Sanctuary for the Abused

Monday, April 18, 2016

How They Do It: Sociopathic Deception and Manipulation


by Jennifer Copley

Psychopaths make up just 4% of the total U.S. population, but the damage and devastation they wreak is extreme and widespread.

Psychopaths, also known as sociopaths, comprise 20-25% of the prison population, but 50% of those who have committed serious crimes. However, the majority of psychopaths are not violent—most are users, scam artists and shady business people. There is some evidence that psychopaths may be overrepresented in the fields of business, politics and entertainment.

Targeting the Vulnerable
Psychopaths are good at spotting exploitable vulnerabilities in others. Many psychopathic scam artists seek lonely individuals and promise them a lifetime of love and partnership. Others target the grief-stricken or those who have suffered a recent setback or breakup and are therefore less apt to look closely at what appears to be a compassionate helping hand. Alternatively, psychopaths may exploit someone’s need to be needed, finding a motherly or fatherly soul that they can milk for sympathy and cash. They are also inclined to marry people with low self-esteem and convince them that they are somehow to blame for any abuse they suffer in the marriage.

The Sympathy Ploy
Psychopaths usually play on the sympathies of others. When people’s empathic responses are aroused, they are less inclined to scrutinize an individual’s behaviour, or they will attribute bad behaviour to an abusive childhood or other trauma. This provokes the sort of nurturing response that enables the psychopath to manipulate and extract what he wants from others. In extreme cases, sympathy and deception are combined as a deadly lure. Serial killer Ted Bundy wore a cast and used crutches to make himself appear harmless and vulnerable to his victims.

While often appearing cold and deadpan, when they are trying to manipulate others, psychopaths often engage in dramatic, short-lived emotional displays designed to provoke sympathy or guilt, or even cause people to believe that they must be crazy for questioning the psychopath’s motives. Psychopaths say whatever will get people to give them what they want. Many work hard to give the impression that all of their problems stem from cruel treatment at the hands of others, and that they could change for the better if only some kindly soul would take an interest in them and support them. And because 24 out of every 25 people is not a psychopath, they find plenty of kindly souls willing to do so. They usually reward these people by breaking their hearts and cleaning out their bank accounts, as well as physically abusing them in some cases.

The Dynamic Persona
The psychopath can be an exciting companion at first because she takes risks that others wouldn’t take and thus can appear courageous and impressive. Psychopaths often pose as brilliant eccentrics, misunderstood geniuses or difficult artistic types, and so people are inclined to attribute bad behaviour to a creative temperament. Self-assured, cool under pressure and socially adept, they may appear larger than life. Their tendency to maintain intensive eye contact and move into the personal space of others enhances the image of forcefulness and confidence.

Because many psychopaths have a surplus of charm and the gift of gab, they are able to dazzle their audiences and con them into believing all sorts of outrageous stories. Excellent self-promoters and fast talkers, they boast and dazzle their targets with a variety of grandiose plans. The target usually experiences a wild ride and is left disappointed, financially poorer and wondering how everything the psychopath said could have seemed so plausible at the time.

The Flatterer
In The Miser, Moliere noted that “People can be induced to swallow anything, provided it is sufficiently seasoned with praise.” A common tool of the psychopath is excessive flattery. Most people enjoy receiving compliments, and those who suffer from either low self-esteem or an overinflated sense of self-worth can be particularly vulnerable to this sort of approach. Beware of those who tell you everything you want to hear all the time. A compliment or two is nice, but someone who continually peppers the conversation with flattery should be suspect.

Excuses and Empty Promises
A psychopath does not keep his commitments or obligations. He breaks his word, stands people up, abandons those who care about him at critical times in their lives, cheats with impunity, and makes promises he has no intention of delivering on to get what he wants. Psychopaths may disappear and reappear in the lives of friends and family, causing worry and heartbreak, without ever adequately explaining what they’ve been up to. However, they always have excuses, and it is always someone else’s fault.

Psychopaths abandon their spouses and children without the slightest concern. And while many don’t commit crimes for which they can be convicted, they often live what could be termed as a sub-criminal existence, engaging in a variety of secretive and shady dealings. When they do achieve success, it is usually through causing harm to others. Their lack of commitment to anything is evident in the many contradictory and hollow statements they make. However, they hang onto the people in their lives by promising to change, or even changing, briefly, only to revert back to their old ways in time.

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shared by Barbara at 12:05 AM


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11 Comments:

Hello, I have posted on here before about my abusive husband. I am now in the middle of a divorce with him. I am very grateful that I was able to get out when I had the chance. Now the problem is I have told my lawyer that he is abusive with examples and know that he has and will continue to be abusive to our two children. When he found out that I am claiming abuse and believe that I should be the primary caregiver, he freaked and is now very angry. He was being very good for a while, but now he is calling me the bad names again and threatening to screw me over with tapes of me saying things and doing things without my knowledge. All of this is confirming even more that he is very mean and abusive but it's so hard to prove this in court. He is so mean when he feels threatened and angry. I just hope that the courts see his problem and see it as worse than the things he trying to pin me for. My things are past experience that has nothing to do with the kids. I am just scared he will win when he is the mean guy.

12:01 PM  

Anonymous ... The best advice to give you is document everything. Communicate via text or email all of which can be used in court. But most important don't be intimidated, most abusive people become extremely nasty when they're loosing

7:24 AM  

Sociopaths and psychopaths aren't the same thing. They are similar, mind you.
Sociopaths are often selfish, attention grabbing individuals concerned mostly about themselves. I am a sociopath.
Psychopaths enjoy killing or inflicting severe harm (both mental and or physical) on others.
Ted Bundy is a psychopath.

7:10 PM  

Well while I have a real vulnerability streak which I won't go into as it's long...I think a so called "friend" is a psychopathic manipulator. I must admit to being slightly slow to catch on, even though I am generally the brightest one in the class (IQ). I am married and the friend is male. He seemed to take such an interest in me... and I was flattered as my husband while good to me seems to have no interest in me sexually. So to have someone telling me how beautiful gorgeous I am - was simply flattering. He had me help him with one of his houses - which he is married and no big deal I'd take a look at it. This is step 1) I did not see it that way and thought it would be fun to see and chat. Stupid me. So I did and we confessed a lot of things we are dealing with our marriages - wish I had not been so open but I now know an awful lot about him his family and his cheating which I have not done. He proceeded to hug me and just a peck on the cheek, peck on the lips, and proceeded to jokingly pressure me. I was stupidly flattered but maintained I was not gonna cheat. Eventually I left (see how slow I am to catch on). He proceeded the next day to apologize PROFUSELY, call himself a complete and utter asshole and jerk and said he would not do that again and please do not be mad at him and that he values our relationship as friends too much to be so stupid and have done that. I was Leary now and said I was not mad, it was somewhat flattering and let's just be friends. He then the next day texts me asking for help with one if his sons... for advice. I give the well thought out advice and a couple of tips, he compliments me on my wisdom, and then would I like to go for a drive and some coffee? I thought about it because he seemed genuinely sad about the past he said he was sorry he had been such a jerk and I said no I could not go. He said come on and do something for yourself once in a while... and save him from spending a bunch of money on pulltabs at the bar... but no pressure. I almost fell for it. I feel like an idiot for almost falling for it. I said I'd think about it. I did and after 30 minutes I text and say I just can't. I go to lunch occasionally with friends... or for a coffee but I felt if I was to go for a long drive that I would need to tell my husband as I don't want to lie and that I love being open and honest in all things. His comment :: wait for it:: "You read too much into this and perhaps we can go some other time". It was then that I realized I am dealing with a manipulator and possible psychopath... it made me truly realize I need to work on my marriage more with physical intimacy and get started on that, my response was nice but short I finally was total understanding of this monster - thank god I am NOT his wife... and I responded: Will do, thank you! And that was IT. I have a feeling he will start again with the same ploy. It starts off him asking for help or advice or knowledge, then a plea about what an asshole he has been and a request to save him from doing something dumb and then the offer.

Clearly this person cares not for my feelings whatsoever. I think simply ignoring him will be the worst thing I can do - perhaps he will go away. Thank god I did not have sex of any kind...

8:24 PM  

No, Hunter, those are not the correct explanations for psychopath and sociopath. Psychopath denotes something inherent in the person; he or she was born that way - lacking empathy and the ability to love. Sociopath denotes that there was something in the individual's environment, usually neglect or abuse during childhood, that caused or significantly contributed to him or her becoming that way - again, lack of empathy, inability to love, shallow emotions.
The words are sometimes used interchangeably because the criteria/behaviors are the same but the distinction lies in whether the individual was that way since birth or became that way due to environmental factors.

2:28 AM  

Your post rings true for me. Reflecting back after ending my 9 year marriage to a psychopath, I can now see things more acutely. You speak about their charm, their gift of gab, etc., which hooks others to their empty facade. They mimic the emotions of others, feigning concern, even crocodile tears, to get attention and praise. After successful completion of their brainwashing, the money in the bank account disappears, lies are artfully told every day, and a constant whining if they do not get their way with you. My ex-husband is a con artist know-it-all who pretended to be an innocent, caring person. Whenever I called him out on his abusiveness, or said, "No- that won't work" to a request, I was called names and belittled. He was really into gaslighting me, turning things around to suit his cause, and generally manipulating me on a constant basis. These types of people are just plain miserable human beings, who will find the negative in everything about you, life, and anything that does not coincide with their wants, needs and demands. I have often thought that my ex needed a pacifier in his mouth as all times, as he was always needing to be coddled, pampered, and taken care of as if he was an infant. So much time was taken up to suit his needs and wants, that the children's needs were left unmet. His jealousy of his children, along with anyone (including me) that he perceived as having more than him, made for a rageful, resentful "partner." I am so very grateful to have divorced this shell of a human being, but not surprisingly, he has tried on many occasions, to violate my boundaries, trying to find out any and all personal information about me. The kids are his pawns, as he often interrogates them about my personal life, despite the court order forbidding him to do it. The kids are left dealing with him, which causes me a lot of sadness and grief. I so much regret ever having married him. Prior to the official DSM-5 diagnoses of his Antisocial personality and Narcissistic personality disorders, I had the benefit of educating myself on his issues so that i could really know what I was dealing with. I was frightened when I learned of how sick he really was, which caused anxiety within me. I have had a year-long PO against him after he trespassed on my property (when finding out I was on a date ONE YEAR after our separation). I am always on guard for his next move, but knowing what he is, I am a few steps ahead. Your site and blogs help to solidify for me what he is and how I can cope and manage as an ex to such a person. Thank you so much for educating and supporting people like me who have had the unfortunate experience of having a relationship with a psychopath.

2:41 PM  

I have been in an on and off relationship with a sociopath. He lured me into an affair. I met him at the bank where I work and he was a sales manager. He exploited me and I fell for it. He seems so nice and genuine. He blamed his wife for the troubled marriage. I was stupid. He just used me. I see now that he uses people in general and cares for no one but himself. He has two sons who were only six and two when he left his wife. He pretends to be a good father. He still txts his wife and plays with her mind. He has countless affairs with clients but lies and them . I forgave him on occasions but no more. He will never change. He manipulated me move into my house would drive me around in his company car like it was a favor when really all for show. Used me to irritate his wife and for local knowledge on clients. He is Scottish. He bad mouths everyone and thinks he is smarter and better than all. He has a sociopath stare. I thought it seductive at first but now realise it is domineering. He uses people for sex and to feed his ego. He leaves when he feels like it and comes back when to torment me more. He even fooled my brother and sister in law. He took me to his friends wedding to annoy his wife and made the trip all about him and a stupid kilt. He thinks he is very good looking but is average. He is good at tricking high end clients and boasts about it. He manipulates me and puts me down. Txts other women all the time and then says he needs space. He says crazy things. I used to think it was funny but no I see the monster he really is. Wish I had never met him. I pity his boi s. Nicole

1:44 PM  

Read the following books: The Sociopath Next Door, The Sociopath at the Breakfast Table, Who's Pulling Your Strings?, Disarming the Narciisist and Without Conscience. Also, the Psychopath Test and A Dance With the Devil. And believe me, they're all devils (mostly) male and female alike. DO NOT ENGAGE THEM! Change your locks, passwords, financial account information and any and all personal information that might be important to you. If you've ever told them what you love or care about SECURE IT because it's the first thing that they'll take from you. Watch your home for signs of a break in. They want to be able to come and go as they please so this will not be obvious. TELL EVERYONE WHAT YOURR GOING THROUGH. if they know youre talking they'll be less likely to victimize you. And victimize they will. They HATE YOU for having the audacity to reject them. They do not take rejection well at all! They will badmouth you to EVERYONE. They will drag you through the courts on bogus trumped up charges because they need to continue to engage you. It is YOUR feelings and displays of emotion that they thrive on. They haven't got any except for those that are negative, namely ANGER. They will stop at nothing and the longer you stay with them the more they'll torture you when you try to break free. They do not love anyone, not you, not even their children. Please do not let your life be like mine was, and still is. Helll on Earth. But I'm learning how to free myself and so should you. Please pass this information on and if you take it lightly, you'll soon wish you hadn't. And go to Wikipedia and look up the diffefence between a psychopath and a sociopath. They've even got pictures.
Remember this; if you do not take a stand and report to the authorities what he/she has done to you then the next victims pain and suffering is on your conscience. I wish someone had warned me. Its all about three things to them; Money, Sex and Control. Take back control of your lives. And take care, people. God bless.

2:48 AM  

I have recently had to deal with some sociopathic kids who live in our neighborhood. We have two young sons (ages 11 and 8) who were spending a lot of time with the kids in question (ages 13 and 10). The younger kid is pretty blatant about his intentions (basically to control the situation and win), while the older kid had my wife and I totally snowed at first. He was quiet and polite, but never showed any emotion. I even invited him on an outing with my kids, and he seemed gracious and inclusive. The problem began when we bought my older son an XBox. Suddenly, the two neighbor boys were at our house all the time playing video games, and they became downright abusive toward my younger son. I had a heart-to-heart with them about it, but it did not good, and my son would often come to me in tears. I personally witnessed these two boys cheating at the game and doing things to deliberately upset him, calling him names when he protested or became upset. Indeed, the only time I witnessed any emotion from the 13 year-old was when he was "dominating" at the game. His behavior was downright aggressive, and the 10 year-old followed his lead. My 11 year-old son would often get caught up in this over-competitive atmosphere and become upset afterward because he was saying nasty things to his brother. Bottom line was that after these two boys left, I had two emotional basket cases on my hands, and nobody had fun except the two boys who were doing the bullying. The final straw came when the two boys gave my son money to buy a video game for them to play at our house, and instructed him not to tell his parents they had done so. My son didn't tell us at first because he didn't want to jeopardize his friendships (if you can call it that), but his conscience finally prevailed and he came clean. He gave the money back, and we banned the two boys from playing the XBox at our house. The older boy is now telling my 11 year-old that his dad is a "jerk" and an "unfit parent", as well as confessing that he has considered "sneaking" into our house and playing the XBox when we're not home. The 10 year-old showed up two days after the ban and actually powering up the game console with his wireless controller from our front porch. He said he wanted to make nice with my younger son if he can just play games on our console, but I ain't buying that! My older son told him that he wasn't going to go against his parents' wishes, to which he responded (not knowing that I was listening right around the corner) "why not?". Bottom line....we have raised our boys to be considerate of others and follow the basic rules of society, and they are very sensitive kids (my older son won a Citizenship award at school for his willingness to help others). My wife and I agree that we do not need this type of sociopathic manipulation in our house and around our boys, and we won't stand for bullying, ESPECIALLY in our own home! Our 11 year-old has a lot of questions about why the two neighborhood behave the way they do, and I don't quite know how to answer these questions in a way he can understand at his young age. He still has to deal with the 13 year-old at school, and all of the distortions that he tells. What's the best way to approach this?

9:29 AM  

Even though Psychopaths and Sociopaths have a lot of similar traits, they are different. There are a few differences between a psychopath and a sociopath... Psychopaths have no attachments through feelings, not affected by fear, no empathy, relationships are for appearance or a need of theirs and are more dangerous. Psychopaths are usually educated, can hold a job and a relationship for a long period of time. They are very Charming and have a large group of admirers. Their Crimes are planned in a calm way. They can easily gain peoples trust and any emotion showed by a psychopath was learned and mimicked by watching others and can have intense anger. Sociopaths can have empathy for one individual or a specific group. They work on their own fears. You can bring them down quite easily by showing them their flaws because of their low self esteem, though watch out for the vindictive punishments afterword. They don't have many friends, they don't usually hold onto a job for long or are in a relationship for long, they live on the fringes of society and tend to move a lot. They are more apparent than a psychopath to be disturbed. Their crimes are more spontaneous and disorganized. A Psychopath are said to be a genetic thing and Sociopaths are said to be from some kind of Trauma. I don't know how true that part is, but I found it in psychology today. My Father is a Psychopath and my Maternal Aunt is a Sociopath, this is how I have seen first hand that these differences are accurate.

12:41 PM  

I learned a lot from this. You're all so weak. It really pisses me off.

8:54 AM  

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