What is a Psychopath?

Psychopaths are social predators,

both male and female, who do not have a conscience or the ability to feel love, compassion, fear or remorse. It is believed that psychopathy is a genetic neurobiological disorder.

Evolutionary psychology offers an alternate theory that psychopathy is not a disorder at all, but an evolutionary adaptation. This theory views psychopathy as a social strategy, one that benefits the individual instead of the group.

Whatever the cause, psychopathy creates individuals who share certain characteristics that differ greatly from the norm.

“Psychopathy refers to a pathological personality disposition that involves charm, manipulation, and ruthless exploitation of others. Psychopathic persons are lacking in conscience and feeling for others; they selfishly take what they want and do as they please without the slightest sense of guilt or regret.” (Hare, R. D., Neumann, C. S., & Widiger, T. (2012). Psychopathy. T. Widiger (Ed.) Oxford Handbook of Personality Disorders. Oxford University Press)

Self-gratification is the only thing that motivates them. Psychopaths are bold, confident liars who will say anything to get what they want, no matter the cost to anyone else. Manipulating, using and exploiting others not only gets them what they want, but fulfills their needs for power and control. 

With traits like these you’d never expect a psychopath to be charming, but they are often extraordinarily so.

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“I apply the label predatory aggressive to the most severely disturbed of all characters, the psychopath: These individuals are first and foremost characterized by their senseless, remorseless, and completely empathy-devoid use, abuse, manipulation, and exploitation of others…being devoid of any empathy-based sense of bonding to others, having virtually no conscience, having such a pathological sense of superiority that they feel entitled to prey on those they see as weaker and remorselessly engaging in predatory aggression. It’s important to remember also that predatory aggression is not rooted in anger, but in pure and heartless desire.”

~ George Simon, PhD, an internationally-recognized expert on manipulators and other problem characters and the author of In Sheep’s Clothing

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Psychopaths wear what’s called a “mask of sanity,” which hides the truth that lies beneath. This mask allows them to move through society undetected. They’re smooth talkers with a lot to say. They’re very relaxed since they have no fear or anxiety, and this makes others around them relax. Strong social skills and unshakable confidence are their predatory edge; these skills bring the psychopath into contact with many potential victims, and make these “targets” comfortable and open to contact.

Just when you need your intuition to alert you to danger, it will be disarmed by the psychopath.

According to research published in the article “The Mask of Sanity Revisited: Psychopathic Traits and Affective Mimicry,” (Evolutionary Psychological Science, June 2015), “Present studies found support for Frank’s (1988) assertion that successful opportunists use insincere emotional displays to appear trustworthy and Jones’ (2014) suggestion that people with psychopathic traits make use of affective mimicry in order to avoid detection. More specifically, individuals with psychopathic traits may be able to express fraudulent emotions that appear genuine to the people around them. Cleckley’s (1941) use of the title “The Mask of Sanity” may be more appropriate than even he knew.”

Psychopaths aren’t able to experience love, and they consider it a weakness that creates vulnerability they can use to their advantage. These predators gain a victim’s trust and love and then involve them in sham relationships that inevitably result in serious harm.

mama-804594_640Psychopaths have severely blunted emotions. Because they don’t experience them, they feel contempt (one of the few things they can feel) for normal human emotions. We show our humanness in the form of love, insecurity, fear, remorse, trust and anxiety, and they consider these emotions weaknesses, vulnerabilities that make us easy targets for manipulation, and deserving of it. They lack emotional empathy, which leaves them unable to form an emotional connection with another person. This leads them to view others as mere objects, which exist for their own use. This objectification goes hand-in-hand with dehumanization, which is the psychological process of depriving another of their humanity and individuality, making them seem less than human and thus not worthy of dignity, value or respect. Objectification and dehumanization in relationships can manifest as invalidation, domination, control, humiliation, ridicule, disrespecting sexual boundaries, and all other forms of emotional, verbal and physical abuse. 

Empathy is an awareness of someone else’s thoughts and feelings, mutual understanding, caring, and expression of that care. It is made up of two distinct abilities: cognitive empathy (an awareness of someone else’s thoughts and feelings) and emotional empathy (mutual understanding, caring, and expression of that care). Psychopaths are capable of cognitive empathy, but not emotional empathy. This is what makes them able to manipulate others so well. Combined with their other traits, such as callousness, amorality and lack of a conscience, the psychopath exhibits profound indifference to the suffering their actions cause others.

Psychopaths often establish a relationship with a target based on a hidden agenda from day one. They are human predators who completely hide their real identities and create a tailor-made persona to gain the trust and love of their victim so they can dominate, control and use them. Self-gratification is what drives them.

Sometimes, they pursue a relationship without an explicit intent to victimize and harm. They may become genuinely “fascinated” or enamored with someone. This doesn’t change the fact that psychopaths can’t bond or love, so they will end up hurting the people they get close to. Their relationships follow a predictable pattern that has three stages, which are known as the stages of the psychopathic bond: 

Idealize, devalue, discard. 

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There are a few different theories for what causes this phenomenon in psychopaths:

According to psychopathy expert Dr. Reid Meloy, devaluation is driven by unconscious greed and envy. When the psychopath is envious, he loses his much-needed feelings of superiority and grandiosity. The psychopath’s greed and envy cause hatred, and that hatred creates wishes to destroy the object of his or her envy, which in turn eliminates the envy. When envy is eliminated, superiority and grandiosity are temporarily restored. Their envy is hatred of the good object, and their greed is the desire to have all the ‘contents’ of the good object. When greed and demand start again, the cycle must be repeated with a new person.

angel-17070_640Meloy says the psychopath must act out this manipulative cycle repetitively and compulsively in order to experience feelings of exhilaration and contempt (contemptuous delight), which perpetuate his or her feeling of grandiosity. The manipulative cycle is a ‘purification process’ for the psychopath, which projects all the bad onto the victim of his manipulation. It is described as a narcissistic repair of the psychopathic process that restores a primitive and defensive equilibrium. They need to do this because their grandiose self is threatened, but must be kept intact. The psychopath will continue to ward off others by devaluing them, Meloy says, but also continue to seek out new victims. Once a new victim is found, greed and envy cause rage and sadism, and the victim is devalued and destroyed. When that has been accomplished, the psychopath’s need for devaluation will start all over again.

Another theory is based on neuroscience. Psychopaths have a significantly exaggerated dopamine response when seeking a reward, such as when they’re pursuing a person they’re attracted to. Athough they have this exaggerated dopamine response when after something they want, they  have an abnormally low level of dopamine in general. Without strong stimulation (and the dopamine that goes with it), they feel bored, empty and restless. They’re also low on serotonin, a neurotransmitter that promotes feelings of contentment. Since they require intense stimulation to get their dopamine high, when the object of their desire isn’t shiny and new anymore, they’re simply not stimulating enough to give the psychopath the high they need. When their dopamine crashes and the relationship becomes boring to them, they blame their partner for their loss of interest and devalue and abuse them. Since they aren’t capable of attachment, when the intense newness of the relationship wears off there’s no incentive for them to continue with it.

This search for an intense dopamine high—and the relief from the intolerable sense of bored emptiness they feel without it—drives the ever-repeating cycle of idealize, devalue, discard. Their lives are a continual, relentless pursuit of stimulation intense enough to give them the dopamine they need to feel exhilarated and alive. You can read more about this in the articles, Genuine Attraction, Manipulation or Something More? Dr. Rhonda Freeman Explains and It’s Not You, It’s Me… and My Hyper-Reactive Dopaminergic Reward System.

Whatever the cause, the psychopath’s relational pattern of idealize, devalue and discard causes a great deal of trauma to the victims, who are left confused and devastated.

They do establish what appear as normal, positive relationships with some people for the purpose of developing a good reputation, one that covers up their victimization of vulnerable others or that helps them to meet other self-serving goals. Some psychopaths are respected and well-liked members of their community because of this. Only those closest to them learn the truth.

Seeing that the psychopath is well-liked also serves to make the victim more trusting, and when or if the victim finds out the truth and comes forward, the psychopath is strongly supported by all those who think he or she is a good person. Meanwhile, the victim gets no support or validation — they may have been an unknown who was new to the community, company or group, or in some way marginalized, which is often why a psychopath targeted them in the first place. 

These cunning and calculating predators often go for vulnerable people who are lonely or have experienced multiple life stressors, such as an illness, a death in the family, or unemployment; these are the easy targets. Just desiring a relationship is enough to create the required vulnerability. No one is immune. Psychopaths are adept shape-shifters and changelings able to read their prey like a book. They figure out exactly what you need and they cut the master key that disarms all of your defenses.

Psychopaths are cunning and intelligent “intra-species predators,” according to Dr. Robert Hare, leading psychopathy researcher, creator of the most widely used diagnostic assessment (the PCL-R), and author of the book Without Conscience. If you’re targeted and lured into a relationship with a psychopath, you’ll be left in ruins while he or she goes on to the next victim with no care or concern for you. There is no easy way to detect them, but awareness may help.

sculpture-888027_640It is said that psychopaths know right from wrong, but they just don’t care.

That’s not exactly true. They know right from wrong, but they just can’t care (unless there is personal benefit involved in acting as if they do). They don’t have the neurological wiring that allows them to care about doing what’s right. Their physical brain is different, and those differences leave them without a conscience and without normal emotions or a sense of morality. Researchers have found at least 17 different factors that affect the frontal lobes, amygdala, and the associated communication pathways within the brain that produce the neurological pattern of the psychopath.

It is estimated there are 1 – 2 psychopaths per 100 people in the population. And they get around. One psychopath can wreak havoc on many through serial “romantic” relationships. It doesn’t take long for the psychopath to inflict harm, and he or she can move swiftly among victims. He can also keep one victim for a long period while having many more on the side. Some maintain a marriage to give the illusion of normalcy. Many psychopaths feast greedily on a banquet of easy targets while taking the time necessary to break down the defenses of more challenging ones. 

Psychopaths are notoriously hypersexual and promiscuous; at any one time they may be having sex with their main victim while juggling a few other regulars, having one-night stands with people of either sex, or hiring prostitutes. Psychopaths are most likely to be those who continue to have unprotected sex despite knowing they are HIV positive, according to research.

When you’ve met someone who you believe is your soul mate and the love of your life, it’s not usually the time you think of danger or want consider taking things slowly. After all, this is someone you believe is worthy of your love and trust. But this is exactly when you need to keep your eyes open and think critically about who this person really is. Unfortunately, feeling someone is your soul mate is a red-flag warning, because psychopaths are able to so perfectly mirror you and figure out your needs and desires that they appear to be the perfect person for you.

Dr. Paul Babiak, psychopathy expert, warns,

“What the psychopath does is they weave a picture of a person that’s really a dream. It’s a spirit. It’s not real. You feel like you’ve discovered a soul mate. Once you’re in that bond — and we call it the psychopathic bond — you don’t want to break it.”

This conundrum is precisely why so many jump headfirst and wholeheartedly into relationships with psychopaths. Unfortunately, what starts out as heaven will turn into hell.

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“Know what you are dealing with. This sounds easy but in fact can be very difficult. All the reading in the world cannot immunize you from the devastating effects of psychopaths. Everyone, including the experts, can be taken in, conned, and left bewildered by them.”

~ Robert Hare, PhD., author of Without Conscience

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65 Comments

  1. Jessica

    I am a psychopath, and I can say from first hand experience, I do feel guilt, fear, love, happiness, etc. However, I do not experience the intensity of those emotions that most non psychopaths experience. I only feel guilt when I have done something pretty awful…When I love I would do anything for the person or people I love, but I have never felt there is someone I cannot live without.
    Also, not all psychopaths seek power and control…I have the tendency to hurt people because I lack the ability to understand emotions, and I lack empathy, as well as sympathy, but hurting people is not my mission. I don’t want to spend my life hurting others, instead I’d like to spend my life being happy, loving, and being loved…

    • Admin

      So sorry to break the good news to you, but you’re not a psychopath.

      • Kris

        This is NOT a psychopath. Many people have traits on a low scale, but a real psychopath will love to see you in pain – press false charges against you, sleep with your sister, have a child with you and leave, constantly lie and cheat in everything – you’ll notice a lifetime history of this with the person. It isn’t a one time occurrence, it’s a pattern that doesn’t stop. I recently pressed charges on mine and he plead guilty for a plea. I will be following up with this probation officer to make sure they know the history I have proof of because he is going to spin his way out of this for sure.

      • Matt

        It is possible to maintain a small group of friends that psychopaths can relate with. However, as you mentioned, the individual who made the comment above is not a psychopath.

      • Rebekah

        that or he’s lying through his teeth? There are psychopaths who say things exactly like that. ‘When I love, I love deeply.’ It is to make their ‘loved ones’ feel more special and unique. Although if he does feel guilt then no, sorry pal, you’re not a psychopath. psychopaths do however lie about feeling guilt.

    • Michael

      Having been in relationships with women with antisocial personality disorders, I would agree with Jessica and with you. Jessica may not be at the extreme psychopathological end of ASPD, but even those people with less severe symptoms still have problems understanding other people’s points of view and emotions. As a result, I believe that at least some of them have genuine trouble seeing how, or caring if, they cause problems for the rest of us.
      I think that Jessica is correct to say that some people with ASPD want to be happy and loved. That was true for both of the women I dated. Unfortunately, their pathology caused them to behave in ways that were counterproductive to loving relationships.

      But all of that is only my opinion.

      • Admin

        This blog isn’t about ASPD; it’s about psychopathy.

        While many psychopaths (but not all) have traits of ASPD, most people with ASPD are not psychopathic.

        The women you describe — who want to be “happy and loved” — are not psychopaths, and neither is Jessica. She might have Asperger’s Syndrome or possibly ASPD, but definitely not psychopathy. If she were a psychopath, she would have no ability to love.

        Study finds psychopaths have distinct brain structure

        “Diagnostic confusion about psychopathy and ASPD has the potential for harming psychiatric patients and society as well.” Dr. Robert Hare

        Thank you for your comment!

        • Alice Shinger

          It’s also possible Jessica could be on the Autism Spectrum. I work with them and difficulty understanding emotions, sympathizing and making close bonds is common. Many an Asperger patient has ended up divorced because they are seen as cold and uncaring by the spouse. People got to be careful psychopathy and ASD is not confused.

          • Admin

            Good point. Thank you.

          • Rebekah

            They ARE cold and uncaring. -_- And some ASD have BOTH ASD and ASPD. My ex was an undiagnosed Asperger’s ‘sufferer’. He was an alcoholic because he couldn’t deal with emotion and interaction, and he was an asshole. Sorry. I have known plenty of other people with Asperger’s and while I like some aspects of their personality, many if not most of them have NOT been people I’d want to date.

            • symore good

              I work with a 14 year old male school student who they informed me was Asperges, and yes he showed all the classic signs of the disorder. He did not want other students to know that I was there as his Teachers Aide as if they wouldn’t work it out. But having worked with trouble teens most of my life there was something about him I couldn’t quite put my finger on till recently. He showed a repeating pattern that once he felt comfortable in his school environment and his peers ( he has been moved twice to other classes) this person of arrogance and self importance would show up. Watching him interact with the lies and in your face stare off and the joys of making female students uncomfortable I’m working with a PSYCHOPATH. Sadly our school works on bums on seats funding and there’s nowhere else for him to go.

              • Adelyn Birch

                I totally understand what you’re saying, and I was going to write something about how people with Aspergers act in a similar way as psychopaths do but for different reasons, but you know what? I’m not going to. Do people with Aspergers mean it? No, their neurology is all screwed up. Do people with psychopathy mean it? Ditto. They wreck people all the same. One is clueless, one is cunning, both are abnormal and acting in the only way they can given their brain’s structural and neurochemical defects.

    • normal

      I&my wife during our one year in Norway encountered a psychopath ,who pretended to be pastor of a house bible group but his real occupation is that of engineer, a 47 years old and single. I was preparing to take to the court a friend of the psychopath,who through deceiving stole money from us; when the psychopath heard of the court issue he invited me and my wife for a breakfast,we didn’t know what was waiting for us,as we sat starting to eat he began accusing me of attempting to murder someone and accusing my wife of lying to him (my wife never did lie at him) this he did by an aggressive manner; both of us were shocked at this accusations – that whole day he was accusing and manipulating our minds which made us feel puzzled and intimidated/pressure, he even offered money to us and not to take to the court his friend,but we refused such a deal and took the issues to the court.
      However this psychopath was not leaving us alone, began sending text messages telling us how to do things here in Norway, or other messages of trying to stop us not to tell other people about his friend issue, other message where as if he was concern about if we were doing ok …, after all these I wrote to him to stop contacting us or the police will be informed – finally he didn’t text anymore but, he wasn’t ashamed to greet us on market place to which we turned our head the other side so as to tell him stay away; other time he asked my wife to play fiddle for his nephew, actually this psychopath should have asked for forgiveness about his accusations that he made against us but he never showed any feeling of regret or repentance. We never gave him a chance to contact or enter into our life as we knew that he is a dangerous person that wanted to control us in everything.

      P.S. Often times he would tell to us that the town and its society belong to him: “my town and my society.”

      • Adelyn Birch

        Apparently many psychopaths gravitate to the role of pastor because it gives them power and control over people. I’m sure being accused of murder ruined your appetite. I’m glad you and your wife got this psychopath out of your life.

        • normal

          In regard to the appetite – I wanted to throw it up as I felt deceived and betrayed.
          During the first days I didn’t think much of his accusations as I was in battle with his friend in the court but, later on I became awaken and understood in a better view his accusations unto me and feel I wished had taken him too to the court and getting my justice,but now it’s too late as we’re away from that messy country Norway. However, hope that someday God will deal with that evil person.

          • Adelyn Birch

            I hope so, too, normal. So many of us don’t get any justice. We can only hope they’ll get what they deserve someday, somehow.

  2. gagagal

    Thank you for a brilliant and concise definition of a psychopath. This information is the best I have seen on this topic. I came her looking for validation that my spouse fits this mold – having read books on the subject, numerous web sites and articles, but this site brought it all together. I now know I am not crazy. Thank you

  3. Admin

    I’m glad I could help you, and yet I’m sorry your spouse is a psychopath.
    Best wishes to you.

  4. Faith

    A Question follows at the end of this post.
    I ended my relationship multiple times :-) over the last 2 years of many . I have been involved, off and on, :-) , with a psychopath for at least 4.5 years.
    I originally thought, after realizing that my ‘gut’ was talking to me, that I was dealing with a narcissist. I began reading…lots! A year of reading and giving him the benefit of doubt, led me to psychopathy. Hence, another year of reading, doing my best to keep my distance, licking my wounds and gaining strength.

    With insight gained, I have been able to separate from him with a small level of his trust. Mostly he finds it difficult to not brag. I call it “giving himself away”. He doesn’t reveal a plan (though he did previously, when I was (ignorant ) but he does share his “job’s”. Jobs are aside from his first line of work as a public adjuster. Also an airtraffic controller. His jobs: He paints homes!

    Through his sharing about “jobs” I know that he has 2 women targets in process. One of the women had a terminally ill husband. That husband died 2 weeks ago. My psycho is going to make his move on her in the next day or so. Though I assume that he has already laid the ground-work.

    I know my psycho’s family. I’ve known them 15 years before I knew my psycho. I am, in no way, concerned about my relationship with them, whatever I decide.

    I feel compelled to warn his next victim. I do not know her personally. I know where she lives and land line phone.
    Do I approach this next victim? Do I call from phone-booth and warn her? Send email? Send regular mail with printed info about psychopathy?

    My heart is heavy with this. Which is exactly the empathy that allowed me to be gullible in the first place.

    Any words, suggestions, insight will be of enormous help.

    • Admin

      DON’T DO IT!!! How’s that for a suggestion?

      Here’s why:

      If he has already “laid the groundwork” and is ready to make his move, it’s already way too late for her.

      Think about it — think back to when you were falling in love with him. Would you have just walked away because you got an anonymous call or letter? Or would you have disregarded it, or thought is was from some jealous crazy ex, OR MAYBE EVEN SAID TO HIM, “I got the strangest phone call today…” This last scenario is the one you have to worry about most! You may be anonymous to her, BUT YOU WON’T BE TO HIM! And if he is truly a psychopath, you have absolutely no way of predicting what he will do next. You will live in fear. And rightfully so!

      I totally understand your feelings, but stop and consider whether your action will truly have any result, or if it will only serve to make you afraid for your life.

      If he’s already hooked her, wild horses will not stop her from wanting him.

      If you do act, if will make you feel better for all of 5 seconds before fear sets in.

      Good luck with this.

      • Anon

        So true, I was warned through a 3rd party and I did not heed the warning. Once hooked or mesmerized, we do not want to see or hear anything else. Wouldn’t and didn’t make a difference to me. You do not realize how dangerous they can become until you’ve experienced it.

  5. John

    That’s an inaccurate post based on your own sentiments of rejection. Everybody is different even those born differently, they want to love, can see its effects on T.V and reflected in the lives of those around them.
    Life is about filling this need, finding this experience, finding the one. At the start of the relationship they truley believe that this is the one. It’s not seeking a target or a victim they’re drawn by genuine desire.
    Unfortunately the feelings they are searching for will never be realized, it’s not weakness they’re looking for but due to their own weaknesses and manipulative nature they can sense it.
    After the relationship is over they look back, think why did I let that go, why didn’t they appreciate how happy they were.
    They lead an empty life, always looking for something but never knowing or being able to find it, constantly alienating those they are close to.

    • Admin

      Interesting. Thank you for this different point of view.

  6. victim survivor

    I am a victim of a psychopath, never imagined that I would experience this. We meet he was everything I could imagine. Showered me with gifts, love, attention. He was a business man. Six figures! He thought I was madly in love, but on the other hand. I knew something was not right cause he had me like a puppet. He started pulling BACK no attention. Stop answering the phone. Excuses… I was so hurt. Felt lost, did not want to continue my life.. that was love bombing!! I stop going to church, I was delivered when I said I need help. Went to church got prayer, and it was broken after a few visit. I still did not come to the knowledge of the man behind a psychopath. I tried to go back but I did not feel the same. God broke the deception. Then a friend of mine said love bomb. I did research. And I was crushed but nothing like I was before PRAYER. The seen who he was. I even text him revealing I know WHAT you’re about. But a person like this has no care. I just pray God will reveal him to other. THAT he will not be able to manipulate, control another. That the mask comes off and he stop. But you can’t do people wrong and expect happiness to happen in your life. You reap what you sow. I’m delivered and set free.

  7. victim survivor

    He also was in a marriage, lied in the beginning. Hang ups

  8. SB

    I think I am being manipulated, and I have fallen hard,
    our most recent communications by text after an arguement I didnt know was happening:
    Me: Do you still hate me?

    Partner: Quite a bit! twas unreasonable. Were u like that permanantly with ur ex’s? very Pauline esk (pauline being ex girlfriend)

    Me: It hurts. And you know I love you, I have been chucked out like Pauline! You see me as a bad person that doesnt deserve to be loved?

    Partner: What? who said that. I certainaly saw a vicious side, and didnt like it.

    Me: we all have that side if we feel we are being attacked or being made to feel stupid. What did I actually say…. that the fire in London was in a bakers a stupid thing to say possibly, but not viscious. You told me to fuck off- you weren’t joking! what I said didnt mean to come out harsh or hurtful.
    Partner: Ok. As u wish.
    Me: What do mean by that please explain?
    Just as you think. in otherwords, I think ur wrong. But im not arguing with you…my life is too short.
    Let me cool down.
    Me: Ok
    Me: Can I talk with you yet?
    Me: will you please tell me whats going on
    Me: why would I mean to hurt one of the most important people in my life. I wish I could be perfect.
    Partner: I need a break. simple..
    Me: For how long? And does that mean a total break? it seems so major. How can you hate me so much when we loved each other so much yesterday?
    Partner: Dont b so romantic. a break, means. A time of reflection…u shocked me, with ur look… and ur anger.
    Me: I didnt realise. i looked so angry. i romantic? i love you deeply. more than i have anyone else. therefore this silence is frightening, because when these deep feelings emerge i get hurt.
    Partner: Really? go and look angry, in a mirror. Sit down take your time. Then look. tel me wat u see.
    Me: Your evaluation of me does it mean you dont see a future for us?
    Not exactly….Just different
    (conversation goes on phone call)
    Next morning it continues similar tack accept he follows by
    this comment
    Partner: Yes. I do love you. you arse. x
    Me: I love you more than you will ever know x
    Partner:Just saw Daphne and Niles, having a suprise dinner on the roof of their tower block…with candles, and Frazier the waiter… and thought of us x
    Please advise I think I am being manipulated and I am very fragile emotionally and need your advise

    • Admin

      First, I’m sorry you’re so distraught.
      You are the only one who can tell if you’re being manipulated. The following list of signs will help you to figure it out, and there’s a link to the blog post below it.If you’re often feeling like you are now, then something is definitely not right. And if you’re “just like Pauline,” that makes me wonder what part he’s playing in that. Also, he’s taking the focus off of himself and placing it on your reaction (anger), which can be a red flag.

      Here’s the list of signs you’re being manipulated:

      Your joy at finding love has turned into the fear of losing it. This is known as the “manipulative shift.” You will start feeling stressed at this point.
      Sometimes s/he gives you a lot of attention and love, and sometimes he gives you the cold shoulder for no reason. You’re left wondering what you’ve done wrong.
      Your feelings have gone from happiness and euphoria to anxiety, sadness and even desperation.
      Your relationship feels very complex, although you may not be sure why.
      You obsess about the relationship almost constantly.
      You never feel sure of where you stand with your partner; you feel you’re in a constant state of uncertainty and anxiety.
      You feel confused about the relationship and frequently ask your partner what’s wrong. He becomes angry or frustrated and he consistently denies responsibility for any problems.
      You feel that you just don’t know how to make him happy.
      You may frequently feel angry and resentful toward your partner, yet are not allowed to express it. Communication feels restricted or even forbidden, causing feelings of extreme frustration and even hostility.
      You feel inadequate. You don’t feel as good about yourself as you did before the relationship.
      Your emotions and moods are controlled by your partner’s words and actions.

      How to tell if you’re being manipulated

      Also, here’s some good reading about the silent treatment: http://www.powercommunicating.com/

      Good luck to you.

  9. Angie

    I understand that psychopaths don’t feel love or empathy despite our culture’s sudden attraction to them and the dangerous message that they’re just misunderstood and can somehow be fixed with love or understanding or other such nonsense. My question is this: can a psychopath become attached to a person? Say the way a normal person can be attached to aninanimate object? Just a desire to have a particular person (other than a child who would be seen as an extension of themselves) around and attempt to moderate their behavior so the person won’t leave?

    • Admin

      Good question. I’ll answer it from what I know.

      Psychopaths see humans exactly as they see inanimate objects. One of the most chilling things I ever read was a psychopath’s description of how a chair is made of wood and screws and glue, and how a child is made of blood and cells and bone. No difference to him at all.

      They can become enamored with a person (as an inanimate object, but only for a very short period of time, because a human is…well, human…and their “weaknesses” will start to show quickly) and then the psychopath is done with them (although he may not be done with them completely). And he will put them out in the trash JUST as he would a chair he was tired of.

      “Attached” is a strong word, and one I don’t believe is in a psychopath’s dictionary. Momentarily enthralled (because of what he can get) is more like it.

      • Meghan

        Sociopaths can form attachments like the one you described and sociopaths can seem like psychopaths but they tend to be slightly disorganized whereas psychopaths tend to be very neat and careful.

        • Meghan

          And I got that from Sociopathy vs. Psychopathy, Kelly McAleer, Psy.D.

  10. Kat

    My question is can a clinical psychologist also be a psychopath? Can someone who cares for others be so uncaring, indifferent and manipulative towards people who love them? Virtually everything I read here resonates with me about the person I was involved with until they discarded me.

    • Admin

      Yes, a psychologist can be a psychopath; they can be anything. In fact, they are attracted to professions that give them power and control over others.

      The top 10 professions with the most psychopaths are:
      2. Lawyer
      3. Media (Television/Radio)
      4. Salesperson
      5. Surgeon
      6. Journalist
      7. Police officer
      8. Clergy person
      9. Chef
      10. Civil servant

      http://www.forbes.com/sites/kellyclay/2013/01/05/the-top-10-jobs-that-attract-psychopaths/

      Best wishes to you

  11. Sam

    I think my wife is a psychopath.

    I live in fear of going to jail, being heart broken, lied about constantly.

    Since we’ve been married every time we fight she becomes blind with rage. Very abusive verbally and physically. With as many excuses as you can think of to do so. I have a very strong feeling she is sexiest as well. Whenever she doesn’t get “her way” she calls my family, her relatives, the police, our neighbors… Anyone that she can think of to create incredibly awkward and manipulative situations for me to look like I’m either doing something I’m not* or being someone I’m not*. I feel like I don’t have any strength to leave her because I care about her. And because marriage is an important thing to me. But I’m just so desperately miserable. And I mask it with music in my life… But I don’t know how to live like this and be happy. I’m so tired of incidents with her… The worst part is I don’t even think she knows that she is manipulative.

    • Admin

      Hi, Sam. Sorry to hear you are so miserable. This is a serious situation you’re in. Something must change — things can’t continue as they are.

      If your wife is a psychopath, there is no hope for anything to get better, and you are married to someone not capable of having a real and meaningful relationship.

      If she’s NOT a psychopath, then there’s hope. Is she willing to go to counseling with you? And take an anger management course? You must set boundaries, and tell her that although you care about her and your marriage is important to you, you will not stand for being treated this way and you will not continue a relationship with her if things don’t change. That’s the only way to change this situation, at least that I can see.

      Best wishes to you.

  12. Depressedempath

    I ended a 7 month relationship this year with a man I believe is a psychopath. He managed to lure me from my family and ended my 32 year marriage with his love bombing. I really thought he was “the one”. The alarms were ringing for me when he started abusing me. I thought it was domestic violence, which I had no previous experience with. He would put me down by treating me like a child and the arguments would start when I reacted to defend myself. He swore at me, called me disgusting names, chased me in his car when I left in mine to get away from him. Once he grabbed me and a number of times he bashed on my car. He said it was my problem because I couldn’t control my emotions and I needed to see a psychologist. I did, and that didn’t help because he said I was normal, but taught me how to suppress my reaction. Problem was that it was the psycho who had the anger problem.
    The arguments and following breakups (by me- I told him I couldn’t cope, it was making me depressed) happened weekly. I would tell him it’s over, then he would tug on my heartstrings with “I can’t lose you”
    Finally a friend alerted me to a show on TV about psychopaths and I started realising what was happening. But it took me another month to get away from him, he started a smear campaign which I ended with an intervention order. It was the only way to stop the stalking and bullying.
    It has been 4 months since I broke up with him and I still cry everyday. I’m back with my family, but the hurt is so deep, some days I find it insurmountable. I would like to see a psychologist to help me, but am scared after seeing one earlier who should have realised what was happening and should never have tried to get me to suppress my normal emotions.
    Thank you so much for this site, it is fantastic. I find that the more I read about it, the more I learn, with lots of light bulb moments. I can’t believe how alike psychopaths are. Mine was textbook.

    • Admin

      I’m glad that you were able to figure out what was going on! And shame on that psychologist you saw, but there IS hope of finding a good one — just make sure you choose one who works with abuse victims. It sounds as if you’re doing everything right. Even though the hurt is so deep, you are guiding yourself in the right direction. It’s a tough road, but you will keep going forward.

      I’m happy you’re back with your family, and I’m glad to hear the website is helping. Warmest wishes to you.

  13. Kiril

    I was a victim of a psychopath ! Actually I know 2 females psychopaths – one of them destroyed me the other is her friend and they go togehter everywhere …both these girls destoryed a lot of males already they will keep destroying till they are alive …I wouldn’t imagine tht such kind of people exist …iT’S VERY HARD TO FORGET such an ordeal because of the pain they inflict on their vicitms …they like to make trinagulation with ex ,potential targets and so on …they like to lie and cheat …and when you show them your feelings then you get destroyed… because they can’t feel love …by the way there is one very obviuos thing that most people should watch for – psychpothats can’t live without excitements …the need to go clubs , bars , discos , everywhere all the time … they just want to be in the centre of the action …and the centre of attention as well…this the number one symptom …the one one is manipulation and cheating …. I was for a year with such creature …it was awful experience ! I feel sorry fot the males after me …they don’t know what is waiting them …..

    • Admin

      Female psychopaths are every bit as dangerous as males, and I think their numbers are equal. I’m so sorry you experienced this. Best wishes to you.

      • Kiril

        the trick with the ex was very harsh …I didn’t know what to do because I was deeply in love …it took me 10 months to recover and another 2 years to figure out what was wrong with this girl …. and I am a person who is very hard to be manipluated or to fall in love … However , the psychopathic female was able to get under my skin and to destroy me emotionally … I couldn’t believe what was happening ….now it’s easy to recognize such people but only after I was burned big time… there is onw more thing to consider ….. pschyopaths like to leverage their body so they look atrtractive and seductive ….and that’s how they behave most of the time ! and they tend to read people very well ….they mirror you all the time ….that’s is why very easy to get in love with them …anyway ,it’s very hwelpful to find your site and the book …not that I don’t know the truth already but I will read the book beacuse the subject is very interesting to me …keep up the good job … thank you

        • Admin

          Thanks so much for your kind words. Glad you find the info helpful. Best wishes to you.

  14. Alice

    I do not know who you are but after 2 months of cutting things of with a psychopath I had dated I want to say this is hands down the best website ever on the topic! Every single word and example you offer I have been through exactly like you say. I lay in bed unable to sleep with fear. I keep reminding myself it was all fake, there was no love whatsoever and repeat to myself “He’s angry. I’m just his prey that got away.” Thanks for saving my life as the physical addition, I did not understand, could have kept me in his hands confused as his prey for years. I was battling depression a lot and I never get depressed and could not even see the forest for the trees. I feel like me again thanks to your amazing information!

    • Admin

      I am so glad to hear that the site’s helped you. It makes all my work worthwhile. Thanks for letting me know. And I’m thrilled that you got away from him! I wish you all the best.

  15. alex

    hello.
    my ex told me to come here. she says this is me.i dont really know how to find out if i am a psychopath but i can look back and see my behavior. its strange almost amusing. i think its just a coincidense. i do tell girls that i am attracted to anything i think they waana hear. it usually works. i dont say the same thing to every girl. i just open a conversation and feel them out.im not trying to trick them. i just want them and if its love does it matter how?my problem is i realize even when these girls and i are in a relationship i never feel like they love me. they can say it and really be good to me but i always feel they are just fakinjg it.and it usually ends with them crying cause i tell them they are faking it. they dont love me or they would prove it and id feel it.anyway is there some kind of test?

    • Admin

      Hi Alex. Sorry to hear of your relationship troubles. There are a few things in what you wrote that could possibly be considered psychopathic, and a few things that are contradictory. There’s no way to tell from a paragraph, of course, but if this has been an ongoing pattern that’s causing problems with your relationships, it’s worth your time to find out what’s going on. The best way to do that would be to see a professional therapist. In the meantime, there is a test you can take online called the Levenson Self-Report Psychopathy Scale. Good luck, I hope you’ll get it figured out and that things will improve in the future!

      • alex

        i scored 4.6 out of 5 in primary and 2.4 secondary. it says thats higher than 92% of most people. im assuming there is room for error as some of the questions seemed vague. even so, i believe if they loved me id know it. but besides that what steps should i take or any at all

        • Admin

          Thanks for letting me know. The questions are somewhat vague, but combining your score with what you described earlier says the possibility is there. That’s all I can say with what little I have to go on. You’ve just started exploring this, so do some more research and see what comes up. Psychopathy exists on a spectrum, so the severity varies from one individual to the next. You may have some traits but not others. If it turns out you are psychopathic but it’s not too severe, you still have some choice about what kind of person you want to be.

          In thinking about your disbelief that your girlfriends loved you, I’ve come up with a couple of possible explanations. First, if you were “telling them what they wanted to hear” instead of being your authentic self, then they don’t really know you. How could they? And it follows that if they don’t really know you, how can they really love you? I suspect you know this on some level. Another possibility is that if you are psychopathic, you don’t have the ability to truly love another person. If you can’t experience it yourself, you may not know how to see it in someone else. Another possibility is that you believe you’re not worthy of love, so therefore can’t believe anyone would love you. And of course maybe they didn’t love you, how do I know.

          Here’s a question for you: Do you believe you loved them? Also, what was it that drove you to pursue them? Was it self-gratification? Did you pretend to love them when you didn’t, in order to get the gratification you were after? Even non-psychopathic guys will do this kind of stuff, but it’s something to think about. Whatever the reason someone does it, it’s never right to play with someone’s feelings. While you’re figuring all of it out, you should keep things very casual with women who want the same thing. Remember, it’s up to you to choose not to intentionally hurt others. If you’re psychopathic you might not care, but you said earlier you were not trying to trick them, so I think you do care, or at least you’re trying to figure out why you hurt them unintentionally. What follows is something a psychopath told me. I have no idea if it’s truth or fiction, really, but read it and see if it might describe some of what you feel ~

          “Until somewhere in my twenties I used to think I could find love. I had no concept of the possibility that there were people who couldn’t feel love, so I assumed it was just a question about finding that one, perfect person who would be my equal and who would understand me. I was rather confused when I did eventually, on rare occasions, meet another person I thought of in those terms but found that I still didn’t fall in love with them. I would be fascinated with them, but that’s all it was. I was very much aware that I didn’t love them, as I’d expected I would do. It didn’t make feel sad or hurt, that’s not how it was. But I was baffled, surprised if you can call it that, and afterwards I’d ponder this as the enigma is was to me… Gratification, not hurting others, is what drives most psychopaths when they pursue a relationship. This doesn’t change the fact that psychopaths most often end up hurting the people they get close to, and the combination of mechanisms that makes this happen is a complex matter.”

          As I said, you might want to seek a professional’s help to figure out what’s really going on. There’s a possibility it’s something other than psychopathy. If that’s the only thing you’re considering, you’ll find evidence to back it up, and miss something else. You could start by telling them what you told me in your first comment, and let them take it from there. Whatever you decide, good luck to you.

  16. Mathias

    Will a Psychopath say somthing like, ” I am a psychopath”

    There are people that pretend they are psychopaths, they write about how they dont care etc.

    But I thought a psychopath, never thought of themself as “sick” just simply superior to anyone else. And they would not waste time on the internet to write about it. What do you think?
    Nothing to gain by this.

    • Adelyn Birch

      Yes, they will say “I’m a psychopath,” but they’ll say it as if it’s a joke. Whenever anyone tells you something about themselves, believe it.

      Most of them know they’re psychopaths, but they still don’t think of themselves as sick; they’re proud of it and yes, they feel superior. They LOVE to talk about themselves, so sometimes they will write about it on the internet when they’re bored.

      Good questions, Mathias. Thank you for your comment.

  17. Hariny

    Hi

    I am very confused.. When I read the article, I am scared that I may be a Psychopath. But I always long to be loved. I made my lover suffer many times because of my actions but I didn’t do it intentionally. I love him alot. But my actions will end up in fight or will make me him feel stressed . I don’t know why I behave like that. I never realized that I am abnormal. When I read this article, I am scared and I don’t know what to do. I felt that I am abnormal.

    I have taken the test and here is my result
    Primary test score : 3.3 – higher than 80.6%
    Secondary test score :3.9 – higher than 93.62%

    Kindly help me out. I want to be normal. I want us to be happy together.

    ( I am not a native English speaker . Please bear with my language.)

    • Adelyn Birch

      If you long to be loved, love your partner, and hurt him unintentionally, it doesn’t sound like you’re a psychopath. Not at all.

      Online tests aren’t the best way for you to find out what the problem might be, especially with a language barrier that could cause you to misinterpret the questions. The best thing would be to see a psychotherapist who can help you figure it out. I hope you’ll do that, as I can tell you’re very distraught over this.
      I wish you all the best xx

  18. emma

    This site has helped me so much so thankyou!!! I have two little boys to one of these monsters! He was in the army and I had no idea predators like these existed…he has slept with more than twenty females over the last two years …has left me and begged himself back countless times…im finally free as on Xmas eve after being gone for six days he told me he’d paid for a prostitute!!! He is sick and twisted asking to come home on Xmas eve…he had paid for sex but hadn’t even bought our special boys a single present yet he works full time…i have blocked him from my phone …he has always come back and tried to brainwash me with sorrys even after I caught him on two dating sites…my question is do you think he will try and return as I’ve been his main supply for five years? And how do you all manage to stay strong? I’m broken :(

    • Adelyn Birch

      I’m so glad the site has helped, Emma! You’re dealing with a very difficult situation, and I’m sorry you and your children are going through it. If he’s always come back before, he’ll probably come back again. And if he’s done the same thing each time — returned, said things would be different, and then cheated on you — he’ll do that again, too. If you’ve finally had enough of this (and it sounds that way to me) you will stay strong. Even if you have moments when you don’t feel strong, you will take actions in your own best interest. You don’t deserve what this man has done and either do your children, and I wish you all the best.

      Here are a few things for you to read, that I hope will help you:

      Your Basic Human Rights
      The Most Powerful Motivator on the Planet ~ Intermittent Reinforcement
      Road Map

  19. VictiomofPsycho

    Hi everybody!

    I am another victim of a psychopath. When my father died I went away. I later came back home and my mother had found another man. That man is what I belive a psychopath and is ruining me.

    I own the part of my house, but he is trying to do everything to get me out of my own house and to claim it to him. He is constantly manipulating my mother. He is telling her at every chanse how bad I am, he hates people, you can feel it. If i want to work at home he is provoking me intentionally and the when I remove from his sightand dont want to work anymore he is speaking ill of me. I am afraid of him. I had to had a fight with him to leaving me alone, that he didnt break into my room, when I resisted his insults.

    He is totally different person, when my mother is at work,… He starts slamming doors in the morning to wake me up, then he leaves and i think hey i will finally get some sleep, noo, he comes back and slams them again to put pressure on me, his anger and agression is mourderous. Then I go away and spend the whole day outside, just that i do not have to see that psycho again. I cannot have peace in my own house, since the mother likes that psychopath.

    He is trying to do everything to get me out of my own house, he is destroying me, who am a good person and I am not a criminal. He is bringing criminals into my home. Its terrible to me, that so see such croocks and psychopaths in my home. My father was a good man.

    That psycho came into our beautiful house almost broke, a bad car, he has no property.
    Now i am without a job, almost broke, without healthy and he has a nice new shiny car feels good,… bastard, sick bastard, that is just sport for him, destroying people and manipualting.

    I do not have peace, my nerves all depleated. I am thinking of going into psychiatry just that i will be save from him and finally get some sleep. Life without psychopaths is a blessing.

    • Adelyn Birch

      I’m sorry that you lost your father, and sorry that your mother got involved with this manipulative, aggressive man who’s ruining your peace of mind. Put your well-being ahead of staying in your house at all costs, and leave if at all possible. I think therapy is a very good idea; this is obviously taking a big toll on you. I hope your situation soon changes for the better, and I wish you the best of luck xx

    • normal

      You might report that psychopath at the police and leave a denouncement against him. Don’t keep silent but expose him at the police first, second you might want to press charges against him. Also use cell-phone cam to record his assault or anything he does to disturb you. Don’t know what country u are from, but go to the police right away and report him; though he might deny his thuggish behavior (as lying is the most important armor for a psychopath, yet lying wont help him) still report him, even though the police might not take considerable steps,still it’s good for you to take the first step to leave a report at the police office. Don’t give up-that’s what psychopaths want.

      • Adelyn Birch

        Normal, I appreciate your response but I’m not so sure this is a good idea. With the exception of “bringing criminals into the house,” reporting him for slamming doors and speaking ill of her aren’t things the police would be able to do anything about, as you said, and I’m concerned about how he would react. He sounds like enough of a loser that he could become violent. The best move would be to leave. If there is criminal activity going on, then the police should be called while it’s happening. Other than that, I think safety (emotional and physical) should be this person’s priority, and the best way to protect her or himself would be to leave.

        • normal

          The person,he/she, is declaring in the above comment that he/she “had to fight with that man and also not letting him break into the room….” On such a situation sure any person must call the police or make a report there. (the police can be called even when someone is having the music in loud volume/sound). He/she has the right to press charges in the court against him for mental disturbance such as offending or ill-speaking, or for private disturbance. The person must record anything that psycho says or does against ….
          But,that person could chose to leave and stay far away from that psycho,that’s a good solution too.

          • Adelyn Birch

            I understand what you’re saying. She very well could call the police; I think it depends on how she thinks he’ll react. Will she be at risk for even worse abuse? Even if they do haul him away in handcuffs, she’ll have to deal with her mother who sounds like she’ll be very unhappy with it. The best all-around solution is to leave the situation. Thanks for your input, normal!

  20. Lucinda

    i dated a psychopath and it was clear he just didn’t care about me. He keeps coming back via my computer. When I was with him he never said anything loving.
    Ive noticed that he will say all the loving things on the computer, in fact he won’t stop with sentiments.
    During my ordeal he became abusive, he changed into a nasty insulting man who wanted to control my wardrobe, my thoughts and compared me to all of his ex girlfriends.
    I escaped and he found me a year later (broke through my blocking).
    I’m sure they opt for virtual messaging, they are in control of it, none of this love is real or he would have shown me care & loyalty when we were together.
    Luckily I read about the insanity which makes me much stronger and able to resist the loving nostalgia he is sending. I know he is recycling me by any means.
    Blatant lies all of it from start to finish. The Internet is helping psychopaths secure victims which is worrying.

    • Adelyn Birch

      none of this love is real or he would have shown me care & loyalty when we were together Exactly. I’m sorry to hear you went through all that, and now have these messages from him. Block him again, and when you do get something, delete it without even reading it. I know that’s not easy, but do it for yourself. It’s good you’re feeling stronger, Lucinda. Best wishes to you.

  21. Nikki

    Hi,
    I have only just stumbled across this website while searching for answers about what has happened to me. I have not yet read the site contents because i needed to see if i identified with the other victims. I do ?
    I was with my husband for nearly 12 years. He charmed me out of my 1st marriage. I used to be my husbands boss believe it or not! I knew him for a year before he swept me off my feet. I now realise i didnt know him at all and he was probably studying me.
    The insane jealousy, vile texts of his imagination of what he thought i was doing with other men and women used to make me feel emotionally raped but he was always sorry….huh!
    There was not a huge amount of violence. I have had him arrested 3 times and i was put in a refuge when our son was a month old but no matter how many times i left him (over a period of 12 years ive actually lost count) it was almost a joke to people the amount of times i threw him out but no sooner had i done it the absolute dependancy on him kick in.
    I was isolated from the moment i met him and for years the only people i interacted with were him his family and work. My closest friend always cane to see me but he would get so moody she started to question but in the end he got her on side and she accepted him like his family did.
    My husband can do no wrong in the eyes of some of his family.
    He has 6 children. One by me. His eldest children told me stories about him that should have raises major concern to any normal thinking person but i lost my identity. I dont know how.
    He had 2 affairs at tge same time. I found out and thew him out. 3 weeks after he left he got with someone else who he dumped when he realised i would forgive him. 4 years later i struggled with the devistation of affairs. He did nothing to help me just blamed me for the way i felt. His family were horrible to me too. They hated me because i stood my ground.
    In a nutshell i have lived a nightmare and i allowed it to happen even though i knew it was very very wrong. I am struggling to understand why i had no self respect.
    He turned me into something im not.
    I threw him out for the last time in october. He started on his next victim within weeks but kept his options open with me to the point sometimes i was appologising to him for being a bad wife.
    It was only when i discovered he has manipulated his new victim into lying to our son about their relationship for months so i would not find out. I was so stupid i actually believed this woman was helping him out because he had nowhere to go.
    I am dumbfounded as to how gullible and stupid i have been for so long.
    Today i realised truely what he is. I suspected deep down for years and sometimes would research psychopath charactistics which valudated my thoughs but i was in total denial. I have told him i know what he is and i have told him i wont stop until i prove it. But after reading the comments i think i have done the wrong this and i am scared.
    Please can you give me some advice.
    He financially abused me and now im too ill and broken to work and im just about to go onto half pay which will not cover my bills and debts. I dont know how to prove anything but i have all his debt in my name and i feel like i am drowning because im unable to function normally at the moment.
    I have promised my son i am going to get through this and now im beginning to understand and accept what has happened to me i know im on the way to healing.
    I dont know what im asking for. Im just numb with pain and confustion.
    Thank you for helping people. God bless you

    • Adelyn Birch

      Hi Nikki. It sounds like it really has been a nightmare. I’m sorry things turned out the way they did, and that he’s left you in a financial bind. Proving he’s a psychopath will never happen, so abandon that idea; what you need to do is just to stick to descriptions of his actions, and let those speak for themselves. You may be able to prove some of these actions, such as the infidelity and his accumulating debt in your name. You need the help of a competent lawyer.

      You’ve made some very strong and positive steps: you ended the relationship, and you’ve figured out what type of person he is, which will help you make sense of things and stop blaming yourself. It’s good that you’re beginning to understand what happened; you’ll learn why you believed his lies and let things go on the way they did. You’re dealing with a lot right now and I hope you have some support, or that you will find some. I hope your health will improve with time away from him and with emotional healing, and I wish you all the best.

      “I Should Have Known”

      The Self-Compassion Effect

  22. Bruce

    This is a great website and very interesting. I don’t know if it was mentioned but psychopaths are great at mimicry, capable of imitating feeling they are incapable of having. The late South African cricketer Hansie Cronje was a psychopath

    • Adelyn Birch

      Thank you, Bruce. I’m glad you like the site!!

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