killers. Fair enough to work in law enforcement or legal areas and read up on criminal behaviours, but she was a mere customer service officer and she was fixated. This was more than a decade ago, but having lunch with her gave me the chills because all she would talk about were famous serial killers and how ‘fascinating’ they were, to the point where she even expressed a desire to be a pen pal, like a bride of Richard Ramirez. Years later, after I completed my first undergrad degree in English and psychology, I had read extensively on the subject, but my interest was academic and personal from the perspective of an individual who had grown up in broken homes/foster homes and endured many who fit these types of personality profiles. So yes, years later, I realised that I had encountered many psychopaths and they are more mundane than the infamous serial killers. They are annoying. They are all bullshit. They will turn it on for anyone, like putting out the fishing bait and waiting for a bite.
My second last encounter with a psychopath was with my long lost half brother. As you mention; he really had nothing to say, but had plenty of words to say, usually about nothing specific, but he'd succeed in sucking the emotional life from a person.

The most recent experience – this, after I felt relieved to be free from such encounters – occurred in a class seminar this year for my postgrad course and encountering my seminar leader. Needless to say I left the class feeling drained and quite dejected. When I returned home, the thoughts piled up. The idea of enduring this individual for an entire semester left me feeling depressed. Mind you his behaviour was not anything out of the ordinary, but he did reel in the naïve sector of the class with his empty words and 'I'm just like you, a rebel' aura [this approach so he can take the lazy approach to teaching]. Rather than commence teaching, he decided on the ‘get to know’, but his get to know was all about extracting emotions [what we loved/what we hated] from people in the guise of that ‘test’ being an indicator of how we learned. Being a psych major, I knew his ‘test’ was bullshit or was so BS it made the Myer-Briggs look legit/valid. He began by using himself as an example, beginning with what he hated and it was a stream of invective that didn’t spare anyone. It revealed his callousness and his disconnection with the plight of the everyday person on a long commute. He picked up such detail that I thought incredible [in a creepy way]; for example, rant and utter cruel epithets about an anonymous female train commuter who dared to apply mascara on the train. The fact that this individual may have woken up at some ungodly hour to commute to work didn’t cross his mind – and he isn’t a child, but a man over forty.
Yes he was verbose. Went on and on, but as for charming? I think a chunk of the population don’t really appreciate the meaning of charisma.
Everything was about him and even though he invited classmates to discuss their likes/hates, he always had to redirect to himself, to give it the final evaluation, so I threw out something that was extreme in that it sat on the extreme pole and he didn’t like it and immediately decided to reprimand me for my opinion regarding politics [that I dislike politics]. He cut me off, so I interrupted him, telling him not to interrupt me and well…he didn’t like that very much, but it gave me an indication of what he was and what to do about it.
I enrolled in another seminar schedule.
I think the point of the above is that, previously, as a teenager or minor, it was difficult to put my foot down and gain some control against these types of people, but over time I've realised that I could be assertive and not give them an inch. Anyone can.
As for their charm? I wouldn’t call it charm. It is pure manipulation. They want something from the individual – even if it is for that individual to believe their story and nothing more. But it’s always something. They are the vampire of our age. I doubt they even know what they want. They just want.

I still don’t understand why these types of individuals gain attention from women, why women tend to fawn over them [or write to them in penitentiaries].

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They just want.<br... (Below threshold)

November 30, 2013 7:05 PM | Posted, in reply to Dee's comment, by jonny: | Reply

They just want.

I still don’t understand why these types of individuals gain attention from women, why women tend to fawn over them [or write to them in penitentiaries].

Humans grade the appeal of others based on their own secret value system. They reveal the truth every time they act.

Decency, kindness, consideration, honesty, reciprocity are seen as weak and exploitable traits by oppressed Toddlers. They tell their children to respect others before bullying them because they're bigger, older and children should respect their capacity to use violence. In one breath, a parent will talk about the need for children to respect their elders and in the next, wring their hands over the bullying epidemic.

Toddlers love their bullying but the bully they hate. For an example, read the comments section of any article about bullying or shaming. Psychopaths appeal to wannabe psychopaths. They're seen as strong, rebellious and dangerous. Of course they're just pathetic leeches but then so are most women. Psychopaths represent women's predatory value system (what women want). And what do women want?

They just want.

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I don't think that it is ac... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2013 3:50 AM | Posted, in reply to jonny's comment, by Dee: | Reply

I don't think that it is accurate to state that people attracted to psychopaths are wannabe psychopaths [as a blanket statement/generalisation]. Are there any definitive studies that confirm that? The reasons for the attraction may vary. For example: A person may have a rescuing fixation, where they see themselves as different in the hope they'll change these psychopaths. Others may be so insecure in themselves, they need someone to take complete control, hence the psychopath. Many women don't even realise that they're dealing with a psychopath, but misconstrue these types of individuals as 'alpha males', 'control freaks', 'narcissists', etc. And who is to say that there is no overlap? We tend to think 'psychopath' as one clear category, but many may differ and describe these individuals on a continuum. Yes, a psychopath has certain traits, but there is nothing to say that they cannot also be narcissists or control freaks, or whatever else.

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I am female, I have known s... (Below threshold)

December 2, 2013 7:39 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

I am female, I have known several psychopaths, and I am not charmed by them at all. I have known a few female psychopaths, and they are HEROIN to men. One man told me, "I have never felt so masculine, so alive, so attractive, so needed." She almost completely destroyed him, and he came close to letting her.

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I agree with you on the ove... (Below threshold)

December 6, 2013 2:25 PM | Posted, in reply to Dee's comment, by jonny: | Reply

I agree with you on the overlapping and complexity, but I'm not qualified to comment on all of that.

But when it comes to rules of attraction, I disagree with you. When they're being judged, people tend to rationalise their actions with a lot of babbling bullshit. Rescuing fixation? Come on. They're embarrassed because they value what Society deems to be broken. They don't want to concede the truth about their attraction. If they were serious about changing the broken human, whenever they succeed in fixing or rescuing them, they'd have to break up as they're not attracted to fixed humans. They're attracted to broken humans.

How often do they succeed in changing what's broken? What humans say rarely correlates with what they do.

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Fantastic discussion.... (Below threshold)

December 13, 2013 3:33 PM | Posted by Intrigued: | Reply

Fantastic discussion.

I have never been "officially" diagnosed as a a psychopath. I have a criminal record with prison time, MMPI shows "features of antisocial personality disorder" (my therapist refuses to show me the actual results), highly promiscuous, shallow emotion, etc. The markers are there in abundance.

Yet despite all this, I do very well with women.

I am tall, broad shouldered, with dark features and a somewhat exotic ethnic mix. The WAIS-IV measured my verbal intelligence among my peers is in the 99th percentile. Of course, I'm my own worst enemy and have made supremely unintelligent decisions in many areas of life, repeating destructive patterns that I am aware of but lack the desire to change.

When I need (often) or desire (rarely) to be, I am masterful with words. I have charmed many women into bed, including women in relationships or marriage. I find it especially appealing to make these women touch a darker part of their natures.

I have found women's attraction to me to be full of ambivalence, but quite strong.

My seduction process is very strategic. I reveal only what I think she should know, and let her fill in the rest. I let her construct her own fantasy about who I am, by listening to her queues and letting her follow her own path to rationalization. Eventually, she is wet for me and I can have my way with her.

MANY women have told me that they feel "safe", "comfortable", or "open" with me to an unusual degree. I've had women confess all sorts of secrets, desires, dissatisfaction with current lovers, and other very personal information at very early stages of the seduction, even the first conversation.

This effect is especially powerful if I'm holding or cuddling with them and can look them directly in the eye at the same time.

As for "charming" men, this is a different ballgame. There are specific males that I identify as similar to myself, and as competitors. I instantly dislike them. There may be a polite interaction at the surface, but beneath I suspect we would both attack each other if given the chance.

At other times, however, I identify psychopathic males and determine that by working together, we can amplify our efforts.

Charming a woman is a lot simpler than charming a man, getting him to let his guard down. Generally, I use far fewer words with men. I focus on concisely illustrating to them just how I can be of value.

In business, this approach is powerful. I'm the guy who won't waste your time, I'll get right to the point of how I can make YOU more money.

In more social settings, if the man is my age, I will find ways to insinuate that he can have access to beautiful women by being around me - which is honestly the case.

In general though, I do not enjoy talking to men and meet/charm them only as a matter of course. Few men offer something I genuinely care enough about to exert the effort. Typically, I only associate with men I know will either get me around more women, help me make more money, or serve as a kind of social proof when I am out looking for women.

I'll stop now as this post is already longer than intended.

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Aside from the obvious fact... (Below threshold)

December 13, 2013 3:45 PM | Posted by Intrigued: | Reply

Aside from the obvious fact that I should have proofread my post before submitting (but who likes to do that?), I wanted to elaborate on one statement:

"In more social settings, if the man is my age, I will find ways to insinuate that he can have access to beautiful women by being around me - which is honestly the case."

The point of this is simply to nullify the male tendency toward jealousy and dislike toward those perceived as a limiting force in their sexual selection.

Older, single men with low self esteem are particularly vulnerable to this strategy.

They will forgive all kinds of brash and disrespectful behavior on my part, if I get them closer to the Promised Land.

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You pretty well hit the nai... (Below threshold)

January 8, 2014 9:40 PM | Posted, in reply to Anonymous's comment, by Steve: | Reply

You pretty well hit the nail on the head describing my encounter with a female sociopath.

Time heals and no contact helps.

I think I got what I deserved and am moving on.

Thanks for your thoughts....they helped.

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Maybe you should take some ... (Below threshold)

January 8, 2014 10:09 PM | Posted, in reply to Gray's comment, by Steve: | Reply

Maybe you should take some time and appreciate a woman for who she is.

You sound like you're full of yourself.

Crank it down a notch Romeo.

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Just read over the last par... (Below threshold)

January 8, 2014 10:16 PM | Posted, in reply to Gray's comment, by Steve: | Reply

Just read over the last part of your post.

"I engage prostitutes in innocent conversation because I like to find the Achilles heel of every type of person, never know when it will come in handy."

So you're paying for this research. I wonder what the women think when you're conducting it? sounds fascinating....and yes....psychopathic....your claim to fame.

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I think you're full of your... (Below threshold)

January 8, 2014 11:02 PM | Posted, in reply to Intrigued's comment, by Steve: | Reply

I think you're full of yourself as well with this promised land crap....don't give it up so easy and maybe you'll get what you want...too funny

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Alone, usually you're on po... (Below threshold)

January 11, 2014 8:01 AM | Posted by Anonymous: | Reply

Alone, usually you're on point but you might have dropped the ball on this one. Did you even read the entirety of the article before diving into the rum and booting up Notepad? I find it odd that a professional psychiatrist would know so little about psychopathy.

The extremely small subset of psychopaths you've worked with are hardly representative of the psychopath population as a whole. If someone was referred to you as part of a correctional program, that implies they've been incarcerated and thus have more or less been forced to work with you. How is that in any way representative of the millions of hidden psychopaths living beside you every day who have successfully evaded detection?

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"whenever they succeed in f... (Below threshold)

January 11, 2014 8:10 AM | Posted, in reply to jonny's comment, by Anonymous: | Reply

"whenever they succeed in fixing or rescuing them, they'd have to break up as they're not attracted to fixed humans. They're attracted to broken humans."

Only being attracted to broken humans does not logically follow from females wanting to "rescue" broken humans. Where did you get that idea?

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What's up with the Dark Tri... (Below threshold)

June 14, 2014 10:56 AM | Posted by peace: | Reply

What's up with the Dark Triad being called the "Dark" Triad. I have morals, a code. That's so judgy.

I may not be a psychopath, but I am a sadist, with machiavellian tendencies, so that's two out of three, and it gives me, I think, some insight into your question. I think I tap into a very similar thing there with women. I like men, too, but it's very different with men.

My theory is that I became who I am because you don't have to fear the monster under the bed if you become it. (Sidebar, I wonder if that monster could be named Power. You don't have to fear power if you yield power. Hm. Maybe.) With women there has been something very similar going on, but it's a different flavor of the same kind of food. With them it is more along the lines of: You don't have to fear the monster under the bed if it shares the bed with you.

Let's say I do something Not Nice. Nowadays I tell my girlfriend, "here's what I did and how", and instead of this conversation going as I would have expected years ago, "You're mean, inhuman, that's horrible, I'm leaving you" she goes "I'm happy to know you". Well, ok then. I love you, too.

And I do.

She loves me for who I am. It's not something I expected. I believe somewhere, deep down in her wiring, there is a sense of nothing being able to hurt her, of nothing being able to take advantage of her, of nothing going bump in the night because the Big Bad is on her side. I also feel she's right.

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"Maybe they don't see them ... (Below threshold)

April 19, 2015 7:37 AM | Posted by Peter Smythe: | Reply

"Maybe they don't see them as people?"
Wait.... Are we still talking about the victims? That sounds like how a psychopath views people.

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