All the World’s a Stage… To a Psychopath


IMAGINE, for a moment, being a psychopath. Try to imagine not having a conscience. What would that be like? You would not have any feelings of guilt, shame or remorse, no matter how immoral or even heinous an action you’d taken. Imagine having no concern for anyone, not even friends or family. Imagine that the ideas of ‘responsibility’ and ‘commitment’ are foreign to you, except as things that stupid fools believe in.

Now, imagine the having the ability—and the need—to hide all of this from other people so they wouldn’t know how radically and fundamentally different you are. Since no one would expect it, and since so few are even aware that people like you actually exist, it wouldn’t be all that difficult. You would observe and mimic, and you’d be able to pull off a convincing act most of the time.

Most of the time.

But it would be impossible to maintain that act all of the time. Clues to the real person behind your theatrical mask would inevitably be revealed.


ONE of those clues is that on occasion,the psychopath’s act comes across as being just that—an act. I saw it, more than once, from the beginning. Those occasional lapses didn’t go along with how he was most of the time, or with who I thought he was, and they didn’t make any sense to me, so I doubted my perceptions and dismissed them. I dismissed the times when something he said seemed rehearsed, like he had said the very same thing many times before. And I dismissed the times his emotional display or his facial expression didn’t quite match up with his words.

“They are able to mimic emotions rather convincingly, but an astute observer may be left with the impression that they are play-acting and that little is going on below the surface.”

(Robert Hare, PhD, “Identifying Psychopathic Fraudsters”)

I even dismissed the time he came across as an actor on a stage. As he told me the story of his life, it seemed more like he was in a play delivering a monologue.

In my blog post, IDENTIFYING A PSYCHOPATH: 21 SUBTLE AND HIDDEN SIGNS, I wrote this: “’If someone makes you feel as if you’re watching a play, think ‘psychopath. They may deliver a soliloquy like an actor alone on a stage, ignoring your attempts to respond. Things they say may seem rehearsed. Emotional reactions may seem like a put-on. A soliloquy is defined as “a device often used in drama when a character speaks to himself or herself, relating thoughts and feelings, thereby also sharing them with the audience, giving off the illusion of being a series of unspoken reflections. A monologue is a long speech by one actor in a play or movie… a prolonged talk or discourse by a single speaker, especially one dominating or monopolizing a conversation.”


One thing I didn’t consider was that I was in that play, too.

It was unknown to me that he had cast me in a leading role. I was starring in his play, opposite him, and I didn’t know the story, or my lines, but he did. He got me to play out my part to perfection by manipulating me into doing so.

Thanks to a reader named Lori for this insight. Lori wrote this about her relationship with a psychopath:

“There was a stage and there were parts that were to be played. The woman comes onto the stage (she doesn’t know this) and the play continues. It always ends with heartbreak. Then he would take the play on the road again and he would find another woman.”

Goose bumps, anyone?


SO, are psychopaths really as flawlessly invisible as many give them credit for? Maybe some are. I don’t know. But this is what one psychopath had to say about it:

“Psychopaths aren’t half as good as people think we are. The advantage we have is people assume everyone is like them. If an empath was analyzing my emotional response with the knowledge that I may be full of shit, I might have a harder time being convincing. Why? Because you can’t write a thesis on a topic you didn’t study. If you’ve never heard Spanish you sure as hell couldn’t speak the language.” (ZKM)

Would psychopaths actually make good actors? An anonymous psychopath shared his thoughts about it:

“I couldn’t act for television or movie without working extremely hard. As an actor you have to interpret lines of dialogue. You have to start from nothing and build the character, and understand them, and know how this character feels about everything and everyone. In day-to-day acting, we have cues. We have real people who are easy to react to because we can tailor our reactions to theirs. Maybe some psychopaths would be good at acting, but not me.”

It says a lot, doesn’t it? It brings to mind what they are when there’s no one around for them to “react to.”

♥ Love to all of you

Comments are closed.

“Such a great gem. One of my favorite books about this subject as the author paints such a clear picture of what these relationships are like.”

“Practical, concise, well-written and researched. Everyone should have a copy of this book. In fact, they should give one to every high school student. That would prevent a lot of people from getting involved in ‘?relationships’? with these hidden, manipulative predators. An easy five stars, I wish I could give it a hundred!”

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77 thoughts on “All the World’s a Stage… To a Psychopath”

  1. Anna

    Of course I knew he was acting… sobbing for something totally stupid and having been warned previously “I cry, you may not think it is manly but I do cry” he said, looking for pity at the start of the relationship. The thing is…. many like me, know it is an act and yet…. there is a compelling element to it that wanted me to know where he was heading. Not for one moment did I think I was in danger. So many red flags but nothing that made me think ‘Hey, this guy is dangerous’. His acting was all done in a puerile fashion. ‘You trust people because you have never been hurt!’ he said. When I asked ‘Were you hurt?’ He looked down sadly in a boyish sort of way and said ‘Yes, badly’. I could tell it was not sincere. Yet, I felt the need to show him that he can trust me that I can protect him, nurture and take care of him. I felt I had to give him what HE wanted.. which is complete and utter devotion. WHY? I could see through him. Why did I let myself walk into his web? This baffles me and always will. Walking into a trap when you know it is a trap. In those days, I thought I was invincible. I could handle anything… If the relationship doesn’t work, then we can go our separate ways. I didn’t realize that HE knew exactly what he was doing and that was precisely what he expected of me to think. I fell in the trap and before I knew it, I was sucked in. With a psychopath, you have no time to think. They occupy your mind 100%. They make it so you don’t have a moment to think of anything else. They act because they have no self. They need to ‘borrow’ from other people certain characteristics, personality, behaviours, words, etc. to make themselves a ‘whole’ and it doesn’t come naturally of course so their acting is bad.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      He looked down sadly in a boyish sort of way The one I knew did the very same thing.

      1. Shana

        Mine turned it on like a switch! I’ll never forget calling him out on it like it was yesterday; though, it was six years ago. He NEVER used that same method again but got very clever and I was enmeshed. I know now why he never, even once, accidentally used that method. It was ALL an act he could control, just like he did me.

        1. Adelyn Birch

          That’s right—it’s all an act, and it’s all about control. At least we’re away from it, but they’re stuck with themselves forever!

        2. vanessa

          He liked to sing, in church and it puffed him up, when people praised and thanked him for his singing..he and our oldest son sang in a community men’s group..and it was long as HE and SON got the big praises and thank yous. He left one church we went to, because the music leader wouldn’t ask him or oldest son to sing very often..he didn’t sing for God’s glory..he sang because he was GOOD and he got praised for it. But..if he was ignored or bypassed..then I saw the nasty side of his ‘music talent’..he could throw the meanest kind of tantrums at me, and then turn it off like magic, if anyone else was around..

  2. Fran Nowve,

    In response to the psychopath who said he thought acting on TV with a script would be more difficult than what we do, remember, what we do is improvisational acting. I think that actually requires more skill. We are not only the actors but the writers, directors and producers. The people participating in the play with us need to be guided to play their part, something professional actors don’t have to do. I think it requires a great deal more creativity. I just love it!

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Psychopaths do well making things up on the fly, Frances, and improv takes that kind of skill. Even if you fall flat, then you just make up something else to cover it up! I took a few improv comedy classes, and it was fun. You have to focus completely on the other person and then come up with a reaction that works. There’s no time to stand around and think about it.

    2. vanessa

      My problem was, I couldn’t think fast enough on my feet; I never could ‘beat him at his own game’..(whatever verbal/emotional game he was playing).

      1. Adelyn Birch

        If you don’t know that you’re playing a game, let alone what game it is, there isn’t much chance of beating someone at it.

  3. Victory

    Quite intriguing to me because I work in theater. I know there are many times I caught him even called him out. It was his ability to lie quickly or even admit I was right that alluded my instincts. Wow!

    1. Adelyn Birch

      He even admitted to it!? Mine chose to go with “lie quickly.”

  4. Victory

    Me “You can be quite narcissistic” Him ” Yeah, I know I can be” Me ” That”s not a smile, it’s an evil smirk” Him “You’re right, it is” His masterful use of truth to deflect truth.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Lies, truth, whatever works, they’ll use it!

  5. Victory

    I’ve read Boundries. Thank you.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      I’m happy you liked it, Victory! Thank you.

  6. Larmes

    Oh, yes. Lines borrowed from television or film. Fake, inappropriate laughter. Poor attempts at expressions of grief after family bereavement. By the time he was ready to discard me I had almost worked him out. I knew what was coming and wanted it over and done with. He staged his abandonment of me, waiting in the dark for me to return home at the end of the day. No house lights. No television sounds. Everything dark and creepy. He was sitting indoors, deliberately hiding in the dark to startle me. He delivered his ‘ I’ve left you’ line with great glee. I’ll never forget those cold eyes.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      That is VERY creepy that he waited for you in a darkened house. “Glee” is the perfect word to describe their contemptuous delight. I saw inappropriate laughter a few times, too. It was done behind my back. Once, when I caught him, I said “Are you laughing at me?” and he said, “No! I’m just happy!” There was nothing happy about it—I described it as “sinister glee.”

  7. Amy

    My narcissistic mother lives for applause. She believes that love is admiration and submission to her every opinion and wish, which she believes to be perfect. And she will do anything to get them.
    I don’t know whether she is actually aware that she is merely acting: she is really convinced that knowing one another, being honest, appreciating one another, talking and growing together, in other words real intimacy, are not real love. Only when you look at her with stars in your eyes she will believe you “love” her. She will tell and do anything to make everyone believe she is worthy of adoration. If someone doesn’t adore her or doesn’t do so any more, she calls this person cruel, unjust, or even insane. She will retell and reinterpret facts in the most absurd way, only to convince the world of her perfection.
    After all, she is to be pitied. She has never known any true affection and she most probably never will: because she doesn’t want it.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      I’m sorry you weren’t able to have an emotionally intimate relationship with your mom, Amy. Narcissist must keep their fragile egos inflated at all costs, and admiration is their helium.

      Psychopaths don’t need admiration, except as a means to an end. In other words, psychopaths seek attention and admiration from others in order to get something from them. They don’t feel any emotional pain if they’re rejected. Narcissists seek attention from others for its own sake, and they’re emotionally wounded if they’re rejected.

      A really great article on narcissists: THINGS NARCISSISTS DO

  8. You really are talking about my 5 year relationship with the strangest man I have ever known. In the words of Annie Lennox ‘ a bundle of lies’ and yes running away is the only way I can escape

    1. Adelyn Birch

      I hope you can run away soon, Joyce.

  9. Janes/ Lady Vigilant 2


    Doing all my Amazon shopping through your website’s SHOP! section (Christmas is coming up too)helps keep this site going & keeps us your readers informed about Cluster Bs also the readers get to contribute to the education of humanity & stopping the self blame plague. Its wonderful that it doesn’t cost anything to people who wants to help:)

    I’m glad since you mention that I just buy everything from Amazon through your website. Win win & it doesn’t cost me a penny to help!

    Every post from is an aha moment, no different then this one. Some time I ask myself how does she know so well what I’m going through?!

    Thanks !

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Thank you, Janes! That’s right, just click through to Amazon from this website and buy what you normally would (you don’t have to buy a book), and I’ll earn a small commission which will be used to maintain the website (~ $1600/year). I’ll have to put a notice up somewhere…

      1. Janes/ Lady Vigilant 2

        I wish i knew it sooner. It makes me very happy to give something back without costing me anything as well. Great idea, i think you should inform all your readers with a notice.

        1. Adelyn Birch

          Thank you, Janes.

  10. Lori

    I am the Lori and this, as always, is an excellent post. I think I’d have lost my mind in the years following my break up had I not found this. I can’t thank you enough. It was a life raft. Something that at this point I can actually, in a weird way, find amusing: the psychopath I was with started calling me Lucy, the Lucille Ball Lucy. He used that to tease me about being silly, uncoordinated, etc. and I didn’t realize how subtle it was as a way to undermine me, to secretly, in a sense, shake my confidence. He would seem so happy when he called me his Lucy. One day I was in his closet, we were getting out holiday decorations and I found an I Love Lucy wall decoration and I was puzzled. Was it for me? Yet it was in the back of the closet and dusty.

    You know, I knew. I knew that I Love Lucy sign was wrong, it was a huge sign and I should have stood up and walked out that door. I should have and I did not. I simply put it back. Why? I was addicted. He was my heroin and I was hooked. It was the holiday season and he had been pouring it on thick, trying to get me to move in with him.

    Later I would find out that he called the woman he was with before me Lucy too. That wall decoration was purchased for her.

    It was a huge neon sign and I did not leave.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      I’m so glad to hear I gave you a life raft, Lori, and kept you from losing your mind! Thank you for letting me know. That’s what this website is all about. It’s not written because I’m “obsessed with psychopaths,” as they are so fond of saying. I do this for the people affected by them, but it would be hard to write for them without mentioning psychopaths, wouldn’t it? To them, it’s all about them, just like everything else is.

      The fact that he called you Lucy, to disparage you, isn’t amusing and yet I understand exactly what you mean when you say it amuses you now. I find myself amused at the utter absurdity of so many things the P said. While the whole thing overall was anything but amusing, the fact that he acted like he was visiting from another planet is. It’s a good sign, Lori. A sign of healing.

      1. Jessica

        They are good at making you think you are crazy and even making people think they are crazy. They are not. They know exactly what they are doing. I think everyone commenting could probably have their own episode on Dateline. But that simply would not do it justice. I try not to be gender accusatory but it is proven fact that men are narcissists more than women but I will not downplay the women narcissists out there as I am sure they are just as low down dirty shitty.

        1. Adelyn Birch

          They are good at making us look crazy, but I think they try to make themselves look normal. I like your idea about each of us having our own Dateline episode! We’d be lined up into the next century, and beyond. Everyone would know about the very real possibility of getting involved with a psychopath. I can’t help but wonder, though, if it would do any good. Why would they even think of it, when they’ve just met the most wonderful person? I’d read Without Conscience and The Sociopath Next Door prior to meeting the P, and those books never crossed my mind. I suspect we (who have already been through it) might be the only people who are capable of developing some level of immunity to it.

          1. Marie

            Oh, God. By the end this one was telling me “You are sick.” And I would say: “I am not sick.”

            I remember in our last conversation, when I told him I had proof there was another woman in his life, he said: “Okay, honey. I won’t gaslight you. And I won’t ask how you got the information about me. I’ll just come clean.”

            I still hear his voice. It was a colluding tone of voice. A “You are smart enough for me” tone of voice. Then…there’s the fact that he said: “I won’t gaslight you.” It means he knew he was gaslighting me! He knew it and he did it anyway!

            I sobbed and sobbed on the phone for so many reasons. And as sick as it is…I still miss him.

        2. Totallybel

          Their intention is to destroy you, and they do this by whatever means is available to them. They do it physically by murdering outright overtly, or cause accidents leading to our demise. Or psychologically and emotionally crippling and disabling us with their gaslighting and other manipulative techniques, which lead to addictions, hospitisations, suicide. Whatever ‘bad’ stuff that happens to us (caused by them) they will thrive in, they will use to their advantage. They are the most malignant beings walking this planet. And I’m inclined to agree with you Jessica about gender.

          1. Adelyn Birch

            And as if all this weren’t enough, they actually enjoy it, and feel superior because they’re able to do it.

      2. Scared

        At the risk of sounding paranoid, do you think there are many psychopaths or narcissists that monitor your site for their partners comments. I’d love to fully contribute to discussions on here, but I don’t know if I should fear for my safety or not.

        1. Adelyn Birch

          I have no idea, but anything is possible! Just leave out the little details that make you or your psychopathic ex identifiable, but that don’t really make a difference to your story. There are ways to get around it. You’re not the only one who is concerned. I’ve had many people come back after leaving a comment asking me to redact parts of it. It always turns out that those details were unnecessary.

          1. Jess

            It is just sad that we have to worry about someone seeing our comments on here and feeling threatened for that. It just goes to show what level they get to us. It makes me mad too because narcissists don’t care what they have to do as long as they stay in your head or anyone’s head. That is what gets them off. That is why NO CONTACT is so important. They can’t stand it and so they have to find more supply because that constant attention is what drives them. SICK

            1. Adelyn Birch

              Hi, Jess. I agree that No Contact is vital… and maybe part of that is, unfortunately, being cautious in what we say about them, and to whom. These types of people are very thin-skinned and vindictive, and doing something that causes them to retaliate will only bring them back into our lives. It’s also important to share what we’ve experienced with people who understand, so we have to find a balance between the two. It is possible.

  11. Willow

    Mine was good actor, too, telling me what a good Christian man he was and that he would show me what a Christian marriage could be like. So many red flags where his behavior did not match his words. I didn’t know he was a psychopath until 2 months after the discard when a 69 year old woman messaged me and told me he had taken advantage of her physically and financially, and was he the good Christian man he had said he was. We’re divorced now and I’m just beginning to date again but I’m frightened I’ll meet someone like him again. I’ve just ordered your book, Boundaries, and I’m hoping it will help me going forward. Thank you for your blog and books!

    1. Adelyn Birch

      They’re good at telling you what great, wonderful, compassionate people they are, but there’s nothing behind those words. As the old saying goes, actions speak louder than words.

      Last year I went on a date with a guy who announced, “I’m all about commitment!” I said something like, “Well then, if this works out, I guess your love of commitment will become apparent, over time.” Two red flags there: What man talks about commitment, on a first date?! AND he was telling me how wonderful he was, possibly thinking I’d just take his word for it. I don’t do that anymore. I want to see action behind words, because in and of themselves, words mean nothing. Even just him saying that type of thing set an alarm ringing in the background.

      That’s all you have to do, Willow, if you want to date—put everything you’ve learned into practice. Make sure you work out your boundaries before you date, though—that’s the most important thing! I published a little book/workbook on boundaries that people seem to like very much :-)

  12. Jessica

    Been there. I can only hope more people will speak out about this ! I hate it. I wish more people would pay more attention to this and see it as it is happening. There is one in Jonesboro, Arkansas named Wil.
    You’re welcome.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Well, a lot of us saw the play-acting as it was happening, but there was too much else happening to let it stop us. People do need to know a lot more about all of this!

  13. A WellWisher

    A girl I knew for a long time struck me as play-acting. It was too much…too over-performed, too full of self…I used to get so bored. When an astrologist described her as an “illustrious story-teller” I straightened her out. I just did not see that at all. Only phoniness. She definitely ‘tried too hard’.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      “Tried too hard” is a good way to put it, WellWisher.

  14. Heather

    So many times I have said that our fights are like a script. It’s the same things over and over, I always know what’s coming next.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      I hope those scripted fights will become a thing of the past soon, Heather!

  15. María B.

    My psycho would cry, sob and act all the time. Unfortunately now I have to have contact with him because of our daughter. thanks for the blog. here in Argentina psychologists don´t know much about this kind of infra humans.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Here in the US psychologists don’t know much about it, either. My own therapist didn’t “believe” in psychopaths. That’s one of the main reasons I started this website. Help is too hard to come by, and I wanted to do what I could. I’m glad the site has helped you, Maria.

      1. Scared

        I feel lucky that on my first attempt I found psychologist that believes in psychopathy. After the first visit he told me to work out an exit strategy and has been very supportive. He hasn’t come out and said he believes my partner is a psychopath, I suppose that would be unprofessional, but I get the feeling he does. I’m thankfully for your site too. I don’t feel as alone, or as confused as I would have otherwise been.

        1. Adelyn Birch

          It’s great that you found a therapist who understands! I’ve heard from others who have, too. I’m glad you have this support.

          Your therapist may be hesitant to label someone he hasn’t personally evaluated, and that’s OK. He doesn’t need to; your descriptions of this person’s behavior and the effect it’s had on you is all he needs, because he has knowledge about psychopaths and related disorders, and the havoc these people cause in relationships. They should all gain this knowledge while in school, but for some reason many don’t.

          I’m very happy to hear you feel less alone and confused. Best wishes to you xx

  16. marie

    Mine was an actor. Now I know why they say never to date an actor. And yes, he would cry and perform. Sometimes I think I saw the real person…and I miss that person. I have a hard time with the idea that nothing about him was authentic.

    There is a book called “Your Voice in My Head” by Emma Forrest. It details her experience “dating” a famous actor. She is traumatized by the end of that relationship. When it ends, she goes into therapy. And the therapist asks her something like: “Wasn’t it a movie?” To make it clear that the actor just thought he was in another play. I think that’s how it is for these guys. It is a play. A game. It is not real.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      That’s right. What is devastating to us is a fun game for them. You need only look at the comment on this page left by Frances to see it, not that we don’t already know. What we believed was real and meaningful was a three-act play for them: idealize, devalue, and discard. Ha ha, fun. A comedy.

      “Sometimes I think I saw the real person…and I miss that person. I have a hard time with the idea that nothing about him was authentic.” If he was truly psychopathic, then his authentic self was that of a psychopath; no conscience, no ability to love, no concern for others, manipulative, and all the rest… a predator. It’s not an easy truth to accept, that’s for sure. It’s hard to comprehend there are people who are so radically different from us, and then to accept that someone we loved was one.

  17. Thesqid

    Wow. I actually really never considered this. But after reading this everything about him was theatrical. His voice was amazing and actually that’s how I met him but I remember everything with him feeling like it was from a movie. Which is why it felt like such a high when I was with him and sometimes I still imagine it when I watch any musicals or movies that are romances. I remember when I first met him he gently gave me a kiss and then moved his hand across my face and went out the front door and said something really sultry under his voice about coming back soon. I remember blushing, but it was so strange. Wow… And if i took a video or picture of him he would do weird stuff. I’d even say what the hell are you doing? And he’d push me into the bed and kiss my inner thigh. He was a huge romantic. Ugh

    1. Adelyn Birch

      They are very theatrical. “Over-the-top” romantic. They saw those movies, too, the ones that made us think, “Oh how wonderful, I wish I had love like that in my life… ” And then a psychopath comes along and says, “It’s like the whole universe existed just to bring us together.” (a line from the movie Serendipity) As an article on Zimbio said, “Having trouble coming up with the right thing to say to that special someone? Let Hollywood do it for you!”

  18. Kay

    They start creating their scripts as children and practice them on anyone and everyone,, so by the time they are adults, they’re very skilled at pulling up the right script for any situation..
    I gave him the benefit of the doubt because everyone at some time in their life goes through a bit of repetition,, but it wasn’t until I realized that I spoke a language only we could understand and it was his demand in the relationship, that I saw how I was following along like a puppet in a show.. And I was the villain and stupid puppet on his stage..

    1. Adelyn Birch

      First we’re cast as their partner in a once-in-a-lifetime love … and then they change our role into that of a villain, the one responsible for ruining that love.

  19. Greg

    Your blog post is so spot on.. I am a male who was recently victimized by a female psychopath. Her drive was to take as much from me as possible during our fake relationship. She gained $1,000’s from me by repeatedly making false statements about her life. Well, rather than move on with my life I decided to fight back. I was on to her scheme but didn’t have enough evidence to prove it. Until recently I didn’t know what a psychopath was, only knowing of the word in a negative sense. Your blog and book described this woman with impeccable detail. Armed with this information, and all my evidence I am in the process of destroying this woman. My first step was to file a civil suit for the financial damages. During my investigation of her I became aware she has been living with another guy. At this point in my life I didn’t so much care about the relationship part of that revelation, but I’m more bothered by the fact this guy has benefited from all the money she took from me. So I have included him in my lawsuit against her. This turned out to be a good strategy, and he was taken by complete surprise over the revelations made to him about her behavior. Also during my investigation we uncovered another victim, who was providing a vehicle for her to drive. Once this victim was made aware of the scheme he became irate and asked my investigator to get the vehicle from her. So the two of them went to her residence (living at the other guys residence), and seized the vehicle. The police were present during the seizure. She flipped out because she was placed in a very defensive position. She, and her boyfriend, have until next Wed to respond to my lawsuit. Should they fail to do so I will be awarded a default judgment and I will own them both for the rest of their lives, until I’m paid in full. I expect the boyfriend will defend himself, but she will not. Once the suit is completed I plan to file a police report had have her prosecuted for fraud, a criminal offense punishable by prison and fines. I also hope to prosecute her for wire fraud, which is a state AND federal crime. She used her cell phone to communicate her fraudulent statements to me. Probably unknown to her I have over 1500 pages of text messages stored in a PDF file. I had saved them originally for sentimental reasons during our relationship and will now use them against her. While she doesn’t care about my welfare and that of others, she does care about her own welfare. I have her completely on the defensive at this point, and plan on completely destroying her life. The boyfriend will most likely kick her out at some point when he realizes he is another victim, and she’ll take up residence with a new victim. But If she doesn’t end up in prison I will likely have her eliminated from our society. Everyone has a unique way of dealing with this tragedy in their life. In my case I got mad and I’m going to get even.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Great job, Greg! I hope you’ll get the justice you deserve! I’m so glad you’re fighting back! FRAUD is what they do, and what they ARE. Fraud is a tool that offenders use to acquire what the victim would not otherwise give them. It is an unscrupulous act to deprive a person by manipulating their self-determination. In my case money wasn’t involved, but even when it’s not, it’s a profound violation of everything you are, body, mind, and soul, and it is damaging (the damages go far beyond finances, so please don’t ignore the rest of what you’re most likely experiencing). Society should be protected from individuals like this. This type of person is a predator, plain and simple, in every way,including sexually. They infiltrate someone’s entire life, and their fraud extends to every aspect of the victims life. It’s heinous. To find out the person you loved and trusted was nothing more than a stranger and a predator is deeply disturbing, and a real offense to someone’s dignity as well as to their most basic human rights, including autonomy and self-determination.

      Best of luck to you, Greg. Please take good care of yourself as you go through this. Let me know what happens, OK?

      1. Jessica

        This is why it should be a crime. I cannot remember what country it is, but it has become a crime called “rape by deception” or something like that. It really SHOULD be a crime. My ex absolutely destroyed the life of his son’s mother. She attempted suicide and he uses that against her and got legal guardianship of his son and will not let her see him and has turned an entire town against her and continues to do this to this day even though it was over five years ago. When they were together he would flush her bipolar medications in the toilet and not allow her to take them because they made her stronger and then he eventually drove her insane enough to attempt suicide. She is better now but only because she is away from him. She is trying to get the money to hire an attorney so she can get her rights back. It is so sad and it makes me absolutely hate his guts.

        1. Adelyn Birch

          Hi Jessica. I’m sorry to hear what your ex did to his son’s mother, and so glad she’s doing better. I would think that flushing someone’s medications is already considered a criminal act.

          Your friend might want to look into a civil suit based on the tort of “Negligent Infliction of Emotional Distress (NIED),” which is available in most states. It’s controversial, though, and severely constrained. The laws in each state are different. In California, it requires:

          ~ Extreme and outrageous conduct, which is conduct that goes beyond all possible bounds of decency so as to be regarded as atrocious and utterly intolerable in a civilized community.

          ~ The extreme and outrageous character of a defendant’s conduct may arise from the defendant’s knowledge that a plaintiff is peculiarly susceptible to emotional distress by reason of some physical or mental condition or peculiarity.

          ~ Conduct may become extreme and outrageous when a defendant proceeds in the face of such knowledge, where it would not be so if defendant did not know.

          ~ It must be intentional and reckless (a defendant intended to inflict emotional distress if it is established that he or she desired to cause such distress or knew that such distress was substantially certain to result from his or her conduct. A defendant’s conduct is in reckless disregard of the probability of causing emotional distress if he or she has knowledge of a high degree of probability that emotional distress will result and acts with deliberate disregard of that probability or with a conscious disregard of the probable results).

          Yes, it ought to be a crime… and in some cases, it may already be.

          1. Jessica

            It is so tempting and I know I have all of the ability to do this but I think it would exhaust me to no end to relive all of that in a civil suit and for my ex’s son’s mother also. Thank you for making me aware of this. I appreciate that. I do not think I will act on it simply because it sort of breaks my NO CONTACT rule but I do wish someone would threaten him with this. Lord knows how many women he has hurt.

            1. Adelyn Birch

              I just found out about it myself, after reading your comment and doing a search. It seems like it would be awfully hard to actually have a successful case, but I thought it was worth mentioning. I agree, legal battles are totally exhausting and very stressful, not to mention costly. Sometimes it’s just not worth it.

          2. Jessica

            I found that our state does not recognize the NIED tort. That is unfortunate.

    2. Jessica

      Good luck. I wish you the best and hope you succeed.

  20. Mari Chapman

    Eve Maram has a book called Psychopathy Within. Her personal experiences with her father and her experience as a forensic psychologist is just a compelling read. Her site is, her story is amazing.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      It sounds fascinating, Mari. I’ll take a look at it. Thanks!

  21. April

    Your site is wonderful. It’s reassuring to know that I’m not alone. Unlike most of your commenters, I wasn’t in a relationship with a Psychopath, she is my sister. She has made every attempt at trying to destroy my Mother, even came very close. My Mother ended up having a nervous breakdown, marriage has ended and half her family have fallen out with her because my sister has manipulated them with vicious lies (gaslighting). Divorce is looming and she’s on my Father’s side! It’s not going to be pleasant. I dropped her out of my life 5 years ago, and it’s the best thing I’ve ever done. Unfortunately, as she is ‘family’ she can still get to us! Thankfully my Mother has built herself back up. She’ll never be the person she was, but she’s getting there. I fear what the divorce is going to her. All these lies that have been made up about her will be thrown at her. Any advice on how to help her through this divorce or has anyone else gone through divorce with a Psychopath? My Father is Narcissistic btw xxx

    1. Adelyn Birch

      Hi, April. I’m so sorry to hear what your psychopathic sister has done to your family! It’s very sad, and my heart goes out to you and your mother. It’s good that you’ve dropped out of your sister’s life as much as is possible, and that your mother has built herself back up. Divorce, when a psychopath or narcissist is involved, is especially contentious! The best advice for your mother is to have a good lawyer, one who understands these pathological people and how to best deal with them! There is a list of resources in the sidebar, under the heading “HIGH-CONFLICT PARTNER/ EX?” that might have some useful information for you. Your mother should also try to find a therapist—again, one who understands pathologically manipulative and abusive people and the trauma they cause. And please don’t neglect yourself! You’ve been focused on your mom, but I’m sure you’ve been traumatized as well.

      I hope that when the divorce is over, both of you will disengage completely from your sister (and from other family she uses to perpetuate her abuse). You have no social obligation to be abused by anyone! Family members don’t have some special right to abuse us, and you have no duty or requirement to allow them to. I wish you and your mother strength and the light of truth during this dark time xx

  22. Kate

    Oh yes, the Actor. The reason I am reading your blog is because of the emotional trauma i am dealing with in the aftermath. Long story short – he is def. afficted. He told me on our first meeting that he was a “professional actor” but in the 2.5 years that i was the “love of his life” he was never employed, auditioned, in a theater group or a performance other than a holiday play in his church one year. He was, however, telling a partial truth: he was always pretending, it was all an act and he is a pathological liar. Today he professes to be a fascist and is on to a new performance. Ironically, he is completely the opposite of who he pretended to be with me. I get the feeling that this new persona/act is no more real than the last one but it is deeply disturbing to realize months later that i have no idea who he is/was as it was all an act, the entire time. Nothing about him is genuine. Emotional rape is the only term that fits how violated i felt, and still do. It helps to realize that he has a mental illness and could not be honest or sincere, even if he was convincing at the time. Thanks for posting. It is the lies and false self that did the most damage to my heart and spirit. It is def. the behavior of a psychopath/sociopath. Sad.

    1. Adelyn Birch

      It is all an act, except for the bad stuff. That part of them is real. The term “emotional rape’ really captures and conveys the profound ugliness and emotional violence of what we experienced, and I’m very sorry you’re hurting, Kate. I know what it’s like when you find out that what you believed to be the best thing in your life was actually the worst. It shakes you to your core. It helped me very much, too, when I realized he would not have acted as he did if he didn’t have the disorder of psychopathy. Your heart and spirit will heal in time. I know how hard to believe that can feel when you’re in the thick of it, but it will happen, little by little. Sometimes you can take three steps forward and two steps back, but don’t let that discourage you, because you’ll still be making progress. I wish you all the best, Kate.

      1. Kate

        Thanks for the reply. I have been working on my healing and while I first thought he was NPD, there was something far more sinister in what transpired than what NPD behavior is. So I started thinking about it and read an article that described sociopath/narcissist/psychopathy and I was shocked to realize his behavior was classic psychopathy and it was the only explanation that captures the experience. So it was a blessing to find this information as it all makes sense now and helps me let go and move on, wiser. Thanks!

        1. Adelyn Birch

          You’re welcome, Kate. Your feeling that something “far more sinister” was going on was exactly how I felt, and what led me to search for answers. When I found those answers, what I’d experienced finally made sense, and it was the beginning of being able to move past the confusion, doubt and conflicting thoughts. I’m glad your experience makes sense now, too. Good to hear you’re making progress with your recovery. Best of luck to you.

          1. Jessica

            Just for the record, NPD is equally as bad as psychopathy and, in my opinion, the pretty much same elements of psychopathy.
            ; hand in hand. Not one is more sinister than the other and in fact, many persons with NPD are psychopaths.

            1. Adelyn Birch

              Hi, Jessica. I agree, they are very similar! There are some significant differences, though. Neuropsychologist Rhonda Freeman, PhD., explains the details in her article, “Basic Differences Between Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Psychopathy.”

              Both are exploitative, she writes—but violating others, deceitfulness, and conning are more common amongst psychopaths. Psychopaths are extremely calculating. They see others only in terms of their use or purpose. They’re predators. People with NPD aren’t nearly as calculating or predatory as a general rule, from what I understand. Narcs are driven more by their deep needs for admiration and attention, which are ends unto themselves, whereas a psychopath seeks attention or admiration as a means to an end, which is to victimize others. I believe these traits are what makes them come across as “sinister.”

              Both cause severe trauma to anyone unlucky enough to get involved with them, but when you’re traumatized and trying to understand what you were involved with, it helps to find a description that “fits.” It helps things make sense by taking away the nagging doubts that could hold someone back from recovery.

              I don’t believe a person can have both NPD and psychopathy. They have significant differences “under the hood,” so to speak. For example, narcs are extremely sensitive to the opinions of others, but psychopaths couldn’t care less what others think of them. A narc NEEDS positive attention, but a psychopath doesn’t need it except for enabling the exploitation of others. Narcs are fragile—for example, they’re shattered by public embarrassment—but a psychopath is anything but fragile. They’re not going to have a emotional breakdown over it like narcs do, since they don’t need admiration and don’t care what people think of them.

              Although the way they act can look the same to us, what motivates their behavior is very different. Both are promiscuous, but for different reasons–the narc needs to prove to himself that he’s desirable, which gives his fragile ego a boost. Not so for the psychopath. They do it just because they can do it. When a narc cheats on a partner, they relieve their guilt by blaming their transgression on their partner. Psychopaths feel no guilt, but they’ll be glad to blame it on you if you catch them.

              1. Jessica

                Well my ex fits both of those descriptions. I know it sounds contradictory but there are times when he was sensitive to criticism or what people thought of him and other times he did not care. It depends on the person who may be witnessing the criticism. I know my ex fits the description of NPD and psychopathy both. He feels no guilt whatsoever in harming people and he does need constant attention and needs to be admired by someone, anyone and is also fine with being hated by anyone, as long as he someone is thinking of him. So he needs attention like a toddler and he also needs to be adored and admired by someone, anyone. He is always needing to be right and will always blame anything he can on anyone but himself. I just do not think that NPD and psychopathy are very far apart from what I have studied and experienced firsthand. They are equally as damaging as the other. This is just my opinion. I am no expert although I feel like many “experts” who have not experienced any of this has no real idea of what it is truly like. All my best to anyone who lives with this. I was blessed with loved ones who helped me get out of the situation and pray the same for others. I have never been the same but at least I escaped from it.

              2. Adelyn Birch

                Jessica, we may not be experts in this subject, but that’s OK. We’re not Proctologists, either, but we know an a**hole when we see one :-)

                I’m very happy you got out and are safely away from him, and I wish you all the best xx

  23. Mark

    Soon after I began living with my psyco, we were hanging out one evening and she suddenly began trying to instigate an argument over something that was so silly that I don’t even remember what it was.
    I informed her that I would not even waste my time and energy arguing about something like that.
    Clearly disappointed, she said “you don’t know how to play the game”.

    I did not understand what sh meant until the game was over!

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